Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington's On-Going Collusion with Terrorists
Peter Dale Scott
August 1, 2011
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 9, Issue 31 No 1, August 1, 2011
Twice in the last two decades, significant cuts in U.S. and western military spending were foreseen: first after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But both times military spending soon increased, and among the factors contributing to the increase were America's interventions in new areas: the Balkans in the 1990s, and Libya today. Hidden from public view in both cases was the extent to which al-Qaeda was a covert U.S. ally in both interventions, rather than its foe.
U.S. interventions in the Balkans and then Libya were presented by the compliant U.S. and allied mainstream media as humanitarian. Indeed, some Washington interventionists may have sincerely believed this. But deeper motivations - from oil to geostrategic priorities - were also at work in both instances.
In virtually all the wars since 1989, America and Islamist factions have been battling to determine who will control the heartlands of Eurasia in the post-Soviet era. In some countries - Somalia in 1993, Afghanistan in 2001 - the conflict has been straightforward, with each side using the other's excesses as an excuse for intervention.
But there have been other interventions in which Americans have used al-Qaeda as a resource to increase their influence, for example Azerbaijan in 1993. There a pro-Moscow president was ousted after large numbers of Arab and other foreign mujahedin veterans were secretly imported from Afghanistan, on an airline hastily organized by three former veterans of the CIA's airline Air America. (The three, all once detailed from the Pentagon to the CIA, were Richard Secord, Harry Aderholt, and Ed Dearborn.) This was an ad hoc marriage of convenience: the mujahedin got to defend Muslims against Russian influence in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, while the Americans got a new president who opened up the oilfields of Baku to western oil companies.
The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new. It dates back to at least 1953, when the CIA recruited right-wing mullahs to overthrow Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran, and also began to cooperate with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. But in Libya in 2011 we see a more complex marriage of convenience between US and al-Qaeda elements: one which repeats a pattern seen in Bosnia in 1992-95, and Kosovo in 1997-98. In those countries America responded to a local conflict in the name of a humanitarian intervention to restrain the side committing atrocities. But in all three cases both sides committed atrocities, and American intervention in fact favored the side allied with al-Qaeda.
The cause of intervention was fostered in all three cases by blatant manipulation and falsification of the facts. What a historian has noted of the Bosnian conflict was true also of Kosovo and is being echoed today in Libya: though attacks were "perpetrated by Serbs and Muslims alike," the pattern in western media was "that killings of Muslims were newsworthy, while the deaths of non-Muslims were not." Reports of mass rapes in the thousands proved to be wildly exaggerated: a French journalist "uncovered only four women willing to back up the story." Meanwhile in 1994 the French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy (BHL) traveled to Bosnia and fervently endorsed the case for intervention in Bosnia; in 2011 February BHL traveled to Benghazi and reprised his interventionist role for Libya.
In all of the countries mentioned above, furthermore, there are signs that some American and/or western intelligence groups were collaborating with al-Qaeda elements from the outset of conflict, before the atrocities cited as a reason for intervention.. This suggests that there were deeper reasons for America's interventions including the desire of western oil companies to exploit the petroleum reserves of Libya (as in Iraq) without having to deal with a troublesome and powerful strong man, or their desire to create a strategic oil pipeline across the Balkans (in Kosovo).
That the U.S. would support al-Qaeda in terrorist atrocities runs wholly counter to impressions created by the U.S. media. Yet this on-going unholy alliance resurrects and builds on the alliance underlying Zbigniew Brzezinski's 1978-79 strategy of provocation in Afghanistan, at a time when he was President Carter's National Security Adviser.
In those years Brzezinski did not hesitate to play the terrorist card against the Soviet Union: he reinforced the efforts of the SAVAK (the Shah of Iran's intelligence service) to work with the Islamist antecedents of al-Qaeda to destabilize Afghanistan, in a way which soon led to a Soviet invasion of that country. At the time, as he later boasted, Brzezinski told Carter, "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."
CIA Director William Casey continued this strategy of using terrorists against the USSR in Afghanistan. At first the CIA channeled aid through the Pakistani ISI (Interservices Intelligence Service) to their client Afghan extremists like Gulbeddin Hekmatyar (today one of America's enemies in Afghanistan). But in 1986, "Casey committed CIA support to a long-standing ISI initiative to recruit radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan Mujaheddin." CIA aid now reached their support Office of Services in Peshawar, headed by a Palestinian, Abdullah Azzam, and by Osama bin Laden. The al-Kifah Center, a U.S. recruitment office for their so-called Arab-Afghan foreign legion (the future al Qaeda), was set up in the al-Farook mosque in Brooklyn.
It is important to recall Brzezinski's and Casey's use of terrorists today. For in Libya, as earlier in Kosovo and Bosnia, there are alarming signs that America has continued to underwrite Islamist terrorism as a means to dismantle socialist or quasi-socialist nations not previously in its orbit: first the USSR, then Yugoslavia, today Libya. As I have written elsewhere, Gaddafi was using the wealth of Libya, the only Mediterranean nation still armed by Russia and independent of the NATO orbit, to impose more and more difficult terms for western oil companies, and to make the whole of Africa more independent of Europe and America.
Support for the mujahedin included collusion in law-breaking, at a heavy cost. In the second part of this essay, I will show how government protection of key figures in the Brooklyn al-Kifah Center left some of them free, even after they were known to have committed crimes, to engage in further terrorist acts in the United States -- such as the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993....
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