Some sources seem to indicate that the U.S. was planning a military attack against Afghanistan before September 11.

Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.

The day before the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration agreed on a plan to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by force if it refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, according to a report by a bipartisan commission of inquiry.

in August 2001. Central Asian affairs representative Christina Rocca and a coterie of State Department officials voiced disgust and issued a threat to the Taliban ambassador: "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs." Bush promptly informed Pakistan and India that the US would launch a military mission against Afghanistan before the end of October.

However, when I skim Richard A. Clarke's accounts, it seems like the Bush administration was focused on Iraq and was disinterested in Afghanistan.

It seems clear enough that the U.S. was planning an invasion of Iraq before 9/11:


  1. What was the status of preparations and approval of U.S. military action against Afghanistan (if any) before 9/11?
  2. Was the U.S. only considering sporadic bombing in Afghanistan, or were an invasion or regime change efforts being considered?
  3. At what level were these plans approved?
  4. Was a particular timeline in place for implementation as Naik claims?
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    The Military make hundreds of contingency plans as a matter of course, so I'd be surprised if they didn't have plans to invade random countries. Of course whether they expect to use them is another matter. Oct 14, 2019 at 15:35
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    The OP is not referring to contingency plans, that should be obvious from the question.
    – Joe
    Oct 14, 2019 at 16:42
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    @Joe: But the writers of those articles may well have mistaken those contingency plans for actual intent, or - given political motivations - deliberately used their existence to delude their readers into believing there was actual intent. See the oft-repeated claim of US plans to invade Britain post-WWI.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 14, 2019 at 16:52
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the archives needed to answer won't be available for decades (unless the US declassifies them before that for some odd reason). Oct 14, 2019 at 18:06
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    From the Wikipedia article: A change in US policy was effected in August 2001. ... A meeting of top national security officials agreed that the Taliban would be presented with an ultimatum to hand over bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives. If the Taliban refused, the US would provide covert military aid to anti-Taliban groups. If both those options failed, "the deputies agreed that the United States would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime through more direct action." Oct 14, 2019 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


The US military did have and used the plans to invade Afghanistan drawn up prior to 911. It’s not so nefarious as you might think however cause the US military also has plans to invade Canada, Mexico, and many other countries for which an invasion would be unthinkable. These are not hypothetical plans either but very detailed plans. The US military even has plans for a zombie 🧟‍♀️ apocalypse. Literally!

Why? Two reasons, Because good planners require practice. Secondarily you never know what the future will bring. The plans to invade Afghanistan where drawn up in an age when the Soviet Union had invaded and got bogged there. It would have been the last place an American administration would seek adventure. Yet after 911 the plan went into effect. Extraordinarily!

The plan incidentally was to use minimal military footprint and rather to send representatives with money to buy support. During the Bush administration which executed the invasion there were fewer American soldiers in Afghanistan than police officers in Manhattan island. Good plan.

The pentagon defends spending money on a zombie invasion plan by suggesting that components of the plan could be used for more realistic threats. As well as the training benefits.

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    That is clearly not what is inquired here. The question is not about a hypothetical scenario but concrete plans and short- or mid-term intentions on way to realisation. As in: without 911, US would have stilll invaded anyway, as plan outlined in docX (well, or not really, if A to Q is 'no, only hypothetical war game like', as you may want to imply here?) Oct 14, 2019 at 21:50
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    @justCal Even Amazon have contingencies for the Zombie Apocalypse. It's written into their Terms & Conditions for Amazon Web Services (see clause 57.10). Oct 14, 2019 at 22:02
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    @LangLangC For context, see my comments on the question above. Oct 14, 2019 at 22:23
  • @LangLangC there is nothing hypothetical about US invasion plans. They are written, studied, discussed, and graded rewritten and argued over as well as reviewed on a periodic schedule. Again if they weren’t detailed what possible value would they have as an exercise It’s really what a peacetime military does isn’t it, prepare and plan for war. Training war planners is an important discipline of peacetime militaries as is preparing and thinking of the unthinkable.
    – user27618
    Oct 14, 2019 at 22:48
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    @LangLangC Actually, unless and until it explicitly addresses what more the OP wants that is not already in the Wikipedia article, I'd probably argue that the question should be closed as too basic. Otherwise, it is likely to attract exactly exactly those kinds of conspiracy theorists. But in the end, that is a community decision. Oct 14, 2019 at 23:02

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