NEWS

CIA helped create ‘monster’

Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terror attacks on the United States is a monster who is the creation of a CIA-led coalition in Afghanistan, according to John Cooley, author of Unholy Wars. The book, published in 1999, focuses on Afghanistan, the USA and international terrorism. He said in an interview in Athens with AFP that bin Laden’s rise to power goes back to former President Jimmy Carter’s decision in 1979 to recruit, arm, train, pay, and deploy an army of mercenary volunteers to fight Soviet forces after they invaded Afghanistan. This army of Muslim volunteers was trained under some CIA officers or by Pakistani military intelligence officers who were trained by the CIA in the United States and then went over and funded camps and training centers. Cooley said the United States reluctantly agreed to give Pakistan a free hand in allocating weapons and funds to the many mujahedin groups involved in the struggle against the Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, actively joined the United States in providing funds to some groups whose ideology was the most extreme Islamist. Bin Laden, then still in favor with the Saudi monarchy, played an active role in channeling those funds and worked closely with the Saudis and the Pakistani military. He later fell out with the royals over the extensive US presence in Saudi Arabia at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. The USA lost interest in Afghanistan when the Soviet Union finally pulled out in 1989: The result of this was that people like bin Laden continued with their own projects without the USA batting an eye. When the Taleban appeared on the scene…the Americans initially thought that they could perhaps work with them, explained Cooley, but the USA soon began to realize the Taleban were not the heroes of the anti-Soviet war anymore. Washington turned its back on what it saw as the excesses of the Taleban. Bin Laden was thus created by the war itself in Afghanistan, the Saudi and Pakistani mentors, both of whom were allies of the Americans. So you could say he is a monster which is the creation of a CIA-led coalition in Afghanistan, which completely turned against the United States and the West, said Cooley. Dismantling bin Laden’s global organization, as the USA have firmly said they intend to do, is no easy task, said Cooley, because we’re dealing with a vast network which has a lot of resources but very loose control in the center. The network, Al-Qaeda, only really exists on paper and was announced a few weeks before the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 in a communique, and the people whose names were used to sign it were a cross section of famous Islamic groups across the Arab world. Cooley said former FBI Director Louis Freeh had explained that groups seem to operate sometimes without visible communications links or command links with the center. It is an organization with local autonomy and great flexibility, he said, which is why the whole problem of retaliating against this network of bin Laden becomes so difficult. (AFP)