24 November 2009

My Written Evidence before the Parliamentary 'Prevent' Inquiry

In around september 2009, the House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government was soliciting written evidence as part of its inquiry into the 'Preventing Violent Extremism' programme. I decided to offer my own written submissions for the inquiry. All the submissions have now gone up, including mine - the good news is they've put up effectively two versions of my filings.

My main submission is here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmcomloc/memo/previoex/uc1902.htm

This one is within the 3,000 word limit, and the theme deals primarily with the social factors behind violent radicalization, and offers a critique of the government's understanding and approach to this issue.

I also submitted an extended footnoted version of this, about 6,000 words long, which was filed as an appendix to the written submission by the conflict resolution charity, Forward Thinking. Somewhat unusually (and positively), the Committee not only published FT's submission, they also extracted my lengthier paper (originally titled something like 'Toward a Holistic Model of Violent Radicalization') from the appendix and published it as a separate 'supplementary memo'.

This longer version includes discussion of the more thorny and controversial security/intelligence issues that readers of this blog will be familiar with, including evidence of British intelligence cooptation of Islamist extremist networks like al-Muhajiroun etc. (this material was left out of the main submission due to word count issues)

So here's the longer version:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmcomloc/memo/previoex/uc19a02.htm

We plan to develop a more detailed version of this paper as a report in due course.

6 November 2009

Our Terrorists, bigger and better version

New Internationalist have just put up an extended footnoted version of my piece on the post-Cold War Western sponsorship of al-Qaeda here. It's a bit meatier, and murkier.

2 November 2009

Our Terrorists - New Internationalist feature

Apologies for the delay in posting this - it's been online for a while, but haven't had a chance to post. Here's the link to the full online version of my New Internationalist piece "on the spooky complicity between Western intelligence agencies and Islamist extremism."

For those familiar with my work most of this material won't be new, but its presentation in this way is certainly a step forward, providing a concise summary of the 'deep politics' of the 'War on Terror' that covers quite a lot of ground and should provoke people into asking more probing questions about the drivers of contemporary security policies.

Opening below:


Islamic fundamentalist militants are the enemies of Israel and Western governments, right? Think again. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed reports.

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. After the end of the Cold War, bin Laden turned against the West and we no longer had any use for him. His persistent terrorist attacks against us for more than a decade, culminating in 9/11, provoked our own response, in the form of the ‘war on terror.’ This is the official narrative. And it’s false. Not only did Western intelligence services continue to foster Islamist extremist and terrorist groups connected to al-Qaeda after the Cold War; they continued to do so even after 9/11...

20 October 2009

The Radicalization Conundrum: notes on the 'Prevent' fiasco

Arun Kundnani from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has this excellent comment on the fiasco that has emerged relating to the government's Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) funding programme due to the Guardian's recent spate of reporting on the issue. Kundnani is the author of an IRR report based largely on interviews with officials involved in implementation of Prevent funding and policies.

Some initial caveats, though:

1) The response from Muslim communities across the UK has been sheer outrage. This is understandable - the IRR and Guardian revelations indicate that police and intelligence agencies have pressured local authorities to use their PVE-brokered relationships with certain community organisations to gather generic sensitive information about people's personal lives, simply because they happen to be Muslim. Local Muslims are now looking at their local community workers, youth workers, local authority officials, and so on, with huge suspicion. The perception is that they are being criminalised due to their faith, and the result is that many now no longer want to have anything at all to do with PVE funding at all.

2) This reaction, while understandable, needs to be tempered. The new evidence illustrates that systematic 'spying' has indeed occurred, but it's unclear which organizations have been involved, and to what extent this has occurred as a centralized policy of government, as opposed to a more discrete strategy pursued by particular elements of police and intelligence agencies. There are many organizations and individuals involved in Prevent work, from both Muslim and non-Muslim communities, who are not involved in 'spying' activities. Therefore it's counterproductive to assume that anyone and everyone involved in Prevent work is actually a spy, as some are now doing.

3) It's also clear that some of this intelligence gathering has gone on under the rubric of the Channel Project, an interagency counter-radicalization initiative whose aim is to identify 'vulnerable' young Muslims who are 'at-risk' of become violent extremists. The logic of the Channel Project - and of all this surveillance-centred 'de-radicalization' work - is essentially based on a deeply flawed understanding of violent radicalization which focuses on surveillance to deal with symptoms, rather than resolving root causes.

4) The scope of risk-assessment is rendered potentially unlimited by the assumption, recently espoused by the MI5 Behavioural Science Unit for instance, that there is no “typical pathway to violent extremism” for British Muslim terrorists who fit “no single demographic profile” – all genders, classes, ages and localities of British Muslims may therefore potentially be “at-risk”. Categorizations of being “at-risk” from violent extremism could include anything from holding foreign policy grievances or expressing disillusionment with the parliamentary system, to holding religious beliefs assumed to contradict an as yet amorphous and contested conception of shared values – ‘symptoms’ which have no proven relationship to a propensity for violence.

5) Left out of all the flurry and fury are two issues: i) the social exclusion of the vast majority of British Muslims from mainstream British society, not by choice, but due to social structural factors which have led to up to 70 per cent of ethnically South Asian Muslims in Britain living in poverty; almost 100 per cent unemployment rates for youth in particular areas in Birmingham, Manchester, etc.; and institutional discrimination in access to housing, education, health-care, etc. - issues which do not by themselves lead to violence, but which do generate discontent and suspicion toward British civil society ii) the core role of the al-Muhajiroun organization (currently mobilizing under the banner of 'Islam4UK') in providing a radicalizing social network which provides links to al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups abroad, and which has been linked to every major terrorist plot in the UK, including the 7/7 bombings. The instrumental role of extremist ideology as manifest through al-Muhajiroun, as a 'pull' factor that exploits grievances about foreign policy and domestic injustices while abusing religious language and symbols using audiovisual and other techniques of indoctrination, has been ignored by police and intelligence services. By underplaying the significance of this specific network, authorities imply that radicalization is a generic community problem - when it simply isn't.

There's more to say on the issue of violent radicalization, but for now I want to focus on the question of al-Muhajiroun, which is supposed to be a proscribed organization. It now turns out that it was never proscribed - rather, its successor groups were banned, and now that its members are mobilizing under the banner of 'Islam4UK', they're free to run around mouthing the usual inflammatory drivel, which often includes inciting to violence and terrorism.

According to senior government and intelligence officials, at the time of al-Muhajiroun’s founding in 1996, the network was mobilized by MI6 to send British Muslims to Kosovo – coinciding with British and American military assistance to the Kosovan Albanians. This has been confirmed for instance by John Loftus, former US Justice Department official; as well as by former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in his memoirs.

This was part of a general post-Cold War strategy of co-opting Islamist extremist and terrorist networks to exert influence in Central Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who has testified before US Congressional and Senate Committees about pre-9/11 classified intelligence documents she translated, confirms that US intelligence services maintained a “very intimate relationship” with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban “all the way up to September 11,” to secure geopolitical influence in Central Asia.

Even after 9/11, elements of this relationship were not discontinued. Concurrently, reliable reports indicate that the Bush administration in around 2003 began encouraging Saudi government financing of al-Qaeda-affiliated extremist Salafi groups across the Middle East and Central Asia (particularly in Iraq, Lebanon, and Pakistan) to counter Iranian Shi’ite influence. A Presidential Finding signed by President Bush in early 2008 confirms that the CIA has backed this programme with at least $300 million.

In Lebanon, for instance, extremist Salafi groups co-opted by the ruling Hariri faction have been financed by US-Saudi largess as a counterweight to the Shi’ite group Hizbullah. The Lebanese Daily Star (20 April 2007) reported that the United States had earmarked $60 million to reinforce Interior Ministry forces and Sunni organisations identified as “jihadists."

Ironically, a key figure benefiting from this policy is al-Muhajiroun leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, currently residing in Beirut, who has reportedly received material support from Lebanese Salafi networks which he now vocally promotes. In one recent interview, he proclaims, “Today, angry Lebanese Sunnis ask me to organize their jihad against the Shi’ites… Al-Qaeda in Lebanon… are the only ones who can defeat Hezbollah.” He is currently being investigated by Lebanese security forces who accuse him of training al-Qaeda forces in Lebanon.

Has Bakri benefited indirectly from US-Saudi intelligence sponsorship of extremist groups? It certainly seems that he has, given his current alliance with the CIA-financed self-styled Salafists in Lebanon. This disturbing prospect is made all the more worrying given that his extremist network, al-Muhajiroun aka 'Islam4UK', continues to operate with impunity in the UK, openly inciting to violence, yet ignored by law-enforcement authorities. Bakri himself still addresses his British followers through video link and internet broadcasts.

Urgent action must be taken to arrest, charge and prosecute the central players in this network, who have violated British law with impunity by condoning and promoting terrorist activity. Long-term action must be taken to deal with root structural causes of marginalization and disenfranchisement, affecting communities of all faiths and non-faith in Britain, as background causes of vulnerability to different kinds of extremism. As far as the Muslim community is concerned, urgent action must be taken to develop fresh approaches to counter the rhetoric and ideology of violent extremism promoted by this network. This must include developing an authentic indigenous vision for Islam which is progressive, inclusive and liberating.

30 September 2009

Exclusive - 'Our Terrorists' in New Internationalist

The Sept-Oct edition of the popular progressive magazine, The New Internationalist, is a special issue on Political Islam, carrying an exclusive feature article by me called "Our Terrorists", which summarises some of my work on Western military intelligence cooptation of al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist networks after the Cold War.

You can't read the piece online, so I'd encourage getting hold of the hard copy, and perhaps encouraging friends/colleagues to read it too as a way of raising awareness. The NI coverage is definitely a breakthrough into the mainstream for a 'deep political' perspective on the emergence of Islamist extremism and the role of Western covert operations.

The editorial by NI Editor Hadani Ditmars has been put online here, and she gives a glimpse of the substance of my piece with her own brief summary:

"... in certain quarters extremist Islamism is being actively funded and encouraged.

As 30-year-old British author Nafeez Ahmed writes (see page 17) the old Cold War relationships between certain national intelligence agencies and Islamist extremists are still alive and well.
While researching a doctoral thesis on imperialism and the ‘war on terror’, Ahmed found that in most Muslim countries where there is a significant petroleum industry, Western intelligence agencies have formed close relationships with Islamist groups – and in many cases are supplying them with arms and funds.

As strange new Wahhabist militias appear in, for example, Somalia and Chechnya , local Muslim communities with populist Sufi or other indigenous, moderate forms of Islam suddenly find their faith hijacked. Wherever sharia law is used as a tool of authoritarianism, there are often, it seems, hidden political agendas at work.

While some secular nationalist governments in majority-Muslim countries have engaged with Islamist extremists ( like Algeria’s ruling party – see page 18) to further their own agendas and co-opt the power of religion, similar tactics by Western governments and intelligence agencies can be new versions of the old divide-and-conquer imperialism.

Even as the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq empowered extremist Shi’a death squads via the new Ministry of the Interior, the CIA continued to support Salafist, Sunni militias throughout the region (see page 17). Sectarian strife would seem almost unavoidable under such circumstances..."

25 September 2009

Calibrating Fear for the Long War

The Muslim News has just published my piece on the liquid bomb plot here, which extends some of my recent analysis of the trial and its implications. The piece starts with questions about the liquid bomb plot itself, but moves on to wider geopolitical and intelligence issues relating to Anglo-American involvement in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I post some of it below:

[...]

Perhaps the biggest unanswered questions remain about individuals allegedly linked to the plot whom the police have shown no interest in arresting or prosecuting. Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani ethnic origin, who before this plot, was already wanted by police for murdering his uncle, was described as the plot’s al-Qa’ida mastermind, coordinating it from Pakistan.

[...]

But despite Rauf’s pivotal role in the case, for over a year the British Government refused to seek his extradition to the UK to stand trial for his alleged role as the plot’s ‘mastermind’. Official British disinterest in prosecuting the alleged al-Qa’ida ‘mastermind’ of the liquid bomb plot was compounded by Rauf’s inexplicable escape from Pakistani maximum security detention, and then by his reported extra-judicial assassination by a US drone late last year.

British authorities also displayed no interest in arresting or prosecuting another individual who was allegedly central to the plot, who is under 24-hour surveillance in the UK, has been named by the US Treasury, UN Security Council and UK Treasury, as a terror recruiter and fundraiser with links to al-Qa’ida and the Taliban, who has sent men to Pakistan for terror training. Although intelligence sources say that surveillance of him led them to the airline plotters, he remains at large.

British authorities are now considering a third re-trial to try to convict several other defendants in the liquid bomb plot trial about whom the jury could not agree to a verdict of guilt. The desire to use the judicial system to vindicate the Government’s claim to having successfully foiled “Britain’s 9/11” is unfortunately not matched by an equal willingness to investigate the role of dubious US and British intelligence policies, which appear to have incubated terrorist groups in Pakistan. As noted by Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, “the key question... is who put these useless idiots up to it? How far does surveillance and penetration blend into instigation by agents provocateurs?”

Last year, this newspaper noted that the plotters had reportedly travelled to Pakistan under cover of doing humanitarian work, where they underwent terrorist training in camps in the Balochistan province run by terrorist organisation Jundullah. Jundullah, an al-Qa’ida linked group formerly headed by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has reportedly “been secretly trained by American officials” due to their carrying out cross-border raids against Iran. A central player in these policies is the Pakistan’s intelligence services (ISI), which Anglo-American authorities insist not only on protecting, but on supporting. Pakistani sources said that while in Pakistan, the plotters had been “exploited by agents provocateurs” amongst ISI, who wanted to “guide them to carry out attacks.”

The troublesome role of the ISI is highlighted by recent revelations that the agency has continued to provide military and financial support to al-Qa’ida and Taliban forces in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Current Pakistani Army chief, Gen Pervez Kiani, served as head of the ISI from 2004 to 2007, during which according to a NATO report, the ISI administered two training camps for the Taliban in Balochistan.

For a single offensive in Kandahar in September 2006, the ISI had provided Taliban forces with 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 400,000 rounds of ammunition. Evidence of the ISI’s covert assistance to the Afghan insurgency under Kiani’s leadership has been circulated to the highest echelons of the US Government and the White House.

Despite this, reports US national security expert Dr Gareth Porter, “Senior officials of the Barack Obama administration persuaded the US Congress to extend military assistance to Pakistan for five years without any assurance that the Pakistani assistance to the Taliban had ended.”

Although officials claim that the military operations in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan are about fighting terrorists, a more likely motive is the Trans-Afghan pipeline planned to run from across southern Afghanistan, across Pakistan to Caspian reserves - bypassing US-British rivals like Iran, Russia and China. Current NATO operations are focused on clearing the area where the pipeline will run.

Three months before 9/11, US officials warned the Taliban that they would face military action if they failed to make peace with the Northern Alliance in a federal government that would provide stability to allow the pipeline project to go through. This still raises questions about continued Anglo-American support for the ISI despite its ongoing support for the insurgency.

According to a confidential report to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Professor Ola Tunander of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO), the US strategy is to “support both sides in the conflict” so as to “calibrate the level of violence” in Afghanistan to prolong the war.

This strategy is instrumental to a wider geopolitical objective of protecting a US-dominated unipolar order against escalating trends toward economic multipolarity and the rising power of major rivals. “The U.S.A.’s superior military strength and intelligence hegemony could only be translated into power and real global strength if there were ongoing conflicts – wars and terrorist attacks – that threatened the multipolar power structure of the economic-political world order,” continues the Norwegian report.

“Accordingly, from a European or Chinese or Japanese point of view, every US war, wherever it is fought, is not just directed against a local insurgent or an anti-American ruler, it is directed against the economic-political multipolar power structure that would give Europe, China and Japan a significant position in the world.” By fanning the flames on both sides in Afghanistan, US forces are able to “increase and decrease the military temperature and calibrate the level of violence” with a view to permanently “mobilize other governments in support of US global policy.”

In this sense, the ‘War on Terror’ functions as an ideological narrative that underpins the capacity of the British and American states to sustain geopolitical dominance over an increasingly fragile and changing international system. While the threat of al-Qa’ida terrorism should not be underestimated, solutions focusing on the expansion of military and police powers are counterproductive, serving only to buttress these dubious geopolitical agendas.

If the liquid bomb plot trial shows anything, it is that our out-of-control state intelligence policies continue to foster the enemy we are supposed to be fighting – both in supporting networks and agencies that back terrorist groups, and in continuing to generate the overwhelming civilian casualties that extremists exploit to recruit to their unholy cause.

9 September 2009

Liquid Bomb Plot Conviction

In response to this Evening Standard leader yesterday, letters editor Josh Neicho asked me to respond. The following letter was printed:

---
Efforts to showcase the airline bomb plot trial as "Britain's 9/11" being foiled are less than convincing. For the plot to work, hydrogen peroxide would need to be present in at least 30 per cent concentration, a state in which it is highly unstable; and it is unclear how the plotters would have supplied the necessary input of oxygen at high concentration.

On the other hand, the plotters’ murky international connections have been underplayed. Under cover of doing humanitarian work the plotters travelled to camps in Pakistan run by terrorist organisation Jundullah. Jundullah has reportedly “been secretly trained by American officials" due to their carrying out cross-border raids against Iran.

According to Pakistani sources, the plotters had also been members of extremist group al-Muhajiroun, which re-launched in Britain this June. In Lebanon, group founder Omar Bakri - who still radicalizes British followers over the internet - has allied himself with Saudi financed, al-Qaeda linked groups to which the US has turned a blind eye.

British police worked well to foil a scheme that was operationally flawed, but greatly facilitated by US intelligence strategies. Ministers must now take concerted action against al-Muhajiroun activists with a track record of incitement and exert greater scrutiny over our Atlantic ally's policies.

Dr Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, author, The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry.
---

Followers of this blog will note that I've been writing critically about the government's narrative around the liquid bomb plot consistently since August 2006. Last year I wrote more detailed piece on the liquid bomb plot after the farcical output emerging from the first trial, for the Muslim News (26th September 2008). Although the outcome of the re-trial in this September's convictions indicates that the convictees did indeed bear intent to carry out attacks, disturbing questions about the networks in which they operated and the role of intelligence services remain unanswered. I think the issues raised in this piece remain as pertinent as ever, and put the government's (and media's) self-congratulatory triumphalism in sharp relief. So I repost it in full here:

---
Arming the enemy? Fact and fiction in the liquid bomb plot

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

In the long awaited verdict of the liquid bomb plot trial, three men, Abdullah Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain, were convicted on September 8 of conspiring to commit mass murder. Yet after a £10 million investigation and a trial lasting more than two years, the jury could not agree on the Crown’s main allegation - that the eight Britons on trial had planned to blow up at least seven airliners across the Atlantic in 2006, using chemical explosives concealed in drink bottles, to be smuggled on board from Heathrow airport.

The jury also failed to reach a verdict on four other defendants, who had earlier admitted conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by making al-Qa’ida style suicide videos. Another defendant, Mohammed Gulzar, alleged by the Crown to have flown into Britain from Pakistan to oversee the plot, was acquitted of all charges. While ample evidence of the criminal intent of the convicted plotters seems to have emerged in the trial, less certain was their technical ability to actually carry out the grandiose scheme.

In the original story put out by security officials, liquid explosives - TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide) - were to be made on board the planes by mixing sports drinks with a peroxide-based household gel and then detonated using an MP3 player or mobile phone. Former British Army explosives expert Lt Col. Nigel Wylde dismissed that story as an impossible “fiction” that would take up to 36 hours to complete, emitting noxious fumes in the onboard lavatory that would trigger alarms in the aircraft air change system, and cause the plot to be quickly neutralised.

Given the absurdity of this scheme, the Crown later changed tact, opting for an alternative scenario: The alleged plotters planned to bring on board drink bottles containing a pre-prepared explosive - hydrogen peroxide mixed with Tang. The explosives would be connected to detonators made from hollowed-out AA battery cases filled with HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine), that could be set off using the flash circuits of a camera.

Yet the prosecution’s case remained problematic. Hydrogen peroxide would need to be present in purified form - at least 30 per cent concentration - which is a highly unstable state prone to accidental detonation even in a sealed bottle. According to James Thurman, a former FBI explosives forensic expert, HMTD is also “exceptionally sensitive” to “impact, friction and electrostatic discharge”, and is thus considered an “exceptionally hazardous explosive” that is extraordinarily difficult to handle. Even if the plotters managed to get passed these hazards, they wouldn’t make it pass the final clincher: for hydrogen peroxide to function as an explosive, it requires a large input of oxygen in high concentration, either as liquid oxygen or as part of the explosive itself. Neither was feasible on board a plane. Hence, a large explosion would be impossible unless conducted as a highly controlled experiment. Government scientists attempting to demonstrate the viability of the plot undertook 30 attempts in stringent laboratory conditions before pulling off a sufficiently large explosion to show the jury. They also consistently used a mechanical arm to attach the detonators to the explosive material to avoid premature detonation, because its components were too volatile. In any case, the prosecution conceded that the men had failed to construct a viable bomb.

British police and security officials, deeply disappointed at the verdict, blamed the US Government for the weakness of the case. US officials, they said, pressured Pakistani authorities to pre-emptively arrest Rashid Rauf, a Briton operating in Pakistan and the alleged al-Qa’ida ringleader of the liquid bomb plot terror cell. The arrest forced British police to crackdown on the members of the cell far earlier than they would have liked to. Indeed, in 2006 long before the trial, British security officials were already complaining that an associated team of suspected terrorists “escaped capture because of interference by the United States.” This second group, they told the Independent (November 25, 2006), is “still at large.”

Questions arose when it emerged that Rauf, the alleged al-Qa’ida go-between for the group, had been tortured in the custody of Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which described him as the main planner of the attacks. Pakistani intelligence sources had reportedly penetrated the liquid bomb plot cell since late 2005, on behalf of MI6 and the CIA. According to Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times (August 15, 2006), Pakistani intelligence and ‘jihadist’ sources told him that the men “were exploited by agents provocateurs” in the ISI who wanted to “guide them to carry out any attack on US interests.”

The pre-emptive arrest of Rauf, however, prevented British investigators from uncovering the role of the Pakistani ISI and the wider network under its tutelage. US interference may have been designed to protect ongoing illegal relationships with intelligence assets of dubious moral stature.

Intelligence sources say that at least four of the alleged liquid bomb plotters had gone to Pakistan after the earthquake in October 2005 under the cover of humanitarian relief work. The men were reportedly then taken to camps run by Jundullah (Army of Allah), a terrorist organisation loosely linked to al-Qa’ida in the Waziristan area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where they were trained in the fabrication and use of explosives.

Yet, according to ABC News (April 3, 2007), citing US and Pakistani intelligence sources, Jundullah “has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005,” to stage terrorist attacks inside Iran. To avoid Congressional oversight, the Pentagon has funnelled assistance to Jundullah through Afghan military and Pakistani intelligence services. The dual US-ISI sponsorship of Jundullah was, say Pakistani sources, agreed between Vice-President Dick Cheney and former President Pervez Musharraf. As of February 2008, American national security journalist Andrew Cockburn reported that an official Presidential Finding authorized a further $300 million to finance covert operations against Iran from Lebanon to Afghanistan - among the beneficiaries is Jundullah.

Across the Middle East, to counter regional Iranian influence the Bush administration has covertly sponsored al-Qa’ida affiliated terrorist networks since at least 2005, largely through Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Covert US sponsorship of terrorist groups linked to the liquid bomb plot, as well as other terror plots including 9/11, has no doubt undermined national security. The dubious role of American and Pakistani intelligence in sponsoring the same extremist groups we are supposed to be fighting, although ignored in the trial, raises awkward geopolitical questions about Western security and foreign policy in the “War on Terror.”

Update

I'm back!!!!

April this year I finally obtained my Doctorate.

Although I had hoped to spend more time on this blog thereafter, unfortunately it wasn't to be. I've been thrown into the deep-end on a variety of different projects.

The biggest is my forthcoming book, The Crisis of Civilization: How Climate, Oil, Food, Finance, Terror and Warfare will Change the World, to be published by Pluto Press, either late this year or, more likely, early next year.

I'm also currently working as strategy director for creative education at Arts Versa, where we're developing new educational projects related to inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue, specifically concerning Islam and British Muslim communities.

And the IPRD website, after a complete makeover last year, and after undergoing serious technical and security difficulties for many months due to being hacked repeatedly, is now secure and operational - and is still in transition... we're currently working on a better more functional and user-friendly site, which we'll be updating very regularly, hopefully by next year.

And lots of other bits and pieces going on...

here's hoping to spend a bit more time on this blog from now on.

23 February 2009

Back from Oslo: "The War on Truth" in The Independent, and elsewhere

It's just been a few hours since I arrived back from a conference in Oslo, "Deconstructing the War on Terror", where I was honoured to join a very distinguished panel of speakers addressing the need for a new discourse to make sense of current events.

I've just been told by the man who runs this website that I've been mentioned very favourably in today's edition of The Independent in an oped piece by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:

"In his disturbing and clearly evidenced book, The War on Truth, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed traces the unholy games played with Islamicist terrorists by the US, and through acquiescence by the UK, flirting with them when it suited and then turning against them. Al-Qa'ida has been used as an instrument of western statecraft and for now is the enemy. Well, not quite. Pakistan's ISI is quite chummy with the Bin Laden groupies and, well, we have to keep Pakistan on side as they know so many of our secrets. So it goes on."

I also discovered in Oslo that The War on Truth has been reviewed in the Journal of Peace Research published by SAGE on behalf of the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO). I met with Dr Ola Tunander, who is a Research Professor at PRIO, and who wrote the review for the journal last year. It's a short, but very supportive review - here's the gist:

"In this volume, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed has collected a large amount of material about the US grand design for a new American world order, and particularly about the role of Osama bin Laden, 11 September 2001, and the intelligence networks of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the West. This volume tries to understand 21st-century terrorism, not primarily as a replacement for the Cold War Soviet Union, but as a Western disinformation campaign to control raw materials and populations on a global scale. Ahmed documents the close ties between Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and a number of intelligence services. He also documents policies for provoking terrorists into action to justify military responses. The frequent use of terrorism to alter the political agenda and to manipulate public opinion has seemingly created a ‘hyperreality’ that covers the true actors behind the scene. The ‘Global War on Terror’ is, to Ahmed, as much a‘war on truth’ as it is a war against any terrorists... his contribution is necessary for anyone who wants to write about the Global War on Terror and US preoccupation with terrorism in the 21st century. Thebook is also important for the understanding of the present war in Afghanistan."

The only caveat is that Professor Tunander describes me as "Director of Policy Research & Development at the University of Sussex" - a post which doesn't exist, and which is obviously a confusion of my affiliation to Sussex as a tutor and doctoral candidate, and my work with the IPRD.

Anyway, Tunander is a strong emerging voice in the emerging critical academic literature on terrorism. He has most recently contributed to the seminal academic anthology on 'deep politics', Government of the Shadows: Parapolitics and Criminal Sovereignty by Dr Eric Wilson, Monash University and Dr Tim Lindsey, University of Melbourne.

On the subject of the conference, all the presentations were excellent, and really eye-opening. The opening speech was by Dr Erik Fosse, a senior medical doctor and Research Professor, and head of the Oslo-based medical aid agency, the Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC). Dr. Fosse's presentation was truly shocking. He was one of the handful of Western experts and eyewitnesses who was still in Gaza during Israel's latest bombardment, and was a firsthand witness to Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. He described how Israeli forces were literally bombing and specifically targeting civilian structures and installations, and recounted harrowing personal stories of the manner in which he and the Palestinian doctors at the Al-Shifa hospital were overwhelmed by incoming civilian casualties and lacking in sufficient medical supplies to treat them effectively due to the Israeli blockade. He also went into eyewitness evidence of new types of weapons being used by Israel. A gist of his talk can be gleaned from his interview on Al-Jazeerah.

Arzu Merali, Director of Research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in London, described the role of the media in the 'War on Terror' and its tendencies to de-humanize ethnic minority communities, in particular Muslims. She described the increasing prevalence of cartoons depicting Muslims as fanatics with long beards, using language such as "parasites" and similar rhetoric; and most disturbingly, compared them to cartoons that were used in Germany in the early 1930s to depict Jews, before the Holocaust. The similarities were actually very striking, and extremely disturbing. She notes that the problem is that the majority community largely has very little contact with minorities, and so their perceptions of minorities are actually informed almost wholly by these sorts of de-humanizing and over-simplifying media stereotypes. There is a need to acknowledge that minorities by way of being minorities, de facto don't have the kind of media access that the majority community takes for granted.

Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman of the IHRC, focused on statistical evidence of the futility of anti-terror operations, procedures and legislation, and showed how not only does the current anti-terror strategy effectively target overwhelmingly innocent people, it in particular targets members of black and ethnic minority groups, once again Muslims in particular. One example was really telling. Out of the over hundred thousand or so people stopped and searched, moreover, there has been not a single conviction for terrorist offences. The financial costs of stop and search, even having cut out some of the red tape permitting police to continue the practive with even more impunity than ever before, are in the millions of pounds - money down the drain, much like the bulk of the Government's Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) strategy which, it now seems, is hell-bent on criminalizing most of the 1.2 million British Muslim population. As Andrew Gilligan has pointed out, we need to address the structural and social causes underlying the vulnerability of our youth, Muslim and non-Muslim, to all kinds of criminal activity.

Finally, Robin Yassin-Kassab, author of the novel The Road from Damascus, and a journalist who has travelled widely in the Middle East and Central Asia, spoke in detail about the rationale behind, and devastating impact of, the war on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Robin discussed the role of the Trans-Afghan pipeline in motivating US hostilities toward Taliban, which despite being invited to Nebraska for talks with UNOCAL and American diplomats in the run-up to 9/11, basically told the US and Britain to shove their plans for Afghanistan up their behinds, following which US representatives promised them bombs. He also delves into detail about the war in Pakistan, and is at pains to emphasise that the fracturing of that country into de facto civil war is a direct consequence of the US trying to compel the ISI to ditch its unruly spawn, the Taliban. Robin blogs here, where you can also find the gist of this presentation in Oslo. Here's a sample from the blog:

"The terror threat to the West is real, but vastly exaggerated. In its name military budgets swell and potential dissenters are intimidated. There were 498 terrorist incidents in Europe in 2006, only one of which was attributed to Muslims, yet half of terrorism-related arrests were of Muslim suspects...

With the election of Obama, the most extreme rhetoric of GWOT seems to have had its day. (It may be to Israel’s long term cost that it used GWOT rhetoric to package the recent massacre in Gaza, just at the moment when GWOT had been discredited in the West.) But if fundamental pro-Zionist and imperialist policies did not in fact change during the Bush years, not much will change, practically, in the post-Bush years. The passing of the War on Terror is as illusory as its sudden birth after September 11th."

Oh, nearly forgot. My presentation was about Anglo-American hostilities with Iran in the context (primarily) of increasingly scarce hydrocarbon energy resources (i.e. peak oil), and the worrying prospects over the next 10 years. And you can get a more in-depth (pre-Obama) reading of this here.

20 February 2009

Obama: No Change

Just a round up of some useful info. Peter Phillips, Professor of Sociology and Director of Project Censored at Sonoma State University, has just put out a piece revealing the incestuous and systemic financial ties between public office and defence corporations in the US government, continuing under Obama.

Obama's stimulus package has been cautiously welcomed by sections of both the left and right of the political spectrum. While there are definitely some positive components, and surely a step-in-principle in the right direction - highlighing the idea of focusing on the real economy, creating new jobs, and rebuilding a cleaner and more energy efficient infrastructure - there remain serious questions about how far the stimulus as packaged will actually achieve these noble aims. The idea is great - money needs to be used not to bail out insolvent banks, but to revitalize production along sustainable and equitable lines. But the stimulus doesn't do this effectively.

Jesse Jenkins, the director of energy and climate policy at the Breakthrough Institute in Washington DC, provided a detailed deconstruction of the stimulus when its details first became known. His basic verdict it: "Underfunded or not, the series of clean energy investments included in this version of the stimulus reads like a laundry list of piecemeal tax breaks and incentives that simply do not cohere into any kind of unified plan. It seems that there is no coordination between the different intended energy expenditures and no central objective or strategy behind then, other than creating new jobs."

Even Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was fairly scathing about the scope of the stimulus -

"We’re probably facing the worst slump since the Great Depression. The Congressional Budget Office, not usually given to hyperbole, predicts that over the next three years there will be a $2.9 trillion gap between what the economy could produce and what it will actually produce. And $800 billion, while it sounds like a lot of money, isn’t nearly enough to bridge that chasm.

Officially, the administration insists that the plan is adequate to the economy’s need. But few economists agree. And it’s widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have — that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support."

Not to mention the fact that Obama's actual plans for renewable energy investments read almost identical to Bush's plans - neither of which therefore offer any meaningful way of actually weaning the US off of its oil addiction, as the impact of peak oil closes over the next 5-10 years.

Meanwhile, no one in the mainstream media commentary circus bothers to ask the question as to the symbiotic relationship between massive, excessive US defence expenditures - which Obama has no intention of reducing - endemic US government and consumer indebtedness, and the current financial crisis. Instead, Obama is busily investing precious taxpayer funds in expanding the frontlines of war in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to devastating effect.

9 February 2009

Torture, Rendition, Terror & Oil: A Primer on "Deep Politics"

Why is the Obama administration hell-bent on continuing rendition, and covering-up torture? Why are Western states complicit in these illegal activities? How can the systematic perpetuation of such criminal practices under the rubric of the 'War on Terror' be conducted by the very states who claim to be the guardians of 'international law' and 'human rights'?

The practice of rendition, linked inextricably to the facilitation of torture, is an integral part of the conduct of the western ‘War on Terror’, initiated after 9/11. It therefore needs to be understood in the context of western geopolitical, strategic and economic strategies, and their connection to national security policies. Only by grasping this wider context can rendition be understood in terms of its relationship to the logic of current western strategies, which are themselves rooted in longstanding social, political, ideological and economic processes tied to the protection of powerful vested interests. The movement against rendition will be ineffective if it fails to understand and confront precisely these underlying strategies, processes and interests in the context of which rendition is being practiced and facilitated by western states.


Torture and Rendition: Preliminary Definitions

It's important to start by being absolutely clear what we mean by these terms. Confusion about the inextricable linkage between kidnapping and human trafficking, rendition, and torture has led even groups like Human Rights Watch to come out and suggested there is a "legitimate place" for the "limited" practice of rendition.

Rendition is the process of transporting detainees from one jurisdiction to another without any due process. The practice of rendition by the United States government in alliance with the British and some European governments is generally linked to torture, as detainees are often sent to countries known to practice torture.

At every stage of its execution, rendition overrides due process and lacks legal justification:

1. Rendition begins with the identification of individuals as “terrorist suspects”. New anti-terrorism laws across the US, UK and Europe are designed to grant states the widest possible scope in ascribing this label to individuals in the absence of specific evidence. As such, individuals can be identified as “terrorist suspects” by the state without justification. It is no surprise then that the vast majority of individuals detained as “terrorist suspects” under new anti-terrorism legislation are never charged with any crime.

2. After being identified as a “terrorist suspect”, an individual is detained indefinitely without charge. For all intents and purposes, then, the label of “terrorist suspect” in itself fails to elicit any sort of criminal implications. In the absence of criminal charges, “terrorist suspects” are not “suspects” in any meaningful legal sense – they are merely detainees who remain innocent until proven guilty.

3. The “terrorist suspect” is subsequently transferred to another jurisdiction, often across other jurisdictions, where the presiding state routinely practices torture against detainees, and where due process and legal accountability are lacking. In this climate, the detainee is liable to be subject to torture. Information thereby obtained might be used as a basis to identify other “terrorist suspects”, or in relation to other security policies implemented as part of the “War on Terror”.

4. The “terrorist suspect” is at no time inserted into an accountable or objective legal process, and in fact is prevented from a process of prosecution and trial that might attempt to test the state’s actions toward them.

One will note the obvious fact that at every stage, rendition is devoid of legal justification. It violates the individual’s most basic human rights to due process, in particular the elementary notion of habeas corpus. The western state practice of rendition, in other words, although it portrays itself as an extension of the state’s law-enforcement powers pursued to protect national security, is on the contrary an entirely criminal act that violates the most basic security of the person.


"Deep Politics" and the Criminalization of the State

Rendition, however, is only one criminal practice among numerous others implemented in the context of the ‘War on Terror’. Iraq provides an obvious example, including issues such as the illegal commencement and conduct of the war on Iraq; the fabrication of intelligence on WMD; the systematic use of torture in Iraqi prisons; among many other policies. It is absolutely essential, therefore, that rendition be seen as integrally conjoined to other criminal practices by western states.

This demonstrates that rendition manifests a much deeper phenomenon in the development of western state policies: the increasing criminalization of the state. What is driving this process of criminalization? In the service of what powerful vested interests are states acting in this increasingly criminal manner?

The analysis of these issues is known as “deep politics”, a term coined by the Canadian political scientist Peter Dale Scott, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

According to Scott, a deep political system or process is one in which institutional, non-institutional and para-political bodies, criminal syndicates, politicians, judges, media, corporations and leading government employees, resort to

“... decision-making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those sanctioned by law and society. What makes these supplementary procedures ‘deep’ is the fact that they are covert or suppressed, outside public awareness as well as outside sanctioned political processes.” [1]

Deep political analysis is concerned with revealing the tendency of the state, which is the locus of law, to enter into criminal activity that conventionally would be viewed as anathema to the state’s professed laws. As Scott observes, from the viewpoint of conventional political science, law enforcement and the criminal underworld are opposed to each other, the former struggling to gain control of the latter. However:

“A deep political analysis notes that in practice these efforts at control lead to the use of criminal informants; and this practice, continued over a long period of time, turns informants into double agents with status within the police as well as the mob. The protection of informants and their crimes encourages favors, payoffs, and eventually systemic corruption. The phenomenon of ‘organized crime’ arises: entire criminal structures that come to be tolerated by the police because of their usefulness in informing on lesser criminals.” [2]

In time, this can lead to a form of police-crime symbiosis, where the defining parameters of which side controls the other are no longer clear. The present condition of western state practices in relation to the ‘War on Terror’ suggests that we are facing a serious state-crisis, challenging the legitimacy of the state as the harbinger of law, order and security. The comprehensive nature of the criminalization of the state, its penetration of both domestic and foreign arenas of policy, can only be explained in the context of the state’s increasing subservience to powerful vested interests that are unlikely to meet public approval, and that therefore must be secured without public consent. So what are these interests?


The Deep Politics of Terror in Algeria: A Case Study

The case of Algeria provides a powerful example of the overlap of these criminal western state practices which converge on a very precise set of strategic and economic interests:


1. Individuals identified as “terrorist suspects” have been transferred to, among many other states, Algeria. Algeria is a regime with a notorious record of human rights abuses including the systematic practice of torture which was detailed by the British Home Office in an April 2004 report prepared by the Country Information and Policy Unit used in assessing asylum claims. After its visit to Algeria in June 2005, Human Rights Watch concluded that the regime continues to practice torture, especially during interrogation of security suspects.

The interrogation of “suspects” using torture was responsible for the production of the false ricin-plot narrative. Algerian security services alerted the British in January 2003 to the plot after interrogating and torturing a “terrorist suspect” and former British resident Mohammed Meguerba. We now know there was no plot. Four of the defendants were acquitted of terrorism and four others had the cases against them abandoned. Only Kamal Bourgass was convicted after he murdered Special Branch Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a raid. Rendition attempts to institutionalize and legitimize torture as a means of the production of fundamentally compromised information used by western states to manipulate domestic public opinion. [3]

2. Algeria plays a crucial role in relation to the west’s ‘War on Terror’, and cooperates closely with the US, UK and France in particular on regional anti-terrorist initiatives. US and Algerian joint operations in the last few years for instance have involved the construction of a ‘terror zone’ across southern Algeria, northern Nigeria, Mauritania, Northern Mali, Northern Niger and Chad. In July 2003, under US auspices, Algeria, Chad, Niger and Nigeria ‘signed a cooperation agreement on counter-terrorism that effectively joined the two oil-rich sides of the Sahara together in a complex of security arrangements whose architecture is American.’ [4]

The agreement was quickly followed up with what has become the principal vehicle of American involvement, the Pan-Sahel Initiative, a $7.75 million military programme providing training and equipment to Algeria, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania to ‘improve their border security and deny the use of their sovereign territory to terrorists and criminals.’ [5] One thousand US Special forces, marines and contractors were sent to these countries in January 2004 to supply extensive military counter-terrorist assistance and coordination. The US is expanding the programme to include Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia, with a new budget of $500 million for the period until 2011, now with a new name, the ‘Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative’.[6] A major US military base operates from Tamanrasset in the south of Algeria, with 400 Special Forces. Algeria is viewed as pivotal to US plans for future military deployment in the region.[7]

3. Thirdly, Algeria is complicit in the facilitation of radical Islamist terrorist activity - with Western knowledge and support. Former Algerian government and security officials have independently confirmed that Algerian military-intelligence services had infiltrated and controlled almost all radical Islamist terrorist groups in the country, including the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). [8]

Foreign Office documents released to the Honourable Court in 2000 relating to the trial of three alleged Algerian terrorists, who were all acquitted, revealed extensive evidence to this effect. Whitehall’s Joint Intelligence Committee cited evidence of Algerian ‘government manipulation or involvement in [Islamist] terrorist violence’. One document stated, ‘Sources had privately said some of the killings of civilians [blamed on Islamist terrorist groups] were the responsibility of the Algerian security services’. Multiple documents ‘referred to the ‘manipulation’ of the GIA [the Armed Islamic Group, one of the principal Islamist terrorist groups in Algeria] being used as a cover to carry out their own operations’. A US intelligence report confirmed that ‘there was no evidence to link 1995 Paris bombings to Algerian militants’. On the contrary, ‘one killing at the time could have been ordered by the Algerian government.’ [9]

According to social anthropologist Jeremy Keenan - Senior Research Fellow and Director of Sahara Studies at the University of East Anglia - ‘contradictory Algerian intelligence reports and eyewitness testimonies suggest collusion between agents of Algeria’s military intelligence services and the Salafist Group.’ Not surprisingly, the State Department has ‘declined to comment on the matter.’ Indeed, the United States needs the GSPC terrorist threat to justify the extension of US hegemony to northwest Africa. ‘Without the GSPC,’ observes Keenan, ‘the US has no legitimacy for its presence in the region.’[10]

In several extraordinary analyses published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Review of African Political Economy, Keenan documents ‘an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that the alleged spread of terrorist activities across much of the Sahelian Sahara, has indeed been an elaborate deception on the part of US and Algerian military intelligence services.’ Keenan thus finds that the expansion of the GSPC presence in the Sahara was jointly facilitated by US and Algerian security services.[11]

4. Algeria is the subject of crucial strategic and economic interests on the part of the US, UK and several EU states, especially with regard to its oil and natural gas reserves. Northwest African oil reserves currently meet 17 per cent of US needs. An Algerian company, Sonatrach, plays a major role in US oil exploration as the largest company in Africa, with an estimated turnover of $32 billion in 2004.[12] Experts agree that by 2015, ‘Africa will become the US’s second-most important supplier of oil, and possibly natural gas, after the Middle East.’[13]

US commercial involvement in Algeria began in 1991, after the military coup that cancelled national elections. At the end of that year, the regime ‘opened the energy sector on liberal terms to foreign investors and operators.’ The main US firms include ‘Arco, Exxon, Oryx, Anadarko, Mobil and Sun Oil.’[14] According to European intelligence sources, CIA meetings with Algerian Islamist leaders from 1993 to 1995 are responsible for the lack of terrorist attacks on US oil and agribusiness installations in Algeria.[15] Approximately 90 per cent of Algeria’s crude oil exports go to western Europe, including Britain, where BP has a 31.8 billion pounds contract with the regime.[16]


Conclusions

The case of Algeria demonstrates that CIA-MI6 sponsored rendition and torture in Algeria cannot be understood in isolation from the dynamics of Algeria’s deep political relations with Western states, which can be explained by the economic and strategic interests that appear to inextricably bind the West and Algeria. Similar configurations of mutual interests explain the trajectories of Western security policies, including torture and rendition, in many other strategic regions in relation to the ‘War on Terror’. One of the most disturbing elements of these deep political ties is their implication for western policies toward ‘international terrorism’. The case of Algeria highlights how:

1. Western states use rendition and torture to manufacture intelligence to magnify the threat of terrorism in support of domestic and foreign security policies.

2. Western states are indirectly complicit in disturbing policies of cohabitation with radical Islamist networks, which appears to have selectively facilitated their activities.

3. This in turn has legitimized the expansion and consolidation of military-strategic control of regions considered crucial to western interests, particularly with regard to access to energy reserves and raw materials.

These three strands of policy cannot be separated, and to be challenged effectively they must be analyzed and deconstructed holistically. They are integral to a sophisticated international security system, geared to the protection of specific strategic and economic interests, that has been constructed by the US in cooperation with the UK and some EU states after 9/11, but many of whose principles were already in place well before those terrorist attacks.

This system has accelerated the criminalization of the state, resulting in a veritable crisis of corruption. In order to launch an effective and lasting challenge to western state criminal practices such as rendition, therefore, the security system itself - its structure, the key players responsible for its operation, and the corrupt interests it is designed to meet - needs to be understood, exposed and undermined.

--------------------
NOTES

[1] Scott, Peter Dale, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (California: University of California Press, 1996) p. 8.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Neil MacKay, ‘The new boom industry: Torture with CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’’, Sunday Herald (4 December 2005)
[4] Jeremy Keenan, ‘Terror in the Sahara: the Implications of US Imperialism for North & West Africa’, Review of African Political Economy (September 2004, 31 (101): 475–486), p. 491.
[5] Ambassador Cofer Black, ‘The Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Africa’, Remarks at the Second Intergovernmental High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism In Africa, Algiers (Washington DC: US Department of State, 13 October 2004)
[6] Jason Motlag, ‘US takes terror fight to Africa’s “Wild West”’, San Francisco Chronicle (27 December 2005)

[7] Salima Mellah and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, ‘Who Staged the Tourist Kidnappings? El Para, the Maghreb’s Bin Laden’, Le Monde Diplomatique (February 2005)
[8] For an extensive review of sources see my The War on Truth: 9/11 Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism (London: Interlink, 2005)
[9] Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Terrorist case collapses after three years’, Guardian (21 March 2000).
[10] Jason Motlag, ‘US takes terror fight to Africa’s “Wild West”,’ op. cit.
[11] Jeremy Keenan, ‘Terror in the Sahara', op. cit. Keenan reviews a wealth of evidence in excruciating detail. Also see his two other briefings which contain more extensive background analysis demonstrating a US-Algerian intelligence deception in relation to the GSPC: Keenan, ‘Americans & ‘Bad People’ in the Sahara-Sahel’, Review of African Political Economy (March 2004, 31 (99): 130–9); ‘Political Destablisation and ‘Blowback’ in the Sahel’, Review of African Political Economy (December 2004, 31(102): 691–703). Look out for Keenan's forthcoming book,
The Dark Sahara (London: Pluto, 2009)
[12] Salima Mellah and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, ‘Who Staged the Tourist Kidnappings?’ op. cit.
[13] Pierre Abramovici, ‘United States: the new scramble for Africa’, Le Monde (July 2004)
[14] John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, (Pluto Press: London, 1998, pp. 205–6).
[15] Richard Labévière, Dollars for Terror: The US and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000), pp. 182–9.
[16] ‘Algeria’, United States Energy Information Administration (February 1999)

6 February 2009

EU-Ukraine-Russian Gas Crisis in Retrospective: It's Just the Beginning

Last month, a price dispute between Russia and Ukraine triggered the shutting of the transit route through which Europe receives about a fifth of all its natural gas. The gas crisis was largely interpreted as resulting from a breakdown in negotiations between Russia and Ukraine over how much the latter would pay for its own gas supplies, as well as questions about who would provide the technical gas to operate Ukraininian compressor stations.

Yet under the surface of the unprecedented dispute is a looming energy crisis. Russia produces about 22 percent of world gas supply, and is believed to hold 30 percent of the world’s remaining gas reserves. In a prescient analysis in late 2008, Dr. Pierre Noel, Acting Director of the Electricity Policy Forum at the University of Cambridge, warned that: “Over the next 15-20 years, Gazprom faces serious supply challenges, and the international gas market is likely to experience considerable tightening.” He noted that the coming decades could see Europe facing “a gas supply crunch, leading to stagnant or even declining consumption.” Although the Russian Gazprom controls “the world’s largest gas reserves, Gazprom will find it difficult to maintain its current supply levels.” Noel reports that production from the “super-giant” west Siberian gas fields, accounting for most of Gazprom’s production, “is now in steep decline.” Maintaining production depends on the development of new fields on the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia, which are set to come online in 2010. Yet most of the European gas industry argue “this is highly unlikely”, putting 2015 as a more realistic date. But the problem goes deeper than this:

“In fact, Gazprom’s production is already insufficient to meet all the company’s commitments. It depends on two other sources of gas – ‘independent’ Russian producers and imports from Central Asia, especially Turkmenistan – to make up the shortfall. This ‘bridge’ is supposed to supply Gazprom’s needs until the Yamal fields come online. But there is uncertainty over whether Gazprom will be able to source sufficient volumes from Turkmenistan, while independent Russian producers have little incentive to increase their production in the absence of access to Gazprom’s transmission network, which would enable them to reach consumers directly. Moreover, domestic gas consumption in Russia is growing, driven by economic expansion and a gas-intensive electricity mix. So there is at least a risk that Gazprom’s ‘bridge’ to Yamal could collapse. Industry assessments vary from a tight but manageable supply situation to an impending crisis.”

This background places in sharp focus the EU-Ukraine-Russia gas crisis. Indeed, just before the gas crisis Ukraine had signed a strategic accord with the US in December 2008, calling for the establishment of a US diplomatic post in Crimea where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based, as well as for “enhanced cooperation” in defence, security, trade and "energy security."

The incident must be understood as signifying the eruption of a major fault-line in future EU-US-Russian geopolitical contestation in the region for claims over access to increasingly scarce hydrocarbon resources. An analysis of data from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008 by the open source intelligence firm Sanders Research Associates, found that Russian natural gas could well have already peaked in 2006, suggesting that the prolongation of delays in bringing online the new Russian gas fields could imply an EU gas supply crunch as early as 2015.

The gas crisis should be understood as a sign of things to come if Europe doesn't act to overcome its over-dependence on hydrocarbon energy sources. Instead we have deeply misinformed and speculative ventures to focus on nuclear power. Even Sweden, which had once declared its intent to become the world's first oil-free economy, is now scrapping its plans to invest in renewable energy technologies to build costly nuclear plants. The combination of continued fossil-fuel dependence mingled with the nuclearization of Western societies doesn't bode well, neither for global warming, long-term energy security, nor for public safety and issues of proliferation.

26 January 2009

Obama: Regime Rotation

The arrival of the Obama administration will not fundamentally alter the course of military expansion accelerated during the Bush era. The origins of these policies do not lie uniquely in neoconservative ideology. While the election of President Obama may offer new opportunities for progressive forces to delimit the damage, their space for movement will ultimately be constrained by deep-seated structural pressures that will attempt to exploit Obama to rehabilitate American imperial hegemony, rather than transform it.

Indeed, the radicalization of Anglo-American political ideology represented by the rise of neoconservative principles and the militarization processes of the 'War on Terror', constituted a strategic response to global systemic crises supported by the American business classes. The same classes, recognizing the extent to which the Bush era has discredited this response, have rallied around Obama. Therefore, as global crises intensify, this militarization response is likely to undergo further radicalization, rather than a meaningful change in course. The key differences will be in language and method, not substance.


Obama and National Security: “It’s the Oil, Stupid!”

This became increasingly clear as Barack Obama’s administration appointees became known – individuals whose political and ideological positions are largely commensurate with neoconservative ideals particularly on security matters, and whose social and intellectual connections link them to neo-conservative think-tanks and policy-makers.

A glance through Obama’s national security team also raises eyebrows, but we should focus on his selection of former Marine General Jim Jones as his National Security Advisor. Jones was previously appointed to the NATO post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of the US European Command (COMUSEUCOM) under the Bush administration. The thrust of Jones’ imperial vision of US national security can be seen from a UPI article describing his work in 2005:

“NATO’s top military commander is seeking an important new security role for private industry and business leaders as part of a new security strategy that will focus on the economic vulnerabilities of the 26-country alliance. Two immediate and priority projects for NATO officials to develop with private industry are to secure the pipelines bringing Russian oil and gas to Europe… to secure ports and merchant shipping, the alliance Supreme Commander, Gen. James Jones of the USMarine Corps said Wednesday… A further area of NATO interest to secure energy supplies could be the Gulf of Guinea off the West African coast, Jones noted... Oil companies were already spending more than a billion dollars a year on security in the region, he noted, pointing to the need for NATO and business to confer on the common security concern.”

In summary, Jones’ national security strategy privileges US military control over regions containing substantial underexploited oil and natural gas reserves, in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, the Black and Caspian Seas, and the Persian Gulf. This drive also allows the US to consolidate European dependence for its energy security on NATO, thus solidifying EU support of the wider US geostrategy to control global energy resources and transportation routes.


Obama and the Economy: Déjà vu?

As for Obama’s ambitions for tackling the financial crisis, even a scathing New York Times editorial noted that President Obama’s economic team, put together to tackle the economic and financial crisis, consisted of the very same people who had “played central roles in policies that helped provoke today’s financial crisis.” These include Tim Geithner who as president of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York “helped shape the Bush administration’s erratic and often inscrutable responses to the current financial meltdown, up to and including this past weekend’s multibillion-dollar bailout of Citigroup”; and former World Bank chief, Larry Summers, who “championed the law that deregulated derivatives, the financial instruments – aka toxic assets – that have spread the financial losses from reckless lending around the globe.”


Obama and the Transnational American Business Class

One needs to look beyond the rhetoric to get an idea of what Obama really means for the world. Analysis of Federal Election Commission data on the largest financial donors to both the McCain and Obama presidential campaigns reveals that they were almost entirely sponsored by the same banks, financial institutions and corporations (except Obama received significantly more corporate financing than his rival McCain). This suggests that US policies have, and will continue to, broadly represent the insecurities and interests of Anglo-American capital – and further, that American business classes actually favoured Obama and provided him the finances and expertise to produce a power-house media and publicity campaign.


Obama Shuts Down ‘War on Terror’… Not

So what should we make of Obama’s opening measures, almost as soon as he was inaugurated as President, to close Guantanamo Bay, de-legitimize torture and challenge CIA practices of extraordinary rendition? Firstly, we should of course welcome any such public condemnations of these practices, particularly by the new American President. But this should not blind us from critically examining what Obama’s Executive Orders actually meant.

While around the world, Obama’s measures were interpreted as completely reversing the Bush administration policies of torture, extraordinary rendition and secret prisons – starting with the declaration of the complete closure of Guantanamo Bay – deeper inspection of the details of his Executive Orders suggests, unfortunately, that cries of joy are slightly premature.

First, it should be understood that regardless of what elected US governments have said or left unsaid about the practice of torture by military intelligence services, torture is, and always has been, endemic and officially sanctioned at the highest levels. Declassified CIA training manuals from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, prove that the CIA has consistently practiced torture long before the Bush administration attempted to legitimize the practice publicly. This means that what made the Bush era distinctive was not the systematic practice of torture by US military intelligence agencies, but rather the US government’s open and widely known endorsement of such practices, and insistence either on their obvious legality, or otherwise of the irrelevance of law in the context of fighting terrorism.

This means that Obama’s public disavowals of torture do not actually represent the end of the systemic practice of the CIA's traditional interrogation techniques, conducted without public scrutiny for decades. Rather, they portend a sheepish return to secrecy – or in other words, a return to the obvious recognition that open declarations of covert US practices such as torture as official policy are detrimental, not conducive, to US hegemony.

Closer scrutiny of President Obama’s first Executive Orders reveals that they were designed less to transform illegal US military intelligence practices, than to allow them to continue in secret without legal obstruction, by redefining their character (while retaining their substance):

1) While Obama demanded the harmonization of interrogations in line with a purportedly Geneva Conventions-compliant US Army Field Manual, unaddressed revisions to that manual in 2006 – “in particular, a ten-page appendix known as Appendix M” – “go beyond the Geneva-based restrictions of the original field manual.” Indeed, the Manual accepted 19 forms of interrogation and the practice of extraordinary rendition. Further, retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama’s director of national intelligence, told a Senate confirmation hearing that the Army Field Manual would itself be changed, potentially allowing new forms of harsh interrogation, but that such changes would remain classified.

2) Obama’s supposed banning of the CIA’s secret rendition programmes did not actually prevent the CIA from extra-judicially apprehending and detaining innocent civilians without evidence or due process, but only emphasized, in the words of one White House official: “There is not going to be rendition to any country that engages in torture.” The problem here is that rendered detainees have already been sent to countries across the EU that do not officially sanction torture, where they were nevertheless tortured. Secret CIA detention facilities have been hosted in, for instance, Poland, and were previously justified by the Bush administration’s State Department under exactly the same notion that Poland did not engage in torture. Even Obama’s own counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, had insisted that rendition is “absolutely vital.”

3) Finally, while purportedly banning the CIA’s use of secret prisons, the prohibitions “do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” Yet without specifying an actual time-limit clearly defining the meaning of “short-term” and “transitory”, Obama’s injunctions effectively still permitted indefinite detention, as long as the CIA would officially re-classify the period of detention as designed to be short-term and transitory.

The end result was a successful re-configuration of the public presentation of US military intelligence practices, coupled with nominal legal caveats permitting them to continue relatively unimpeded – essentially a giant PR exercise. Meanwhile, the vast post-9/11 domestic national security apparatus denying habeas corpus, undermining due process, and facilitating mass surveillance as well as intrusive social control powers brought in by the Bush administration was not repudiated, but retained.


Not One to Waste Time

Abroad, the Obama administration began its first days in office by committing more troops to Afghanistan, intensifying military pressure on Pakistan, stepping-up covert warfare on Iran, and deepening military-political penetration of Central Asia and West Africa. The overarching motivations for these policies are US domination of energy reserves and transportation routes, exemplified in the appointment of oil-obsessed ex-NATO Marine Gen. James Jones as Obama's national security czar. Rather than reversing the pattern of attempting to intensify state power, these policies will severely exacerbate the potential for geopolitical competition and violent conflict.


Regime Rotation: Hegemony Rehabilitation, Systemic Stabilization

After the Bush administration’s record of essentially trampling on any semblance of half-decent PR, leading to the very concept of US world leadership being vehemently opposed or incredulously ridiculed around the world, the arrival of Obama is set to rehabilitate American hegemony and restore some sense of credibility and even respectability to US military and financial power. After Obama's powerful inauguration speech, enough to make even a grown non-American man such as myself (nearly) weep (ok I'm exaggerating, but you get the drift...), Americans and even the entire world, can for the first time in perhaps a decade feel proud and satisfied that all is going to be taken care of.

Yet this sense of jubiliation is symptomatic of the fact that the Obama administration will pursue (and has already pursued) policies of hegemony rehabilitation and systemic stabilization. This will not involve a meaningful change of course, but rather a perpetuation of existing structures in the global political economy. In other words, not changing the system, but protecting it – violently if necessary, but this time with greater attention to PR.

So there will also be sharp ostensible differences with Obama’s predecessors, for instance, greater concern for a multilateralist approach; avowing respect for international law and institutions; reliance on more covert methods of extending influence rather than overt military confrontrations with all those who are "not with us" and therefore de facto "against us"; etc. -thus allowing the US to return to the moral high ground so completely eroded by the Bush administration’s open policies of unilateralism, endorsement of torture, and unabashed violations of international law. In effect, this will involve removing, relabeling or simply concealing practices that have served to undermine US authority in the eyes of its allies, and the world.

The outcome has already been disturbing: while neutralizing and thoroughly confusing progressive social and anti-war movements in and outside the West, the arrival of Obama has allowed the US government to rally unprecedented popular support behind it, for whatever it intends to do.

We will see, in this respect, a marked shift in the language and rhetoric of foreign policy, a return to more diplomatic strategies, as well as military policies couched in the discourse of humanitarian intervention and aid. Unfortunately, for a while, this shift will seem more convincing coming from Obama, as opposed to Bush. More than ever, therefore, progressive movements will need to up their game in understanding and accurately critiquing the new administration’s policies, if they are to prevent processes of imperial militarization from intensifying.

21 January 2009

Norwegian Daily: Terrorists Working for Western Countries

It came to my attention that a senior correspondent, Kristin Aalen, working for a national Norwegian broadsheet - Stavanger Aftenbladet (Stavanger Evening News) - just recently printed a detailed article in the newspaper on Western covert operations sponsoring al-Qaeda after the Cold War... based almost entirely on my research in The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism.

Entitled "Terrorists Working for Western Countries" (24.11.08), it even gives a country-by-country summary breakdown complete with a handy geopolitical world map of the wide arc of these operations. It's a very useful piece from a mainstream national European paper that very effectively summarises the thrust of my research into this unpalatable subject. A shame that the British press is so reticient about such issues.

There are some caveats. Kristin sometimes oversimplifies my geopolitical explanations, and this can lead to serious misinterpretations, such as her rendition of my examination of Pentagon sponsorship of al-Qaeda fighters in the Balkans - she says that the US and NATO helped the Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs, provoking them, and thus preventing peace. This is caricature of my argument, which is more fully fleshed out in The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry. The Serbs were, in fact, encouraged to act with impunity, and the US Defense Intelligence Agency's influx of mujahideen fighters into the Bosnia predictably aggravated the crisis. Ensuing NATO airstrikes were thoroughly ineffective, and indeed the US, UN and NATO, having accelerated the disintegration of Yugoslavia, acted in concert to do nothing when the Serbs committed genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrencia and beyond.

Anyway. What follows is a basic translation of the piece.

=========

-Terrorists working for western countries

We have been told that Western countries would do everything they could to eradicate Al-Qaeda in the "war on terror". But Western intelligence has from the 1990s, used terrorists to do dirty work in a number of countries.

By Kirstin Aalen
24th November 2008

During the Cold War, the United States was concerned to break the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA cooperated with Saudi Arabian and Pakistani intelligence to support Muslim guerrilla soldiers - mujahedin - in the fight against the communists.

Thousands of Islamic jihadists (holy warriors) were trained in Osama bin Laden's training camps until the late 1980s. They came from Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa and was called Arab Afghans. In 1988, Al-Qaida was founded.

So what?

The Soviets gave up Afghanistan in 1989. Bin Laden's men fought in a couple of years of civil war that followed. So against whom should the jihadists now fight their holy war ? The regimes they came from would not tolerate fundamentalist guerrilla fighters in their own backyard.

Western intelligence services saw an opportunity. Documentation proves that British and American players in particular exploited the brutality of Al-Qaeda. "The goal has been to destabilize regions where Anglo-American power wanted to secure control over oil and gas resources," said the British terrorism analyst Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. He has written several books on the subject.

Flown on

In 1991 came three US military agents arrived in Azerbaijan. They arranged to fly in over 2,000 mujahedin soldiers. The job was to create rebellion and remove Russian influence. Bin Laden established an Al-Qaida's office in Baku. It was a base for terrorist actions in the Muslim neighborhood near Russia. After two years of unrest the democratically elected president was overthrown in June 1993. The corrupt Alijev took power. Now western and Saudi oil companies could secure a lucrative contract. Construction of the pipeline oil Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan could begin - bypassing Russia.

Moved forward

In 1992 the war in Bosnia began. An official Dutch report authored in 2002 by Professor Cees Wiebes from the University of Amsterdam shows that the Pentagon secretly flew thousands of Al-Qaida soldiers into Bosnia, ostensibly in support of Bosnian Muslims. But these brutal thugs provoked the Serbs so that a peaceful solution was impossible. Nato and the United States supported the Bosnian Muslims with the air strikes.

In 1996, the Kosovo Liberation Army was trained by a high-ranking Al-Qaeda-operative across the border to Albania. But simultaneously, British and US military experts helped.

Macedonia

In 2001, jihadists turned up in Macedonia, now in the guise of the nationalist sister faction, the National Liberation Army (NLA), which was secretly sponsored by Nato and the United States for years as revealed in the Dutch and German media.

Yet Macedonian intelligence reported that Al-Qaeda was also training the NLA in the Kumanovo-Lipkovo region. This information was sent to the CIA and National Security Council in the United States.

Libya

In 1997, the British MI5 anti-terror agent David Shayler revealed that British intelligence in 1995-96 gave 100,000 pounds to Al-Qaida's network in Libya, to plan and complete an assassination of the head of state Col. Mohammar Gaddafi.

Ahmed points out that the other areas where Western covert operations have used al-Qaeda terrorists include Algeria, Egypt, Chechnya (see Graph) and even the Philippines. These case studies show how the activities of Islamic terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda through training, money, weapons and fighters have been sponsored by the Anglo-American alliance. "Either by direct or indirect support through state intermediaries. The overall purpose has been to secure control over raw materials, especially oil and gas," said Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.

===
translation of text in Graph:

KOSOVO 1996-99:

Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was financed by the heroin trade from Afghanistan and from Osama bin Laden. Many soldier-mercenaries were trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan. According to Interpol, a KLA unit led by one of bin Laden's senior men, probably Mohammed Al-Zawahiri, was a brother of bin Laden's right hand, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

TRAIN: From 1998 the KLA also trained and armed by NATO. British and U.S. experts helped in the training of Tropoje in Albania.

PURPOSE: The British and the Americans used the KLA to destabilize Kosovo and the increase ethnic animosity. They would gain control of the land areas that could open the way for an oil pipeline via Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, except Russia and Iran.

LISTED: This happened despite the fact that the KLA in 1998 was put on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

ALGERIA 1992-99:

GIA: Early in the 90s emerged the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) - strong in Algeria and with close ties to Osama bin Laden in Sudan. Throughout the 90s committed a series of atrocities in Algeria, which led to 150,000 civilians killed.

REVELATIONS: In 1997 it was revealed that the massacres took place in cooperation between the GIA and the Algerian etterret-business service and military. Western regimes denied the connection, but several whistleblowers claimed that they have known about this connection.

SALE: Sunday Times and Reuter reported in 2000 that Britain sold a large batch weapons to Algeria. U.S. and Algerian military increased their cooperation in 1999.

BOSNIA 1992-95:

SHOCK: Brutal mujahedin / Al-Qaida fighters were used to fight for Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Serbs. 10,000 participated.

PENTAGON: A Dutch official report revealed in 2002 how the Pentagon leased Islamic jihadists to fight for Bosnian Muslims.

BOSNIAN PASS: Osama bin Laden had Bosnian passports in 1993. He held meetings in Zagreb in Croatia for Arab-Afghan leaders who were Al-Qaida-emissaries in Bosnia.

WEST: the United States and Britain supported the right nationalist President Alija Izetbegovic to sideline and defeat the multi-ethnic policies of popular rival Bosnian Muslim leader Fikret Adbic. This gave the green light to the fragmentation of Yugoslavia. U.S. and NATO bombers contributed to this.

CHECHNYA 2000:

RUSSIA: Key Chechen cooperation in 1999 with high-ranking Al-Qaida operatives about attacks in the Caucasus.

USA: By the summer of 2000 American private security firms armed al-Qaeda-infiltrated Chechens and their Islamist allies to make rebellion in the region and lead holy war against Russia. The U.S. intention was to destroy a Russian pipeline.

AZERBAIJAN 1991-93

AGENTS: Three agents from the U.S. military flew in at least 2,000 al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan to Baku in Azerbaijan. Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda established an office in the city, as a base for terrorism in several areas.

USED TO: Hired fighters made rebellion to reduce Russian influence in the country. Elected president Albufas Eltsjibej fled in June -93. In came Heidar Alijev. Several major oil companies supported the coup.

GOALS: Britain's BP led a consortium of Western and Saudi oil companies that would secure a major contract. In the signed to build an oil pipeline from Baku through Georgia to Ceyhan in Turkey, free from Russian control.

LIBYA 1995-97:

In 1997, MI5 anti-terror agent David Shayler revealed that the British MI6 intelligence agency in 1995-96 paid 100,000 pounds to Al-Qaida's network in Libya so that the terrorists would assasinate country's head of state. The operation failed, ended up under the wrong car, killing six innocent Libyans. The British government denied that it was involved, but two French intelligence experts documented that MI6 in the murder plot had hired bin Laden's highly trusted man, Anas al-Libya. He is on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list for the attack on the U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.

MACEDONIA 2001:

GUERRILLAS: KLA soldiers went on to form the NLA in Macedonia. At one time, the insurgents were surrounded by the Macedonian security forces, but were rescued by NATO and the United States, though their spokesmen denied this. The news was leaked in Dutch and German media in June 2002.

REPORT: Macedonians reported to the CIA and National Security Council that Al-Qaida had trained the NLA in the region. Received only a polite response from U.S. intelligence.

EGYPT 1997:

In the first half of November 1997 the CIA sent a man called Abu-Umar Al-Amriki to Osama bin Laden's close allies, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Peshawar, Pakistan. There was a deal made between the Egyptian terrorist leader and the CIA. It was that al-Zawahiri would get 50 million U.S. dollars to ensure that U.S. forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina were not attacked by Islamic mujahedin. Egypt would in turn be able to use the money to "to rule over Egypt." Some weeks later, in December 1997, the al-Zawahiris organization, Al-Jihad, the terrorist attack in Luxor.

MOHAMMED ALI:

Was a double agent for Al-Qaida and the CIA / FBI. He was sent in 1984 by al-Zawahiri to infiltrate the CIA. He joined the U.S. Army and worked at the Special Warfare Center in Fort Bragg, where he stole a manual-fighting techniques. He was among other terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, but was not sentenced himself. Also under the name of Abu-Umar Al-Amriki (American). Sent by the CIA in 1997 to broker deal with Al-Zawahiri.

Osama bin Laden:

Lived in Afghanistan in 1984-89 and was one of Al-Qaida's leading theoreticians.

1989-91: In Saudi Arabia, but his harsh criticism of the authorities meant he had to go into exile.

1992-96: Ran Al-Qaida from Khartoum in Sudan.

From 1996: Back in Afghanistan. Established a close cooperation with the ruling Taliban government until the US-led invasion in October 2001.

FINANCING: Bin Laden-financed Al-Qaida in part with money from their own family wealth, and partly from funds collected. But in 1994 when he lost his Saudi citizenship and had all their accounts frozen by the bin Laden family dynasty, he lost the ability to generously support his jihadists.

MUJAHEDIN: Different groups of mujahedin - Muslim guerrilla fighters - were supported by among others the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fight against the USSR in Afghanistan (1979-89). Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden built the Tora Bora plant with support from Pakistani intelligence (ISI). Here he could - inspired by Palestinian jihadist theoretician Abdullah Azzam and supported by Egyptian aid Ayman Al-Zawahiri - recruit and train fighters in the jihad (holy war). They also ran an al-Kifah Center (aid office) for jihadists in Peshawar in Pakistan. A number of similar assistance centers were created in the U.S. and Europe.

Al-Qaida:

In Arabic, short-hand for "database". Was founded 17 May 1988 by Osama bin Laden and his closest colleagues.

LEARNING: Al-Qaida offered in their first year training to 10,000 to 20,000 volunteers in several camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were Arab Afghans, given lessons in fighting techniques, weapons handling and use of explosives in addition to ideological training.

ARTICLES:

"Azerbaijan throws raw recruits Into Battle" by Steve Levine, Washington Post 21/4-1994; "Fortune hunters Lured U.S. into volatile Region "by Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway, Washington Post, 4/10-1998;" U.S. Supported al-Qaeda cells during Balkan Wars "; Isabel Vincent, National Post, 16/3-2002. "Bin Laden linked to Albanian drug gangs" by Colin Brown, Independent, 21/10-2001; "America Used Islamist two Arm the Bosnian Muslims: The Screbenica Report Reveals the Pentagon's Role in a Dirty War," Richard J. Aldrich, Guardian , 22/4-2002. "The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties? From "Terrorists" two "partners" by Larry E. Craig, United States Senate Rebublican Policy Committee 31/3-1999. "European Intelligence: The U.S. betrayed us in Macedonia" by Christopher Deliso, Randolph Bourne Institute, 22/6-2002. "Do not Shoot the Messenger" by David Shayler, the Observer 27/8-2000.

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