In this third and final installment Anderson's trip to Afghanistan to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of 9/11; the date is September 13th, 2006 and Mr. Cooper is anchoring AC360 Live from Kabul; still on the roof top and reading more of Lawrence Wright's book, The Looming Tower Al-Queda and the Road to 9/11. If you've missed part of the series and wish to look back, for part one click here and for part two click here.
And thanks very much for joining us. We are live in Kabul, Afghanistan, this morning. This country really has become ground zero and continues to be ground zero in the war on terror. There are some 20,000 U.S. troops now in country, some 20,000 NATO troops as well. The fighting is very intense, and particularly in the south. We have been in the east of Afghanistan, along the Pakistan border, that porous border, contributing to the problem, fighters from Pakistan coming across the border fighting in eastern Afghanistan, and then going back across -- a lot to cover in the next two hours here on 360.
BERGEN: Yes. The United States -- at least we have to understand the difference and sometimes exploit them. I'll give you a good for instance. There was a big debate within al Qaeda about 9/11 itself. A lot of people within al Qaeda said, "Hey, that was dumb idea. And tactically it worked. But we've got this 800-pound gorilla after us in the United States." And there was a lot of criticism of bin Laden internally the year after 9/11 about those attacks. Now, that's a kind of unexpected thing I think that most Americans are surprised by.
That kind of information is useful. Can we use it? I'm not sure. But at least let's know about them and let's, as you say, not paint them more as just one kind of one mass of people who don't like us. The people often don't like each other as much as they don't like the United States.
Afghanistan on Foot
My next guest knows an awful lot about what is happening here in Afghanistan. His name is Rory Stewart. He's a British diplomat. He's also a journalist. He literally walked across parts of Afghanistan after the Taliban fell. Yes, that's what I said. He actually walked. And he also, in post-invasion Iraq, was working -- got himself appointed as the deputy governor. That is the subject of the latest volume of his memoirs called, "The Prince of the Marshes." He wrote about walking across Afghanistan in a book called, "The Places in Between," which is a great read. I've been reading it, Rory.
Documenting what we have been seeing, some of the work that we've been doing. Here's -- here's some of what we have seen over the last several days in my reporter's notebook.
It's easy to get lost in Afghanistan. In Kabul's crowded streets you hear mullahs and music. Horns honk; people pass you by. A car bomb goes off. The casualties are counted. They wash the charred flesh, the broken bones off the street. Kabul doesn't stop for long. Out in the country, you get lost in the silence. The mountains, the desert, mile after mile. You're an outsider, a stranger, and every day you feel it. A furtive glance, a quick laugh. More often than not what you get is a silent stare. Every day U.S. soldiers go out in the heat and the dust, in crowded Humvees, on foot, in the mountains, 70 pounds on their backs, guns, locked and loaded. It is an uphill climb. Progress is slow in the mountains, in the mission. But the soldiers are motivated, perhaps the most I've ever met. They build schools; the Taliban blows them up. They get fired on, but they give as good as they get. America paused this week to remember what happened five years ago. The truth is, these soldiers remember it each and every day. Al Qaeda, the Taliban. The past here is the present. The enemy is all around. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're out here fighting so that we don't have to do this at home, so that our families can stay safe. COOPER: It may be easy to get lost in Afghanistan. But it's important to remember our soldiers are still here.
And they're doing remarkable work here in very difficult conditions.
September 11, 2009: Anderson was back in Afghanistan in 2009, for the 8th anniversary of 9/11 ~
and filed this Reporter's Notebook ~
September 9th, 2011: AC360 Live from Ground Zero
And jumping forward another 2 years, on Friday night's AC360 Anderson sat down with Lawrence Wright (the author of the book he's reading in the top photograph of this post) to talk about 9/11 ten years later. Here's the interview ~
This year Anderson is not in Afghanistan for anniversary coverage, but he will be at The World Trade Center Memorial Sunday morning anchoring CNN's special coverage of the 10th Anniversary with Candy Crowley. I hope you've enjoyed this look back ~ Wonz.