The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country bordered by Pakistan on the southeast, Iran on the southwest, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to the north, and China to the far northeast. A highly mountainous country, it has historically been a vital focal point for trade between Europe and Asia, and thus has seen a multitude of invaders seeking to control it.

Saleh Amir

Saleh Amir

In 1978, the country, then officially known as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, came under the control of a communist secular government, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, led by Nur Mohammed Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. Among the functionaries in this new government was Saleh Amir, who didn't care for the PDPA's politics but liked the comfort that came with a high-level government job. Fearing that the PDPA would ally itself with the Soviet Union, the US government began funding rebels, taking advantage of discontent among the largely-religious citizens who feared that the secular government would destroy their way of life. This had two effects: first, it made the government fear that it had enemies within, and on 14 September, 1979, Amin overthrew Taraki who died shortly thereafter (whether Taraki died or was murdered remains undetermined); and second, it drew Soviet attention to the country and on 24 December of that year, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

The invasion created an uproar throughout the Muslim world, where many people were beginning to fear that the secular governments imparted upon them by Western powers would destroy Islam. Thousands of mujahideen (Islamic holy warriors) entered the country, and received enthusiastic support from the US Government under Ronald Reagan, who saw the conflict as an opportunity to expose the weaknesses of the Soviet Union. After ten long and bloody years, the Soviets were forced to leave the country in defeat.

Once the Soviets were driven from the country, the United States government followed soon after, believing that the threat of another jihad would be sufficient to deter the Soviets from any further military adventures in the Middle East. The mujahideen did not, however, and the war-ravaged PDPA now faced the prospect of a revolt. The PDPA begged the Soviets for help in exchange for access to their country, and while the Soviets obliged to the eventual tune of $3 billion a year, by 19 March, 1992, the PDPA had collapsed. Four years of civil war ensued, and in 1996, the country had fallen under the rule of the Taliban, an obscure group of Islamic scholars who found the chaos to be a perfect opportunity to impose a strict Islamic theocracy upon the country. Many people, particularly women, were locked up or killed under the Taliban. Saleh Amir, as one of the remaining holdouts from the PDPA, escaped persecution by offering his daughter Nafeesa to the son of a minister in the Taliban in exchange for a diplomatic post in the United States. When Nafeesa ruined the deal by taking a boyfriend in America, Amir and his son Jaleel killed her and used their diplomatic immunity to try and avoid charges. Jaleel was arrested and found guilty of the murder, but Amir fled the United States and his current whereabouts are unrevealed. (SVU: "Honor")

Shortly after the Amir incident, Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that was harbored by the Taliban government in Afghanistan, attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. 19 al-Qaeda terrorist hijacked four airliners. Two were flown into the World Trade Center, both of which collapsed two hours later. Another hit the Pentagon. A fourth destined for Washington, DC crash in Pennsylvania after the passengers attempted to take down the hijackers. Having not technically been involved, only providing safe haven for the terrorist, the Taliban regime attempted to wash their hands of the incident by offering to hand over Al Qaeda to US authorities, but demanded that evidence be furnished to prove that the Al Qaeda members within their borders were connected to the terrorist attacks. The United States Army opted to invade the country instead, and the Taliban were officially deposed. A democratic and semi-secular government has since been in place.

At present, Afghanistan is ostensibly under the control of a new, US-backed government, but geographic and ethnic complications have forced the US Army to make deals with regional warlords, including the drug lord Qaadar Khaleel, who is currently incarcerated after using US assistance to bring heroin into the United States. (L&O: "Enemy")

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