The devastation of Kabul did not happen under Soviet rule; instead, it occurred long after, when warring mujahideen factions fought for preeminence. Before departing, the Soviets had installed Mohammed Najibullah, a Pashtun, as the puppet leader of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The Soviets provided crucial military and financial support to prop up Najibullah's brutal dictatorship.
Seeking to break the Soviet influence, the CIA, in concert with the ISI (Pakistan's intelligence service), threw their support behind the efforts of some ten thousand mujahideen to overthrow Jalalabad, a critical stronghold of Najibullah's brutal DRA regime. During this time, an emerging mujahideen leader, Osama bin Laden, led his own fighters to battle. Yet the March 5, 1989 offensive failed miserably, due in part to infighting among the mujahideen factions.
The local citizens had always placed their hopes in their mujahideen leaders; after all, the government had never had much of an interest in preserving the welfare of Afghans. Citizen and mujahideen alike relied on the opium drug trade to survive. Despite this, the hapless people never enjoyed any sort of security; the fierce mujahideen fought for control over contested territories, the opium trade, and a weapons cache happily supplied by the CIA, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Due to continual infighting, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia.
Progress in breaking Najibullah's stranglehold over Afghanistan did not come about until April 1991, when a contingent led by Jalaluddin Haqqani defeated Najibullah's troops at Khost City. Also, with the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union later that year, the DRA found itself adrift without financial and military aid. Sensing an opportunity, a DRA turncoat, Abdul Rashid Dostum, appropriated DRA military hardware and troops to join forces with a powerful mujahideen commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, in the fight for Kabul.
Najibullah appealed for American aid in combating the fundamentalists, but The United States was reluctant to become embroiled in a conflict that clearly held no benefit for American interests. Without crucial aid, Kabul was left open for the taking. In the end, two mujahideen leaders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmad Shah Massoud, fought for control of the city. Bin Laden and other leaders tried to broker a peaceful accord between the two commanders but to no avail. Hekmatyar and Massoud fought relentlessly to annihilate the other, plunging Afghanistan into a vicious civil war that was to see the devastation of almost 40% of Kabul's infrastructure. The local citizens found themselves caught in the middle; by the end of 1993, ten thousand civilians were dead.
The remaining people turned to local militia leaders to protect them against Hekmatyar and Massoud. Afghanistan was now a fractured country consisting of fiefdoms ruled by warring mujahideen. It was from this poisonous cauldron of destabilized anarchy that new warriors were birthed to later carry out terrorist attacks against the United States.
On February 26, 1993, a fifteen hundred pound bomb blew a hole in the World Trade Center building, injuring more than a thousand people and killing six. The bomb was built by Ramzi Yousef, under the guidance of one Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the principal architect of the later September 11, 2001, attacks on the same buildings. Ironically, Yousef had learned how to build bombs from a CIA manual while training at a camp at Khost, Afghanistan, in 1991 or 1992.