CIA armed Bin Laden's terrorists to fight Soviets

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CIA armed Bin Ladenís terrorists to fight Soviets

OSAMA bin Laden may now be the United Statesí most wanted terrorist suspect, but once he was "their man", supported by the CIA and used in the war of resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Born in Saudi Arabia, he first arrived in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979 to co-ordinate the Mujahideen resistance. He used his £200 million fortune, inherited from his fatherís construction business, to funnel weapons and recruits into Afghanistan through his Services Office based across the Pakistani border in Peshawar.

Just 14 days after the invasion the first CIA-funded weapons, mainly ancient .303 Lee Enfield rifles, began arriving. Funds were delivered to Pakistan which were handed on to the Mujahideen commanders, Bin Laden among them.

The Saudi soon commanded Arab fighters funded by the Americans and who for the next decade fought alongside Afghanis in the guerrilla war.

As the war progressed, the CIA assistance came to include extensive satellite reconnaissance findings on Soviet targets in Afghanistan and information on Soviet military plans based on satellite intelligence and intercepts.

Sophisticated communications equipment, long-range sniper rifles, and wire-guided tank missiles also followed.

By February 1986, the US had approved the supply of Stinger missiles to counter the growing use of Soviet assault helicopters. In total, some 250 launchers and 1,000 missiles were given.

In 1992, the CIA tried to start a buy-back programme as concern grew that the weapons were being diverted into terrorist organisations, but several hundred of them remain unaccounted for.

The United States believed it was supporting a national liberation struggle against a communist oppressor. In total, $6 billion dollars was siphoned into the resistance movement. The Americans were always distanced from the Islamic fighters, who received their money and refused CIA requests to train the fighters themselves.

Few among the US officials involved realised they were helping to develop a new international terrorist movement that would one day come back to haunt them.

Rory McCarthy In Islamabad Friday, 14th September 2001 The Scotsman http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/text_only.cfm?id=107791

-- robert waldrop (rmwj@soonernet.com), September 15, 2001


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