From the October 2001 Idaho Observer:

Osama bin CIA?

by Hari Heath

As our nation rallies to condemn our latest made for TV enemy, the “terrorist” Osama bin Laden, do we really know who this guy is? Who cast him in his current starring role? Just ask yourself, who is writing the script? Allegedly, bin Laden is the mastermind and financier behind the “attack on America,” but who is behind bin Laden? Over and over, through suggestive sound bytes and video clips, the mental image of our new enemy has been ingrained in our collective mind. Gullible believers that we are, the urgent press from an all points media erodes any memory we may have of bin Laden's historical alliance with the more clandestine aspects of our own government.

The Pakistanis want proof of bin Laden's connection to the terrorist attacks in the U. S. before they will allow their country to be used as a staging ground for American retaliation. Where's the evidence? This important question remains unanswered. President Bush's answer was, “I believe that we will be shown to be right.” Is that an answer? We are told that providing the evidence would compromise U. S. security interests and reveal sources within our security agencies. What would the evidence reveal? Is Osama bin Laden one of our own operatives gone rogue? Worse yet, was he trained in one of our clandestine terrorist training camps and then cut loose, once his value as a CIA asset was diminished? How many more like him have been abandoned? Some answers to these questions are found in excerpts from: “Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia” (Yale University Press) by Ahmed Rashid.

Between 1982 and 1992, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries trained and fought with the Afghan Mujaheddin. The CIA, Britain's MI6 and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) initiated a plan to launch guerrilla attacks into the Soviet Socialist Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Thousands more came to train in the hundreds of military training camps in Pakistan and along the Afghan border. These camps became virtual universities for future Islamic radicalism. The CIA, under the Direction of William Casey, stepped up the war against the Soviet Union in 1986 by persuading the U.S. Congress to provide the Mujaheddin with American-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down Soviet planes and provide U.S. advisers to train the guerrillas. Casey committed CIA support to a long-standing ISI initiative to recruit radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan Mujaheddin. Apparently, none of the intelligence agencies involved considered the consequences of bringing together thousands of Islamic radicals from all over the world. These Islamic volunteers have their own agendas and have now turned their hatred against the Soviets towards Americans.

The war left a legacy of expert and experienced fighters, training camps and logistical facilities, elaborate Trans-Islam networks of personal and organizational relationships, a substantial amount of military equipment including 300 to 500 unaccounted-for Stinger missiles, and a sense of power and self-confidence over what had been achieved.

Among these thousands of foreign recruits was a young Saudi student, Osama bin Laden. He first traveled to Peshawar in 1980 and met the Mujaheddin leaders, returning frequently with Saudi donations for the cause until 1982, when he decided to settle in Peshawar. He brought in his company of engineers and heavy construction equipment to help build roads and depots for the Mujaheddin. In 1986, he helped build the Khost tunnel complex, that the CIA was funding as a major arms storage depot, training facility and medical center for the Mujaheddin, deep under the mountains close to the Pakistan border. For the first time in Khost he set up his own training camp for Arab Afghans, who now increasingly saw this lanky, wealthy and charismatic Saudi as their leader.

After the war against the Soviets, bin Laden left for Sudan to take part in the Islamic revolution there. Bin Laden's continued criticism of the Saudi Royal Family eventually annoyed them so much that they took the unprecedented step of revoking his citizenship in 1994. In May 1996, Bin Laden traveled back to Afghanistan, with an entourage of dozens of Arab militants, bodyguards and family members, including three wives and 13 children. Here he lived under the protection of the Jalalabad Shura, until the conquest of Kabul and Jalalabad by the Taliban in September 1996. In August 1996, he had issued his first declaration of jihad against the Americans, whom he said were occupying Saudi Arabia. “The walls of oppression and humiliation cannot be demolished except in a rain of bullets,” the declaration read. Striking up a friendship with Mullah Omar, in 1997 he moved to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and came under the protection of the Taliban.

By now, the CIA realized “their” problem and set up a special cell to monitor the “terrorist” they helped to create. A U.S. State Department report in August, 1996, noted that Bin Laden was “one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world.” The report said that Bin Laden was financing terrorist camps in Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt and Afghanistan. In early 1997, the CIA sent a squad to Peshawar to carry out a snatch operation and get Bin Laden out of Afghanistan, but they aborted the operation. After failing to solve the problem they created, the US offered a $5-million reward in November 1998 for Bin Laden's capture.

What do we really know about Osama bin Laden? Given the information subterfuge coming from our made-for-TV war on terrorism and the media machinations behind it, will we ever know the truth? Obscure video clips and allegations without evidence provide more questions than answers. Is bin Laden a patsy, pawn or a terrorist? So far it seems to be just another game of pin the tail on some other donkey.

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