CAMPAIGN AGAINST TERROR
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Introduction Sept. 8, 2002

On the one-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, FRONTLINE tells the behind-the-scenes story of the U.S. and world response.

The first hour of "Campaign Against Terror" chronicles--through interviews with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and other key players--how complex diplomatic maneuvering led to the formation of an international coalition against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It also details how the White House, Pentagon, and the CIA moved quickly to develop a plan for fighting a new kind of war.

The second hour of this documentary focuses on how this first war of the 21st century was fought.

Immediately after Sept. 11, Secretary of State Colin Powell began laying the groundwork for a diplomatic coalition to fight the war on terror. It was a new role for the former general and hero of Desert Storm. "My mind [was] thinking militarily, but diplomatically, " Powell recalls, "What does this mean? What do I have to do to get the world behind us on this? ... I suggested to the president and my other colleagues that this was an opportunity to begin pulling together a worldwide coalition."

Meanwhile, the CIA and U.S. military drew up plans for an "unconventional war" in which CIA officers would link up with anti-Taliban guerrillas inside Afghanistan. They would later be joined by small U.S. special operations units who would call in precision airstrikes on the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It was to be a war of many bombs, a handful of U.S. troops on the ground, and America's Afghan allies taking on the bulk of the fighting.

Footage in "Campaign Against Terror" shows how in Afghanistan's north, U.S. forces hooked up with the Northern Alliance, a loose collection of warlords who had fought the Taliban for years. U.S. Special Forces soldiers shared with FRONTLINE their stories of how this unusual alliance worked.

However, in the Taliban's stronghold of southern Afghanistan, there was no Afghan resistance group who could join forces with U.S. troops. The U.S. sought a leader in the South untainted by Afghanistan's culture of warlords and violence, and a candidate soon emerged: Hamid Karzai, a diplomat from a prominent family in Kandahar whose father had been assassinated by the Taliban.

"Campaign Against Terror" moves back and forth between the Bonn Conference -- where world leaders were discussing Karzai's possible role as interim chairman in a post-Taliban Afghan government - and Karzai's dramatic story.

Within days of secretly entering Afghanistan in a daring nighttime motorcycle ride across the Pakistan border, Karzai was nearly killed by the Taliban, and the United States moved to give him support. Later, he was wounded by a misdirected American bomb. FRONTLINE talks with the U.S. Special Forces soldiers who fought alongside Karzai in the decisive battles that would ultimately defeat the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Finally, with the Taliban regime collapsing, a new offensive was launched in the mountainous region of Tora Bora where Al Qaeda forces were believed to be congregating in fortified cave complexes. Despite weeks of heavy bombing, however, many Al Qaeda managed to slip across the border to Pakistan -- including, many believe, bin Laden and key Al Qaeda leaders.

While many defend the campaign in Afghanistan as a success--Al Qaeda's infrastructure was destroyed and a new Afghan government, headed by Hamid Karzai, took shape--critics say this first phase of the campaign against terror was a half-victory since important Al Qaeda leaders and Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, remain unaccounted for.

Did the U.S. military rely too heavily on Afghan forces to do the fighting? And what about the controversy over wartime atrocities? This report looks at allegations that Northern Alliance forces killed Taliban prisoners as they were being transported to Sheberghan Prison after the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif.

The program concludes with President Bush giving his January 2002 State of the Union Address a month after the Tora Bora offensive. The President emphasizes the successful side of the Afghan campaign and outlines his vision for the next phase of the war on terror--to confront what he called an "axis of evil" formed by states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq. He does not mention the name "Osama bin Laden."

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