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US warned Taliban after 9/11 attacks

world Updated: Sep 11, 2011 20:52 IST

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Days after 9/11 attacks, the US had asked Pakistan to warn Mullah Omar that it will destroy every pillar of the Taliban regime if he did not hand over all al-Qaeda leaders hiding in the country, according to national security documents de-classified on Sunday.

In October 2001 the US sent a private message to Omar warning that "every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed," previously secret American documents posted by the National Security Archive on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 said.

According to a State Department cable, the US on October 7, 2001 requested that either the then ISI chief Mahmoud Ahmed or Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf deliver a message to Taliban leaders directly from Washington informing the Taliban that "if any person or group connected in any way to Afghanistan conducts a terrorist attack against our country, our forces or those of our friends or allies, our response will be devastating."

"It is in your interest and in the interest of your survival to hand over all Al Qaeda leaders."

The cable warned that the US will hold leaders of the Taliban "personally responsible" for terrorist activities directed against US interests, and that American intelligence has "information that al-Qaeda is planning additional attacks."

The short message concludes by informing Mullah Omar that "every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed."

Two days after 9/11, the Department of State prepared a political-military strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, says a cable dated September 14, 2001.

Since "Tuesday's attacks clearly demonstrate that OBL [Osama bin Laden] is capable of conducting terrorism while under Taliban control," US officials are faced with the question of what to do with the Taliban, it says.

The Department of State issues a set of demands to the Taliban including: surrendering all known Al Qaeda associates in Afghanistan, providing intelligence on bin Laden and affiliates, and expelling all terrorists from Afghanistan.

Reflecting US policies in the years to come, the memo notes that the US "should also find subtle ways to encourage splits within the [Taliban] leadership if that could facilitate changes in their policy toward terrorism."

The memo concludes that if "the Taliban fail to meet our deadline, within three days we begin planning for Option three, the use of force. The Department of State notes the importance of coordination with Pakistan, the Central Asian states, Russia, and "possibly Iran."

"Pakistan is unwilling to send its troops into Afghanistan, but will provide all other operational and logistical support we ask of her," the cable says.