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Subject:         Ousmane Bin Laden
   Date:         Thu, 13 Sep 2001 07:43:50 -0400
   From:         Michel Chossudovsky 
    To:         (Recipient list suppressed)


by Michel Chossudovsky

Professor of Economics,
University of Ottawa

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG) at

The  url of this article is

Posted 12 September 2001

A few hours after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre
and the Pentagon, the Bush administration concluded without
supporting evidence, that "Ousmane bin Laden and his al-Qaeda
organisation were prime suspects". CIA Director George Tenet
stated that bin Laden has the capacity to plan ``multiple attacks
with little or no warning.'' Secretary of State Colin Powell called
the attacks "an act of war" and President Bush confirmed in an
evening televised address to the Nation that he would "make no
distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and
those who harbor them". Former CIA Director James Woolsey
pointed his finger at "state sponsorship," implying the complicity
of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former
National Security Adviser, Lawrence Eagleburger, "I think we
will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our
strength and in our retribution."

Meanwhile, parroting official statements, the Western media
mantra has approved the launching of "punitive actions" directed
against civilian targets in the Middle East. In the words of
William Saffire writing in the New York Times: "When we
reasonably determine our attackers' bases and camps, we must
pulverize them -- minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral
damage -- and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror's
national hosts".

The following text outlines the history of Ousmane Bin Laden and
the links of the Islamic "Jihad" to the formulation of US foreign
policy during the Cold War and its aftermath.

*                  *                   *

Prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorists
attacks, branded by the FBI as an "international terrorist" for his
role in the African US embassy bombings, Saudi born Ousmane
bin Laden was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war "ironically
under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders". 1

In 1979 "the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA"
was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
in support of the pro-Communist government of Babrak Kamal.2:

"With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI
[Inter Services Intelligence], who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad
into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet
Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries
joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of
thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs.
Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were
directly influenced by the Afghan jihad."3

The Islamic "jihad" was supported by the United States and
Saudi Arabia with a significant part of the funding generated from
the Golden Crescent drug trade:

"In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security
Decision Directive 166,...[which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert
military aid to the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret
Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in
Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet
withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a
dramatic increase in arms supplies -- a steady rise to 65,000
tons annually by 1987, ... as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA
and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters
of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
There the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers
to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels."4

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using Pakistan's military
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played a key role in training the
Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA sponsored guerrilla training was
integrated with the teachings of Islam:

"Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete
socio-political ideology, that holy Islam was being violated by the
atheistic Soviet troops, and that the Islamic people of
Afghanistan should reassert their independence by overthrowing
the leftist Afghan regime propped up by Moscow."5


Pakistan's ISI was used as a "go-between". The CIA covert
support to the "jihad" operated indirectly through the Pakistani
ISI, --i.e. the CIA did not channel its support directly to the
Mujahideen. In other words, for these covert operations to be
"successful", Washington was careful not to reveal the ultimate
objective of the "jihad", which consisted in destroying the Soviet

In the words of CIA's Milton Beardman "We didn't train Arabs".
Yet according to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-aram Center for
Strategic Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the "Afghan Arabs" had
been imparted "with very sophisticated types of training that was
allowed to them by the CIA" 6

CIA's Beardman confirmed, in this regard, that Ousmane bin
Laden was not aware of the role he was playing on behalf of
Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman):
"neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help". 7

Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic
warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army
on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper
levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in
theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA.

With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of US
military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel
structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of
government". 8 The ISI had a staff composed of military and
intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and
informers, estimated at 150,000. 9

Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani
military regime led by General Zia Ul Haq:

"''Relations between the CIA and the ISI [Pakistan's military
intelligence] had grown increasingly warm following [General]
Zia's ouster of Bhutto and the advent of the military regime,'...
During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively
anti-Soviet than even the United States. Soon after the Soviet
military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia [ul Haq] sent his ISI
chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA only
agreed to this plan in October 1984.... `the CIA was more
cautious than the Pakistanis.' Both Pakistan and the United
States took the line of deception on Afghanistan with a public
posture of negotiating a settlement while privately agreeing that
military escalation was the best course."10


The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related
to the CIA's covert operations. Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war,
opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to
small regional markets. There was no local production of heroin.
11 In this regard, Alfred McCoy's study confirms that within two
years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, "the
Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's top heroin
producer, supplying 60 percent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the
heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979... to 1.2
million by 1985 -- a much steeper rise than in any other

"CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the
Mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they
ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across
the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under
the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of
heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open
drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad
failed to instigate major seizures or arrests ... U.S. officials had
refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan
allies `because U.S. narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been
subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there.' In 1995,
the former CIA director of the Afghan operation, Charles Cogan,
admitted the CIA had indeed sacrificed the drug war to fight the
Cold War. `Our main mission was to do as much damage as
possible to the Soviets. We didn't really have the resources or
the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,'... `I don't
think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its
fallout.... There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main
objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.'"13


\In the wake of the Cold War, the Central Asian region is not only
strategic for its extensive oil reserves, it also produces three
quarters of the World's opium representing multibillion dollar
revenues to business syndicates, financial institutions,
intelligence agencies and organized crime. The annual proceeds
of the Golden Crescent drug trade (between 100 and 200 billion
dollars) represents approximately one third of the Worldwide
annual turnover of narcotics, estimated by the United Nations to
be of the order of $500 billion.14

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a new surge in opium
production has unfolded. (According to UN estimates, the
production of opium in Afghanistan in 1998-99 -- coinciding with
the build up of armed insurgencies in the former Soviet
republics-- reached a record high of 4600 metric tons.15
Powerful business syndicates in the former Soviet Union allied
with organized crime are competing for the strategic control over
the heroin routes.

The ISI's extensive intelligence military-network was not
dismantled in the wake of the Cold War. The CIA continued to
support the Islamic "jihad" out of Pakistan. New undercover
initiatives were set in motion in Central Asia, the Caucasus and
the Balkans. Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatus
essentially "served as a catalyst for the disintegration of the
Soviet Union and the emergence of six new Muslim republics in
Central Asia." 16.

Meanwhile, Islamic missionaries of the Wahhabi sect from Saudi
Arabia had established themselves in the Muslim republics as
well as within the Russian federation encroaching upon the
institutions of the secular State. Despite its anti-American
ideology, Islamic fundamentalism was largely serving
Washington's strategic interests in the former Soviet Union.

Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the civil war in
Afghanistan continued unabated. The Taliban were being
supported by the Pakistani Deobandis and their political party the
Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). In 1993, JUI entered the
government coalition of Prime Minister Benazzir Bhutto. Ties
between JUI, the Army and ISI were established. In 1995, with
the downfall of the Hezb-I-Islami Hektmatyar government in
Kabul, the Taliban not only instated a hardline Islamic
government, they also "handed control of training camps in
Afghanistan over to JUI factions..." 17

And the JUI with the support of the Saudi Wahhabi movements
played a key role in recruiting volunteers to fight in the Balkans
and the former Soviet Union.

Jane Defense Weekly confirms in this regard that "half of Taliban
manpower and equipment originate[d] in Pakistan under the ISI"
18 In fact, it would appear that following the Soviet withdrawal
both sides in the Afghan civil war continued to receive covert
support through Pakistan's ISI. 19

In other words, backed by Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI)
which in turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic
State was largely serving American geopolitical interests. The
Golden Crescent drug trade was also being used to finance and
equip the Bosnian Muslim Army (starting in the early 1990s) and
the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In last few months there is
evidence that Mujahideen mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of
KLA-NLA terrorists in their assaults into Macedonia.

No doubt, this explains why Washington has closed its eyes on
the reign of terror imposed by the Taliban including the blatant
derogation of women's rights, the closing down of schools for
girls, the dismissal of women employees from government offices
and the enforcement of "the Sharia laws of punishment".20


With regard to Chechnya, the main rebel leaders Shamil Basayev
and Al Khattab were trained and indoctrinated in CIA sponsored
camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Yossef
Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congress's Task Force on
Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the war in Chechnya had
been planned during a secret summit of HizbAllah International
held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia. 21 The summit, was attended
by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Iranian and Pakistani
intelligence officers. In this regard, the involvement of Pakistan's
ISI in Chechnya "goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with
weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are
actually calling the shots in this war". 22

Russia's main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and
Dagestan. Despite Washington's perfunctory condemnation of
Islamic terrorism, the indirect beneficiaries of the Chechen war
are the Anglo-American oil conglomerates which are vying for
control over oil resources and pipeline corridors out of the
Caspian Sea basin.

The two main Chechen rebel armies (respectively led by
Commander Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab) estimated at
35,000 strong were supported by Pakistan's ISI, which also
played a key role in organizing and training the Chechen rebel

"[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for
Basayev and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic
indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost
province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the
early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani
warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from
Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar
camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics.
In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military
and intelligence officers: Minister of Defense General Aftab
Shahban Mirani, Minister of Interior General Naserullah Babar,
and the head of the ISI branch in charge of supporting Islamic
causes, General Javed Ashraf, (all now retired). High-level
connections soon proved very useful to Basayev.23
Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev was
assigned to lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the
first Chechen war in 1995. His organization had also developed
extensive links to criminal syndicates in Moscow as well as ties
to Albanian organized crime and the Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA). In 1997-98, according to Russia's Federal Security
Service (FSB) "Chechen warlords started buying up real estate in
Kosovo... through several real estate firms registered as a cover
in Yugoslavia" 24

Basayev's organisation has also been involved in a number of
rackets including narcotics, illegal tapping and sabotage of
Russia's oil pipelines, kidnapping, prostitution, trade in
counterfeit dollars and the smuggling of nuclear materials (See
Mafia linked to Albania's collapsed pyramids, 25 Alongside the
extensive laundering of drug money, the proceeds of various illicit
activities have been funneled towards the recruitment of
mercenaries and the purchase of weapons.

During his training in Afghanistan, Shamil Basayev linked up with
Saudi born veteran Mujahideen Commander "Al Khattab" who
had fought as a volunteer in Afghanistan. Barely a few months
after Basayev's return to Grozny, Khattab was invited (early
1995) to set up an army base in Chechnya for the training of
Mujahideen fighters. According to the BBC, Khattab's posting to
Chechnya had been "arranged through the Saudi-Arabian based
[International] Islamic Relief Organisation, a militant religious
organisation, funded by mosques and rich individuals which
channeled funds into Chechnya".26


Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported
Ousmane bin Laden, while at same time placing him on the FBI's
"most wanted list" as the World's foremost terrorist.

While the Mujahideen are busy fighting America's war in the
Balkans and the former Soviet Union, the FBI --operating as a
US based Police Force- is waging a domestic war against
terrorism, operating in some respects independently of the CIA
which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- supported
international terrorism through its covert operations.

In a cruel irony, while the Islamic jihad --featured by the Bush
Adminstration as "a threat to America"-- is blamed for the
terrorist assaults on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon,
these same Islamic organisations constitute a key instrument of
US military-intelligence operations in the Balkans and the former
Soviet Union.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington,
the truth must prevail to prevent the Bush Adminstration together
with its NATO partners from embarking upon a military adventure
which threatens the future of humanity.


Hugh Davies, International: `Informers' point the finger at bin
Laden; Washington on alert for suicide bombers, The Daily
Telegraph, London, 24 August 1998.

See Fred Halliday, "The Un-great game: the Country that lost the
Cold War, Afghanistan, New Republic, 25 March 1996):

Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign
Affairs, November-December 1999.

Steve Coll, Washington Post, July 19, 1992.

Dilip Hiro, Fallout from the Afghan Jihad, Inter Press Services, 21
November 1995.

Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August


Dipankar Banerjee; Possible Connection of ISI With Drug
Industry, India Abroad, 2 December 1994.


See Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The
Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal, Oxford university Press,
New York, 1995. See also the review of Cordovez and Harrison in
International Press Services, 22 August 1995.

Alfred McCoy, Drug fallout: the CIA's Forty Year Complicity in
the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive; 1 August 1997.


Douglas Keh, Drug Money in a changing World, Technical
document no 4, 1998, Vienna UNDCP, p. 4. See also Report of
the International Narcotics Control Board for 1999,
E/INCB/1999/1 United Nations Publication, Vienna 1999, p
49-51, And Richard Lapper, UN Fears Growth of Heroin Trade,
Financial Times, 24 February 2000.

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board, op cit, p
49-51, see also Richard Lapper, op. cit.

International Press Services, 22 August 1995.

Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign
Affairs, November- December, 1999, p. 22.

Quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, 3 September 1998)

Tim McGirk, Kabul learns to live with its bearded conquerors,
The Independent, London, 6 November1996.

See K. Subrahmanyam, Pakistan is Pursuing Asian Goals, India
Abroad, 3 November 1995.

Levon Sevunts, Who's calling the shots?: Chechen conflict finds
Islamic roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 23 The Gazette,
Montreal, 26 October 1999..



See Vitaly Romanov and Viktor Yadukha, Chechen Front Moves
To Kosovo Segodnia, Moscow, 23 Feb 2000.

The European, 13 February 1997, See also Itar-Tass, 4-5
January 2000.
BBC, 29 September 1999).

The URL of this article is:

Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Montreal, September 2001. All
rights reserved. Centre for Research on Globalisation at Permission is granted to post this text on
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and the URL are indicated, the essay remains intact and the
copyright note is displayed. To publish this text in printed and/or
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contact the author at chossudovsky at, fax:


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