I do not mean to be offensive here, but I really needed to stop reading the conclusion of Vahid Brown's article about how Abu Walid al-Masri's story of Osama bin Laden's avoidance of a bay'a to mullah Omar should be interpreted. In disbelief. That Brown seriously put down what he did.
"The ambiguity of Bin Ladin’s bay`a challenges the notion that al-Qa`ida is, or ever was, subservient to the aims and methods of the Afghan Taliban."
There are problems later on as well, with Brown's conception of Pakistan, but this already is sufficient to pause and contemplate. The notion after 9/11 certainly wasn't that al-Qaida, an organisation that was willing to blow stuff up around the globe, was hijacked by the Taliban with the latters' narrow focus on defeating the remaining Northern Alliance.
Of the latter goal of the Taliban, Abu Walid al-Masri had this to say, by the way, and this is quoted by Brown himself: the Taliban could not effectively oppose Osama bin Laden's plans as long as they "remained unable to control the remaining territory held by the northern resistance." * (correction: see comments below)
Anyway, what follows from all this? That all or nothing of Afghanistan shall be ruled by the Taliban, from a U.S. national security perspective? Or from a "counterterrorism community" perspective?