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Why Paris Reveals the Horror – and the Hypocrisies – of Global Terrorism

Why Paris Reveals the Horror – and the Hypocrisies – of Global Terrorism

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

23 November 2015

Originally posted at Occupy.com on 17 November 2015

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The world was shocked and horrified at the terror inflicted upon Paris on the night of Friday the 13th, 2015, when ISIS-affiliated militants killed well over 100 civilians in one of the world’s most iconic cities. An outpouring of grief, solidarity, support and condolences came in from across the world. The tragedy, and tyranny, of such terror cannot be underestimated, but it should also be placed in its global context: namely, that the chief cause of terrorism is, in fact, terrorism, and that the chief victims are the innocent, wherever they may be.

While ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, following attacks the group undertook in previous days in both Beirut and Baghdad, it is worth remembering and reflecting on what led to the development of ISIS itself. The so-called Islamic State had its origins in the Iraq War, launched by the United States and closely supported by the United Kingdom in March of 2003. After overthrowing Saddam Hussein, a dictator once favored by the U.S., the occupying powers struggled to deal with a growing Sunni insurgency against their military occupation. In response, the U.S. helped create death squads in Iraq that further fueled a sectarian conflict between Shi’a and Sunni communities, which likewise fueled a growing regional rivalry between Shi’a Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

The resulting civil war in Iraq killed hundreds of thousands, and the U.S. aligned itself even more tightly with Saudi Arabia, a country the West considers to be “moderate” in comparison to both Iran and Syria, yet it was the primary financier of al-Qaeda. The broader aim, in Iraq and across the Middle East, was to support the regional hegemony of the West’s allies – Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab dictatorships – against their chief rivals, Iran and Syria. If it meant supporting the countries that supported al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, so be it.

After all, it has never been much of a secret that the Saudis and their Gulf neighbors were the major financial backers of global terrorists; even then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted as much in a memo leaked by Wikileaks. Nor was it a secret that Saudi Arabia was responsible for more destabilization and terrorism inside Iraq than Iran, which nonetheless received most of the blame.

The Saudis and the Gulf dictatorships are U.S. and Western allies, with immense oil riches that have made them some of the largest investors and shareholders in Western banks and corporations. Iran and Syria, on the other hand, are not.

Al-Qaeda did not exist inside Iraq until after the U.S. invasion and occupation. Over the years, since the war and occupation began, the group has undergone a number of name changes and transitions. One such evolution of the group is the al-Nusra front. And another is now known as the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Origins of the Current Terror

When the Arab uprisings began against Western-supported dictators back in late 2010 and early 2011, the U.S. and its key Middle East allies faced an unprecedented crisis. The longtime French and U.S.-supported dictator of Tunisia, Ben Ali, fled his country in January of 2011. The following month, it was Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, a “family friend” of Hillary Clinton’s, who had to leave.

The Saudis and other Arab dictators were furious that the U.S. could toss one of its major regional clients aside, fearful that if Mubarak could be removed, any of them could be next. Thus, Saudi Arabia and other Arab dictators led a counter-revolution against the Arab Spring, pouring in money to support dictators they considered friendly (such as in Jordan), sending in troops to violently crush uprisings (such as in Bahrain), and arming rebel groups and terrorists against long-time foes in an effort to take advantage of the uprisings and undermine their rivals (such as in Libya).

In Libya, NATO led a war against long-time dictator Colonel Gaddafi in cooperation with many extremist rebel groups, including al-Qaeda. France and Britain were the main proponents of the war against Libya, which is hardly surprising given that both countries have hundreds of years of experience invading, occupying, colonizing and waging war against peoples of the Middle East and Africa. The war in Libya was of course a monumental disaster. While it removed a dictator long despised by both the Western powers and the Gulf Arab dictators, its ultimate effect was to plunge the country into civil war and chaos, terrorism and collapse.

Meanwhile, the weapons looted in Libya during the war began making their way into neighboring Mali and the more-distant Syria. As the arms crossed borders, so too did terror and warfare, and the French weren’t far behind. In early 2013, France launched airstrikes in Mali, leading to a ground invasion that ended in 2014. Around the same time, France also military intervened in the Central Africa Republic.

In 2013, Western powers including France, the UK and U.S. began increasing their participation in the Syrian civil war, which was already a full-blown regional proxy war pitting Syria’s government, led by Bashar al-Assad allied with Iraq and Iran, against Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Turkey. The Gulf dictatorships armed and funded religious extremist sects to fight against the Syrian government, and were aided in this process by Western countries.

The U.S., France and Britain provided training and support to so-called “moderate” rebels inside Jordan to fight against the Syrian government. The CIA has been involved in arming and training Syrian rebels at least since 2012, in close cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The official line stressed that the CIA’s efforts aimed to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of extremist groups like al-Qaeda – yet virtually all of the rebel groups it was aiding inside Syria were hardline religious extremists.

Even as reports emerged that secular and moderate rebel groups had all but collapsed, the CIA continued to funnel more sophisticated weapons (in cooperation with Saudi allies) to these mythical “trustworthy” rebel groups. France was not far behind in delivering arms to Syrian rebel groups.

Around the same time, an internal CIA study noted that in its decades of experience arming insurgencies against regimes that the U.S. opposed, the agency’s efforts had largely failed. The main “exception” to the litany of failures, ironically, was when the CIA armed and trained the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. That “success,” as we now know, led directly to the creation of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

A Plan Backfires

With all the support given to Syrian rebel groups in the form of training and arms, those same groups quickly became enemies of the West that had armed and trained them. This includes ISIS, whose rise was fueled by U.S. involvement in both Syria and Iraq, and who is funded and supported by key U.S. allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

In fact, a report prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012 predicted the rise of ISIS, noting that such al-Qaeda-affiliated groups were the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” and added that they were being supported in their efforts to take over large parts of Syria and Iraq by “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey.” Further, the document noted, this was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” A former Pentagon official who ran the DIA even suggested that the U.S. not only didn’t “turn a blind eye” to its support of such groups, but that “it was a willful decision.”

Here is the takeaway: the Syrian civil war, combined with the effects of the Iraq war, Libyan war and other conflicts in the region that were fueled by Western powers and their regional allies, has resulted in the massive refugee crisis Europe faces today, as millions of civilians flee the conflicts plaguing their nations while Western powers continue to pour weapons and money into them. Conflict and terror has bred further conflict and terror.

Yet when terrorism hits inside Western nations, like it did Friday in Paris, the reaction by Western governments is fairly, and tragically, typical. The Paris attacks occurred less than two months after France began launching air strikes against ISIS inside Syria, and have already prompted calls for a more aggressive strategy against ISIS in the future. So what can we expect as a result? Simply, more terror.

In short, if the objective is to oppose or prevent terrorism, the most logical strategy is not to dismantle civil liberties at home and send militaries and weapons abroad, but to stop participating in terrorism itself. This does not take away from the tragedy of the lives lost in Paris on Nov. 13, but the hypocrisy in how we acknowledge and address terrorism only enhances the tragedy. French President Francois Hollande called the attacks that killed 129 people an “act of war,” which it was. But in turn, he declared that “France will be merciless” in its response, and this is something we have yet to see.

If 200,000 dead Syrians, millions of refugees, and regional warfare spreading from state to state is considered “merciful” participation by Western nations in Middle East conflicts, the terror that might now be unleashed abroad – and the new terror that will, inevitably, once again wash ashore as a result – is indeed something to fear. To end terror, perhaps Western states should consider stopping its own participation in terror. In the very least, it would be a first step in the right direction.

 

Will NATO-led Rebels Ethnically Cleanse Libya?

 

 

 

Wikileaks and the Worldwide Information War

Wikileaks and the Worldwide Information War
Power, Propaganda, and the Global Political Awakening
Global Research, December 6, 2010

Introduction

The recent release of the 250,000 Wikileaks documents has provoked unparalleled global interest, both positive, negative, and everywhere in between. One thing that can be said with certainty: Wikileaks is changing things.

There are those who accept what the Wikileaks releases say at face value, largely due to the misrepresentation of the documents by the corporate-controlled news.

There are those who see the documents as authentic and simply in need of proper interpretation and analysis.

Then there are those, many of whom are in the alternative media, who approach the leaks with caution and suspicion.

There are those who simply cast the leaks aside as a ‘psy-op’ designed to target specific nations that fit into U.S. foreign policy objectives. Finally, then, there are those who deplore the leaks as ‘treason’ or threatening ‘security’. Of all the claims and notions, the last is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous. This essay aims to examine the nature of the Wikileaks releases and how they should be approached and understood. If Wikileaks is changing things, let’s hope people will make sure that it changes things in the right direction.

Media Propaganda Against Iran: Taking the Cables at Face Value

This perspective is perhaps the most propagated one, as it is largely influenced and undertaken by the mainstream corporate media, which present the leaked diplomatic cables as ‘proof’ of the media’s take on major world issues; most notably among them, Iran’s nuclear program. As per usual, the New York Times steps center stage in its unbridled contempt for truth and relentless use of propaganda to serve U.S. imperial interests, headlining articles with titles like, “Around the World, Distress Over Iran,” which explained how Israel and the Arab leaders agree on Iran as a nuclear threat to the world, with the commentary in the article stating that, “running beneath the cables is a belief among many leaders that unless the current government in Tehran falls, Iran will have a bomb sooner or later.”[1] Fox News ran an article proclaiming that, “Leaked Documents Show Middle East Consensus on Threat Posed by Iran,” and commented that, “the seismic document spill by WikiLeaks showed one area of profound agreement — that Iran is viewed in the Middle East as the region’s No. 1 troublemaker.”[2]

This, it should be understood, is propaganda. Yet, we need to properly refine our understanding of propaganda in order to assess what is specifically propagandistic about these stories. While one should remain skeptical of sources and disinformation campaigns (as those who critically analyze the media have known take place time and time again), one must also consider the personal perspective of the source and decipher between authenticity and analysis. These documents, I truly believe, are authentic. In this sense, I do not adhere to the notion that these are a part of a psychological operation (psy-op) or propaganda effort, in terms of the actual release of the documents. We must keep in mind that the sources for these cables are U.S. diplomatic channels, and thus the statements within them reflect the perspectives and beliefs of U.S. diplomatic personnel. The documents are an authentic representation of their statements and beliefs, but that does not imply that they are an accurate representation of reality.

This is where the media comes in to propagandize the information within the leaks. The two above examples claim that the leaks show that there is a “consensus” on Iran, and thus, that the U.S. and indeed Israeli positions on Iran for the past several years have been “vindicated,” namely in that they fear Iran is making nuclear weapons. This is nonsense. The media has essentially read and propagated the documents at face value, meaning that because U.S. diplomats, Middle Eastern and Arab leaders all agree that Iran is a “threat” and is trying to make a “nuclear weapon,” it therefore must be true. This is a non sequitur. If a military general tells several soldiers to commit a raid on a house because there are “suspected terrorists” inside, the fact that the soldiers carry out the raid – and that they believe there are terrorists inside – does not make it so. In contextualizing this example with the current Wikileaks release, just because Middle Eastern and Arab leaders see Iran as a threat, does not make it so.

Again, consider the sources. What makes the Arab leaders trustworthy sources for ‘unbiased’ information? For example, one ‘revelation’ that made its way around the world was the insistence of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to America to “cut off the head of the snake” of Iran, and urging America to launch military strikes against Iran.[3] This has largely been interpreted in the media as “proof” that there is a “consensus” on the “threat” posed by Iran to the Middle East and the world. This has been the propaganda line towed by the New York Times, Fox News and the Israeli government, among many others. Yet, we need to properly contextualize this information, something which the New York Times has a long record of failing to properly do (intentionally, I might add). I do not doubt the authenticity of these statements or the beliefs of the Arab leaders that Iran is a ‘threat’. Iran, on the other hand, has claimed that the leaks are “mischievous” and that they serve US interests, and claimed that Iran is “friends” with its neighbours.[4] This too, is propaganda. Again, we need to contextualize.

Iran is a Shi’a nation, while the Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, are predominantly Sunni. This presents a means of division among these nations in the region, at least on a superficial basis. The reality, however, is that Saudi Arabia and Iran are far from “friendly”, and have not been on good terms since the Shah was deposed in 1979. Iran is Saudi Arabia’s primary contender and competition for power and influence in the region, and thus Iran is, inherently, a threat to Saudi Arabia, politically. Further, the Arab states, whose claims against Iran have been widely publicized, such as those of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Egypt, must be understood in their relation to the United States. The Arab states are American proxies in the region. Their armies are subsidized by the American military industrial complex, their political regimes (all of which are dictatorships and dynasties), are propped up and supported by America. The same goes for Israel, although it has at least the public outward appearance of a democracy, much like the United States, itself.

The Arab nations and leaders know that the only reason they have and maintain their power is because the United States allows them and helps them to do so. Thus, they are dependent upon America and its political, financial and military support. Going against America’s ambitions in the region is a sure way to end up like Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The history of the Middle East in the modern era is replete with examples of how one-time puppets and personal favourites of the American Empire can so easily turn into new enemies and “threats to peace.” American sponsored regime change takes place, and a new puppet is installed. If Arab leaders said that Iran was not a threat to peace, they would soon find themselves targets of Western imperialism. Further, many, like King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, are so virulent in their hatred and distrust of Iran simply because they are regional competitors for influence. One thing can be said of all states and their leaders, they are inherently self-interested and obsessed with self-preservation and personal power expansion.

Saudi Arabia, in particular, is not a passive actor in the regional battle of influence with Iran. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is involved in another American imperial war of conquest, in suppressing secessionist and indigenous liberation movements in the North and South of Yemen. Yemen, ruled by an American supported dictator, Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, is also working with the Americans to suppress its own population in order to maintain its hold on power. Much of the presentation of the conflict, however, is in propagandizing the conflict, portraying it as a regional battle for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While there is no doubt, and clear admissions, of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war, there has been no information that Iran has had any involvement, yet it is constantly accused by both Saudi Arabia and Yemen of being involved. This may be an attempt to draw Iran into a regional proxy war, if not to simply demonize the nation further. In the midst of this new Yemeni war, America made an arms deal with Saudi Arabia which broke the record as the largest U.S. arms deal in history, at $60 billion. The deal, of which it is no secret, is aimed at building up Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities in order to both engage more effectively in the Yemen war, but primarily to challenge and counter increased Iranian influence in the region. In short, America is arming its proxy nations for a war with Iran.

[For a detailed examination of the war in Yemen, see: “Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire.”]

Israel did not denounce the arms deal as it was taking place, simply because it ultimately served Israel’s interest in the region as well, of which its main target is Iran. Further, Israel is left subdued to American interests, as an American proxy itself. If Israel’s military financing and hardware comes from America (which it does), thus making it dependent upon America for its own military power, Israel is in no position to tell America to not arm its other regional proxies. If indeed there is a regional war against Iran in the making, which it has appeared for some time that there is, it is certainly in Israel’s interest to have allies against Iran in the region.

Is Wikileaks a Propaganda Effort?

The leaders of Israel have been very adamant that the Wikileaks documents do not embarrass Israel to any extent. Prior to the release, the U.S. government briefed Israeli officials on the type of documents that would be released by Wikileaks regarding Israel.[5] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “there is no disparity between the public discourse between us and Washington, and the mutual understanding of each other’s positions.”[6] The Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, claimed that the documents “show a more accurate view of reality.”[7] One top Turkish politician stated that looking at which countries are pleased with the releases says a lot, and speculated that Israel “engineered the release” of documents in an attempt to advance its interests and to “pressure Turkey.”[8]

Further, the Internet and various alternative news organizations are abuzz with speculation that Wikileaks itself may be a propaganda front, perhaps even a CIA front organization, a method of “controlling the opposition” (which, historically we know, is no stranger to CIA activities). Yet, this speculation is based upon the use of the information that is released in the cables, and it strikes me as a lack of contextualizing the documents.

So, how should one contextualize this? Let’s begin with Israel. Certainly, Israel is without a doubt a criminal state (as all states essentially are), but its criminality is amplified more so than most states on this planet, possibly outdone only by America, itself. Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is one of the most horrific and long-lasting crimes against humanity seen in the past 50 years, and posterity will view Israel as the vicious, war-mongering, dehumanizing and abhorrent state it is. Yet, for all that Israel is, one thing Israel is not, is subtle. When the Israeli PM states that the Wikileaks releases are not embarrassing to Israel, he is mostly correct. This is not because Israel has nothing to hide (remember, the Wikileaks documents are not ‘top secret’ documents, but merely diplomatic cables), but because the diplomatic exchanges Israel makes largely reflect the reality of the public statements Israel makes. Israel and its political elite are no strangers to making absurd public statements, to constantly threatening war with Iran and other neighbours, or to propagandizing their beliefs that Iran is making nuclear weapons (something which has never been proven). Thus, the leaks do not ‘hurt’ Israel’s image, because Israel’s image, internationally, is already so abysmal and despicable, and because Israeli diplomats and politicians are generally as brazen in what they say publicly as they say to each other, that Israel’s image has largely remained the same. Of course, Israeli leaders – political and military – are using the leaks to suggest that it “vindicates” their perspective on Iran as a threat, which of course is an absurd propaganda ploy, the exact same technique taken on by the corporate media, in taking the cables at face value.

While Iran has slammed the Wikileaks releases as Western propaganda aimed at Iran, this statement itself should be taken as a form of propaganda. After all, Iran claimed that it is “friends” with all its neighbours, a claim which is an historical and present falsity. Iran, like all states, uses propaganda to advance its own interests. Iran is not by any means a wonderful nation. However, compared to the American favourites in the region (such as Saudi Arabia), Iran is a bastion of freedom and democracy, which isn’t saying much. Those who attempt to battle the spread of misinformation and propaganda, myself included, must remain highly critical of media representations and campaigns against Iran, of which there are many. Iran is firmly in the targets of America’s imperial ambitions, this is no secret. Yet, there is nothing in the current batch of Wikileaks releases that strikes me as inauthentic in relation to Iran, especially those documents pertaining to the perspectives of Western diplomats and Arab leaders in relation to Iran. No doubt, they have these perspectives simply because they reflect the policy priorities of America and the West, itself, not because they are factual in their substance. In this, we must decipher between authenticity and accuracy.

Iran stating that the Wikileaks documents are propaganda is a misnomer and is misleading. Analysts must not only critically assess the authenticity of documents (and the sources from which they come), but also, and perhaps even more importantly, they must critically analyze the interpretation of those documents. So while I do not doubt the authenticity of documents pertaining to Western and Middle Eastern perceptions of Iran (as it fits in with the wider geopolitical realities of the region), it is the interpretation of the documents that I view as active propaganda efforts on the part of Western governments and media. The methods of this propaganda effort, however, are in depicting the documents as ‘factual assessments’ of the on-the-ground reality, which they are not. The documents are factual in how they represent the views of those who wrote them, which does not mean that they are factual in their substance. There is a difference, and acknowledging this difference is incredibly important in both the exposure of propaganda and assessment of truth.

The Truth About Diplomacy

Craig Murray is one voice that should be heard on this issue. Craig Murray was a former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan who made a name for himself in exposing intelligence from Uzbekistan related to al-Qaeda as entirely unreliable, due to the methods of torture used to get the information (such as boiling people alive). This intelligence was passed to the CIA and MI6, which Murray said was “factually incorrect.” When Murray expressed his concerns with the higher-ups in the British diplomatic services, he was reprimanded for talking about “human rights.”[9] The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told Murray that he had one week to resign, and was threatened with possible prosecution or jail time for revealing “state secrets.”[10] He was subsequently removed from his ambassadorial position, and has since become something of a political activist. In short, Murray is exactly the type of diplomat a person should want: honest. But he was also exactly the type of diplomat that Western imperial powers don’t want: honest.

In the midst of the latest Wikileaks releases of diplomatic documents, Craig Murray was asked to write an article for the Guardian regarding his interpretation of the issue. As Murray later noted, the paper placed his article, largely reduced, hidden in the middle of a long article which was a compendium of various commentaries on Wikileaks. Murray, however, posted the full version on his website. In the article, Murray begins by assessing the claims of government officials around the world, particularly in the United States, that Wikileaks exposes the United States to “harm,” that it puts lives at risk, and that they will “encourage Islamic extremism,” and most especially, the notion that “government secrecy is essential to keep us all safe.” Murray explains that having been a diplomat for over 20 years, he is very familiar with these arguments, particularly that as a result of Wikileaks, diplomats will no longer be candid in giving advice, “if that advice might become public.” Murray elaborates:

Put it another way. The best advice is advice you would not be prepared to defend in public. Really? Why? In today’s globalised world, the Embassy is not a unique source of expertise. Often expatriate, academic and commercial organisations are a lot better informed. The best policy advice is not advice which is shielded from peer review.

What of course the establishment mean is that Ambassadors should be free to recommend things which the general public would view with deep opprobrium, without any danger of being found out. But should they really be allowed to do that, in a democracy?[11]

Murray pointedly asked why a type of behaviour that is considered reprehensible for most people – such as lying – “should be considered acceptable, or even praiseworthy, in diplomacy.” Murray explained that for British diplomats, “this belief that their profession exempts them from the normal constraints of decent behaviour amounts to a cult of Machiavellianism, a pride in their own amorality.” He explained that diplomats come from a very narrow upper social strata, and “view themselves as ultra-intelligent Nietzschean supermen, above normal morality” who are socially connected to the political elite. In criticizing the claims made by many commentators that the release of the leaks endanger lives, Murray pointedly wrote that this perspective needs to be “set against any such risk the hundreds of thousands of actual dead from the foreign policies of the US and its co-conspirators in the past decade.” Further, for those who posit that Wikileaks is a psy-op or propaganda operation or that Wikileaks is a “CIA front”, Murray had this to say:

Of course the documents reflect the US view – they are official US government communications. What they show is something I witnessed personally, that diplomats as a class very seldom tell unpalatable truths to politicians, but rather report and reinforce what their masters want to hear, in the hope of receiving preferment.

There is therefore a huge amount about Iran’s putative nuclear arsenal and an exaggeration of Iran’s warhead delivery capability. But there is nothing about Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal. That is not because wikileaks have censored criticism of Israel. It is because any US diplomat who made an honest and open assessment of Israeli crimes would very quickly be an unemployed ex-diplomat.[12]

Murray concluded his article with the statement that all would do well to keep in mind: “Truth helps the people against rapacious elites – everywhere.”[13]

World Order and Global Awakening

In attempting to understand Wikileaks and its potential effects (that is, if the alternative media and citizens activists use this opportunity), we must place Wikileaks within a wider geopolitical context. Our human world exists as a complex system of social interactions. As powerful and dominating as elites are and have always been, we must understand that they are not omnipotent; they are human and flawed, as are their methods and ideas. There are other forces at work in the human social world, and these various interactions created and changed the world into what it is, and will determine where it is going. In effect, nothing is preordained; nothing is exact. Plans are made, certainly, by elites, in designing ideas and reshaping and controlling society. However, society – and in the globalized world, a ‘global society’ – react and interact with elite forces and ideas. Just as the people must react to and experience repercussions from changes in elite processes, so too must the elite react to and experience repercussions from changes in social processes. Today, we can conceptualize this dichotomy – the geopolitical reality of the world – as ‘The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order’:

There is a new and unique development in human history that is taking place around the world; it is unprecedented in reach and volume, and it is also the greatest threat to all global power structures: the ‘global political awakening.’ The term was coined by Zbigniew Brzezinski, and refers to the fact that, as Brzezinski wrote:

For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.

It is, in essence, this massive ‘global political awakening’ which presents the gravest and greatest challenge to the organized powers of globalization and the global political economy: nation-states, multinational corporations and banks, central banks, international organizations, military, intelligence, media and academic institutions. The Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC), or ‘Superclass’ as David Rothkopf refers to them, are globalized like never before. For the first time in history, we have a truly global and heavily integrated elite. As elites have globalized their power, seeking to construct a ‘new world order’ of global governance and ultimately global government (decades down the line), they have simultaneously globalized populations.

The ‘Technological Revolution’ involves two major geopolitical developments. The first is that as technology advances, systems of mass communication rapidly accelerate, and the world’s people are able to engage in instant communication with one another and gain access to information from around the world. In it, lies the potential – and ultimately a central source – of a massive global political awakening. Simultaneously, the Technological Revolution has allowed elites to redirect and control society in ways never before imagined, potentially culminating in a global scientific dictatorship, as many have warned of since the early decades of the 20th century. The potential for controlling the masses has never been so great, as science unleashes the power of genetics, biometrics, surveillance, and new forms of modern eugenics; implemented by a scientific elite equipped with systems of psycho-social control.

Brzezinski has written extensively on the issue of the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ and has been giving speeches at various elite think tanks around the world, ‘informing’ the elites of this changing global dynamic. Brzezinski is one of the principle representatives of the global elite and one of the most influential elite intellectuals in the world. His analysis of the `global politicl awakening`is useful because of his repesentation of it as the primary global threat to elite interests everywhere. Thus, people should view the concept of the `global political awakening`as the greatest potential hope for humanity and that it should be advanced and aided, as opposed to Brzezinski`s perspective that it should be controlled and suppressed. However, it would be best for Brzezinski to explain the concept in his own words to allow people to understand how it constitutes a `threat`to elite interests :

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity left in the remotest corners of the world that are not politically alert and engaged with the political turmoil and stirrings that are so widespread today around the world. The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening.

…America needs to face squarely a centrally important new global reality: that the world’s population is experiencing a political awakening unprecedented in scope and intensity, with the result that the politics of populism are transforming the politics of power. The need to respond to that massive phenomenon poses to the uniquely sovereign America an historic dilemma: What should be the central definition of America’s global role? … The central challenge of our time is posed not by global terrorism, but rather by the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening. That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.

… It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity. The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well. With the exception of Europe, Japan and America, the rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from afar and which intensify their disaffection with what is at hand. Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.

Brzezinski thus posits that to address this new global “challenge” to entrenched powers, particularly nation-states that cannot sufficiently address the increasingly non-pliant populations and populist demands, what is required, is “increasingly supranational cooperation, actively promoted by the United States.” In other words, Brzezinski favours an increased and expanded ‘internationalization’, not surprising considering he laid the intellectual foundations of the Trilateral Commission. He explains that “Democracy per se is not an enduring solution,” as it could be overtaken by “radically resentful populism.” This is truly a new global reality:

Politically awakened mankind craves political dignity, which democracy can enhance, but political dignity also encompasses ethnic or national self-determination, religious self-definition, and human and social rights, all in a world now acutely aware of economic, racial and ethnic inequities. The quest for political dignity, especially through national self-determination and social transformation, is part of the pulse of self-assertion by the world’s underprivileged.

Thus, writes Brzezinski, “an effective response can only come from a self-confident America genuinely committed to a new vision of global solidarity.” The idea is that to address the grievances caused by globalization and global power structures, the world and America must expand and institutionalize the process of globalization, not simply in the economic sphere, but in the social and political as well. It is a flawed logic, to say the least, that the answer to these systemic problems is to enhance and strengthen the systemic flaws that created them. One cannot put out a fire by adding fuel.

Brzezinski even wrote that, “let it be said right away that supranationality should not be confused with world government. Even if it were desirable, mankind is not remotely ready for world government, and the American people certainly do not want it.” Instead, Brzezinski argues, America must be central in constructing a system of global governance, “in shaping a world that is defined less by the fiction of state sovereignty and more by the reality of expanding and politically regulated interdependence.” In other words, not ‘global government’ but ‘global governance’, which is simply a rhetorical ploy, as ‘global governance’ – no matter how overlapping, sporadic and desultory it presents itself – is in fact a key step and necessary transition in the moves toward an actual global government structure.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order, Global Research, 24 June 2010]

Conceptualizing Wikileaks

I feel that Wikileaks must be conceptualized within our understanding of this geopolitical reality we find ourselves in today. While indeed it is necessary to be skeptical of such monumental events, we must allow ourselves to remember that there are always surprises – for everyone – and that the future is nothing if not unknown. Anything, truly, can happen. There is of course logic behind the automatic skepticism and suspicion about Wikileaks from the alternative media; however, they also risk losing an incredible opportunity presented by Wikileaks, to not only reach more people with important information, but to better inform that information itself.

For those who view Wikileaks as a conspiracy or plot, as a psy-op of some kind, while indeed these things have taken place in the past, there is simply no evidence for it thus far. Every examination of this concept is based upon speculation. Many nations around the world, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia, are pointing to the Western nations as engaging in a covert propaganda campaign aimed at creating disunity between states and allies. Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made such claims. It is no surprise that most of these are nations, particularly Iran, are targets of U.S. imperial policy. Since, however, the Wikileaks releases speak heavily and negatively about Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Venezuela, etc., one must remember that these are ‘diplomatic cables’, and represent the ‘opinions and beliefs’ of the diplomatic establishment, a social group which is historically and presently deeply enmeshed and submissive to elite ideology and methodology. In short, these are the foreign imperial envoys, and as such, they are ideological imperialists and represent imperial interests.

As has been the case both historically and presently, imperial objectives are hidden with political rhetoric. Since, politically, these are target nations of the American imperial elite, America’s diplomatic representatives will focus on these nations, and adopt the same ideas and beliefs. How many people have ever been given a raise by questioning and then disregarding their superior’s management technique? Thus, in their respective nations and operations, the diplomats will seek information that targets these nations or serve specific American imperial objectives. If all the information they come up with are rumours and conjectures and repeated talking points, that is what will be seen in the diplomatic cables. Indeed, that was exactly the case. The cables are full of rumours and unsupported allegations. So naturally, they would target these specific nations – deemed geopolitically significant by American imperial interests – and why there would be far less information on Israel and other allied nations. This is why it seems to me that these cables are authentic. They seem to represent the reality of the ‘diplomatic social group’, and thus they are a vivid exploration in the study of imperialism. We have been given the opportunity to see the ‘communications’ of imperial diplomacy. It is in this, that we are presented with an incredible opportunity.

Further, in regards to many Middle Eastern and Asian nations framing Wikileaks as a “Western plot,” as critical thinkers we must take note of the geopolitical reality of the ‘global political awakenng.’ All states are self-interested, that is the nature of a state. Elites all over the world are aware of the reality and potential political power of the ‘global political awakening’ and thus, seek to suppress or co-opt its potential. States which are often viewed by the critical press as ‘targets’ by Western imperial powers (such as Iran), may seek to use this power to its own advantage. They may attempt to steer the ‘global awakening’ and the ‘alternative media’ to their favour, which gives them political power. But the alternative media must not ‘pick sides’ in terms of global elites and power structures, we must remain critical of all sides and all actors.

Wikileaks is receiving an incredible readership and is reaching out to new audiences, globally, in the American homeland itself, and to the youth of the world. People’s perceptions are beginning to change on a variety of issues. The question is: will the alternative media ignore Wikileaks and isolate itself, or will they engage with Wikileaks, and prevent the mainstream corporate media from having a ‘monopoly of interpretation’, which becomes inherently propagandistic. Wikileaks is having global repercussions, and has been very good for the newspaper and mainstream news industries, which have been on a steady decline. This too, can be an issue to reach out to this new and growing audience, and to bring them to a new perspective. If we do not reach out, we are left talking to each other, further isolating ourselves, and ultimately becoming subverted and ineffective for change. We need to reach out to new audiences, and this is an incredible opportunity to do so. People are interested, people are curious, people are hungry for more.

Wikileaks and the Media

Instead of deriding Wikileaks as “not telling us anything we didn’t know” before, perhaps the alternative media should use the popularity and momentum of Wikileaks to take from it the documentation and analysis that further strengthens our arguments and beliefs. This will allow for others, especially new audiences of interested people worldwide, to place the Wikileaks releases within a wider context and understanding. The reports from Wikileaks are ‘revelations’ only to those who largely adhere to the ‘illusions’ of the world: that we live in ‘democracies’ promoting ‘freedom’ around the world and at home, etc. The ‘revelations’ however, are not simply challenging American perceptions of America, but of all nations and their populations. The fact that these people are reading and discovering new things for which they are developing an interest is an incredible change. This is likely why the corporate media is so heavily involved in the dissemination of this information (which itself is a major source of suspicion for the alternative media): to control the interpretation of the message. It is the job of the alternative media and intellectuals and other thinking individuals to challenge that interpretation with factual analysis. The Wikileaks releases, in fact, give us more facts to place within and support our interpretations than they do for the corporate media.

We must ask why the Wikileaks releases were ‘revelations’ for most people? Well, it was surprising simply for the fact that the media itself has such a strong hold on the access, dissemination and interpretation of information. They are ‘revelations’ because people are indoctrinated with myths. They are not ‘revelations’ to the alternative media because we have been talking about these things for years. However, while they may not necessarily be ‘revelations’, they are in fact, ‘confirmations’ and ‘vindications’ and bring more information to the analysis. It is in this, that a great opportunity lies. For since the leaks support and better inform our perspectives, we can build on this concept and examine how Wikileaks adds to and supports critical analysis. For those who are newly interested and looking for information, or for those who are having their previous perceptions challenged, it is the alternative media and critical voices alone who can place that information in a wider context for everyone else. In this, more people will see how it is the alternative media and critical perspectives which were more reflective of reality than say, the mainstream media (for which Wikileaks is a ‘revelation’). Thus, more people may soon start turning to alternative media and ideas; after all, our perspectives were vindicated, not those of the mainstream media (though they attempt to spin it as such).

We are under a heavy propaganda offensive on the part of the global corporate and mainstream media to spin and manipulate these leaks to their own interests. We, as alternative media and voices, must use Wikileaks to our advantage. Ignoring it will only damage our cause and undermine our strength. The mainstream media understood that; so too, must we. Wikileaks presents in itself a further opportunity for the larger exposure of mainstream media as organized propaganda. By ‘surprising’ so many people with the ‘revelations’, the media has in effect exposed itself as deeply inadequate in their analysis of the world and the major issues within it. While currently it is giving the mainstream media a great boost, we are still immersed in the era of the ‘Technological Revolution’ and there is still (for now, anyway) Internet freedom, and thus, the tide can quickly turn.

Like the saying goes, ‘the rich man will sell you the rope to hang him with if he thinks he can make a buck on it.’ Perhaps the mainstream media has done the same. No other organized apparatus was as capable of disseminating as much material as quickly and with such global reach as the mainstream media. If the leaks initially only made it into alternative media, then the information would only reach those whom are already reading the alternative press. In that, they would not be such grand ‘revelations’ and would have had a muted effect. In the mainstream media’s global exposure of Wikileaks material (never mind their slanted and propagandistic interpretations), they have changed the dynamic and significance of the information. By reaching wider and new audiences, the alternative and critical voices can co-opt these new audiences; lead them away from the realm of information ‘control’ into the realm of information ‘access’. This is potentially one of the greatest opportunities presented for the alternative and critical voices of the world.

Wikileaks is a globally transformative event. Not simply in terms of awakening new people to ‘new’ information, but also in terms of the effect it is having upon global power structures, itself. With ambassadors resigning, diplomats being exposed as liars and tools, political rifts developing between Western imperial allies, and many careers and reputations of elites around the world at great risk, Wikileaks is creating the potential for an enormous deterioration in the effectiveness of imperialism and domination. That, in itself, is an admirable and worthy goal. That this is already a reality is representative of how truly transformative Wikileaks is and could be. People, globally, are starting to see their leaders through a lens not filtered by ‘public relations.’ Through mainstream media, it gets filtered through propaganda, which is why it is an essential duty of the alternative media and critical thinkers to place this information in a wider, comprehensive context. This would further erode the effectiveness of empire.

With the reaction of several states and policing organizations to issue arrest warrants for Julian Assange, or in calling for his assassination (as one Canadian adviser to the Prime Minister suggested on television), these organizations and individuals are exposing their own hatred of democracy, transparency and freedom of information. Their reactions can be used to discredit their legitimacy to ‘rule’. If policing agencies are supposed to “protect and serve,” why are they seeking instead to “punish and subvert” those who expose the truth? Again, this comes as no surprise to those who closely study the nature of the state, and especially the modern phenomenon of the militarization of domestic society and the dismantling of rights and freedoms. However, it is happening before the eyes of the whole world, and people are paying attention. This is new.

This is an incredible opportunity to criticize foreign policy (read: ‘imperial strategy’), and to disembowel many global power structures. More people, now, than ever before, will be willing to listen, learn and investigate for themselves. Wikileaks should be regarded as a ‘gift’, not a ‘distraction.’ Instead of focusing on the parts of the Wikileaks cables which do not reflect the perspectives of the alternative media (such as on Iran), we must use Wikileaks to better inform our own understanding not simply of the ‘policy’ itself, but of the complex social interactions and ideas that create the basis for the ‘policy’ to be carried out. In regards to the diplomatic cables themselves, we are better able to understand the nature of diplomats as ‘agents of empire,’ and so instead of discounting the cables as ‘propaganda’ we must use them against the apparatus of empire itself: to expose the empire for what it is. Wikileaks helps to unsheathe and strip away the rhetoric behind imperial policy, and expose diplomats not as ‘informed observers’, but as ‘agents of power.’ The reaction by nations, organizations and institutions around the world adds further fuel to this approach, as we are seeing the utter distaste political leaders have for ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom of information’, despite their rhetoric. Several institutions of power can be more widely exposed in this manner.

A recent addition to this analysis can be in the role played by universities not in ‘education’ but in ‘indoctrination’ and the production of new ‘agents of power.’ For example, Columbia University is one of the most “respected” and “revered” universities in the world, which has produced several individuals and significant sectors of the political elite (including diplomats). In reaction to the Wikileaks releases, Columbia University has warned “students they risk future job prospects if they download any of the material,” which followed “a government ban on employees, estimated at more than two-and-a-half million people, using work computers and other communication devices to look at diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.” The University “emailed students at the university’s school of international and public affairs, a recruiting ground for the state department.”[14] Good for Columbia! What do they think university is for, ‘education’ or something? How dare students take education into their own hands, especially students who will likely be future diplomats. This university reaction to Wikileaks helps call into attention the role of universities in our society, and specifically the role of universities in shaping the future ‘managers’ of the imperial apparatus.

Wikileaks as an Opportunity

If Wikileaks is a psy-op, it is either the stupidest or most intelligent psychological operation ever undertaken. But one thing is for sure: systems and structures of power are in the process of being exposed to a much wider audience than ever before. The question for the alternative media and critical researchers, alike, is what will they do with this information and this opportunity?

Julian Assange was recently interviewed by Time Magazine about Wikileaks, in which he explained to the inadequately informed editor of Time Magazine that organizations which are secretive need to be exposed:

If their behavior is revealed to the public, they have one of two choices: one is to reform in such a way that they can be proud of their endeavors, and proud to display them to the public. Or the other is to lock down internally and to balkanize, and as a result, of course, cease to be as efficient as they were. To me, that is a very good outcome, because organizations can either be efficient, open and honest, or they can be closed, conspiratorial and inefficient.[15]

Assange further explained some of his perspectives regarding the influence of and reactions to Wikileaks, stating that the Chinese:

appear to be terrified of free speech, and while one might say that means something awful is happening in the country, I actually think that is a very optimistic sign, because it means that speech can still cause reform and that the power structure is still inherently political, as opposed to fiscal. So journalism and writing are capable of achieving change, and that is why Chinese authorities are so scared of it. Whereas in the United States to a large degree, and in other Western countries, the basic elements of society have been so heavily fiscalized through contractual obligations that political change doesn’t seem to result in economic change, which in other words means that political change doesn’t result in change.[16]

In the interview, Assange turned to the issue of the Internet and community media:

For the rise of social media, it’s quite interesting. When we first started [in 2006], we thought we would have the analytical work done by bloggers and people who wrote Wikipedia articles and so on. And we thought that was a natural, given that we had lots of quality, important content… The bulk of the heavy lifting – heavy analytical lifting – that is done with our materials is done by us, and is done by professional journalists we work with and by professional human-rights activists. It is not done by the broader community. However, once the initial lifting is done, once a story becomes a story, becomes a news article, then we start to see community involvement, which digs deeper and provides more perspective. So the social networks tend to be, for us, an amplifier of what we are doing. And also a supply of sources for us.[17]

As researchers, media, and critics, we must realize that our perspectives and beliefs must be open to change and evolution. Simply because something like this has never happened before does not mean that it isn’t happening now. We live in the era of the ‘Technological Revolution,’ and the Internet has changed economics, politics and society itself, on a global scale. This is where the true hope in furthering and better informing the ‘global political awakening’ will need to take speed and establish itself. True change in our world is not going to come from already-established or newly-created institutions of power, which is where all issues are currently being addressed, especially those of global significance. True change, instead, can only come not from global power structures, but from the global ‘community’ of people, interacting with one another via the power unleashed by the ‘Technological Revolution.’ Change must be globally understood and community organized.

We are on the verge of a period of global social transformation, the question is: will we do anything about it? Will we seek to inform and partake in this transition, or will we sit and watch it be misled, criticizing it as it falters and falls? Just as Martin Luther King commented in his 1967 speech, Beyond Vietnam, that it seemed as if America was “on the wrong side of a world revolution,” now there is an opportunity to remedy that sad reality, and not simply on a national scale, but global.

Despite all the means and methods of power and domination in this world, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. As things progressively get worse and worse, as any independent observer of the world has noticed, life has a way of creating means and methods to counter these regressions. As ‘globalization’ has facilitated the emergence of a global elite, and several global institutions and ideologies of global power, so too has this process facilitated the ‘globalization of opposition.’ So while elites, globally, actively work to integrate and expand global power structures, they are inadvertently integrating and expanding global opposition to those very same power structures. This is the great paradox of our time, and one which we must recognize, for it is not simply a factual observation, but it is a hopeful situation.

Hope should not be underestimated, and it is something that I have personally struggled with in my views of the world. It is hard to see ‘hope’ when you study so much ‘horror’ in the world, and see how little is being done about it. But activism and change need hope. This is very evident from the Obama campaign, which was splashed with rhetoric of ‘hope’ and ‘change’, something that all people rightfully want and need. However, Obama’s ‘hope’ and ‘change’ were Wall Street brands and patents, it was a glorious practice in the art of propaganda, and a horrific blow to true notions of ‘hope’ and ‘change’. There is a reason why the Obama campaign took the top prizes in public relations industry awards.[18]

Hope is needed, but it cannot be misplaced hope, as it was with Obama. It must be a hope grounded not in ‘blind faith’ but in ‘honest analysis.’ While indeed on most fronts in the world, things are getting progressively worse, the alternative media has focused almost exclusively on these issues that they have blinded themselves to the positive geopolitical developments in the world, namely the ‘global political awakening’ and the role of the Internet in reshaping global society. While these issues are acknowledged, they are not fully understood or explained within the wider context: that these are in fact, hopeful developments; that there is hope. Wikileaks strengthens this notion, if it is to be taken as an opportunity. A critique without hope falls on deaf ears. No one wants to hear that things are ‘hopeless’, so while an examination of what is wrong in the world is integral to moving forward, so too is an examination of what is hopeful and positive. This spreads the message and builds its supporters. The Internet as a medium facilitates the spread of this message, and after all, as one of the foremost media theorists, Marshall McLuhan, noted, “The medium is the message.”

Appendix of ‘Revelations’ and ‘Vindications’: A Call to Action for Alternative Media

So what are some of the supposed ‘revelations’ which can be used as ‘vindications’ by the alternative media? Well, for one, the role of royalty as a relevant and powerful economic and political actor in the world today. And by this I do not simply refer to states where monarchs remain as official rulers, such as in Saudi Arabia, but more specifically to West European and notably the British monarchs. For those who have studied institutions like the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, the relevance of European royalty in international affairs is not a new concept. For the majority of people (who haven’t even heard of the Bilderberg Group or Trilateral Commission), these monarchs are largely viewed as symbolic figures as opposed to political actors. This is, of course, naïve, as all monarchs have always been political actors, however, it is a naivety that has now been challenged on a much wider scale and to a much wider audience. There was a time when I would discuss the relevance of monarchs in the modern world, and it would be a subject that would be treated by many others as an absurd notion: “but the Queen has no real power, she’s a figurehead,” etc. Wikileaks has exposed that notion as a falsity, and it should be an issue that is expanded upon.

For example, within the Wikileaks cables, take the British Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, who has been subject to many cable ‘revelations.’ The U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan wrote a cable regarding a meeting she attended with several British and Canadian businessmen and Prince Andrew, who is a special U.K. trade representative to the Middle East and Central Asia. At the meeting, Prince Andrew ranted against “those [expletive] journalists … who poke their noses everywhere,” and he “railed at British anticorruption investigators, who had had the ‘idiocy’ of almost scuttling the al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia,” particularly “referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces.” When he ranted against the media – specifically the Guardian paper – for making it harder to do business abroad, the U.S. Ambassador noted that the businessmen in attendance “roared their approval” and “practically clapped.”[19] Again, evidence for how elites despise true representations of democracy and freedom.

At that same meeting, Prince Andrew made another startling claim, and one which had not been as widely publicized in the media to date. He stated that to the U.S. Ambassador that: “the United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you Americans too) were now back in the thick of playing the Great Game,” and, “this time we aim to win!” Further, Prince Andrew – the ‘Duke of York’ – “then stated that he was very worried about Russia’s resurgence in the region,” and referred to Chinese economic and political expansion in the region as “probably inevitable, but a menace.” On the way out of the meeting, one British businessman said to the U.S. Ambassador, “What a wonderful representative for the British people! We could not be prouder of our royal family!”[20] Well, there you have it, a rich prince running around the world with rich businessmen promoting their economic interests in foreign countries and referring to it as the age-old imperial competition between Britain and Russia in the “Great Game” for dominance over Central Asia. And we call our countries ‘democracies’ and exporters of ‘freedom’?

This is quite typical behaviour of the royal family, however, as a former South African MP and anti-corruption campaigner, Andrew Feinstein, explained, “the royal family has actively supported Britain’s arms sales, even when corruption and malfeasance has been suspected,” and that, “the royal family was involved in trying to persuade South Africa to buy BAE’s Hawk jets, despite the air force not wanting the planes that cost two and a half times the price of their preferred aircraft. As an ANC MP at the time, I was told that £116m in bribes had been paid to key decision-makers and the ANC itself. The royal family’s attitude is part of the reason that BAE will never face justice in the UK for its corrupt practices.”[21]

The British royals are also very close with Arab monarchs, which makes sense, considering it was the British Empire (and the ‘Crown’ behind it) that created the Arab monarchs and gave them power in the first place. Prince Andrew went on hunting trips with the King of Jordan and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the UAE.[22] Further, Prince Charles is considered a strategic diplomatic figure in regards to Saudi Arabia, as the cables reveal. The British media headlined with the ‘revelation’ that Prince Charles is not as “respected” as Queen Elizabeth, but the real story was buried in the same article beneath the royal gossip, as cables revealed that Prince Charles and his wife “have helped to overcome ‘severe strains’ following Saudi Arabia’s imprisonment and torture of five Britons from December 2001 to August 2003 and the UK’s official fraud investigations of British Aerospace operations in Saudi Arabia in 2004.” As one U.S. diplomatic cable explained, the British royals “helped re-build UK-Saudi ties” as “the House of Saud and the House of Windsor build upon their royal commonality.” In other words, they both represent unelected and unaccountable elite dynastic power, and so they should naturally work together in ‘their’ own interests. How ‘democratic’ of them. Further, a Saudi royal threw a lavish party for Prince Charles in Saudi Arabia with the help of an unnamed British businessman.[23]

It looks, however, like the British royals will have to again move in to “smooth out” ties with Saudi Arabia, as ‘revelations’ about the country and its monarch paint a picture of a not-so-helpful Western ally. In short, Saudi Arabia and its monarch have received one of the largest public relations disasters in recent history. The British monarch may be too busy cleaning up their own mess, or have too much light on them at the moment, to be able to ‘gracefully’ maneuver through yet another ‘imperious’ royal visit. What am I referring to here in terms of bad PR for the Saudis? It’s quite simple, the Saudi royals, good friends of the British monarch, are incidentally the principle financiers of Sunni terrorists (which includes what we commonly refer to as ‘al-Qaeda’) worldwide.

While this comes as no surprise to those who have critically analyzed al-Qaeda or the “war on terror,” it is indeed a ‘revelation’ to the majority of people. While Western governments and media propaganda machines have for years blamed terrorist financing and support on ‘target’ nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and more recently, Pakistan and Yemen, the Wikileaks cables ‘vindicated’ the historical and present reality that it is in fact the main Western allies in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, but also the other major Gulf Arab states (and their monarchs), who are the main financiers and supporters of terrorism, and most notably, al-Qaeda. A memo signed by Hillary Clinton confirmed that Saudi Arabia is understood to be “the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba,” as well as al-Qaeda itself. Further, three other Arab states, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are listed as other chief terrorist financiers. As the Guardian put it, “the cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea.” While Pakistan is largely blamed for aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is in fact Saudi Arabia as well as UAE-based businesses which are its chief financiers. Kuwait, another staunch U.S. ally, is a “source of funds and a key transit point” for al-Qaeda.[24]

While the New York Times was busy declaring Wikileaks as providing a “new consensus” on Iran, with the Saudi King urging America to attack and “cut the head off the snake,” they mentioned only in passing, how “Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.”[25] Now, while these are indeed ‘revelations’ to many, we must place these facts in their proper context. This is not simply to be taken as Saudi Arabia and Arab states being responsible, alone, for support of terrorism and al-Qaeda, but that they are simply playing the role they have always played, and that diplomacy is sidelined and kept in the dark on this issue as it always has been.

What I mean by this is that the contextualization of these facts must be placed in a comprehensive historical analysis. Looking at the history of al-Qaeda, arising out of the Soviet-Afghan War, with major covert support from America and other Western allies, the center of this operation was in the ‘Safari Club,’ which constituted a secret network of Western intelligence agencies (such as those of France, Britain and America) and regional intelligence agencies (such as those of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), in carrying out the financing, training, arming and operational support of the Mujahideen, and subsequently the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The ‘Safari Club’ was established in 1976 (with the help of CIA director at the time, George H.W. Bush, another close friend of the Saudi royals), and was designed to respond to increasing political oversight of intelligence operations in America (as a result of the Church Committee investigations on CIA operations), and so the Safari Club was created to allow for a more covert and discreet network of intelligence operations, with no oversight. Diplomats were kept in the dark about its operations and indeed its existence, while the quiet covert relationships continued behind the scenes. This network, in some form or another, exists up to the present day, as I recently documented in my three-part series on “The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda.”

[See: The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”; Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network; 9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign]

In short, there is a reason that while diplomats complain quietly about Saudi and Arab financing and support for al-Qaeda, nothing is actually done: because through other avenues, the American imperial structure and apparatus supports and facilitates this process. Diplomacy is more overt in its imperial ambitions, thus the reality of the cables reflecting a focus on Iran and Pakistan, yet intelligence operations are a much more covert means of establishing and maintaining particular imperial relationships. This information again should not be taken “at face value,” but rather placed within its broader geopolitical context. In this sense, the information is not ‘disinformation’ or ‘propaganda’, but rather additional factual ‘vindication’ and information.

While Western governments and media publicly scorn Iran and accuse it of “meddling” in the affairs of Iraq, and of supporting terrorism and destabilization of the country, the reality is that while Iran certainly exerts influence in Iraq, (after all, they are neighbours), Saudi Arabia is a far greater source of destabilization than Iran is accused of being, and this is from the mouths of Iraqi leaders themselves. Iraqi government officials, reported the Guardian, “see Saudi Arabia, not Iran, as the biggest threat to the integrity and cohesion of their fledgling democratic state.” In a cable written by the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, it was explained that, “Iraq views relations with Saudi Arabia as among its most challenging given Riyadh’s money, deeply ingrained anti-Shia attitudes and [Saudi] suspicions that a Shia-led Iraq will inevitably further Iranian regional influence.” Further, “Iraqi contacts assess that the Saudi goal (and that of most other Sunni Arab states, to varying degrees) is to enhance Sunni influence, dilute Shia dominance and promote the formation of a weak and fractured Iraqi government.” In short, that would mean that Saudi Arabia is actually doing what the West accuses Iran of doing in Iraq. So while Iran certainly has been promoting its own interests in Iraq, it is more interested in a stable Shi’a government, while Saudi Arabia is more interested in a weak and fractured government, and thus promotes sectarian conflict. One interesting fact to note that came out of the cables, is the increasing perspective among Iraqi youth rejecting foreign interference from any government, with diplomatic cables articulating that, “a ‘mental revolution’ was under way among Iraqi youth against foreign agendas seeking to undermine the country’s stability.”[26]

It should come as no surprise, then, that one top Saudi royal (in fact the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency and thus the man responsible for handling Saudi Arabia’s relationship with terrorists), Prince Turki al-Faisal, said that the source of the diplomatic leaks should be “vigorously punished.” Turki, who has also been the Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. and America, said, “the WikiLeaks furor underscored that cyber security was an increasing international concern.”[27]

What other areas can Wikileaks be used to further inform and ‘vindicate’ the critical media? Well, start with Saudi Arabia’s neighbour to the south, Yemen. Whether or not most Americans (or for that matter, most people in general) are aware that America is waging a war in Yemen, just across the water from where America is waging another war against Somalia (since 2006/07). This past October, I wrote an article about the imperial war in Yemen as a war being fought under the auspices of the “War on Terror” and fighting al-Qaeda (financed by the Saudi elite); but which in reality is about America and other Western imperial powers (such as the U.K.) propping up a despotic leaders who has been in power since 1978, by supporting him in his campaign to eliminate a rebel movement in the North and a massive secessionist movement in the South. Saudi Arabia entered the conflict in August of 2009 by bombing rebel holdouts in the North along the Saudi border, as the Saudi elite are afraid of the movement spreading to disaffected groups within Saudi Arabia itself.

America inserted itself into the war by increasing the amount of money and military aid given to Yemen (in effect, subsidizing their military, as they do heavily with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, all the Arab states, and dozens of other states around the world), as well as providing direct special forces training and assistance, not to mention carrying out missile strikes within Yemen against “al-Qaeda training camps” which American intelligence officials claimed killed 60 ‘militants’. In reality, 52 innocent people died, with over half of them being women and children. At the time, both Yemen and America claimed it was an al-Qaeda training camp and that the cruise missile was fired by the Yemeni government, despite the fact that it had no such weapons in its arsenal, unlike the U.S. Navy patrolling the coastline. The missile strike was carried out by America “on direct presidential orders.”

Several days later, there was the bizarre “attempted terrorist attack” in which a young Nigerian man was arrested attempting to blow up his underwear (who was helped onto the plane by a mysterious Indian man in a suit who claimed he was a diplomat, according to witnesses), and who was subsequently linked to “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (an organization which started up not much earlier when a Guantanamo inmate returned to Saudi Arabia only to ‘escape’ Saudi custody, and flee to Yemen to start a new al-Qaeda branch). This provided the justification for America to dramatically increase its military aid to Yemen, which more than doubled from $67 million to $150 million, and came with increased special forces training and assistance, as well as increased CIA activity, discussing using drone attacks to kill innocent people (as they do in Pakistan), and more missile strikes.

This previous September, the Yemen government “laid siege” to a town in the South while the Obama administrations top counter-terrorism official, John Brennan, was in Yemen for ‘talks’ with President Saleh. The town was claimed to be a “sanctuary for al-Qaeda,” but it has key strategic significance as well. It is just south of a major new liquid natural gas pipeline, and the town happened to be home to many people involved in the Southern secessionist movement. The Yemeni government “barred” any outside or independent observers from witnessing the siege, which lasted days. However, for the many who fled the conflict and “siege,” they were claiming that the Islamic militants were working with the government against the rebel movement in the North and secessionist movement in the South, and according to one NPR reporter, “this is more about fighting or subduing the secessionist movement than it is about al-Qaida.”

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, “Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire,” Global Research, 5 October 2010]

The Wikileaks ‘revelations’ further inform and confirm much of this analysis. In regards to the missile strike that killed innocent women and children on Obama’s orders, Wikileaks cables revealed that Yemeni President Saleh “secretly offered US forces unrestricted access to his territory to conduct unilateral strikes against al-Qaida terrorist targets.” As Saleh told John Breannan in September of 2009, “I have given you an open door on terrorism. So I am not responsible.” Regarding the December 21 strike that killed the innocent civilians, a cable explained, “Yemen insisted it must ‘maintain the status quo’ regarding the official denial of US involvement. Saleh wanted operations to continue ‘non-stop until we eradicate this disease,” and days later in a meeting with U.S. Central Command head, General David Patraeus, “Saleh admitted lying to his population about the strikes.” He told the General, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”[28]

In regards to Pakistan, while it is important to be highly critical of the validity of the ‘perspectives’ within the cables in regards to Pakistan and the Taliban, since Pakistan is a current and escalating target in the “War [OF] Terror,” there are things to keep in mind: historically, the Pakistani ISI has funded, armed and trained the Taliban, but always with U.S. assistance and support. Thus, we must examine the situation presently and so historically. Wikileaks revealed (as I mentioned previously), that Arab Gulf states help fund the Taliban in Afghanistan, so the common claim that it is Pakistan ‘alone’ is immediately made to be erroneous. Is it possible that Pakistan is still working with the Taliban? Of course. They have historically through their intelligence services, the ISI, and while they have never done it without U.S. support (mostly through the CIA), the ISI still receives most of its outside funding from the CIA.[29] The CIA funding of the ISI, a reality since the late 70s, picked up dramatically following 9/11, the operations of which the ISI has been itself complicit in financing.[30] Thus, the CIA rewarded the financiers of 9/11 by increasing their funds.

The trouble with discounting information that does not fit in with your previously conceived ideas is that it does not allow for evolution or progress in thinking. This should never be done in regards to any subject, yet it is commonly done for all subjects, by official and critical voices alike. With Pakistan, we must understand that while historically it has been a staunch U.S. ally in the region, propping up every government, supporting every coup, American geopolitical ambitions have changed as a result of the changing geopolitical reality of the world. Pakistan has drawn increasingly close to China, which built a major seaport on Pakistan’s coast, giving China access to the Indian Ocean. This is a strategic threat to India and the United States more broadly, which seeks to subdue and control China’s growing influence (while simultaneously attempting to engage in efforts of international integration with China, specifically economically). India and Pakistan are historical enemies, and wars have been fought between them before. India and America are in a strategic alliance, and America helped India with its nuclear program, much to the distaste of the Pakistanis, who drew closer to China. Pakistan occupies an area of the utmost strategic importance: with its neighbours being Afghanistan, China, India and Iran.

American policy has changed to support a civilian government, kept weak and subservient to U.S. interests, while America covertly expands its wars inside Pakistan. This is creating an incredible potential for absolute destabilization and fragmentation, potentially resulting in total civil war. America appears to be undertaking a similar policy in Pakistan that it undertook in fracturing Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s. Only that Pakistan has a population of 170 million people and nuclear weapons. As America expands its destabilization of Pakistan, the risk of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India dramatically increases, as does the risk of destabilization spreading regionally to its neighbours of India, China, Afghanistan and Iran. The American-urged separation of the Pakistani military from official power in Pakistan (as in, it’s not a military dictatorships), was designed to impose a completely U.S. dependent civilian government and isolate an increasingly frustrated and antagonized Pakistani military.

As the Wikileaks cables revealed, General Kayani, head of the Pakistani military, threatened to depose the Pakistani government in a coup in March of 2009, and he discussed this in meetings with the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson. The cables revealed that the Pakistani Army Chief disliked the civilian government, but that they disliked the opposition even more, which was rallying people in the streets.[31] This reveals the intimate nature the U.S. has with the Pakistani military, as it always has. The U.S. did not support this proposal, as it currently favours a weak civilian government, and therefore a strong military dictatorship is not in America’s (or India’s) interest. Thus, there was no coup. Hence, Wikileaks can be used to further inform and vindicate analysis of Pakistan. For those who have been speaking about the destabilization of Pakistan for years, and there have been many, Wikileaks provides more resources to a critical analysis, and suddenly more people around the world might be interested in new ideas and perspectives, as Wikileaks has challenged so many of their previously held beliefs.

The list of examples surfacing from the Wikileaks cables is endless in the amount of additional information it can add in the alternative media’s dissemination of information and analysis. These were but a few examples among many. Make no mistake, this is an opportunity for the spread of truth, not a distraction from it. Treat it accordingly.


Notes

[1]        David E. Sanger, James Glanz and Jo Becker, Around the World, Distress Over Iran, The New York Times, 28 November 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/middleeast/29iran.htmlin

[2]        Fox, Leaked Documents Show Middle East Consensus on Threat Posed by Iran, Fox News, 29 November 2010: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/11/29/leaked-documents-middle-east-consensus-threat-posed-iran/

[3]        Ross Colvin, “Cut off head of snake” Saudis told U.S. on Iran, Reuters, 29 November 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AS02B20101129

[4]        FT reporters, Iran accuses US over WikiLeaks, The Financial Times, 29 November 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/940105fc-fbd1-11df-b79a-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss#axzz16zUOP500

[5]        Barak Ravid, Netanyahu: Israel will not stand at center of new WikiLeaks report, Ha’aretz, 28 November 2010: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-israel-will-not-stand-at-center-of-new-wikileaks-report-1.327416?localLinksEnabled=false

[6]        Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler, Unexpectedly, Israel Welcomes WikiLeaks Revelations, IPS News, 1 December 2010: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53731

[7]        JPOST.COM STAFF, Barak: ‘Wikileaks incident has not damaged Israel’, Jerusalem Post, 30 November 2010: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=197357

[8]        Haaretz Service, Senior Turkey official says Israel behind WikiLeaks release, Ha’aretz, 2 December 2010: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/senior-turkey-official-says-israel-behind-wikileaks-release-1.328373

[9]        Craig Murray, Extraordinary Rendition, CraigMurray.org, 11 July 2005: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2005/07/extraordinary_r_1.html

[10]      Nick Paton Walsh, The envoy who said too much, The Guardian, 15 July 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/jul/15/foreignpolicy.uk

[11]      Craig Murray, Raise A Glass to Wikileaks, CraigMurray.org, 29 November 2010: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/11/raise_a_glass_t.html

[12]      Ibid.

[13]      Ibid.

[14]      Ewen MacAskill, Columbia students told job prospects harmed if they access WikiLeaks cables, The Guardian, 5 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/05/columbia-students-wikileaks-cables

[15]      RICHARD STENGEL, Transcript: TIME Interview with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, Time Magazine, 30 November 2010: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20101201/wl_time/08599203404000

[16]      Ibid.

[17]      Ibid.

[18]      Matthew Creamer, Obama Wins! … Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, AdAge, 17 October 2008: http://adage.com/moy2008/article?article_id=131810; Mark Sweney, Barack Obama campaign claims two top prizes at Cannes Lion ad awards, The Guardian, 29 June 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/29/barack-obama-cannes-lions

[19]      David Leigh, Heather Brooke  and Rob Evans, WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cables-rude-prince-andrew

[20]      US embassy cables: Prince Andrew rails against France, the SFO and the Guardian, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/175722

[21]      Rob Evans and David Leigh, WikiLeaks cables: Prince Andrew demanded special BAE briefing, The Guardian, 30 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/30/prince-andrew-wikileaks-cables

[22]      US embassy cables: Prince Andrew hunts with Arab leaders, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/8446

[23]      Robert Booth, Wikileaks cable: Prince Charles ‘not respected like Queen’, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cable-prince-charles-queen

[24]      Declan Walsh, WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists, The Guardian, 5 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding

[25]      SCOTT SHANE and ANDREW W. LEHREN, Leaked Cables Offer Raw Look at U.S. Diplomacy, The New York Times, 28 November 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html

[26]      Simon Tisdall, WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia rated a bigger threat to Iraqi stability than Iran, The Guardian, 5 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-meddling-iraq

[27]      William Maclean, Saudi royal: Punish WikiLeaks source “vigorously”, Reuters, 5 December 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B41VA20101205

[28]      Robert Booth and Ian Black, WikiLeaks cables: Yemen offered US ‘open door’ to attack al-Qaida on its soil, The Guardian, 3 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-yemen-us-attack-al-qaida

[29]      Greg Miller, CIA pays for support in Pakistan, Los Angeles Times, 15 November 2009: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/15/world/fg-cia-pakistan15

[30]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, 9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign, Global Research, 10 September 2010: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20975

[31]      David Batty and Declan Walsh, Pakistan army reacts to WikiLeaks cables with democracy pledge, The Guardian, 4 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/04/pakistan-army-supports-government-wikileaks

Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire

Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire
Global Research, October 5, 2010

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of his least known and ultimately one of his most important speeches ever, “Beyond Vietnam,” in which he spoke out against the American war in Vietnam and against American empire in all its political, military and economic forms. In his speech, King endorsed the notion that America “was on the wrong side of a world revolution.” Dr. King explained:

During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”[1]

This is the nature of war of today: during King’s time, the pretext for war was to stop the spread of Communism; today, it’s done in the name of stopping the spread of terrorism. Terror has since time immemorial been a tactic used by states and governments to control populations. Al-Qaeda is no exception, as it was created and continues to largely function as a geopolitical extension of the covert apparatus of American empire. In short, al-Qaeda is an arm of the covert world of American intelligence agencies. In particular, the CIA, DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], US Special Forces, and multinational mercenary companies such as Blackwater [now Xe Services]. Where they go, al-Qaeda goes; where al-Qaeda goes, they accumulate; where they lay the groundwork, the American empire stands behind.[2]

Yemen is perhaps an excellent example of America being on the “wrong side of a world revolution,” as the secret war in Yemen being exacerbated in the name of “fighting al-Qaeda” is in actuality, about the expansion and supremacy of American power in the region. It is about the suppression of natural democratic, local, revolutionary elements throughout the country seeking self-autonomy in changing the nation from its current despotic, authoritarian rule sympathetic to American interests, into a nation of their own choosing. It is about repressing struggles for liberation.

This brings in the involvement of Saudi Arabia, itself interested in ensuring Yemen is a loyal neighbour; so they too must suppress indigenous movements within Yemen seeking autonomy, especially those that are Shi’a Muslims, as the Saudi state is a strict Wahhabist Sunni Muslim regime. Shi’as are primarily represented in the region through the state of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s “natural” enemy; both vying for influence in Iraq and both vying for influence in Yemen. Through this we see another key American imperial aim in this war, that of seeking to stir up a conflict with Iran, perhaps through a proxy-war within Yemen, or perhaps in hopes that the proxy war would expand into a regional war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, naturally drawing in Israel, Egypt and the United States. Finally, we have the strategic location of Yemen to consider, bridging one of the largest oil transport routes in the world, parallel to Somalia and the Horn of Africa (where America is waging another war, again on the “wrong side of a world revolution”).

Just as American geopolitical strategists had chosen to favour Tutsis over Hutus in Central Africa in an effort to expand the American presence and business interests in the region; so too have American strategists chosen to favour a brand of radical Sunni Islam over the Shi’a or moderate Sunnis, and thus they support oppressive Sunni governments (such as Saudi Arabia), and denounce Shi’a governments as oppressive (such as Iran). Not to say that there is no oppression within Iran (there is oppression within all states everywhere in the world, Iran is no exception), but compared to Saudi Arabia, Iran is a bastion of freedom. Al-Qaeda is manifestly a significant facet of the pro-Wahhabist fundamentalist Sunni strategy of American imperialists. If they finance, train and arm the Sunni rebels or send in already-trained, armed and well-funded terrorists (commonly known as ‘al-Qaeda’ – the “database”), then they create a counter to any other domestic opposition or regional Shi’a dominance.

This essay examines the American war in Yemen as a war of empire, as a war against the rising tide of people’s movements and the “global political awakening” that is taking place around the world.

Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Art of Empire

To understand the current conflict in Yemen, as with all conflicts, we must go to history. To simply cast the conflict aside in the light of “fighting al-Qaeda” is a gross misrepresentation. Yemen’s history is deeply entwined with that of Arab nationalist politics in the Middle East, adding to that a balance of imperial power in the region.

The location of modern Yemen is vital in the notion of Yemen’s significance to imperial powers. Millennia ago, a settled civilization was established in the fertile south-west region of Arabia, and was “comprised by the kingdoms of Ma’in, Saba, and Himyar.” These kingdoms “were significant in the broader history of the Middle East, in part because of the long-distance trade links to India and the states at the top of the Red Sea.”[3] When Islam arose:

Yemen became part of the Arab and Islamic worlds and contributed both militarily to the Islamic conquests and culturally to the mediaeval Islamic period. From the tenth century onward, Yemen … ceased to be part of the broader Islamic empires … [and] it was ruled by a succession of dynasties, controlling more or less of to-day’s Yemeni territory. The last of these to control most of to-day’s North and South were the Qasimis, who ruled in the mid-seventeenth century. In the early modern period, Yemen fell under various degrees of external influence and control – in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Dutch and the Portuguese yielding to the Ottomans, and in the nineteenth century the Ottomans and the British dividing the country between them.[4]

When the Ottomans left in 1918, following their defeat in World War I, Zeidi Imam took over North Yemen, which was run by the Imams, while South Yemen was controlled by the British.[5] From the late eighteenth century, the British being the dominant power in the Arabian Peninsula, “sought to protect its imperial communications by entering into a series of treaties with the ruling shaykhs of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman and by bringing the strategic southern tip of the peninsula under direct British control as the Aden Protectorate [South Yemen].”[6]

Various families competed for power in Arabia, with Abd al-Aziz Ibn Sa’ud emerging victorious when in 1924 he exiled the previously imposed leader (supported by the British, but highly unpopular), Sharif Husayn. Britain quickly negotiated an agreement with Ibn Sa’ud in 1927, called the Treaty of Jeddah, which “recognized Ibn Sa’ud as the sovereign king of the Hijaz and sultan of Najd and its dependencies; he, in turn, acknowledged Britain’s special relationships with the coastal rulers [of the Arabian Peninsula] and pledged to respect their domains.” In 1932, the state became known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[7]

Following World War II, the United States became the single greatest superpower and it overtook the colonial possessions of the old European empires that collapsed prior to, during, and following World War II. In the Middle East:

New social and political forces emerged after 1945 to challenge the old elites and demand reform. Among them were pro-Soviet communist parties, but much more important and popular were radical nationalist movements and independent groups of young army officers determined to free their countries from lingering foreign control and chart a new course toward development and greater social justice.[8]

The Imams in North Yemen had begun laying claim to all of “natural Yemen,” directly challenging British rule in the south. In the 1940s, “there began to develop political oppositions, to both the Imams in the North and the British in the South.” The “Free Yemeni” movement in the North staged a failed coup in 1948 to free the North from the authoritarian rule of the Imams.[9]

Egypt saw the most significant upheavals in the immediate post-War years. In 1952, a group of junior military officers in the Egyptian Army orchestrated a bloodless coup in which they overthrew the Egyptian Monarchy and Colonel Abd al-Nasser took power, forming the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). The RCC’s primary political rival in Egypt was the Muslim Brotherhood, so when an assassination attempt on Nasser took place in 1954, the RCC outlawed the Brotherhood, arrested thousands of its members and executed several of its leaders. Nasser was not only the primary progenitor of nationalism in the region, but he was considered the exalted leader of the pan-Arab movement for unity.

Nasser set up a Soviet arms deal in 1955, in which Egypt exchanged cotton for Soviet military equipment, which dealt Nasser an impressive propaganda effect among Arab peoples who saw it as a rebuff of the Anglo-American grip on Egypt. Nasser, meanwhile, had been attempting to construct a dam at Aswan, and sought funds to do so from the World Bank in 1955. The World Bank approved a loan package (designed by the British and Americans), which would have required Egypt to accept particular conditions of the loan. Nasser had not made a decision on the package, when, in July of 1956, America announced it was withdrawing the offer.[10]

On July 26, 1956, days following the loan withdrawal, Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal, giving Nasser incredible support across the Muslim and Arab worlds, as the Canal, “built with Egyptian labour but operated by a French company and used as the lifeline of the British Empire, had stood as a symbol of Western exploitation.”[11] On October 29, 1956, Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt, and a UN-sponsored cease-fire was signed by Britain and France on November 6, following the condemnation of the attack by both the USSR and America. The Suez Crisis, an Egyptian military defeat, had become a political success for Nasser.[12]

In Yemen, the struggle of the Free Yemenis in the North waged on against both the rule of the Imams in the North and the British in the South. The Free Yemenis were largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt initially, but changed the rhetoric as the 1950s changed the dynamic of politics in the region, with the rise of Arab nationalism, and thus, “the predominant politics of the oppositions in North and South was nationalistic, involving support not only for the general goal of ‘Arab unity’ but also for ‘Yemeni’ unity.” Following the failed coup in 1948, the opposition in the North was split between intellectuals and groups of officers. In 1962, the officers overthrew the Imams and proclaimed the “Yemen Arab Republic.”[13]

When this took place in the North, opposition spread to the countryside in the South where a guerilla movement developed. Between 1963 and 1967, the guerilla movement became a powerful force competing for power in Aden and the countryside, and was split into two: a Nasser-influenced group and a more radical Marxist “National Liberation Front” (NLF). Nasser inserted himself into the Yemeni civil war in 1962. The deposed Imam of Yemen had escaped to the mountains and rallied tribesmen to his cause, with significant support from powerful regional monarchs (and staunch American allies), Saudi Arabia and Jordan. So the new Yemeni regime turned to Nasser for assistance, and by 1965, close to 70,000 Egyptian troops were in Yemen fighting for the military regime in power. After several years of fighting rebels and traversing harsh terrain, Egypt withdrew in 1968.[14]

During the civil war, the British were still holding onto their protectorate in the South, and were still very much politically bruised by Nasser since the Suez Crisis. Thus, the British “devised a scheme with Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, to aid the anti-Nasser forces in Yemen by supplying them with arms and financial help.” This effort was aided by the CIA, as well as Saudi intelligence and the Iranian SAVAK.[15] Throughout the 1960s, the United States rapidly accelerated a program of military support for Saudi Arabia, which included a $400 million Anglo-American air defense program, military bases, infrastructure, “and a $100 million U.S. program to supply Saudi Arabia with trucks and military transport vehicles.”[16] The aim was to weaken Egypt and Nasser through a civil war in Yemen, with each side using various groups for their own geopolitical ambitions.

In 1967, the National Liberation Front (NLF) came to power in South Yemen, as the British left, and South Yemen became an independent state. Subsequently, North and South Yemen supported opposition movements within each other’s territory. In 1972, the two sides briefly went to war with one another, when the North attempted to conquer the South with Saudi and Libyan support.[17] While Yemen’s civil war had seen Yemen divided among itself, it had also become a regional conflict between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Yet, when the radical Marxist NLF government came to power in South Yemen in 1967, the NLF had “pledged its support for the overthrow of all the traditional monarchies in the Arabian Peninsula”:

The Saudi regime thus faced two hostile Yemens, both of them with radical governments, both of them supported by the Soviet Union, and both of them committed to the establishment of republican forms of rule. [Saudi] King Faysal responded to this danger by mending fences with the northern Yemen Arab Republic and attempting to foment discord between it and the People’s Republic of the south.[18]

The situation Saudi Arabia faced to its south created an impetus for the acceleration and growth of the Saudi armed forces. Thus, in the 1970s, “the Saudis allocated between 35 and 40 percent of their total annual revenues to defense and security expenditures.” In 1970, the defense budget had increased to $2 billion; by 1976 it was $36 billion.[19]

In North Yemen, the radical left fought a guerilla war against the government from 1978 until 1982, with support from South Yemen. This movement in the North “saw itself as the vanguard of a mass movement that would bring about unity through overthrowing the military and tribal forces dominating the country.”[20] The North Yemen government was not centralized, and so lacked a strong measure of legitimacy. During the 1970s, the President “promoted closer ties with the South as part of an attempt to strengthen the central government.”[21] Throughout the 1980s, closer ties between the two nations were sought, and “unity” committees were established, but with little if any success. Not until the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War in 1989-1990 was progress on unity made, when “the internal weaknesses of both regimes led them to agree to enter a provisional unification,” which occurred in May 1990.[22]

Each state thought that they could exploit the process of unification to exert their own authority over the other region. Thus, unity was “not a policy aimed at fusion but an instrument for inter-regime competition.”[23] The North, in particular, “believed it could impose its will on the South,” following the 1993 elections and through the process of misleading negotiations. Eventually, this goal started to be realized, and “Yemeni unity was thus achieved by the successful imposition of the Northern regime’s power on the South, in alliance with both Islamists in the North, and with dissident exiles from the South.”[24]

However, these disagreements and problems “led to a de facto split in the country in early 1994, followed at the end of April by an outright Northern attack on the South. On 7 July 1994 Northern forces entered Aden, thus effectively unifying the country under one regime for the first time in several centuries.”[25]

Operation Scorched Earth

During the 1994 civil war in Yemen, the North was aided in its war against the south by Wahhabist Sunni rebels (practicing the strict branch of Islam common to Saudi Arabia as well as al-Qaeda). Following the war and the success of the North, the government had granted the Wahhabis a stronger voice in the government. This is a major complaint of the Zaydis, a Shi’a branch of Islam. The Zaydis had Saada as their main stronghold in the North, but were driven from power in the 1962 revolution, left to a region that remained undeveloped. Saudi Arabia drew increasingly worried about having a rebellious group of Shi’a Islam fighters (the Houthi) so close to their border, with the potential to stir up groups within Saudi Arabia itself.[26]

In 2004, the Yemen government tried to arrest the leader, Hussein al-Houthi, a Zaydi religious leader, which sparked fighting and the leader was subsequently killed in an air strike, leaving the movement to be run by his brothers. In 2004, between 500-1000 people were killed in the fighting. In 2005, the fighting continued, and an estimated 1,500 people were killed. Fighting broke out again in 2007 between the government and the rebels, in which hundreds of people were killed.[27] In 2008, a Shi’a mosque was bombed during prayer in the Northern stronghold of Saada, with the Yemen government blaming the Shi’a rebels, who both denied responsibility and denounced the attack.[28] This spurred on further clashes between the government and the rebels, so that by late 2008, since the outbreak of fighting in 2004, between 3,700 and 5,500 “militants and civilians” had been killed in the fighting.[29]

In June of 2009, nine foreigners were kidnapped while having a picnic in Saada, “the bodies of three of them, a South Korean teacher and two German nurses were discovered. Five Germans, including three children and a Briton, are still missing and their status is unknown.” It was never determined who was behind the kidnappings and murders, but the government blamed the Houthi rebels. The Houthis in turn blamed drug cartels in the region for the murders. Yemen was faced simultaneously with a secessionist movement in both the North and the South, and was reportedly facing a “greater threat from al-Qaeda,” which had been a “growing concern” of the United States. In July of 2009, Gen. David Petraeus, CENTCOM Commander, “and an accompanying delegation, flew to Yemen and met with [President] Saleh,” at which one of the topics of discussion was “how to better combat terrorism.” In August of 2009, Yemen launched a military offensive against Houthi rebels in the North.[30]

This was Operation Scorched Earth, launched by the Yemen military on August 11, 2009. Troops, tanks and fighter aircraft were used in this Yemeni blitzkrieg against the Houthi and Zaydi in the North, with the President vowing to crack down with an “iron fist.”[31]

This led to a refugee crisis in which, by October 2009, over 55,000 people fled their homes due to the conflict.[32] In November, the rebels had a border fight with Saudi Arabia, killing a Saudi officer and injuring several others.[33] Saudi Arabian “warplanes and artillery bombarded a Shiite rebel stronghold,” and Saudi Arabia and Yemen were “cooperating and sharing intelligence in the fight.”[34] Moroccan special forces trained in guerilla warfare were accompanying Saudi soldiers, and Morocco cut off relations with Iran, which was being accused of arming the Houthi rebels. Jordan also reportedly sent 2,000 of its own special forces to help Saudi Arabia.[35]

The American Empire in the Gulf of Aden and Africa

What is America’s particular interest in Yemen, and more broadly, in the region that encompasses the Gulf of Aden, over which Yemen rests at the pinnacle? The Gulf of Aden connects the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, with Yemen positioned directly across the water from Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. The Gulf of Aden is a vital transport route for the shipment of Persian Gulf oil, forming “an essential oil transport route between Europe and the Far East.”[36] Clearly, control of the major oil transport routes is a key strategic imperative of any global power; in this case, America. Yemen, situated beneath Saudi Arabia, positions itself as even more significant to American strategic initiatives, in securing their interests in the world’s most oil-rich nation and key US ally. An American-friendly government in Yemen is a Saudi-friendly government.

Another key facet of American imperial strategy in the Gulf of Aden and Yemen regards the American imperial strategy in Africa. In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the main policy-planning group of the US elite, published a Task Force Report on US strategy in Africa called, “More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa.” In the report, it was stated that:

Africa is becoming more important because of its growing role in supplying the world with oil, gas, and non-fuel minerals. Now supplying the United States with 15 percent of oil imports, Africa’s production may double in the next decade, and its capacity for natural gas exports will grow even more. In the next decade, Africa could be supplying the United States with as much energy as the Middle East.[37]

The report stated that, “The United States is facing intense competition for energy and other natural resources in Africa,” identifying India and primarily China as its main competitors “in the search for these resources and for both economic and political influence on the continent.”[38] In particular, “China presents a particularly important challenge to U.S. interests.”[39]

Further, “To compete more effectively with China, the United States must provide more encouragement and support to well-performing African states, develop innovative means for U.S. companies to compete, give high-level attention to Africa, and engage China on those practices that conflict with U.S. interests.”[40] In analyzing how the War on Terror had been brought to Africa, the report stated:

Post-9/11, the U.S. counterterror approach to Africa has been led by the U.S. military: CENTCOM in the Horn; EUCOM in West, Central, and southern Africa; and the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). More quietly, U.S. intelligence cooperation with key states has expanded in parallel with the enlargement of the U.S. military’s role.[41]

As the Guardian reported in June of 2005, “a new ‘scramble for Africa’ is taking place among the world’s big powers, who are tapping into the continent for its oil and diamonds.” A key facet of this is that “corporations from the US, France, Britain and China are competing to profit from the rulers of often chaotic and corrupt regimes.”[42] In May of 2006, the Washington Post reported that in Somalia, the US has been “secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.”[43]

In December of 2006, Ethiopia, heavily backed and supported by the US, invaded and occupied Somalia, ousting the Islamist government. The US support for the operations was based upon the claims of Somalia being a breeding ground for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. However, this was has now turned into an insurgency. Wired Magazine reported in December of 2008 that, “for several years the U.S. military has fought a covert war in Somalia, using gunships, drones and Special Forces to break up suspected terror networks – and enlisting Ethiopia’s aid in propping up a pro-U.S. ‘transitional’ government.”[44] Again, another case of America being on the “wrong side of a world revolution.”

The Ethiopian troops occupied Somalia for a couple years, and in January of 2009, the last Ethiopian troops left the capital city of Mogadishu. In 2007, the UN authorized an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia. In March of 2007, Ugandan military officials landed in Somalia. Essentially, what this has done is that the more overt Ethiopian occupation of Somalia has been replaced with a UN-mandated African Union occupation of the country, in which Ugandan troops make up the majority. Since Uganda is a proxy military state for the US in the region, the more overt US supported Ethiopian troops have been replaced by a more covert US-supported Ugandan contingent.

Africom

In 2007, Newsweek reported that, “America is quietly expanding its fight against terror on the African front. Two years ago the United States set up the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership with nine countries in central and western Africa. There is no permanent presence, but the hope is to generate support and suppress radicalism by both sharing U.S. weapons and tactics with friendly regimes and winning friends through a vast humanitarian program assembled by USAID, including well building and vocational training.” The Pentagon announced the formation of a new military strategic command called “Africom” (Africa Command), which “will integrate existing diplomatic, economic and humanitarian programs into a single strategic vision for Africa, bring more attention to long-ignored American intelligence-gathering and energy concerns on the continent, and elevate African interests to the same level of importance as those of Asia and the Middle East.”[45]

The article gave brief mention to critics, saying that, “not surprisingly, the establishment of a major American base in Africa is inspiring new criticism from European and African critics of U.S. imperial overreach.” Some claim it represents a “militarization of U.S. Africa policy,” which is not a stretch of the imagination, as the article pointed out, “the United States has identified the Sahel, a region stretching west from Eritrea across the broadest part of Africa, as the next critical zone in the War on Terror and started working with repressive governments in Chad and Algeria, among others, to further American interests there.”[46] The article continued:

The problem is that, increasingly, African leaders appear not to want Africom. They see it as the next phase of the War on Terror—a way to pursue jihadists inside Africa’s weak or failed states, which many U.S. officials have described as breeding grounds for terror. They worry that the flow of arms will overwhelm the flow of aid, and that U.S. counterterrorism will further destabilize a region already prone to civil wars.[47]

Ever since the 2007 US-supported air strikes and invasion of Somalia, piracy has been a significant issue in the waters off of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. In 2009, several major nations, including America, Britain and China, sent navy ships into Somali waters to combat the pirates who were negatively impacting trade through the region. As Johann Hari explained in the Independent:

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died…

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving… This is the context in which the “pirates” have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence”.[48]

In 2009, an American Navy commander suggested that the Somali pirates were in receivership of not only a great amount of sympathy from Yemeni people (while the government would help combat the piracy), but that “private citizens in Yemen are selling weapons, fuel and supplies to Somali pirates. And maritime experts worry that pirates are increasingly able to find refuge along Yemen’s vast coast.” Some Yemeni officials “suggest the extensive international attention to piracy is just a pretext for big powers like the U.S. to gain control of the Gulf of Aden, a waterway through which millions of barrels of oil pass every day.” One member of the Yemeni Parliament suggested that, “Western powers are allowing piracy to continue as a way to serve their own interests.”[49]

Al-Qaeda in Yemen

The current war in Yemen and US support for it is predicated on the basis of aiding Yemen in the fight against al-Qaeda. Said Ali al-Shihri was arrested by the Americans in 2001 in Afghanistan, and was promptly taken to Guantanamo Bay. The Americans released him into Saudi custody in 2007, and he “passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.” In other words, the US handed him over to Saudi Arabia, who enrolled him in a program for ‘former jihadists’, and then he became the second in command in Al-Qaeda in Yemen. As one American intelligence official stated, “he returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear.” One Saudi security official had reported (on condition of anonymity) that, “Mr. Shihri had disappeared from his home in Saudi Arabia [in 2008] after finishing the rehabilitation program.”[50]

In June of 2009, US officials were reporting that Al-Qaeda fighters were leaving Pakistan to go fight in Somalia and Yemen. The CIA, the Pentagon and the White House reported that Al-Qaeda groups in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia were “communicating more frequently, and apparently trying to coordinate their actions.” The CIA Director, Leon Panetta, said that, “the United States must prevent Al Qaeda from creating a new sanctuary in Yemen or Somalia.” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Brookings Institution, a major US policy think tank, “I am very worried about growing safe havens in both Somalia and Yemen, specifically because we have seen Al Qaeda leadership, some leaders, start to flow to Yemen.”[51] So the American national security establishment had refocused its efforts on Yemen. War seemed inevitable.

In the 1980s, millions of Yemeni men had worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, sending remittances back home to Yemen. In 1991, in the lead-up to the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia viewed these migrant workers as a potential security threat, so they expelled 800,000 Yemeni workers back to Yemen, and henceforth, Yemeni labour was banned in Saudi Arabia. Saudi financed Wahhabi madrasas sprung up across Yemen, providing a place for the disenchanted and unemployed Yemeni Sunni population to find an outlet for their political and economic dislocation. President Saleh of Yemen had often used Yemeni Wahhabis “to fight his domestic opponents – first the communists, then the Zaidis, and then the H[o]uthis.”[52]

In August of 2009, as the Saudi assault on the Houthi rebels in the North was underway, a Houthi leader and brother to the slain former leader, Yahya al-Houthi, spoke to a Middle Eastern news agency. He was a former Yemeni Member of Parliament, who had fled to Libya, and subsequently sought political asylum in Germany. He told Press TV:

Saudi Arabia wants the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh to remain in power because he is meeting all the Saudi demands especially those related to terrorism. Yemen is now a main party in carrying out terrorist plots sponsored by Saudi Arabia, therefore it is important for Saudi Arabia to keep Ali Abdullah Saleh in power as the overthrow of his regime would lead to many big secrets being revealed. The regime in Saudi Arabia also supports the Wahhabi ideology and is trying to spread this ideology amongst our people in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is also suffering from internal problems which it wants to export to Yemen. Many members of al-Qaeda , Yemenis and non Yemenis, are now in Yemen. In recent months [Yemeni President] Ali Abdullah Saleh has taken many recruits of Al-Qaeda who were afraid of falling into the hands of their regimes in countries like Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. His plan was to use these fighters from al-Qaeda to battle the Houthis in Saada. A training camp was also erected for these terrorists which still exists today in the area of Waila. These members of al-Qaeda and also Baathist elements are now taking part in the fighting alongside the Yemeni army against the Houthis. The areas of Malahit and Hasana which the Houthis have taken control over were used to transfer weapons from Saudi Arabia to the terrorists. These areas are also where most of the terrorists’ plans are made.[53]

In other words, according to al-Houthi, Yemen (along with Saudi Arabia) are directly supporting the al-Qaeda contingent in Yemen in an effort to sow chaos (thus providing a pretext for the military assault), as well as aiding in the fight against the Houthis. In October, as the fighting raged on, it was reported that the Yemeni governor in the northern province had “signed a deal” with al-Qaeda, in which the government “would provide the militants with arms, budget and other military requirements to assist the Yemeni army against the Shia fighters.”[54] Saudi Arabia remains, as it did throughout the entire history of the movement (since the 1980s), as the principle financier of al-Qaeda.[55]

In fact, in 2009, it was revealed that members of the Saudi royal family directly provide “extensive financial support for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.” The documents were revealed in a court case in which families of victims of the September 11th attacks were seeking to bring legal action against the Saudis for their financial support. The documents were leaked to their lawyers, and the US Justice Department stepped in (on behalf of the Saudis), and “had the lawyers’ copies destroyed and now wants to prevent a judge from even looking at the material.”[56] Clearly, al-Qaeda is not an organization autonomous of Saudi financing.

The Southern Secessionist Movement

Apart from simply the Houthis, the Saleh dictatorship seeks to suppress a Southern Yemeni secessionist movement seeking autonomy and liberation against the illegitimate central government. Since 2007, “southern Yemenis have been staging mass protests calling for reinstatement of southerners dismissed from the civil service and army, higher pensions, a fairer share of the country’s dwindling national wealth, and an end to corruption.” The protests were met with “severe repression by the security services, which seemed to only spur on the demand for secession by the south, where most of the country’s oil is located.”[57] One Yemeni analyst stated that, “If there is one thing that will break the country, it’s going to be the southern secession.” One southern secessionist activist stated that Saleh’s government was using the pretext of al-Qaeda and it’s war on terror “for the liquidation of the southern movement,” and that, “the southern movement is trying to continue the peaceful struggle. But the powers in Yemen have used excessive violence against peaceful protests.” The government, for its part, has attempted to propagate the baseless claim that the southern secessionists have links with al-Qaeda.[58]

Interestingly, al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen, in a recorded statement, “declared support for the Southern Movement, but Southern leaders have thus far rejected his endorsement.”[59] In an interview with France24, former South Yemen President, Ali Salem al-Beidh, explained that, “We have nothing to do with al Qaeda, we have never been in contact with this organization. Our movement rejects terrorism, which in contrast thrives in the north of the country. President Ali Abdallah Saleh uses al Qaeda to scare westerners and the United States.”[60] Saleh’s government has committed several human rights abuses against the movement in the South, unlawfully and unjustly killing innocents during protests, with the military surrounding peaceful protests and opening fire.[61]

The “rapidly spreading” protest movement in the South, explained the New York Times, “now threatens to turn into a violent insurgency if its demands are not met.” While the leaders of the movement favour peaceful protest, the government’s violent repression has made it so that “their ability to control younger and more violent supporters is fraying.” One southern leader stated, “We demand an independent southern republic, and we have the right to defend ourselves if they continue to kill us and imprison us.” Again refuting claims that the movement is tried to al-Qaeda, the leaders “say that they stand for law, tolerance and democracy, and that it is the north that has a history of using jihadists as proxy warriors.” A major problem arises within the Southern movement in that it remains deeply divided, with no clear singular leadership, drawing from an array of people, from socialists to Islamists, “with wildly different goals and unresolved disputes.”[62]

The Underwear Bomber

On December 25, 2009, a 23-year old Nigerian-born man named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, when he tried to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear. This incident, still shrouded in mystery, provided the excuse for American involvement in the conflict in Yemen, as it was reported that Farouk had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the newly-formed Saudi and Yemeni al-Qaeda group.

However, how Farouk managed to get on the plane, let alone past security with explosives on his person, is still an important question. After all, America knew about Farouk for up to two years prior to the incident, and even had him “on a list that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization.”[63] Britain’s MI5 knew three years prior to the incident that Umar had connections with Islamic extremists in Britain.[64] Umar’s father, a former Nigerian government minister and successful banker, had even warned the US Embassy in Nigeria of his son’s extremist beliefs.[65] Umar even had a US entry visa, and when the State Department stepped in to have his visa revoked, “intelligence officials asked [the State Department] not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would’ve foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.”[66]

Suddenly, there was a flurry of reports from “respected” newspapers (such as the Washington Post and New York Times propaganda rags), that this “failure” of following through with the intelligence that was available on Umar meant that a review of security was needed, both in terms of possibly expanding the “watch lists” and in terms of expanding airport security, and proposing the use of body-scanners. Several politicians and news-rags were also calling for expanded military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.[67]

Interestingly, there were several reports of eyewitnesses on board the plane who contradict the official account of Umar’s attempted terrorist act. An attorney on board the plane said that, “he saw another man come to the assistance of accused bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when he tried to board the airplane in Amsterdam without a passport.” The attorney and his wife had both seen this incident. The wife, also a lawyer, stated, “My husband noticed two men walk up to the ticket counter lady. The only reason he noticed them is that he thought they were really a mismatched pair.” She said that Umar “wore older, scraggly clothing, but the man who was assisting him, who appeared to be of Indian descent, was dressed in what looked like an expensive suit and shoes.” She recounted that the well-dressed man had told the ticket agent, “We need to get this man on the plane,” and that, “He doesn’t have a passport.” The ticket agent responded that no one was allowed to board the plane without a passport, to which the Indian man replied, “We do this all the time; he’s from Sudan.”[68] Yet no further information has come forward about this mysterious ‘second man’ who helped Umar board the plane. Nevertheless, the propaganda of this attempted terrorist ‘attack’ had taken effect, as people were again afraid of the menace of “Islamic terror” and “al-Qaeda,” and the U.S. got the pretext to justify its intervention in Yemen.

American Imperialism in Yemen

While the ‘Underwear Bomber’ was used as a propaganda vehicle for supporting direct US military intervention in Yemen, covert US military involvement in Yemen had already been underway for some time (as well as British). In 2002, a mere six months following 9/11, President Bush authorized the deployment of 100 US troop to Yemen “to help train that nation’s military to fight terrorists.” The troops “would consist predominantly of Special Forces, but could also include intelligence experts and other specialists. The main target would be Al Qaeda fighters who are hiding in Yemen.”[69] In September of 2002, it was reported that the United States was deploying Special Forces and CIA agents into the Horn of Africa in an effort to combat al-Qaeda in Yemen, and “800 US special forces have been moved to Djibouti, which faces Yemen.”[70] In November of 2002, a CIA Predator drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – UAV) launched an attack on an al-Qaeda target within Yemen, killing six suspected al-Qaeda members, one of whom was an American citizen.[71]

Prior to the ‘Underwear Bomber’ (as he has come to be known), the conflict in Yemen was primarily viewed as a civil war, and then with the participation of Saudi Arabia, as a regional Arab conflict. In September of 2009, it was reported that while the Yemeni government attempted to subdue a rebel Shi’a army in the north (Houthi), a refugee crisis was emerging, and a wider conflict was erupting, which could “suck the US into another sensitive conflict zone.” Many observed that if the US manages to stay out of the war, “the conflict might be subsumed in a regional war by proxy,” as in, through Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, further, was accusing Iran of supporting the Shi’a rebels in northern Yemen, with both money and arms, but Saudi Arabia “has produced no hard evidence.” From the time the Saudi assault on northern Yemen began in August of 2009, between 25,000 and 100,000 Yemeni refugees were displaced. One top official with the World Food Program (WFP) stated that, “We’re not confronted with a humanitarian crisis, it’s becoming a humanitarian tragedy.”[72]

A member of the International Crisis Group (ICG) said, “that the United States might be forced to intervene as the security situation worsened to prevent Yemen becoming a ‘failed state’.” Further, “the country has been used as an al-Qaeda base before, and its strategic location between the oil supply routes of the Gulf and the piracy haven of Somalia means its stability is regarded as a key western interest.” Thus, said the ICG analyst, “You might well see American advisers, maybe even some special troops, go in for special operations.” President Obama declared in September of 2009 that, “the security of Yemen is vital for the security of the United States.”[73]

In November of 2009, it was reported that a “delegation of military officers from Yemen arrived in the United States recently” for training, of which the purpose “was to familiarize the Yemeni military officers with formal training programs currently in use by the United States Marine Corps. Support to Yemeni military officer training is likely to increase the effectiveness of [Yemen’s] military force.”[74] On December 13, 2009, (less than two weeks prior to the “Underwear Bomber” incident), it was reported that, “US special forces have been sent to Yemen to train its army amid fears the unstable Arab state is becoming a strategically important base for al-Qaeda.”[75]

It would appear, then, that the “Underwear Bomber” incident arrived just in time for the United States to have an excuse to expand its war in the region. Without the propagandized attempted terrorist attack, the American public would not readily accept America’s entry into yet another war. Questions might be asked about the nature of the war, such as the US supporting the government of Yemen in its suppression and oppression of its own people and the autonomous movements developing within Yemen seeking change. Whereas with a terrorist attack (or attempted, rather), and the convenient link to al-Qaeda, which suddenly was reported to be heavily represented in Yemen, Americans see their involvement in Yemen as a war against al-Qaeda, and a necessary one at that.

Two days after the “Underwear Bomber” incident took place, the New York Times reported that, “in the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen.” In 2008, “the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country,” and simultaneously, “some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics.” Further:

The Pentagon is spending more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and using teams of Special Forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels.[76]

It was even reported that the US had been providing both intelligence and “fire power” to Yemen in its air strikes against “suspected al-Qaeda targets” throughout December, prior to the “Underwear Bomber.”[77] The New York Times did its part to propagandize the al-Qaeda issue by stating that, “al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has rapidly evolved into an expanding and ambitious regional terrorist network thanks in part to a weakened, impoverished and distracted Yemeni government.”[78] Naturally, the British were not far behind in supporting an imperialist campaign to crush indigenous movements for autonomy, directed against western-supported dictators. After all, the British have been doing this for centuries. Roughly one week following the attempted Detroit plane bomber story broke, it was reported that the UK sent counter-terrorist forces to Yemen, where they will train the Yemeni military “and will assist in planning operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” The British media referred to Yemen as “the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden,” and had revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that:

Even before the attack, Britain quietly sent a military unit, believed to be about 30-strong and include members of the SAS, to train and mentor Yemeni forces in surveillance and strike operations, intelligence gathering, hostage rescue and interrogation techniques. It is understood that the detachment is being assisted by members of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.[79]

There further seems to be an effort to not only use al-Qaeda to advance US interests in the region, but also to draw a link to Iran, so as to further demonize Iran and even draw it into a regional war.

Pushing for a Proxy War With Iran

Government officials in Yemen had been declaring that the greatest threat to Yemen’s security comes not from al-Qaeda, but Iran, as they blame Iran “for fermenting the Shia rebellion,” and the chairman of Yemen’s national security agency stated that, “there are indeed signs, proof of Iranian interference.” While these allegations are made without any proof, “Western diplomats claim it is probable that Iran is providing money or materiel to the group, as it has to Hizbollah in Lebanon.”[80]

In November of 2009, when Saudi Arabia had stepped up its military campaign in Yemen, the New York Times reported that, “the border skirmish could lead to the realization of Saudi Arabia’s worst fear: a proxy conflict with its archrival, Iran, on its doorstep.” Quoting a Yemeni professor as saying that the Iran link to the Houthis was “a myth,” the Saudi assault against the Shi’a group could provoke Iran to “turn myth into reality”:

A battle between the Arab world’s leading Sunni power and Shiite Iran, even at one remove, could significantly elevate sectarian tensions across the region. Iran gained tremendous leverage over the Israeli-Palestinian problem by supporting the militant groups Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Hamas, in Gaza. Helping the Houthis, another guerrilla group with great staying power, could give them a way to put pressure on Saudi Arabia.[81]

However, even as the New York Times acknowledged, the idea that the Houthis are more religiously aligned to Iran than the Arab Gulf nations is a misnomer, as the Houthi religion of Zaydism “is doctrinally closer to Sunnism than to mainstream Shiism.”[82] However, facts take a back seat to war propaganda.

On December 18, 2009, roughly one week before the “Underwear Bomber,” Time Magazine ran an article in which they reported on the claims of Yemen and Saudi Arabia that the Houthis “are receiving their funding, weapons and training from Iran in a bid to destabilize the region.” While acknowledging that there is no evidence of Iranian involvement, the Time article was entitled, “Yemen’s Hidden War: Is Iran Causing Trouble?” and the last sentence in the article wrote, “As for Iran — the only party that doesn’t seem to have any real involvement just yet — the time may soon be ripe to jump in.”[83] The Washington Post carried an article entitled, “Yemen denounces Iran’s ‘interference’,” yet only in the final paragraph of the article did they report, “Yemen has accused Iran of funneling arms and providing financial backing to the rebels, but the Yemeni government has not provided evidence to support the assertions. The rebels have insisted that they receive no support from Iran or any other foreign powers.”[84]

Saudi and Yemeni media and government propaganda presented a view that Iran was extensively involved in the internal conflict in Yemen. Yemen had seized an Iranian ship which it claimed was transporting weapons to Houthi rebels, while Saudi papers reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps was training the Houthi rebels. Another Saudi media outlet “reported that a dozen Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon were killed during battles in October,” and Saudi Arabia placed blame for the conflict on Iran, saying that “the insurgents are working for Tehran and [are] wanting to take their front to the Saudi border.”[85]

While there has been no actual evidence of Iranian involvement put forward, the situation could become a self-fulfilling prophecy of the Saudis and Yemenis, in the sense that the more they accuse Iran of involvement, the more they demonize and publicly lambaste Iran, the more likely it is that Iran will be drawn into the conflict. If they are already the target of a campaign aimed at blaming their alleged involvement for creating the crisis, what do they have to lose from entering the conflict? Thus, Yemen could “possibly become a battleground for a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” Regardless of whether or not the Iranians are or will be physically involved in the conflict, it has resulted in a war of rhetoric between both Saudi Arabia and Iran, further inflaming tensions between the two nations.[86]

In January of 2010, General David Petraeus, commander of US Forces in the Middle East, said that, “the domestic conflict in Yemen could become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” He explained that, “it is not a proxy war now, but has the potential to become one, and there may already have been some movement in that direction.”[87]

There was even a pathetic attempt on the part of the Washington Times to link Iran to al-Qaeda.[88] Obviously, the Washington Times seemed to be blithely unaware of the fact that Iran is a Shi’a dominated state, which is religiously and ideologically opposed to al-Qaeda, which practices a strict Wahhabist Sunni brand of Islam, as propagated and practiced by Saudi Arabia, a major regional antagonist of Iran’s. To claim that there would be a link between Iran and al-Qaeda is simply to proclaim one’s own ignorance. No wonder then, that Senator John McCain, while on the campaign trail for President in 2008, so often ‘proclaimed his ignorance’ by several times making the claim that Iran was supporting al-Qaeda.[89]

Could the United States be seeking to foment a wider war in the region? Could the civil war in Yemen be expanded into a proxy-war against Iran? Well, the United States (with the participation of several other NATO partners) fueled the proxy war in the last civil war, where the target was Nasserist Egypt. Could the US simply be employing the same strategy today as they were then, with simply a change of target? To understand this answer, we must look to the direct role played by the United States in the Yemeni civil war.

America Wages War on Yemen

Over a week prior to the “underwear bomber” fiasco, on December 16, 2009, the United States reportedly “perpetrated an appalling massacre against citizens in the north of Yemen as it launched air raids on various populated areas, markets, refugee camps and villages along with Saudi warplane,” according to the Houthi fighters. Over 120 people were reported to have been killed in the US bombing.[90] The Houthi rebels have even reported that U.S. fighter jets “have launched 28 attacks on the northwestern province of Sa’ada.”[91]

On December 21, 2009, days before the “underwear bomber” pretext, ABC news reported that the US had begun launching cruise missile attacks in Yemen under the authorization of President Obama, and the French media reported on one such strike having massacred “49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women.” While the air strikes were reportedly undertaken to target al-Qaeda in Yemen, they took place in the south near where some of the leaders of the secessionist movement were reportedly living. These raids had been increasingly taking place, and as the New York Times reported, “the United States provided firepower, intelligence and other support to the government of Yemen as it carried out raids.”[92]

Over 2009, the Pentagon supplied the Yemeni military with $70 million, effectively subsidizing their military (as they do with a plethora of nations worldwide, most notably Colombia, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia), in order for Yemen’s military to be more able to crush the secessionist uprising in the South, the rebels in the North, and that pesky al-Qaeda which rears its head in any nation America seeks to conduct military operations in. As Newsweek reported in late December of 2009:

Over the past year U.S. and Yemeni interests have increasingly begun to align as Al Qaeda’s presence in the country has grown. “We started seeing a lot of foreign fighters coming in—Saudis, Pakistanis,” says one Yemeni diplomatic source. Many of those have arrived (or returned) from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. As they have, the networks of militants have begun to launch quiet, pinpoint strikes on local Yemeni intelligence chiefs—six or seven in the past several months alone. The government’s retaliatory raids were launched partly in response to those strikes… Government raids are almost certainly the products of close cooperation with the U.S.—perhaps carried out by CIA-operated Predator drones launched from nearby Djibouti. A. A. Al-Eryani, a former Yemeni prime minister who advises the current president, says that there is “complete intelligence cooperation” with the U.S. on counterterrorism.[93]

In other words, as the US brought in key Pakistani and Saudi assets (who themselves make up both the financial and operational arms of al-Qaeda), al-Qaeda militants began to emerge and launch strikes against Yemen. Suddenly, then, a pretext for US military involvement in the nation is delivered in the guise of fighting the “War on Terror.” Just as during the Cold War, the threat of ‘Communism’ was used to rally support for suppressing and waging war against national liberation movements all across the world, so now these movements are suppressed and waged war against under the guise of “fighting terror.” An odd ‘irony’ of history, then, that in order to “fight terror,” the West simply spreads it.

On December 29th, 2009, the Australian reported that, “the Americans have quietly opened a third, largely covert front against the al-Qa’ida terror network in Yemen, to combat a new generation of militants keen on transforming the country into a launching pad for jihad against the US, its Arab allies and Israel.” Besides the blatant propagandizing in the opening sentence, the first part reveals the fact of a new ‘secret war’ that America is waging. The article explained that a year previous, “CIA sent many of its top field operatives with counter-terrorism experience to the country, while some of the most secretive US special operations commandos began training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics.”[94]

As US Senator Joe Lieberman proclaimed, “Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act pre-emptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.” Barbara Bodine, the former US Ambassador to Yemen, said that, “I think it would be a major mistake to turn this into a third front, if Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow front number one and number two.” She explained, “If we try to deal with this as an American security problem and dealt with by American military, we risk exacerbating the problem.” She astutely observed the nature of occupational forces when she warned, “If we go in and make this our war … it is suddenly going to become a war against us and we will lose it.”[95]

The United States took it upon itself to “press” the Yemeni government – a hard-line oppressive dictatorship – to “toughen its approach.”[96] In February of 2010, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates approved “more than doubling U.S. funding to train and equip Yemeni security forces to combat al Qaeda” at a figure of $150 million, up from $67 million the previous year. However, “the sum does not include covert U.S. assistance for Yemen, which has quietly increased in recent months.” U.S. CIA Director Leon Panetta, however, raised doubts as to whether Washington can count on Yemen in the long-term to fight al-Qaeda.[97] Covertly, the United States had increased ‘assistance’ to Yemen through U.S. Special Forces, the CIA and the National Security Agency, “sharing satellite and surveillance imagery, intercepted communications and other sensitive information to help Yemen pinpoint strikes against al Qaeda targets,”[98] or at least what are said to be al-Qaeda targets, but usually end up as civilian casualties.

In April of 2010, it was announced that the Pentagon had implemented plans to “boost U.S. military assistance to Yemen’s special operations forces to lead an offensive targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” AQAP, providing roughly $34 million in “tactical assistance” to Yemen’s special forces. A further $38 million will provide Yemen with military transport aircraft.[99]

As the United States has dramatically increased CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, killing thousands of innocent civilians,[100] in May of 2010, the United States announced that it had deployed drones to Yemen to target al-Qaeda.[101] In June of 2010, it was leaked that the U.S. “secret war” has expanded globally, as “Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60” at the beginning of 2009. As the Washington Post reported:

In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia… Plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group… Obama, one senior military official said, has allowed “things that the previous administration did not.”

Special Operations commanders have also become a far more regular presence at the White House than they were under George W. Bush’s administration, when most briefings on potential future operations were run through the Pentagon chain of command and were conducted by the defense secretary or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“We have a lot more access,” a second military official said. “They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.”

… Bush-era clashes between the Defense and State departments over Special Operations deployments have all but ceased. Former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld saw them as an independent force, approving in some countries Special Operations intelligence-gathering missions that were so secret that the U.S. ambassador was not told they were underway. But the close relationship between Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is said to have smoothed out the process… In every place, Special Operations forces activities are coordinated with the U.S. ambassador and are under the operational control of the four-star regional commander.[102]

The British are also involved in supporting the conflict in Yemen. In July of 2010, the head of Yemen’s Special Forces met with a British military delegation, in which “aspects of bilateral military cooperation between Yemen and the UK were discussed in addition to training, and ways to benefit from British military expertise to bolster the military and security capabilities of Yemen’s armed forces.”[103]

In May of 2010, an air strike took place, which was reported to have killed al-Qaeda militants, in “a secret mission by the U.S. military.” However, “the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk al-Qaida members into giving up their fight.”[104] As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, “that would be the equivalent of some foreign military force killing the lieutenant governor of an American state in an air strike.” Further, the “U.S. attacks have had no apparent impact on al-Qaida or on anyone else in Yemen, apart from its civilian population who have taken casualties in badly targeted attacks.” Commenting on the fact that US Special Forces operations in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Yemen, the reporter asks some important questions:

Why is Mr. Saleh our ally? Why are we killing innocent civilians in the back country of Yemen? Why are we stirring up the kind of trouble that can end up trashing Yemen the way we have trashed Iraq and Afghanistan? Does anyone believe for one minute that we are any safer for all that we are doing in those 12 countries — probably more — than we would be if we had normal, mutually respectful, mutually helpful relations with them?[105]

The questions are surprising to see being asked in the American media, as the rest of the corporate controlled media outlets simply report (without questioning) the government line, and explain that the U.S. has decided to expand the drone attacks in Yemen, which “would likely be modeled after the CIA’s covert drone campaign in Pakistan,” and that the Obama “administration will mount a more intense targeted killing program in Yemen,” without questioning who they are killing. As Glenn Greenwald of Salon Magazine pointed out:

There is anti-Americanism and radicalism in Yemen; therefore, to solve that problem, we’re going to bomb them more with flying killer robots, because nothing helps reduce anti-American sentiments like slaughtering civilians and dropping cluster bombs from the sky… And it’s therefore unsurprising that the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate [Obama] is rapidly becoming as disliked in the Muslim world as the prior U.S. President:  what looks to five Norwegians sitting in Oslo to be a Man of Peace looks much different in the region where his bombs are falling, his hit squads deploying, his war commitments expanding, and his sky robots multiplying.[106]

In September of 2010, it was reported that the Pentagon was considering expanding Yemen’s military ‘assistance’ to $1.2 billion over the next five years, but don’t worry, “the US is also providing significant development and humanitarian assistance” to Yemen.[107]

The ‘Cleansing’ of a Liberation Movement

In September 2010, while the Obama administration’s top counter-terrorism official, John Brennan, was in Yemen for talks with President Saleh, Yemeni security forces “laid siege” to a town in the South, Hawta, “where several dozen Qaeda militants were said to be holed up,” which led to thousands of civilians being forced to flee, while the military, as the New York Times reported, “was intermittently shelling the town with tanks and artillery and firing on the jihadists from attack helicopters.” As the article explained:

Hawta, in southern Yemen’s mountainous Shabwa Province, is at the heart of the remote area east and south of the capital where Al Qaeda’s regional arm has sought sanctuary. It is also just to the north of a major new liquid natural gas pipeline — a crucial resource in a country that is rapidly running out of oil and water — and Yemeni officials have voiced concern about the possibility that jihadists could rupture the line.[108]

In other words, the Yemeni government, under intense pressure and support from the United States, is laying siege to a town in the South – in the midst of a massive and growing secessionist movement – which represents the greatest threat to the stability of the staunch U.S.-ally, and which also happens to be home to natural gas reserves. But we are told that the siege is a fight against ‘al-Qaeda’. Meanwhile, civilians were being killed, and one fleeing family said that, “the troops did not spare any one from their fire over the past two days.”[109] The reality of what is going on in the village is “hard to know,” as NPR points out, “because the government is banning any independent observers from going in there.” As a reporter with NPR explained:

In fact, what the locals are saying is that this is a blood feud against the government. And that, in fact, these are local or armed tribesmen [i.e., Islamist forces such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – AQAP] that are sort of fighting with the government. And that this is more about fighting or subduing the secessionist movement than it is about al-Qaida… The government says about 2,000 people have fled. But actually, the Yemen Red Crescent and other aid groups that have had some contact with the people on the ground there put the numbers much higher. They say about 12,000. And that would be about three-quarters of the town emptying out and running away.

And this has created a real problem, because this is a very poor area. And so the other villages in the area cannot really accommodate or absorb these refugees. And so, you have a lot of people, now, living outdoors without any water, food or tents or any sort of medical, ’cause one can assume that there are probably injuries, if not deaths. So it’s become a real humanitarian crisis.[110]

Yemen’s government is not new to media censorship and obfuscation, as there have been “dozens of extralegal abductions, politicised trials, illegal confiscations, writing bans, and censorship over the years. What’s particularly alarming is a recent legislative push to erect an elaborate legal facade to obscure repressive tactics.” The government is also attempting to pass “a repressive bill designed to regulate television, radio and online media. If passed, these changes would significantly reduce an already narrow margin for free expression.” The government has even arrested, tortured and tried critical journalists as “supporting al-Qaeda” with absolutely no evidence.[111]

The “Friends” of Yemen: ‘Democratic Imperialism’ and NGOs as Modern Missionaries

In January of 2010, a group of nations and organizations met in London to form the “Friends of Yemen,” which includes the United States, U.K., 20 other countries, as well as the UN, EU, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, World Bank and IMF. The purpose of the group was to coordinate foreign aid to Yemen, so that it coincides with military, economic and civil assistance aid programs, including forcing Yemen to cooperate with the conditions set by the IMF in order to receive foreign aid. The overall aid would be used to combat what the ‘Friends’ refer to as “appalling indicators,” which include “a growing population, dwindling oil reserves, water shortages and political instability as the government battles Houthi insurgents in the north and secessionists in the south.”[112]

In September of 2010, the Friends of Yemen met in New York to organize a plan for Yemen’s foreign aid. As part of the package, Yemen has been forced to accept an IMF plan to increase taxes by 10% and to eliminate fuel subsidies.[113] At the meeting in New York, the UN reported that there are “168,000 Somali refugees in Yemen, as well as 304,000 Yemeni civilians who continue to be displaced by the seven-month conflict between government forces and Houthis rebels which ended with a shaky truce in February.”[114] The ‘Friends’ further encouraged “progress in the negotiations towards Yemen’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, which they hoped would be concluded by the end of 2010,” and while acknowledging that the proposed economic reforms would have an “adverse impact on the poor,” the Friends thus “committed to provide additional support for social protection,” as well as supporting the formation of national multi-party elections.[115]

At the ‘Friends’ meeting, the United States vowed to commit $67 million for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), “to work in partnership with communities to directly address local needs.  This includes health, education, and water projects; mobile health and veterinary clinics; and support for increasing the capacity of local governments to deliver essential services.” Further plans include funneling millions of dollars through NGOs aimed at providing social services and ‘poverty alleviation’ programs.[116]

While sounding very pleasant and helpful, we must place the concept of promoting ‘democratization’ and the spread of NGOs in their proper geopolitical context. The fact that NGOs, ‘democratization’, economic programs under the direction of the IMF, and military assistance from the West are taking place at the same time is very significant, and not as contradictory as it might seem.

In Africa, the IMF and World Bank’s “Structural Adjustment Programs” that deconstructed society to service illegitimate debts to Western banks had the effect of spreading poverty and effectively induced “social genocide.” The national leaders became very rich, creating a tiny elite which was subservient to Western imperial interests. Western nations would arm the nation and use it as a proxy force in the region when necessary or help it in the oppression of its own people, in order to ensure the stability of their interests. The people of these various nations would protest, demonstrate, riot and rebel, so much so that between 1976 and 1992, there were 146 protests against IMF ‘austerity measures’ in 39 countries around the world.[117] Governments, in response, would generally resort to violence to suppress these demonstrations, with “strikes declared illegal, universities were closed, and trade unions, student organizations, popular organizations and political parties also became the target of repressive legislation or actions.”[118] This essentially created a “crisis of legitimacy,” where the economic ‘reforms’ were seen as destructive, where the political process was seen as corrupt, where the state oppressed and foreigners profited, while the people suffered. It didn’t help the situation that it was often authoritarian governments introducing these economic reforms.[119]

In 1989, the World Bank concluded that the reason for the failure of ‘structural adjustment’ across Africa was not due to the destructive poverty-inducing nature of the reforms, but was do to the corrupt governments implementing them. Thus, it was a “crisis of governance.”[120] The solution, in this sense, was to promote ‘democratization’, as in, a neoliberal concept of democracy. Africa had been experiencing a growth of democratic movements around the continent during the time of Structural Adjustment, which led the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) and Western nations to conclude that democratization and economic liberalization go hand-in-hand. In short, Structural Adjustment is ‘inherently’ democratic. The failure of this analysis was quite obvious: the pro-democracy movements that had arisen across Africa “reflect, to a significant extent, a popular reaction against the socially painful effects of structural adjustment.”[121]

The ‘democratization’ movement is largely an effort to maintain ‘stability’ in the hegemony of the IMF/World Bank and Western interests over Africa and other regions, as instead of rotating from one coup to another, there is a parliamentary democracy where you go from one party to another (who all accept the dominance of the West and the ‘advice’ of the IFIs), which produces a more ‘stable’ environment for Western interests, as it also has the effect of pacifying popular opposition under the guise of promoting democratic accountability. However, these are not true democracies (nor are those in the West), where you simply vote between competing factions of elites who are collectively co-opted by the same international financial elites. They impose the institutions of democracy (legislatures, political parties, judiciaries) “without combining political democracy and social reform.” Thus, these democracies are essentially stillborn (dead before they even exited), as “formal democracy without social reform increases economic inequality and thereby intensifies unequal distribution of power in society.”[122] As Noam Chomsky has argued, “the guardians of world order have sought to establish democracy in one sense of the term, while blocking it in a different sense.” He argued that “power holders use democracy as justification for their power and as an ideological instrument for keeping the public quiescent and out of decision-making processes.”[123]

Alison Ayers analyzes ‘democratization’ as a multi-faceted approach in Africa, entailing: multiparty elections, constitutionalism, the rule of law, a “particular conception of human rights,” ‘good governance’, and an “independent civil society.”[124] Multiparty elections comprise an occasional election in which people choose between competing factions of elites, while constitutionalism implies establishing a “set of rules securing property rights, governing civil and commercial behaviour, and limiting the power of the state.”[125] In promoting ‘multiparty systems’, “the dominant agents of the democratization project have established a veritable ‘elections industry’ comprising voter and civic education campaigns, party-building activities, and electoral assistance and monitoring.”[126] The “engineering of civil society” has taken on an explicitly neo-liberal form, in which it focuses on the “liberation of civil society” from the state, and of which NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have come to play a decisive role. Western aid agencies heavily finance international and local NGOs (thus often negating the notion that they are non-governmental), with the World Bank exponentially increasing its support of NGOs (often through governments).[127]

In fact, NGOs have come to play a pivotal role in the modern imperial project, as they have been co-opted into a program of “welfare provision, a social initiative that could be more accurately described as a programme of social control.”[128] The NGOs were used to respond to the social upheaval brought about by the age of ‘Structural Adjustment’, to provide a degree of social services that were formerly provided by the state. Thus, as the spread of Structural Adjustment increased throughout Africa, so too did the spread of Western NGOs. Western nations heavily support these supposed non-governmental organizations, with the U.S. transferring nearly 40 percent of its aid through NGOs.[129] They have become an essential aspect of the ‘development’ agenda in Africa, itself based upon a colonial mindset. Whereas in the formal colonial period at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Africans were considered “uncivilized,” and so colonialism in Africa was not about oppression and economic exploitation, but was rather a ‘civilizing mission.’ Today, Africa is not ‘uncivilized’ but rather, ‘undeveloped’, and so, just as the missionaries of the formal colonial period played a role in ‘civilizing’ Africa – in the vision of the West (akin to how God created man in ‘his own image’) – the NGOs of the new imperial era have come to Africa in a ‘developing mission’. The ‘development’ paradigm had the effect of sterilizing popular opposition, as it framed the problem in Africa not as one of ‘emancipation’ (from colonial and oppressive powers), but as a problem of ‘poverty’ and ‘basic needs’.[130] The role of NGOs in ‘development’:

Represents a continuity of the work of their precursors, the missionaries and voluntary organizations that cooperate in Europe’s colonization and control of Africa. Today their work contributes marginally to the relief of poverty, but significantly to undermining the struggle of African people to emancipate themselves from economic, social and political oppression.[131]

There are further concerns to take into account in regards to ‘democratization’ and ‘aid’ through NGOs, not simply in the establishment of a system of lobotomizing resistance – preventing emancipation – and promoting the legitimization of the status quo powers (by treating the symptoms of poverty and oppression rather than the causes), but NGOs and ‘democratization’ often play a very covert role in imperialism, particularly through USAID (United States Agency for International Development) as well as a host of so-called Non-Governmental Organizations (which happen to be funded by the government), such as the National Endowment for Democracy. These organizations are effectively able to organize opposition to a national ruler, create a parallel media system, provide activist training and funding to covertly orchestrate a “soft power” coup, in which it is seen as a “democratic revolution” or a “peaceful revolution,” often following contested elections. This is done to create the illusion that these are popular people’s movements elevating leaders of “change”, but which simply are leaders that are subservient to Western imperial interests. Often, the CIA itself operates through such agencies covertly.

In South Vietnam for example, USAID provided cover for the CIA so extensively, “that the two became almost synonymous.”[132] In the 1980s, during the largest CIA covert operation in history, funding the Afghan Mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union, the CIA and USAID worked very closely, coordinating their efforts, as “the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.” The textbooks, made in America at the University of Nebraska with tens of millions of dollars of financing from USAID, taught children “to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines,” and while USAID dropped funding for the program in 1994, the books continued in circulation, even after the Taliban came to power in 1996, and “private humanitarian groups paid for continued re-printings during the Taliban years. Today, the books remain widely available in schools and shops.”[133] The entire program was coordinated with the CIA.[134]

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is another particularly covert imperial force, a NGO that gets all it’s funding from the US government, and about which U.S. Congressman Ron Paul explained eloquently:

The misnamed National Endowment for Democracy is nothing more than a costly program that takes US taxpayer funds to promote favored politicians and political parties abroad. What the NED does in foreign countries … would be rightly illegal in the United States. The NED injects ‘soft money’ into the domestic elections of foreign countries in favor of one party or the other.

Imagine what a couple of hundred thousand dollars will do to assist a politician or political party in a relatively poor country abroad. It is particularly Orwellian to call US manipulation of foreign elections ‘promoting democracy.’ How would Americans feel if the Chinese arrived with millions of dollars to support certain candidates deemed friendly to China? Would this be viewed as a democratic development?[135]

The NED and a host of other NGOs (backed by government funding), as well as private foundations, have implemented a “soft power” approach to implementing “democratic regime change” in countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, often aimed at replacing former Western puppet leaders with new puppet leaders to better promote imperial interests in the nations where they take place. This has occurred in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and many other countries.[136] An effort was undertaken to impose a similar “democratic regime change” with the CIA funneling $400 million for implementing this “soft power” strategy in Iran, resulting in the Iranian elections protests in the summer of 2009. While the strategy failed in its aims of “regime change” it mounted an incredibly successful international propaganda campaign, so much so that the world was lashing out against Iran for what the West claimed were fraudulent elections (but turned out to be free and fair elections), and at the same time, the Western media failed to cover a successful military coup in Honduras, in which the democratically elected President was kidnapped and sent to a foreign country, while the subsequent dictatorship brutally repressed people’s protests and demonstrations, with the new regime all the while being supported by the United States.[137]

From this we can see that the “Friends of Yemen” promoting democratization and “good governance” in Yemen serves Western imperial ambitions. In the very least, it is designed to stifle and ultimately lobotomize organic, indigenous liberation, self-determination, and autonomy movements, while the same Western nations militarily arm and support the oppressive government in its repression of these people. It seems that for the time being, America has chosen to support the current Yemeni dictatorship, propping it up to crush its own people and their struggles for liberation. Simultaneously, America and the West are preparing themselves for a long-term strategy of “democratization,” in which they may have to replace Saleh and the current regime with a new client regime to secure American interests and hegemony in the region.

In this context we may view the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a program of the U.S. State Department aimed at supporting “reforms” in the Middle East and North Africa, in which they support international and local NGOs, educational institutions, local governments and private businesses to implement projects designed to directly engage and invest in the people of the region. MEPI has completed roughly 28 programs in Yemen alone, with roughly seven grants ongoing, aimed at organizing journalists, ‘human rights’ activists, improving the Parliamentary process, improving political participation, promoting women’s ‘empowerment’, and “raising democratic awareness.”[138]

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is also active in Yemen, funding and running programs aimed at promoting “civic and human rights awareness,” facilitating “the free flow of independent news information to Yemenis on issues related to social, political, and economic growth of the country and to build the capacity of journalists to effectively monitor and report on human rights issues,” as well as identifying “the political needs and concerns of women, and to push political parties to adopt women’s issues in their party platforms.” One program of the NED includes nearly $200,000 of funding for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). According to their website, CIPE “strengthens democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform. CIPE is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy,” and is also an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[139] The $184,000 grant to CIPE from the NED is to “facilitate access to information and analysis about economic reform,” which will include producing “thirty 20-30 minute radio programs on economic reform in Yemen and sponsor economic reform pages in two independent newspapers,” in order to “empower Yemenis to participate in the democratic and economic reform process.”[140] However, considering the group promotes “private enterprise” and is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the “information and analysis” about economic reform is more likely to be misinformation and propaganda. In total, the NED is operating roughly 13 programs in Yemen at the moment.[141]

USAID’s programs in Yemen aim at taking the “missionary position” in addressing some of the symptoms of conflict, deprivation, disenfranchisement, and oppression, without allowing the people to seek emancipation and liberation. These programs includes a “new three-year Responsive Governance Project [which] aims to strengthen government institutions, support reforms including decentralization, and improve the delivery of public services while encouraging more citizen participation in the political process,” as well as “the Community Livelihoods Project that is focusing on improving agriculture and increasing employment opportunities in highly vulnerable communities, especially for youth.” Other programs aim at promoting education, health care, and ‘peace and security.’[142]

So, while the U.S. government uses the IMF to wreck the economy of Yemen, spreading poverty and dismantling health care, social services and education; the U.S. simultaneously funds and arms the Yemeni dictatorship to repress the people rising up against their economic, social and political conditions; yet, again simultaneously, the United States – through USAID and various other “democratization” programs – aims to alleviate some of the social repercussions to maintain stability of their interests. Imperialism has an economic facet (the IMF), a political facet (military-intelligence support), and a social facet (NGOs and ‘democratization’).

Thus we also see the significance in that while the CIA expands its operations in Yemen (in support of the dictatorship), the current CIA Director holds doubts about “whether Washington can count on Yemen in the long-term to fight al Qaeda, citing internal unrest that threatens to destabilize the government and break up the country, along with growing anti-American sentiment.”[143] This is made all the more interesting to take into account that the CIA Director announced that the CIA will be expanding its use of under-cover assets through a variety of unofficial organizations – such as corporations or other organizations.[144]

War, Empire, and “Perception Management”: Propaganda Creates ‘Cultural Schizophrenia’

So who exactly is the US supporting in Yemen? Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in power since 1978, first ruling North Yemen, and subsequently ruling all of Yemen. Saleh has managed to remain the ruler of a ‘united’ Yemen by “clamping down on the press, concentrating military and economic power in the hands of friends and family and winning elections by suspiciously high margins.” Time Magazine reported that Saleh described ruling Yemen as “dancing on the heads of snakes.” Saleh, however, can hardly act as if he rules a ‘united’ Yemen, when “two-thirds of the country is in the hands of either separatist groups or local tribes.” Further:

Yemen’s most volatile regions are among those hardest hit by drought and government neglect — are at the heart of most of those conflicts, especially the war between the government and Shi’ite rebels, known as Houthis, that is being waged in the northern province of Sa’ada.[145]

The significance of this piece of information, located in the Time article, which was otherwise propagandistic of the “fight against al-Qaeda,” is that it acknowledges that the key to Yemen’s issues today is the legitimacy of the central government’s rule over the people of Yemen. The essential issue is that this is about people’s rights to govern themselves, to not be oppressed, not be murdered, nor economically devoured by international capital and national industrial interests. Our nations and our media call these people “terrorists”; our intelligence agencies sponsor ‘terrorists’ in these nations, who kill these people, and then we use that as an excuse to send in the military to kill more of these people. We support an illegitimate government, an oppressive and brutal dictator who vowed to crack down with an “iron fist” in August of 2009. His subsequent “iron fist” created “a humanitarian tragedy,” where by September over 25,000 people had become refugees,[146] by October 2009, over 55,000 people fled their homes due to the conflict.[147] These are the people the West is helping the Yemeni dictator kill. And not only him, but Saudi Arabia is helping, as are Pakistan and Jordan, three other nations subservient to American interests, and whose militaries are ‘American made’. Saudi Arabia especially, as it seeks to prevent the spread of the Shi’a resistance, which to the illegitimate state of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, combined with several other resistant and oppressed groups, could create the political, economic and social conditions for revolution. No wonder then, that the United States is planning to undertake the largest arms deal in American history with Saudi Arabia, valued at $60 billion, which “is aimed at establishing air superiority over rival Iran while also addressing weaknesses bared in border fighting with Yemeni rebels.”[148]

A state seeks only its own survival and growth in power; that is the nature of all states. This is why nation-states are naturally inclined to forgo competition for power with the economic sphere, and simply merge interests and elite social structures. It is in their interest for both survival and growth in power.

Our oppressive and illegitimate nation-states seek to aid in the oppression of other peoples in other places, and increasingly so at home. However, it is through the media that this massive collective wave of ignorance and ‘cultural schizophrenia’ takes place. This is why most in the west see the world, blissfully unaware of its realities. The media leads the people through that old wardrobe into the land of Narnia: the media’s ‘perception management’ of the world is nothing but a ‘fantasy’. A good example of this ‘fantasy world’ is located in a Time Magazine article. It wrote:

On Dec. 17 and 24, joint Yemeni-U.S. strikes against purported AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] training camps took place and killed more than 60 militants, U.S. intelligence officials claimed.[149]

The attack, in reality, killed 52 people, more than half of them being women and children, in which a US missile armed with cluster ammunition was used, with both the Yemeni and American governments claiming the target was an al-Qaeda training camp. The cruise missile was designed to be fired from a warship or submarine, and was filled with “cluster munitions which spray steel fragments for 150 meters along with burning zirconium for igniting buildings.” However, “the Yemeni government does not possess cruise missiles, which are part of the arsenal of US Navy vessels patrolling off the Horn of Africa and in the Arabian Sea.”[150] The missiles were “launched on direct presidential orders.”[151]

Our governments kill these people and call them “militants” and “terrorists,” our media repeat the accusation with no dissent. War is like no other situation that can lead to the growth of the state. War is the ultimate organizing principle in society, for with war powers, a nation can build, destroy, grow, oppress, control, expand, consume, corrupt and continue. As this power grows, so too does the power of all the other various major spheres of influence over humanity, such as the media and the academics. We can add to that the scientific and technological elite, who help to create the conditions, understanding, technology, and means of expanding power and controlling the masses so that today we have unmanned aerial vehicles called “Predator Drones” flying over Yemen killing innocent civilians, while the drones are operated from American military bases in Florida. America has been doing the exact same thing in Pakistan at a much more significant rate and for a much longer period of time (and most rapidly accelerated under the Obama administration of ‘change’).

This ‘invisible empire’ is managed through ‘perception management’ – propaganda – which infects all spheres of social power structures, but which is arguably most prominent and powerful in the media. This creates among western citizens, and most particularly among Americans, a type of ‘cultural schizophrenia’ in which the ‘mind of the nation’ (how the majority of people view their nation and their world) is so contrary to the reality of that nation and the world around it, that it creates a nation or a people ‘of two minds’, holding both the fantasy world of those who encompass it, and the hard-bitten reality of global power structures and systems.

This ‘cultural schizophrenia’ is most emblematic in the United States, where the majority of those within it view it as a force for good in the world, spreading freedom, democracy and ‘free markets’ around the world; while the reality is so different, that the majority of the rest of the world view the United States as a force for spreading fear, war, economic exploitation and power. This is the view, especially, of those to whom the United States has attempted to spread “freedom and democracy.”

This has slightly changed in the context of the “war on terror”, which has allowed for flowery rhetoric about democratic rights and liberty to subside beside the urgency of “fighting terror.” Around the world, people were rejecting the “liberal democratic” project in replacing the dictatorships of the 70s – 90s with [neo]liberal democratic governments, which were democratic only so much as they created political powers and held usually corrupt elections in which various power factions would compete for the authority to plunder the nation in cooperation with international corporations, financial institutions and western governments. Democracy in the ‘Third World’ had essentially proven itself a farce, and people’s movements were increasing. The “war on terror” has subsequently fiercely mobilized the American military (and its NATO cohorts), vastly increased its scope, operations, abilities and entanglements; and created the political conditions for the nation to rapidly accelerate the use of its military apparatus around the world, something which the American people would not support without what is perceived to be a good reason. After all, they will largely be the ones forced to fight and partake in these wars.

And so we come back to Yemen. As Martin Luther King said in 1967, “We are on the wrong side of a world revolution.”

Notes

[1]        Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City:
http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

[2]        Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”, Global Research, 5 September 2010:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20907
; Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network, Global Research, 8 September 2010:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20944; 9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign, Global Research, 10 September 2010:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20975

[3]        James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, eds., Rethinking Arab Nationalism in the Arab Middle East. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), page 30

[4]        Ibid.

[5]        Ibid, page 31.

[6]        William L Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Westview Press, 2004), page 231

[7]        Ibid, pages 231-232

[8]        Zachary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), page 116

[9]        James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, Op Cit, page 31

[10]      William L. Cleveland, op cit, pages 310-311

[11]      Ibid, page 311.

[12]      Ibid, page 312.

[13]      James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, op cit, page 31.

[14]      William L. Cleveland, op cit, page 315

[15]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Owl Books, 2005), pages 140-141

[16]      Ibid, page 142.

[17]      James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, op cit, page 32.

[18]      William L Cleveland, op cit, page 455.

[19]      Ibid, pages 455-456.

[20]      James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, op cit, page 40.

[21]      Ibid, page 39.

[22]      Ibid, page 32.

[23]      Ibid, page 38.

[24]      Ibid, page 39.

[25]      Ibid, page 32.

[26]      Profile: Yemen’s Houthi fighters, Al Jazeera, August 12, 2009:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/08/200981294214604934.html

[27]      Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report: Yemen, January 2009:
http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/ACRText/ACR-Yemen.htm#Status

[28]      Deadly blast strikes Yemen mosque, BBC, May 2, 2008:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7379929.stm

[29]      Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report: Yemen, January 2009:
http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/ACRText/ACR-Yemen.htm#Status

[30]      Mohammed Jamjoom, Yemen lays out truce terms to rebel fighters, CNN, August 13, 2009:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/08/13/yemen.truce/index.html

[31]      Yemen targets northern fighters, Al-Jazeera, August 12, 2009:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/08/200981262048170260.html

[32]      Yemen denies warplane shot down, Al-Jazeera, October 2, 2009:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/10/2009102103834822778.html

[33]      Yemen rebels ‘seize Saudi area’, BBC, November 4, 2009:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8341875.stm

[34]      Saudis still bombing us, Yemen rebels say, MSNBC, November 7, 2009:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33755909/

[35]      Mohammed Al-Amrani, Moroccan, Jordanian Soldiers Fight along Saudi Troops, Yemen Gazette, December 5, 2009:
http://www.yemengazette.com/topnews/politics/524-moroccan-jordanian-soldiers-fight-along-saudi-troops.html

[36]      ESA, Earth from Space: The Gulf of Aden – the gateway to Persian oil. European Space Agency: April 13, 2006:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMWOXNFGLE_index_0.html

[37]      Anthony Lake and Christine Todd Whitman, More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa. The Council on Foreign Relations, 2005: page 32

[38]      Ibid.

[39]      Ibid, page 33.

[40]      Ibid, page 48.

[41]      Ibid, page 81.

[42]      David Leigh and David Pallister, Revealed: the new scramble for Africa. The Guardian: June 1, 2005:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jun/01/g8.development

[43]      Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung, U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia. The Washington Post: May 17, 2006:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/16/AR2006051601625.html

[44]      David Axe, U.S. Losing ‘Secret’ War in Somalia. Wired, December 30, 2008:
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/12/us-losing-sec-1/

[45]      Scott Johnson, The Next Battlefront. Newsweek: September 17, 2007:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/40797

[46]      Ibid.

[47]      Ibid.

[48]      Johann Hari, You are being lied to about pirates. The Independent, January 5, 2009:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates-1225817.html

[49]      Kelly McEvers, In Anti-Piracy Fight, Yemen May Be Part Of Problem. NPR, May 8, 2009:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103904390

[50]      ROBERT F. WORTH, Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief. The New York Times: January 22, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/world/middleeast/23yemen.html

[51]      ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER, Some in Qaeda Leave Pakistan for Somalia and Yemen. The New York Times, June 11, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/world/12terror.html

[52]      Mai Yamani, Yemen, haven for jihadis. The Guardian, May 25, 2009:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/25/yemen-jihadi-guantanamo-saudi-arabia

[53]      Saudi, al-Qaeda support Yemen crackdown on Shias, Press TV, August 29, 2009:
http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/104778.html

[54]      Yemeni gov,deal with al-Qaeda to crush Shia fighters, Shebastan News Agency, October 28, 2009:
http://www.shabestan.net/en/pages/?cid=2720

[55]      Josh Meyer, Saudis faulted for funding terror. The Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2008:
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/02/nation/na-terror2

[56]      ERIC LICHTBLAU, Documents Back Saudi Link to Extremists. The New York Times: June 23, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/world/middleeast/24saudi.html

[57]      Daniel Schwartz, Al-Qaeda is almost the least of Yemen’s problems, CBC News, 29 January 2010:
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/01/28/f-indepth-yemen.html

[58]      Andrew England, Gunmen attack Yemen security office, The Financial Times, 14 July 2010:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e66c91a8-8f1b-11df-a4de-00144feab49a.html

[59]      Stephen Day, The Political Challenge of Yemen’s Southern Movement, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2010: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=40411

[60]      ‘The Southern Movement has nothing to do with al Qaeda’, France24, 3 August 2010:
http://www.france24.com/en/20100308-southern-movemen-al-qaeda-yemen-southern-mobility-movement-secession

[61]      Human Rights Watch alert over Yemen ‘climate of fear’, BBC News, 15 December 2009:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8413271.stm

[62]      Robert F. Worth, In Yemen’s South, Protests Could Cause More Instability, The New York Times, 27 February 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/world/middleeast/28yemen.html

[63]      Eileen Sullivan, US officials knew name of terror suspect who tried to blow up airliner in Detroit. AP, December 26, 2009:
http://www.news889.com/news/world/article/11645–ap-source-us-officials-knew-name-of-terror-suspect-who-tried-to-blow-up-airliner-in-detroit

[64]      David Leppard and Dan McDougall, MI5 knew of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s UK extremist links. The Times, 3 January 2010: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6973954.ece

[65]      Father of Terror Suspect Reportedly Warned U.S. About Son. Fox News, December 26, 2009:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2009/12/26/father-terror-suspect-reportedly-warned-son-1857952999/

[66]      Current TV, Terror suspect kept visa to avoid tipping off larger investigation. The Detroit News, February 3, 2010:
http://current.com/news/92056789_terror-suspect-kept-visa-to-avoid-tipping-off-larger-investigation-detnews-com-the-detroit-news.htm

[67]      Karen DeYoung and Michael Leahy, Uninvestigated terrorism warning about Detroit suspect called not unusual. The Washington Post, December 28, 2009: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/27/AR2009122700279.html; ERIC LIPTON and SCOTT SHANE, Questions on Why Suspect Wasn’t Stopped. The New York Times, December 27, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/us/28terror.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

[68]      Paul Egan, Atty. Says He Saw Man Try to Help Nigerian on Flight Without a Passport. The Detroit News, December 29, 2009:
http://www.ticklethewire.com/2009/12/29/atty-says-he-saw-man-try-to-help-nigerian-on-flight-without-a-passport/

[69]      MICHAEL R. GORDON and JAMES DAO, U.S. Broadens Terror Fight, Readying Troops for Yemen. The New York Times, March 2, 2002: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/02/world/nation-challenged-military-us-broadens-terror-fight-readying-troops-for-yemen.html

[70]      Duncan Campbell and Brian Whitaker, US elite force gets ready for Yemen raid. The Guardian, 19 September 2002: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/19/duncancampbell.brianwhitaker

[71]      Dana Priest, U.S. Citizen Among Those Killed In Yemen Predator Missile Strike. The Washington Post, November 8, 2002:
http://tech.mit.edu/V122/N54/long4-54.54w.html

[72]      Richard Spencer, US risks being sucked into Yemen civil war. The Telegraph, 10 September 2009:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6162617/US-risks-being-sucked-into-Yemen-civil-war.html

[73]      Richard Spencer, US risks being sucked into Yemen civil war. The Telegraph, 10 September 2009:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6162617/US-risks-being-sucked-into-Yemen-civil-war.html

[74]      Gunnery Sgt. Christian Harding, Yemen military observes Marine training. United States Central Command, 3 November 2009:
http://www.centcom.mil/news/yemen-military-observes-marine-training

[75]      Damien McElroy, US special forces train Yemen army as Arab state becomes al-Qaeda ‘reserve base’. The Telegraph, 13 December 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6803120/US-special-forces-train-Yemen-army-as-Arab-state-becomes-al-Qaeda-reserve-base.html

[76]      ERIC SCHMITT and ROBERT F. WORTH, U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion. The New York Times, 27 December 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/world/middleeast/28yemen.html?_r=1

[77]      Ibid.

[78]      Steven Erlanger, Yemen’s Chaos Aids the Evolution of a Qaeda Cell. The New York Times, 2 January 2010:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/world/middleeast/03yemen.html?pagewanted=1

[79]      Sean Rayment, et. al., Detroit terror attack: Britain sends counter-terrorist forces to Yemen. The Telegraph, 3 January 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6924502/Detroit-terror-attack-Britain-sends-counter-terrorist-forces-to-Yemen.html

[80]      Damien McElroy, US special forces train Yemen army as Arab state becomes al-Qaeda ‘reserve base’. The Telegraph, 13 December 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6803120/US-special-forces-train-Yemen-army-as-Arab-state-becomes-al-Qaeda-reserve-base.html

[81]      Robert F. Worth, Saudis’ Efforts to Swat Rebels From Yemen Risk Inflaming Larger Conflict. The New York Times, 12 November 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/world/middleeast/13saudi.html

[82]      Ibid.

[83]      Abigail Hauslohner, Yemen’s Hidden War: Is Iran Causing Trouble? Time Magazine, 18 December 2009:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1947623,00.html

[84]      Sudarsan Raghavan, Yemen denounces Iran’s ‘interference’. The Washington Post, 12 November 2009:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111126674.html

[85]      Olivier Guitta, Iran and Saudi Arabia drawn to Yemen. Asia Times Online, 11 November 2009:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KK11Ak01.html

[86]      Meris Lutz, YEMEN: Raging insurgency exacerbates tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Los Angeles Times Blog, 13 November 2009: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/11/yemen-internal-fighting-threatens-to-descend-into-regional-conflict.html

[87]      Al Pessin, US General Says Yemen Could Become Iran-Saudi Proxy War. VoA, 22 January 2010:
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/US-General-Says-Yemen-Could-Become-Iran-Saudi-Proxy-War-82427857.html

[88]      EDITORIAL: Iran’s al Qaeda connection in Yemen, The Washington Times, 6 January 2010:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/06/irans-al-qaeda-connection-in-yemen/

[89]      Sam Stein, McCain Repeats Iran-Al Qaeda Gaffe Yet Again. Huffington Post, 19 March 2008:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/19/mccain-repeats-iranal-qae_n_92349.html

[90]      Robert Taylor, US bombs Yemen, kills 120, just another day in the life of an empire. The Examiner, 16 December 2009:
http://www.examiner.com/sunset-district-libertarian-in-san-francisco/us-bombs-yemen-kills-120-just-another-day-the-life-of-an-empire

[91]      ‘US fighter jets attack Yemeni fighters’, Press TV, 14 December 2009:
http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/113687.html

[92]      Paul Woodward, US-backed raid killed 49 Yemeni civilians, officials said. The National, 21 December 2009:
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091221/GLOBALBRIEFING/912219995/1009/FOREIGN?template=globalbriefing

[93]      Kevin Peraino, Friends for Now. Newsweek, 29 December 2009:
http://www.newsweek.com/2009/12/28/friends-for-now.html

[94]      Agencies, US fighting covert war against terror in Yemen. The Australian, 29 December 2009:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/us-fighting-covert-war-against-terror-in-yemen/story-e6frg6so-1225814224061

[95]      Michelle Shephard, Yemen: Terror threat? U.S. ally? Nearly failed state? Toronto Star, 2 January 2010:
http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/744948–yemen-terror-threat-u-s-ally-nearly-failed-state

[96]      Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, U.S. increases efforts to boost security in Yemen amid increasing terror threat, The Washington post, 20 January 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/19/AR2010011904604.html

[97]      Adam Entous, Gates backs big boost in U.S. military aid to Yemen, 22 February 2010:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61L4L120100222

[98]      Adam Entous, U.S. gives Yemen key intelligence to strike al Qaeda, Reuters, 27 January 2010:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60Q5KA20100127

[99]      Adam Entous, Pentagon to boost Yemen’s special operations forces, Reuters, 20 April 2010:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63J32A20100420

[100]    Salman Siddiqui, Drone attacks hit all-time high, The Express Tribune, 27 September 2010:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/54883/drone-attacks-hit-all-time-high/

[101]    Con Coughlin and Philip Sherwell, American drones deployed to target Yemeni terrorist, The Telegraph, 2 May 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/7663661/American-drones-deployed-to-target-Yemeni-terrorist.html

[102]    Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, U.S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role, The Washington Post, 4 June 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/03/AR2010060304965.html

[103]    Mohammed Al-Amrani, Special Forces Commander Meets UK Military Delegation, Yemen Gazette, 10 July 2010:
http://www.yemengazette.com/lastweek/morenewsx1/677-special-forces-commander-meets-uk-military-delegation.html

[104]    SCOTT SHANE, MARK MAZZETTI AND ROBERT F. WORTH, Veil lifts on covert action in Yemen, The New York Times, 14 August 2010: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2012625717_covertwar15.html

[105]    Dan Simpson, The U.S. spreads the misery to Yemen, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 August 2010:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10230/1080682-374.stm

[106]    Glenn Greenwald, An exciting new Muslim country to drone attack, Salon, 25 August 2010:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/25/yemen

[107]    AFP, US looks at bolstering funding for Yemeni military, The Jordan Times, 3 September 2010:
http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=29747

[108]    Robert F. Worth, Yemen Military Attacks Town It Says Is Militant Hide-Out, The New York Times, 21 September 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/world/middleeast/22yemen.html

[109]    Yemen civilians killed in ‘al-Qaeda hunt’, Press TV, 21 September 2010:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/143318.html

[110]    Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Steve Inskeep, Civilians Flee From Battle In Southern Yemen, NPR, 24 September 2010:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130093677

[111]    Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Yemen’s veneer of legality, The Guardian, 29 September 2010:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/29/yemen-press-repression-veneer-legality

[112]    Mark Landler, As Nations Meet, Clinton Urges Yemen to Prove Itself Worthy of Aid, The New York Times, 27 January 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/world/asia/28diplo.html

[113]    Brian Whitaker, Can Yemen’s friends really help? The Guardian, 20 September 2010:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/20/friends-of-yemen

[114]    James Reinl, Friends of Yemen discuss extremist threat, The National, 26 September 2010:
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100926/FOREIGN/100929723/1011

[115]    Ministerial Meeting of Friends of Yemen, Joint statement from the Ministerial Meeting of the Friends of Yemen, British Commonwealth Office, 24 September 2010: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=PressS&id=22916622

[116]    Aaron W. Jost, A Comprehensive Approach to Yemen, The White House Blog, 24 September 2010:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/09/24/a-comprehensive-approach-yemen

[117]    Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, “The Missionary Position: NGOs and Development in Africa,” International Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 3, (2002), p. 578

[118]    Ibid.

[119]    Ernest Harsch, “Structural Adjustment and Africa’s Democracy Movements,” Africa Today, Vol. 40, No. 4, (1993), p. 14

[120]    Ibid, page 10.

[121]    Ibid, page 12.

[122]    Barry Gills and Joel Rocamora, “Low Intensity Democracy,” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3, (1992), p. 502

[123]    Ibid, page 503.

[124]    Alison J. Ayers, “Demystifying Democratisation: The Global Constitution of (Neo)liberal Polities in Africa,” Third World Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2, (2006), p. 323

[125]    Ibid, page 325.

[126]    Ibid, page 326.

[127]    Ibid, page 329-331.

[128]    Firoze Manji and Carl O’Coill, op cit, page 579.

[129]    Ibid, page 580.

[130]    Ibid, pages 574-575.

[131]    Ibid, page 568.

[132]    Jeff Stein, CIA chief promises spies ‘new cover’ for secret ops, Washington Post Blog – SpyTalk, 26 April 2010:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/04/cia_chief_promises_spies_new_a.html

[133]    Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad, The Washington Post, 23 March 2002:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A5339-2002Mar22?language=printer

[134]    Carol Off, Back to school in Afghanistan, CBC, 6 May 2002:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/afghanistan/schools.html

[135]    Harley Sorensen, NED’s feel-good name belies its corrupt intent, The San Francisco Chronicle, 17 November 2003:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2003/11/17/hsorensen.DTL

[136]    Andrew Gavin Marshall, Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III, Global Research, 3 November 2009:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15767

[137]    Andrew Gavin Marshall, A New World War for a New World Order, Global Research, 17 December 2009:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16535

[138]    MEPI, Ongoing MEPI Local Grants – Yemen, Middle East Partnership Initiative, Accessed October 2010:
http://www.abudhabi.mepi.state.gov/abstracts/yemen.html

[139]    CIPE, Who We Are, Center for International Private Enterprise:
http://www.cipe.org/

[140]    NED, Country Profile – Yemen, The National Endowment for Democracy, Accessed October 2010:
http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/middle-east-and-northern-africa/yemen

[141]    Ibid.

[142]    USAID, Yemen, United States Agency for International Development:
http://www.usaid.gov/locations/middle_east/countries/yemen/

[143]    Adam Entous, Gates backs big boost in U.S. military aid to Yemen, Reuters, 22 February 2010:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61L4L120100222

[144]    Jeff Stein, CIA chief promises spies ‘new cover’ for secret ops, Washington Post Blog – SpyTalk, 26 April 2010:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/04/cia_chief_promises_spies_new_a.html

[145]    Andrew Lee Butters, Yemen: The Most Fragile Ally. Time Magazine, 7 January 2010:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1952142,00.html

[146]    Richard Spencer, US risks being sucked into Yemen civil war. The Telegraph, 10 September 2009:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/6162617/US-risks-being-sucked-into-Yemen-civil-war.html

[147]    Yemen denies warplane shot down, Al-Jazeera, October 2, 2009:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/10/2009102103834822778.html

[148]    Paul Handley, Huge Saudi arms deal aimed at Iran, Yemen troubles: analysts, AFP, 12 September 2010: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jxlLTtu2Ccx7EsT_qH_tPhukgKCA

[149]    Andrew Lee Butters, Yemen: The Most Fragile Ally. Time Magazine, 7 January 2010:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1952142,00.html

[150]    Kim Sengupta, US cruise missile parts found in Yemeni village where 52 died, The Independent, 7 June 2010:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-cruise-missile-parts-found-in-yemeni-village-where-52-died-1993253.html

[151]    Gilbert Mercier, Yemen: US Strikes Used Cluster Bombs And Killed 41 Civilians. NewsJunkiePost, 7 June 2010:
http://newsjunkiepost.com/2010/06/07/yemen-us-strikes-used-cluster-bombs-and-killed-41-civilians/

9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign

9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign
The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda, Part III

Global Research, September 10, 2010

This is Part III of the three-part series, “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda“

Part 1: The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”

Part 2: Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network



Anticipating An Attack

For several years prior to the events of 9/11, top American strategists had been acknowledging the necessity of what they oft-termed a “new Pearl Harbor”, a momentous attack upon America itself, in order to mobilize the American populace for a new global war of domination.

As Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, “America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space [of Central Asia] and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”[1] Brzezinski acknowledged in his book that, “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being.”[2] He also wrote that, “The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”[3]

In 1999, Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments testified before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. He stated that the US faces an “unprecedented challenge”:

[T]he need to transform our armed forces into a very different kind of military from that which exists today, while sustaining the military’s ability to play a very active role in supporting U.S. near-term efforts to preserve global stability within a national security strategy of engagement and enlargement.[4]

After advocating a massive re-imagining of the role and nature of US military might, pushing the notion of a “revolution in military affairs” and an acceleration of imperial ambitions, he told the Senate Committee:

There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the U.S. military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation. [. . . ] While there is growing support in Congress for transformation, the “critical mass” [i.e., public support] needed to effect it has not yet been achieved. One may conclude that, in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States—a latter-day “Pearl Harbor” of sorts—surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process.[5]

In 1999, Graham Fuller, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence, advocated using Muslim forces to further US interests in Central Asia. He stated that, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against [the Russians]. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”[6]

In June of 2000, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Pentagon released Joint Vision 2020, outlining the American military strategy that the Department of Defense “will follow in the future.” The emphasis in the report was put on the notion of “Full Spectrum Dominance,” which means “the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations”:

Joint Vision 2020 addresses full-spectrum dominance across the range of conflicts from nuclear war to major theater wars to smaller-scale contingencies. It also addresses amorphous situations like peacekeeping and noncombat humanitarian relief.[7]

The neoconservative think tank the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) released a report in September of 2000 called Rebuilding America’s Defenses in which they advocated for a massive expansion of America’s empire and “full spectrum dominance” as well as the necessity to undertake a “Revolution in military affairs,” and undertake multiple simultaneous wars in different regions of the world. Several members of the think tank and authors of the report would go on to enter key policy positions within the Bush administration several months later (including, but not limited to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Zalmay Khalilzad). While acknowledging the massive undertaking this “project” would be, the report stated:

Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”[8]

In January of 2001, the Rumsfeld Commission, which was set up to analyze the US National Security Space Management and Organization, chaired by incoming US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (who had also been a signatory to and member of the Project for the New American Century at the same time). It advocated an expansion of military capabilities in Space and a total reorganization of the armed forces and intelligence agencies of the United States. The report stated that:

History is replete with instances in which warning signs were ignored and change resisted until an external, “improbable” event forced resistant bureaucracies to take action. The question is whether the US will be wise enough to act responsibly and soon enough to reduce US space vulnerability. Or whether, as in the past, a disabling attack against the country and its people – a “Space Pearl Harbor” – will be the only event able to galvanize the nation and cause the US Government to act.[9]

As early as 1998, the President was warned in his CIA daily briefing that, “bin Laden and his allies are preparing for an attack in the US, including an aircraft hijacking.” NORAD, the “North American Aerospace Defense command also conducted an exercise to counter a terrorist attack involving smashing an airplane into a building.” In August 1999, “the Federal Aviation Administration’s intelligence branch warned of a possible “suicide hijacking operation” by Osama Bin Laden.”[10]

In October of 2000, the Pentagon undertook an emergency response exercise in which “there was a mock terrorist incident at the Pentagon Metro stop and a construction accident,” and it further envisioned a “downed passenger aircraft” in the Pentagon courtyard.[11]

For years, NORAD had been conducting military exercises and drills in which it envisioned planes being hijacked and flown into buildings in the United States.[12] One of the intended targets in the NORAD drills was the World Trade Center:

In another exercise, jets performed a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon — but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic.[13]

As the Guardian revealed in April of 2004:

Five months before the September 11 attacks, US military planners suggested a war game to practise a response to a terrorist attack using a commercial airliner flown into the Pentagon, but senior officers rejected the scenario as “too unrealistic”.[14]

In May of 2001, an exercise involving U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Joint Forces Command took place in which the military establishment “forecasted” the first war of the 21st century so closely that, “Nostradamus couldn’t have nailed the first battle of the next war any closer than we did,” as articulated by a former top official with the exercise, Dave Ozolek. The exercise, Unified Vision 2001:

[G]rew out of the realization that the threat was changing. Ozolek said the scenario was a major regional threat emanating from the Middle East. The scenario called for global deployment into a landlocked country with hostile terrain and a lack of basing and agreements with neighboring countries for U.S. access.

[. . . ] The threat we portrayed was an unstable and hostile state, but the primary enemy was not the state itself but a transnational actor based out of that area, globally connected, capable and willing to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. as part of that campaign.

[. . . ] “Many of the participants in Unified Vision, 100 days later, were war planners,” Ozolek said. They took their experiences in Unified Vision back to their commands and put them to use as the commands created plans for operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle, he said. They had an idea of the tactics, techniques and procedures needed to operate against such an enemy, he noted.

Ozolek said Unified Vision refutes the pundits who make a living out of critiquing the Department of Defense. “The first thing they like to talk about is that we always dwell on the last battle of the last war,” he said. “What we’re showing them is that this time we got it right: We really were looking at the first battle of the next war, and we nailed it pretty darned close.”[15]

After 9/11, in May of 2002, Condoleezza Rice stated that, “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that … they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.”[16] So Condi is a fool or a liar, because that statement is nothing if not entirely and utterly false. The national security apparatus had fully anticipated, and even war gamed and drilled this very scenario. It was expected, planned for, and no less with war plans waiting in the wings.

The 9/11 Commission

Of critical importance in understanding the events of 9/11 is taking note of the funding for the operation. The 9/11 Commission itself stated:

To date the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance.[17]

However, one should take issue with this claim. The fact is that any comprehensive investigation, criminal or otherwise, should pay special attention to the role of financing; follow the money. This is not the only failure of the 9/11 Commission, as has been amply documented.

From its inception, the 9/11 Commission was plagued with problems. The Bush administration had resisted attempts to form a commission to investigate the attacks of 9/11 for over a year, even pressuring Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle not to launch an inquiry.[18] In May of 2002, President Bush voiced his opposition to the formation of a 9/11 commission.[19]

In September of 2002, Bush reversed his previous decision and backed the proposal to form an “independent” commission to investigate the attacks.[20] Within a month of this statement, the White House began undermining the process, as “an almost completed Congressional deal was suddenly undone in October after a Republican lawmaker involved in the final negotiations received a call from Vice President Dick Cheney,” which led to a stalling of the process.[21]

In mid-November, Congress approved the creation of a bi-partisan 9/11 Commission to investigate the attacks, with 10 Congressmen, 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans, with the Chairman appointed by the Bush administration and the Vice Chair appointed by the Democrats.[22]

The Bush administration chose as the Chairman none other than Henry Kissinger, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State for Nixon and Ford, “a consummate Washington insider,” not to mention war criminal. Even the New York Times had to admit:

Unfortunately, his affinity for power and the commercial interests he has cultivated since leaving government may make him less than the staunchly independent figure that is needed for this critical post. Indeed, it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed.[23]

Two week later, “Facing questions about potential conflicts of interest, Henry Kissinger resigned” as Chairman of the 9/11 Commission.[24] He was replaced with former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean. As of November 2003, one Commissioner, Max Cleland, claimed that the “investigation is now compromised” by the White House.[25]

Shortly after the release of the final 9/11 Commission Report in 2004, Harper’s Magazine called it “a cheat and a fraud,” declaring the report a “whitewash.”[26]

In 2006, the two co-Chairs of the Commission published a book in which they claimed that the Commission was lied to by both the FAA and the Department of Defense, specifically NORAD.[27] Several commissioners are on the record as saying they felt that the Pentagon purposely lied to them in order to mislead them.[28] Further, much of the information the commission received and used in its report “was the product of harsh interrogations of al-Qaida operatives – interrogations that many critics have labeled torture.”[29]

As it turned out, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, was a man of dubious priorities and connections. He was the ultimate author of the final report and controlled the research staff of the commission. Zelikow, “a former colleague of then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, was appointed executive director of the 9/11 Commission despite his close ties to the Bush White House, and he remained in regular contact with [Karl] Rove while overseeing the commission.” Zelikow “secretly spoke with President Bush’s close adviser Karl Rove and others within the White House while the ostensibly autonomous commission was completing its report.” Zelikow had even previously co-authored a book with Condoleezza Rice. Following the publication of the report, Zelikow then went to work as an adviser to Condoleezza Rice in the White House.[30]

The Bin Ladens

There are many fascinating and important revelations regarding the intricate relationship between the CIA, the ISI, and al-Qaeda in the lead-up to the events of 9/11 that deserve to be subjected to more scrutiny.

First, let’s take a look at Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden, whose relationship with the CIA in the past had been well documented, reportedly acted as a rogue following the 1991 US Gulf War against Iraq and American stationing of troops and military bases in Saudi Arabia. However, there are reports that would indicate that the relationship between bin Laden and the US intelligence apparatus remained, at least to some degree, for many years.

We must remember the nature of al-Qaeda, as an organization, or network, of intelligence assets funded, armed, trained and dispersed around the world by a complex network of intelligence agencies from the United States, France, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

A French court undertook a probe into the financial network of Osama bin Laden, who was widely assumed to simply be independently wealthy, and financed al-Qaeda operations through his own funds. However, it was revealed that Osama maintained a joint bank account with his half-brother Yeslam bin Laden in Switzerland between 1990 and 1997. Of particular interest to investigators was “a 241 million euro transfer made to Pakistan in 2000 from an account belonging to a company called Cambridge, a SBG [Saudi Bin Laden Group] subsidiary, that was opened at Deutsche Bank in Geneva,” with the funds “transferred into an account belonging jointly to Osama bin Laden and someone of Pakistani nationality.”[31]

Der Spiegel, a major German newspaper, was granted access to thousands of pages of intelligence documents relating to bin Laden and al-Qaeda. In the report on the documents, the authors revealed that when bin Laden needed financing, “The Saudi elite — and his own family — came to his assistance.” The list of financiers:

is a veritable who’s who of the Middle Eastern monarchy, including the signatures of two former cabinet ministers, six bankers and twelve prominent businessmen. The list also mentions “the bin Laden brothers.” … Did “the bin Laden brothers,” who first pledged money to Al-Qaida and then, in 1994, issued a joint press statement declaring that they were ejecting Osama from the family as a “black sheep,” truly break ties with their blood relatives — or were they simply pulling the wool over the eyes of the world?[32]

Osama bin Laden’s sister-in-law even stated:

I absolutely do not believe that the bin Ladens disowned Osama. In this family, a brother is always a brother, no matter what he has done. I am convinced that the complex and tightly woven network between the bin Laden clan and the Saudi royal family is still in operation.[33]

Following the death of Osama’s father, Salem bin Laden, Osama’s brother, became head of the company, Saudi Binladen Group (SBG). As Der Spiegel reported:

Salem bin Laden established the company’s ties to the American political elite when, according to French intelligence sources, he helped the Reagan administration circumvent the US Senate and funnel $34 million to the right-wing Contra rebels operating in Nicaragua. He also developed close ties with the Bush family in Texas.[34]

While Osama was fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviets, he would often be personally visited by Saudi Prince Turki, the head of Saudi intelligence, and was funded by both the Saudi Binladen Group (SBG) and the Saudi royal family. In 1990, when King Fahd of Saudi Arabia allowed the Americans to establish military bases in Saudi Arabia, the SBG got the contract to build the bases.[35]

Though the Bin Laden family claimed Osama was a “black sheep” and that they cut off ties with him in the early 1990s, the evidence remains strong that not only did Osama maintain ties with his family, but he maintained his ties with Saudi intelligence. While Osama was in Sudan in the early 1990s, Saudi intelligence would so frequently send his family over to meet with him, and kept in such close contact with him, that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, believed Osama was a Saudi spy. In 1994, under intense public pressure, both Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden family publicly revoked their ties with Osama.[36]

Yet, even after this, when Osama returned to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s to work with the Taliban, Prince Turki of Saudi intelligence would still maintain contact and even visit Osama, even bringing “gifts” such as dozens of trucks:

According to a former member of the Taliban intelligence service, Prince Turki and OBL [Osama bin Laden] made a deal: The Saudis would support al-Qaida financially, but only under the condition that there would be no attacks on Saudi soil.[37]

On January 9, 2001, Osama attended his sons wedding in Afghanistan, accompanied by his mother and two brothers, hardly the actions of a “black sheep”. Further, two of Osama’s sisters traveled to Abu Dhabi in February of 2001 to “deliver large sums of cash” to an al-Qaeda agent. In the United States, the Bin Laden family had diplomatic passports, so following the 9/11 attacks, they could not be questioned, but instead were flown out of the country. The Bin Ladens were also in business with the Bush family through the investment company, the Carlyle Group.[38] No one ever seemed to question why the bin Laden family had diplomatic passports, a strange occurrence, it would seem, for a Saudi ‘business’ family who weren’t engaged in any official or formal ‘diplomacy’.

In March of 2000, it was reported that Osama bin Laden was sick and suffering from kidney and liver disease.[39] A western intelligence source told the Hong-Kong based magazine, Asiaweek, that bin Laden was dying of kidney failure.[40]

In July of 2001, Osama bin Laden spent 10 days at the American hospital in Dubai for treatment. He traveled from Pakistan to Dubai on July 4, 2001, to be treated in the urology department. While he was in the hospital, Osama was visited by several members of his family, Saudi officials, and the CIA. One visitor was Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal, the head of Saudi intelligence, and the CIA station chief in Dubai, who was soon after recalled back to Washington.[41]

On September 10, 2001, the night before the attacks of 9/11, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan “getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.” Pakistani intelligence reported that bin Laden was quickly taken to a military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. As one medical worker said, “they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them.” Pakistani President Musharraf openly stated in public that Osama suffers from kidney disease and is near death.[42]

The Pakistani ISI and 9/11

Throughout the entire time of overt and covert assistance by Pakistan’s ISI to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the CIA had maintained its close ties with the ISI that they had developed during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, in which they used the ISI as a conduit; as was set up through the Safari Club in the 1970s, which was the organization of western intelligence agencies which used Middle Eastern and Asian intelligence agencies as conduits for their covert activities. Thus, the CIA maintained its extensive contact with the ISI, and so would be well aware of its activities.[43]

A top Indian intelligence official even stated that, “America’s Defence Intelligence Agency was aware that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was sponsoring the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but the Bush Administration chose to ignore its findings.”[44] Is it inconceivable that since the CIA maintained its extensive contacts with the ISI, and the ISI maintained and expanded its contacts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that the CIA was not in fact sponsoring both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda through the ISI as well? We know that the CIA was supporting the Taliban through the same network of the ISI that was supporting al-Qaeda operatives,[45] thus it would take a stretch of the imagination to think that the CIA would be unaware of its subsequent support for al-Qaeda. Whether direct or indirect, the CIA was supporting al-Qaeda.

Shortly after 9/11, Indian intelligence became aware of the fact that General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had wired $100,000 from Saeed Sheikh, a convicted terrorist who had associations with the ISI, to Mohamed Atta, the purported ringleader and one of the 9/11 hijackers. Thus, the ISI in effect, financed the 9/11 attacks. However, there are several more ambiguous facets to this story. It just so happens that General Mahmoud Ahmad went to Washington, D.C. on September 4th, 2001 for a weeklong visit. On September 10, the day before 9/11, a Pakistani newspaper ran a story on Ahmad’s visit:

ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood’s week-long presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council. Officially, State Department sources say he is on a routine visit in return to CIA Director George Tenet’s earlier visit to Islamabad. Official sources confirm that he met Tenet this week. He also held long parleys with unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon. But the most important meeting was with Mark Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

… What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time Ziauddin Butt, Mahmood’s predecessor, was here during Nawaz Sharif’s government the domestic politics turned topsy-turvy within days. That this is not the first visit by Mahmood in the last three months shows the urgency of the ongoing parleys.[46]

General Ahmad, while in Washington, met with CIA Director George Tenet and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. On the morning of 9/11, General Ahmad was in a meeting with the Chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham and Representative Porter Goss, a former 10-year veteran of CIA clandestine operations. Porter Goss was later put in charge of a joint House-Senate investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks, and later became the CIA director.[47]

General Mahmoud, having wired $100,000 to Mohamad Atta, the purported lead 9/11 hijacker, implicates the ISI in the attacks of 9/11, at least from a financial standing. The FBI even confirmed the transaction took place.[48] The ISI’s extensive ties to American intelligence and the fact that Ahmad was in D.C. talking to high level legislators, State Department, Pentagon and intelligence officials begs the question of what the precise nature of these secret meetings were.

Michael Meacher, a former British MP and member of Tony Blair’s cabinet, wrote in the Guardian that:

Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to “retire” by President Pervez Musharraf.[49]

Meacher further discussed the case of Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator-turned-whistleblower who tried to expose evidence of what she saw as collusion between intelligence agencies and the terrorists behind 9/11. She was subsequently gagged by the U.S. Department of Justice:

She is a 33-year-old Turkish-American former FBI translator of intelligence, fluent in Farsi, the language spoken mainly in Iran and Afghanistan, who had top-secret security clearance. She tried to blow the whistle on the cover-up of intelligence that names some of the culprits who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, but is now under two gagging orders that forbid her from testifying in court or mentioning the names of the people or the countries involved. She has been quoted as saying: “My translations of the 9/11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date-specific information … if they were to do real investigations, we would see several significant high-level criminal prosecutions in this country [the US] … and believe me, they will do everything to cover this up”.[50]

In August of 2009, Sibel Edmonds revealed that, “the US was on ‘intimate’ terms with the Taliban and al-Qaeda using the militants to further certain goals in central Asia,” and stated, “With those groups, we had operations in Central Asia.” She explained that Washington used those groups “as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict.”[51] In other words, the US was arming, funding and using al-Qaeda for its own objectives, just as it always had.

On September 11, 2009, 8 years to the day of the events of 9/11, a major British newspaper, the Daily Mail, ran a story critical of the official story regarding Osama bin Laden. In it, the author posed the question:

What if he has been dead for years, and the British and U.S. intelligence services are actually playing a game of double bluff? What if everything we have seen or heard of him on video and audio tapes since the early days after 9/11 is a fake – and that he is being kept ‘alive’ by the Western allies to stir up support for the war on terror?[52]

The article quoted former U.S. foreign intelligence officer and senior editor Angelo M. Codevilla, a professor of international relations at Boston University as saying, “All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama Bin Laden”:

Prof Codevilla asserted: ‘The video and audio tapes alleged to be Osama’s never convince the impartial observer,’ he asserted. ‘The guy just does not look like Osama. Some videos show him with a Semitic, aquiline nose, while others show him with a shorter, broader one. Next to that, differences between the colours and styles of his beard are small stuff.'[53]

Interesting to note is that following the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, in at least four separate statements to Middle Eastern press and media, stated that he did not take part in the 9/11 attacks, while the video in which he supposedly claimed responsibility for the attacks has him wearing gold rings, which is forbidden by his Wahhabist religion, as well as writing with his right hand, whereas the FBI website says that he is left handed, and his face is blurred and difficult to make out. On September 28, 2001, Osama bin Laden said, “’I have already said I am not involved. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge… nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act.”[54]

Osama bin Laden was even reported to have died of kidney failure on December 13, 2001, in the mountains of Tora Bora on the Afghan-Pakistan border. On that same day, the U.S. government released the fateful videotape in which Osama claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, the bin Laden in the video was very different from the known images of the real bin Laden, and even had a different shaped nose, his beard was darker, his skin paler, and his fingers were no longer long and thin, as well as the fact that he looked to be in good health.[55]

As the Los Angeles Times reported in November of 2009, the extensive and close relationship between the CIA and the ISI has not diminished since 9/11, but had in fact, accelerated: “the CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan’s intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency’s annual budget.” Further, “the payments to Pakistan are authorized under a covert program initially approved by then-President Bush and continued under President Obama.” Further, “the CIA has routinely brought ISI operatives to a secret training facility in North Carolina,” and as the article pointed out, “the CIA also directs millions of dollars to other foreign spy services. But the magnitude of the payments to the ISI reflect Pakistan’s central role.” As the report in the Los Angeles Times explained, the CIA financial support to the ISI began during the Afghan-Soviet conflict, and has not stopped since then, and since 9/11, it has actually accelerated.[56]

The Nexus Personified: The Case of Ali Mohamed

Perhaps the perfect example of the complex relationship and nexus between intelligence agencies and al-Qaeda is the case of a man named Ali Mohamed. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2001, “A former U.S. Army sergeant who trained Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards and helped plan the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya was a U.S. government informant during much of his terrorist career.” Ali Mohamed, an Egyptian-born US citizen had approached the CIA in the mid-1980s to inform for them. He also spent years as an FBI informant, all the while being a top-level al-Qaeda operative, even training Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards, as well as training terrorists in camps in Afghanistan and Sudan, and planned the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya.[57]

State Department officials proclaimed this was merely a sign of the problems associated with recruiting informants, that Mohamed was a double agent working for al-Qaeda, and they should have “known better.” However, the ignorance plea can only go so far, and considering Mohamed’s extensive ties to not one, but several US agencies, there is no doubt he was a double agent, but perhaps it is more likely he was working as an al-Qaeda operative for the US government. After all, it is one thing to say the Ali Mohamed was lucky in his evading being caught, but he was continuously lucky, over and over again. One wonders when ‘luck’ is organized.

In 1971, Ali Mohamed joined the Egyptian Army, rising to the rank of major. Well educated in Egypt, he was fluent in English. In 1981, he joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, “a group of radical Muslim fundamentalists opposed to the Egyptian government’s ties to the United States and Israel that included members of the Egyptian military.” The very same year, in 1981, Mohamed traveled to the United States for the first time, “graduating from a special program for foreign officers at the U.S. Army Special Forces school at Fort Bragg, N.C.” In 1984, Mohamed left the Egyptian military.[58]

In 1984, Ali Mohamed approached the CIA office in Egypt offering to be a spy. Officially, the CIA then cut off contact with him shortly thereafter, as he made contact with terrorist organizations and informed them he was working with the CIA, supposedly proposing to spy on US intelligence agencies. So the CIA had the State Department add him to a “watch list” so that he could not enter the United States. However, the next year, Ali Mohamed obtained a visa from the American Embassy and went to the United States. He then joined the American Army and “served with one of its most elite units.”[59]

From 1986 until 1989, Ali Mohamed served at the Army’s Special Forces base in Fort Bragg, N.C., until he was honourably discharged in 1989. While on active duty, he went to New York where he trained local Muslims in military tactics to go fight in the Afghan-Soviet war. One of his students was “El Sayyid A. Nosair, the Egyptian immigrant convicted of killing Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League, in 1990,” which was the first recorded al-Qaeda operation on U.S. soil.[60]

In the early 1990s, Ali Mohamed began working for the FBI. Mohamed then forged ties with Osama bin Laden as early as 1991, and assisted in a variety of ways, such as helping bin Laden and ‘al-Qaeda’ obtain fake documents, assisted with logistical tasks, and even helped Osama relocate from Afghanistan to the Sudan in 1991. Many terrorists that Mohamed trained were subsequently involved in the 1993 plot to blow up the World Trade Center. In 1992, Mohamed returned to Afghanistan to continue training militants. That same year, he was detained by officials in Rome, yet was released shortly thereafter.[61]

In 1992, Ali Mohamed created an al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Kenya, and in 1993, bin Laden asked Mohamed to scout for potential terrorist targets in Nairobi, Kenya. He took photos of and scouted the French Embassy, the US AID office and the American Embassy. Bin Laden subsequently chose the American Embassy as the target.[62]

In 1993, he was detained by the RCMP in Vancouver, Canada, “while traveling in the company of a suspected associate of Mr. bin Laden’s who was trying to enter the United States using false documents.”[63] However, after the RCMP were told to contact his FBI handlers, Mohamed was released.[64] He subsequently masterminded the American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.[65]

However, there are implications that may suggest that Ali Mohamed’s ties to the CIA did not end or evaporate in the 1980s. Following 9/11, several revelations were reported in the media about a covert program of allowing high-level terrorists to enter the United States under a secret CIA program which had the State Department issue visas to terrorists in order to enter the United States.

The CIA Brings Terrorists to America

Michael Springman, former State Department official and head of the US Visa Bureau in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from 1987 to 1989, went public with his experiences. He stated that, “In Saudi Arabia I was repeatedly ordered by high level State Dept officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants,” and that he would complain to an assortment of different departments and agencies, however, his complaints were met with silence. He elaborated, “What I was protesting was, in reality, an effort to bring recruits, rounded up by Osama Bin Laden, to the US for terrorist training by the CIA. They would then be returned to Afghanistan to fight against the then-Soviets.” Further:

The attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 did not shake the State Department’s faith in the Saudis, nor did the attack on American barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia three years later, in which 19 Americans died. FBI agents began to feel their investigation was being obstructed. Would you be surprised to find out that FBI agents are a bit frustrated that they can’t be looking into some Saudi connections?[66]

As Springman further revealed in an interview with the CBC, Sheikh Abdel Rahman, the terrorist widely considered to have played a key role in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, was issued a visa from a CIA case officer in Sudan, “And that 15 or so of the people who came from Saudi Arabia to participate in the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon [on 9/11] had gotten their visas through the American consular general at Jeddah.” The interviewer asked if this suggests that this “pipeline” of visa applications issued by the CIA to terrorists was never wrapped up, and Springman replied:

Exactly. I had thought it had been, because I had raised sufficient hell that I thought they had done it. I had complained to the embassy in Riyadh, I had complained to the diplomatic security in Washington, I had complained to the General Accounting Office, I had complained to the State Department Inspector General’s office, and I had complained to the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department. Apparently the reverberations from this where heard all over the State Department.[67]

Eventually, the State Department fired Springman without a sufficient reason. As he explained, the same program in which he was ordered to allow terrorists to enter the United States in the late 1980s had continued and 15 of the 19 suspected 9/11 hijackers were issued visas through this network. It further turned out that Ali Mohamed was “admitted to the United States under a special visa program controlled by the C.I.A.’s clandestine service,” and he had claimed to be working for the CIA.[68]

In the mid-1990s, Ali Mohamed helped al-Qaeda’s current number two, presumably after Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to come to California and raise money for al-Qaeda operations. In 2000, Ali Mohamed was called in for questioning and was subsequently arrested in relation to involvement with the 1998 embassy bombings and is being kept in an undisclosed location.[69]

Thus, we have a perfect example of the “terror nexus” in Ali Mohamed: simultaneously having connections with the CIA, the FBI, the Army, and al-Qaeda. His high-level status within al-Qaeda could not have taken place without the knowledge and support of his handlers. Mohamed was a double agent, that much is for sure, but for whom was he really working? Considering he has disappeared into the abyss of “National Security”, the answers might never be fully known. However, this does provide more evidence as to the covert relationship that the United States maintained with al-Qaeda.

Able Danger: Tracking the 9/11 Terrorists

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a military intelligence officer, revealed his in-depth knowledge of having worked with the Pentagon’s ultra-secret “Able Danger” program. Able Danger “was begun in 1999 at the request of General Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and under the direct supervision of General Pete Schoomaker, then the commander of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).” The CIA, however, had refused to cooperate with the Able Danger program, which was designed to track down terrorists, and developed a specific focus on al-Qaeda. Raytheon, a private military contracting corporation, was involved in this data-mining military intelligence program. Once Schaffer went public with information about the program, the “then deputy director of operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency essentially pulled the plug on his involvement with Able Danger.”[70]

In September of 2000, more than a year before 9/11, Able Danger, “a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States,” and in the summer of 2000, Able Danger recommended that the information be shared with the FBI to go in and remove the terrorist cell. However, the information was not shared and the recommendation was rejected, apparently because “Mr. Atta, and the others were in the United States on valid entry visas.” Further:

A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including Philip Zelikow [a friend of Condi Rice who later joined the Bush administration], the executive director, were told about the program on an overseas trip in October 2003 that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[71]

A Pentagon spokesman said that the 9/11 Commission looked into the issue during the Commission hearings; however, they “chose not to include it in the final report.”[72] Other intelligence officers and sources came forward to reveal and validate the claims made about “Able Danger,” including J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who confirmed that Able Danger had identified Atta. Further, Navy Captain Scott Philpott has also gone on record along with Schaffer, claiming that they were “discouraged from looking further into Atta” and their attempts to share information with the FBI were thwarted.[73] Congress then began an investigation into the “Able Danger” program. According to Congressional testimony:

Pentagon lawyers during the Clinton administration ordered the destruction of intelligence reports that identified September 11 leader Mohamed Atta months before the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.[74]

Further, in 2004, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), “destroyed files on the Army’s computer data-mining program known as Able Danger to avoid disclosing the information”:

Retired Army Maj. Erik Kleinsmith, former director of the Army Land Information Warfare Center, told the panel he was directed by Pentagon lawyers to delete 2 terabytes of computer data — the equivalent of one-quarter of the information in the Library of Congress — on Able Danger in May or June 2000 because of legal concerns about information on U.S. citizens.[75]

In September of 2005, as the Senate investigation into Able Danger was underway, several Senators from both parties accused the Defense Department “of obstructing an investigation into whether a highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger did indeed identify Mohamed Atta and other future hijackers as potential threats well before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” This occurred after the Pentagon “blocked several witnesses from testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a public hearing.”[76]

The Pentagon even acknowledged that, “it had blocked several military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified intelligence program.” A Pentagon spokesman said open testimony “would not be appropriate.”[77]

The 9/11 Commission, despite testimony from Col. Schaffer and other individuals about the Able Danger program, had dismissed Able Danger as “not historically significant,” and justified leaving it out of the final report, which stated that, “American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the attacks.” Louis Freeh, a former FBI Director, wrote in an article in the Wall Street Journal, that this assertion by the 9/11 Commission is “embarrassingly wrong,” especially since Commission members had acknowledged in 2005 (a year after the release of the 9/11 Commission Report), that they had met with Able Danger officials who did mention they were tracking Atta prior to 9/11.[78]

Further, more information was revealed regarding the relationship many supposed hijackers had with the US intelligence community, as it was revealed by Newsweek in 2002 that two hijackers were identified by the CIA in January of 2000 when they attended an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. However, the two men then went to San Diego where they attended flight school, where they “moved into the home of a Muslim man who had befriended them at the local Islamic Center. The landlord regularly prayed with them and even helped one open a bank account.” However, their landlord also happened to be an “undercover asset” for the FBI, yet nothing was done.[79]

Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, it was reported by Newsweek that the military gave information to the FBI which alleged that 5 of the 9/11 hijackers had “received training at secure U.S. military installations in the 1990s.” Further, “three of the alleged hijackers listed their address on drivers licenses and car registrations as the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.” Newsweek continued:

But there are slight discrepancies between the military training records and the official FBI list of suspected hijackers-either in the spellings of their names or with their birthdates. One military source said it is possible that the hijackers may have stolen the identities of the foreign nationals who studied at the U.S. installations.[80]

Could the use of false identities or dual identities be the reason why, in late September of 2001, it was reported that four of the alleged 9/11 hijackers had turned out to be alive and well, and living in the Middle East? The FBI released the list of the 19 purported 9/11 hijackers, and some of the names and photographs on the list show people who were still alive, a remarkable feat for someone accused of crashing a plane in a suicide mission. Even the FBI director in late September of 2001 agreed that the identity of many of the hijackers was still in doubt.[81] Yet, these were not questions addressed by the 9/11 Commission.

It must be looked at and addressed much more closely and critically; the role between the U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies to what is known as “al-Qaeda.” Given our historical understanding of al-Qaeda as a “database” of intelligence assets, which were recruited to fight the Afghan-Soviet war, and our more recent understanding of the relationships between various intelligence agencies historically and presently to these groups and individuals, does it not seem plausible that the operation of al-Qaeda as a covert branch of U.S. policy has continued? Certainly, more research needs to be undertaken, but what is clear is that any and all official investigations thus far have been nothing but concocted lies: that is, willful and intended deception, designed to hide the truth, not reveal it.

It is also within this context, of understanding the deep nexus of intelligence and terrorism in international relations and imperial stratagems (that is, strategic deception), that we must view the rise, role, evolution and purpose of the “Global War on Terror,” now in its 9th year, spending trillions to send poor Americans to kill poor Muslims in nations across the Middle East, Africa, and Central and South Asia.


Notes

[1]        Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. (Basic Books: 1997), page 148

[2]        Ibid, page 36.

[3]        Ibid, page 25.

[4]        Andrew Krepinevich, Emerging Threats, Revolutionary Capabilities And Military Transformation. Testimony of Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director, before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities: March 5, 1999:
http://www.csbaonline.org/4Publications/Archive/T.19990305.Emerging_Threats,_/T.19990305.Emerging_Threats,_.htm

[5]        Ibid.

[6]        Richard Labeviere, Dollars for Terror: The US and Islam. (New York: Algora Publishing, 1999), pages 5-6

[7]        Jim Garamone, Joint Vision 2020 Emphasizes Full-spectrum Dominance. American Forces Press Service: June 2, 2000:
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45289

[8]        PNAC, Rebuilding America’s Defenses. Project for the New American Century: September 2000, page 51:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports.htm

[9]        David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor, 2nd ed. (Interlink Books, 2004), page 99

[10]      Fred Kaplan, Show Me the Money. Slate: July 22, 2004:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2104208/

[11]      Dennis Ryan, Contingency planning Pentagon MASCAL exercise simulates

scenarios in preparing for emergencies. US Army Military District of Washington: November 3, 2000:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/pentagon_preparing.htm

[12]      Barbara Starr, NORAD exercise had jet crashing into building. CNN: April 19, 2004:
http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/04/19/norad.exercise/

[13]      Steven Komarow and Tom Squitieri, NORAD had drills of jets as weapons. USA Today: April 19, 2004:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-04-18-norad_x.htm

[4]        Julian Borger, Hijackers fly into Pentagon? No chance, said top brass. The Guardian: April 15, 2004:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/apr/15/usa.september11

[15]      Jim Garamone, Pre-9-11 Exercise Forecasted First War of 21st Century. American Forces Press Service: July 30, 2002:
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=43608

[16]      Pete Brush, Report Warned Of Suicide Hijackings. CBS News: May 17, 2002:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/18/attack/main509488.shtml

[17]      Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: 2004), page 172

[18]      Howard Fineman, The Battle Back Home. Newsweek: February 4, 2002

[19]      Pete Brush, Bush Opposes 9/11 Query Panel. CBS News: May 23, 2002:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/15/attack/main509096.shtml

[20]      Bootie Cosgrove-Mather, Bush Backs Independent 9-11 Probe. CBS News: September 20, 2002:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/09/24/attack/main523156.shtml

[21]      Carl Hulse, How a Deal Creating an Independent Commission on Sept. 11 Came Undone. The New York Times: November 2, 2002:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/02/politics/02COMM.html

[22]      Dana Bash, Congress OKs 9/11 special commission. CNN: November 15, 2002:
http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/11/15/congress.commission/index.html

[23]      The Kissinger Commission. The New York Times: November 29, 2002:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/29/opinion/29FRI1.html

[24]      Kissinger resigns as head of 9/11 commission. CNN: December 13, 2002:
http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/12/13/kissinger.resigns/

[25]      Laurence Arnold, 9/11 panel to get access to withheld data. The Boston Globe: November 13, 2003:
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/11/13/911_panel_to_get_access_to_withheld_data/

[26]      Benjamin DeMott, Whitewash as public service: How The 9/11 Commission Report defrauds the nation. Harper’s Magazine: October 2004:
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2004/10/0080234

[27]      James M Klatell, 9/11 Commissioners Expose Obstructions. CBS News: August 5, 2006:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/05/terror/main1868087.shtml

[28]      Dan Eggen, 9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon. The Washington Post: August 2, 2006:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/01/AR2006080101300.html?sub=AR

[29]      Robert Windrem and Victor Limjoco, 9/11 Commission controversy. MSNBC: January 30, 2008

[30]      Nick Juliano, Book: Director of 9/11 commission secretly spoke with Rove, White House. The Raw Story: January 31, 2008:
http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/Book_Director_of_911_commission_secretly_0131.html

[31]      French Magistrate Widens Bin Laden Finance Probe. Reuters: December 25, 2004:
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latest-news/french-magistrate-widens-bin-laden-finance-probe

[32]      Georg Mascolo and Erich Follath, Osama’s Road to Riches and Terror. Der Spiegel: June 6, 2005:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,359690,00.html

[33]      Ibid.

[34]      Ibid.

[35]      Ibid.

[36]      Erich Follath and Georg Mascolo, Tracking Osama’s Kin Around the World. Der Spiegel: June 6, 2005:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,359831,00.html

[37]      Ibid.

[38]      Ibid.

[39]      Kathy Gannon, Bin Laden Reportedly Ailing. AP: March 25, 2000:
http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2000/ap032500.html

[40]      Suspected Saudi Terrorist Osama bin Laden Dying, Magazine Says. Deutsche Presse-Agentur: March 16, 2000:
http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2000/deutschepresseagentur031600.html

[41]      Anthony Sampson, CIA agent alleged to have met Bin Laden in July. The Guardian: November 1, 2001:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/nov/01/afghanistan.terrorism

[42]      Hospital Worker: I Saw Osama. CBS News: January 28, 2002:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/28/eveningnews/main325887.shtml

[43]      ToI, “CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban”. Times of India: March 7, 2001:
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/taliban.htm

[44]      PTI, ‘US ignored its own agency’s reports on ISI backing Al Qaeda’. Rediff: September 25, 2003:
http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/sep/25us.htm

[45]      ToI, “CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban”. Times of India: March 7, 2001:
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/taliban.htm

[46]      Amir Mateen, ISI Chief’s Parleys Continue in Washington. The News: September 10, 2001:
http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2001/news091001.html

[47]      Richard Leiby, A Cloak But No Dagger. The Washington Post: May 18, 2002:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A36091-2002May17&notFound=true

[48]      Pepe Escobar, 9-11 AND THE SMOKING GUN. Asia Times: April 8, 2004:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FD08Aa01.html

[49]      Michael Meacher, The Pakistan connection. The Guardian: July 22, 2004:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jul/22/usa.september11

[50]      Ibid.

[51]      US on ‘intimate’ terms with extremists in Central Asia. Press TV: August 1, 2009:
http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=102232&sectionid=3510203

[52]      Sue Reid, Has Osama Bin Laden been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror? The Daily Mail: September 11, 2009:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1212851/Has-Osama-Bin-Laden-dead-seven-years–U-S-Britain-covering-continue-war-terror.html

[53]      Ibid.

[54]      Ibid.

[55]      Ibid.

[56]      Greg Miller, CIA pays for support in Pakistan. Los Angeles Times: November 15, 2009:
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/15/world/fg-cia-pakistan15

[57]      Lance Williams and Erin McCormick, Al Qaeda terrorist worked with FBI. San Francisco Chronicle: November 4, 2001:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2001/11/04/MN117081.DTL

[58]      Lance Williams and Erin McCormick, Bin Laden’s man in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle: September 21, 2001:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/09/21/MN224103.DTL&hw=ali+mohamed&sn=003&sc=282

[59]      Benjamin Weiser and James Risen, THE MASKING OF A MILITANT: A special report.; A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast. The New York Times: December 1, 1998:
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/01/world/masking-militant-special-report-soldier-s-shadowy-trail-us-mideast.html?pagewanted=1

[60]      Benjamin Weiser, U.S. Ex-Sergeant Linked To bin Laden Conspiracy. The New York Times: October 30, 1998:
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/30/world/us-ex-sergeant-linked-to-bin-laden-conspiracy.html?pagewanted=1

[61]      Benjamin Weiser and James Risen, THE MASKING OF A MILITANT: A special report.; A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast. The New York Times: December 1, 1998:
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/01/world/masking-militant-special-report-soldier-s-shadowy-trail-us-mideast.html?pagewanted=1

[62]      Lance Williams and Erin McCormick, Bin Laden’s man in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle: September 21, 2001:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/09/21/MN224103.DTL&hw=ali+mohamed&sn=003&sc=282

[63]      Benjamin Weiser and James Risen, THE MASKING OF A MILITANT: A special report.; A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast. The New York Times: December 1, 1998:
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/01/world/masking-militant-special-report-soldier-s-shadowy-trail-us-mideast.html?pagewanted=1

[64]      ESTANISLAO OZIEWICZ AND TU THANH HA, Canada freed top al-Qaeda operative. The Globe and Mail: November 22, 2001:
http://www.mail-archive.com/hydro@topica.com/msg00224.html

[65]      Benjamin Weiser and James Risen, THE MASKING OF A MILITANT: A special report.; A Soldier’s Shadowy Trail In U.S. and in the Mideast. The New York Times: December 1, 1998:
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/01/world/masking-militant-special-report-soldier-s-shadowy-trail-us-mideast.html?pagewanted=1

[66]      BBC, Has someone been sitting on the FBI? BBC News: November 6, 2001:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/newsnight/1645527.stm

[67]      CBC, Transcript of CBC (Canada) Interview with Michael Springman. CBC: July 3, 2002:
http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpWESSEX/Documents/springmaninterview.htm

[68]      Benjamin Weiser, U.S. Ex-Sergeant Linked To bin Laden Conspiracy. The New York Times: October 30, 1998:
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/30/world/us-ex-sergeant-linked-to-bin-laden-conspiracy.html?pagewanted=1

[69]      Ton Hays and Sharon Theimer, Egyptian agent worked with Green Berets, bin Laden. The Associated Press: December 31, 2001:
http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/libertystrikesback/AliMohammed.html

[70]      Jacob Goodwin, Inside Able Danger – The Secret Birth, Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death of a U.S. Military Intelligence Program. Global Security News: September 25, 2005:
http://911citizenswatch.org/?p=673

[71]      Douglas Jehl, Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in ’00. The New York Times: August 9, 2005:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/09/politics/09intel.html?ex=1281240000&en=bc4d02afa0a46012&ei=5090

[72]      Stephen W Smith, New Pre-9/11 Intel Questions. CBS news: August 9, 2005:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/08/09/terror/main769440.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

[73]      Catherine Herridge, Molly Hooper and Liza Porteus, Third Source Backs ‘Able Danger’ Claims About Atta. Fox News: August 28, 2005:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,167130,00.html

[74]      Atta files destroyed by Pentagon. The Washington Times: September 21, 2005:
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2005/sep/21/20050921-102450-4688r/

[75]      Ibid.

[76]      Douglas Jehl, Senators Accuse Pentagon of Obstructing Inquiry on Sept. 11 Plot. The New York Times: September 22, 2005:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/politics/22intel.html

[77]      Philip Shenon, Pentagon Bars Military Officers and Analysts From Testifying. The New York Times: September 21, 2005:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/21/politics/21intel.html?ex=1284955200&en=ca91fe8ed7997532&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

[78]      Louis Freeh, An Incomplete Investigation. The Wall Street Journal: November 17, 2005:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007559

[79]      Michael Isikoff, Exclusive: The Informant Who Lived With The Hijackers. Newsweek: September 16, 2002:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/65649

[80]      George Wehrfritz, Catharine Skipp and John Barry, Alleged Hijackers May Have Trained At U.S. Bases. Newsweek: September 15, 2001:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/75797

[81]      Hijack ‘suspects’ alive and well. BBC: September 23, 2001:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1559151.stm

Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network

Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network
The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda, Part II
Global Research, September 8, 2010

This is Part 2 of the series, “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda.“

Part 1: The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”


The End of the Cold War and Strategy for the New World Order

With the end of the Cold War a new strategy had to be determined to manage the global system. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, declarations of a “New World Order” sprang forward, focusing on the United States as the single world superpower. This presented a great many challenges as well as opportunities for the worlds most powerful hegemon.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of new Central Asian and Eastern European nations were formed and became independent, and with that, their immense deposits of natural gas and energy became available for exploitation. Afghanistan itself was considered “a major strategic pivot,” as it was “the primary gateway to Central Asia and the immense energy deposits therein.”[1] Western oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell, and Enron begin pouring billions of dollars into the countries of Central Asia in the early 1990s.[2]

In 1992, a Pentagon document titled “Defense Planning Guidance” was leaked to the press, in which it described a strategy for the United States in the “new world order,” and it was drafted by George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. It stated that, “America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union,” and that, “The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.”[3]

Further, “the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders ‘must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.” Among the necessary challenges to American supremacy, the document “postulated regional wars against Iraq and North Korea,” and identified China and Russia as its major threats. It further “suggests that the United States could also consider extending to Eastern and Central European nations security commitments similar to those extended to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states along the Persian Gulf.”[4]

Similarly, in 1992, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the most influential think tanks in the United States, had established a commission to determine a new foreign policy for the United States in the wake of the Cold War. Participants included Madeleine Albright, Henry Cisneros, John Deutch, Richard Holbrooke, Alice Rivlin, David Gergen and Admiral William Crowe. In the summer of 1992, the final report, “Changing Our Ways: America and the New World,” was published. The report urged “a new principle of international relations: the destruction or displacement of groups of people within states can justify international intervention.” It suggested that the US “realign NATO and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to deal with new security problems in Europe,” and “urged military intervention under humanitarian guises.” This report subsequently “planted the policy seedlings for the Kosovo war” as it “provided both the rationale for U.S. interventionism and a policy recommendation about the best means–NATO–for waging that war.”[5]

Another Carnegie publication in the same year, “Self-Determination in the New World Order,” furthered imperialist goals for America, as it “set criteria for officials to use in deciding when to support separatist ethnic groups seeking independence, and advocated military force for that purpose.” It recommended that “international military coalitions, preferably U.N.-led, could send armed force not as peacekeepers but peacemakers–to prevent conflict from breaking out and stay in place indefinitely.” It further stated that, “the use of military force to create a new state would require conduct by the parent government so egregious that it has forfeited any right to govern the minority claiming self-determination.”[6]

The United States and its NATO allies soon undertook a new strategy, seeking to maintain dominance over the world, expand their hegemony over regions previously under the influence of the Soviet Union (such as in Eastern Europe and Central Asia), and prevent the rise of a resurgent Russia or China. One of the key facets of this strategy was the notion of “humanitarian intervention.”

Yugoslavia Dismantled by Design

In the 1990s, the United States and its NATO allies, in particular Germany and the UK, undertook a strategy of destabilization in Yugoslavia, seeking to dismantle and ultimately fracture the country. To do this, the imperial strategy of divide and conquer was employed, manipulating various ethnic tensions and arming and training various militias and terrorist organizations. Throughout this strategy, the “database”, or Al-Qaeda was used to promote the agenda of the destabilization and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

In 1989, Yugoslavia had to seek financial aid from the World Bank and IMF, which implemented a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which resulted in the dismantling of the public state, exacerbating social issues and fueling secessionist tendencies, leading to Croatia and Slovenia seceding from the republic in 1991.[7] In 1990, the US intelligence community had released a report predicting that Yugoslavia would break apart and erupt in civil war, and it blamed Milosevic for the impending disaster.[8]

As far back as 1988, the leader of Croatia met with the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to create “a joint policy to break up Yugoslavia,” and bring Slovenia and Croatia into the “German economic zone.” So, US Army officers were dispatched to Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia as “advisers” and brought in US Special Forces to help.[9]

Fighting broke out between Yugoslavia and Croatia when the latter declared independence in 1991. The fighting subsequently lasted until 1995, and merged in part with the Bosnian war. The US supported the operation and the CIA actively provided intelligence to Croat forces, leading to the displacement of between 150,000 and 200,000 Serbs, largely through means of murder, plundering, burning villages and ethnic cleansing.[10] The Croatian Army was trained by U.S. advisers and a general later put on trial at the Hague for war crimes was personally supported by the CIA.[11] So we see the double standard of ethnic cleansing and genocide: when the US does it or supports it, it’s “humanitarian intervention,” politically justified, or it is simply unacknowledged; when an enemy state does it, (or is accused of doing it), the “international community” demands action and any means is deemed necessary to “prevent genocide”, including committing genocide.

The Clinton administration gave the “green light” to Iran to arm the Bosnian Muslims and “from 1992 to January 1996, there was an influx of Iranian weapons and advisers into Bosnia.” Further, “Iran, and other Muslim states, helped to bring Mujahideen fighters into Bosnia to fight with the Muslims against the Serbs, ‘holy warriors’ from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Yemen and Algeria, some of whom had suspected links with Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan.”[12]

During the war in Bosnia, there “was a vast secret conduit of weapons smuggling though Croatia. This was arranged by the clandestine agencies of the US, Turkey and Iran, together with a range of radical Islamist groups, including Afghan mojahedin and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah.” Further, “the secret services of Ukraine, Greece and Israel were busy arming the Bosnian Serbs.”[13] Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, also ran arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims and Croatia to fight against the Serbs.[14] Thus, every side was being funded and armed by outside powers seeking to foment conflict and ultimately break up Yugoslavia to serve their own imperial objectives in the region.

In 1992, the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, the recruiting center for al-Qaeda, made Bosnia its chief target. By 1993, it opened a branch in Croatia. The recruitment operation for Bosnian Muslims “was a covert action project sponsored not only by Saudi Arabia but also in part by the US government.”[15]

In 1996, the Albanian Mafia, in collaboration with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a militant guerilla organization, took control over the enormous Balkan heroin trafficking routes. The KLA was linked to former Afghan Mujaheddin fighters in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden.[16]

In 1997, the KLA began fighting against Serbian forces,[17] and in 1998, the US State Department removed the KLA from its list of terrorist organizations.[18] Before and after 1998, the KLA was receiving arms, training and support from the US and NATO, and Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was close with KLA leader Hashim Thaci.[19]

Both the CIA and German intelligence, the BND, supported the KLA terrorists in Yugoslavia prior to and after the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The BND had KLA contacts since the early 1990s, the same period that the KLA was establishing its Al-Qaeda contacts.[20] KLA members were trained by Osama bin Laden at training camps in Afghanistan. Even the UN stated that much of the violence at the time came from KLA members, “especially those allied with Hashim Thaci.”[21]

The March 1999 NATO bombing of Kosovo was justified on the pretense of putting an end to Serbian oppression of Kosovo Albanians, which was termed genocide. The Clinton Administration made claims that at least 100,000 Kosovo Albanians were missing and “may have been killed” by the Serbs. Bill Clinton personally compared events in Kosovo to the Holocaust. The US State Department had stated that up to 500,000 Albanians were feared dead. Eventually, the official estimate was reduced to 10,000, however, after exhaustive investigations, it was revealed that the death of less than 2,500 Albanians could be attributed to the Serbs. During the NATO bombing campaign, between 400 and 1,500 Serb civilians were killed, and NATO committed war crimes, including the bombing of a Serb TV station and a hospital.[22]

Ultimately the strategy of the destabilization of Yugoslavia served various imperial objectives. The war in Yugoslavia was waged in order to enlarge NATO, Serbia was to be excluded permanently from European development to justify a US military presence in the region, and expansion was ultimately designed to contain Russia.[23]

An op-ed in the New York Times in 1996 stated that, “instead of seeing Bosnia as the eastern frontier of NATO, we should view the Balkans as the western frontier of America’s rapidly expanding sphere of influence in the Middle East.” Further:

The fact that the United States is more enthusiastic than its European allies about a Bosnian Muslim state reflects, among other things, the new American role as the leader of an informal collection of Muslim nations from the Persian Gulf to the Balkans. The regions once ruled by the Ottoman Turks show signs of becoming the heart of a third American empire.

[ . . . ] Now, in the years after the cold war, the United States is again establishing suzerainty over the empire of a former foe. The disintegration of the Soviet Union has prompted the United States to expand its zone of military hegemony into Eastern Europe (through NATO) and into formerly neutral Yugoslavia. And — most important of all — the end of the cold war has permitted America to deepen its involvement the Middle East.[24]

Further, with the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia, a passageway for the transport of oil and natural gas from the Caspian region was to be facilitated through the construction of the Trans-Balkan pipeline, which will “run from the Black sea port of Burgas to the Adriatic at Vlore, passing through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. It is likely to become the main route to the west for the oil and gas now being extracted in central Asia. It will carry 750,000 barrels a day: a throughput, at current prices, of some $600m a month.” As the Guardian reported:

The project is necessary, according to a paper published by the US Trade and Development Agency last May, because the oil coming from the Caspian Sea “will quickly surpass the safe capacity of the Bosphorus as a shipping lane”. The scheme, the agency notes, will “provide a consistent source of crude oil to American refineries”, “provide American companies with a key role in developing the vital east-west corridor”, “advance the privatisation aspirations of the US government in the region” and “facilitate rapid integration” of the Balkans “with western Europe”.

In November 1998, Bill Richardson, then US energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the extraction and transport of Caspian oil. “This is about America’s energy security,” he explained. “It’s also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don’t share our values. We’re trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west.

“We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We’ve made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it’s very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right.”[25]

The pipeline project, supported since 1994, “featured prominently in Balkan war politics. On December 9 1998, the Albanian president attended a meeting about the scheme in Sofia, and linked it inextricably to Kosovo.” The message given at the meeting was that, “if you [the United States] want Albanian consent for the Trans-Balkan pipeline, you had better wrest Kosovo out of the hands of the Serbs.”[26]

And so, with the help of an international network of CIA-trained Islamic militants, American political and economic hegemony expanded into Central Asia and the Caspian region.

The Spread of Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda did not just spread to Bosnia and Albania/Kosovo, but rather a great many places around the world saw the spread of this vast “database” of Islamist fighters, and always aided by Western intelligence agencies or their regional conduits (such as the ISI and Saudi intelligence agencies). Following on the heels of the established American and NATO strategy following the Cold War, Islamic fundamentalism also came to play a part in this strategy.

Bernard Lewis was a former British intelligence officer and historian who is infamous for explaining Arab discontent towards the West as not being rooted in a reaction toward imperialism, but rather that it is rooted in Islam; in that Islam is incompatible with the West, and that they are destined to clash, using the term, “Clash of Civilizations.” For decades, “Lewis played a critical role as professor, mentor, and guru to two generations of Orientalists, academics, U.S. and British intelligence specialists, think tank denizens, and assorted neoconservatives.” In the 1980s, Lewis “was hobnobbing with top Department of Defense officials.”[27] He was also one of the originators, along with Brzezinski, of the “Arc of Crisis” strategy employed in the late 1970s.

Lewis wrote a 1992 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, titled, “Rethinking the Middle East.” In this article, Lewis raised the prospect of another policy towards the Middle East in the wake of the end of the Cold War and beginnings of the New World Order, “which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”[28]

Thus, the “database” of Al-Qaeda could be spread internationally so as to destabilize various regions, and thus provide the justification for intervention or even war. All that was needed was well-placed intelligence operatives to control key leadership positions within the terrorist organization. The great majority of both its higher-ups and nearly all al-Qaeda operatives would not have to be made aware of the organizations covert use as an arm of US geo-policy.

In the 1990s, Osama bin Laden “built a shadow air force to support his terrorist activities, using Afghanistan’s national airline, a surplus U.S. Air Force jet and clandestine charters.” Further, as the Los Angeles Times revealed:

With the Taliban’s blessing, Bin Laden effectively had hijacked Ariana, the national civilian airline of Afghanistan. For four years, according to former U.S. aides and exiled Afghan officials, Ariana’s passenger and charter flights ferried Islamic militants, arms, cash and opium through the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Members of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network were provided false Ariana identification that gave them free run of airports in the Middle East.

[ . . . ] Taliban authorities also opened the country’s airstrips to high-ranking Persian Gulf state officials who routinely flew in for lavish hunting parties. Sometimes joined by Bin Laden and Taliban leaders, the dignitaries, who included several high-ranking officials from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates–left behind money, vehicles and equipment with their hosts, according to U.S. and Afghan accounts.[29]

Bin Laden’s secret purchase of a US Air Force jet in 1992 “was used to ferry Al Qaeda commanders to East Africa, where they trained Somali tribesmen for attacks on U.S. peacekeeping forces,” and Americans had “unwittingly” helped bin Laden “disguise the plane as a civilian jet.” US security officials were well aware of Ariana airlines being used by al-Qaeda,[30]

Among the high-ranking Persian Gulf officials who flew to Afghanistan for “hunting trips” were Prince Turki al Faisal who ran Saudi intelligence until August 2001, “maintaining close ties with Bin Laden and the Taliban,” as well as “Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, the Dubai crown prince and Emirates defense minister.” On occasions both Osama bin Laden and Omar, the head of the Taliban, mingled with the hunters. Upon their departure, “the wealthy visitors often left behind late-model jeeps, trucks and supplies,” which was “one way the Taliban got their equipment.”[31]

What the article does not mention, however, was that the ISI was the prime sponsor of the Taliban, with the complete backing and facilitation of the CIA. The connection to the Saudi intelligence chief further strengthens the thesis that the Safari Club, created in 1976 by the French intelligence chief, may have survived as a covert intelligence network encompassing western intelligence agencies working through regional agencies such as those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The German intelligence agency, the BND, revealed in 2004 that two Saudi companies that were linked with financing al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s were in fact front organizations for Saudi intelligence, with close connections to its chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal.[32]

Between 1989 and 2001, Billy Waugh, a CIA contractor, trained several al-Qaeda operatives around the world.[33] In 2002, it was revealed that, “British intelligence paid large sums of money to an al-Qaeda cell in Libya in a doomed attempt to assassinate Colonel Gadaffi in 1996 and thwarted early attempts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.” In 1998, Libya had issued an arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden, yet:

British and US intelligence agencies buried the fact that the arrest warrant had come from Libya and played down the threat. Five months after the warrant was issued, al-Qaeda killed more than 200 people in the truck bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.[34]

However, “the resistance of Western intelligence agencies to the Libyan concerns can be explained by MI6’s involvement with the al-Qaeda coup plot.” Anas al-Liby, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader, “was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad.”[35]

Following the end of the Cold War, many mujahideen fighters were relocated to Russia’s unstable region of Chechnya, where the two main rebel leaders who came to power had previously been trained and funded by the CIA in Afghanistan. The war in Chechnya was planned in a secret meeting in 1996 attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking officials of the Pakistani ISI, whose involvement in Chechnya went “far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war.”[36] In other words, the CIA was directing the war through the ISI.

The US and U.K. have supported Chechen separatism as it, “weakens Russia, advances U.S. power in the vital Caspian Sea region, and cripples a potential future rival.”[37] Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of Russia, claimed that the British had been arming the Chechen rebels.[38] Oil also features prominently in the Chechen conflict, as Chechnya is home to large reserves of oil, as well as pipeline corridor routes being competed over by Russian and Anglo-American oil conglomerates. Thus, the Anglo-Americans support the Chechen separatists, while the Russians send in the military.[39] US intelligence helped fund and transport al-Qaeda into Chechnya in the early 1990s, American intelligence remained involved until the end of the decade, seeing the “sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism’.”[40]

The Global Domination Strategy for a New Century

Following upon the strategic objectives set out in the early 1990s for the United States and NATO to expand their hegemony across the world, in preventing the rise of rivals (China and Russia), and expanding the access of western economic interests to the Caspian region, new designs were being drawn in the powerful think-tank community in the United States as well as being outlined by highly influential strategic thinkers. The renewed strategy, hardly a break from the previously determined aim of encirclement and containment of China and Russia, simply expanded the scope of this strategy. From one faction, the neo-conservatives, came the initial aim at expanding militarily into the Middle East, starting with Iraq, while the more established hard-line realist hawks such as Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a far more comprehensive and long-term strategy of world domination by controlling the entirety of Eurasia (Europe and Asia), and subsequently, Africa.

The neo-Conservative hawks in the US foreign policy establishment formed the think tank, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in the 1990s. In 2000, they published their report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, in which they outlined a strategy for the United States in the “new century.” Following where the Defense Planning Guidance document left off (during the first Bush administration), the report stated that, “the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars,” and that there is a “need to retain sufficient combat forces to fight and win, multiple, nearly simultaneous major theatre wars,” as “the Pentagon needs to begin to calculate the force necessary to protect, independently, US interests in Europe, East Asia and the Gulf at all times.”[41]

It recommended the “regime change” of Saddam Hussein in Iraq as the “immediate justification” for a US military presence in the Gulf; however, “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” In advocating for a massive increase in defense spending, and outlining military operations against Iraq, North Korea, and possibly Iran, the report stated that, “further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”[42]

Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a long-term American imperial strategy to control Eurasia in his book, The Grand Chessboard. He stated bluntly that, “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America,” and then made clear the imperial nature of his strategy:

To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[43]

He further explained that the Central Asian nations (or “Eurasian Balkans” as he refers to them):

are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.[44]

Brzezinski emphasizes “that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”[45]

Preparing for War Against Afghanistan

In 1997, Taliban officials traveled to Texas to meet with Unocal Oil Company to discuss the possibility of a pipeline being built from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and to Pakistan. Unocal had agreements with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it. The missing link was getting the gas to Pakistan through Afghanistan, which is where the Taliban came into the picture. Unocal’s main competitor in the pipeline bid was with Bridas, an Argentine firm. However, at this time, Afghanistan was still embroiled in civil war, making the prospect of a pipeline being built an unstable venture.[46]

A month before the Taliban visited Texas, Bridas, Unocal’s main competitor, merged its oil and gas assets with Amoco-Argentina Oil, a subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s top three oil companies.[47] Shortly before this merger was finalized, Bridas had announced that it was close to signing a 2 billion dollar deal with the Taliban, saying “the talks were in their final stages.”[48]

After meeting with Unocal officials in Texas, the Taliban announced in January of 1998 that, “they’re close to reaching a final agreement on the building of a gas pipeline across Afghanistan,” however, they “didn’t indicate which of two competing companies the Taliban favoured.”[49]

It is significant to note some of the important figures that were involved with the oil companies in relation to Central Asian gas reserves and pipeline projects. In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the (self-proclaimed) mastermind for the Afghan-Soviet War, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, and cofounder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, was an adviser to BP-Amoco, specifically dealing with the Caspian region.[50] Unocal, in an effort to try to secure their pipeline contract with the Taliban, hired former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, former Reagan State Department Advisor on Afghanistan during the Afghan-Soviet War, was also brought on as a consultant for a group hired by Unocal. He would later become US envoy to Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001.[51]

The pipeline project then ran into significant problems when, in

The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda: The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”

The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda: The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”
Part I
Global Research, September 5, 2010

Introduction

As the 9th anniversary of 9/11 nears, and the war on terror continues to be waged and grows in ferocity and geography, it seems all the more imperative to return to the events of that fateful September morning and re-examine the reasons for war and the nature of the stated culprit, Al-Qaeda.

The events of 9/11 pervade the American and indeed the world imagination as an historical myth. The events of that day and those leading up to it remain largely unknown and little understood by the general public, apart from the disturbing images repeated ad nauseam in the media. The facts and troubled truths of that day are lost in the folklore of the 9/11 myth: that the largest attack carried out on American ground was orchestrated by 19 Muslims armed with box cutters and urged on by religious fundamentalism, all under the direction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of a global terrorist network called al-Qaeda, based out of a cave in Afghanistan.

The myth sweeps aside the facts and complex nature of terror, al-Qaeda, the American empire and literally defies the laws of physics. As John F. Kennedy once said, “The greatest enemy of the truth is not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, pervasive, and unrealistic.”

This three-part series on “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda” examines the geopolitical historical origins and nature of what we today know as al-Qaeda, which is in fact an Anglo-American intelligence network of terrorist assets used to advance American and NATO imperial objectives in various regions around the world.

Part 1 examines the origins of the intelligence network known as the Safari Club, which financed and organized an international conglomerate of terrorists, the CIA’s role in the global drug trade, the emergence of the Taliban and the origins of al-Qaeda.

The Safari Club

Following Nixon’s resignation as President, Gerald Ford became the new US President in 1974. Henry Kissinger remained as Secretary of State and Ford brought into his administration two names that would come to play important roles in the future of the American Empire: Donald Rumsfeld as Ford’s Chief of Staff, and Dick Cheney, as Deputy Assistant to the President. The Vice President was Nelson Rockefeller, David Rockefeller’s brother. When Donald Rumsfeld was promoted to Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney was promoted to Chief of Staff. Ford had also appointed a man named George H.W. Bush as CIA Director.

In 1976, a coalition of intelligence agencies was formed, which was called the Safari Club. This marked the discreet and highly covert coordination among various intelligence agencies, which would last for decades. It formed at a time when the CIA was embroiled in domestic scrutiny over the Watergate scandal and a Congressional investigation into covert CIA activities, forcing the CIA to become more covert in its activities.

In 2002, the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal gave a speech in which he stated that in response to the CIA’s need for more discretion, “a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran [under the Shah].”[1] However, “The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations. With the official blessing of George H.W. Bush as the head of the CIA,” Saudi intelligence chief, Kamal Adham, “transformed a small Pakistani merchant bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a world-wide money-laundering machine, buying banks around the world to create the biggest clandestine money network in history.”[2]

As CIA director, George H.W. Bush “cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider.” Adham had previously acted as a “channel between [Henry] Kissinger and [Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat” in 1972. In 1976, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia formed the Safari Club “to conduct through their own intelligence agencies operations that were now difficult for the CIA,” which was largely organized by the head of French intelligence, Alexandre de Marenches.[3]

The “Arc of Crisis” and the Iranian Revolution

When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed over two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to his administration, which was an international think tank formed by Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller in 1973. Brzezinski had invited Carter to join the Trilateral Commission, and when Carter became President, Brzezinski became National Security Adviser; Cyrus Vance, also a member of the Commission, became Secretary of State; and Samuel Huntington, another Commission member, became Coordinator of National Security and Deputy to Brzezinski. Author and researcher Peter Dale Scott deserves much credit for his comprehensive analysis of the events leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution in his book, “The Road to 9/11”,* which provides much of the information below.

Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski were to determine the US policy position in the Cold War, and the US-Soviet policy they created was termed, “Cooperation and Competition,” in which Brzezinski would press for “Cooperation” when talking to the press, yet, privately push for “competition.” So, while Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was pursuing détente with the Soviet Union, Brzezinski was pushing for American supremacy over the Soviet Union. Brzezinski and Vance would come to disagree on almost every issue.[4]

In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech in which he stated, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.” The Arc of Crisis stretched from Indochina to southern Africa, although, more specifically, the particular area of focus was “the nations that stretch across the southern flank of the Soviet Union from the Indian subcontinent to Turkey, and southward through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.” Further, the “center of gravity of this arc is Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer and for more than two decades a citadel of U.S. military and economic strength in the Middle East. Now it appears that the 37-year reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is almost over, ended by months of rising civil unrest and revolution.”[5]

With rising discontent in the region, “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets. It was a Brzezinski concept.”[6] A month prior to Brzezinski’s speech, in November of 1978, “President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski.” Further, “Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini.”[7] George Ball’s visit to Iran was a secret mission.[8]

Throughout 1978, the Shah was under the impression that “the Carter administration was plotting to topple his regime.” In 1978, the Queen and Shah’s wife, told Manouchehr Ganji, a minister in the Shah’s government, that, “I wanted to tell you that the Americans are maneuvering to bring down the Shah,” and she continued saying that she believed “they even want to topple the regime.”[9] The US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, thought that the revolution would succeed, and told this to Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General under the Johnson administration, as well as professor Richard Falk, when they were visiting Sullivan in Iran in 1978. Clark and Falk then went from Iran to Paris, to visit Khomeini, who was there in exile. James Bill, a Carter adviser, felt that, “a religious movement brought about with the United States’ assistance would be a natural friend of the United States.”[10]

Also interesting is the fact that the British BBC broadcast pro-Khomeini Persian-language programs daily in Iran, as a subtle form of propaganda, which “gave credibility to the perception of United States and British support of Khomeini.”[11] The BBC refused to give the Shah a platform to respond, and “[r]epeated personal appeals from the Shah to the BBC yielded no result.”[12]

In the May 1979 meeting of the Bilderberg Group, Bernard Lewis, a British historian of great influence (hence, the Bilderberg membership), presented a British-American strategy which, “endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”[13] Further, it would prevent Soviet influence from entering the Middle East, as the Soviet Union was viewed as an empire of atheism and godlessness: essentially a secular and immoral empire, which would seek to impose secularism across Muslim countries. So supporting radical Islamic groups would mean that the Soviet Union would be less likely to have any influence or relations with Middle Eastern countries, making the US a more acceptable candidate for developing relations.

A 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, described the Arc of Crisis, saying that, “The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism.” It went on to explain that post-war US policy in the region was focused on “containment” of the Soviet Union, as well as access to the regions oil.[14] The article continued, explaining that the most “obvious division” within the Middle East is, “that which separates the Northern Tier (Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan) from the Arab core,” and that, “After World War II, Turkey and Iran were the two countries most immediately threatened by Soviet territorial expansionism and political subversion.”[15] Ultimately, “the Northern Tier was assured of a serious and sustained American commitment to save it from sharing the fate of Eastern Europe.”[16]

While Khomeini was in Paris prior to the Revolution, a representative of the French President organized a meeting between Khomeini and “current world powers,” in which Khomeini made certain demands, such as, “the shah’s removal from Iran and help in avoiding a coup d’état by the Iranian Army.” The Western powers, however, “were worried about the Soviet Union’s empowerment and penetration and a disruption in Iran’s oil supply to the west. Khomeini gave the necessary guarantees. These meetings and contacts were taking place in January of 1979, just a few days before the Islamic Revolution in February 1979.”[17] In February of 1979, Khomeini was flown out of Paris on an Air France flight, to return to Iran, “with the blessing of Jimmy Carter.”[18] Ayatollah Khomeini named Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on February 4, 1979. As Khomeini had demanded during his Paris meeting in January 1979, that western powers must help in avoiding a coup by the Iranian Army; in that same month, the Carter administration, under the direction of Brzezinski, had begun planning a military coup.[19]

Could this have been planned in the event that Khomeini was overthrown, the US would quickly reinstate order, perhaps even place Khomeini back in power? Interestingly, in January of 1979, “as the Shah was about to leave the country, the American Deputy Commander in NATO, General Huyser, arrived and over a period of a month conferred constantly with Iranian military leaders. His influence may have been substantial on the military’s decision not to attempt a coup and eventually to yield to the Khomeini forces, especially if press reports are accurate that he or others threatened to withhold military supplies if a coup were attempted.”[20] No coup was subsequently undertaken, and Khomeini came to power as the Ayatollah of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As tensions increased among the population within Iran, the US sent “security advisers” to Iran to pressure the Shah’s SAVAK (secret police) to implement “a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah.” The Carter administration also began publicly criticizing the Shah’s human rights abuses.[21] On September 6, 1978, the Shah banned demonstrations, and the following day, between 700 and 2000 demonstrators were gunned down, following “advice from Brzezinski to be firm.”[22]

The US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, a Trilateral Commission member, said that, “Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint,” and the US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, said, “Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure,” while Carter’s adviser, James Bill, said that Khomeini was a man of “impeccable integrity and honesty.”[23]

The Shah was also very sick in late 1978 and early 1979. So the Shah fled Iran in January of 1979 to the Bahamas, allowing for the revolution to take place. It is especially interesting to understand the relationship between David Rockefeller and the Shah of Iran. David Rockefeller’s personal assistant, Joseph V. Reed, had been “assigned to handle the shah’s finances and his personal needs;” Robert Armao, who worked for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was sent to “act as the shah’s public relations agent and lobbyist;” and Benjamin H. Kean, “a longtime associate of Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller,” and David Rockefeller’s “personal physician,” who was sent to Mexico when the shah was there, and advised that he “be treated at an American hospital.”[24]

It is important to note that Rockefeller interests “had directed U.S. policy in Iran since the CIA coup of 1953.”[25] Following the Shah’s flight from Iran, there were increased pressures within the United States by a handful of powerful people to have the Shah admitted to the United States. These individuals were Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, John J. McCloy, former statesman and senior member of the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, who was also a lawyer for Chase Manhattan, and of course, David Rockefeller.[26]

Chase Manhattan Bank had more interests in Iran than any other US bank. In fact, the Shah had “ordered that all his government’s major operating accounts be held at Chase and that letters of credit for the purchase of oil be handled exclusively through Chase. The bank also became the agent and lead manager for many of the loans to Iran. In short, Iran became the crown jewel of Chase’s international banking portfolio.”[27]

The Iranian interim government, headed by Prime Minister Bazargan, collapsed in November of 1979, when Iranian hostages seized the US Embassy in Teheran. However, there is much more to this event than meets the eye. During the time of the interim government (February, 1979 to November, 1979), several actions were undertaken which threatened some very powerful interests who had helped the Ayatollah into power.

Chase Manhattan Bank faced a liquidity crisis as there had been billions in questionable loans to Iran funneled through Chase.[28] Several of Chase’s loans were “possibly illegal under the Iranian constitution.”[29] Further, in February of 1979, once the interim government was put in power, it began to take “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors.” Also, the interim government “wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher,” which could have “created a liquidity crisis for the bank which already was coping with financial troubles.”[30]

With the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran, President Carter took moves to freeze Iranian financial assets. As David Rockefeller wrote in his book, “Carter’s ‘freeze’ of official Iranian assets protected our [Chase Manhattan’s] position, but no one at Chase played a role in convincing the administration to institute it.”[31]

In February of 1979, Iran had been taking “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors. In 1979, as in 1953, a freeze of Iranian assets made this action more difficult.”[32] This was significant for Chase Manhattan not simply because of the close interlocking of the board with those of oil companies, not to mention Rockefeller himself, who is patriarch of the family whose name is synonymous with oil, but also because Chase exclusively handled all the letters of credit for the purchase of Iranian oil.[33]

The Shah being accepted into the United States, under public pressure from Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, precipitated the hostage crisis, which occurred on November 4. Ten days later, Carter froze all Iranian assets in US banks, on the advice of his Treasury Secretary, William Miller. Miller just happened to have ties to Chase Manhattan Bank.[34]

Although Chase Manhattan directly benefited from the seizure of Iranian assets, the reasoning behind the seizure as well as the events leading up to it, such as a hidden role for the Anglo-Americans behind the Iranian Revolution, bringing the Shah to America, which precipitated the hostage crisis, cannot simply be relegated to personal benefit for Chase. There were larger designs behind this crisis. So the 1979 crises in Iran cannot simply be pawned off as a spur of the moment undertaking, but rather should be seen as quick actions taken upon a perceived opportunity. The opportunity was the rising discontent within Iran at the Shah; the quick actions were in covertly pushing the country into Revolution.

In 1979, “effectively restricting the access of Iran to the global oil market, the Iranian assets freeze became a major factor in the huge oil price increases of 1979 and 1981.”[35] Added to this, in 1979, British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts for oil supply, which along with cancellations taken by Royal Dutch Shell, drove the price of oil up higher.[36] With the first major oil price rises in 1973 (urged on by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger), the Third World was forced to borrow heavily from US and European banks to finance development. With the second oil price shocks of 1979, the US Federal Reserve, with Paul Volcker as its new Chairman, (himself having served a career under David Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan), dramatically raised interest rates from 2% in the late 70s to 18% in the early 80s. Developing nations could not afford to pay such interest on their loans, and thus the 1980s debt crisis spread throughout the Third World, with the IMF and World Bank coming to the “rescue” with their Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which ensured western control over the developing world’s economies.[37]

Covertly, the United States helped a radical Islamist government come to power in Iran, “the center of the Arc of Crisis,” and then immediately stirred up conflict and war in the region. Five months before Iraq invaded Iran, in April of 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski openly declared the willingness of the US to work closely with Iraq. Two months before the war, Brzezinski met with Saddam Hussein in Jordan, where he gave support for the destabilization of Iran.[38] While Saddam was in Jordan, he also met with three senior CIA agents, which was arranged by King Hussein of Jordan. He then went to meet with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, informing him of his plans to invade Iran, and then met with the King of Kuwait to inform him of the same thing. He gained support from America, and financial and arms support from the Arab oil producing countries. Arms to Iraq were funneled through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.[39] The war lasted until 1988 and resulted in over a million deaths.

This was the emergence of the “strategy of tension” in the “Arc of Crisis,” in particular, the covert support (whether in arming, training, or financing) of radical Islamic elements to foment violence and conflict in a region. It was the old imperial tactic of ‘divide and conquer’: pit the people against each other so that they cannot join forces against the imperial power. This violence and radical Islamism would further provide the pretext for which the US and its imperial allies could then engage in war and occupation within the region, all the while securing its vast economic and strategic interests.

The “Arc of Crisis” in Afghanistan: The Safari Club in Action

In 1978, the progressive Taraki government in Afghanistan managed to incur the anger of the United States due to “its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies.”[40] The Afghan government was widely portrayed in the West as “Communist” and thus, a threat to US national security. The government, did, however, undertake friendly policies and engagement with the Soviet Union, but was not a Communist government.

In 1978, as the new government came to power, almost immediately the US began covertly funding rebel groups through the CIA.[41] In 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski worked closely with his aid from the CIA, Robert Gates (who is currently Secretary of Defense), in shifting President Carter’s Islamic policy. As Brzezinski said in a 1998 interview with a French publication:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.[42]

Brzezinski elaborated, saying he “Knowingly increased the probability that [the Soviets] would invade,” and he recalled writing to Carter on the day of the Soviet invasion that, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked about the repercussions for such support in fostering the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Brzezinski responded, “What is most 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?”[43]

As author Peter Dale Scott pointed out in, The Road to 9/11:*

For generations in both Afghanistan and the Soviet Muslim Republics the dominant form of Islam had been local and largely Sufi. The decision to work with the Saudi and Pakistani secret services meant that billions of CIA and Saudi dollars would ultimately be spent in programs that would help enhance the globalistic and Wahhabistic jihadism that are associated today with al Qaeda.[44]

Hafizullah Amin, a top official in Taraki’s government, who many believed to be a CIA asset, orchestrated a coup in September of 1979, and “executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.”[45] The Soviets also intervened in order to replace Amin, who was seen as “unpredictable and extremist” with “the more moderate Barbak Karmal.”[46]

The Soviet invasion thus prompted the US national security establishment to undertake the largest covert operation in history. When Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter in 1981, the covert assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen not only continued on the path set by Brzezinski but it rapidly accelerated, as did the overall strategy in the “Arc of Crisis.” When Reagan became President, his Vice President became George H.W. Bush, who, as CIA director during the Ford administration, had helped establish the Safari Club intelligence network and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in Pakistan. In the “campaign to aid the Afghan rebels … BCCI clearly emerged as a U.S. intelligence asset,” and CIA Director “Casey began to use the outside – the Saudis, the Pakistanis, BCCI – to run what they couldn’t get through Congress. [BCCI president] Abedi had the money to help,” and the CIA director had “met repeatedly” with the president of BCCI.[47]

Thus, in 1981, Director Casey of the CIA worked with Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal who ran the Saudi intelligence agency GID, and the Pakistani ISI “to create a foreign legion of jihadi Muslims or so-called Arab Afghans.” This idea had “originated in the elite Safari Club that had been created by French intelligence chief Alexandre de Marenches.”[48]

In 1986, the CIA backed a plan by the Pakistani ISI “to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad.” Subsequently:

More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by CIA and MI6, with the SAS [British Special Forces] training future al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989.[49]

CIA funding for the operations “was funneled through General Zia and the ISI in Pakistan.”[50] Interestingly, Robert Gates, who previously served as assistant to Brzezinski in the National Security Council, stayed on in the Reagan-Bush administration as executive assistant to CIA director Casey, and who is currently Secretary of Defense.

The Global Drug Trade and the CIA

As a central facet of the covert financing and training of the Afghan Mujahideen, the role of the drug trade became invaluable. The global drug trade has long been used by empires for fuelling and financing conflict with the aim of facilitating imperial domination.

In 1773, the British colonial governor in Bengal “established a colonial monopoly on the sale of opium.” As Alfred W. McCoy explained in his masterful book, The Politics of Heroin:

As the East India Company expanded production, opium became India’s main export. [. . . ] Over the next 130 years, Britain actively promoted the export of Indian opium to China, defying Chinese drug laws and fighting two wars to open China’s opium market for its merchants. Using its military and mercantile power, Britain played a central role in making China a vast drug market and in accelerating opium cultivation throughout China. By 1900 China had 13.5 million addicts consuming 39,000 tons of opium.[51]

In Indochina in the 1940s and 50s, the French intelligence services “enabled the opium trade to survive government suppression efforts,” and subsequently, “CIA activities in Burma helped transform the Shan states from a relatively minor poppy-cultivating area into the largest opium-growing region in the world.”[52] The CIA did this by supporting the Kuomintang (KMT) army in Burma for an invasion of China, and facilitated its monopolization and expansion of the opium trade, allowing the KMT to remain in Burma until a coup in 1961, when they were driven into Laos and Thailand.[53] The CIA subsequently played a very large role in the facilitation of the drugs trade in Laos and Vietnam throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.[54]

It was during the 1980s that “the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan transformed Central Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin for the world market,” as:

Until the late 1970s, tribal farmers in the highlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan grew limited quantities of opium and sold it to merchant caravans bound west for Iran and east to India. In its decade of covert warfare against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the CIA’s operations provided the political protection and logistics linkages that joined Afghanistan’s poppy fields to heroin markets in Europe and America.[55]

In 1977, General Zia Ul Haq in Pakistan launched a military coup, “imposed a harsh martial-law regime,” and executed former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (father to Benazir Bhutto). When Zia came to power, the Pakistani ISI was a “minor military intelligence unit,” but, under the “advice and assistance of the CIA,” General Zia transformed the ISI “into a powerful covert unit and made it the strong arm of his martial-law regime.”[56]

The CIA and Saudi money flowed not only to weapons and training for the Mujahideen, but also into the drug trade. Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq appointed General Fazle Haq as the military governor of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), who would “consult with Brzezinski on developing an Afghan resistance program,” and who became a CIA asset. When CIA Director Casey or Vice President George H.W. Bush reviewed the CIA Afghan operation, they went to see Haq; who by 1982, was considered by Interpol to be an international narcotics trafficker. Haq moved much of the narcotics money through the BCCI.[57]

In May of 1979, prior to the December invasion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, a CIA envoy met with Afghan resistance leaders in a meeting organized by the ISI. The ISI “offered the CIA envoy an alliance with its own Afghan client, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,” who led a small guerilla group. The CIA accepted, and over the following decade, half of the CIA’s aid went to Hekmatyar’s guerillas.[58] Hekmatyar became Afghanistan’s leading mujahideen drug lord, and developed a “complex of six heroin labs in an ISI-controlled area of Baluchistan (Pakistan).”[59]

The US subsequently, through the 1980s, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, gave Hekmatyar more than $1 billion in armaments. Immediately, heroin began flowing from Afghanistan to America. By 1980, drug-related deaths in New York City rose 77% since 1979.[60] By 1981, the drug lords in Pakistan and Afghanistan supplied 60% of America’s heroin. Trucks going into Afghanistan with CIA arms from Pakistan would return with heroin “protected by ISI papers from police search.”[61]

Haq, the CIA asset in Pakistan, “was also running the drug trade,” of which the bank BCCI “was completely involved.” In the 1980s, the CIA insisted that the ISI create “a special cell for the use of heroin for covert actions.” Elaborating:

This cell promoted the cultivation of opium and the extraction of heroin in Pakistani territory as well as in the Afghan territory under Mujahideen control for being smuggled into Soviet controlled areas in order to make the Soviet troops heroin addicts.[62]

This plan apparently originated at the suggestion of French intelligence chief and founder of the Safari Club, Alexandre de Marenches, who recommended it to CIA Director Casey.[63]

In the 1980s, one program undertaken by the United States was to finance Mujahideen propaganda in textbooks for Afghan schools. The US gave the Mujahideen $43 million in “non-lethal” aid for the textbook project alone, which was given by USAID: “The U.S. Agency for International Development, [USAID] coordinated its work with the CIA, which ran the weapons program,” and “The U.S. government told the AID to let the Afghan war chiefs decide the school curriculum and the content of the textbooks.”[64]

The textbooks were “filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings,” and “were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines.” Even since the covert war of the 1980s, the textbooks “have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books.” The books were developed through a USAID grant to the “University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies,” and when the books were smuggled into Afghanistan through regional military leaders, “Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines.” USAID stopped this funding in 1994.[65]

The Rise of the Taliban

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the fighting continued between the Afghan government backed by the USSR and the Mujahideen backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, so too did its aid to the Afghan government, which itself was overthrown in 1992. However, fighting almost immediately broke out between rival factions vying for power, including Hekmatyar.

In the early 1990s, an obscure group of “Pashtun country folk” had become a powerful military and political force in Afghanistan, known as the Taliban.[66] The Taliban “surfaced as a small militia force operating near Kandahar city during the spring and summer of 1994, carrying out vigilante attacks against minor warlords.” As growing discontent with the warlords grew, so too did the reputation of the Taliban.[67]

The Taliban acquired an alliance with the ISI in 1994, and throughout 1995, the relationship between the Taliban and the ISI accelerated and “became more and more of a direct military alliance.” The Taliban ultimately became “an asset of the ISI” and “a client of the Pakistan army.”[68] Further, “Between 1994 and 1996, the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro-Western.”[69]

Selig Harrison, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and “a leading US expert on South Asia,” said at a conference in India that the CIA worked with Pakistan to create the Taliban. Harrison has “extensive contact” with the CIA, as “he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan,” while he was a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As he further revealed in 2001, “The CIA still has close links with the ISI.”[70] By 1996, the Taliban had control of Kandahar, but still fighting and instability continued in the country.

Osama and Al-Qaeda

Between 1980 and 1989, roughly $600 million was passed through Osama bin Laden’s charity front organizations, specifically the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), also known as Al-Kifah. The money mostly originated with wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and other areas in the Persian Gulf, and was funneled through his charity fronts to arm and fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan.[71]

In the 1980s, the British Special Forces (SAS) were training mujahideen in Afghanistan, as well as in secret camps in Scotland, and the SAS is largely taking orders from the CIA. The CIA also indirectly begins to arm Osama bin Laden.[72] Osama bin Laden’s front charity, the MAK, “was nurtured” by the Pakistani ISI.[73]

Osama bin Laden was reported to have been personally recruited by the CIA in 1979 in Istanbul. He had the close support of Prince Turki bin Faisal, his friend and head of Saudi intelligence, and also developed ties with Hekmatyar in Afghanistan,[74] both of whom were pivotal figures in the CIA-Safari Club network. General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, the head of the Pakistani ISI from 1980 to 1987, would meet regularly with Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, and they formed a partnership in demanding a tax on the opium trade from warlords so that by 1985, bin Laden and the ISI were splitting the profits of over $100 million per year.[75] In 1985, Osama bin Laden’s brother, Salem, stated that Osama was “the liaison between the US, the Saudi government, and the Afghan rebels.”[76]

In 1988, Bin Laden discussed “the establishment of a new military group,” which would come to be known as Al-Qaeda.[77] Osama bin Laden’s charity front, the MAK, (eventually to form Al-Qaeda) founded the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, New York, to recruit Muslims for the jihad against the Soviets. The al-Kifah Center was founded in the late 1980s with the support of the U.S. government, which provided visas for known terrorists associated with the organization, including Ali Mohamed, the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman and possibly the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta.[78]

This coincided with the creation of Al-Qaeda, of which the al-Kifah Center was a recruiting front. Foot soldiers for Al-Qaeda were “admitted to the United States for training under a special visa program.” The FBI had been surveilling the training of terrorists, however, “it terminated this surveillance in the fall of 1989.” In 1990, the CIA granted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman a visa to come run the al-Kifah Center, who was considered an “untouchable” as he was “being protected by no fewer than three agencies,” including the State Department, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.[79]

Robin Cook, a former British MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote that Al-Qaeda, “literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”[80] Thus, “Al-Qaeda” was born as an instrument of western intelligence agencies. This account of al-Qaeda was further corroborated by a former French military intelligence agent, who stated that, “In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database,” and that it remained as such into the 1990s. He contended that, “Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden’s personal property,” and further:

The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the ‘TV watcher’ to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money.[81]

The creation of Al-Qaeda was thus facilitated by the CIA and allied intelligence networks, the purpose of which was to maintain this “database” of Mujahideen to be used as intelligence assets to achieve US foreign policy objectives, throughout both the Cold War, and into the post-Cold War era of the ‘new world order’.

Part 2 of “The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda” takes the reader through an examination of the new imperial strategy laid out by American geopolitical strategists at the end of the Cold War, designed for America to maintain control over the world’s resources and prevent the rise of competitive powers. Covertly, the “database” (al-Qaeda) became central to this process, being used to advance imperial aims in various regions, such as in the dismantling of Yugoslavia. Part 2 further examines the exact nature of ‘al-Qaeda’, its origins, terms, training, arming, financing, and expansion. In particular, the roles of western intelligence agencies in the evolution and expansion of al-Qaeda is a central focus. Finally, an analysis of the preparations for the war in Afghanistan is undertaken to shed light on the geopolitical ambitions behind the conflict that has now been waging for nearly nine years.

* [Note on the research: For a comprehensive analysis of the history, origins and nature of al-Qaeda, see: Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America, which provided much of the research in the above article.]

Notes

[1]        Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 62

[2]        Ibid, page 63.

[3]        Ibid, page 62.

[4]        Ibid, pages 66-67.

[5]        HP-Time, The Crescent of Crisis. Time Magazine: January 15, 1979:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919995-1,00.html

[6]        Peter Dale Scott, op. cit., page 67.

[7]        F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 171

[8]        Manouchehr Ganji, Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 41

[9]        Ibid, page 39.

[10]      Ibid, page 41.

[11]      Ibid.

[12]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 172

[13]      Ibid, page 171.

[14]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 796

[15]      Ibid, page 797.

[16]      Ibid, page 798.

[17]      IPS, Q&A:  Iran’s Islamic Revolution Had Western Blessing. Inter-Press Service: July 26, 2008:
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43328

[18]      Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813077590&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[19]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 89.

[20]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 810

[21]      F. William Engdahl, op cit., page 172.

[22]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 81.

[23]      Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813077590&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[24]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 83.

[25]      Ibid, page 84.

[26]      Ibid, page 81.

[27]      Ibid, pages 85-86.

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      Ibid, page 87.

[30]      Ibid, pages 88-89.

[31]      Ibid.

[32]      Ibid, pages 87-88.

[33]      Ibid, page 85.

[34]      Ibid, page 86.

[35]      Ibid, page 88.

[36]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 173

[37]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve. Global Research: August 3, 2009:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14614

[38]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 89

[39]      PBS, Secrets of His Life and Leadership: An Interview with Said K. Aburish. PBS Frontline:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/interviews/aburish.html

[40]      Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11279

[41]      Oleg Kalugin, How We Invaded Afghanistan. Foreign Policy: December 11, 2009:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/12/11/how_we_invaded_afghanistan

[42]      ‘’Le Nouvel Observateur’ (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76:
http://www.ucc.ie/acad/appsoc/tmp_store/mia/Library/history/afghanistan/archive/brzezinski/1998/interview.htm

[43]      Ibid.

[44]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73

[45]      Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11279

[46]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 78.

[47]      Ibid, page 116.

[48]      Ibid, page 122.

[49]      Ibid, page 123.

[50]      Ibid,.

[51]      Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. (Lawrence Hill Books: Chicago, 2003), page 80

[52]      Ibid, page 162.

[53]      Ibid.

[54]      Ibid, pages 283-386.

[55]      Ibid, page 466.

[56]      Ibid, page 474.

[57]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73

[58]      Alfred W. McCoy, op cit., page 475.

[59]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 74.

[60]      Ibid, pages 75-76.

[61]      Ibid, page 124.

[62]      Ibid, pages 75-76.

[63]      Ibid, page 124.

[64]      Carol Off, Back to school in Afghanistan. CBC: May 6, 2002:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/afghanistan/schools.html

[65]      Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad. The Washington Post: March 23, 2002:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A5339-2002Mar22?language=printer

[66]      Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Books, New York, 2004: Page 328

[67]      Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 11, 2001. (London: Penguin, 2005), page 285

[68]      Steve Coll, “Steve Coll” Interview with PBS Frontline. PBS Frontline: October 3, 2006:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/interviews/coll.html

[69]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), page 326

[70]      ToI, “CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban”. The Times of India: March 7, 2001:
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/taliban.htm

[71]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), pages 279-280

[72]      Simon Reeve, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism. (London: André Deutsch Ltd, 1999), page 168

[73]      Michael Moran, Bin Laden comes home to roost. MSNBC: August 24, 1998:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3340101/

[74]      Veronique Maurus and Marc Rock, The Most Dreaded Man of the United States, Controlled a Long Time by the CIA. Le Monde Diplomatique: September 14, 2001: http://www.wanttoknow.info/010914lemonde

[75]      Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. (New York: Random House, 2003), page 29

[76]      Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens. (New York: Penguin, 2008), pages 7-9

[77]      AP, Al Qaeda Financing Documents Turn Up in Bosnia Raid. Fox News: February 19, 2003:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,78937,00.html

[78]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: pages 140-141

[79]      Ibid, page 141.

[80]      Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means. The Guardian: July 8, 2005:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/08/july7.development

[81]      Pierre-Henri Bunel, Al Qaeda — the Database. Global Research: November 20, 2005:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=BUN20051120&articleId=1291