It’s very interesting to see the headline of Bin Laden’s first interview with a Western journalist labeled “Anti-Soviet Warrior puts his army on road to peace”. One day he’s your buddy … the next day he’s fish food at the bottom of the sea. Here you’ve got a guy worth hundreds of millions – son of a family with billions and he chooses to go fight a war against infidels while working in tandem with the CIA. We know that Bin Laden participated in purchasing weapons for the Taliban in conjunction with the CIA. We all had our own personal interests: America wanted to see the Soviet Union crumble, Pakistan wanted to increase its sphere of influence with its neighbors and Bin Laden wanted to see his own ideology and religious preferences spread to other lands. And he made some money doing it.
Given the stories below – it is very hard not to imagine Bin Laden doing deals with the C.I.A. wherein he bought weapons cheap and sold them for a tidy profit. It’s quite possible that for all of Bin Laden’s family wealth that in fact America used Bin Laden as one of our weapons merchants. We know Bin Laden was a merchant for the war. We know that America was buying weapons from other countries to make it appear the mujaheddin weren’t being funded by Americans. It’s just hard not to conclude A + B = C on this one.
Bin Laden’s first interview with a western journalist was given to the Independent. It can be found HERE; an excerpt:
Outside Sudan, Mr Bin Laden is not regarded with quite such high esteem. The Egyptian press claims he brought hundreds of former Arab fighters back to Sudan from Afghanistan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the ‘Afghans’ whom this Saudi entrepreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Mr Bin Laden is well aware of this. ‘The rubbish of the media and the embassies,’ he calls it. ‘I am a construction engineer and an agriculturalist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn’t possibly do this job.’
And ‘this job’ is certainly an ambitious one: a brand-new highway stretching all the way from Khartoum to Port Sudan, a distance of 1,200km (745 miles) on the old road, now shortened to 800km by the new Bin Laden route that will turn the coastal run from the capital into a mere day’s journey. Into a country that is despised by Saudi Arabia for its support of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf war almost as much as it is condemned by the United States, Mr Bin Laden has brought the very construction equipment that he used only five years ago to build the guerrilla trails of Afghanistan.
He is a shy man. Maintaining a home in Khartoum and only a small apartment in his home city of Jeddah, he is married – with four wives – but wary of the press. His interview with the Independent was the first he has ever given to a Western journalist, and he initially refused to talk about Afghanistan, sitting silently on a chair at the back of a makeshift tent, brushing his teeth in the Arab fashion with a stick of miswak wood. But talk he eventually did about a war which he helped to win for the Afghan mujahedin: ‘What I lived in two years there, I could not have lived in a hundred years elsewhere,’ he said.
You can see a compilation of almost all of Bin Laden’s interviews and information on this document HERE. It’s all very interesting but here is one excerpt from an interview he gave in London in 1996. He discusses his involvement with the CIA and his role in procuring weapons for the mujaheddin
According to Sa’d, Bin Ladin took the initiative and started talking about himself. He said, “I carry a Sudanese diplomatic passport, using a pseudonym.” “My name is Usama Bin Ladin. I am 44 years old and I was born in Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. When the Soviet Union invaded Kabul, I was residing in Turkey, having left the kingdom because of some differences, which I don’t like to mention now. I was working in trade. During my stay in Istanbul, I got acquainted with many Iranian merchants who had escaped from Iran at the outbreak of the Iraq-Iran war. During that time, Arab mujahidin started going to Afghanistan with the help of the US CIA, which set up a transit camp in Istanbul. Volunteers stayed in the camp and were then dispatched to Afghanistan.”
Bin Ladin continues that “at that time Afghanistan lacked everything. So I and other merchants agreed to help Afghanistan. We sent everything the state needed. Due to the nature of our work, I and my Iranian friends decided to travel to and stay in Afghanistan. In the beginning, we supplied the mujahidin camps with medicine, food, and weapons. In Pakistan, I got acquainted with three Sudanese, who were members of the National Islamic Front [NIF] led by Hasan al-Turabi.
NIF was not in power in Sudan yet. One of the three Sudanese was a young man named al-Tahir, a graduate of the engineering college of Khartoum University. Because he remained jobless for several years, he decided to volunteer for the mujahidin ranks in Afghanistan. Al-Tahir was very bright and polite. He convinced me to invest my funds in Sudanese projects. The al-Bashir-al-Turabi coup then took place in 1989.”
A Pakistani ISI chief named Yousaf who supervised the covert war in Afghanistan against the Soviets in conjunction with the CIA and Saudi Arabia wrote a book called “The Bear Trap”. He explains the logistics and relationships in great detail (although – he is from the ISI so you must consider his self-serving nature). He talks about Saudi Arabia’s involvement with the mujaheddin and wealthy benefactors. It’s not hard to imagine one of those guys being Osama Bin Laden; it’s not hard to imagine that same guy building rock solid relationships with people within the ISI and Pakistani government after his long involvement to take down the Soviets in Afghanistan. You can read the whole account HERE; an excerpt:
If the sum spent was $3 billion then half would have been Saudi Arabian government money. Many additional millions were contributed by Arab organizations and rich individuals, mostly from Saudi Arabia. These funds were channelled directly to the Party of the donor’s choice, usually a Fundamentalist one. The allocation policy is discussed further in the relevant chapter so I would merely emphasize here that the ISI distributed in accordance with strict criteria of military effectiveness and the overall campaign strategy. The Washington Post was correct in stating that no American decided who got the weapons, and was close to the mark when the writer concluded “that the opportunities for diversion and corruption arc far greater before the arms get to Karachi than after”
He then talked about wealthy Arab financiers again:
In marked contrast was Sayaf, whose warehouses invariably held the minimum of stocks, although I must admit he had the singular advantage of receiving generous extra financial aid direct from rich Arab supporters.
It was largely Arab money that saved the system. By this I mean cash from rich individuals or private organizations in the Arab world, not Saudi government funds. Without these extra millions the flow of arms actually getting to the Mujahideen would have been cut to a trickle.
Germany’s premier newspaper Der Speigel says Bin Laden bought weapons from the CIA HERE:
The United States also supplied Afghan freedom fighters in the 1980s with money and arms for their struggle against occupying Soviet troops. One of the best customers for the CIA back then was Saudi millionaire Osama Bin Laden. Two decades later, US commandos are hunting for the world’s most notorious terrorist and his Taliban helpers. Military and civilian aircraft flying over Afghanistan are still forced to make evasive maneuvers to avoid Stinger missiles fired at them which were originally supplied by the United States to fight the Communists.
And then there’s this from the Associated Press HERE:
In an effort to augment the Mujahiddin forces, the U.S. encouraged the influx into Afghanistan of thousands of idealistic Muslims, eager to participate in the struggle, from countries throughout the Middle East. One of the first of these expatriate Arabs was Osama bin Laden, who was “recruited by the CIA” in 1979, according to Le Monde(9/15/01). Bin Laden operated along the Pakistani border, where he used his vast family connections to raise money for the Mujahiddin; in doing so, he “worked in close association with U.S. agents,” according to Jane’s Intelligence Review (10/1/98).
Despite CIA denials of any direct Agency support for Bin Laden’s activities, a considerable body of circumstantial evidence suggests the contrary. During the 1980s, Bin Laden’s activities in Afghanistan closely paralleled those of the CIA. Bin Laden held accounts in the Bank for Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the bank the CIA used to finance its own covert actions (London Daily Telegraph, 9/27/01). Bin Laden worked especially closely with Hekmatyar–the CIA’s favored Mujahiddin commander (The Economist, 9/15/01). In 1989, the U.S. shipped high-powered sniper rifles to a Mujahiddin faction that included bin Laden, according to a former bin Laden aide (AP, 10/16/01).
The Times of India explains how America “created a monster” not only with the Taliban but also with Pakistan. This is coming from India of course … but it rings absolutely true. I can’t find the link for this online to the original story, but this is the article:
“I warned them that we were creating a monster,” Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars said at the conference here last week on “Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia.”
Harrison said: “The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.” The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan’s demand that they should decide how this money should be spent, Harrison said.
Harrison, who spoke before the Taliban assault on the Buddha statues was launched, told the gathering of security experts that he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan. “They told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets,” he said. “I warned them that we were creating a monster.”
Harrison, who has written five books on Asian affairs and US relations with Asia, has had extensive contact with the CIA and political leaders in South Asia. Harrison was a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace between 1974 and 1996.
Harrison who is now senior fellow with The Century Foundation recalled a conversation he had with the late Gen Zia-ul Haq of Pakistan. “Gen Zia spoke to me about expanding Pakistan’s sphere of influence to control Afghanistan, then Uzbekistan and Tajikstan and then Iran and Turkey,” Harrison said. That design continues, he said. Gen.Mohammed Aziz who was involved in that Zia plan has been elevated now to a key position by Chief Executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Harrison said.
The old associations between the intelligence agencies continue, Harrison said. “The CIA still has close links with the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence).”
Today that money and those weapons have helped build up the Taliban, Harrison said. “The Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence, the intelligence wing of the Pakistani government).” The Taliban are now “making a living out of terrorism.”
Harrison said the UN Security Council resolution number 1333 calls for an embargo on arms to the Taliban. “But it is a resolution without teeth because it does not provide sanctions for non-compliance,” he said. “The US is not backing the Russians who want to give more teeth to the resolution.”
Now it is Pakistan that “holds the key to the future of Afghanistan,” Harrison said. The creation of the Taliban was central to Pakistan’s “pan-Islamic vision,” Harrison said. It came after “the CIA made the historic mistake of encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan,” he said. The creation of the Taliban had been “actively encouraged by the ISI and the CIA,” he said. “Pakistan has been building up Afghan collaborators who will sustain Pakistan,” he said. (IANS)
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