On this day in 2001, less than a month after al-Qaida terrorists flew commercial jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, President George W. Bush announces that American troops are on the offensive in Afghanistan. The goal of Operation Enduring Freedom, as the mission was dubbed, was to stamp out Afghanistan’s Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime, which had aided and abetted al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi national who lived in the Afghan hills and urged his followers to kill Americans.
In a televised address that evening, Bush informed the American public that “carefully targeted actions” were being carried out to crush the military capability of al-Qaida and the Taliban, with help from British, Canadian, Australian, German and French troops. An additional 40 nations around the world provided intelligence, as well as bases from which the operations were conducted.
Bush touted the multinational effort as proof that America, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was “supported by the collective will of the world.” He also warned that the war in Afghanistan would likely be only the first front in a long struggle against terrorism. He vowed to continue to take what he called the “war on terror” to those countries that sponsored, harbored or trained terrorists.