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US doesn't classify Taliban as terrorists, paper finds

Published: Wednesday May 3, 2006

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In the latest State Department report last Friday, one item went unnoticed by the press, until now: the US doesn't classify the Taliban as terrorists -- and haven't for the last six years.

The find was made by's Tom Regan. The US does classify other groups on the US hit list as terrorists -- such as Hezbollah, al Qaeda and Hamas.

"In an article entitled 'Terrorism's Dubious "A" List,' the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) reports that the religious extremist organization has never been listed as a terrorist group by the US, Britain, the EU, Canada, Australia, or any of the coalition partners, despite the fact that during its six year rule in Afghanistan, it provided save haven for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and currently is staging terrorist attacks against coalition forces and waging a national campaign of intimidation and fear," Regan notes.

"In a CFR Q&A on the Taliban, Chistopher Langdon, a defense expert at the Institute for International Strategic Studies, describes the group as "an insurgent organization that will periodically use terrorism to carry out its operations," he adds.

While the Taliban became mortal enemies of the United States in the wake of Sept. 11, the group was a Texas oil company favorite under the Texas gubernatorial administration of George W. Bush. A delegation visited Texas in 1997, in an effort to sign a deal for a 2 million British pound oil pipeline.

Wrote the British Telegraph in 1997, "The Taliban ministers and their advisers stayed in a five-star hotel and were chauffeured in a company minibus. Their only requests were to visit Houston's zoo, the Nasa space centre and Omaha's Super Target discount store to buy stockings, toothpaste, combs and soap. The Taliban, which controls two-thirds of Afghanistan and is still fighting for the last third, was also given an insight into how the other half lives."

"The men, who are accustomed to life without heating, electricity or running water, were amazed by the luxurious homes of Texan oil barons," the Telegraph wrote. "Invited to dinner at the palatial home of Martin Miller, a vice-president of Unocal, they marvelled at his swimming pool, views of the golf course and six bathrooms. After a meal of specially prepared halal meat, rice and Coca-Cola, the hardline fundamentalists - who have banned women from working and girls from going to school - asked Mr Miller about his Christmas tree."