by Peter Chamberlin
Bill Clinton seems to get blamed by this neocon administration for many things, but most of all for "losing bin Laden." The ugly truth is that, in this case, they are probably right. Clinton's team probably had good information on Osama's whereabouts most of the time, since they were playing on the same team for most of Clinton's two terms. It is becoming clear from the accumulating evidence that Bill Clinton resurrected Ronald Reagan's Afghan strategy of using Islamist guerillas as his own covert foreign policy in Europe and other intransigent hot spots that seemed to be immune to normal diplomacy. Clinton's foolish toying with Islamist killers is probably the spark that ignited the international jihad against America.
Those of us who are diehard "Bush haters," like to blame Bush senior for creating Al Qaida, when he abandoned Afghanistan. The problem is, even though Bush did abandon the Afghans, it fell to the next misled president to breathe life into Al Qaida. According to Gen. Hameed Gul (former head of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence-ISI- during the war against the Soviets), when Vice President George H. W. Bush became president in 1989, he threatened to "clip ISI's wings." (Gul now serves as an adviser to Pakistan's extremist religious political parties. He may also be the source of the Al Qaida rumors that it was the Israeli Mossad, not bin Laden, that carried-out the 9/11 attacks, as well as the idea of creating an Islamic Caliphate, beginning with Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics.) After the withdrawal of the Soviets on February 15,1989, Bush began to make good on that threat. According to author George Crile, in Charlie's War, on September 30, 1991, the end of the fiscal year, the flow officially stopped (except for $200 million [matched by the Saudis] hidden within the defense authorizations bill for 1992). After the US abandoned Afghanistan, to attack Saddam Hussein, the ISI was left alone to manage the Afghan tribal bloodbath and civil war. Soon after the liberation of Kabul, their man, Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (long the main recipient of CIA weaponry) started the civil war, by firing rockets at Kabul. (The ISI later created the Taliban regime and installed them in power in 1996.)
In 1993, the stage had been set for Clinton to take over, after Bush had walked off the field. His common history with the radical Islamists began shortly after he took office, when he acceded to the demands of the Muslim governments, who were wanting to send aid to their brethren in Yugoslavia. Clinton began a covert operation with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, to send money and arms to Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to a lengthy Congressional report by the Republican Party Committee, published in 1997 (while the Republicans were pre-occupied with learning about the president's sexual habits), the Clinton administration "helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base," by recruiting and arming thousands of Mujahideen through the "Militant Islamic Network." The report then went on to claim administration "…complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo.., involvement with the Islamic network's arms pipeline… (and using Muslim "charity" groups who were) connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Bin Laden…" [Washington Post, 9/22/96]
The result was an illegal Iran-Contra style operation which utilized Iranian militants and elements of Al Qaida in Albania some of which were under direct command of Al Qaida "number two" Ayman al-Zawahiri), to smuggle weapons and mujahedeen though Croatia into Bosnia. This secret program was later duplicated with the Kosovo Liberation Army, and again in nearby Macedonia, as well as in Chechnya. According to author and researcher Yossef Bodansky (director Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare), Clinton also used these Al Qaida offshoots against Egypt, after President Mubarak opposed Clinton's use of force against Iraq in February 1998. Some of these Islamists, again led by Zawahiri, had tried to assassinate Mubarak in 1995. (Zawahiri had earlier gained notoriety as one of the conspirators, and spokesman, for the assassins of Anwar Sadat.) In Bosnia, the Islamists staged attacks upon fellow Muslims in order to elicit international sympathy and thus intervention. The outcomes of these actions effectively converted NATO into the Islamists' air force, the Western press into their propaganda organs, and American troops into their proxy forces.
The Saudis provided most of the money for the covert program in Yugoslavia (just as they had matched all US funds to the original mujahedeen), the Iranians supplied the arms, and the Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) brought the "Afghan-Arab" veterans to the fight. The ISI is widely known as a surrogate of the CIA, which had created them, as well as SAVAK, the Shah of Iran's secret police. During the Afghan jihad, the CIA used the ISI to create the drug/arms pipeline that supplied the war effort and promoted the smuggling of heroin into Afghanistan, in order to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts. (Echoes of Iran-contra CIA drug-running charges.) After the fall of the Soviet puppet Najibullah in 1992, the veteran Arabs took their skills back to their homelands, where they began to spread the militant disease, sharing the technical skills that we had taught them, creating local cells of "the base."
The ISI sent thousands of the remaining jihadis to Kashmir, to wage a new covert war against India, after the alarming series of nuclear tests which both countries had just conducted. ISI seeded thousands of their own paramilitary forces in with the mujahedeen, to lead the fight in the disputed territory. How can we possibly tell the Taliban and Al Qaida from the Pakistani undercover ISI agents? For that matter, is there even a difference? Who is to say if "Al Qaida" is not really just another Pakistani covert operation? Bin Laden himself never used the term before 1999. In 1998 he created the "International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders." According to former agents of the French secret service, "al Qaida" ("the base" in Arabic) was the name for a database of an early version of the Internet that had been created by Saudi Arabia, for families of the Afghan mujahedeen to use to communicate with their honored "freedom fighters." Did Al Qaida originate as a generic name for the entire Islamic mujahedeen support network?
The ISI did not create "the base" (the mujahedeen network) by themselves; it was created by the Saudis under the supervision of the CIA master planners. Were the Pakistanis working with Al Qaida on 9/11? If not, then how were the terrorists able to coordinate their attacks with American war games? Who helped them to pre-wire and precisely time the secondary explosives in the buildings? Was the ISI still in the employ of the CIA in 2001? How could the ISI or Al Qaida have managed to "stand down" the protective fighter bubble, that should have prevented the later attacks, if there was no one on the inside to hobble those defenses?
There are far too many discrepancies in the "official versions" of these events, and in the war on terrorism as well, to allow the cover-ups to continue. President Bush has based the Iraq war and the war on terrorism on a series of cover-ups—a cover-up of the truth about the "Iraq threat" following an even bigger cover-up of the cycle of endless retribution with the Islamists over our shared secret history. Bush has followed the deadly path blazed by Clinton, seeking to revive his lost wars and to force his version of diplomacy upon a targeted Muslim population. Unlike Clinton, Bush is trying to fight multiple wars using the Sunni terrorist network (Al Qaida the base), to create multiple civil wars and to ignite a regional religious civil war. Bush is a lost man, multiplying his failures in hopes of ending up with something that resembles victory in the end product.
Bush has breathed new life into the American/Saudi/Pakistani Islamist network as the foundation for his covert war against Iran. He is using Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as bases of operation, from which to train and launch trained Sunni terrorists into Iran. What are the ramifications of bringing the ISI into the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts? Could the ISI be to blame for the sudden avalanche of "irrefutable proof" being offered of Iranian weapons in Sunni hands in Iraq and Afghanistan? That "proof" was the basis for yesterday's Senate vote to accuse Iran of waging war against American forces. The events on the ground in Afghanistan and in Pakistan speak volumes about Pakistani veracity as our partner in the war on terror. Thanks to them, the Taliban may be on the verge of victory in both of those countries. Afghanistan and the tribal provinces of Western Pakistan could probably be cleansed of most Taliban by repeating the carpet-bombing campaign of 2001, but both countries would choose Islamist governments in democratic elections. A hostile Islamist government in Islamabad would have nuclear missiles with which to carry-out their retribution.
The next president has the awful task of unwinding this tangled mess. If he has any chance at all of accomplishing this task, it will not be by continuing the failed policies of Clinton and Bush. They took Reagan's violent, though successful policy of working with Islamic extremists and tried to co-opt and use the Islamists for very un-Islamic tasks. Bush has exacerbated the repercussions of these manipulations by turning a struggle to bring a few thousand Al Qaida terrorists (whoever they really were) to justice into a "clash of civilizations" against all of Islam. This has proven to be a powerful Islamic recruiting device.
The next president will have to deal with empowered Islamists without being so quick to resort to bombs. He will have to try to reason with extremist Islamist governments. The next president will have to act reasonably, as well. This means that we cannot elect another extremist president ourselves, unless his extremism is in defense of the Constitution and the people it defends, which includes defending the "inalienable human rights" of all people. He must be a man who will defend America against those who call themselves "Americans," while doing so many bad things to so many people.