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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: Afghanistan

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

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Case 99-1
US and UN v. Afghanistan (Taliban)
(1999–2002: extradition of Osama Bin Laden)

| Chronology of Key Events | Goals of Sender Country | Response to Target Country |
Attitude of Other Countries | Legal Notes | Economic Impact | Assessment |
Author's Summary | Bibliography |


Chronology of Key Events

22 May 1997

Clinton administration lists Afghanistan as not cooperating fully with US terrorism efforts. This designation, created by the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996, triggers a ban on arms sales to that country. The administration never designated Afghanistan as a state sponsor of terrorism because that could constitute de facto recognition of the Taliban as legitimate government of Afghanistan. (Washington Post, 5 November 2001, A15)
7 August 1998 US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, are bombed by terrorists. Over 200 people including 12 Americans are killed. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian dissident reportedly now in Afghanistan, is believed to have orchestrated the attacks. (USIS, 9 August 1998; Financial Times, 25 August 1998, 12; Washington Post, 7 July 1999, A15)
20 August 1998 In response to the embassy bombings, US bombs three training bases in Afghanistan used by bin Laden’s terrorist network, as well as a Sudanese chemical factory thought to be linked to bin Laden. In addition, President Clinton freezes US-held assets of bin Laden and prohibits financial transactions between bin Laden and US companies or citizens. (USIS Washington File, 25 August 1998; Financial Times, 25 August 1998, 12)
4 November 1998 A federal grand jury in New York indicts bin Laden and his chief military commander, Muhammad Atef, on charges of conspiracy and murder for the bombings. The US Department of State offers a reward of $5 million each for information leading to the arrest or conviction of bin Laden and Atef. (New York Times, 5 November 1998, 1; USIS, 6 October 1999; Washington Post, 24 November 1999, A20)
4 July 1999 In an effort to put pressure on the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan to surrender bin Laden, President Clinton issues an executive order freezing all Taliban assets in the United States. The order also bars imports of products from Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan, and prohibits exports of goods and services to the Taliban with the exemption of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. Almost 90 percent of the territory of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban. State Department officials emphasize that sanctions are “not aimed at the people of Afghanistan.” (Washington Post, 7 July 1999, A18; Financial Times, 7 July 1999, 7)
9 July 1999 After months of denial, Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil acknowledges that bin Laden is living in Afghanistan. (Washington Post, 9 July 1999, A25)
10 August 1999 US designates Ariana Afghan Airlines as an agent of Taliban and blocks Ariana assets within US jurisdiction, valued at roughly $500,000. (USIS, 10 August 1999; Washington Post, 11 August 1999, A13)
15 October 1999 UNSC unanimously adopts US, Russian-proposed resolution 1267 that threatens sanctions unless Taliban surrenders bin Laden to “appropriate authorities in a country where he will be arrested and effectively brought to justice”. If UNSC demands are not met by 14 November 1999 an air embargo on Taliban-owned aircraft and freeze of overseas assets comes into effect. Flights for humanitarian and religious purposes are exempted. (USIS, 15 October 1999; New York Times, 19 October 1999, A6)
9 November 1999 Foreign Minister Muttawakil states that the Taliban is willing to negotiate with US but refuses to expel bin Laden. Taliban also states that bin Laden will be handed over only if US provides proof of his involvement in terrorism. US rejects proposal by bin Laden to leave for a secret destination and to establish a panel of international Islamic clerics to decide his fate. (Associated Press, 2 November 1999; Washington Post, 4 November 1999, A26; 11 November 1999, A36; 7 October 1999, A25)
14 November 1999 UN sanctions take effect. Demonstrators protest sanctions and raid UN offices in several Afghan cities including Kabul, the capital. Foreign Minister Muttawakil appeals for a delay of sanctions and renewal of talks but reiterates that his government will not hand over bin Laden. (Washington Post, 15 November 1999, A17; New York Times, 16 November 1999, A6)
21 November 1999 Iran reopens its border with Afghanistan, which had been closed for over a year due to political tensions. Afghan business people expect the resumption of trade with Iran to ease the impact of UN sanctions. (Washington Post, 22 December 1999, A25, A27; Associated Press, 21 November 1999)
1–2 August 2000 US-Russian working group on Afghanistan meets for the first time in Washington. US and Russian officials agree to work together for expanded sanctions against the Taliban in view of their refusal to implement UNSC Resolution 1267. A week later, White House announces that it is discussing the possibility of an arms embargo with members of the UNSC. (New York Times, 4 August 2000, A5; Wall Street Journal, 8 August 2000, A1)
17 August 2000 Study released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that economic sanctions have limited but “tangible negative effects” on the Afghan population. Study also shows widespread support for an arms embargo amongst the Afghan population. (International Herald Tribune, 30 August 2000, 5)
19 December 2000 UN Security Council passes US and Russian-backed resolution demanding that the Taliban comply with resolution 1267, turn over Osama bin Laden, and close all terrorist camps within 30 days. Resolution 1333 imposes an arms embargo against the Taliban that also includes military training and advice. Arms embargo does not apply to other factions in Afghan civil war. In addition resolution demands all Taliban and Ariana Afghan Airline offices be closed immediately, imposes assets freeze on bin Laden, individuals and entities associated with him, bans all non-humanitarian flights into and out of Afghanistan, and restricts travel of top Taliban officials except for the purposes of participating in peace negotiations. In addition, UNSC bans the export of a chemical, acetic anhydride, that is used for heroin manufacture in Afghanistan. Measures are to come into effect in one month and, at the insistence of France, will be reviewed in one year. (New York Times, 8 December 2000, A3; UNSC Resolution 1333, 19 December 2000; USIS, 11 December 2000)
19 January 2001 UN sanctions come into effect. (UN Press Release, UNSC 6994, 19 January 2001)
15 February 2001 In response to US demands that Taliban office in New York be closed in accordance with UN sanctions, Taliban orders UN Special mission in Afghanistan to close its office. (USIS, 14 February 2001; New York Times, 15 February 2001, A6)
19 March 2001 Taliban government delivers letter to President Bush calling for improved relations but does not make specific proposal addressing US concerns over terrorism and Osama bin Laden. (New York Times, 19 March 2001, A9; Financial Times, 20 March 2001, 6)
26 March 2001 Report by UN Secretary-General indicates that new sanctions imposed under resolution 1333 are carefully targeted on the Taliban and avoid undue humanitarian impact. The report shows that the prices of food and basic commodities have remained stable, humanitarian exemption procedures are operating smoothly, and humanitarian agencies have been able to continue their work largely unhindered. (USIS, 26 March 2001; United Nations 1)
26 May 2001 UN Expert Panel on international sanctions in Afghanistan recommends assisting neighboring countries in strengthening border controls. Panel further recommends better monitoring of air traffic to reduce the flow of arms and munitions to Afghanistan via Pakistan and monitoring of fuel for aircrafts and tanks. (New York Times, 26 May 2001, A6; UN Security Council S/2001/511, 22 May 2001)
30 May 2001 After three-month trial, federal jury in New York convicts four alleged members of al Qaeda network to life in prison for plotting the bombing attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Eighteen others, including bin Laden, have been indicted in the conspiracy. (Washington Post, 30 May 2001, A1; Washington Post, 19 October 2001, A1)
2 July 2001 President Bush sign executive order maintaining economic sanctions against Afghanistan and its ruling Taliban movement. (New York Times, 3 July 2001, A7)
30 July 2001 UNSC passes resolution setting up monitoring groups and sanctions enforcement support teams along the border with Pakistan to ensure that no arms or military support is provided to the Taliban. (UN Security Council Resolution 1363, 30 July 2001; CRS 18)
11 September 2001 Four hijacked planes on suicide missions crash into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC and a field in southwestern Pennsylvania. Part of the Pentagon and the two World Trade Center towers collapse; more than 3,000 people die in the attack. In his address to the nation President Bush states that US “will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” US officials and investigators quickly identify Osama bin Laden as mastermind behind the attacks. Bin Laden denies that he is responsible. (Financial Times, 13 September 2001, 1; Washington Post, 14 September 2001, A9; New York Times, 21 September 2001, A1, B3)
13 September 2001 In an unprecedented move, NATO invokes the collective defense arrangements under article 5 and states that terror attacks on the US constitute an attack against all NATO members. (Washington Post, 13 September 2001, A25)
17 September 2001 Pakistani delegation warns Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to hand over bin Laden or be hit by a retaliatory strike from a US-led international anti-terror coalition. Taliban announces that grand Islamic Council is to decide on the fate of Osama bin Laden. (Financial Times, 18 September 2001, 5)
20 September 2001 Afghan council of clerics recommend that Taliban persuade bin Ladin to leave the country “in the proper time and of his own free will.” US rejects recommendation as insufficient. (Washington Post, 221 September 2002, A1; USIS, 20 September 2002)
24 September 2001 President Bush issues Executive Order freezing assets of several designated terrorists and terrorist organizations and prohibiting any transactions with these entities including donations. In the coming months additional entities and individuals are added to the list of designated terrorists and terrorist organizations. (Financial Times, 25 September 2001, 1, New York Times, 25 September 2001, A1)
27 September 2001 Taliban announces that they have asked Osama bin Laden to leave the country. Announcement is seen as a last minute effort to avoid military strikes. (New York Times, 28 September 2002, A1; Washington Post, 28 September 2002, A23)
28 September 2001 UN Security Council calls on states to freeze all funds and financial assets of terrorists as well as persons and entities associated with them. Council also calls on states to prohibit their citizens from making funds and economic resources available to terrorists. (UNSC 1373, 28 September 2001)
7 October 2001 US and UK launch first in a series of air strikes against several defense facilities and airfields around Afghan capital Kabul and the Taliban stronghold Kandahar. (Financial Times, 8 October 2001, 1; 9 October 2001, 3)
13 November 2001 Taliban forces pull out of capital Kabul. Northern Alliance troops seize control over the city and set up an interim administration. (Washington Post, 13 September 2001, A15; 14 November 2001, A1, A21)
5 December 2001 After seven days of UN sponsored talks, delegates of various Afghan factions sign peace agreement in Bonn, Germany. New interim government lead by Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai is expected to take over Kabul on December 22. The 30-member interim government will govern until a loya jirga, Afghan tribal council, establishes a two-year transitional government to pave the way for a new constitution and democratic elections. (Financial Times, 6 December 2001, 2; Washington Post, 7 December 2001, A32; CRS 8)
20 December 2001 UN Security Council authorizes multinational peacekeeping force for Kabul. UN mandate allows peacekeeping force to “use all available means” to ensure a smooth transition for the interim government. (Financial Times, 21 December 2001, 3)
11 January 2002 UN Security Council excludes the Afghan Central Bank from the list of entities subject to financial sanctions, thus clearing the way for release of frozen funds. (UN Security Council Press Release SC/7263, 11 January 2002; New York Times, 15 January 2002)
15 January 2002 UN Security Council lifts flight ban and financial sanctions imposed against Ariana Afghan airline in October 1999. Council states that Afghanistan’s national airline is no longer “owned, leased, or operated by or on behalf of the Taliban.” (USIS, 15 January 2002; UN Security Council Resolution 1388, 15 January 2002)
16 January 2002 UN Security Council revises sanctions imposed in 2000 due to expire this week. Arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze imposed against Afghanistan are lifted; freeze on financial assets of Osama bin Laden, people and groups associated with him remain in place. In addition UN imposes arms embargo and travel ban against bin Laden, Al-Qaeda members and remnants of the Taliban leadership who remain at large. Measures will to be reviewed after 1 year. (Associated Press, 17 January 2002; Financial Times, 17 January 2002, 5; UN Security Council Resolution, 16 January 2002)
21–22 January 2002 At international donor conference in Tokyo, donors and international aid agencies pledge $4.5 billion in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan over the next several years. The US pledges $297 million in aid for 2002. (Washington Post, 22 January 2002, A8; New York Times, 22 January 2002, A1)
24 January 2002 US is releasing $193 million in gold reserves and $24 million in cash held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to the Afghan Central Bank. In addition, US makes another $25 million in frozen Afghan Central Bank accounts, $23 million in overflight fees held in an escrow account and $1.3 million belonging to Ariana Afghan airline available to government of Afghanistan. (USIS, 24 January 2002)
28 January 2002 Embassy of Afghanistan is reopened in Washington, DC. (USIS, 28 January 2002)
3 May 2002 President Bush issues proclamation restoring normal trade relations with Afghanistan suspended since 1986. Bush states that restoring nondiscriminatory trade “will support US efforts to normalize relations with Afghanistan and facilitate increased trade with the United States.” (USIS, 3 May 2002)

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