Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 

"Terrorism" and Blowback: A Chronology
by Janette Rainwater, Ph.D.

Part One: Afghanistan, 1747 to the present

1747   Ahmad Shah Durrani becomes the chief of the Afghan Pashtun tribes. [He freed the Pashtun areas of what is now Afghanistan from Iranian rule, and then went on to acquire territory from the deteriorating empires to the west and east--- the Safavi dynasty in Iran and the Mughals in India. At the height of his conquests in 1762 his empire included all of present-day Pakistan, parts of northern India and the area around Meshed in Iran. The southern boundary was the Arabian Sea and included the port of Karachi. Nyrop, Richard F. and Donald M. Seekins, Afghanistan, a country study (1986), pp. 13-19.]

1839-1842    The First Afghan War is one of the first acts in the "Great Game," so named by the British (and romanticized by Rudyard Kipling) to describe the spy games played by the British and Russian intelligence agencies as the spheres of influence of the two empires moved closer and closer to an ultimate clash in Afghanistan. [Ahmad Shah's domain had started disintegrating even before his death in 1772. The British took advantage of the continuing wars of succession to install a puppet government in Kabul with ex-shah Shuya replacing Dost Mohammed (who had proved reluctant to expel the lone Russian agent from Kabul and give up all claims to Peshawar (which the Sikhs now controlled.) The British excuse was that India's welfare required a trustworthy and stable ally on its border. Shuja was unable to gain the support of the other Afghan chiefs who rose up against him and the British. The garrison of 15,000 men was forced to make a humiliating retreat to India from Kabul with Afghan tribesmen picking them off at every pass. Most died, one man survived the march unscathed, and a few were taken prisoner. Meyer, Karl E. and Shareen Blair Brysac, Tournament of Shadows (1999), pp. 82-110; Nyrop, pp. 22-29.]

1878-1881    The Second Anglo-Afghan War starts when the imperious Viceroy of India, Lord Lytton, delivers an ultimatum to Emir Sher Ali to accept a British mission in Kabul. [The proponents of the Forward Policy were in power in Britain with the ascension of Disraeli as Prime Minister in 1874. They believed that Afghanistan must be taken over as a buffer state against the encroaching Russian expansion into Central Asia. (The Russians had taken Tashkent in 1865, Samarkand in 1868 and a year later were at the banks of the Amu Darya River, the northern boundary of present-day Afghanistan. British Liberals, on the other hand, felt that the natural boundary of India should be the Indus River in western India, now Pakistan.) The British invaded in November, 1878 and quickly occupied half the country. Sher Ali's regent signed the Treaty of Gandamak to prevent British occupation of the remaining provinces. The British agreed to pay annual subsidies, Afghanistan relinquished control of its foreign affairs and accepted the presence of the Residency. The British believed all was well, but in September, 1879 the bewildered Resident refused to pay some 2000 Herati mercenaries who then stormed the Residency, killing all the British. Lord Lytton sent an army to avenge the massacre; hundreds of Afghans were executed on little or no evidence. These reprisals spurred an army of 10,000 tribesmen to march on Kabul. The British were saved by recognizing Abdul Rahman Khan as Emir--- a claimant who ironically had been living in Russia and was sponsored by Russia! Back in Britain, Gladstone won the1880 election by turning it into a sort of plebiscite on Disraeli's imperial wars: "The sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan, among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eyes of Almighty God as can be your own." This sentiment didn't appeal to Her Majesty, but middle-class Britons approved. Britain's gains from the war (and the expenditure of £12 million) were the Khyber Pass, the Kurram Valley, and the control of Afghanistan's foreign relations.  In both Afghan wars the British were able to defeat the poorly-equipped Afghan army, but were ultimately forced out by tribal uprisings.  Nyrop, pp. 30-34, 291; Meyer and Brysac, pp. 177-201.]

1893    Abdul Rahman Khan is forced by the British Indian government to agree to the "Durand Line" as the boundary between Afghanistan and India. [This placed more than half of the Pashtuns in India, a decision that was protested then and by succeeding generations.  Nyrog, pp. 37-38.]

1907    The "Great Game" ends with the Anglo-Russian Convention. [The former competitors, now united against the rising influence of Germany, divided Iran into two spheres of influence. Russia could occupy the north and Britain the south and east should Iran be threatened by a third party. Both countries pledged not to occupy Afghanistan nor interfere with its internal affairs.  Nyrog, p.40.]

May, 1919    The new king of Afghanistan, Amanullah, starts the Third Anglo-Afghan War when the British refuse to acknowledge the complete independence of Afghanistan. [After a month the parties went to the negotiating table. The British were unwilling to engage in another land war after the slaughter of 1914-1918, and the Afghans were suffering from the British air bombardments of Kabul and Jalalabad. Afghanistan got control of its foreign affairs and quickly established relations with the Soviet Union, Iran, Britain, Turkey, Italy and France. The question of the control of the Pashtun tribes living in India was not resolved. Amanullah traveled far more extensively than any king before him. He was particularly intrigued with the reforms that Kemal Ataturk had instituted in Turkey and tried to copy them. Western dress was required in Kabul, and secular education was begun (for girls also.) The veiling and seclusion of women was discouraged, and slavery and forced labor were abolished. A constitution, civil rights, a legislative assembly and a court system were established. He probably tried to do too much too fast, as some tribal chiefs, the religious leaders, and elements of the army rose up against him. He abdicated in 1929, went into exile with his family and, out of anger and sorrow, forbade any of them to ever set foot again in Afghanistan. Nyrop, pp. 41-46.]

1933    King Nadir Shah of Afghanistan is assassinated. His son, Zahir Shah, born 1914, ascends to the throne for a reign that will last forty years. [However, the country was basically governed for the first twenty years by Zahir Shah's two uncles and for the next ten by his cousin, Mohammed Daoud Khan.  The uncles, wishing to avoid dependency on either Britain or the Soviet Union, turned to Germany for the needed aid and expertise to build factories, roads, hydroelectric plants, and communication facilities.  By the beginning of World War II Germany was Afghanistan's most important foreign country.  Yet Afghanistan declared neutrality during the war.  It acquiesced to a British-Soviet demand to expel non-diplomatic Axis personnel from the country by expelling non-diplomatic personnel from all the belligerent nations.  After the war Prime Minister Shah Mahmud relaxed the strict press censorship and a "liberal parliament" was elected in 1949.  Kabul University started a student union which fostered political debate and produced plays that criticized both Islam and the monarchy.  The government then cracked down, closed the opposition newspapers, outlawed the student Union, and arrested many opposition leaders.   Nyrog, pp. 48-57; Griffin, Michael, Reaping the Whirlwind (2001), p. 88; Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars (1999), pp. 10-11.]

1934    Afghanistan joins the League of Nations.  The United States recognizes Afghanistan.  Nyrog, p. 50.

1947    The British withdraw from India. As a result, the Afghani government revives its old claims to land now in Pakistan and extending as far as the Arabian Sea.  [Pakistan rejected all "Pashtunistan" and "Baluchistan" claims. Afghanistan responded by casting the sole negative vote against Pakistan's admission to the United Nations, and continued funding the rebel Pashtun warlords on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line.   Pakistan would retaliate with border closings and other interference with the transit of goods from landlocked Afghanistan to India.  The conflict escalated after Daoud Khan became prime minister in 1953 and emphasized the Pashtunistan issue.    Nyrog, pp. 51-56; Cooley, p. 10.]

September, 1953    Mohammed Daoud Khan becomes prime minister in an intra-family transfer of power that involves no violence. [His ten-year tenure was noted for the foreign policy turn to the Soviet Union, the completion of the Helmand Valley project which radically improved living conditions in southwestern Afghanistan, and tentative steps towards the emancipation of women.  (He required his wives and those of his cabinet members to appear in public unveiled.) His obsession with Pashtunistan and his hostility to Pakistan proved disastrous to the economy.  (The grape and pomegranate harvests had to be air-lifted to markets in India in 1961 and 1962, thanks to Daoud's severance of diplomatic relations with Pakistan.)  Nyrog, p. 58-62.]

1956    Having been rebuffed by the US for both sales of arms and loans, Afghanistan turns to the Soviet Union for aid to equip and train the army and air force as a defense against provocations by the Pakistanis. [Within a few months the USSR had sent jet airplanes, tanks, heavy and light artillery for a heavily discounted price tag of $25 million. By 1973 the Soviet Union had invested a billion dollars in the army and infrastructure of Afghanistan. They built a modern highway from Kabul to Soviet Tajikistan, a giant air base at Bagram, and pipelines for natural gas. Afghan officers received training in the USSR and Eastern Europe, and Russian became the military language of the country. Nyrop, p. 293; Cooley, pp. 10-11.]

September 27, 1962    President Kennedy meets with Afghanistan's Foreign Minister, Prince Naim, and tells him "the United States is a long way off [from Afghanistan] and even though it is very anxious to help it can at best play a limited role." Anshutz, J. Bruce, Afghanistan: The First Five Years of Soviet Occupation (1986), p. 28.

March, 1963    King Zahir Shah ousts Daoud as prime minister, as his anti-Pakistan policies have ruined the economy and the family agrees that Daoud must go.  Zahir Shah takes control of the government himself and institutes a parliamentary democracy.  [The Afghan constitution of 1964 gave women equal rights, including the right to vote and the right to an education. Wearing of the veil was discretionary. (The Loya Jirgah that approved the constitution included six women.) There was partial freedom of the press, and the country's infrastructure was transformed thanks to the influx of foreign aid. Family-planning clinics for women were opened in 1968. The constitution also mandated that all inhabitants of Afghanistan of whatever ethnic origin were "Afghans."  Before that only Pashtuns were known as "Afghans." Nyorg, pp. 62-65; Griffin, pp. 64, 88; Goodwin, Jan, Price of Honor, p. 89; Richter, "Revolutionary Afghan Women", zmag.org; Cooley, p. 11.]

January 1, 1965    Twenty-seven Afghans, mostly university lecturers and civil servants who have been meeting clandestinely for some time, take advantage of the more liberal atmosphere to form the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). A nine-man central committee is elected with Nur Mohammad Taraki as Secretary General and Babrak Karmal as his deputy. The platform and suggested reforms are very similar to those of King Amanullah. [In the autumn elections half of the PDPA candidates standing for election were elected. All four were from what would become the Parcham faction; one was a woman, Dr. Anahita Ratebzad, the close companion of Babrak Karmal. Only twenty progressive candidates were chosen for the 218-seat parliament unlike the "liberal parliament" of 1949. The tribal warlords, two-thirds of them illiterate, had recognized the political advantage of a parliamentary seat and had campaigned vigorously.   Edward Girardet, Afghanistan, The Soviet War (1985), p.96]

1972    Drought and famine cause the deaths of over 100,000 Afghanis. Relief funds from abroad are mishandled by the king's son-in-law, General Abdul Wali. Cooley, p. 11.

July 17, 1973    While King Zahir Shah is abroad in Italy in one of his many absences (this one for medical treatment), he is deposed by a coup, a relatively peaceful one with only eight fatalities.   Daoud Khan, the former prime minister, is installed as leader of the country. [Junior officers of the Afghan army who had been trained in the Soviet Union carried out the coup, with some assistance from the Parcham (the flag) wing of the Afghan communist party, but Daoud was in the background pulling the strings. King Zahir Shah was not unhappy to be able to remain in Rome where he became a pensioner of some unnamed Arab state. Daoud immediately abolished the monarchy and named himself the president of a one-party republic.  Reneging on his promise to make progressive reforms, he ran a repressive regime with hundreds of arrests and  political executions of leftists (including members of the Parcham who had helped him gain power) and Islamists (religious extremists.) He lessened the country's dependence on the Soviet Union and went to India, Saudi Arabia and newly-oil-rich Iran for aid.  Surprisingly, he did not renew the Pashtunistan issue; relations with Pakistan improved thanks to interventions from the US and Iran. His administration and the army squelched a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement whose leaders fled to Pakistan. There they were supported by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and encouraged to continue the fight against Daoud. These men --- Gulbuddin Hekmetyar, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Ahmad Shah Massoud --- would later be major leaders of the mujaheddin. Nyorg, pp. 67-72; Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (2000), pp. 12-13; Griffin, pp. 17, 88; Cooley, pp. 11-12.]

Late 1977    As part of a worldwide review of Embassy categories, the United States downgrades its embassy in Kabul to the lowest category of mission, Class 4. [Obviously the State Department felt that Afghanistan was a country of little relevance to US interests. Amstutz, p. 29.]

April 19, 1978    The funeral of Mir Akbar Khyber, a key leader of the Parcham party who had been assassinated two days before, turns into a rally with close to 30,000 communists from both factions of the PDPA (Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan) attending and listening to stirring speeches by Nur Muhammed Taraki (Khalq) and Babrak Karmal (Parcham).    [This was the third political assassination in nine months.  Daoud, concerned both by the size of the crowd and the reconciliation of the two formerly warring factions of the PDPA, ordered wholesale arrests of the leadership of both factions.  Nyorg, p.72. Girardet suggests that Khyber was murdered by the Khalqis to provoke revolt and also get rid of a prominent Parchami. Girardet, p. 103.]

April 27-28, 1978    Afghan soldiers sympathetic to the Khalq (the masses) faction of the Afghani communist party overthrow the government and release the arrested PDPA members. Daoud and most of his family are killed resisting the coup; several thousand people die in the fighting. Nur Muhammad Taraki is installed as president; his two principal deputies are the Columbia University-educated politician, Hafizullah Amin (Khalq), and Babrak Karmal.  This ends the control of the country by the Durrani clan who had been in power (with one very brief interruption) since 1747.

[Daoud's police had been so slow in making the arrests that Amin, by using his children as couriers, had been able to arrange this coup which had already been planned for a later date. (Historians differ on whether the Soviet Union was taken by surprise or whether the USSR was aware of the plot and did nothing to stop it.) The PDPA quickly instituted a number of reforms: The mortgage debts of the peasants were canceled. (A third of them were were tenant farmers who were obliged to turn over half of the year's crop to the landowner.) A major literacy program was begun in Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi. (The illiteracy rate for rural inhabitants was 90.5%; for women, 96.3%, meaning that a woman was four times less likely to be able to read than a man.) Bride-price was prohibited and women were given freedom of choice in marriage. There was universal free education and schooling for girls became compulsory.  Many hospitals were built (an 80% increase by 1985) and health services were provided to the peasants for the first time. Daoud's 1977 constitution was annulled and a series of decrees were substituted.  One called for "revolutionary military courts," another declared the equality of all Afghan ethnic groups and took away citizenship for all surviving members of the royal family.   Nyorg, pp. 213- 234; Girardet, pp. 103-104; Cooley, p. 12; Rashid, p. 13; Workers World, October 10, 1996.]

Summer-Autumn, 1978    There are violent protests over some of the reforms which challenge Afghan cultural patterns, especially land reform and the emancipation of women.  The Khalq faction takes over all the important government posts; the Parcham cabinet members are sent abroad as ambassadors.  (Babrak Karmal goes to Prague.)  Nyorg, pp. 231- 234.

February 14, 1979    US Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs is kidnapped by several armed members of a Maoist group and held hostage for the release of several of their imprisoned colleagues.   [Afghan security forces attacked the hotel room where Dubs was being held. Both he and his captors were killed in the crossfire.  President Jimmy Carter, who had been demanding that the situation be negotiated, was indignant, slashed the aid progam from $27 million to $5 million, and further reduced the diplomatic representation to chargé d'affaires.  Prior to this Amin had been trying to increase US participation in the country as a counter-balance to the Soviet influence.  Girardet, p. 114; Nyrog, p. 237.]

March 28, 1979    There is a major revolt in the province of Herat against the Taraki regime possibly fomented by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, capitalizing on the resistance to the enforced participation of women in the government literacy programs. (Herat is predominantly Shi'ite Moslem; the rest of Afghanistan is mostly Sunni.)  [The Soviet military advisors were major targets of the outraged mobs; 50-100 Soviets were killed, some tortured exquisitely.  The government recaptured the city, killing nearly 5000 Afghans. Most of the air force had defected by this time. When Taraki called out the air force, only a few pilots were willing to bomb the people of Herat. Those who refused were executed.  

Taraki and Amin asked the Soviet Union for "two or three battalions" to protect communication lines and the Bagram airfield. The USSR attempted to tamper the Khalqis' radicalism, urging attendance at mosques, inclusion of Parchamis and non-communists in the government, and a halt to the unpopular land reform movement. Most of this advice was ignored; the insurrections and the political executions continued.  There were all the trimmings of a police state— curfew, foreigners restricted to a radius of 35 miles around Kabul, and a secret police, AGSA, trained by the East German SSD. As a result, fewer and fewer UN technicians and other internationals were willing to remain in Afghanistan. In March, 1979 Amin took over as prime minister, but Taraki remained in the government as president. Nyrog, p. 234-238; Girardet, pp. 115-121; Amstutz, p. 39; Cooley, p. 12.]

April 4, 1979    In Pakistan the somewhat populist president, Zulfilcar Ali Bhutto, is overthrown and hung on the orders of General Zia al-Haq. [Zia initially canceled elections indefinitely, but was soon forced to allow local elections of individuals but without party labels. Ali Bhutto's western-educated daughter, Benazir, took over the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and was able to get many of the party faithful elected. She traveled abroad and promoted international aversion to Zia. The discovery that Pakistan was secretly constructing a facility to enrich uranium (in violation of the 1976 Symington Amendment) caused President Carter to stop military aid and impose economic sanctions in April. Zia, thus isolated, was ripe to find a "good war" to regain American support. He and the chief of ISI, his secret service, General Akhtar Rahman Khan, would find that opportunity with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Cooley, pp. 52-54.]

Friday, April 20, 1979    Afghan armored troops accompanied by 20 Soviet advisors move into the small farming community of Kerala in eastern Afghanistan. They call the men, all unarmed, to assemble in a field for a jirga to discuss the recent mujaheddin attacks on a military garrison. The women and children are sent into the mosque. When the men refuse to shout pro-communist slogans, the shooting begins. Bulldozers appear and proceed to plow the bodies into the soft earth; some are still alive and visibly moving. All the while a photographer is taking pictures that will be shown to demonstrate what happens to peasants who collaborate with the mujaheddin. (The people of Kerala are suspected, correctly, of furnishing food, shelter and ammunition to the rebels.) Next the soldiers enter the mosque and rip the chadors off those men who had thought to disguise themselves as women. [An estimated 1170 unarmed males were massacred— a larger number than the massacres at Lidice or My Lai. All the women and children plus the 100 men who managed to avoid the massacre, left within hours for Pakistan, across a river and over some mountains. The community of Kerala, once numbering 5000, was deserted. Girardet, pp. 107-110.]

July 3, 1979    President Carter, at the urging of his national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, signs a secret directive for clandestine assistance to enemies of the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. Cooley, pp. 13, 19-22.  [This, of course, was six months before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Brzezinski admitted this in 1998 to a rather shocked French interviewer: "We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we consciously increased the probability that they would .... Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. You want me to regret that?"  When the interviewer asked if he regretted having supported the Islamic fundamentalists and given arms and advice to future terrorists, Brzezinski replied: "What is more important to the history of the world... the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?" Interview with Vincent Javert in Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, January 15-21, 1998, p. 76, translated from the French by Bill Blum.]

September 9, 1979    An Amnesty International report claims there is widespread torture of prisoners in Afghanistan and that 12,000 political prisoners have been held without trial since the April, 1978 coup. Amin denies these charges.  Nyrog, p. 241.

September 14, 1979    After a second failed attempt by Taraki and the Soviets to assassinate him, Amin enters Taraki's office with a band of soldiers and has him arrested.  [Two days later it was announced that Taraki had resigned his posts for "health reasons." A small newspaper notice on October 10th indicated that he had died of a "serious illness."   According to Arnold, he was strangled and suffocated by three members of the presidential guards service. Nyrog, pp.238-239; Arnold, Anthony, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Perspective (1981); Cooley, p. 17.]

September 26, 1979    A secret report prepared for President Carter describes the deteriorating political situation in Pakistan and questions whether the rule of General Zia al-Haq will last out the year. Much of Pakistan's GNP is going to their nuclear development program, yet the country is asking for a rescheduling of their huge international debt. "Another problem in the US-Pakistani relationship is in the unchecked expansion of opium poppy cultivation in the tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border."  [Despite this negative assessment the Carter government continued the covert funneling of arms and supplies to Pakistan's ISI (secret service) which then sent about 50% to the seven principal Islamic fundamentalist guerrilla groups in Afghanistan which they were training and equipping. Cooley, pp. 58-59.]

November 4, 1979    Blowback in Iran: Islamic militant students invade the US Embassy in Tehran and hold 52 personnel hostage in retaliation for the US extension of hospitality to the deposed Shah Reza Pahlevi. [It would be 444 days before they were released.]

December 12, 1979    At a secret meeting in the Kremlin the decision is made to invade Afghanistan at Christmas despite the strenuous objections of the three key generals. [The leaders believed that Taraki, before his overthrow and murder, had been undermined by Amin's "personal dictatorship," that Amin was in cahoots with the US Embassy, and that Pakistan and the CIA were encouraging and equipping the ultra-right Muslim opposition. They were afraid that the Americans would try to destabilize their Muslim republics of Central Asia and that they wanted Pakistan and Afghanistan as anti-Soviet bases to replace those in Iran (lost earlier that year with the overthrow of the Shah.) Cooley, pp. 13-19.]

December 24, 1979    The Soviet Army enters Kabul and installs a puppet government. Babrak Karmal, the leader of the Parcham faction, is made president. Rashid, p. 13.

December 27, 1979    The Soviets assassinate Amin, as planned at the Kremlin meeting. (They first reported that he had been "accidentally killed.") Cooley, pp. 17-18

January 4, 1980    President Carter announces some measures to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—   a partial embargo on US grain sales to the Soviet Union, a major cutback on fishing rights in US waters, and no more licensing of American technology. He tells the Senate to shelve consideration of the SALT II arms reduction treaty. He hints that the US may boycott the Olympic games to take place that summer in Moscow. The next day Brzezinski leaves for Cairo and Islamabad to secure agreements:

  •   Egyptian President Anwar Sadat agrees to allow US cargo planes to fly from Egyptian air fields. He will also scour warehouses for old Soviet weapons including Kalashnikoffs.
  •  With the understanding that all weapons are to be funneled though his secret service, the ISI, General Zia al-Haq agrees that Pakistan will establish training camps and train Afghans and other Muslim volunteers.
  •  Saudi Arabia agrees to help financially. [Their contribution ultimately matched that of the US, dollar for dollar.]
  •  The Sultan of Oman contributes the use of air bases and naval harbors.
  •  Secretary of Defense Harold Brown negotiates a deal with China: The US will sell them a ground station for satellite reception which contains some coveted "dual-use" technology. China will allow the US to build two electronic intelligence posts in Xianjiang (to replace the ones lost in Iran.)
  •   Israel will very covertly supply the mujaheddin with Soviet weapons confiscated from the Palestinians. [It is also possible, but not proven, that Israel's special forces trained some Afghani volunteers.] Cooley, pp. 15-16, 59, 65-69, 100, 95, 108-110.

September 22, 1980    President Saddam Hussein of Iraq resurrects some old boundary differences as an excuse to go to war with Iran.  [Iraq had been nervous about its Shi'ite neighbor ever since their Islamic revolution the preceding year. Two-thirds or more of Iraqis were Shi'ites, although most of the government heads were Sunnis (and usually from Hussein's home town of Takrit.) The agreement made with the shah in Algiers in 1975 for both sides to refrain from fomenting the Kurds against the other nation was no longer in force under the new regime. Hussein anticipated a brief war that would result in Iraq's hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Initially Iraq was successful, but Iran was able to regroup its forces and the war became a stalemate with fearful numbers of casualties on both sides. Unwilling to see the Shi'ite state become the victor, both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia gave huge sums of money to support secular (but Sunni-dominated) Iraq. Toward the end the United States supplied weapons and the intelligence that served to defeat their enemy, Iran. Additionally, the US signed a five-year economic and technical agreement and granted Iraq $1 billion in food aid. In July, 1988 Ayatollah Khomeini was forced to accept the UN terms for a cease-fire without conditions. Farouk-Sluggett, Marion and Peter Sluggett, "Iraq and the New World Order" in Ismael, Gulf War and the New World Order (1994), pp. 278-279.]

January 20, 1981    Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th president. (Television gives the American public the split-screen spectacle of the inauguration ceremony plus the arrival of the Embassy captives just released by Iran.)   William Casey, the new head of the CIA, enthusiastically adopts the covert operation in Afghanistan started by Brzezinski, Carter, and Carter's DCI, Stansfield Turner. [The Black Budget cost of the first year under Carter had been $100 million. Rep. Charles Wilson (D-TX) of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee called this "peanuts" and, with several other anti-communist hawks, saw to it that Black Budget funds for the covert operation in Afghanistan quickly quadrupled. More weapons and better weapons were procured. Under a super-secret SOVMAT program (probably unknown to Pakistan's Zia) phony corporations bought huge quantities of weapons from Eastern European governments, including latest-model Soviet tanks and radar systems for fighter planes. The New York Times has estimated that the US and Saudi Arabia supplied nearly $6 billion worth of weapons to the Afghani "freedom fighters." (Other countries supplying funds or arms were Egypt, France, Israel, Great Britain, Iran, China and Japan.) Large sums went to the recruitment, training and maintenance of Muslim zealots from many countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Great Britain, Morocco, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and the United States. An early and enthusiastic recruit was the wealthy Saudi national, Osama bin Laden, who had been suggested to the CIA by the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki Ibn Faisal Ibn Abdelaziz. Bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda, set up recruitment centers in the major Arab countries. He paid for the transportation of these recruits to training centers in Pakistan and Afghanistan and subsidized their support. His construction and engineering skills were utilized to build roads, tunnels, hospitals, storage depots and secure bases hollowed into the mountains. Most of the training was done by Pakistan's ISI in camps built by the CIA in Pakistan and border areas of Afghanistan. The trainers were trained at the CIA "farm" in Virginia where they learned the latest techniques of arson, demolition, and assassination.] Cooley, pp. 60, 106-119; New York Times, 24 August 1998; Reeve, Simon, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism.

June 30, 1981    General Maxwell Taylor, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refutes the notion that the Soviet Union is planning to go to war against the United States: "They have conventional forces in close proximity to virtually all their national interests that may require defense. From their World War II experience, their leaders know how devastating conventional war can be. They also know that nuclear war would be many more times destructive, that they would lose in a few hours more than they lost in four years fighting the Germans. They could not afford to fight or even win a strategic war with the United States. In so doing they would so paralyze the nation as to make it easy prey to nearby neighbors-- wolves ready to take advantage of a stricken bear. Such enemies would include Chinese, Afghans, Turks, Germans and Poles beyond Soviet borders and non-Russians within."

September 23, 1981    The Afghani covert operation is blown to the American public when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat brags on the Today show about Egypt's contribution. When asked why he was doing this, he replies "because they are our Muslim brothers and are in trouble." Cooley, p. 38.

February 11, 1982    In a secret memorandum Attorney General William French Smith exempts the CIA from its legal requirement to report on drug smuggling by any of its assets or clients.  [Canny CIA Director William Casey, remembering the lucrative heroin tie-in with the Vietnam War, had fought a secret battle to secure this exemption. Almost from the beginning of the covert op in Afghanistan it had been "arms in, drugs out" despite the Carter administration's efforts to run a drug-free war. With Reagan that changed. The FBI, instead of the DEA, was put in charge of the anti-drug program in the United States, so any previous DEA-CIA information-sharing ended. A blind eye was turned to the Afghani warlords who controlled the Khyber Pass and other transit routes to Pakistan through which military supplies and newly-trained mujaheddin must pass. Western supplies of heroin from Central Asia increased ten-fold in the decade of the war, soon surpassing Southeast Asia as the principal source. And the drug was no longer coming out as raw opium or blocks of morphine; heroin-processing laboratories sprang up in both Pakistan and Afghanistan displacing Marseilles and Hong Kong as the principal refining centers.  (Casey also needed the exemption for the covert operation against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas to protect the CIA officials working with cocaine-dealing contras.  In 1995 the Clinton administration rescinded the exemption with no fanfare; this action did not become public knowledge until 1998.)

The war took a recess each year at poppy harvesting time when the indigenous soldiers on both sides would go home to help harvest their crops. Soviet soldiers, frustrated with fighting a guerrilla war for which they had not been trained, quickly became addicted to the easily available drug, just as American GIs had in Vietnam. It can't be proven, but possibly that was part of the CIA scheme (as had been suggested to Casey and Reagan by the head of the French CIA and even given a label--- "Operation Mosquito.")  Cooley, pp. 126-139, The Consortium, June 1, 1998, pp. 2-4.]

November 10, 1982   Leonid Brezhnev dies; he is replaced by Yuri Andropov as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. [Andropov tried to arrange a negotiated peace in Afghanistan with the United Nations. The Reagan administration was monumentally distrustful, and pressured the Pakistanis to escalate the conflict. The Soviet Union responded with more soldiers, more weapons, and more brutality against the mujaheddin.]

November 1984    The US restores diplomatic relations with Iraq (broken since 1967) despite Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops. [President George H. W. Bush and others in the National Security Planning Group had been active in a project to help Iraq build an oil pipeline to the Jordanian port of Aqaba in reaction to the Iranian blockade of Iraq's Persian Gulf ports. The Reagan Administration had secretly allowed Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to transfer howitzers, Huey helicopters, bombs and other weapons of US manufacture to Iraq. Waas, Murray and Craig Unger "In the Loop: Bush's Secret Mission, The New Yorker, November 2, 1992, p 70.]

March 11, 1985    Mikhail Gorbachev is elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union following the death of the geriatric Konstantin Chernenko. [In April the party agreed to his program of perestroika, or restructuring of the soviet system of government. Gorbachev again approached the UN to broker a way for the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan without leaving the nation in jeopardy. The United States refused to countenance any of these proposals and further escalated the support for the mujaheddin. Some of the bloodiest years of the Russo-Afghan war followed.]

July 1985    Stingers: The CIA begins supplying some of the closely-held Stingers to Pakistan's ISI, largely due to the lobbying efforts of Representative Charles Wilson (D-TX). [These highly effective heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles turned the tide of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. With their kill rate of 75%, the skies were soon clear of Soviet and Afghan aircraft, enabling the guerrillas to trap the government forces inside a few cities and military camps. "We were handing them out like lollipops," a US intelligence official told the Washington Post. Many Stingers quickly reached the black market where a weapon that cost the US $35,000 fetched a price of $100,000 to $300,000. Some were bought by the Chechens for their war against Moscow; others went to the Azeris for the struggle for Nagorno-Karabakh. It is estimated that 30-70 Stingers were acquired by Osama bin Laden. Cooley, pp. 109, 172-174; Goodwin, Jan, Caught in the Crossfire (1987), pp. 48-49.

]March 1987    Hekmatyar's mujaheddin cross the Amu Darya River and launch rocket attacks against villages in the USSR's republic of Tajikistan in an operation promoted by CIA chief William Casey. Casey also gives increased support to the ISI program to recruit radical Muslims, especially Arabs, to come to Pakistan to fight with the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. [General Zia wanted to make Pakistan the center of the Muslim world, the Reagan administration wanted to demonstrate that the entire Muslim world opposed the USSR, and the Saudis were happy to get rid of their dissidents. None of these principals foresaw the blowback that has resulted. Rashid, p. 129.]

April 1988    Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev announces that a phased withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan will begin May 15th, to be completed by 2-15-1989.

August 17, 1988    The mysterious plane crash of a Pakistan Air Force C-130 kills General Zia, General Akhtar Abdel Rahman Khan (the former head of ISI and Zia's most probable successor), US Ambassador Arnold Raphel, US Brigadier General Herbert Wassom (defense attaché in Islamabad), eight Pakistani generals and the air crew. [The party had been viewing the test demonstration of a tank the Pentagon was hoping to sell to Pakistan. The plane dove and struck the ground shortly after takeoff. The Pakistani board of inquiry came to the (unpublished) conclusion that the pilot and crew had been knocked out by a chemical agent, such as a fast-working nerve gas, colorless and odorless, that had been secreted on the plane in some small container such as a thermos or soft drink can. The exact agent was never determined since the authorities at the military hospital were ordered not to perform autopsies Zia had survived six previous attempts at assassination, including a missile fired at his plane. His enemies were myriad---- the Bhutto family, the USSR, India, KHAD (the Afghan KGB), and elements of the Pakistani military. Mohammed Yousaf points out that only the CIA and KGB had access to such a nerve poison. For geopolitical reasons at least, the United States engaged in a coverup of the deaths of two high ranking American officials. A US air force inquiry (and Raphel's divorced wife, Robin Raphel, later Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Ambassador to Tunis) maintained that the plane had a faulty hydraulic system.

The retired head of ISI's Afghanistan bureau believes that the US was not sorry to see Zia go. With the war winding down, the US was hoping to curb the power of the Afghan Islamists such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani and install a more moderate group of Afghanis (waiting in the wings in Peshawar) into any new government in Kabul. General Zia attempted to subvert this maneuvering. He and the ISI also opposed the attempts of the CIA to funnel arms and supplies to the mujaheddin directly, bypassing the ISI. (In 1990 the CIA did take over.) Cooley, pp. 225-226; Mohammed Youssaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap (1992), pp. 8-19.]

February 15, 1989    The last Soviet soldier crosses the Amu Darya River bridge and leaves Afghanistan on the promised day. [Two million people died during the nine years of the Soviet occupation.  One out of eight Afghans was left dead, and five million Afghans, or one out of three in the population, became refugees in Pakistan and Iran.  The departure of the Soviet army left Najibullah's government weak and unprotected. The Mujaheddin, now under the command of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, but still funded by the United States, started shelling all the major cities, killing many thousands of civilians.]

August 2, 1990    Iraqi forces invade Kuwait in a ten-hour blitzkrieg and set up a provisional government. [Kuwait had been demanding immediate repayment of its wartime loans to Iraq (which Iraq regarded as an insult to Arab "unity.") Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil by slant-drilling into a field that overlapped the two countries and conspiring with other oil-producing countries to keep prices low. Iraq had considered Kuwait historically to be a part of its Basra province ever since Britain had drawn the "line in the sand" in 1920 to form the Kingdom of Iraq (with a sheikh imported from Mecca.) Iraq now needed a deep-water port for ships that had been ordered from Italy. Sluggett, p. 284.]

August 8, 1990    The first detachments of United States soldiers arrive in Saudi Arabia ostensibly to defend the country against a supposedly imminent invasion from Iraq. Critics point out that Saddam Hussein has no dispute with the Saudis and most of his troops are deployed along the border with Iran. [Ever since FDR's historic meeting in February, 1945 with King Ibn Saud there has been an unwritten agreement that the United States will have access to Saudi Arabia's oil in return for protection of the kingdom from its enemies, external and internal, an arrangement respected by all subsequent presidential administrations. Yergin, Daniel, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power (1991) pp, 403-405; Klare, Michael T., "The Geopolitics of War", The Nation, November 5, 2001.]

November 29, 1990    The UN Security Council votes 12-2 on Resolution 678, authorizing the use of force against Iraq unless it withdraws from Kuwait by January 15th.

January 12, 1991    Thousands of protesters march in European cities in protest against the portending war in the Persian Gulf: 100,000 in Paris, 100,000 in Rome, also London and 70 cities in Germany.

January 12, 1991    War against Iraq: Congress, after an historic debate over whether to give sanctions time to work as opposed to authorizing the use of force, votes to go to war with Iraq, 250-183 (House) and 52-47 (Senate). [Never before has Congress been so divided over a vote for war or "authorization of force." 42% of the House and 47% of the Senate were opposed; whereas for World War II there was one dissenting vote and in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf of Tonkin, 8 and 2 dissenting votes respectively.]

January 15, 1991    24-hour vigils are held in cities throughout the United States to protest against the US attack on Iraq.

January 16, 1991    Operation Desert Storm begins as the US-led allied forces start the Persian Gulf War with an air offensive against Iraqi installations in Iraq and Kuwait.

January 26, 1991    I00,000 march in Washington demanding an end to the war against Iraq, a protest that is ignored by most of the media.

February 24, 1991    The US-led alliance begins the ground war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

February 26, 1991    Its forces virtually surrounded by General Schwartzkopf's "Hail Mary" surprise maneuver, Iraq announces it is withdrawing from Kuwait. Washington says it will continue the war. [Thousands of Iraqi soldiers are buried alive as the US First Mechanized Infantry Division, using plows mounted on tanks and combat earthmovers, seals over the men and equipment in 70 miles of trenches. Los Angeles Times, September 12, 1991. In the final hours of the "Hundred Hour War" American pilots bombed and strafed the lines of defeated Iraqis straggling toward Baghdad. They made comments for reporters such as: "a turkey shoot," "like shooting fish in a barrel" and "they were sitting ducks." These callous remarks made the rounds in the Middle East. American "doves" were horrified by the slaughter; the "hawks" were enraged that the troops had not been allowed to roll on to Bagdad and capture Saddam Hussein. Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1991. A1.]

February 27, 1991    After an even 100 hours of ground war, Bush declares victory over Iraq, says Kuwait is liberated and orders allied combat to cease at midnight. A permanent cease-fire will depend on Iraq's release of all prisoners and Kuwaitis detained in Iraq and compliance with all the UN resolutions on Kuwait including acceptance of responsibility to pay compensation for war damages. [[Three hundred American lives were lost. 25% of the deaths and 15% of the injuries in Operation Desert Storm were due to "friendly fire" ---a rather cynical oxymoron--- which is the highest figure for any US war and is attributed to the inability to identify friendly vehicles in the haze and smoke of the desert. .Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1991. The number of Iraqi casualties will probably never be known, thanks to the unreliability of the Iraqi media and the massive number of desertions. The most-quoted estimate of 100,000 killed in action and 300,000 wounded in action (forced from the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency in May, 1991 by an FOIA inquiry) is disputed by military analyst John G. Heidenrich who, extrapolating from the number of wounded who were captured, postulates a much lower number of less than 10, 000 killed in action and fewer than 1000 civilian deaths. Foreign Policy, Number 90, Spring 1993, pp. 108-125. As of 1996, the US was spending $50 billion a year to maintain a military presence in the Persian Gulf (including the newly-created Fifth Fleet) and to enforce the blockade of Iraq.]

April, 1991    Osama bin Laden and several of his faithful lieutenants move the operation of Al Qaeda to Khartoum, Sudan. He increases his fortune with shrewd investments in agriculture and banking. Bin Laden directs operations aimed at de-stabilizing the not-sufficiently-Islamic governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. He is particularly incensed that the "infidels" (American soldiers) continue to occupy the "land of the two holy places" (Saudi Arabia). Cooley, pp. 120-121.

December 17, 1991   The Soviet Union is dissolved; many of the republics, led by Russia, join together in the CIS. Many others, especially in Central Asia, become independent nations.

January 13, 1992    OIL: Bridas, an Argentinian oil and gas company, is awarded exploration rights in the Yashlar block in eastern Turkmenistan for a 50-50 split of production profits. This energy-rich but landlocked country is happy that a western country is willing to help them capitalize on their new independence from the USSR. [Bridas obtained a lease on the Keimir block in western Turkmenistan the following year, and the company spent US$ 400 million in exploration. Oil was exported from Keimir at the rate of 16,800 barrels a day by 1994, and massive gas reserves were discovered at Yashlar that were more than double the size of Pakistan's gas reserves. On March 16, 1995 Bridas signed an agreement with President Saparmurad Niyazov of Turkmenistan and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan for a feasibility study of a pipeline through Afghanistan to supply energy-starved Pakistan. (Two years earlier Niyazov and his consultant, former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, had tried unsuccessfully to soften Washington's prohibition of a much shorter and more practical pipeline route through Iran.) Rashid, pp. 157-162.]

March 1992    General Abdul Rashid Dostum defects from Najibullah's government, taking his Uzbek militia with him to join forces with Hekmatyar's mujaheddin. (Vijay Prashad dates this as the beginning of the Northern Alliance.) "Forward into the Past", zmag.org.

April 1992    The Mujaheddin enter Kabul. A cease-fire is achieved with Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani of the Jamait-i-Islami recognized as the head of the guerrilla coalition and of the country. Prashad, "Forward into the Past". For the first time in 300 years (with one brief exception) the Pashtuns are not the country's rulers. (Rabbani and his commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, are Tajiks.) The mujaheddin close schools and health clinics. They stop women from working. (Up to this time women constituted 40% of the doctors in Kabul, 70% of the schoolteachers, 60% of Kabul University professors, and 50% of the university students.) Armed groups beat, rape and murder women. Richter, "Revolutionary Afghan Women", zmag.org.

August 1992    The civil war resumes as Hekmatyar and his Hezb-i-Islami fight the Rabbani regime with more civilian casualties. Prashad.

 March 1993    In the Islamabad Accord Rabbani continues as president of Afghanistan; Hekmatyar will be prime minister. [However, the terror continued with Hekmatyar shifting allegiance between Dostum / Ahmed Shah Massoud and Rabbani. In the background was a growing coalition of mullahs and students from madrassas (religious schools) who were deeply appalled by the massive violence of the warring mujaheddin factions and their departure from the original religious purity of the jihad against the Russians. They became known as the Taliban (plural for talib, or student of Islam). Their leader was Mullah Mohammed Omar, described by Rashid as "a poor village mullah with no scholarly learning and no tribal pedigree," who had been chosen for his especial piety rather than any leadership ability.

By the time the civil war ended, 45,000 civilians had been killed and 300,000 had sought refuge in Pakistan. So that initially the Taliban, when they entered Kabul in September 1996, were welcomed with relief by a devastated citizenry. Prashad; Rashid, pp. 19-26, 42, 199.]

March 12-19, 1993    Blowback in India: A series of bombings in Calcutta and Bombay kill over 300 people and injure more than 1200. Targets include the Bombay Stock Exchange, Air India offices and other financial symbols selected to avenge the earlier destruction of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya by Hindu extremists. [The perpetrators were Kashmiri fundamentalist Muslims who had fought in the Russo-Afghan war, using weapons diverted from the CIA-ISI pipeline. Many had been trained at the Afghani Zawar camp by Hekmatyar (who also was instrumental in smuggling the weapons into Kashmir.) The bombings were supported by the ISI and the bin Laden organization in what was described during the 1994 trial as a "proxy war, terrorism sponsored by a neighboring hostile country." Cooley, pp. 228-23. Ahmed Rashid notes that India came close to persuading the United States to declare Pakistan a "state sponsor of terrorism" for these and previous terrorist acts of the Kashmiri mujaheddin. Pakistan's response was to move their bases out of Pakistan and into eastern Afghanistan. The Jahalabad mullahs and the Taliban were reimbursed for the support and training of the militants; private Islamic parties such as Osama bin Laden were encouraged to contribute. Support of the Taliban was a big policy shift for Pakistan whose relations with the power structure in Kabul had been semi-hostile in earlier times. Relations had been severed in 1955 and again in 1962 over Afghanistan's push for a "Greater Pashtunistan." Rashid, p. 186. ]

March 10, 1994    Silvan Becker and his wife, two German secret agents who are surveilling terrorists in North Africa for the counter-espionage Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, are assassinated near Surt, Libya. [Although the Libyan government immediately suspected Bin Laden, it was not until March 1998 that Libya filed a warrant for the arrest of Osama bin Laden and three accomplices. Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Ben Laden: La vérité interdite (2002), pp. 137-138.]

April 7, 1994    King Fahd of Saudi Arabia announces that Osama bin Laden has been deprived of his Saudi citizenship for behavior that "contradicts the Kingdom's interests and risks harming its relations with fraternal countries."  [Pressure had been put on the king by Egyptian President Mubarak, Yemen and Interpol. Also about this time bin Laden was supposedly disowned by his extensive and influential family in Saudi Arabia. Bergen, p. 89; Cooley, p. 123. The Saudi government also froze his assets within the country. However, it is clear that he continued to receive funds from his share of the vast family fortune. He seems to have had some temporary cash-flow problems in the 1994-1998 period, but after the East Africa bombings and the sympathy engendered by Clinton's retaliatory strike, funds for financing his terrorist ventures were no longer a problem. In 1999 Khalid bin Mahfouz was placed under house arrest in Saudi Arabia for allegedly transferring funds from the family's bank to charities that front for bin Laden. Bergen, Holy War, Inc., pp. 101-104.]

October 12, 1994    The Pakistani transport and smuggling mafia essentially hire the Taliban to wrest control of the crucial border town of Spin Baldak from Hekmatyar and his bandits who are charging exorbitant tolls. The Taliban are successful, losing only one soldier out of the 200-man contingent. Part of their booty is a large munitions depot containing 18,000 Kalashnikovs and several vehicles. Rashid, pp. 27-28.

November 4, 1994    The Taliban emerge as a significant military and political force after they rescue a Pakistani convoy that has been captured by warlords in the Kandahar area who are demanding a large ransom, a share of the convoy's profits, and Pakistan's pledge to stop support of the Taliban.  [With the loss of only a dozen men the Taliban routed the warlords, hanged the commander from the barrel of his tank and proceeded on to capture Kandahar, Afghanistan's second largest city. Then they cleared the chains from all the toll roads, making it safe for Pakistani commerce and smuggling.

By December, 1994 ten thousand Afghani and Pakistani Pashtuns who had been studying in madrassas rushed to Kandahar to join the Taliban. The majority were very young, between 14 and 24. As described by Ahmed Rashid, they were the displaced youth of the war who had grown up in refugee camps with their only education being that of the madrassa where they studied the Koran "as interpreted by their barely literate teachers [who had no] formal grounding in maths, science, history or geography. Many of these young warriors did not even know the history of their own country or the story of the jihad against the Soviets.... They had no memories of their tribes, their elders, their neighbours nor the complex ethnic mix of peoples that often made up their villages and their homeland.... They were literally the orphans of the war, the rootless and the restless, the jobless and the economically deprived with little self-knowledge. They admired war because it was the only occupation they could possibly adapt to. Their simple belief in messianic, puritan Islam which had been drummed into them by simple village mullahs was the only prop they could hold on to and which gave their lives some meaning. Untrained for anything, even the traditional occupations of their forefathers such as farming, herding or the making of handicrafts, they were what Karl Marx would have termed Afghanistan's lumpen proletariat." Rashid, pp. 28-29, 31-32.]

October 21, 1995    OIL: Bridas officials are stunned when they witness Turkmenistan's President Niyazov sign an agreement with Unocal and its partner, Delta Oil Company (owned by Saudi Arabia) to build a pipeline through Afghanistan, thus essentially abrogating Turkmenistan's earlier contract with Bridas. [Also present at the New York meeting was Henry Kissinger, a consultant for Unocal and another former Secretary of State. Unocal had become interested when Bridas offered the company a share in the pipeline consortium. Niyazov saw Unocal as a wedge for involving the United States in his country's development (and as an old Soviet apparachnik he had no compunctions about breaking contracts.) The US saw the Afghanistan route as a way to prevent Turkmenistan from becoming dependent on Iran and also to bar Iran from access to the potentially valuable Southeast Asia energy market.

In the Spring of 1996 the United States pressured Prime Minister Bhutto to change her allegiance from Bridas to Unocal. Her failure to comply was "one of the factors" in her downfall, according to the Herald of Pakistan. The gas price finalized by Pakistan and Unocal under Bhutto's successor, Nawaz Sharif, was ridiculously low, so low as to prohibit competition. However, the Taliban was not included in the negotiation. The transit fee of fifteen cents per cubic meter was not acceptable to them and they continued to favor the Argentinians. Bridas, although banned by Turkmenistan from exporting oil from its leases, continued with plans for the pipeline and concluded an exclusive agreement with the Rabbani government.

Bridas sued Unocal in federal court for US$ 15 billion in damages and began international arbitration against Turkmenistan for breach of contract. The Texas district court dismissed the case in 1998, saying the dispute should be adjudicated by Turkmenistan and Afghanistan rather than the US. The International Court of Arbitration in Paris awarded Bridas US$47 million. In December, 1998, following the US bombardment of Afghanistan and the anti-Taliban campaign of the Feminist Majority that was directed against Unocal, the company withdrew from the pipeline consortium. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal: "How can women be safe anywhere if some governments can carry out gender apartheid with impunity?" Rashid, pp. 160-180; Herald (Pakistan), June, 1997.]

November 13, 1995:    Blowback against USA in Saudi Arabia: A joint US-Saudi military facility in Riyadh is blown up by a truck bomb, killing three US civilians and two soldiers and injuring 60 others including civilian passersby. [The Saudis arrested and beheaded four Saudi men before they could be interrogated by the Americans. Three of the men had fought with the mujaheddin in Afghanistan; all four admired and supported Osama bin Laden. Rashid and Reeve believe the government acted so swiftly to avert knowledge of bin Laden's involvement and his links to important Saudis. Shortly thereafter, the Saudis gave Osama bin Laden a warning: four Yemeni mercenaries opened fire with their AK-47s on his house in Khartoum. Bin Laden was not touched, but two of his guards and three of the mercenaries were killed in the gunfight.] Cooley, p. 220; Rashid, pp. 183-184; Reeve, pp. 184-185; Bergen, p. 87.

 

January, 1996    A special "bin Laden task force" is established within the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. This includes personnel from operations, intelligence and science/technology directorates. [They investigated his links with other militants and interfaced with counterterrorist colleagues in Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy and France. In their analysis of the sources of his funding, they concluded that "large sums were still flowing into bin Laden's accounts from businessmen and senior politicians in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar." Reeve, pp. 184-185.].

May, 1996    Osama bin Laden, his wives and about 150 supporters leave Khartoum and fly to Jalalabad, Afghanistan on a chartered C-130 plane. [Following a second unsuccesful attempt on his life Saudi officials flew to Sudan to threaten Sudanese President Hassan al-Turabi if he continued to harbor Osama bin Laden. The Saudis were joined by the US and Egypt. Turabi was unwilling to give up Osama even though Sudan had handed over Carlos the Jackal to the French two years before. Instead, Turabi asked bin Laden to leave. It took awhile for CIA analysts to realize what a mistake they had made, as Afghanistan would offer a much more impregnable base of operations. (The Shah of Iran had made a similar mistake when he pressured Iraq to expel Ayatollah Khomeini in October, 1978; France gave the cleric a much better base for preaching his sermons and distributing his audiotapes.) Rashid, pp. 185-187; William Shawcross, The Shah's Last Ride, p. 116.]

May 12, 1996    On "60 Minutes" Leslie Stahl discusses the sanctions against Iraq with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Stahl asks, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?" Albright replies, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price— we think the price is worth it." Most Americans are unaware of this quote (or if they watched the program, have forgotten it.) But you can bet your bottom dollar that every Muslim in the Middle East over the age of 15, literate or not, has heard it. And that it was used in the bin Laden-Taliban recruitment pitch.

June 25, 1996    Further Blowback against USA in Saudi Arabia: A 5000-pound truck bomb explodes at the Khobar Towers, a housing complex for the US military in Dhahran, destroying the entire front of the building, killing 19 American servicemen and wounding about 400.The blast was so powerful that it was felt twenty miles away in Bahrain. [Telephone calls were intercepted by the NSA from Ayman al-Zawahiri and others congratulating Osama bin Laden, who later expressed his feelings in a 1997 interview with Hamid Mir: "Only Americans were killed in the explosions. No Saudi suffered any injury. When I got the news about these blasts, I was very happy….I would like to say to the Saudi people that they should adopt every tactic to throw the Americans out of Saudi territory." (He was angry that the Saudis had admitted American troops to the country during the Gulf War and incensed that they still remained there, despite promises made to him to the contrary.) The Saudis blamed the attack on Iran or Iranian-financed Shi'ites from the eastern part of Arabia. (Bergen writes that their arrest of six hundred Afghan Arabs suggests that they suspected bin Laden was responsible.) On June 21, 2001--- just before the expiration date for indictments on attempted murder and conspiracy charges--- the US indicted fourteen members of Hezbollah (thirteen Saudis and one Lebanese) for the Khobar bombing. No Iranian officials were named in the indictment, although the indictment indicated that "elements of the [then] Iranian government inspired, supported and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah." FBI Director Louis Freeh refused to say how many suspects were in custody or in what country. One suspect, Hani Sayegh, the Saudi suspected of blinking his car lights for the "all clear" signal to the bomb truck, was in US custody for two years, 1997-1999, before being sent to Saudi Arabia where he has been held incommunicado. Amnesty International has protested his treatment, fearing he will be tortured and beheaded after an unfair trial. Bergen, p. 88; www.cnn.com/2001/LAW/o6/21/khobar.indictments/index.html;www.cnn.com/2001/LAW/06/21/khobar.sayegh/index.html

As with the previous attack, the FBI was not allowed to interview any of the suspects, thus escalating the suspicon about Saudi support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden..The US changed the air base for the flights to Iraq from Dhahran to the more distant desert base of al-Kharj. A few weeks later the FBI and Mary Jo White, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York initiated the grand jury investigation of bin Laden which would led to his indictment for international terrorism. Reeve, p. 187; Cooley, pp. 220, 224.]

September 26, 1996    Final Victory for the Taliban: The Taliban, supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, enter Kabul a few hours after the army chief, Ahmad Shah Massoud, gives orders for a withdrawal from the city. [The Clinton administration had quietly favored the Taliban over the Rabbani regime because the Taliban were virulently anti-Iran and therefore more likely to cooperate in an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea that would bypass Iran. Within hours of Kabul's capture the US Department of State announced that that it would establish diplomatic relations with the new Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a statement that was quickly retracted. State Department spokesman Glyn Davis said, however, that the US found "nothing objectionable" in the Taliban's imposition of Islamic law--- they were just "anti-modern" and not "anti-western." A Unocal executive told the wire services that the pipeline project would be easier to implement with the Taliban in power.] Rashid, pp. 44-49, 166.

September 27, 1996    In one of the first acts of the victorious Taliban, ex-president Najibullah and his aides are dragged from the UN compound where they have had asylum for four years. Najibullah and his brother are tortured, publicly executed, and left hanging in front of the palace for over a day to the horror of the world.  [Under the Taliban there is "peace," but at what a price. Women are even more restricted, required to wear an all-covering burqa, forbidden to work, and isolated in their homes. Only three countries recognize the regime— Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.]

September 28, 1997     Emma Bonino, the European Community Commissioner for humanitarian affairs, arrives in Afghanistan accompanied by journalists and officials of NGOs. During their visit they are arrested and held at gun point for four hours for having taken photographs of female health workers. [Although the Taliban foreign minister later apologized for this "incident," the press reports and Bonino's statement on the miserable state of women, education and public liberties caused the final revulsion of the world against the new regime in Kabul. The Taliban's opposition, however, was winning few supporters: ten thousand people had been killed in the May to August offensive against Mazar-e-Sharif led by General Rashid Dostum and there had been numerous reports of torture. Brisard et Dasquié, pp. 50-51; Agence France-Presse, September 29, 1997; www.developments.org.uk/data/profile98.htm.]185.]

February 1998    Osama bin Laden meets with senior fundamental Muslim leaders from Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Arab North Africa. They set up an "Islamic Struggle Front" dedicated to fighting "the Jews" (meaning Israel and its friends and allies.) They issue a fatwa declaring it to be legitimate to kill any American, military or civilian. Cooley, p. 224.

March 16, 1998    First Arrest Warrant for Osama bin Laden:  Libya issues an international arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden and three accomplices, accusing them of the murder of two German nationals and the possession of illegal firearms. [The warrant was not issued internationally by Interpol until April 15th and then with date and description of the crimes omitted. Brisard and Dasquié speculate that this warrant was virtually ignored thanks to the hostility of Great Britain and MI6 toward Muammar Qaddafi for his overthrow (September 1, 1969) of the government of their protegé, King Idriss, and the subsequent nationalization of the properties of British Petroleum. Some failed attempts to overthrow Qaddafi (with some close associates of Bin Laden!) left MI6 with considerable egg on the face. Brisard and Dasquié , pp. 135-143; Stephen Dorril, MI6 (2000), pp. 735-738; Irish Times, November 19, 2001.]

May 26, 1998    Osama bin Laden holds a press conference in Afghanistan in which he announces that there will be "good news in the coming weeks." [In an interview on ABC News two days later he predicted a "black day for America." He called for the deaths of all Americans: "We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians: they are all targets." On June 12 the State Department issued a warning: "We take those threats seriously and the United States is increasing security at many U.S. government facilities in the Middle East and Asia." No mention of Africa, although Ambassador Prudence Bushnell had twice warned the State Department of the extreme vulnerability of her Nairobi embassy to terrorism and to crime, thanks to its location at a busy downtown intersection with no setback from the street. Bergen, Holy War, Inc., pp. 105-107, 109.]

May 28, 1998    ABC interviews Osama bin Laden in "Talking with Terror's Banker." Bin Laden calls for the murder of all Jews and all Americans, wherever they may be. Americans, he says, are the biggest thieves and worst terrorists in the world. He vows to destroy the Saudi family and drive them from the "land of the two holy places" in retaliation for their desecration of the land by admitting the American military into the country and allowing them the use of bases from which to bomb other Muslims. He praises and halfway admits responsibility for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the uprising against the American forces in Somalia in 1993-1994. Cooley, p. 116.

May 30, 1998    An earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale devastates an area of northern Afghanistan near the border with Tajikistan. Over 4000 are killed and many thousands more injured and made homeless. An earlier 6.1 quake in the same area (February 4) had killed 2500, injured nearly a thousand and left over 8000 homeless. This only adds to the misery of the two decades of warfare and the year-old drought.

End of July, 1998   The Taliban force the non-governmental organizations to leave Afghanistan. Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Ben Laden: La vérité interdite, p. 54.

August 7, 1998    Blowback in East Africa--- Operation Holy Kaaba and Operation al-Aqsa:  Truck bombs are exploded almost simultaneously at the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The timing is considerately set for 10:30 to 11 AM, a time when observant Muslims would be in their mosques praying and off the streets. [In Nairobi 247 people died, in Dar-es-Salaam, 20. Over 5000 people were severely wounded; some were blinded, some suffered severed arms or legs. With the synchronicity of the suicide bombings, the Osama bin Laden network was immediately suspected. And indeed the plan had been organized by Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, a Palestinian from Jordan who had been installed in Mombasa, Kenya as a "sleeper" since 1994 and whose prosperous fishing business had been financed by Al Qaeda. One of the Nairobi suicide bombers, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali escaped the blast, but his injuries enabled hospital doctors to identify him. His subsequent confession led to the arrest of 18 others, including men who were supposed to carry out even more devastating bombings in Kampala, Uganda at the same time. (Al-'Owhali also told US investigators that bin Laden's next operation would be an American warship in Yemen. Bergen, p. 183.) Odeh was arrested in the Karachi airport by an alert immigration official; he subsequently confessed details about the operations and was deported to the United States to stand trial. The master mind of the operation, Haroun Fazil from the Comoros islands, remains at large. (He is described as being fluent in Swahili, Arabic, French and English and "very good" with computers.) Fazil, Odeh and the other senior members of the plots all left Africa before the actual explosions. Of the five men indicted for the Tanzania bombing, only Khalfan Khamis Mohamed is in US custody. Bergen, Holy War, Inc., pp. 105-114; Reeve, The New Jackals, pp. 198-201; Cooley, pp. 7, 215-216.]

August 8, 1998:    Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing: Hundreds of civilians are among those killed when Taliban forces capture the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northwestern Afghanistan, the only major city still controlled by the Northern Alliance. [In the days that followed there were house-to-house searches for men and boys who were Hazaras, Tajiks or Uzbeks. Amnesty International estimated that at least 8000 civilians were summarily executed either as they were being taken from their homes or while in transport to the jail. Many women and girls were raped and abducted. The Hazaras were especially singled out, as they are Shi'ites and considered infidels by the super-orthodox Sunni Taliban. Ten officials at the Iranian embassy and an Iranian jounalist were also slain. "The Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif," Human Rights Report, Vol. 10, No. 7, November 1998; Amnesty International , September 3, 1998.  Historical Note: There was no "tut-tut" forthcoming from the US government on these atrocities of the Taliban, yet the US would go to war against Serbia a year later for far less grievous acts alleged against their Kosovar citizens.

August 20, 1998:    Retribution in Afghanistan and Sudan: In "Operation Infinite Reach" President Bill Clinton orders as many as 75 Tomahawk missiles fired from US Navy ships onto three of Osama bin Laden's training camps located near Khost and Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (One of the "smart" missiles lands in Pakistan!) He also orders the demolition of Al-Shifa in Khartoum, Sudan's major pharmaceutical factory, on the mistaken assumption that the plant is owned by bin Laden and is manufacturing nerve gas. [When pressed, the administration cannot offer credible evidence that the factory was indeed making chemicals for biological warfare. And the government was surprised that the Islamic world would demand proof of bin Laden's culpability for the 9-11-2001 attacks?  In this period Clinton was under fire for his affair with Monica Lewinsky and skeptics believed these bombings were as much for "Wag the Dog" as for retribution against bin Laden. Osama was not killed in the operation. He had been warned just hours before the strike, allegedly by someone within the Pakistani ISI, that the CIA was tracking him by his phone calls, so he went incommunicado and was hundreds of miles to the north when the missiles hit. (Also the evacuation of American personnel from Kabul and Pakistan in the days preceding tipped him off.) Later he was heard to broadcast on the radio, "By the grace of Allah, I am still alive." Twenty or so men (of five different nationalities) died. The complex was flattened, but was rebuilt within two weeks. The next day Mullah Omar, the spiritual and political head of the Taliban, condemned the attacks and announced that he was giving kind and friendly refuge to Osama (héberge avec bienveillance). There were two important unintended consequences of these strikes:

  • Two or three of the missiles failed to explode. At least one was sold to China for to be reverse-engineered.
  • Osama bin Laden, previously a relatively unknown personality, became a hero of mythical proportions throughout the Muslim world.
    Bergen, Holy War, Inc., pp. 117-126; Reeve, The New Jackals, pp. 201-203; Brisard and Dasquié, p. 55.]

September 20-21, 1998    Ahmad Shah Massoud's United Front forces fire a series of rockets into the northern part of Kabul, killing over 100 people. One hits a crowded night market. The International Committee of the Red Cross calls the attacks "indiscriminate"; Massoud denies targeting civilians. Human Rights Watch, October 2001.

February 1, 1999    Under Secretary of State Strobe Talbott meets with several representatives of the Taliban in Islamabad, Pakistan. He brings proofs of bin Laden's complicity in the East African embassy attacks and an official demand for his extradition to the United States. After this, he hints, the US may recognize the Taliban government. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 57-58.

July 19, 1999    The first meeting of the UN-sponsored "6 + 2" meetings convenes in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to discuss the future of Afghanistan. [This had been arranged by Lakhdar Brahimi after considerable visits to heads of state worldwide. The six neighbors of Afghanistan---Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan, China, and Pakistan--- sent representatives; Russia and the United States were the other two countries. Taliban representatives were there as observers; the month before the FBI had placed Osama bin Laden on its "ten most wanted" criminals list. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 58-60.]

October 5, 1999    Pakistani General Khawaja Ziauldine meets with Mullah Omar to ask for the extradition of Osama bin Laden and finds that Omar is "ready to cooperate." [This effort from Pakistan was the result of the July 4th meeting in Washington of President Clinton with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which Clinton arranged for a delay of several weeks in the removal of the Pakistani military from Kashmir who were advising the Islamist groups there. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 60-61.]

October 12, 1999    The government of Prime Minister Sharif is overthrown by a military coup in response to Sharif's order to the ISI on the 7th to close all the fundamentalist Muslim training camps in Pakistan, especially those in the frontier tribal zone close to the border with Afghanistan. The new head of state is General Pervez Musharaf. Brisard and Dasquié, p. 61.

October 15, 1999    The UN Security Council votes Resolution # 1267 enjoining the Taliban to extradite bin Laden and "foreseeing" very heavy sanctions in case of non-compliance. Brisard and Dasquié, p. 62.

December 14, 1999    Millennium Bomb Plot Aborted: An alert Customs agent at the Canada-US ferry crossing in Port Angeles, Washington arrests Algerian Ahmed Ressam when his rental car is found to be loaded with explosives. [Ressam was part of a GIA-Al Qaeda operation that was planning to blow up the Los Angeles airport during peak holiday traffic at New Years. Two of his accomplices were quickly arrested in Montreal and New York City, Mokhtar Haouari and Abdelghani Meskini. A third, Abdelmajid Doumane, escaped to Algeria. PBS Frontline, "Ahmed Ressam's Millenium Plot;" Cnews, March 22, 2002; Los Angles Times, August 29, 2001; "Y2K bomber still talking, sentence delayed," CNN.com, April 1, 2002; Reeve, The New Jackals, pp. 3-4.

January, 2000    Al Qaeda Summit Meeting in Malaysia: A dozen of the top leaders of Al Qaeda, posing as tourists, meet at a condominium in suburban Kuala Lumpur presumably to discuss strategy and make future plans.. Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, "The Hijackers We let Escape," Newsweek, June 10, 2002.]

January 20, 2000    Karl Inderfurth, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Asia, journeys to Islamabad where he meets with the new Prime Minister Musharaf, Taliban Minister of Information Amir Khan Muttaqi and Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Saeed Mohammed Muttaqi, to discuss the extradition of Osama bin Laden and the normalization of relations between the international community and the Taliban government. [Two days earlier UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, had named a new person responsible for Taliban affairs, Fransesc Vendrell, with the title of Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan, in the expectation of increased activity for the "6+ 2" group. The White House in this same period disbursed $114 million for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 63-64.]

September 27, 2000    An aide for the Taliban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdur Rahmin Zahid, meets with representatives of the State Department at the Middle East Institute in Washington. He confides that the religious authorities have created a special commission to investigate Osama bin Laden's responsibility for the embassy bombing; he is optimistic about his eventual extradition. [In this same period counter-terrorism chief Michael Sheehan met with a Taliban delegate, Abdul Hakim Mudjahid. A month later, on October 18th, Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering acknowledged the work of the "6 + 2" group and also the continuing negotiations with the Taliban. On November 2nd Fransesc Vendrell was able to announce to his superiors that the Taliban and the Northern Alliance were working on a peace plan under the aegis of the "6 + 2" group. People were confident that a coalition government with "moderate" Taliban was truly possible and that bin Laden would be extradited and Afghanistan stabilized. But---- after the débacle of the American election, the diplomatic climate changed mysteriously. No more negotiations, no further discussions under the guidance of the "6 + 2" group. "En moins d'un mois, l'équilibre diplomatique entre les taliban et les Occidentaux s'est rompu….pour on ne sait quelle raison." Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 65-68.]

October 12, 2000    Further Blowback in Yemen: Sailors aboard the USS Cole, in the magnificent harbor of Aden for a brief refueling stop, return the waves of the occupants of the small fishing boat minutes before it pulls alongside and explodes, its load of C-4 blasting a 40 x 60 foot hole in the reinforced steel hull of the Cole. [Seventeen sailors were killed, thirty-nine were wounded, and the damage inflicted would cost the Pentagon $240 million. The contract with Yemen for refueling privileges had been signed in December, 1998 a few months after the warning from al-'Owhali that Osama bin Laden was planning to bomb a warship in Yemen. Peter Bergen indicates that there were two reasons--- the Navy didn't have enough oilers and so needed a port and the State Department hoped to woo Yemen, an ally of Iraq, into its "war against terrorism." The mastermind for the plot was a bin Laden deputy, Mohammed Omar al-Harzi who, like the intellectual authors of previous terrorist plots, fled the vicinity before the actual event. The Yemeni authorities were only minimally more cooperative with the FBI than the Saudis had been, much to the frustration of FBI agents such as John O'Neill. Yemen arrested six or so men who were directly involved with the Cole attack, but understandably refused the FBI's request to investigate and interview certain members of the government and an army general related to President Salih. According to a Yemeni newspaper, "It was clear from the start that the accessories to the attack would be tried and executed, but the people inside Yemen who financed it, and used their power to facilitate it, would never be brought to book." Bergen, Holy War, Inc., pp. 167-169, 184-193.]

December 12, 2000    Addressing the Judiciary Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, Michael Sheehan denounces the Taliban, accusing them of supporting terrorism and calling on the international community to apply new sanctions against Kabul. [On the 19th the UN Security Council obliged with a reinforcement of economic sanctions against Afghanistan and a freeze on part of their financial assets. Brisard and Dasquié, p. 68.]

January 29, 2001    Four days after the inauguration of the new administration Dick Cheney, ex-CEO of Halliburton, sets up an Energy Policy Task Force to help him make policy decisions. [On May 16th he issued a brief summary of the secret meetings which was too brief to satisfy Congress. On the 10th of September the General Accounting Office demanded that the White House reveal and publish the details of the program devised by the Energy Policy Task Force and the names of the people participating. As of this writing (June 16, 2002), the White House has not complied. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 71-72.]

February 5, 2001    The Taliban use the pages of the London Times to invite the new administration in Washington to resume negotiations. Laila Helms, the PR person for the Taliban, expedites the visit of Mullah Omar's roving ambassador, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi, to the United States. (She is an Afghan by birth and the niece of former CIA director, Richard Helms.) Brisard, p. 69, The Times (UK), February 5, 2001, p. 21.

February 12, 2001    Nancy Soderburg, the American ambassador to the United Nations, states that, at the request of Fransesc Vendrell, the United States will seek to "find a way to have a continuing dialogue on humanitarian issues with the Taliban." [Between April 19 and August 17 she made four trips to Kabul and Kandahar for discussions with the Taliban. In the same period the "6 + 2" meetings resumed under the sponsorship of the UN with Vendrell presiding, but with a change in personnel. The individuals attending were now people with no official positions in their current governments so as not to compromise them. There were at least three meetings in Germany, all with the goal of getting the Taliban to sign an armistice and form a coalition government with the Northern Alliance and to extradite Osama bin Laden. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 75-76.]

May 17, 2001    Christina Rocca, in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her appointment as director of the State Department's Bureau of Asiatic Affairs, testifies that the Bush administration intends to establish peace and stability in Afghanistan and that requires that there be dialogue with the Taliban. [Rocca was a CIA intelligence operative in the area, 1982-1997, during which time she coordinated relations with mujaheddin and supervised part of the delivery of Stinger missiles to them. It is rumored that 2001 informal contacts included Qazi Hussein Ahmad, the head of Jamaa-i-Islamiya, which had joined its forces with those of Osama bin Laden in the Khost area. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 74-75.]

May 18, 2001    The Bush II administration pledges an additional $43 million to Afghanistan since the Taliban have agreed to eliminate the poppy crop. This brings the total for this year to $124 million, making the US the largest humanitarian aid donor to the country. Washington Post, 25 May 2001.

June 1, 2001    A secret meeting on the subject of Afghanistan is held in Washington between Condaleeza Rice, Christina Rocca, Fransesc Vendrell and some British observers. [Beginning May 6th Vendrell had had discussions with ex-king Zahir Shah, aged 87 and in poor health, about conditions for his return to Afghanistan and possible replacement of the Taliban. Brisard and Dasquié, pp. 77-78.]

July 4-14, 2001    Osama bin Laden is a patient in the American hospital in Dubai receiving treatment for his kidney disease. During this period he is visited by the CIA station chief who is summoned back to Washington on July 15th. Le Figaro, October 31, 2001. One wonders why this man, indicted in the US for conspiracy in the attacks on the East African embassies and the USS Cole and the subject of a targeted attack by the US in 1998, was not apprehended in Dubai or his private jet forced down (or shot down) on the way back to Afghanistan.

July 5, 2001    Warnings and Increased Security:  Richard Clarke, the White House's long-time national coordinator for counter-terrorism, calls a meeting of the heads of the major domestic security organizations--- the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, Customs, INS, and the FBI. Major signals have been coming to the CIA concerning a likely attack on American soil by Al Qaeda, so he enjoins the agencies to increase security in view of an impending attack. "It all came together the third week in June," Clarke later told Lawrence Wright. "The CIA's view was that a major terrorist attack was coming in the next several weeks." "The Counter-Terrorist", The New Yorker, January 14, 2002, p. 61. Unlike the general public, Attorney General John Ashcroft is warned to use private planes and to avoid commercial airlines. CBSNews.com, July 26, 2001.

July 17-20, 2001    Crucial Track Two Meeting: The third round of a "track two" meeting of senior Russian, American, Iranian and Pakistani officials to brainstorm on the future of Afghanistan takes place in a Berlin hotel. The Americans propose that in exchange for delivering Osama bin Laden (wanted for his alleged involvement in the bombings of the African embassies and the USS Cole) and consenting to an enlarged government that would include Northern Alliance leaders, the Taliban could receive international recognition and financial aid. [These negotiations, first begun in November 2000, had been adopted fervently by the Bush fils administration in February. They hoped to stabilize Afghanistan and get the Unocal pipeline back on track. The Taliban, however, seemed unwilling to comply with all the conditions. Niaz Naik, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, reported to the Guardian that the Americans had threatened that "in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also does not help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan." Naik passed this threat to his government which informed the Taliban. The Americans present were Tom Simons, former ambassador to Pakistan, Karl Inderfurth, former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, and Lee Coldren, head of the State Department office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs until 1997. The Guardian (UK), September 22, 2001 Jean-Charles Brisard in an interview in Paris after the publication of Ben Laden: La vérité interdite, quoted Simons as saying, "either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs." Julio Godoy, Inter Press Service, November 15, 2001.

On August 2nd Christine Rocca, the director of Asian affairs at the State Department and former CIA officer, met with the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, probably the last contact of the Americans with the Taliban before September 11th. Irish Times, November 19, 2001. So possibly September 11th was either a pre-emptive strike by Osama and the Taliban or an attack by Al Qaeda to prevent the Taliban from knuckling under and extraditing bin Laden?]

August 16, 2001    The First Arrest for a Disaster Yet to Happen: The FBI arrest Zacarias Moussaoui, a French-born man of Arab descent from Morocco, after officials of a flight school outside of Minneapolis report their suspicions. [Moussaoui had requested flight training on a Boeing 747 although he had no skills at piloting small planes, and he was not interested in learning how to land or take off, only how to steer the plane in midair. He questioned instructors about how much fuel a Boeing 747 could hold and how much damage it could do if it hit a building. Additionally, he was evasive about his personal background and declined to speak French with a French-speaking instructor. The FBI did not investigate further despite repeated pleas from the flight school; Justice Department officials in Washington refused to give Minneapolis agents permission to examine the hard drive on Moussaoui's computer. Newsweek, October 1, 2001. A frustrated instructor warned the FBI that "a 747 loaded with fuel can be used as a bomb." On August 26 French intelligence notified the FBI that Moussaoui had links to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and had been on their watch list since the late '90s.. (In July Phoenix FBI agent Ken Williams had warned the counterterrorism department that he had detected a pattern of Arabs taking flight training in Arizona who might involved in terrorist groups and urged that flight schools throughout the country be investigated, but his memo and hunch were not shared with the Minneapolis agents. James Risen, New York Times, May 4, 2002.)  However, the FBI turned Moussaoui over to INS who detained him for violating the terms of his visa. After 9-11 the intelligence community examined the Moussaoui case and concluded that he was the missing "20th hijacker" who had been slated for the flight that went down in Pennsylvania. His computer, when finally examined, contained details of crop-dusting planes and evidence of links to Al Qaeda. He was indicted on December 11th in the US District Court in Alexandria on six counts of conspiracy. Four carry a maximum sentence of death. Patrick Martin, wsws.org, January 5, 2002; New York Times, December 12, 2001.]

August 22, 2001    This is the last day at work for John P. O.Neill, the deputy director of the FBI and, since 1995, the section chief for counterterrorism. [He became the expert in Islamic extremists. Long before the embassy bombings and the attack on the USS Cole, he was warning government officials about the militants they were breeding in Afghanistan and especially Osama bin Laden. He complained to Jean-Charles Brisard and others about how he felt his pursuit of bin Laden and other militants was stymied by the State Department and by Saudi Arabia. First, the Saudis executed the suspects of the Riyadh bombing before he could interview them. Second, he accused the US Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, of impeding his inquiry into the bombing of the Cole. Finally, he was disgusted that the Bush administration had decided to negotiate with the Taliban, rather than pursuing it and its guest, bin Laden, in order to realize the goal of building a pipeline from Central Asia through Afghanistan. He told Brisard that "every answer, every key to dismantling the Osama bin Laden organizations are in Saudi Arabia." After retirement O'Neill went to work as head of security at the World Trade Center and, in the cruelest irony of all, died there on 9-11 attempting to save others' lives. Brisard and Dasquié, Ben Laden: La vérité interdite.]

September 11, 2001    "The Day that Everything Changed" (?):

Around midnight (EST, but mid-morning in Afghanistan): A delegation arrives in Kabul from the People's Republic of China to sign a contract to provide the Taliban with the latest electronic defense equipment, including advance warning systems and missile tracking devices. Gordon Thomas, Seeds of Fire: China and the Story behind the Attack on Americ (2001), p. 491.

 Between 7:59 AM and 8:14 AM (EST) four planes take off from Boston's Logan Airport, Newark and Dulles headed for destinations in California. Shortly after takeoff the planes are diverted from their proper paths.

8:20 AM: Air traffic controllers become aware that AA 11, Boston to Los Angeles, has been hijacked. The airplane was headed back east, the transponder had been turned off, and the pilot had been able to push a button so the controller could hear the hijackers barking orders. New York Times, September 13, 2001.

8:38 AM: The Boston air traffic controllers notify NORAD that American Airlines Flight # 11 has been hijacked. [Standard Operating Procedure dictates that fighter jets be scrambled immediately to intercept any hijacked plane, indeed any plane that has deviated from its flight plan, as in the case of the doomed plane of golfer Payne Stewart in 1999. As of May 11, there has been no explanation why SOP was not followed on September 11.]

8:45 AM:  American Airlines Flight 11, Boston-Los Angeles, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and explodes. There is a gigantic hole at the level of the 80th floor of the 110-story tower.

9:03 AM:  United Airlines Flight 175, Boston-Los Angeles, crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center at about the 60th floor.

9:06 AM:  New York police broadcast: "This was a terrorist attack. Notify the Pentagon." New York Daily News, September 12, 2001.

9:25 AM:  The Federal Aviation Administration orders all planes grounded immediately. No further takeoffs will be allowed until noon the next day. [There was one interesting exception. Prince Bandar Bin-Sultan, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, was allowed to use his private jet to take twenty-four members of the bin Laden family residing in the US back to Arabia. The FBI provided their escort to Logan Airport with no questions asked, no interrogation. And in the days following, Saudi Arabia would neither supply any information on the fifteen of its citizens believed to be among the nineteen alleged hijackers nor close down the bin Laden charities suspected of funding Al Qaeda. The prince (on Larry King's program, October 1st) described one of his benefactees who suddenly understood the injustice done to the Japanese-Americans in 1942. The privileged young man said, "I'm a rich man, I'm in Harvard, and I have to leave my school, not because I was guilty, but because the emotions are high." Could the ambassador possibly have been unaware of the arrogance involved in this anecdote? Christopher Hitchens, The Nation, January 21, 2002.]

9:31 AM:  Resident Bush describes the crashes as an "apparent terrorism attack" in a brief television appearance from Florida. [He had been reading a story about a goat in a photo-op with young children in a Sarasota school. When notified of the second crash, he tucked the note in his pocket and continued with the story. After his brief remarks on TV, he flew to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. He had learned of the first crash while driving to Emma Booker School in his limo. Several months later he twice told reporters how shocked he was when he saw the first crash on TV while en route to the school. This is odd, since no commercial TV cameras were trained on the World Trade Center at the time of the first crash.]

9:33 AM:  The air traffic controller at Dulles notifies Reagan National Airport and the Secret Service that a "fast-moving primary target" (an airplane without a transponder) is headed east toward the forbidden airspace over the White House and the Capitol. Shortly thereafter the White House, the Pentagon and the Capitol are evacuated. Vice President Cheney is hustled into an underground bunker at the White House along with other key officials.

9:40 AM:  American Airlines Flight 77, Dulles-Los Angeles, crashes into the west side of the Pentagon. After this third crash F-16s are ordered to scramble from Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, 130 miles from Washington. [This according to the testimony of General Richard B. Myers (Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) before the Armed Services Committee on September 13th. Vice President Cheney made a similar assertion to Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press" on the 16th. However, the official story changed a few days later after there were questions about why fighter jets had not been scrambled much sooner to intercept the hijacked planes--- if not immediately after 8:20 AM. The public was then told by CBS News that jets from Otis Air Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts had indeed been scrambled at 8:52 AM , but had arrived at the World Trade Center too late to do anything but view the disaster. Marine Major Mike Snyder, spokesperson for NORAD, declined to comment on the news report, but stated categorically that no planes had become airborne until after the crash at the Pentagon. Glen Johnson, "Otis Fighter Jets Scrambled Too Late to Halt the Attacks," Boston Globe, September 15, 2001.]

10:00 AM:  The south tower implodes and collapses within seconds into a cloud of dust. The spectacle resembles the controlled demolitions of obsolete buildings that have been shown on TV for years..

10:10 AM:  United Airlines Flight 93, Newark-San Francisco, crashes southeast of Pittsburgh. Either the passengers had been alerted by cell phone to the previous crashes and were able to overcome the hijackers and crash the plane short of its possible destination of Washington (the fashionable explanation) or the plane was shot down by a US fighter jet.
I[Human remains, singed papers and other debris from Flight 93 were found as far as eight miles from the crash site. Since it seems improbable that they could have blown that far over a mountain ridge in a light breeze (10 mph), a midair explosion would seem to be a more logical explanation for the crash. www.flight93crash.com.] For an interactive map showing the proper paths of the four planes plus a demonstration of their actual paths, see: http://www.usatoday.com/graphics/news/gra/gflightpath2/flash.htm

10:28 AM:  The north tower implodes and collapses similarly to the south tower.

12:39 PM:  Bush, speaking from Louisiana, pledges to hunt down the evil ones and punish those reponsible. He leaves for Orfutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Mayor Rudy Guiliani has taken charge in New York and Vice President Cheney is running the show from the bunker in Washington.

7:00 PM:  Bush returns to the White House. [Many people in the US spent the day tethered to their TVs in a state of shock and millions more watched worldwide as the horrors escalated. Speculation was immediate by the administration, the TV networks and the public that this was the work of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. By afternoon airport security photos were aired of two of the suspected hijackers as they passed the security camera at Logan. First estimates were that the death toll would be 6000-7000 people, but due to the space of time before the collapse of the towers, the final number of 3128 (including crews and passengers and deaths at the Pentagon and New York) was mercifully lower. A significant proportion of the deaths were the gallant police and firefighters who strove to rescue people at the World Trade Center. The damage was estimated at $15 billion plus another $1 billion to clean up the flaming debris, heaped seven stories high. It was believed that it would require 12-18 months to clean up the rubble, shore up the wall against the Hudson River, restore the underground utilities and repair the damaged subway station. Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2001; New York Times, October 16, 2001.]

[In the following week the FBI announced the identities of 19 men believed to be the suicide bombers, and soon there were photos to go with the names. Details began to emerge of their lives in Germany, Britain and the United States prior to 9-11, their training in Al Qaeda camps, their behavior at the flight schools they attended in the US, and some nightclubbing inconsistent with the moral strictures of fundamentalist Muslims. On September 23rd Secretary of State Colin Powell announced (on a Sunday talk show) that a "white paper" was forthcoming that would detail all the information on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and prove to the world that they were responsible for the attcks on the 11th. However, this paper has never been released to the public and of all the governments to whom it has been shown, only that of the compliant Tony Blair has found the contents convincing. Seymour Hersh, "Mixed Messages," The New Yorker, June 3, 2002.

Also there came reports of warnings that had been given to the US government by foreign intelligence services:

  •  In June the US was warned by German intelligence that Middle Eastern terrorists were "planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture." This intelligence had been derived from Echelon. Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, September 14, 2001
  • In August two Mossad agents came to Washington to tell the CIA and FBI that there were as many as 200 terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden in the US preparing for a "large-scale attack" on "highly visible targets" in the continental United States. There were "strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement." David Wastell, Telegraph (UK), September 16, 2001 (re-posted May 30, 2002)
  • In August the French secret services told the FBI that a French-Algerian who was taking flying lessons in Boston had links to Osama bin Laden. BBC News, September 14, 2001.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US that commercial airliners were going to be used by terrorists to attack, among other structures, the World Trade Center in the week of September 9th. MSNBC interview with Putin, September 15, 2001. Izvestia wrote on September 12 that Russian intelligence had warned the US government that as many as 25 pilots were training for suicide missions that would involve the crashing of airliners into important targets.
  • During the summer the Jordanian secret service, GID, picked up intelligence that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack inside the continental United States involving aircraft and sent the warning to the United States. The code name was "Al Ourush al Kabir" or The Big Wedding." John K. Cooley, "The U.S. ignored foreign warnings, too", International Herald Tribune, May 21, 2002
  • A further warning may have come from Morocco. According to a November story in a French magazine and a Moroccan newspaper, Hassan Dabou, a Moroccan secret agent, managed to infiltrate Al Qaeda where he learned that "large-scale operations in New York in the summer or autumn of 2001" were planned. Bin Laden, he told his superiors in Rabat, was "very disappointed" that the 1993 attack had failed to destroy the World Trade Center. He lost his entreé to Al Qaeda after a trip to the US to tell his story. (But got asylum and a new identity in the US.) Cooley, IHT, May 21, 2002.

September 14, 2001     Someone Knew Something: Officials at a Canadian jail open a sealed envelope which had been handed to them on August 11th or 12th by inmate Delmart "Mike " Vreeland. The envelope contains one sheet of paper with a list of targets that includes the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the White House, "water supplies," the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Royal Bank in Toronto, the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa plus the ominous notation, "Let one happen. Stop the rest!!!"

[Vreeland had attempted to warn his jailers verbally that attacks were coming against Canadian and America landmarks such as the World Trade Center. He had been arrested in December 2000 upon entry to Canada from Moscow upon request of the US government which declared that he was wanted in Michigan for credit card fraud (using his own credit card.) Vreeland, however, identified himself as a lieutenant in the US Navy assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence. He claimed that he had been sent to Moscow to obtain Russian military plans to counter the US proposed "Star Wars" missile defense system. (Mike Ruppert believes that this is a cover story for his real mission to uncover US navy personnel drug smuggling.) The US denied all of this and said their only record of him is that of a seaman busted in 1986 after a few months of "unsatisfactory performance." Yet Vreeland's highly redacted military record came to 1200 pages. A phone call to the Pentagon made in open court produced the office number and direct-dial number of Lt. Delmart Vreeland and confirmed his rank as a Lieutenant O-3.

Vreeland resisted extradition, fearing assassination should he be returned to the United States, and asked for refugee status. This was granted on a temporary basis and he is living, at this writing on May 7, in a safe-house in Canada. His attorneys, former Canadian prosecutors Rocco Galati and Paul Slansky, have been harassed (dead cats, broken car windows, etc.) and have received death threats. Some journalists have maintained that Vreeland actually wrote down the information after September 11th. However, Vreeland was clever enough to use a Pilot pen with light-blue ink that was not allowed in the jail. He told his jailers about the pen after he wrote the note, and the pen was confiscated on August 13th.
www.citizenspokane.com/delmart_vreeland_expose.htm; www.copvcia.com.

September 14, 2001    Blowback to Constitutionally-Mandated Separation of Powers: Congress with only one dissenting vote gives the unelected resident of the White House a blank check to "use all necessary and appropriate force against nations, organizations, or persons he (emphasis added) determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons." Barbara Lee, Democrat of Oakland, California, voted "Nay," saying, "However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint.... Let us... think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control."

October 5, 2001    Blowback on the Right of Congress to Know:  The White House announces that congressional briefings involving classified information will be restricted to only eight members of Congress. The administration alleges that there have been unauthorized leaks to the media. [Strong criticism from Congress and the public forced the White House to rescind the memo and include all members of the Intelligence Committees in the briefings. In March, 2002 the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press released a 40-page white paper, Homeland Confidential, detailing this and subsequent administration restrictions on the free flow of information to the public.  See: www.rcfp.org/news/documents/Homefront_Confidential.pdf.]

October 7, 2001    Air Strikes begin on Afghanistan: 31 targets are hit during the night hours by US and British forces targeting "military aircraft, runways, missile launchers and 'terrorist' training camps." A spokesman for the Northern Alliance reports that the Taliban's radar system was "completely destroyed." The Taliban says there are 20 casualties, including women, children and elderly people. The UN World Food program is forced to suspend its food convoys. The ration packs dropped by two US planes as the "humanitarian" part of the mission represent only a minute fraction of that supplied by the convoys. [World Food program officials have said that a quarter of the Afghan population will be dependent on food aid by the end of the year— 5.5 million people. There are only a few weeks left to get food convoys into the remote areas before passage is blocked by the winter snows. The people also need seeds to plant the winter wheat which will feed them next year. Chris Buckley, an aid officer: "The real Afghanistan is one where 85 per cent of the population are subsistence farmers. Most Afghans don't have newspapers, television sets or radios. They will not have heard of the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon, and most will have no idea that a group of zealots has attacked these icons of western civilisation. There isn't even a postal service. Now, in these isolated villages, families are down to their last weeks of food and already men, women and children in the refugee camps are dying of cholera and malnutrition. I have spoken to orphans with swollen bellies. I have spoken to men who have no money to hire trucks to escape the drought and make it to the camps. I have spoken to families who say they will wait in their villages for death.... To punish innocent Afghans would be immoral," Z Magazine, 14 September 2001.]

October 8, 2001    Tom Ridge starts his first day at work as head of the Office of Homeland Security, a new advisory position announced by Bush in his address to Congress on September 20. This department will have responsibility for overseeing all aspects of domestic security in response to the September 11 attacks. [A former congressman and two-term governor of Pennsylvania, Ridge won his first term on a get-tough-on-crime platform, using Willie Horton-type ads against his opponent. Once in office, he had many anti-crime bills passed, several of which were declared unconstitutional. He believes all juveniles (and not just alleged murderers) should be tried as adults and do adult time in prison. His state police roughed up death penalty protesters and made pre-emptive strikes against headquarters of the protesters at the Philadelphia Republican Convention in 2000. Civil libertarians, beware! ]

October 9, 2001    The Times of India reveals that Lt. General Mahmud Ahmed was recently fired as head of Pakistan's ISI because of evidence provided by India of his links to Mohammed Atta, one of the alleged suicide bombers of the World Trade Center on September 11th.  [At the general's instance Ahmad Umar Sheikh had wired $100,000 to Atta. Sheikh was one of the three militants who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in 1999. They were allowed to go free in exchange for the safe release of the plane's passengers. James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2001.]

October 10, 2001    More Blowback on the Right to Know: The five major US TV networks accede to the "request" of the White House to not air live, unedited tapes of Osama bin Laden or his aides (as they had on October 7 and 9) on the rationale that Al Qaeda might be using the transmissions to send coded messages to terrorist "sleepers."

October 12, 2001    Major Blowback on American Civil Liberties: The House passes the anti-terrorism bill (with a cumbersome title that yields the acronym PATRIOT) 339-79 after a five-hour debate. The bill gives unprecedented new powers to the police for eavesdropping on the internet without a court order, indefinite detention of non-citizens, and secret courts for foreign intelligence investigations. [The Senate had passed its version, the United and Strengthening America Act (acronym = USA) the night before with one lone dissenter, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. As troubling as the act's provisions was the way it was railroaded through the Congress. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA): "What we have today is an outrageous procedure: A bill, drafted by a handful of people in secret, comes to us without a committee review and immune to amendment." He could have added that the bill was 186 single-spaced pages in length and unavailable in time to be read.]

October 13-14, 2001      Demonstrations are held throughout the world to protest the bombing of Afghanistan: London, 20,000; Berlin, 15,000; India, 100,000; San Francisco, 10,000 plus thousands more in other American cities, Sweden, Nepal, South Korea and Nigeria. The Nation, October 19, 2001.

October 15, 2001      Several Islamic groups unite to call a nationwide strike in Pakistan to protest Pakistan's support of the US bombing of Afghanistan. [There have been daily protests, growing in intensity, with violent clashes with the police and numerous deaths. In an effort to shore up his shaky regime General Pervez Musharraf placed the leaders of three of the groups under house arrest and forced the resignation of two of his top generals who were pro-Taliban, transferring a third to a less sensitive command. Ironically, all three generals had supported Musharraf when he overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Shaif in October 1999.] Vilani Peiris, "Pakistani leader faces an uncertain future as protests continue", wsws.org.

October 16, 2001      Bush ends his televised report on the military campaign in Afghanistan by urging America's children to "go out and mow a lawn or do somebody a favor to earn a dollar" which they should send to the White House for the Red Cross fund for Afghanistan's children. At the same time US bombers are making a daytime raid on Kabul. One of their bombs destroys a Red Cross warehouse holding famine relief supplies whose roof was plainly marked with a large red cross.

In Pakistan Secretary of State Colin Powell and General Pervez Musharraf hold a press conference in which they announce their agreement to work together for the creation of a "new, broad-based government in Afghanistan" which "could include moderate elements within the Taliban." Two ironies: These are the same guys that the US is currently bombing, and wasn't it George W. Bush who denounced "nation-building" in the 2000 campaign? New York Times, October 17, 2001.

October 21, 2001      Bob Woodward reports in the Washington Post that Bush II signed an intelligence finding the previous month instructing the CIA to do "whatever is necessary" to eliminate Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. (So all the talk the previous month on whether or not President Ford's prohibition on assassination of world leaders should be rescinded was just so much rhetoric.) Additionally Woodward describes the "Threat Matrix," a CIA document that arrives every morning on the desks of the top officials in the Bush administration concerned with intelligence and national security. The Threat Matrix contains the raw data on all threats received of bombings, bioterrorism, hijackings, etc. Washington Post, October 21, 2001, p. A01.

October 22, 2001      The Times of London reports that the FBI is considering using torture to force suspected members of bin Laden's network to talk. More than 150 of the 800 picked up after September 11 remain in custody and are remaining silent. One of these is Zacarias Moussaoui, the French Moroccan who is suspected of being a hijacker who failed to make it aboard United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. Two others whose silence the FBI would especially like to crack are the two Indians who were apprehended on September 12th travelling with false passports, knives and hair dye. There is speculation that the current rather conservative Supreme Court would support the curtailment of civil liberties of prisoners in terrorism cases. Damian Whitworth, The Times (UK), October 2001.

November 9, 2001    Northern Alliance generals capture the key northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Nine hundred young Pakistani recruits, left behind when senior Taliban flee, take refuge in a former girls' school.  Their garrison is identified by "spotters" (US Special Forces?) and bombers score two hits on the school, killing dozens, and causing the Pakistanis to offer to surrender.  After about one hundred had emerged, Northern Alliance soldiers opened fire, summarily executing them as they walked forward with hands raised. Two days later the Alliance set fire to the building to smoke out the remaining Taliban, then shot them as they tried to flee the flames. Of the original 900, only 325 were taken prisoner.   After Mazar-e-Sharif the Northern Alliance extended its control of Afghanistan to Taloquan in the north and Herat in the west, or about 50% of the country, with only Kunduz remaining in Taliban hands in the north. (When the bombing started two months before, the Alliance occupied only about 10%.) Much of this was accomplished without a great deal of fighting; US bombers had been pummeling the Taliban for weeks and many Taliban leaders, including the governor of Bamyan province, simply surrendered. World Socialist Web Site, November 15 and 22, 2001.]

November 13, 2001    The Taliban suddenly retreat from Kabul to Kandahar, taking all of the Afghan treasury with them. The Northern Alliance, which had previously pledged not to enter Kabul until the US and UN had set up some sort of new interim administration, swarms into the capital and takes control of the major ministries. Pashtun residents are afraid that Northern Alliance soldiers will assume they are Taliban and summarily execute them. [The US immediately marshalled international sentiment to prevent the various warlords of the Northern Alliance from establishing a de facto administration in Kabul. In the UN the "Six plus Two" group (United States and Russia plus Afghanistan's six neighbors--- China. Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan--- agreed that any interim government should be "broadly-based, multi-ethnic and representative."] "Fall of Kabul," wsws.org, November 15, 2001.

November 13, 2001    Major Blow to the Constitution and America's Reputation for Justice: Bush the Unelected issues a Military Order that would allow the government to try persons accused of "terrorism" before special military commissions rather than in civilian courts (as were the terrorists accused of bombing the World Trade Center in 1993 and the two embassies in East Africa in 1998.) These military tribunals may "sit at any time and any place"— Afghanistan, continental United States, Guantánamo Bay, etc. Articles III, V and VI of the Constitution are trashed by the following provisions:

  • The trial may be in secret. (Article VI)
  •  No grand jury indictment needed, no impartial jury. (Article III, Article V, Article VI)
  •  The judges will be military officers (who, of course, are subordinate to the military authority that is prosecuting.) (Article VI)
  •  Only two-thirds of the judges needed to determine sentence (including execution.)
  •  Federal rules of evidence will not apply, meaning hearsay evidence is OK and the defendant does not have the right to know the evidence used against him.
  •  "Reason to believe" is substituted for "beyond reasonable doubt."
  •  No right of appeal. Only the president or the Secretary of Defense can overturn decisions
  •  Terrorism is not defined. "Persons" can include civilians. Although designed for non-citizens arrested in the US or abroad, the Military Order could conceivably be extended to cover US citizens who "harbor" or aid "terrorists," knowingly or unknowingly.

November 25, 2001    Northern Alliance troops enter Kunduz after six days of heavy pounding of this city of 100,000 by American B-52s. The figures vary as to the number of Taliban who surrender--- 3300, 4000, 5000, or 6000.   Some are taken away in trucks with their arms tied behind their backs with odd pieces of cloth.  Some of the wounded are executed and left on empty stalls in the market place.  [General Mohammed Daoud estimated that between 10,000 and 20,000 Taliban had taken refuge there after the other cities of northern Afghanistan fell to the Northern Alliance.  The surrounded Taliban attempted to negotiate a surrender to "anyone but the Northern Alliance," a move that was forcefully prevented by the Bush administration.  Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said he wanted them to "be killed or taken prisoner."  Daoud was willing to grant amnesty to the Afghan fighters only.  A few Taliban shaved their beards and slipped out of the city with the fleeing civilians; many must have died in the bombing.  Secret airlifts on the three nights before the 25th rescued between 4000 and 5000 thousand men who were Pakistani military advisors (including two generals), Pakistani citizens who had volunteered to fight the Northern Alliance after the US bombing began, and non-Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda.  Pakistani President Musharraf got the green light from the US for the airlift (and a special airlift safety corridor) after he explained that his regime might not survive the humiliation of the loss of so many citizens and key military.   Indian intelligence "knew within minutes" of the airlifts, but the government did not denounce the action until after the December 13th attack on the Parliament.  Protest notes sent to the US and UK have gone unanswered. The Indians have cause for alarm, for as one intelligence official told Seymour Hersh, "Musharraf can't afford to keep the Taliban in Pakistan.  They're dangerous to his own regime.   Our reading is that the fighters can go only to Kashmir." Seymour M. Hersh, "The Getaway," New Yorker, January 28, 2002, pp. 36-40; Rory McCarthy, "Alliance accused of brutality in capture of Kunduz," The Guardian (UK), November 27, 2001; Don Dahler, ABCNews.com, November 19, 2001; Peter Symonds, "US sets stage for a massacre in Kunduz", wsws.org, November 22, 2001;

December 2, 2001    Next Country: Iraq?  Britain's Observer breaks a story indicating the US military and CIA have drawn up plans for a military operation against Iraq's Saddam Hussein that could "begin within months" despite opposition from European Union leaders and that usually stalwart ally of the US, Tony Blair. The plan calls for the standard US bombing of key military installations combined with aid to Iraqi opposition groups. Playing the role assigned to the Northern Alliance in the war with Afghanistan will be Kurds in the North, Sunni extremists around Baghdad, and Shi'ites in the South. "Significant numbers" of US ground troops will probably be required in the early stages to guard the oil fields around Basra. Since no evidence has been found conclusively linking Iraq to 9-11, it is believed the US will use the excuse of Iraq's anticipated refusal to allow inspection for weapons of mass destruction. The major proponents of the plan are said to be Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former CIA Director James Woolsey, General Tommy Franks of the US Central Command, and Charirman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers. Peter Beaumont, Ed Vuillamy and Paul Beaver, The Observer, December 2, 2001.

December 5, 2001   The Bonn Agreement: The UN Conference on Afghanistan (the 6 Plus 2 Group) concludes its nine days of haggling in a Bonn, Germany hotel. They announce an "interim government" that will attempt to govern Afganistan for six months beginning December 22. Its head will be Hamid Karzai, the head of the Pashtun Popolzai clan who is currently in Kandahar negotiating the surrender of the Taliban forces there. The key ministries of defense, interior and foreign affairs are given to leaders of the Northern Alliance who will have 17 of the 30 ministerial posts. The "Rome faction," those supporting the 87-year-old ex-king, receive nine posts including that of Karzai. The remaining four go to the Pakistani-supported "Peshawar group" and the Iranian-supported "Cyprus group." Neither ex-President Rabbani nor the powerful Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum gets a job. In June there will be a loya jirga, presided over by King Zahir Shah, which will select another government to serve for two years. Meanwhile the Loya Jirga Commission (composed of 21 prominent Afghans selected by the UN) will be laying down the procedures for choosing the 800-1000 delegates to the loya jirga which Peter Symonds aptly describes as "a cynical piece of political theatre designed to give a democratic gloss to a regime that has no power to make even relatively minor decisions." "UN unveils a quasi-colonial regime for Afghanistan," wsws.org, December 8, 2001; www.eurasianet.org/loya.jirga/commission.shtml.

December 10, 2001    Civilian Victims of US Bombs in Afghanistan: Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire releases his comprehensive accounting of the civilian deaths caused by US bombing from October 7th to December 6th. The number: 3,767, an average of 62 killed per day.   [Herold compiled his figures from such sources as the BBC, Indian and Pakistani newspapers, and British and Canadian newspapers. In several cases he demonstrated that the Pentagon was just plain lying when they claimed "no civilian casualties." His total-to-date is more than died in all four plane crashes on September 11th (3128), and on a population scale is the equivalent of 38,000 US civilians. The number does not include the number who have died (and will die) from starvation as the result of the international food distribution trucks barred from entering the country by the US. Nor those who will die or be maimed from the 5000 unexploded cluster bombs. Nor those deaths incurred since December 6th. www.cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm]

December 22, 2001    Hamid Karzai, resplendent in his trademark green-and-blue cloak, and his government are sworn in at a rather subdued ceremony in Kabul. [Two days before the US had bombed a convoy of vehicles in Paktia province. Among the dead were 15 tribal elders en route to Kabul to witness the inauguration of the new government. The US insisted that no mistake had been made, that the vehicles contained "Taliban leaders." Paktia tribal leader Munib and others accused rival warlord Pacha Khan Zadran of providing false intelligence to the US military. Pacha Khan denied having given such information at the same time denouncing the slain as Al Qaeda members. The New York Times noted that the "convoy that came under American attack may have contained some former Taliban members, but it was clearly welcome in Kabul." Peter Symonds, "Open-ended US bombing campaign results in further Afghan casualties," wsws.org, January 4, 2002; Amy Waldman, "Fluid Loyalties are Laid Bare by a U.S. Raid," New York Times, December 28, 2001.]

December 25, 2001    Next Country: Somalia?  One of the films opening Christmas Day (in Los Angeles and New York) is Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. Based on Mark Bowden's prize-winning series in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the 1993 episode in Somalia, the film is blatantly racist and pro-war and attempts to arouse sentiments for revenge. [Since September 11 Somalia has been one of the several countries frequently mentioned as next on the list in the "war on terrorism" despite the fact that the country has not been implicated in the 9-11 attacks. In November the US government closed down the Somali-owned Al-Bakarat money transfer company which is the only way Somalis in the US can send remittances to their families in Somalia. (About 80% of the country rely on these funds for survival.) The Somalia Internet Company was also closed and international telephone communication severely restricted, isolating the country. In December a group of US officials visited aides to opposition warlords in southern Somalia for talks about the war on terrorism, thus accelerating fears that these warlords, having watched the Northern Alliance regain power in Afghanistan with the help of US bombing missions, might ask for a sequel in Somalia. President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan told Reuters that fears of such US military strikes were interfering with his efforts to unite the country: "People are terrorized by this campaign of propaganda against Somalia....For their own interest, they [the warlords] want to see America involved in Somalia, Somalia bombed, and then to take over power like the Northern Alliance did in Afghanistan. But Somalia is not Afghanistan. The transitional national government is not Taliban. I am not Mullah Mohammed Omar."     Black Hawk Down was privately screened for top White House officials who were allowed to make changes in the film before its release. (Bowden told the New York Post that he was pressured by the Army to change the name of the Ewan McGregor character from the heroic Army Ranger John "Stebby" Stebbins to "John Grimes." Stebbins was court-martialed on June 8, 2000 for sexually abusing a child under the age of 12 and sentenced to 30 years in the Leavenworth, Kansas military prison.) New York Times, January 11, 2002; www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,9281,00.html ]

December 31, 2001    Oil: Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad is named by Bush to be the US special envoy to the interim government of Afghanistan. He will also continue in his present position as the Special Assistant for Southeast Asia, Near East and North Africa on the Security Council. [Khalilzad was the Unocal advisor who drew up the risk analysis for the proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in the negotiations between Unocal and the Taliban in 1997 and lobbied for a more sympathetic governmental policy toward the Taliban. He headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Department of Defense, yet did not secure a subcabinet position for himself. (Possibly his affiliation with Unocal and his support for the Taliban would have made confirmation difficult?) Instead he was named to the National Security Council where no confirmation vote was needed. He was born in Afghanistan in 1951 to an elite family. (His father was an aide to King Zahir Shah.) When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Khalilzad was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. He became an American citizen and was a special advisor to the Reagan administration where he lobbied for more muntions for the mujaheddin, including the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. With Khalilzad in Kabul, maybe it's time to start a betting pool: How many weeks (or months) until the Karzai government awards a contract to Unocal for its pipeline?] www.truthout.com/01.14A.Zalmay.Oil.p.htm; wsws.org, January 3, 2002.

January 11, 2002    Taliban and Al Qaeda Captives Arrive in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: The first 20 "detainees" arrive in Cuba from Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan. They have been shaved, hooded, shackled, manacled, chained to their seats and, in a few cases, sedated for the 27-hour flight. They are guarded by 40 MPs armed with stun guns. Air Force General Richard Myers explains the extreme precautions: "These are people that would gnaw through hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld describes the detainees as "illegal combatants" and not prisoners of war and, therefore, the US is not bound by the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of POWs. However, he says, they will be treated "fairly." This fair treatment includes housing in separate 6 x 8 outdoor cages made of concrete and chain-link fencing with metal roofs located in a newly-constructed, super-safe area of the American naval base. The cages are open to the elements on all sides (for constant supervision, supposedly) so the prisoners have no privacy for either dressing or relieving themselves. (Some of their guards are women which should certainly offend their extremist Muslim sensibilities.) Their accomodations include a mattress, a Koran, two towels (one for use as a prayer rug) and "culturally appropriate" food. None has been charged with a crime; they will all be subject to interrogations in hopes of learning more about future Al Qaeda plans. Their "Camp X-Ray" will ultimately house several thousand prisoners. It is conjectured that Guantánamo was chosen as a location not only because of its security but also because it is not US soil and there are no federal courts to which the government might be pressured to take the prisoners. Los Angeles Times, Independent (UK), January 11, 2002; World Socialist Web Site, January 14, 2002.

January 22, 2002    The International Conference on Reconstruction Aid for Afghanistan closes its meeting in Tokyo with a paltry $4.5 billion in grants and loans pledged by the richest nations of the planet— only $1.8 billion this year with the remaining $2.7 billion given in dribbles by 2006. The United States, which has just spent $4.5 billion bombing the country and whose almost-elected president is asking for an additional $48 billion for the Pentagon, pledges an unconscionably measly $296 million (not billion) for this year with no commitment for future years. [The UN had estimated that the bankrupt government needs $1.3 billion in immediate financing and $15 billion over the next decade. The whole country needs rebuilding— roads, electricity plants, communication systems, schools, hospitals, clean water systems, extensive de-mining, etc. Seven million people are dependent on international food aid; there are five million Afghan refugees waiting to be reabsorbed into the country. Yet the international community has demanded that much of this aid be spent on a new army and a police force. (Need to make the country secure for that new pipeline from Turkmenistan.) The Karzai government was forced to "assume responsibility for the foreign debt incurred by all previous governments"—$5.5 billion, which means that Afghanistan must pay out $100 million in interest each year. As well as subscribing to World Bank strictures and buying goods from the donor nations. Oh, and also about one-fourth of this munificent $4.5 billion is in the form of non-interest loans which must be repaid and— no more poppy-growing, the main source of income for the peasant farmers. All in all, a splendid prescription for failure. World Socialist Web Site, January 28, 2002.]

January 23, 2002    Blowback to Guantánamo Bay: A reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl, is kidnapped in Pakistan. [He was researching a story on Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," and fell into the trap of an offer to meet with a potential source. On the 27th e-mails were sent to the Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers from the hitherto unknown group, the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. Photos were enclosed of Pearl with his chained hands holding a current copy of Dawn and a pistol pointed at his head. The e-mail described Pearl as a CIA spy and said they would hold him until the Pakistani captives being held in Cuba were released. The conditions of his detention would be "inhumane" to match those in Cuba. A further communication on the 30th said that investigation had demonstrated that Daniel Pearl was not CIA but was working for Mossad. The US has 24 hours in which to release the Pakistanis or they will kill Pearl. They further warn that other American journalists have three days in which to leave Pakistan; after that time they, too, will be kidnapped. Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2002.]

February 2, 2002    Fascism Revisited: "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too," says right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, a headline speaker at the five-day Conservative Political Action Conference in Arlington, Virginia. [Other speakers were a roll call of the far right wing of the Republican party: National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice,Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Republican National Committee chair Marc Raciot, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Senator Jesse Helms (introduced by his hopeful successor, Libby Dole), George Will, Michael Deaver, former Ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick, Pat Buchanan, Asa Hutchinson, Congressman Bob Barr (GA), Congressman Dave Weldon (FL), Senator Sam Brownback (KS), Phyllis Schafly, Laura Schlessinger, Oliver North, William Bennett, Edwin Meese, CNN's Bob Novak, ABC's Sam Donaldson, Rev. Lou Sheldon, Alan Keyes, David Horowitz, Senator Mitch McConnell (KY), and Lynne Cheney. Earlier Coulter had given her solution for the current crisis: "We should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Patrick Martin, "Conference of US right-wingers hears call to execute John Walker," World Socialist Web Site, February 27, 2002; cpac.org.]

February 22, 2002     The Death of Daniel Pearl:  After nearly a month of pleas for the release of Daniel Pearl and mysterious communiques indicating that he might still be alive, the US Consulate in Karachi receives a revolting video which depicts Pearl "confessing"---- "I am a Jew, my mother is a Jew" just before his throat is cut and his body decapitated on camera. [His death probably occurred in late January, about a week after his disappearance.  "Worldwide revulsion at murder of American journalist on video," Independent (UK), February 23, 2002.

On March 22nd Ahmed Omar Sheikh and three other Muslim militants were charged in a Karachi court with the kidnapping and murder of Pearl. Not only did Sheikh confess to the kidnapping (not under oath) but also notes in his handwriting had been found which matched the content of e-mail messages sent about Pearl. (Seven other suspected accomplices remained at large.) Sheikh was a leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed), a fundamentalist group that was banned by President Musharraf after 9-11.  It had been covertly supported by ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service. The United States, which had already indicted Sheikh, asked for his extradition. New York Times, March 22 and 23, 2002. Initially Musharraf seemed to be unwilling to hand over Sheikh. He reportedly told US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain that he would rather hang Sheikh himself than extradite him, undoubtedly fearing that the ties between the ISI and terrorist organizations would be exposed. Times of India, March 28, 2002. Abdullah Iqbat in Dubai's Gulf News suggests that Daniel Pearl was really researching exactly those links and also the role of the US in training the ISI, rather than getting interesting background material on shoe-bomber Richard Reid. He had been warned by other journalists of the very sensitive nature of his pursuit. One of Pearl's major stories had been the "fabrication" by Western sources of certain Kosovo "atrocities," a subject not likely to endear him to certain government circles. "Pearl was probing spy agencies' role," Gulf News, March 25, 2002.]

 March 15, 2002    Is the US Preparing to Abandon Afghanistan--- for the Second Time?   Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attempts to explain why the Bush administration has said NO to interim prime minister Hamid Karzai's pleas to increase and extend the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan:  "There is not a serious security problem." The current force of 4500 soldiers from 17 nations is operating only in Kabul and its immediate area. The Bush administration is trying to get Turkey to take over the ISAF administration from Britain (and has suggested to Congress that $228 be given to Turkey to expedite the transfer.)  Turkey is not willing to take over if the ISAF operates outside of Kabul,.  David Corn suggests that the administration needs Turkey to be compliant about an invasion of Iraq   (and continue the US of bases there), so-----   [Rumsfeld 's assessment of life in Afghanistan was quickly contradicted by other prominent Americans testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee. DIA chief Thomas Wilson said there was "a very widespread probability of insurgency-type warfare" in both the rural areas and the cities. CIA head George Tenet described severe economic, social and political problems.  Journalists have reported the violent competition for control among the rival warlords in places like Herat, Farah and Helmand Province. 

The head of Refugees International reported that people are starving because the lack of security has prevented aid workers from reaching people in many parts of Afghanistan.  There have been reports of food shipments stolen by warlords.   (Yet George Bush boasted to some high school students: "We've prevented mass starvation because we've moved a lot of food into the region.")  The International Crisis Group has recommended expanding the ISAF to 25,000 to 40,000 troops that would patrol the principal cities of Afghanistan and the major transportation routes. (The US State Department suggested 25,000 troops as the number.) Peter Symonds suggests: "Any extension of the ISAF would end the current monopoly of military power that Washington enjoys throughout the country and cut across its plans for a largely US-trained Afghan national army as the means for exerting long term political influence." "Washington presides over a political and social disaster in Afghanistan", wsws.org, March 29, 2002. The United States took no responsibility for nation rebuilding or for ensuring stability once the Soviet Union was forced out of Afghanistan thirteen years ago, letting the factional fighting happen and the Taliban emerge.  Is this going to happen again?  "Rival Flags Stir Afghan Fear," New York Times, February 4, 2002; "Warlords Steal Food Shipments," New York Times, January 4, 2002; David Corn, "Bush to Afghanistan: We Make War," TomPaine.org, March 22, 2002.

April 29, 2002     Oil Hegemony in the Southern Caucasus: US troops arrive in the former Soviet republic of Georgia ostensibly to "train and equip" Georgians to combat Islamic radicals in the Pankisi Gorge area (purportedly a safe haven for Al Qaeda fugitives and Chechen rebels) as part of the "war on terrorism." [However, a Defense Ministry official told Radio Free Europe on February 27: "The U.S. military will train our rapid reaction force which is guarding strategic sites in Georgia--- particularly oil pipelines ." (Emphasis added.) The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project has been designed to loosen Russia's energy hold on Georgia and Azerbaijan and bring the southern Caucasus into the US sphere of influence. It will also profit certain American companies---Halliburton, Chevron, and the law firm Baker Botts (headed by elder Bush's old friend and advisor, James Baker III.) Other conflicts of interest: Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was a director of Chevron. Armen Georgian, "U.S. Eyes Caspian Oil in 'War on Terror'", Foreign Policy in Focus, April 30, 2002.]

May 15, 2002    CBS News Reveals that Bush received a briefing from the CIA on August 6 that there was an imminent possibility of an airplane hijacking by terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden. [Did Bush then return to Washington to oversee increased precautions for "homeland security"? No, he continued with his vacation for the rest of August. This news temporarily derailed the TV talking heads from their usual celebrity gossip. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CN) announced their intention to sponsor legislation for a bipartisan independent commission to investigate what the government knew and what the government did in the pre-September 11 period. Vice President Cheney adopted a bullying posture, saying at a fundraising dinner that "my Democratic friends … need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions, as were made by some today, that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9-11." Such criticism is "thoroughly irresponsible … in time of war."

National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice baldly stated that the warning was only about a hijacking to take hostages. "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." Really?? No one? Not the FBI agent in Phoenix, or the FBI department in Minneapolis, or those responsible for security of the G-8 conference in Genoa, or the Philippine police who uncovered the Bojinka plot, or --- ? A CBS poll taken May 18-19 (before the release of the Rowley letter to FBI Director Mueller) indicated that "two-thirds of Americans think the Bush administration is hiding something about what it knew before September 11" and just over a fifth think the administration is "telling the whole truth." "Cover-up and conspiracy," wsws.org, May 18, 2002; AP, Washington Post, May 21, 2002.

May 16, 2002    NBC News Reveals that there was a document awaiting Bush' signature on September 9--- two days before September 11--- that was "a game plan to remove al-Qaida from the face of the Earth." [The details in this formal National Security Presidential Directive were essentially the same as the war plan that was adopted after September 11--- first the persuasion of other countries to share intelligence and arrest suspected terrorists, then freezing of Al Qaeda assets. The Taliban would be pressured to give up Osama bin Laden; if they refused, then a full-scale military attack. www.msnbc.com/news/753359.asp  An earlier scenario which surfaced June 26, 2001(and received zero attention by the US media) called for a joint US-Russian military venture against the Taliban on two fronts in northern Afghanistan with India and Iran "facilitating" the operations. It "would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest." (The bombing started October 7 and the ground attacks on October 19.) "US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11," wsws.org, November 20, 2001; www.indiareacts.com/archivefeatures/nat2.asp?recno=10.]

May 21, 2002    Whistleblower from Minneapolis FBI: Coleen Rowley, FBI special agent and legal counsel for the Minneapolis FBI, sends a scathing 13-page letter to Director Robert Mueller and hand-delivers copies to the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee. [Mueller immediately stamped the letter "classified" and refused to give it to congressional investigators or several US senators from the Judiciary Committee. The letter was leaked to the public and posted on the time.com web site on the 25th; the ensuing firestorm was enormous. Rowley contended that FBI headquarters stymied the investigation into Moussaoui, re-writing her request for a warrant to search his laptop and personal effects, and casting doubt on the French intelligence report (since Zacarias Moussaoui is such a common name in France!) She noted that the same personnel continued stalling even after the World Trade Center was struck when possibly an interrogation could have uncovered and prevented other attacks.

The Supervisory Special Agent, his unit chief and other involved headquarters personnel were not only kept in their same positions unreprimanded but also occupied critical positions in the Command Center on September 11th. The SSA (who had both the Minneapolis case and the Phoenix memo on his desk) has received a promotion! She faulted Mueller also, even though he came into the job only a week before the attack, for "a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of the facts" despite repeated attempts to deliver the true facts to him. "I think you have not been completely honest about some of the true reasons for the FBI's pre-September 11th failures." Minneapolis agents were so frustrated that "jokes were actually made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles, like Robert Hansen, who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis' effort." www.time.com/nation/printout/0,8816,249997,00.html.

May 30, 2002    Pipeline Agreement Signed:  Pakistan, Turkmenistan and the interim government of Afghanistan sign an agreement for a feasibility study for that controversial 975-mile gas pipeline. This will provide "the shortest transportation route for the transportation of petrochemical resources from Central Asia to the Far East, Japan and the West," said Pakistani President Musharraf… our stand on a pipeline to India remains unchanged whatever the level of tension."---- this as the two countries stand on the brink of a possible nuclear war. Hamid Karzai, prime minister for the interim government, issues a statement that "the stability in Afghanistan is very, very satisfactory, keeping in mind what we had five months ago."---- this as the British announce a fresh offensive against Taliban remnants. Talek Harris, Agence France-Presse , May 30, 2002. It seems a tad presumptuous for the interim government to rush into this agreement when the Loya Jirga, pursuant to the Bonn Agreement of December 2001, is due to convene June 10-16 to select a permanent government.]

June 4, 2002    Secret Hearings on Intelligence Failures Begin: On the same day as the ceremony for the completion of the removal of millions of tons of debris from Ground Zero, the joint session of the House and Senate Intelligence committees begins its much delayed investigation of a very limited scope of what happened on September 11th. Before the first testimony is heard, Bush, speaking from the National Security Agency, flatly denies that the government could have prevented the attack and warns against any wider investigation: "I don't want to tie up our team when we're trying to fight this war on terrorism. So I don't want our people distracted." [He didn't need to worry about the joint session; most of the committee's staff was selected by L. Britt Snyder, the former CIA inspector general. The Republican co-chairman of the committee, Porter Goss of Florida, was a CIA spy 1962-1971. Before that he was in Army intelligence. All of the members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have been vetted by the CIA and FBI for their "security" reliability to receive classified information. Therefore, these hearings and their findings are likely to be a whitewash of any substantive failures on a par with the Warren Commission report. If the American public is ever to know the full truth of what happened on September 11th, a full-scale, independent investigation will be required. wsws.org, June 5, 2002.


Meanwhile, more evidence accumulated of serious negligence if not actual wrongdoing:

  • On June 2nd the Newsweek story broke about the January, 2000 meeting of Al Qaeda terrorists in Malaysia and that the CIA knew of Alhazmi's entry into the US on January 15th and that his buddy Almihdhar (who was actually on the same plane) possessed a multiple-entry visa for the US. The FBI was not informed for eighteen months until August 28, 2001! Also no notification to INS. Nor to the airlines, despite ample warnings and past experience of terrorists' use of airplanes. Michael Ishikoff and Daniel Klaidman, "The Hijackers We let Escape," Newsweek, June 10, 2000. (See entry for January, 2000.)
  • Additional hijackers could have been identified if the FBI had been tracking these two: Alhazmi met with Hanjour, the Flight 77 pilot, in Phoenix in late 2000; in May and June 2001 Alhazmi and Almihdhar opened New Jersey bank accounts with Ahmed Alghamdi and Majed Moqed and assisted two other alleged hijackers, Salem Alhazmi and Abdulaziz Alomari, to open theirs. Then in August Mohammed Atta, the alleged ringleader, bought plane tickets for Moqed and Alomari. That's eight of the 19 who could have been wrapped up. "CIA Could Have Caught Terrorists," newsmax.com, June 3, 2002.
  • One of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's first acts was to order the grounding of the Predator drone which had been put in place by President Clinton to track and possibly kill Osama bin Laden.
  • Rumsfeld also killed a request to shift $800 million from missile defense to counter-terrorism.
  • Attorney General Ashcroft directed the FBI that their priorities in the new administration would be drugs, violent crime and child pornography, not counter-terrorism.
  • On September 10, 2001 Ashcroft opposed FBI requests for $58 million for 149 new counter-terrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts, and 54 translators.
  • A source at MI6 told the London Times that they had warned the US in 1999 that followers of Osama bin Laden had "plans to use commercial aircraft in unconventional ways, possibly as flying bombs." "MI6 warned US of Al-Qaeda attacks," Times (UK), June 9, 2002.
  • The super-secret and supposedly very efficient National Security Agency joined the FBI and CIA in the hot seat for intelligence failures: They did not share conversations they had intercepted before September 11 between alleged hijacker Mohammed Atta and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. (Mohammed, the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, was indicted for his participation in the 1995 "Bojinka Plot." US authorities later concluded, based on the interrogation of Abu Zubayda, that Mohammed was a top Al- Qaeda member and had the overall command of the September 11 attacks. He is on the "Most Wanted" list with a reward of $25 million offered for his capture and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.) The agency also failed to translate promptly some Arabic conversations. Jonathan S. Landay, "NSA didn't share key pre-Sept. 11 information, sources say," Knight Ridder Newspapers, June 6, 2002; Reeve, The New Jackals, p. 91.

 

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