The New Great Game: Part II.3

From January 5 to 13, 1980, US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown visited China, the first US Secretary of Defense to visit the Peoples Republic since 1949. His visit was reciprocated by the Vice-Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Liu Huaqing and Vice-Premier Geng Biao who led a Chinese military delegation in a visit to the US later that year, which represented the formal establishment of military relations between China and the United States of America.



by Hassan Rizvi


Henry Kissinger had already used the close ties between Pentagon and Pakistan military to build a link with China. Now after Brzezinski’s visit to Pakistan, US defense secretary Harold Brown flew to China where he secured Chinese assent and active help for the global Jihad.


It will be worthwhile at this stage to focus on the role of Osama bin Laden-the man who was to be painted post 9/11 as the maniacal leader of Al-Qaeda Islamic terrorist network.

In his book CIA’s Beardman claims that Osama bin Laden was never aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. This is likely an attempt at distancing the CIA from Osama as a result of 9/11, for enough evidence is available to prove that not only was Osama aware of US effort in support of the Afghan war, but also that he was closely involved in routing it to the Arab fighters.

[Right: Osama bin Laden, file photo]

What is certain is that Osama Bin Laden appeared on the scene immediately after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Leaving Saudi Arabia together with a group of supporters and heavy engineering equipment he arrived in Pakistan in 1979. According to Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Osama was 22 years old in 1979, when he was trained in an ISI sponsored guerilla training camp near Peshawar, Pakistan. It is said that the ISI wanted a Saudi prince to head the Saudi contingent as proof of the Saudi commitment for the anti-Soviet effort. They failed to get royalty, but a person from the influential bin Laden clan was considered good enough.

Richard Clarke, counter terrorism head during the Clinton and Bush administrations, believes Osama was handpicked for the job by the head of Saudi intelligence (Turki). The Saudis deny he was ever their agent, but it is known that he regularly met with Prince Turki and Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif. Turki’s chief of staff Ahmed Badeeb one of bin Laden’s teachers in high school even said: “I loved Osama and considered him a good citizen of Saudi Arabia.” Badeeb will later say bin Laden developed “strong relations with the Saudi intelligence and with our embassy in Pakistan. We were happy with him. He was our man”.

It seems clear therefore that Osama was hand picked soon after the Soviet invasion to play a middleman’s role between Saudi intelligence and ISI. More over the status of his relations with the CIA though cloudy, are also thus clearly established.

The truth is that although Osama was neither recruited by the CIA, nor was their agent; once the US had decided to come in a big way; as the middleman between Saudi intelligence and ISI it was inevitable that he would get closely involved with the CIA too.

 Numerous charities and foundations coordinated by Saudi intelligence in close liaison with Safari Club were already in existence and financing covert operations world wide. In addition as per Indian claims Pakistan had already set up 37 training camps in Pakistan ,49 in Azad Kashmir, and 22 camps in Afghanistan to supply fighters for Afghanistan and Kashmir. Now that the USA had also committed the CIA to globalization of the covert fight in a big way, it too would have to set up front organizations for undertaking the required financial and recruitment drive.

The CIA would be the main coordinator globally and the ISI would co-ordinate everything within Pakistan. Staying within this arrangement, Osama was possibly placed in charge of co-coordinating and marrying up the existing Arab global effort with the one to be set up by the CIA/ISI.

Soon after his training in Pakistan Osama left for a visit to the USA in 1980, and also reportedly was seen in the UK in 1981.Nothing is certain about the reasons for the visit. Barnett Rubin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations claims that about this time in the USA,  – a man “enlisted” by the CIA who had “close connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi intelligence, and the Muslim World League.” – was given the role of looking after the financing and recruitment of foreign JIhad.

[Right: Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was a scholar and theologian, who preached in favor of defensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet invaders. He is also known as a teacher and mentor of Osama bin Laden, who persuaded bin Laden to come to Afghanistan and help the jihad. He was killed by a bomb blast on November 24, 1989]

Slate writes, “Azzam trotted the globe during the 1980s to promote the Afghan jihad against the Soviets”.

Now this Azzam also later became known as Osama’s mentor. Was Osama also trotting alongside him on the same

mission?  It would appear to be so, for in 1984 Azzam set up the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), also known as Al-Kifah in Peshawar, a Pakistani town bordering Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden soon took it over from him.

Azzam moved back to the US to set up its first American branch in New York – known as the Al-Kifah Refugee Center.

 As we shall see in a later part of the article Azzam then enlarged the network to 30 branches! All US branches were CIA backed, and served both as financial as well as recruitment centers.

It becomes obvious that the office at Peshawar was a set up for tying in the CIA effort with the effort already in place in Pakistan. Thus the MAK center at Peshawar is in a position to receive –through Pakistan’s ISI- not only the money of private Arab charities, but also all CIA funds and equipment for Arab fighters. It would become the main center for funneling foreign funds and fighters from all over the globe into the Afghan war. In fact back in 1982 the CIA had become unhappy with the ‘Afghan native’ fighters due to rivalry ridden infighting, and wants more Arab fighters as Arab were easier to ‘read’ and also ‘one-dimensionally anti-Soviet ’.

CIA Director William Casey visited Pakistan to sign an agreement committing CIA’s support for recruitment of Muslims from around the world. In addition to Gulf States, this would include Turkey, the Philippines, USA, UK and China.

Azzam and Osama were probably tasked after this by their respective handlers to set up a suitable funnel for the purpose. They came up with the MAK center at Peshawar. From here Osama could keep a tab on and control the financing and feeding of all foreign fighters into the Afghan Jihad.

[Above: Maktaba-al-Khidamat, MAK, also known as Al-Kifah in Peshawar, Pakistan setup by Abdullah Azzam during the Afghan war of 1980’s].

The entire initial data base was initially also held by him. Researcher Kurt Nimmo writes:” This database of Islamic fighters was labeled in Arabic, ‘Q eidat ilmu’ti’aat’, which is the exact translation of the English word database. But the Arabs commonly used the short word ‘Al Qaeda” which is the Arabic word for ‘base.’” Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2003, also confirms this: “al-Qaeda was originally the computer file of the thousands of Mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”

Thus starting soon after the Russian Invasion in 1979, US efforts had by 1984 laid the foundations for converting the discordant Pakistani covert war against the Soviets, into a global Jihad- code named ‘Operation Cyclone’. Even by end of 1982 the rate of flow of equipment would rise to 10,000 ton annually, and the flow of foreign fighters also increases.


[Above: Mujahideen in the White House: Afghan Mujahideen Leaders Meet US president Regan].

NSDD 166

 In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166, (NSDD 166). William Casey director of CIA described it as the largest covert operation in history. It authorized stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen, and laid down a new goal for the Afghan war: Total defeat of Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action leading to 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.”

In addition to arms, it provided very specialized training, state of the art military equipment including surface to air missiles, military satellite maps and latest communications equipment.
The U.S. supplied support package had three essential components-organization and logistics, military technology, and ideological support for sustaining and encouraging the Afghan resistance.

The ISI increased its staff to over 150,000 military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and informers. In the final stages U.S. counter insurgency experts worked closely with the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) even in organizing Mujahideen groups and in planning operations inside Afghanistan.

Eventually the entire Afghan nation, supported by tens of thousands of Pakistani Jihadis and some 35,000 Muslim radical Jehadis from 40 countries would join the fight.

Most of the funding would be from the United States and Saudi Arabia with a significant part generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade.

Next: Large Scale Recruitments and Indoctrination

Previous II.1,  II.2,_II.3,_II.4II.5, Next

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8 replies to “The New Great Game: Part II.3

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