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Afghanistan: The Unfinished War; Suicide Bomber Story; Bin Laden Power; Osama's Hideout; Life of a Junkie; War Widows; Lost Treasure

Aired May 10, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to this 360 special, "Afghanistan: The Unfinished War." It's not just that, an unfinished war, it's also a crisis, a country literally at a crossroads, with thousands of U.S. troops on the frontlines.
The country American forces helped liberate is under siege from all sides. There's the resurgent Taliban, al Qaeda, the opium drug trade and a government struggling to remain in power.

Over the next hour, we're going to take a close look at Afghanistan as it stands now. From an interview with a would-be suicide bomber, to the search for Osama bin Laden.

First, an overview of a war with no end in sight.


COOPER (voice-over): U.S. troops went into Afghanistan back in 2001 and they haven't left since. Part of their mission was to remove the Taliban from power.

But today, the Taliban is back and thriving. Its fighters have launched a spring offense against NATO, American and Afghan forces. They've killed hundreds of people since 2005 with IEDs, executions, kidnappings and suicide bombings. Like one that left at least 10 police officers dead.

The Taliban is also taking responsibility for a wave of kidnappings.

Working side by side with the Taliban and teaching it the tools of terror, is another familiar enemy -- al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden's network continues to operate in Afghanistan, running training camps and carrying out attacks along the Pakistan border.

SAJJAN GOHEL, TERRORISM EXPERT: A lot of the al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan are going to Iraq to train some of the insurgent groups. They're actually coming back then to Pakistan and assisting in the activities of the Taliban, who are carrying out attacks against the U.S. in Afghanistan.

So the problems are very interesting and complicated and have become very diverse, interlinking Afghanistan with Iraq. COOPER: But violence isn't the only threat to Afghanistan.

The drug trade is booming. More than 90 percent of the world's supply of heroin comes from the nation's opium poppy fields. Just last year, a record amount of opium was harvested. The Taliban controls much of it and makes millions of dollars from it, which leads Afghanistan and the U.S. with a grim reality. What began as a clear mission, has spread into a war waged on multiple fronts.

We hear from Washington that progress is being made, but it is clear that Afghanistan is once again on the brink.


COOPER: The most legal threat from the Taliban is human -- kidnappings, IEDs and suicide bombers. In fact, suicide bombers have become their calling card. A terror tactic, that is both terrifying and virtually impossible to stop.

Tonight, you're going to meet a would-be suicide bomber. He's a young man arrested just outside of Kabul. And in an exclusive interview with CNN's Peter Bergen, we learned the details of his training, his mission and why he still to this day hopes to become what he calls a martyr.

Here's Peter's report.


PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST (voice-over): This is the Taliban's answer to the West's overwhelming fire power -- a simple goat herder from the tribal lands of Pakistan, armed with a crude suicide vest and an iron conviction that Allah wants him to kill and die.

IMDADULLAH, FAILED SUICIDE BOMBER (through translator): I wanted to attack the British and foreigners and Americans.

BERGEN (on camera): Do you regret not having succeeded?

IMDADULLAH (through translator): I regret that Almighty God did not allow me to sacrifice myself.

BERGEN (voice-over): His name is Imdadullah. And the Taliban says it has 200 men like him ready to become martyrs.

That number may be an exaggeration, but not by much. According to the U.S. military, last year there were an astonishing 139 suicide attacks in Afghanistan, a five-fold increase over the year before.

We interviewed Imdadullah in an interrogation room in a spot in Kabul prison, the first time an Afghan suicide bomber has spoken to Western television.

He says he's been well treated. He told us he was speaking freely, and he showed no obvious signs of mistreatment. (on camera): How were you trained to do this operation?

IMDADULLAH (through translator): I received that training in Banu (ph).

BERGEN: Banu (ph), a town in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan, near the Afghan border. Imdadullah, who says he's 20, tended livestock, and prepared for martyrdom.

The details of his mission remain murky, but what is clear is that as he was about to attack coalition forces, something went wrong and his vest failed to blow up.

If it had exploded, his body would have been ripped to shreds, but Imdadullah says he wasn't afraid. His soul, he believes, would have gone to paradise.

(on camera): If you had succeeded, what did you expect to happen?

IMDADULLAH (through translator): Almighty God would have given me paradise. A martyr deserves this. Almighty God has promised this.

BERGEN (voice-over): His one concession -- that he wouldn't necessarily kill us, courtesy for a moment overcoming zeal.

(on camera): I'm -- by your standards, I'm an infidel. Do you want to kill the people like myself in this room who are Westerners?

IMDADULLAH (through translator): Why should I kill you? I kill those who bother Muslims.

BERGEN: So you just flip this switch?

(voice-over): At the headquarters of Afghanistan's National Security Directorate, his captor showed us what they said was the suicide vest Imdadullah wore the day he tried to attack coalition forces.

No battery now, so no danger of an explosion. But the sheer volume of what officials said was TNT was frightening enough.

We showed the vest to CNN security officer, who is familiar with this kind of device from his years in Iraq. Because of the nature of his work, we concealed his identity.

VOICE OF BRIAN, CNN SECURITY OFFICER: The principle behind this rather crude system is the detonator will be placed into the explosive. The end of the detonator will be tuned in with these wires and then you have the trigger.

BERGEN (on camera): You spent four years in Iraq. Is this the sort of thing that you'll see in Iraq fairly often?

BRIAN: The technique would have been mastered in Iraq and then brought over to Afghanistan. Underneath the explosive here, you can see molded into newspaper which is being hardened, with glue, you will see ball bearings and nails. Of course, this has a devastating effect if this would go off in a crowded market.

BERGEN (voice-over): Nails and ball bearings glued to newspaper so they stick. There's a clue to its origin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Ardu (ph).

BERGEN: Is that a language spoken in Afghanistan?


BERGEN: And so where is it spoken?


BERGEN (on camera): The fact that Imdadullah is from Pakistan isn't really surprising. Afghans and U.S. military officials blame most of the suicide attacks on Afghanistan's neighbor. They also say that Pakistan isn't doing enough to root out the Taliban. And it's Afghanistan that's paying the price.

(voice-over): The last link in the chain of terror that stretches from Iraq to Pakistan to Afghanistan are young men like Imdadullah. And there's nothing to suggest they will stop.

(On camera): Why did you want to kill the foreigners in Afghanistan, the British, the Americans?

IMDADULLAH (through translator): It is written in the holy Koran to do jihad against the infidels.

BERGEN: You know, in the Koran it also says to kill one person is like to kill the whole of humanity. And it also says that you shouldn't kill civilians. And in your -- if you had been successful, you might have killed quite a lot of civilians. After all, there were -- a lot of explosive packed with nails.

So what do you say to people who say that this is against Islam, trying to kill people?

IMDADULLAH (through translator): It is not fair to kill Muslims. It is fair to kill the British and the Americans. Allah has promised us paradise if we do this.

BERGEN (voice-over): What Imdadullah is ignoring or perhaps is simply ignorant of is that the vast majority of the Taliban's victims by suicide bombings are Afghan civilians. But Imdadullah either doesn't know that or doesn't care.

(on camera): Do you still hope to be a shiheed (ph) somebody who martyrs himself when you get out of here?

Of course. Peter Bergen, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


COOPER: When you hear that young man talking about jihad and being a martyr, it's easy to see the influence of Osama bin Laden.

More than 5 1/2 years after September 11th, bin Laden remains public enemy number one.

Given all the money and the manpower put into the search to find him, it may be hard to understand why he remains as elusive as ever.


COOPER (voice-over): Osama bin Laden turned 50 in March, and the years have not been kind. A gaunt figure limping from cave to cave, cut off, isolated. Al Qaeda reduced to making videos threatening what they no longer seem able to do.

But in fact, the recent past, present and likely future suggests a much different story.

We've only to look back to last year. London 2006, a plot that would have rivaled 9/11 in scope and impact to blow up U.S. airliners with liquid explosives narrowly averted.

And through it all, hundreds of suicide attacks, from Kabul to Jakarta, inspired if not coordinated by Osama bin Laden.

In fact, the Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's top commander in Afghanistan says bin Laden played an active role in planning the February suicide attack on Bagram airbase in Kabul during Vice President Cheney's visit there.

Whether bin Laden in fact had a hands-on role in that attack is questionable. U.S. intelligence officials say if he was that engaged, they'd likely have a better sense of where he is.

What is certain, however, that is he, along with his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, continue to launch highly effective propaganda strikes.

Together they've released more than 40 video and audiotapes since 9/11, tapes that reach tens of millions of people through television, the Internet and newspapers.

BRUCE HOFFMAN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Whether he's involved or not in the actual terrorist attacks, he's about the best recruiting sergeant that al Qaeda could have in terms of drawing new recruits into the ranks, in terms of sustaining the campaign.

COOPER: And those messages are more than just words. Some have carried specific instructions.

October 18, 2003, bin Laden threatens America's coalition partners in Iraq, including Spain. Five months late, bombers target Madrid's strain system.

Spring 2004, bin Laden offers a truce to any European country that gets out of Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever rejects this true and wants war, we are war sons.

COOPER: Britain stays, and a year later this.


You get the point.

So where is bin Laden?

ART KELLER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: The working presumption was somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

COOPER: Art Keller is a former CIA officer who spent time last year hunting bin Laden in the Afghan/Pakistan border region. The smart money says bin Laden is still there, along with his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but it's just a guess.

KELLER: They're both very tough nuts to crack. I think they have really good operational security and they are cognizant that they are high value targets number one and two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think bin Laden has created a kind of organization that can function on its own without his direct involvement. Bin Laden was always very good at selecting enormously talented people as his lieutenants and giving them the authority to act independently.

COOPER: It's because he's put an organization together that can put his directives into action that bin Laden remains so dangerous. Put another way, his words can kill.

In six years since bin Laden brought the twin towers down, he is still talking.


COOPER (on camera): As you see, bin Laden is very much alive, as a symbol.

Coming up, the question, where is he? We're going to take you on the actual hunt for Osama bin Laden.


COOPER (voice-over): Where the roads end, that's where the bad guys begin. Tracking terrorists behind enemy lines and in the mountains where bin Laden may be hiding.

Also tonight, from the fields of Afghanistan to addicts around the world, how the Taliban profits from drug users around the world. (END VIDEO CLIP)



COOPER (on camera): We're in a U.S. military helicopter headed toward a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. We have to fly very low to the ground. The higher you are in the air, the more at risk you are for getting hit by rocket-propelled grenades.


COOPER: For U.S. troops like those helicopter pilots, it is a very dangerous mission, day in and day out.

In many parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban still have freedom of movement. And along that Pakistan border, it is particularly dangerous. It is a region where terror rules and where many believe Osama bin Laden could be hiding.

Bin Laden may be the most wanted man in the world, but as you know, since 9/11, he's been virtually impossible to trace. It's no surprise to anyone who's been to the Afghan border and set foot on the rocky ground.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson takes us there, the Afghan province of Nuristan.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every step, an effort; every breath, hard to draw in the thin mountain air.

Patrols rarely come harder than this for the soldiers of the 1st 158th Infantry Battalion -- just arrived in one of Afghanistan's most inaccessible provinces. To find it on a map, look in the far northeast of Afghanistan, next to Pakistan. The province is called Nuristan, which means land of enlightenment.

(on camera): Well this terrain here is really tough. Nuristan is so remote, it doesn't have any paved roads, doesn't have any hospitals, doesn't even have a proper center of government here. Doesn't even have a provincial capital, not a real one.

And as the commanders here like to say, where the roads end, that's where the bad guys begin.

(voice-over): If the rugged terrain looks familiar here, that's because the last time Osama bin Laden and his deputy were seen together on video, U.S. officials believe it was somewhere near here. That was 2002. The worry is, they could still be hiding here.

DAVID KATZ, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: It is an area that is little understood and little visited by outsiders. So it would be very possible that they could be living in some valley with -- in total security without outsiders being aware of their presence there.

ROBERTSON: For the first time U.S. troops are moving in here in numbers strong enough to hunt down their enemies. While the exact numbers are classified, a tiny outpost is being beefed up.

The major part of the effort, a so-called provincial reconstruction team aimed at winning local support and intelligence on al Qaeda and the Taliban.

2ND LT. LONATHON REABE, 1ST 156TH INFANTRY BATTALION: Some of the villages that we've gone into kind of weren't too happy it seemed like when we first rolled into them. And now they're waving at us, they're smiling at us. The kids come out and we give them some candy and school supplies and all of that kind of stuff.

ROBERTSON: Others are harder to win over.

Just a few weeks ago, well within range of the base's huge 155 millimeter howitzers, a convoy was ambushed. No one was injured. The message these guns are designed to send, the U.S. military can help or it can fight.

(on camera): The highest mountains here are about 6,000 meters -- 18,000 feet. Over there where the snow-capped peeks are, that's the border with Pakistan and that's where these soldiers believe that al Qaeda and Taliban still have relatively free movement.

(voice-over): Afghan and U.S. troops are regularly attacked along this border with Pakistan. The fear is, without more U.S. troops, al Qaeda and the Taliban could get stronger.

REABE: I know that we're helping people out and I know that if we can help defeat the enemy here, I know that my friends and my family and everybody back home will be safe.

ROBERTSON: What plays in the favor of the soldiers is that the people here are culturally, linguistically and ethnically different from other Afghans. Only converted to Islam 140 years ago, they are less to side with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Building on that difference may be these soldiers' best chance of success.


COOPER: Nic Robertson joins me now, and again CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen.

Nic, are there enough American troops, enough NATO troops to finish this unfinished war?

ROBERTSON: There's a time window here, and a limited time window to finish the war before the war escalates, if you will, to defeat the Taliban before they get stronger, before they can have a bigger influence. And I think it's the general opinion among all of the officers, generals I talked to as well, they just don't have enough troops to spread them out where they want them.

Look at the border areas, Nuristan, the mountains, more than 1,000 troops tied down by what's estimated to be perhaps 150 al Qaeda and others in that area, Taliban in that area. It only takes a small number of Taliban to tie down a large number of troops in that terrain -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, how have the Taliban tactics changed since 2001? And what's their relationship with al Qaeda now?

BERGEN (on camera): Well, I think on the high levels of the Taliban, they're quite influenced by al Qaeda. They've repeatedly said -- some of the Taliban military commanders, that they're in touch with Osama bin Laden or that he's even directing certain operations.

Certainly, if you look at the quintupling in the number of suicide attacks last year, the doubling in the number of IED attacks, the tripling of attacks on international forces, al Qaeda and the Taliban seem to be operating in much more similar ways.

COOPER: Nic, how active is the search for Osama bin Laden? You know, I think a lot of people think all these troops in Afghanistan every day are out there hunting caves, looking for Osama bin Laden. But that's not the case.

ROBERTSON: It's an intelligence operation, and the intelligence has to be gleaned very slowly. And the way that's done is sort of classic counterinsurgency, which is what we hear more and more as the troops push deeper into those inaccessible areas where they're sort of hardest of the hard core Taliban and al Qaeda go to hide when they really need to hide.

What the troops are trying to do is get information from the population, and that's the only way. So it's a very slow process.

COOPER: Peter, the big money is on bin Laden being in Pakistan. Isn't that correct? And also I remember you recently had an intelligence briefing when we were in Afghanistan in which you got some indication that they haven't had any new intelligence on bin laden for an awfully long time.

BERGEN: Indeed. They talked about the trail being ice cold, not seeing any good intelligence for several years. And so what -- where the U.S. military and the CIA is on the hunt for bin Laden right now is in the area of informed hypotheses. And he best informed hypotheses put him somewhere in Pakistan, on the northern part of the Afghan/Pakistan border.

But there's a big difference between having an informed hypothesis and having real-time information. And on the latter, they don't have it.

COOPER: And Peter, does al Qaeda need bin Laden anymore?

BERGEN: You know, I mean, if you could have killed Hitler in 1944, it would have certainly brought World War II to a close earlier. While it's certainly the case that al Qaeda will continue without bin Laden, this is the guy who dreamt up the organization. He was intimately involved in 9/11. It would be a huge psychological victory to capture or kill him. And I don't think we can underestimate that even several years after 9/11.

COOPER: Nic, later in the hour, you're going to show us more about the thriving drug trade in Afghanistan. I don't think a lot of people realize just how big it is and what kind of an impact it has really all around the world, but also on what's going on in Afghanistan.

What is the connection between the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the drugs?

ROBERTSON: Well, the wide feeling is, is that in the areas where the Taliban, that the Taliban have most influence, the drugs grow most freely. And certainly we saw that when we were in Afghanistan.

A lot of the NATO troops, when they're in the Taliban strongholds, they're not there to get rid of the poppies, they're there to track down the Taliban.

The Taliban are widely seen as deriving money from the poppy trade, as much as a third, which could be as much as a billion dollars in revenue.

The Taliban, when they were in power, involved in making money out of the narcotics trade, the poppy trade, in Afghanistan, that's used to made heroin. They made money then, they know how to make it. They still have the connections. Al Qaeda needs money too.

COOPER: Peter, everybody but Iraq will say the same thing, whether it's U.S. intelligence, military administration officials that there's ultimately no military solution to Iraq, that it's got to be a political solution. Can the same be said about Afghanistan? Is the use of force against the Taliban and al Qaeda enough to get things under control or is it a question of reconstruction and nation building projects?

BERGEN: Well, you know, counterinsurgency doctrine says that the heart of the -- the center of gravity is the opinion of the Afghan people. And Afghans remain quite in favor of the international forces being there. They're quite happy to see the Taliban gone. But clearly, things have not gone well in 2006. We've seen too many Afghan civilian casualties. Just in the last week, a case of 50 Afghan civilians getting killed in one incident and 20 in another.

And so those sorts of things are producing a certain amount of unpopularity for both NATO presence and the Afghan government.

But yes, so the solution to this obviously is political. There isn't a single U.S. military official who doesn't say this is a political problem, not a military problem.

There are some encouraging signs. The Afghan government remains broadly popular. Afghan is due -- sympathetic to having international forces in the country.

COOPER: Troubling times in Afghanistan.

Peter Bergen, Nic Robertson, thanks.

Just ahead on this special report, how the unfinished war in Afghanistan is hurting the unfinished war on drugs. Afghanistan's narcotics business is now booming, and the U.N. says it is only getting stronger. We'll tell you what is being done to try to stop the flow of drugs from hitting our streets.

Plus, the life of a woman in Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed government promises new opportunities. So why are so many women still suffering? Their story when 360 continues.



Afghanistan Narcotics

Last year Afghanistan produced 92 percent of the world's opium.

Opium trade accounts for an estimated $3 billion.


COOPER: The war in Afghanistan is closely tied to another war happening right here on the streets of America and also throughout Europe and Asia -- the war on drugs.

Most of the world's heroin supply, more than 90 percent of it, has its roots in Afghanistan. That's where it comes from. And since the Taliban left, the crop is becoming only more abundant.

Here once again, CNN's Nic Robertson, from Helmund Province, Afghanistan.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): If the poppies weren't churned back into the ground, in about a month the fields would be awash with color. The flower heads oozing opium paste, the raw ingredient of the narcotic heroin.

(on camera): According to the U.N., this province, Nagahar (ph), and two others are already showing a significant increase in poppy growth this year.

Last year, the crop across the whole country went up 59 percent. The U.N.'s predicting a rise again this year.

(voice-over): And the numbers are amazing. Last year's bumper crop was more than 6,000 metric tons, more than 90 percent of the world's heroin supply. And even in provinces like Helmund, where the U.N. says there's not been much increase in poppy growing, there aren't many places left that don't already grow poppies.

Counter-narcotics officials proudly show off their recent hauls -- 400 kilos in this cell seized since last summer.

(on camera): So this bag here is full of captures. I don't know if you can see them. Here, take a look. Like this carefully wrapped up. And with these captures, what the smugglers will do is swallow them and then when they get to the end of their journey, pass them on.

It would be a significant haul for a European capital. But in Kabul, almost insignificant against the hundreds of tons being produced.

MOHAMMED DAUD, DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We arrest them. We hand them to the courts, then sometimes because of the corruption in the courts and the judicial system, they are let go.

ROBERTSON: A heroin smuggler who agreed to meet us if we kept his identity secret, told us smuggling is getting harder. But bribes still work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, HEROIN SMUGGLER (through translator): If a guy takes a drug 10 times to a place, if nine times the police capture him, then that one time he gets through without being stopped, that will reimburse him.

ROBERTSON: Deputy Minister Daud admits his poorly paid police are no match for smugglers' bribes.

DAUD (through translator): I admit the high amounts of money that comes from the drug trade does encourage even some police officers to go towards corruption. I am very serious in fighting it and curbing government corruption.

ROBERTSON: At Kabul's counter-narcotics headquarters, British officials, who are Afghanistan's main counter-narcotics partner, are after five years of focusing on farmers, now backing efforts to counter corruption and go after drug barrens and mid-level operators.

DAVID CHEESMAN, CRIMINAL JUSTICE MANAGER: What we need to do is to inject grist for those at the top and at the middle end of the trade so that it's no longer incentivized for them to do it. I mean, basically, if they feel that they're going to go to prison, they may want to go and get their money some other way.

ROBERTSON: Back in Nagahar, a tribal leader with influence over the farmers explains to me the farmers are poor and right now the only way they can feed their families is to grow poppies. He wants alternatives.

We are helping the international community, he says. And we want the international community to help Afghanistan make factories for people to work. International assistance, however, is exactly what the man in charge of the poppy eradication program says the farmers have already been getting.

MASSOUD AHMADAZIZI, ASSISTANT TO GOVERNOR FOR POPPY EDUCATION: Last year I was responsible for the same campaign, but it doesn't have this road. It doesn't have this road. Right now I have this road. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was not working (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So right now we -- it's working. We didn't -- we don't have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our clinic. Right now we have this clinic right now.

ROBERTSON: His list goes on. Certainly, the roads and phone services have improved since my last visit.

But what is clearly not happening here is an effective way of combating the booming narcotics trade.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Hanihail (ph), Afghanistan.

COOPER: Nic Robertson tells only part of the story. To fully understand how devastating the narcotics trade is, you have to meet a junkie -- and there are many of them in Afghanistan today.

I met several during a recent trip to Kabul.


COOPER (voice-over): In the shade of a ruined building a man with a ruined life prepares his daily fix. He is one of Afghanistan's estimated 1 million heroin addicts.

The poison this country is exporting is slowly killing Afghans as well.

According to the U.N., a staggering 3 percent of the population is now addicted.

(on camera): It's not too hard to find heroin addicts in Afghanistan today. All throughout the country is it a growing problem. Here in Kabul, you just go to the old part of the city, to a market like this one, and lined up against this mosque wall a couple of dozen addicts just waiting around, waiting for people to give them the money so they can go and buy some drugs.

(voice-over): Some addicts survive on handouts, others steal. Abdul Rahim (ph) sells scrap metal he collects from the garbage. He lives in this abandoned billing. The floors littered with dirty needles and tin foil used to cook heroin.

(on camera): Do you want to stop using?

(voice-over): Yes, he says. Who wants to live in such a place.

Abdul Rahim (ph) has been addicted to heroin for eight years. He hasn't eaten in two days. (on camera): You can see this man's vein. A lot of times an addict will obviously start shooting up heroin in the veins of their arm. Those veins are the easiest to get to. But once they have been shooting up for a long period of time, sometimes those veins will collapse. You can see this guy's vein is pretty much gone. So he has to find other places on his body where he can shoot the heroin. He's now shooting up in his groin.

(voice-over): There are only a handful of free clinics in Kabul that can treat addicts, and space is limited. The New Life Clinic offers outpatient counseling, but only has 10 beds for inpatient rehabilitation. They have more than a thousand addicts on a waiting list.

(on camera): Workers from the New Life Clinic hand out this packet for addicts. It's got a clean syringe, it has two clean needles, as well as some alcohol rubs and some water to use in the injection. It's their attempt to stop the spread of HIV.

(voice-over): Clean needles may reduce the spread of disease, but they do nothing to stop the addiction. As soon as the clinic workers leave, the addicts start shooting up.

(on camera): Most long-term heroin addicts no longer even get a real high from the drug. This man has been shooting up for years. He just does it to feel normal.

(voice-over): Last year's poppy harvest was a record crop, and this year is expected to be even bigger.

Without more money for treatment addiction, experts say Afghanistan's drug problems will only continue to get worse.


COOPER (on camera): Still ahead, the scars of war beyond the drug boom.


COOPER (voice-over): A young bride with a secret and a story you won't believe. The price of being a woman in Afghanistan. That's next.

Also tonight, from silent sentinels to empty spaces. Six years later, picking up the pieces of the Taliban's destruction.



Women in Afghanistan

29.6 percent of Afghan women and girls are in school.

Afghan women have 6.6 children on average. Afghan women die at least 20 years younger than other women in the world.


COOPER (on camera): With the brutal Taliban regime removed from power, life in Afghanistan was supposed to get better. But for many women, it hasn't really been the case. Sadly, they have the scars to prove it.

Here again, CNN's Nic Robertson with a very disturbing look at what it's like to be a woman in Afghanistan today.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Bibi Kuku (ph) is just 19, already married, 5 months pregnant; sought after as a bride because of her beauty.

But now, she's badly burned from her belly on down. She told doctors an oil lamp exploded as she was lighting it. The doctors didn't believe her.

After several weeks, Bibi (ph) finally told nurses the truth. She had been forced to marry, was abused. With no one to turn to, tried to kill herself.

DR. MIRWAIS MALIK, ESTEOLAL HOSPITAL: She stated I have problems with my -- with my brother. My brother just forced me to get married with another man.

ROBERTSON: Outside on Kabul streets I get a firsthand lesson on how brutal life can be for women here.

(on camera): We have just come into the police station. As we've come in, we have seen this lady here. She's been beaten up by her brother-in-law. She's got blood all down her trousers. And when we see her first, she was crying.

(voice-over): We follow one of the station's only two female officers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to see what happens next.

She's responsible for helping the injured woman. But we all get forced out by a male officer who takes charge.

For Pashtun (ph), violence against women is nothing new. It happens a lot, she says, because when men get angry, they think it's normal to beat up a lady. She sees women losing out to men all the time. Most women here don't get a good education.

According to the law, men and women are equal, she says. But the problem is, women just don't know their rights. She does her best to help, encourages women to prosecute men in court. It's what she wants for the beaten woman we briefly met.

(on camera): We found out the woman has been sent home with a letter from the police to her brother-in-law, demanding that he comes in here to face questioning so they can discover exactly what happened.

(voice-over): Reality is, most cases never make it to court. And when they do, the male-dominated judiciary rarely finds in favor of women. Laws take second place to culture and tradition, but disadvantage women.

Homeless (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Charity is dedicated to helping women.

HOMA SULTAIN, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS: There is a thinking about men in my country that they think that women are not real and they're not complete human. They think that they're sick (UNINTELLIGIBLE) human.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The harsh years of the Taliban may be gone and burkas are no longer an edict, they're an option, but in many cases, women are treated not as people, but as possessions. And the laws put in place to protect them are not practiced.

(voice-over): At the new ministry of women's affairs, they are making only slow progress on toughening laws to protect women.

MAZARI SAFRA, DEPUTY MINISTER OF WOMEN'S AFFAIRS (through translator): Changes include a ban on forced marriage, a ban on the exchange of girls in return for settling tribal scores. And a ban on child marriage.

ROBERTSON: For Bibi Kuku (ph), the changes, if they happen, are already too late.

Bibi (ph) and her baby survived, but her joints will always be stiff and her scars will never go away.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


COOPER: More than a million women in Afghanistan are widows due to 30 years of war in their country. Without an education, most of them have become virtual slaves to their in-laws.

Nic Robertson met one person who is on a mission to change that. Here's his story.


ROBERTSON: It is a bumpy road on this clandestine journey to a remote corner of Kabul. Matin Maulawizada, an Afghan-American is our guide. He has returned to the city he once called home, to help war widows learn to read, write and work.

When we arrive, I discover that women must hide their classes from men.

(on camera): So this is just a private house here. MATIN MAULAWIZADA, AFGHAN HANDS: Yes, it's a private house over there. And they have this extra room, so we're renting it. And the ladies work here. They study in the morning. We have our teacher and the girls that are working.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Inside the tiny room, women are embroidering the fabrics Matin sells to pay for their education. Each pattern created by the widow who weaves it.

(on camera): How did these suddenly catch on? How did they...

(voice-over): As we talk at the door, a reminder from the women inside, we must hurry before men realize we are here.

Violating tradition, mixing outside their families.

Inside, Matin explains he took a gamble setting up here three years ago.

MAULAWIZADA: I had saved some money because I wanted to buy an apartment in New York. In New York, the prices are so ridiculous that I couldn't justify putting that money towards an apartment or a studio, I should say. So instead of that, I basically just took their money and came here to work and then it just opened up.

ROBERTSON: Matin calls his school Afghan Hands. In three years, he says, more than 40 widows have studied and worked here.

MAULAWIZADA: Literacy. That was my goal. Even if it was one person at a time -- for women. Literacy was the most important part. These women read and right equivalent to a fourth grader now. And when they're in sixth grade, then I'm going to teach them also how to do tailoring.

ROBERTSON: But education is only part of their success. Matin spends most of his time in New York. His job there, makeup artist of models and movie stars, has given the widows' embroidery priceless exposure sure. Two years ago he was wearing one on a shoot with a model.

MAULAWIZADA: She fell in love with it, she bought one. And then the entire crew brought one. And the stylist had one -- borrowed one to take to a shoot. The photographer bought it and shot it for "Elle" magazine.

ROBERTSON: After features in "Elle" magazine and "People," the embroidered scarves and shawls became must-have items.

Lindsay Lohan wore one in "Just my Luck." Angelina Jolie, on trips to Pakistan.

MAULAWIZADA: That's when I really learned that this project could really have a potential. Before, it was completely like a, you know, like a dream kind of project, they're just for me to help. But now they're helping themselves. ROBERTSON: $150 for a scarf, $400 for a shawl, the money pays for the school and also pays the women for their work and even to attend the classes. It's changed their lives which before Matin's help would be hard for many people to imagine. He translates for one of the widows who was married at 14, had a son, and her husband was killed by the Taliban.

MAULAWIZADA: She didn't see the funeral. She has a child. The child was taken by her mother-in-law by force. So she hasn't seen the child since the child was -- he was 4 years old. And now he's 10.

ROBERTSON: We're going to leave now. The ladies are worried that if they're seen here with men, with us, then it could cause problems with other men, so we're going to leave.

Matin is all smiles as we go to the car. But as we drive away, that changes.

MAULAWIZADA: I grew up with girls, it's OK to do it.

ROBERTSON: Yes. Why not? Let your emotions come out.

Why are you crying?

MAULAWIZADA: Because life is so hard. They still smile as if they don't have anything to worry about.

ROBERTSON: With his help, it seems those smiles might last a little longer.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


COOPER: Still to come, they were the two tallest standing Buddhas in the world, but today they are just pieces of rubble and dust. Blown to bits by the Taliban. When we come back, how archaeologists are trying to rebuild them piece by piece.


COOPER: Throughout this hour we've seen the scars left by decades of war and by the Taliban. The Taliban have done more than just hurt the people of Afghanistan, they've destroyed a cultural treasure. Sculptures and priceless works of art, wiped out. Today, much of it is lost, but perhaps not gone forever.

With that, reporting from Bamiyan, Afghanistan, once again, Peter Bergen.


BERGEN (voice-over): Six years ago, this valley was Taliban country. And the Taliban did here what they did all too often across Afghanistan. They obliterated its artistic beauty. The two tallest standing Buddhas in the world, silenced sentinels over the spectacular snow-capped valley of Bamiyan for 1,500 years were dynamited and shelled.

What had taken hundreds of years to build, reduced to rubble and dust. To the Taliban, the Buddhas were religious idol, forbidden by Islam, an affront to the faith.

For the past four years, archaeologists and restoration experts have been cataloging the thousands of fragments from the giant destroyed statues. It's like trying to assemble the world's largest jigsaw puzzle. And it's not just Bamiyan.

Kabul Museum once housed one of the world's greatest collections of Buddhist art. In the weeks before the Taliban very publicly destroyed the giant Buddhas, they also slipped into the museum with sledge Hammers and destroyed a further 2,500 priceless artifacts stored there.

OMARA KHAN MASOUDI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFGHANISTAN: It was really hard time, not only for me, for my colleague, but for Afghan, for Afghan people.

BERGEN (on camera): Did the Taliban ever apologize for all this destruction?


BERGEN (voice-over): Museum Director Omara Khan Masoudi has worked here for 30 years. Once overseeing a world-famous collection, he now oversees a restoration room where workers painstakingly try to figure out where the fragments go from old photos and fill in the empty spaces with clay. So far, they've restored 300 pieces. At present rate it will take another four decades to restore the rest.

Here is a Buddhist statue after the Taliban destroyed it. And here it is restored. The best that could be hoped for.

Now, take that statue and imagine it's more than 100 feet tall, 10 stories high. That's the task of restoring the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

HABIBI SARABI, GOVERNOR OF BAMIYAN: They showed the history of Afghanistan, the history of this region and also the culture of this region.

BERGEN: Bamiyan's Governor Habibi Sarabi, the only woman governor in the entire country, says archaeologists are still deciding if and how to rebuild the Buddhas. But she wants them back.

SARABI: These are the part of the Buddha.

BERGEN: How many fragments are there? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

SARABI: Yes, for the small Buddha, 1,500. But the large Buddha, it is more than 3,000 pieces. BERGEN: How do you put that back together?

SARABI: It is very hard work, but it's very professional work.

BERGEN: And you're optimistic that this will be -- one day will...

SARABI: Definitely.

BERGEN: But for now, the Buddhas lie in piles of rubble, a testament to the destructive zeal of the Taliban and the difficulty of recovering from their oppressive reign.

Peter Bergen, CNN, Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

COOPER: And as the Taliban continue to fight back and show their strength in Afghanistan, recovery of any sort will just become even more difficult, if not impossible.

We're going to continue to follow this unfinished war.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Good night.



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