Overview of CIA Support of bin Laden during Russia-Afghan War
September 11, 2001 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Overview of CIA Support of bin Laden during Russia-Afghan War “[T]he CIA, concerned about the factionalism of Afghanistan ... found that Arab zealots who flocked to aid the Afghans were easier to ‘read’ than the rivalry-ridden natives. While the Arab volunteers might well prove troublesome later, the agency reasoned, they at least were one-dimensionally anti-Soviet for now. So bin Laden, [and other] Islamic militants ... became the ‘reliable’ partners of the CIA in its war against Moscow.” Senator Orrin Hatch: “It was worth it ... Those were very important, pivotal matters that played an important role in the downfall of the Soviet Union.” Dated: Aug. 24, 1998
posted by raaka (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gee...this sounds similar to the things we heard about Saddam before the Gulf War...
posted by thebigpoop at 11:26 PM on September 11, 2001

Another older article about bin Ladin and a more recent article on why the CIA may be having troubles going after him: "Operations that include diarrhea as a way of life don't happen."

In doing some channel surfing today, it seems that places like CBC and BBC TV have been having a fair number of "Who is bin Ladin" type stories describing his background, etc. But U.S. networks aren't really profiling him at this point. I guess there will be a whole Enemy Information Day later in the week.
posted by gluechunk at 12:02 AM on September 12, 2001

That Atlantic Monthly bit should be required reading. Also see the other stories linked from that page: Blowback, The Roots of Muslim Rage and Flashbacks: "The Triumph of Terrorism".

Two other coincidental stories regarding weaponry and security: Brian Regan, an Air Force Master Sargent was arrested in August on espionage charges. He passed and was planning to give more information to Libya’s Gadafy about US satellite sweeps.

The other (totally coincidental as far as anybody knows, but scary) incident involves an Air Force security building protecting missile silos in Nebraska. An unknown number of people stole an M60, M16, grenade launcher and ammo. Which means not only are US Air Force installations vulnerable to theft, but there’s very powerful automatic weapons on the loose.

I guess all this begs the question: Is the military to big to control? Are there just too many mission critical facets of the operation to keep a lid on?
posted by raaka at 12:37 AM on September 12, 2001

With some tangential personal irony, the book Blowback : America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War just came in for me at the Seattle Public Library this evening. Now it appears that our long-standing yet rarely mentioned (at least by mainstream media standards) foreign policy of playing kissy-face with every tinpot dictator and nutjob paramilitary/extremist/terrorist organization on the globe, simply because they had a willingness to suppress through extralegal means any democratic or socialist uprisings that might disagree with the goals of either Cold War rhetoric or TNC exploitation, has come to haunt us. Blowback, indeed...

While no US action or involvement overseas could ever be said to merit what happened this Tuesday, I fear that an honest discussion of US actions that have armed and agitated the terrorists of the world will get lost in the shuffle. However, as I see a parade of Ollie Norths, Jim Bakers, and Henry Kissingers parade across the varied cable networks, it's clear that no responsibility will fall on the shoulders of these Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies who merrily funneled countless billions to arm and train in acts of assassination, torture and terrorism those who now may have turned and attacked the US.

A ray of sunshine might be that NMD funding will now seem a ridiculous waste of money given that 10 or so men with nothing but knives and razors could make this terrible tragedy happen. Then again, this could lead to unprecedented across the board military funding and civil liberties erosion. It's a decision I hope our nation can make wisely...
posted by hincandenza at 1:28 AM on September 12, 2001

Well said, hincandenza. We started talking about those Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies here, before this all came down. I wanted to provide this, too, and I guess this might be the thread to do it...in no way do I wish by my words to diminish the tragedy of all those lives lost, but I am a little more scared, not of 'terrorists' or random violence, but of what America will become in the future, and what that will mean for the rest of the planet, than I was a couple of days ago.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:53 AM on September 12, 2001

Exactly, StWC. This attack is terrorism and absolutely unacceptable and unforgivable- no matter how horrible we may have been to other nations or other peoples through secret gov't actions, fighting our "terrorism" with this craven act of terrorism is utterly and completely evil. And phenomenally stupid, seeing as whether right or wrong the US is the Big Dog. But the biggest loss to the US may come if we react poorly, if we allow this to define our own actions too deeply.

That is not to say it's unfathomable that we as a nation are hated by people around the globe. No, what's truly sad is that the average citizen of this country, and most of the people who were so sadly lost to us Tuesday morning, had little knowledge of and likely would never have given their informed consent to some of the covert actions our government has taken around the globe these last few decades. Indeed, look how much public opinion changed once the reality about the Vietnam War (or more recently the Drug War, which has increasing vocal opposition across the political spectrum) became known shows that truth clearly.

I firmly believe we Americans are a good people- how New Yorkers reacted in this tragedy, helping each other, staying calm, shows that- and although we'll sadly hear more anti-Islamic rhetoric and calls for a swift and bloody revolution, most Americans when confronted with the reality of what our own ill-begotten national leadership (a leadership that, as always, is washed clean in the lens of history and exempt from punishment so they can go on book tours and speaking engagements to rack up six and seven figure incomes) has been doing with our tax dollars do become as sickened as they have become today.
posted by hincandenza at 2:52 AM on September 12, 2001

The many postings that suggest that our CIA etc played pals with Bin Laden and other in a counter Russia movement of course are correct but don't suggest the entire picture. In fact, our country in general (see any decent political science and/or history book) has a long history of being opposed or suspicious of virtually any left-leaning person or group. such groups have been scrutinized by the FBI for years. It is only natural given our history that we would offer help and support to the enemy of our perceived enemies.
But it ought to be kept in mind that manyu fundamentalists in the Middle East simply do not want Westerners and Western ideas and culture in their area of the world. In other words, it is not simply that the US has supported Israel but the very fact that the US plays a role in the area. Perhaps this is a fear of our influence that they worry might undermind their old timey way of life.
posted by Postroad at 4:44 AM on September 12, 2001

What is the point of this thread: that we've brought this upon ourselves? What about the possiblity that sometimes there's no choice but to work with a smaller devil to defend against a greater one? Have the courage and honesty to admit that there are evil people in the world and that they are not "evil" because we (the US; or Western democracy) have selfishly, arbitrarily the are evil. People who blow up innocent's, particularly in the name of a "God" are fucked-up and should be killed. If you can't get to that point, there's no hope.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:05 AM on September 12, 2001

You're right, Paris, of course. People who kill people are bad people. No one is arguing anything different. Whether they should be killed or not is an entirely different argument, one that we've had an awful lot of times here on MeFi, and don't need to go into again here.

What I personally hope that you and others might take from a discussion about the context of this thread is that blind faith that our 'leaders' (wherever we may live) are always doing the right thing, when mixed with a little hysteria and jingoism, can be a terribly dangerous thing. It can result in statements that inflame and add nothing to a discussion, like the one you made above : "People who blow up innocent's, particularly in the name of a "God" are fucked-up and should be killed."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:33 AM on September 12, 2001

Has the U.S. ever faced a foe it hadn't helped create?
posted by rushmc at 8:18 AM on September 12, 2001

People who blow up innocent's, particularly in the name of a "God" are fucked-up and should be killed.

That statement could be equally applied to certain US military actions. Which isn’t to say what happened yesterday is in any way defensible — but the US does have its own violent history.

I really have no idea why Americans consciously choose to be completely unambigious about history. It makes them look ignorant and arrogant.
posted by raaka at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2001

rushmc: Has the U.S. ever faced a foe it hadn't helped create?

Um... American Revolution, and maybe the War of 1812? Those two for starters- but in the last half century, maybe not too many...
posted by hincandenza at 12:43 PM on September 12, 2001

It makes them look ignorant and arrogant.

We often ARE ignorant and arrogant, raaka. But rarely as malicious as other peoples like to portray us.
posted by rushmc at 1:27 PM on September 12, 2001

Um... American Revolution, and maybe the War of 1812?

You went back further than I did...I got too depressed around the Civil War and abandoned the intellectual exercise.

Technically, I must point out that there was no United States during the American Revolution...
posted by rushmc at 1:29 PM on September 12, 2001

Finally found the first backgrounder on bin Laden in the mainstream press:

“Bin Laden began forming his network in 1979, when he went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets alongside Afghan resistance fighters known as the mujahedeen.

“He used his family's connections and wealth to raise money for the Afghan resistance and provide the mujahedeen with logistical and humanitarian aid, and participated in several battles in the Afghan war.”
Bin Laden, millionaire with a dangerous grudge

Think anything is missing from that?
posted by raaka at 5:04 PM on September 12, 2001

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