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What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center


by Michel Chossudovsky
Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa
12 September 2001

A few hours after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the 
Pentagon, the Bush administration concluded without supporting evidence, 
that "Ousmane bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation were prime suspects".
CIA Director George Tenet stated that bin Laden has the capacity to plan
"multiple attacks with little or no warning." Secretary of State Colin 
Powell called the attacks "an act of war" and President Bush confirmed in 
an evening televised address to the Nation that he would "make no 
distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who 
harbor them". Former CIA Director James Woolsey pointed his finger at
"state sponsorship," implying the complicity of one or more foreign 
governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser, Lawrence 
Eagleburger, "I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are 
terrible in our strength and in our retribution."

Meanwhile, parroting official statements, the Western media mantra has 
approved the launching of "punitive actions" directed against civilian 
targets in the Middle East. In the words of William Saffire writing in the
New York Times: "When we reasonably determine our attackers' bases and 
camps, we must pulverize them -- minimizing but accepting the risk of 
collateral damage -- and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror's 
national hosts".

The following text outlines the history of Ousmane Bin Laden and the links
of the Islamic "Jihad" to the formulation of US foreign policy during the 
Cold War and its aftermath.

*                  *                   *

Prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorists attacks, branded 
by the FBI as an "international terrorist" for his role in the African US 
embassy bombings, Saudi born Ousmane bin Laden was recruited during the 
Soviet-Afghan war "ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight 
Soviet invaders". 1

In 1979 "the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA" was 
launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in support of 
the pro-Communist government of Babrak Kamal.2:

"With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI [Inter 
Services Intelligence], who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global 
war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 
Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight 
between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani 
madrasahs. Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were 
directly influenced by the Afghan jihad."3

The Islamic "jihad" was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia 
with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent 
drug trade:

"In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision 
Directive 166,...[which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to 
the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new 
goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and 
encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a
dramatic increase in arms supplies -- a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually
by 1987, ... as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA and Pentagon 
specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on 
the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA specialists met 
with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the 
Afghan rebels."4

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using Pakistan's military 
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played a key role in training the 
Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA sponsored guerrilla training was integrated 
with the teachings of Islam:

"Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete socio-political 
ideology, that holy Islam was being violated by the atheistic Soviet 
troops, and that the Islamic people of Afghanistan should reassert their 
independence by overthrowing the leftist Afghan regime propped up by 


Pakistan's ISI was used as a "go-between". The CIA covert support to the
"jihad" operated indirectly through the Pakistani ISI, --i.e. the CIA did 
not channel its support directly to the Mujahideen. In other words, for 
these covert operations to be "successful", Washington was careful not to 
reveal the ultimate objective of the "jihad", which consisted in 
destroying the Soviet Union.

In the words of CIA's Milton Beardman "We didn't train Arabs". Yet 
according to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-aram Center for Strategic 
Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the "Afghan Arabs" had been imparted "with
very sophisticated types of training that was allowed to them by the CIA" 6

CIA's Beardman confirmed, in this regard, that Ousmane bin Laden was not 
aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of 
bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): "neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence 
of American help". 7

Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were 
unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. 
While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence 
hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with 
Washington or the CIA.

With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of US military aid, 
the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel structure wielding 
enormous power over all aspects of government". 8 The ISI had a staff 
composed of military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover 
agents and informers, estimated at 150,000. 9

Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani military 
regime led by General Zia Ul Haq:

"'Relations between the CIA and the ISI [Pakistan's military intelligence]
had grown increasingly warm following [General] Zia's ouster of Bhutto and 
the advent of the military regime,'... During most of the Afghan war, 
Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. 
Soon after the Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia [ul Haq] 
sent his ISI chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA
only agreed to this plan in October 1984.... 'the CIA was more cautious 
than the Pakistanis.' Both Pakistan and the United States took the line of
deception on Afghanistan with a public posture of negotiating a settlement 
while privately agreeing that military escalation was the best course."10


The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related to the
CIA's covert operations. Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war, opium production 
in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to small regional markets. There 
was no local production of heroin. 11 In this regard, Alfred McCoy's study
confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in 
Afghanistan, "the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's top 
heroin producer, supplying 60 percent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the 
heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979... to 1.2 million by 
1985 -- a much steeper rise than in any other nation":12

"CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the Mujahideen 
guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to 
plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan 
leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence
operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open 
drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to 
instigate major seizures or arrests ... U.S. officials had refused to 
investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies 'because U.S. 
narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against 
Soviet influence there.' In 1995, the former CIA director of the Afghan 
operation, Charles Cogan, admitted the CIA had indeed sacrificed the drug 
war to fight the Cold War. 'Our main mission was to do as much damage as 
possible to the Soviets. We didn't really have the resources or the time 
to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,'... 'I don't think that 
we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout.... There 
was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was 
accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.'"13


In the wake of the Cold War, the Central Asian region is not only 
strategic for its extensive oil reserves, it also produces three quarters 
of the World's opium representing multibillion dollar revenues to business
syndicates, financial institutions, intelligence agencies and organized 
crime. The annual proceeds of the Golden Crescent drug trade (between 100 
and 200 billion dollars) represents approximately one third of the 
Worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, estimated by the United Nations to
be of the order of $500 billion.14

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a new surge in opium 
production has unfolded. (According to UN estimates, the production of 
opium in Afghanistan in 1998-99 -- coinciding with the build up of armed 
insurgencies in the former Soviet republics-- reached a record high of 
4600 metric tons.15 Powerful business syndicates in the former Soviet 
Union allied with organized crime are competing for the strategic control 
over the heroin routes.

The ISI's extensive intelligence military-network was not dismantled in 
the wake of the Cold War. The CIA continued to support the Islamic "jihad"
out of Pakistan. New undercover initiatives were set in motion in Central 
Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Pakistan's military and intelligence 
apparatus essentially "served as a catalyst for the disintegration of the 
Soviet Union and the emergence of six new Muslim republics in Central
Asia." 16.

Meanwhile, Islamic missionaries of the Wahhabi sect from Saudi Arabia had 
established themselves in the Muslim republics as well as within the 
Russian federation encroaching upon the institutions of the secular State.
Despite its anti-American ideology, Islamic fundamentalism was largely 
serving Washington's strategic interests in the former Soviet Union.

Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the civil war in 
Afghanistan continued unabated. The Taliban were being supported by the 
Pakistani Deobandis and their political party the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam 
(JUI). In 1993, JUI entered the government coalition of Prime Minister 
Benazzir Bhutto. Ties between JUI, the Army and ISI were established. In 
1995, with the downfall of the Hezb-I-Islami Hektmatyar government in 
Kabul, the Taliban not only instated a hardline Islamic government, they 
also "handed control of training camps in Afghanistan over to JUI
factions..." 17

And the JUI with the support of the Saudi Wahhabi movements played a key 
role in recruiting volunteers to fight in the Balkans and the former 
Soviet Union.

Jane Defense Weekly confirms in this regard that "half of Taliban manpower
and equipment originate[d] in Pakistan under the ISI" 18 In fact, it would 
appear that following the Soviet withdrawal both sides in the Afghan civil
war continued to receive covert support through Pakistan's ISI. 19

In other words, backed by Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) which in 
turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic State was largely 
serving American geopolitical interests. The Golden Crescent drug trade 
was also being used to finance and equip the Bosnian Muslim Army (starting
in the early 1990s) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In last few 
months there is evidence that Mujahideen mercenaries are fighting in the 
ranks of KLA-NLA terrorists in their assaults into Macedonia.

No doubt, this explains why Washington has closed its eyes on the reign of
terror imposed by the Taliban including the blatant derogation of women's 
rights, the closing down of schools for girls, the dismissal of women 
employees from government offices and the enforcement of "the Sharia laws 
of punishment".20


With regard to Chechnya, the main rebel leaders Shamil Basayev and Al 
Khattab were trained and indoctrinated in CIA sponsored camps in 
Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the 
U.S. Congress's Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the 
war in Chechnya had been planned during a secret summit of HizbAllah 
International held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia. 21 The summit, was 
attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Iranian and Pakistani 
intelligence officers. In this regard, the involvement of Pakistan's ISI 
in Chechnya "goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and 
expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling 
the shots in this war". 22

Russia's main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and Dagestan. 
Despite Washington's perfunctory condemnation of Islamic terrorism, the 
indirect beneficiaries of the Chechen war are the Anglo-American oil 
conglomerates which are vying for control over oil resources and pipeline 
corridors out of the Caspian Sea basin.

The two main Chechen rebel armies (respectively led by Commander Shamil 
Basayev and Emir Khattab) estimated at 35,000 strong were supported by 
Pakistan's ISI, which also played a key role in organizing and training 
the Chechen rebel army:

"[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for Basayev 
and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination 
and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at 
Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by 
famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating 
from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in 
Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, 
Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence 
officers: Minister of Defense General Aftab Shahban Mirani, Minister of 
Interior General Naserullah Babar, and the head of the ISI branch in 
charge of supporting Islamic causes, General Javed Ashraf, (all now 
retired). High-level connections soon proved very useful to Basayev.23 
Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev was assigned to 
lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the first Chechen war 
in 1995. His organization had also developed extensive links to criminal 
syndicates in Moscow as well as ties to Albanian organized crime and the 
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In 1997-98, according to Russia's Federal 
Security Service (FSB) "Chechen warlords started buying up real estate in 
Kosovo... through several real estate firms registered as a cover in 
Yugoslavia" 24

Basayev's organisation has also been involved in a number of rackets 
including narcotics, illegal tapping and sabotage of Russia's oil 
pipelines, kidnapping, prostitution, trade in counterfeit dollars and the 
smuggling of nuclear materials (See Mafia linked to Albania's collapsed 
pyramids, 25 Alongside the extensive laundering of drug money, the 
proceeds of various illicit activities have been funneled towards the 
recruitment of mercenaries and the purchase of weapons.

During his training in Afghanistan, Shamil Basayev linked up with Saudi 
born veteran Mujahideen Commander "Al Khattab" who had fought as a 
volunteer in Afghanistan. Barely a few months after Basayev's return to 
Grozny, Khattab was invited (early 1995) to set up an army base in 
Chechnya for the training of Mujahideen fighters. According to the BBC, 
Khattab's posting to Chechnya had been "arranged through the Saudi-Arabian
based [International] Islamic Relief Organisation, a militant religious 
organisation, funded by mosques and rich individuals which channeled funds
into Chechnya".26


Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported Ousmane bin 
Laden, while at same time placing him on the FBI's "most wanted list" as 
the World's foremost terrorist.

While the Mujahideen are busy fighting America's war in the Balkans and 
the former Soviet Union, the FBI --operating as a US based Police Force- 
is waging a domestic war against terrorism, operating in some respects 
independently of the CIA which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- 
supported international terrorism through its covert operations.

In a cruel irony, while the Islamic jihad --featured by the Bush 
Adminstration as "a threat to America"-- is blamed for the terrorist 
assaults on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, these same Islamic 
organisations constitute a key instrument of US military-intelligence 
operations in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the truth
must prevail to prevent the Bush Adminstration together with its NATO 
partners from embarking upon a military adventure which threatens the 
future of humanity.


Hugh Davies, International: 'Informers' point the finger at bin Laden; 
Washington on alert for suicide bombers, The Daily Telegraph, London, 24 
August 1998.

See Fred Halliday, "The Un-great game: the Country that lost the Cold War,
Afghanistan, New Republic, 25 March 1996):

Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign Affairs, 
November-December 1999.

Steve Coll, Washington Post, July 19, 1992.

Dilip Hiro, Fallout from the Afghan Jihad, Inter Press Services, 21 
November 1995.

Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August 1998.


Dipankar Banerjee; Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry, India 
Abroad, 2 December 1994.


See Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside 
Story of the Soviet Withdrawal, Oxford university Press, New York, 1995. 
See also the review of Cordovez and Harrison in International Press 
Services, 22 August 1995.

Alfred McCoy, Drug fallout: the CIA's Forty Year Complicity in the 
Narcotics Trade. The Progressive; 1 August 1997. Ibid


Douglas Keh, Drug Money in a changing World, Technical document no 4, 1998
, Vienna UNDCP, p. 4. See also Report of the International Narcotics 
Control Board for 1999, E/INCB/1999/1 United Nations Publication, Vienna 
1999, p 49-51, And Richard Lapper, UN Fears Growth of Heroin Trade, 
Financial Times, 24 February 2000.

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board, op cit, p 49-51, see 
also Richard Lapper, op. cit.

International Press Services, 22 August 1995.

Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign Affairs, November-
December, 1999, p. 22.

Quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, 3 September 1998)

Tim McGirk, Kabul learns to live with its bearded conquerors, The 
Independent, London, 6 November1996.

See K. Subrahmanyam, Pakistan is Pursuing Asian Goals, India Abroad, 3 
November 1995.

Levon Sevunts, Who's calling the shots?: Chechen conflict finds Islamic 
roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 23 The Gazette, Montreal, 26 October 



See Vitaly Romanov and Viktor Yadukha, Chechen Front Moves To Kosovo 
Segodnia, Moscow, 23 Feb 2000.

The European, 13 February 1997, See also Itar-Tass, 4-5 January 2000. BBC,
29 September 1999).