Moral Outrage
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Osama bin Laden and the CIA

CIA director and Afghan counterparts at mujahidin training camp

Once upon a time, the CIA trained, financed and supported Osama bin Laden and his mujahidin networks in Afghanistan to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The story begins in the summer of 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion, when the CIA had already begun financing elements of an emerging Islamist mujahidin force inside Afghanistan. The idea, according to former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert Gates, was to increase the probability of a Soviet invasion, and “entrap the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire”.

Osama bin Laden arrived in the country later that year, sent by then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal, where he set up the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) which helped finance, recruit and train mujahidin fighters. Bin Laden, the MAK, and the Afghan mujahidin in total received about half a billion dollars a year from the CIA, and roughly the same from the Saudis, funneled through Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

By around 1988, as Jane’s Defence Weekly reports, “with US knowledge, Bin Laden created al-Qaeda (The Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries”. US and Western intelligence agencies facilitated this process, seeing rightwing Islamist movements as a counterweight to Communist, leftwing and nationalist political trends.

In recent dispatches for the New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cites US Government and intelligence officials’ confirmation that the CIA and the Pentagon have funneled millions of dollars via Saudi Arabia to al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni extremist groups, across the Middle East and Central Asia.

In early 2008, a US Presidential Finding to Congress corroborated Hersh’s reporting, affirming CIA funding worth $400 million to diverse anti-Shi’a extremist and terrorist groups.

Continued

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