Fact Check – Did the Taliban Surrender in 2001?

Last week, I caught site of an article on Commondreams.org published in August, which claimed the Taliban surrendered to the United States in 2001. In it, the author claims that on December 5, 2001, a group of senior Taliban members offered an “unconditional surrender” to US forces at a camp near Kandahar.

Check out my research of the claim below

The surrender is purported to have come after then-leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, penned a letter to President Hamid Karzai “acknowledging his selection as interim president”. It also granted Omar’s ministers, deputies, and aides the “right to surrender”.

If true, this would have been a significant event, not only because it would have marked a serious departure from the previous “conditional” surrenders made by the Taliban over the previous months, but because the purported event has gone practically undiscussed in the intervening time.

Furthermore, an unconditional surrender would have represented the final nail in the coffin for any claims the US made, then and since, about the rationale and intent of the war.

In the leadup to and aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration repeatedly refused to negotiate with the Taliban leadership, which in an effort to end US bombings, had publicly made claims they would meet US demands and hand over Osama Bin Laden (albeit to a third party) if the US provided evidence of his guilt.

While there is plenty of evidence of these conditional surrenders and attempts at negotiating with the US, it is difficult to locate evidence of the unconditional surrender claimed in the article. Unfortunately, it and other similar pieces refer to the same source – a book entitled “No Good Men Among the Living” by Anand Gopal.

With this as the only apparent source of the narrative, it is difficult to say authoritatively whether or not it happened, or whether or not the delegation mentioned in the article were indeed representative of the Taliban leadership more broadly.

I guess I’ll have to give the book a read and find out.


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