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Afghan Arabs

Afghan Arabs

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Afghan Arabs were Arab and other Muslim Islamist mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 who came to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 during and following the Soviet-Afghan War
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 to help fellow Muslims fight Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans.
Observers and journalists covering the war have cast doubt on their significance as a fighting force, but within the Muslim Arab world they achieved near hero-status for their association with the defeat of the militant atheist
State atheism
State atheism is the official "promotion of atheism" by a government, sometimes combined with active suppression of religious freedom and practice...

, anti-religious
Religion in the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion and its replacement with atheism. To that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in schools...

 Communist superpower that was the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

.

Many returned to their home countries to wage jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

 against their governments. Their name notwithstanding, none were Afghans and some were not Arabs, but Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, Malay or from some other Muslim non-Arab ethnicity. The most famous among their number was Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

.

History


Apart from the entering Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Arabs entered the area today known as Afghanistan in earlier centuries in two distinct waves. During the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

, many Arabs settled throughout the region, while another wave arrived during the Bolshevik Revolution. "Afghan Arabs" who entered Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War began arriving in the early 1980s.

Origin


One supporter of the Afghan Arabs, General Hameed Gul, the former head of the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

, explained the recruitment of Muslims to fight in Afghanistan this way: `We are fighting a jihad and this is the first Islamic international brigade in the modern era. The Communists have their international brigades, the West has NATO, why can't the Muslims unite and form a common front?`

Sheikh Azzam


Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was a highly influential Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian, who preached in favor of defensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet invaders...

 (1941–1989) is often credited with creating enthusiasm for the Afghan mujahideen cause in the Arab Muslim and greater Muslim world. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Shaikh Azzam issued a fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

, Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Faith
declaring defense jihad in Afghanistan fard
Fard
also is an Islamic term which denotes a religious duty. The word is also used in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu in the same meaning....

 ayn (a personal obligation) for all Muslims. "Whoever can, from among the Arabs, fight jihad in Palestine, then he must start there. And, if he is not capable, then he must set out for Afghanistan." While Jihad in Palestine was more important, for practical reasons, "it is our opinion that we should begin [Jihad] with Afghanistan before Palestine." The edict was supported by other Sheikhs including Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti
Grand Mufti
The title of Grand Mufti refers to the highest official of religious law in a Sunni or Ibadi Muslim country. The Grand Mufti issues legal opinions and edicts, fatwā, on interpretations of Islamic law for private clients or to assist judges in deciding cases...

 (highest religious scholar), Abd al-Aziz Bin Bazz.
Sometime after 1980, Adullah Azzam established Maktab al-Khadamat
Maktab al-Khadamat
The Maktab al-Khidamat, also Maktab Khadamāt al-Mujāhidīn al-'Arab , also known as the Afghan Services Bureau, is reliably believed to have been founded in 1984 by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden to raise funds and recruit foreign mujahidin for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan...

 (Services Office) to organize guest houses in Peshawar just across the Afghan border in Pakistan and paramilitary training camps in Afghanistan to prepare international recruits for the Afghan war front. Using financing of Saudi Arabia and a wealthy young Saudi recruit, Osama bin Laden, Maktab al-Khadamat paid for "air tickets and accommodation, dealt with paperwork with Pakistani authorities and provided other such services for the jihad fighters" from the Muslim world. During the 1980s, Azam had forged close links with two of the Afghan mujahideen faction-leaders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

 the Pakistan favorite, and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf is an Afghan Islamist politician. He took part in the war against the PDPA government in the 1980s, leading the Mujahedin faction Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan....

, an Islamic scholar from Afghanistan whom the Saudis had "sent to Peshwar to promote Wahabbism."

Adullah Azzam toured not only the Muslim world but the United States, in search of funds and young Muslim recruits. He inspired young Muslims with stories of miraculous deeds, mujahideen who defeated vast columns of Soviet troops virtually single-handed, who had been run over by tanks but survived, who were shot, but unscathed by bullets. Angels were said ride into battle on horseback, and falling bombs were intercepted by birds, which raced ahead of the jets to form a protective canopy over the warriors. Critics complain these stories proliferated because Sheikh Abdullah paid mujahideen to bring "him wonderful tales."

It is estimated that Azzam organized paramilitary training for more than 20,000 Muslim recruits from about 20 countries around the world. (Abdullah Yusuf Azzam#Life in Pakistan and Afghanistan)

Later volunteers


By 1986 the Soviets were talking about withdrawing from Afghanistan. As it became clear the Mujahideen's fight against the Soviet's had been a success, it became more popular with Muslims worldwide, and drew more of them to volunteer in Afghanistan. Consequently most of the "Afghan" Arabs arrived to fight the Soviets when they were least needed. The late arrivals were reportedly twice the number who came for the war against the Soviet occupation.

Many of the later volunteers were different than the early "Afghan" Arab volunteers inspired by Sheikh Azzam's tours, and have been criticized for being less serious,
Some Saudi tourists came to earn their jihad credentials. Their tour was organized so that they could step inside Afghanistan, get photographed discharging a gun, and promptly return home as a hero of Afghanistan.


or more sectarian and undisciplined in their violence. Violence escalated in Peshwar Pakistan, the mujahideen staging area and center of Afghan Arab activity.

Sheikh Azzam's removal


Sometime after August 1988, Sheikh Azzam was replaced as the leader of the Arab Afghans in Peshwar by Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

.

Sheikh Azzam himself was assassinated there in November 1989 by roadside bomb that some think was the work of the radical jihadi Egyptian Islamic Jihad and his opponent Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

.

(see: Abdullah Yusuf Azzam#Assassination)

These later expatriate volunteers included many sectarian Salafi
Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

 and Wahhabi who alienated their hosts with their aloof manner and disdain for the Sufi Islam practiced by most Afghans. While the first Arab Afghans were "for the most part" welcomed by native Afghan mujahideen, by the end of the Soviet-Afghan war, there was a great deal of mutual antagonism between the two groups. The Afghan mujahideen resented "being told they were not good Muslims" and called the expatriate volunteers "Ikhwanis" or "Wahhabis".

This hostility may have played an important role in the relatively easy manner in which the U.S. overthrew the Taliban in 2001
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 when Afghans turned against these foreigners.

After the war with the Soviets


However minimal the impact of the "Afghan" Arabs on the war against the Soviets, the return of the volunteers to their home countries was not a "sideshow." In Foreign Affairs Peter Bergen writes:
The foreign volunteers in Afghanistan saw the Soviet defeat as a victory for Islam against a superpower that had invaded a Muslim country. Estimates of the number of foreign fighters who fought in Afghanistan begin in the low thousands; some spent years in combat, while others came only for what amounted to a jihad vacation. The jihadists gained legitimacy and prestige from their triumph both within the militant community and among ordinary Muslims, as well as the confidence to carry their jihad to other countries where they believed Muslims required assistance. When veterans of the guerrilla campaign returned home with their experience, ideology, and weapons, they destabilized once-tranquil countries and inflamed already unstable ones.


After the war, many foreign mujahideen stayed in Afghanistan and took Afghan wives. The Afghan Arabs served as the essential core of the foot soldiers of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

's Al Qaeda, bin Laden being seen, according to journalist Lawrence Wright, as "the undisputed leader of the Arab Afghans" by fall of 1989.

Others returned "with their experience, ideology, and weapons," to their home countries, often proceeding to fight jihad against the government there. The most extreme case was Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 where jihadis fought the government in a bloody civil war
Algerian Civil War
The Algerian Civil War was an armed conflict between the Algerian government and various Islamist rebel groups which began in 1991. It is estimated to have cost between 150,000 and 200,000 lives, in a population of about 25,010,000 in 1990 and 31,193,917 in 2000.More than 70 journalists were...

 that cost 150,000-200,000 lives.

Also, many of them went to Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 to fight against Bosnian Serbs and Croats.

Taliban era


In the mid- and late-1990s, the Afghan Arabs, in the form of the Wahhabi-oriented Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

, became more influential in Afghanistan helping and influencing the Taliban. Several hundred Arab-Afghans participated in the 1997 and 1998 Taliban offensives in the north and helped the Taliban carry out the massacres of the Shia Hazaras there. Several hundred more Arab-Afghans, based in the Rishkor army garrison outside Kabul, fought on the Kabul front against General Ahmed Shah Massoud. At the same time the Taliban's ideology changed. Until the "Taliban's contact with the Arab-Afghans and their [the Taliban's] pan-Islamic ideology was non-existent."

By 1996 and 1998, al Qaeda felt comfortable enough in the sanctuary given them to issue a declaration of war against Americans and later a fatwa to kill Americans and their allies. "The Arab-Afghans had come full circle. From being mere appendages of the Afghan jihad and the Cold War in the 1980s they had taken centre stage for the Afghans, neighbouring countries and the west in the 1990s." This was followed by al Qaeda 1998 American embassy bombings
1998 United States embassy bombings
The 1998 United States embassy bombings were a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capitals of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The date of the...

 in African and the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

.

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, America invaded Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, deposing the Taliban, ending the heyday of the Afghan Arabs.

During the American campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001, many coherent
units of Arab fighters were destroyed by JDAMs. Some Arab fighters have been held by Afghan tribesman for ransom paid by Americans.

Helpfulness to the Afghan mujahideen


Perhaps the major contribution of the more serious Afghan Arab volunteers was humanitarian aid —- the setting up of hospitals around Peshawar and Quetta and providing funds for supply caravans to travel to the interior of the country. The effectiveness of the Afghan Arabs in Afghanistan as a fighting force has been scoffed at, called a "curious sideshow to the real fighting," Estimates are there were about 2000 Arab Afghans fighting "at any one time", compared with about a 250,000 Afghan fighters and 125,000 Soviet troops.

Marc Sageman
Marc Sageman
Marc Sageman , M.D., Ph.D., is a former CIA Operations Officer who was based in Islamabad from 1987 to 1989, where he worked closely with Afghanistan's mujahedin. He has advised various branches of the U.S. government in the War on Terror...

, a Foreign Service Officer who was based in Islamabad from 1987-1989, and worked closely with Afghanistan's Mujahideen, says
Contemporaneous accounts of the war do not even mention [the Afghan Arabs]. Many were not serious about the war. ... Very few were involved in actual fighting. For most of the war, they were scattered among the Afghan groups associated with the four Afghan fundamentalist parties.


One instance where the foreign volunteers did participate in the fighting is reported to have backfired disastrously, hurting the Afghan resistance by prolonging the war against the Afghan Marxist government following the Soviet withdrawal.

The March 1989 battle for Jalalabad, was to be beginning of the collapse of the Afghan Communist government forces, with those forces began negotiation of surrender to the native Afghan mujahideen. Unfortunately, radical non-Afghan salafists became involved, executing some 60 surrendering Communists, cutting their corpses into small pieces, and sending the remains back to the besieged city in a truck with the message that this would be the fate awaiting the infidels. Despite apologies and assurances of safety from Afghan resistance leaders, the Communists ended their negotiations of surrender, spurred them on to break the siege of Jalalabad and to win the first major government victory in years. "This success reversed the government's demoralization from the withdrawal of Soviet forces, renewed its determination to fight on, and allowed it to survive three more years."

Composition


According to one source, some "35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Central Asia and the Far East," fought for the Afghan Mujahideen. Tens of thousand more foreign Muslim radicals came to study in the hundreds of new madrassas in Pakistan and along the Afghan border, that the Pakistan government funded. Eventually "more than 100,000 Muslim radicals were to have direct contact with Pakistan and Afghanistan and be influenced by the jihad."

The Mujahideen of Afghanistan were divided into several factions and the Afghan Arabs helped some factions much more than others. Factions led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf is an Afghan Islamist politician. He took part in the war against the PDPA government in the 1980s, leading the Mujahedin faction Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan....

 and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

 are described as having had good relations with Afghan Arabs. The faction led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, did not.

Interest in martyrdom


Afghan Arabs have been described as strongly motivated by hopes for martyrdom. Rahimullah Yusufzai, the Peshawar bureau chief for the Pakistani daily News, remarked on his amazement that one camp of Arab Afghans pitched white tents on the front lines, where they were easy marks for Soviet bombers, then attacking the camp. When he asked the Arabs "Why?" they replied: `We want them to bomb us! We Want to die!` Bin Laden himself has said: `I wish I could raid and be slain, and then raid and be slain, and then raid and be slain,`

Attitude to the West


The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 spent several billion dollars aiding the mujahideen
who "had been considerably romanticized in the American press and had made tours through American churches, where they were lauded for their spiritual courage in the common fight against Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and godlessness". Some of the Afghan Arabs jihadis who flocked to Afghanistan, however, saw themselves as opponents of the West every bit as much as of Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

.

French writer Olivier Roy, who spent some years in Afghanistan, and served with the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Office for Coordinating Relief in Afghanistan (UNOCA), has written that the jihadis "did not become anti-Western after 1991 -- they had always been so."
All westerners, like me, who encountered the so-called `Arabs` inside Afghanistan during the war of resistance were struck (sometimes physically) by their hostility. The Arabs constantly asked the Afghan mujahideen commanders to get rid of the `infidels` and to choose only good Muslims as supporters, and called for the expulsion of Western NGOs ... in many areas the mujahideen had to intervene to prevent physical assaults on westerners.


Author Gilles Kepel writes that in Peshwar Pakistan, some Afghan Arabs attacked "Europe and American humanitarian agencies ... trying to help the Afghan refugees."

In contrast according to former British Defence Secretary Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo
Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo is a British journalist, broadcaster, and former Conservative Party politician and Cabinet Minister...

, late Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was a democratic socialist who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan in two non-consecutive terms from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996....

 told him said Osama bin Laden was initially pro-American. According to Prince Bandar bin Sultan
Bandar bin Sultan
Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is a prince of the Saudi royal family and was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He was appointed Secretary-General of the National Security Council by King Abdullah on 16 October 2005...

 of Saudi Arabia, on the one occasion he met and talked to Osama bin Laden, bin Laden thanked him for his "efforts to bring the Americans, our friends, to help us against the atheists, he said the communists."

Connection with the CIA




The Afghan Arabs are sometimes reputed to be a creation of the American government and the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 in particular.

Robin Cook
Robin Cook
Robert Finlayson Cook was a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Livingston from 1983 until his death, and notably served in the Cabinet as Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2001....

, former leader of the British House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 and Foreign Secretary from 1997-2001, wrote in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

on Friday, July 8 2005,
Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, 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.


However the notion that the CIA had any contact with non-Afghan mujahideen and specifically bin Laden is disputed by a number of sources. According to Peter Bergen
Peter Bergen
Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist, author, and CNN's national security analyst. Bergen produced the first television interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1997. The interview, which aired on CNN, marked the first time that bin Laden declared war against the United States to a Western...

 of CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 the story

that the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden—is simply a folk myth. There's no evidence of this. In fact, there are very few things that bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the U.S. government agree on. They all agree that they didn't have a relationship in the 1980s. And they wouldn't have needed to. Bin Laden had his own money, he was anti-American and he was operating secretly and independently.


The real story here is the CIA didn't really have a clue about who this guy was until 1996 when they set up a unit to really start tracking him.


Bergen quotes Pakistani Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf, who ran ISI's Afghan operation between 1983 and 1987:
It was always galling to the Americans, and I can understand their point of view, that although they paid the piper they could not call the tune. The CIA supported the mujahideen by spending the taxpayers' money, billions of dollars of it over the years, on buying arms, ammunition, and equipment. It was their secret arms procurement branch that was kept busy. It was, however, a cardinal rule of Pakistan's policy that no Americans ever become involved with the distribution of funds or arms once they arrived in the country. No Americans ever trained or had direct contact with the mujahideen, and no American official ever went inside Afghanistan.


According to Peter Beinart,

Vincent Cannistraro, who led the Reagan administration's Afghan Working Group from 1985 to 1987, puts it, "The CIA was very reluctant to be involved at all. They thought it would end up with them being blamed, like in Guatemala." So the Agency tried to avoid direct involvement in the war, ... the skittish CIA, Cannistraro estimates, had less than ten operatives acting as America's eyes and ears in the region. Milton Bearden, the Agency's chief field operative in the war effort, has insisted that "[T]he CIA had nothing to do with" bin Laden. Cannistraro says that when he coordinated Afghan policy from Washington, he never once heard bin Laden's name.

See also

  • Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

  • Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
    Abdullah Yusuf Azzam
    Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was a highly influential Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian, who preached in favor of defensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet invaders...

  • Ayman al-Zawahiri
    Ayman al-Zawahiri
    Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

  • Reagan Doctrine
    Reagan Doctrine
    The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War...

  • Soviet war in Afghanistan
    Soviet war in Afghanistan
    The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

  • 055 Brigade
    055 Brigade
    The 055 Brigade was an elite guerrilla organization sponsored and trained by Al Qaeda that was integrated into the Taliban army between 1995 and 2001...

  • Pan-Islamism
    Pan-Islamism
    Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...

  • Religion in the Soviet Union
    Religion in the Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion and its replacement with atheism. To that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in schools...



Chechnya:
  • Islamic International Brigade
    Islamic International Brigade
    The Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade was the name of an international unit of Islamist mujahideen founded in 1998....

  • Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya
    Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya
    The Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya is an international unit of Islamist Mujahideen fighting in Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus....



Yugoslav wars:
  • Bosnian mujahideen
    Bosnian mujahideen
    Bosnian mujahideen were foreign Muslim volunteers who fought on the side of Bosnian Muslims during the 1992–1995 Bosnian war. They arrived in Bosnia with the aim of fighting for Islam and on behalf of Muslims who were at the time brutally attacked by Serbs and Croats in different parts of the...


External links