Who Is Osama Bin Laden?
September 12, 2001
GlobalResearch.ca - 2005-06-18
A few hours after the terrorist
attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the Bush administration concluded without supporting evidence, that "Osama
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 Osama Bin Laden and the links of the Islamic "Jihad" to the formulation of US foreign policy during the Cold War and its
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 Osama
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:
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
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 Moscow.5
Pakistan's Intelligence Apparatus
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 Osama 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.
Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani military regime led by General Zia
'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 Golden Crescent Drug Triangle
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
In the Wake of the Cold War
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
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
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
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
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
The War in
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".
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
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
Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported Osama 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.
- 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 1999..
- 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).
________________________________________________Related CRG articles and documents:
Missing Link to an understanding of 9-11: The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence Agency (ISI) in the September
11 attacks, by Michel Chossudovsky.
The main justification for this war has been totally fabricated. "Osamagate,"
by Michel Chossudovsky.
The CIA met Bin Laden while undergoing treatment at an American Hospital last July in Dubai.
No attempt was made to arrest him. by Alexandra Richard. 2 November 2001
"War and Globalisation": The "hidden agenda"
is "to break Russia's monopoly over oil and gas transport routes" and militarise the Central Asian region. 1998 Congressional
Hearing on "US Interests in Central Asia".
The Clinton Administration supported the "Militant Islamic Network". A
1997 Congressional report provides evidence from official sources of the links between the Islamic Jihad and the US government
What was the chief of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (ISI) doing in the US in the days prior to the attacks? ,
by Amir Mateen.
The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan preceded the Soviet Invasion. 1998 Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Updated Coverage on America's War in Central Asia and on the
Implications of 9-11 at the home page of the Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG) at http://globalresearch.ca