Operation Cyclone

Operation Cyclone

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Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 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...

 program to arm, train, and finance the Afghan 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...

 during the 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...

, 1979 to 1989. The program leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups that were favored by neighboring Pakistan, rather than other, less ideological Afghan resistance groups that had also been fighting the Marxist-oriented Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

 regime since before the Soviet intervention. Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken; funding began with $20–30 million per year in 1980 and rose to $630 million per year in 1987.

Background


President Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 reacted with "open-mouthed shock" to the Soviet invasion, and began promptly arming the Afghan insurgents. Vice-President Walter Mondale famously declared: "I cannot understand -- it just baffles me -- why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have. Maybe we have made some mistakes with them. Why did they have to build up all these arms? Why did they have to go into Afghanistan? Why can't they relax just a little bit about Eastern Europe? Why do they try every door to see if it is locked?" The Russians, several times shortly before the invasion, had staged conversations with the Afghan leadership suggesting that they had no desire to intervene, even as the Politburo was—with much hesitation—considering such an intervention. They had apparently orchestrated these meetings in a manner that would allow the Americans to easily intercept them. Though some have argued that US financial assistance to Afghan dissidents, including Islamists and other militants, prior to the invasion; along with a Soviet desire to protect the leftist Afghan government, helped convince the Russians to intervene, the Russians brutally murdered the Afghan President and his son, replacing him with a puppet regime, immediately after the invasion for fear that the US had secretly been collaborating with him.

According to the "Progressive South Asia Exchange Net," claiming to cite an article in Le Nouvel Observateur
Le Nouvel Observateur
Le Nouvel Observateur is a weekly French newsmagazine. Based in Paris, it is the most prominent French general information magazine in terms of audience and circulation ....

, U.S. policy, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy of aiming "to induce a Soviet military intervention." The article includes a brief interview with Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981....

, in which he is quoted as saying that the US provided aid to the mujahideen prior to the Soviet invasion in order to delibrately provoke one. Brzezinski himself has denied the accuracy of the interview. According to Brzezinski, an NSC working group
Working group
A working group is an interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers working on new research activities that would be difficult to develop under traditional funding mechanisms . The lifespan of the WG can last anywhere between a few months and several years...

 on Afghanistan wrote several reports on the deteriorating situation in 1979, but President Carter ignored them until the Soviet intervention destroyed his illusions. Brzezinski has stated that the US provided communications equipment and limited financial aid to the mujahideen prior to the "formal" invasion, but only in response to the Soviet deployment of forces to Afghanistan and the 1978 coup, and with the intention of preventing further Soviet encroachment in the region. Two declassified documents signed by Carter shortly before the invasion do authorize the provision "unilaterally or through third countries as appropriate support to the Afghan insurgents either in the form of cash or non-military supplies" and the "worldwide" distribution of "non-attributable propaganda" to "expose" the leftist Afghan government as "despotic and subservient to the Soviet Union" and to "publicize the efforts of the Afghan insurgents to regain their country's sovereignty," but the records also show that the provision of arms to the rebels did not begin until 1980.

The Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 significantly damaged the already tenuous relationship between Secretary of State Vance and Brzezinski. Vance felt that Brzezinski's linkage of SALT
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 to other Soviet activities and the US's proposed MX ballistic missile system [a $34 billion addition to US's defenses described as the nation's "most important ICBM of the future." "Taking Aim at the MX Missile." 4/07/80, together with the growing domestic criticisms in the United States of the SALT II Accord, convinced Brezhnev to decide on military intervention in Afghanistan. Brzezinski, however, later recounted that he repeatedly advanced proposals on how to maintain Afghanistan's "independence" and deter a Soviet invasion but was frustrated by the Department of State's opposition.

According to Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman is an American English teacher, historian, journalist, author, media critic, blogger, and educator. His political weblog named Altercation was hosted by MSNBC.com from 2002 until 2006, moved to Media Matters for America until December 2008, and is now hosted by The...

 of The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

, Cyrus Vance
Cyrus Vance
Cyrus Roberts Vance was an American lawyer and United States Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1980...

's close aide Marshall Shulman "insists that the State Department worked hard to dissuade the Soviets from invading and would never have undertaken a program to encourage it" and President Carter has said it was definitely "not my intention" to inspire a Soviet invasion but to deter one. Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

, in his book From the Shadows, wrote that Pakistan had actually been "pressuring" the United States for arms to aid the rebels for years, but that the Carter administration refused in the hope of finding a diplomatic solution to avoid war. Brzezinski seemed to have been in favor of the provision of arms to the rebels, while Vance's State Department, seeking a peaceful settlement, publicly accused Brzezinski of seeking to "revive" the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Gates, however, has questioned if the US financial aid did increase the chances of the Soviets intervening, writing that some CIA officers involved assumed that that was President Carter's intention.

The Soviet invasion and occupation killed up to 2 million Afghans. Brzezinski defended the arming of the rebels in response, saying that it "was quite important in hastening the end of the conflict," thereby saving the lives of thousands of Afghans, but "not in deciding the conflict, because actually the fact is that even though we helped the mujaheddin, they would have continued fighting without our help, because they were also getting a lot of money from the Persian Gulf and the Arab states, and they weren't going to quit. They didn't decide to fight because we urged them to. They're fighters, and they prefer to be independent. They just happen to have a curious complex: they don't like foreigners with guns in their country. And they were going to fight the Soviets. Giving them weapons was a very important forward step in defeating the Soviets, and that's all to the good as far as I'm concerned." When he was asked if he thought it was the right decision in retrospect (given the Taliban's subsequent rise to power), he said: "Which decision? For the Soviets to go in? The decision was the Soviets', and they went in. The Afghans would have resisted anyway, and they were resisting. I just told you: in my view, the Afghans would have prevailed in the end anyway, 'cause they had access to money, they had access to weapons, and they had the will to fight." The interviewer then asked: "So US support for the mujaheddin only begins after the Russians invade, not before?" Brzezinski replied: "With arms? Absolutely afterwards. No question about it. Show me some documents to the contrary." Likewise; Charlie Wilson said: "The U.S. had nothing whatsoever to do with these people's decision to fight ... but we'll be damned by history if we let them fight with stones." The 2007 movie Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy drama film recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson who partnered with "bare knuckle attitude" CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen in their...

 celebrated Charlie Wilson's and the CIA's involvement in the repulsion of the USSR troops from Afghanistan. Representative Wilson was awarded the Honored Colleague Award by the CIA for his involvement.

A 2002 study found that, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

, the United States had sought rapprochement with the Afghan government—a prospect that the USSR found unacceptable (especially as its own leverage over the regime was wearing thin). Thus, the Soviets intervened to preserve their influence in the country.

The early foundations of al-Qaida were built in part on relationships and weaponry that came from the billions of dollars in U.S. support for the Afghan mujahadin during the war to expel Soviet forces from that country, although this view has been disputed.

The program



On July 3, 1979, U.S. President Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 signed a presidential finding authorizing funding for anticommunist guerrillas in Afghanistan. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December Operation Storm-333
Operation Storm-333
Operation Storm-333 was the codename of the Soviet special forces operation on December 27, 1979 in which Soviet special forces stormed the Tajbeg Palace in Afghanistan and killed President Hafizullah Amin and his 200 personal guards...

 and installation of a more pro-Soviet president, Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

, Carter announced, "The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is the greatest threat to peace since the Second World War".

To execute this policy, President Reagan deployed CIA Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 paramilitary officers to train and equip the Mujihadeen forces against the Red Army. Although the CIA and Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson have received the most attention for their roles, the key architect of the strategy was Michael G. Vickers
Michael G. Vickers
Michael G. Vickers was confirmed as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on March 16, 2011. Before becoming USD-I, Vickers served as United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict...

, a young CIA paramilitary officer working for Gust Avrakotos
Gust Avrakotos
Gustav Lascaris "Gust" Avrakotos was an American case officer and Afghan Task Force Chief for the United States Central Intelligence Agency....

, the CIA's regional head. Reagan's Covert Action program assisted in ending the Soviet's occupation in Afghanistan. A Pentagon senior official, Michael Pillsbury
Michael Pillsbury
Michael Pillsbury is a defense policy adviser, former government official and author of books and reports on China.-Career:During the Reagan administration, Pillsbury was the Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning and responsible for implementation of the program of covert aid...

, successfully advocated providing Stinger missiles
FIM-92 Stinger
The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile , which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and helicopters , developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S...

 to the Afghan resistance, according to recent books and academic articles.

The program relied heavily on using the Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i 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...

 (ISI) as an intermediary for funds distribution, passing of weapons, military training and financial support to Afghan resistance groups. Along with funding from similar programs from Britain's MI6 and SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

, Saudi Arabia, and the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, the ISI armed and trained over 100,000 insurgents between 1978 and 1992. They encouraged the volunteers from the Arab states to join the Afghan resistance in its struggle against the Soviet troops based in Afghanistan.

Nonetheless, despite its heavy reliance on the Pakistanis, the U.S. also sent its own military trainers and advisors to mujaheddin bases in Pakistan, where they instructed Afghan fighters in the use of U.S.-supplied equipment as well as guerilla warfare in general. Civilian personnel from the U.S. Department of State and the CIA also frequently visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area during this time.

The U.S.-built Stinger
FIM-92 Stinger
The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile , which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and helicopters , developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S...

 antiaircraft missile, supplied to the mujahideen in very large numbers, struck a decisive blow to the Soviet war effort as it allowed the lightly armed Afghans to effectively defend against Soviet helicopter landings in strategic areas. The Stingers were so renowned and deadly that, in the 1990s, the U.S. conducted a "buy-back" program to keep unused missiles from falling into the hands of anti-American terrorists. This program may have been covertly renewed following the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan in late 2001, out of fear that remaining Stingers could be used against U.S. forces in the country.

Soviet troops completely pulled out of Afghanistan on February 15, 1989, having suffered over 14,000 killed and missing and over 50,000 wounded.

Funding



The U.S. offered two packages of economic assistance and military sales to support Pakistan's role in the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The first six-year assistance package (1981–87) amounted to US$3.2 billion, equally divided between economic assistance and military sales. The U.S. also sold 40 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan during 1983–87 at a cost of $1.2 billion outside the assistance package. The second six-year assistance package (1987–93) amounted to $4.2 billion. Out of this, $2.28 billion were allocated for economic assistance in the form of grants or loan that carried the interest rate of 2–3 per cent. The rest of the allocation ($1.74 billion) was in the form of credit for military purchases. Sale of non-U.S. arms to Pakistan for destination to Afghanistan was facilitated by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Somewhere between $3–$20 billion in U.S. funds were funneled into the country to train and equip Afghan resistance groups with weapons, including Stinger
FIM-92 Stinger
The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile , which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and helicopters , developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S...

 man-portable air-defense systems.

The program funding was increased yearly due to lobbying by prominent U.S. politicians and government officials, such as Charles Wilson, Gordon Humphrey, Fred Ikle
Fred Ikle
Dr. Fred Charles Iklé was a United States Department of Defense official during the presidency of Ronald Reagan who is credited with a key role in increasing U.S. aid to anti-Soviet rebels in the Soviet War in Afghanistan...

, and William Casey. Under the Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 administration, U.S. support for the Afghan mujahideen evolved into a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy, called the 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...

, in which the U.S. provided military and other support to anti-communist resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.

The mujahideen benefited from expanded foreign military support from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and other Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 nations. The U.S. tended to favor the Afghan resistance forces led by Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

, and U.S. support for Massoud's forces increased considerably in the 1980s. Primary advocates for supporting Massoud included two Heritage Foundation
Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong...

 foreign policy analysts, Michael Johns
Michael Johns (executive)
Michael Johns is an American health care executive, former federal government of the United States official and conservative policy analyst and writer.-Biography:...

 and James A. Phillips, both of whom championed Massoud as the Afghan resistance leader most worthy of US support under the 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...

.

Aftermath


When the Soviet forces crossed into 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...

 in December 1979, some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the region. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 in the East, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to the West. American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, feared the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was afraid Iran's Islamic Revolution and Afghanistan's Islamization would spread to the millions of Muslims in the USSR.

After the invasion, Carter announced what became known as the Carter Doctrine
Carter Doctrine
The Carter Doctrine was a policy proclaimed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region...

: that the U.S. would not allow any other outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. He terminated the Russian Wheat Deal, which was intended to establish trade with USSR and lessen Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 tensions. He also prohibited Americans from participating in the 1980 Summer Olympics
1980 Summer Olympics
The 1980 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event celebrated in Moscow in the Soviet Union. In addition, the yachting events were held in Tallinn, and some of the preliminary matches and the quarter-finals of the football tournament...

 in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, and reinstated registration for the draft
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 for young males.

The U.S. shifted its interest from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Soviet troops. American funding of Afghan resistance leader 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...

 and his Hezbi Islami
Hezbi Islami
Hezbi Islami , meaning Islamic Party is an Islamist organization commonly known for fighting in the Marxist Government of Afghanistan and their close ally the Soviet Union. Founded and led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it was established in Pakistan in 1975...

 party was cut off immediately. The U.S. also reduced its assistance for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

In October 1990, U.S. President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 refused to certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device, triggering the imposition of sanctions against Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment (1985) in the Foreign Assistance Act
Foreign Assistance Act
The Foreign Assistance Act is a United States Act of Congress. The Act reorganized the structure of existing U.S. foreign assistance programs, separated military from non-military aid, and created a new agency, the United States Agency for International Development to administer those...

. This disrupted the second assistance package offered in 1987 and discontinued economic assistance and military sales to Pakistan with the exception of the economic assistance already on its way to Pakistan. Military sales and training programs were abandoned as well and some of the Pakistani military officers under training in the U.S. were asked to return home.

Criticism


The U.S. government has been criticized for allowing Pakistan to channel a disproportionate amount of its funding to controversial Afghan resistance leader 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...

, who Pakistani officials believed was "their man". Hekmatyar has been criticized for killing other mujahideen and attacking civilian populations, including shelling Kabul with American-supplied weapons, causing 2,000 casualties. Hekmatyar was said to be friendly with 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...

, founder of 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...

, who was running an operation for assisting "Afghan Arab
Afghan Arabs
Afghan Arabs were Arab and other Muslim Islamist mujahideen who came to Afghanistan during and following the Soviet-Afghan War to help fellow Muslims fight Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans....

" volunteers fighting in Afghanistan, called 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...

. Alarmed by his behavior, Pakistan leader General Zia
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq , was the 4th Chief Martial Law Administrator and the sixth President of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988...

 warned Hekmatyar, "It was Pakistan that made him an Afghan leader and it is Pakistan who can equally destroy him if he continues to misbehave."

In the late 1980s, Pakistani prime minister 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....

, concerned about the growing strength of the Islamist movement, told President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

, "You are creating a Frankenstein
Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. The creature is often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein", but in the novel the creature has no name...

."

The U.S. says that all of its funds went to native Afghan rebels and denies that any of its funds were used to supply 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...

 or foreign Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 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...

. Nonetheless, U.S. support for the native Afghan
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...

 mujahideen contributed to the radical Islamization of Afghanistan as well as the weakening and near-disintegration of the Afghan state, which ultimately led to the Taliban takeover of most of the country in 1996.

Moreover, U.S. support for the mujahideen enabled and prolonged their resistance to the Soviet presence, ultimately resulting in thousands of battle-hardened, radicalized, non-Afghan veterans returning to their home countries and forming the core of what is now referred to as Al Qaeda or "The Base". (It is estimated that 35,000 foreign Muslims from 43 Islamic countries participated in the war). Additionally, the close relationships and cooperation established during the 1980s between the mujahideen and Pakistan's intelligence and military services, as well as the presence of mujahideen training bases on Pakistani soil, ultimately led to the infiltration of the Pakistani security services by militant Islamic elements as well as the de facto takeover of northwest Pakistan by pro-Taliban rebels.

Critics of U.S. foreign policy consider Operation Cyclone to be substantially responsible for setting in motion the events that led to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. It is also probable that some Taliban presently fighting the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan were in fact trained, equipped, or funded by the U.S. or its allies during the 1980s, at which time they were more commonly referred to as "freedom fighters".

See also

  • Ahmad Shah Massoud
  • Allegations of CIA assistance to Osama bin Laden
    Allegations of CIA assistance to Osama bin Laden
    In mid-1979, about the same time as the Soviet Union deployed troops into Afghanistan, the United States began giving several hundred million dollars a year in aid to the Afghan Mujahideen insurgents fighting the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviet Army in Operation Cyclone...

  • Afghan Civil War
  • Afghan training camp
    Afghan training camp
    An Afghan training camp is a camp or facility used for militant training located in pre-2002 Afghanistan. At the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Indian intelligence officials estimated that there were over 120 training camps operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, run by a variety of...

  • Badaber Uprising
    Badaber Uprising
    Badaber Uprising was an armed uprising by Soviet Union and Republic of Afghanistan captives held at the Badaber fortress-jail in Pakistan on April 26 and 27, 1985, against much larger units of Pakistan's regular army accompanied by Afghan mujahideen. The attempt of the captives to liberate...

  • CIA activity in Afghanistan under William J. Casey 1981-1987
  • CIA Activities by Region: Near East, North Africa, South and Southwest Asia (see: Afghanistan 1978)
  • Celebratory gunfire
  • Charlie Wilson's War
    Charlie Wilson's War
    Charlie Wilson's War is a 2007 American biographical comedy drama film recounting the true story of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson who partnered with "bare knuckle attitude" CIA operative Gust Avrakotos to launch Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen in their...

  • Gary Schroen
    Gary Schroen
    Gary C. Schroen is a former Central Intelligence Agency field officer who was in charge of the initial CIA incursion into Afghanistan in September 2001 to topple the Taliban regime and to destroy Al Qaeda....

  • Howard Hart
    Howard Hart
    Howard Phillips Hart is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer. He worked as the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan from May 1981 until 1984. He was succeeded by William Piekney in the summer of 1984.-Early life:...

  • Joanne Herring
    Joanne Herring
    Joanne Herring is a Houston socialite, political activist, businesswoman, and former talk show host.In the 1980s Herring played a role in helping U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson persuade the U.S. government to train and arm Mujahideen resistance fighters to fight in the Soviet war in...

  • Milton Bearden
    Milton Bearden
    Milton Bearden is a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer, author and film consultant. As of 2003, Bearden lives in Reston, Virginia with his French-born wife, Marie-Catherine....

  • 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...