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A new era for Afghanistan


Delegates in Afghanistan's interim government are beginning to arrive in Kabul for Saturday's swearing-in ceremony, hopeful that it will mark a new beginning for a country that has endured 23 years of war.

Meanwhile, as the first British peacekeeping forces arrived in Kabul, the Pentagon said an airstrike wiped out a convoy carrying what it described as members of the al Qaeda leadership.


Saturday's swearing-in of a new interim Afghan government will officially end Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Leader designate Hamid Karzai, chosen to lead his country during talks in Germany earlier in the month, arrived in the Afghan capital Friday. (Full story)

Airstrikes on targets in mountainous eastern Afghanistan resumed Friday after three days of reconnaissance missions, including the destruction of a convoy the Pentagon said was carrying al Qaeda leadership. U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace said a convoy with 10 to 12 vehicles was attacked by AC-130 gunships and fighter jets near the city of Khost, southwest of the Tora Bora mountains. (Full story)

Fifty-three British marines arrived at Bagram Air Base as the vanguard of a multinational peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. The soldiers will act as a spearhead to a possible full British contingent of 1,500 and an international team of 4,000 from 16 nations. (Full story)

The Pentagon also announced a new high-tech bunker busting bomb is being sent to Afghanistan. The laser-guided bomb is a "thermobaric" weapon, a high-temperature, high-pressure explosive that destroys underground caves and tunnels. (Full story)

Coalition forces are interrogating about 7,000 prisoners of war in Afghanistan to determine the level of their involvement in the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, a coalition spokesman said on Friday. Kenton Keith told reporters at a press briefing in Islamabad, Pakistan, that prisoners were being screened so coalition forces could determine whether they were merely Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers or hard-liners "with blood on their hands." (Full story)

  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

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The original translation of the Osama bin Laden videotape misses the fact that bin Laden identifies nine of the September 11 hijackers, a Saudi dissident says and an independent translator hired by CNN confirmed Thursday. (Full story)

Afghanistan needs about $9 billion during the next five years to rebuild after 20 years of war, the United Nations and World Bank have calculated. The two organizations presented a joint report to an international aid conference in Brussels on Friday and will give a final assessment at a conference in January when major donors plan to announce an aid package for the country. (Full story)


Who are the Northern Alliance and other key players in the political landscape of Afghanistan, and how could U.S. military intervention affect the balance of power there?

Now that the last Taliban stronghold has fallen, will its fleeing members still pose a threat?

Where is Mullah Mohammed Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

What kind of permanent government will next rule Afghanistan?

How will a multinational peacekeeping force be received in war-weary Afghanistan?

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last?

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success?


George W. Bush: U.S. president

Hamid Karzai: The appointed leader of Afghanistan's interim government.

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks.

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser.

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command.

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense.

The Taliban: A group of Islamic fundamentalists, mainly from Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, which is the country's largest ethnic group. The Taliban that gained control of most of the country by 1997 and instituted an extreme form of Islamic law.

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban.

George Robertson: NATO secretary-general and former British defense minister.

George Tenet: CIA director


The military attacks that began October 7 mark the start of what the Bush administration says will be a lengthy struggle against terrorist organizations worldwide -- one that could take years.


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