The Murderous Legacy of the CIA in Iraq
Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert at Singapore’s Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, believes the role of “Islamist fighters” in Iraq mirror “the evolution of the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s,” according to the Christian Science Monitor . “In the first few years of the conflict, there was only a trickle of foreign fighters into Afghanistan, but that accelerated as the war dragged on.” Gunaratna says “fighters have been practicing terrorist tactics, car-bombings, in Iraq from day one and now they’re much more radicalized.”
It is interesting Gunaratna and the Christian Science Monitor would mention Afghanistan while ignoring the historical details of that conflict. The Afghan war against the Soviets was in fact entirely a CIA (and Pakistan ISI) sponsored and bankrolled affair.
As former CIA director Robert Gates admitted in his memoirs, the United States began providing aid to the Afghan Mujahideen in June 1979, months before the Soviets invaded the country. This was later confirmed by Zbigniew Brezinski, Carter’s national security adviser. “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap,” explained Brezinski. “The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.” In other words, the Afghan war that would ultimately claim the lives of thousands of innocent Afghans, was started by the United States.
“The question here was whether it was morally acceptable that, in order to keep the Soviets off balance, which was the reason for the operation, it was permissible to use other lives for our geopolitical interests,” Phil Gasper quotes a senior official as saying.
Gasper explains how the Afghan war against the Soviets was a CIA sponsored and organized operation:
The CIA became the grand coordinator: purchasing or arranging the manufacture of Soviet-style weapons from Egypt, China, Poland, Israel and elsewhere, or supplying their own; arranging for military training by Americans, Egyptians, Chinese and Iranians; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year, totaling probably more than a billion; pressuring and bribing Pakistan-with whom recent American relations had been very poor-to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary; putting the Pakistani Director of Military Operations, Brigadier Mian Mohammad Afzal, onto the CIA payroll to ensure Pakistani cooperation… By 1987, the annual supply of arms had reached 65,000 tons, and a “ceaseless stream” of CIA and Pentagon officials were visiting Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters in Rawalpindi and helping to plan Mujahedeen operations
The Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid documents how the CIA and the ISI recruited thousands of Islamic militants:
Between 1982 and 1992, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Central Asia and the Far East would pass their baptism under fire with the Afghan Mujahedeen. Tens of thousands more foreign Muslim radicals came to study in the hundreds of new madrassas [religious schools] that Zia’s military government began to fund in Pakistan and along the Afghan border. Eventually more than 100,000 Muslim radicals were to have direct contact with Pakistan and Afghanistan and be influenced by the jihad [against the USSR].
One of such “Muslim radical” was Osama bin Laden. “Bin Laden recruited 4,000 volunteers from his own country and developed close relations with the most radical Mujahedeen leaders,” writes Gasper. “He also worked closely with the CIA, raising money from private Saudi citizens. By 1984, he was running the Maktab al-Khidamar, an organization set up by the ISI to funnel ‘money, arms, and fighters from the outside world in the Afghan war’… Since September 11, CIA officials have been claiming they had no direct link to bin Laden. These denials lack credibility. Earlier this year , the trial of defendants accused of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in Kenya disclosed that the CIA shipped high-powered sniper rifles directly to bin Laden’s operation in 1989. Even the Tennessee-based manufacturer of the rifles confirmed this [according to the Boston Globe].”
“Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn’t exist, America would have had to invent him,” notes acclaimed author Arundhati Roy . “But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI.”
Gunaratna mentions car bombings and other urban terror tactics. “The Americans were keen to teach the Afghans the techniques of urban terrorism—car bombing and so on—so that they could strike at the Russians in major towns… Many of them are now using their knowledge and expertise to wage war on everything they hate,” Tom Carew , a former British SAS soldier who secretly fought for the Mujahedeen, told the Observer on August 13, 2000.
In short, if we are to believe Rohan Gunaratna, the Iraqi resistance—or as we are now told, the al-Qaeda run Iraqi resistance—learned their tactics from the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and American and British trainers. Of course, the Iraqi resistance, regardless of what the Christian Science Monitor reports, is not influenced by al-Qaeda or Osama’s “emir,” Abu Musab al Zarqawi. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that CIA-trained terrorists are at work in Iraq.
Regardless, it is curious that the Christian Science Monitor would mention the Afghan war—and say the tactics used by the resistance in Iraq “mirror” those used in Afghanistan—while not bothering to say those tactics were taught to the Afghans by the CIA and the ISI. Of course, the point here is to convince Americans that the Iraqi resistance is nothing but terrorists, foreign jihadists, crazed Islamic radicals, former Ba’athist thugs, criminals, and dead-enders. Admittedly, to a certain degree, this may very well be true. However, the question is: how many of them were trained and financed—and possibly still are—by the CIA, military intelligence, and other shadowy intelligence elements?