The name most news agencies are laying the blame at is Usama Bin Laden, an Islamic extremist (also known as Osama Bin Laden - much like Qaddafi or Ghaddifi, the spelling is a matter of translation). Bin Laden , currently with a $5 million bounty on his head from the FBI, and topping their most wanted list. So feared, a recent interviewee on BBC said ""the US will go after Usama Bin Laden whether it had any direct evidence of involvement or not." Why is he considered so dangerous? He is deemed responsible for terrorist attacks in the past, such as attacking the World Trade centre in th early 1990's, the 1998 Embassy bombings in Africa. But one thing often neglected to be mentioned in media is that Bin Laden is only as dangerous as he is because the CIA trained him. Leader of a terrorist organisation known as Al-Qaeda "The Base", Bin Laden's father is Saudi construction magnate Muhammad Awad Bin Laden, worth billions, and in 1980, Usama went to Afghanistan to help repel the USSR invasion there, galvanising thousands of followers who remain the core of his organisation today. During the early 80's he was trained, funded and supported by US intelligence (CIA) and the US used him to stir up trouble in Afghanistan, realising that his anti-communist, but pro-Islamic sympathies could be used to help further USSR withdrawal and to use Afghanistan as a buffer zone against the USSR. Though the CIA officially denies involvement, I wonder who else but the CIA could have supplied him with US Military Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to use against the USSR in the 80's?. Bin Laden was highly responsible for the downfall of the communist party in South Yemen , under US sponsorship. However, it was known now that the CIA had conclusive evidence by the mid-1980s of the deepening crisis of infrastructure within the Soviet Union. Deputy CIA director William Gates acknowledged under congressional questioning in 1992, that the CIA had kept that from President Reagan and his top advisors and continued to grossly exaggerate Soviet military and technological capabilities in its annual "Soviet Military Power" report right up to 1990. in order to justify CIA expenditure. In order to maintain the military spending budget, the CIA continued to provide extremists with the arms, money and the knowledge of how to run a war of attrition violent and well-organised enough to humble a superpower. The program the CIA ran was designed to topple the USSR - and while it did not in itself succeed, the hubris that the CIA presumed it would not ever be possibly used against itself is astonishing.
But with the collapse of the USSR, the CIA abandoned a highly motivated, well trained and organised freedom fighter burning with the desire and ability to spread Islamic revolution - loose, with millions of dollars of funds, weapons, training and a revolutionary army behind him. At odds with the Saudi monarchy, when Saudi Arabia became a staging point for the Gulf War, Bin Laden declared a war to "liberate" Islam's holy lands (Saudi Arabia and Israel) from "Jews and Crusaders" and targeted the Saudi monarchy as allies of the West. Bin Laden went back to his camps in Afghanistan and the protection of the Taliban militia The US intelligence community was overly concerned with defeating the red menace, not the long term implications of funding his fundamentalism terrorists. The US gave him the start in terrorism...and then cut him loose, ignoring the fact that they those that were once their friends, can easily turn. Bin Laden , once he stopped serving US interests, is now painted out instantly turned into an enemy, simply because the US intelligence community turned their back on him and then he was no longer controllable. Bin laden did apparently issue a warning of a major attack on the US less than 3 weeks ago, and the name of a Bin laden sympathiser has been discovered on a passenger list of one of the hijacked planes. Interestingly, Bin laden issued a statement denying any involvement in the "bombings in the US"; but this statement did NOT deny any involvement in the hijackings and deliberate crashing of aircraft into buildings.
In Afghanistan Taliban did say they would consider deporting Bin Laden if evidence came along that could prove the connection between Bin laden and the bombings - Afghanistan later claimed that the evidence did not prove he was capable of organising such an act. Speculation in some corners has it that Bin Laden worked in conjunction with the Pakistan secret service - very worrying news indeed, for 2 reasons. By 1984, BiN laden was spearheading an organisation called Maktab al-Khidamar - the MAK - who were nutured into existence by the Pakistan civil service, known as the ISI; the CIA's primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow's occupation.
Firstly, the US has asked permission to overfly Pakistan in order to attack Afghanistan; something it cannot deny without raising suspicion. Secondly, Pakistan is one of the few nations in the world to have developed Nuclear weapons - and though Pakistan does not have launch capability for ICBM attack, it could still be very dangerous if say, a nuclear weapon was shipped into the US and exploded in the dock of a major harbour. Either way, Bush's much cherished SDI Star Wars program will be less than useless. The SDI program was developed in the 80's, when the major threat of attack came form missile launched attack from the USSR : a mode of attack that now is a minimal threat compared to the sort of attack seen on Tuesday. The SDI system is based in straightforward, traditional military thinking - as can be seen from Tuesday attack, lateral tactical thinking is required. Traditional military thinking relies on saving the lives of the people performing the military act : and Tuesday was a suicide mission. That changes everything : this is not conventional warfare by any means, yet the US will respond in a conventional, traditional, predictable military manner.
The main problem here is the same one the US faced in Vietnam - how do you defeat an enemy whose goals are not the same as yours? Its not about the conquest of land: You can defeat someone militarily, but you cannot defeat their spirit if their religious fervour is so strong they are willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to achieve victory, knowing their place with Allah is assured. Military might means nothing compared to their belief in god: How can you defeat an enemy willing to commit suicide missions and die for their god?
In many ways, the main reason that the fundamentalist Islamic community is targeting the US is due to US foreign policy in the Middle East. With the establishment of Israel in 1949, the world came one step closer to fulfilling the biblical prophecy regarding the Armageddon, which could not occur until a Jewish homeland existed in Palestine. With the existence of Israel, the US had a sympathetic state in the middle east which could be its ally in that region against communism and Islamic fundamentalism, and in doing so, the US funded and provided military support for Israel, even during the times when Israel 'expanded' its territory (read - invade) into the Gaza strip, the 1956 invasion of the Sinai, and the occupation of Jerusalem from Palestine. There is great resentment in the Islamic states, and especially among extremist groups, towards the US, who have supported the fledging Israel and when the US proclaims war on any Islamic country who dares military action in say, Kuwait, , yet does not bat an eyelid when Israel invades Islamic soil. The Gulf war of 1991 is a perfect example of this : however it can also be seen as an economic war. The main leverage the middle east has over the Western world is their oil-based economies - without the sale of oil, many middle eastern economies would almost certainly suffer tremendous recession and collapse. At the same time, the western world is based on an fossil fuel economy : hence the war in the gulf to ensure oil supplies in the west, much like in 1991.
Ultimately though, the worrying trend seen since George W. Bush's arrival at the White House has been increased militarisation. Bush has been a long time supporter of the 'Star Wars' Missile defence program - and has committed the nation to it, spending $250 billion on a weapons system with a 100% failure rate in tests (5 tests, 5 failures). Significantly, the Clinton administration refused to make a decision on SDI. If nothing else, the events of the past day are a right winger's dream - it almost gives carte blanche for George W Bush to disregard congress, and the imposition of virtual martial law by the enacting the Emergency Action committee, which allows Bush to bypass congress in times of "war" situations. This empowers the president almost unaccountable powers. Also, it will allow an impetus whereby the general public, driven by emotion, will openly support economic actions previously unacceptable, such as increased military spending, and draconian legislation - much like in WWII whereby thousands of US citizens were interned in camps and production went into overdrive as war fever increased. And with The Bush administration already describing the 1972 ABM treaty as an anachronism and breaking the treaty stipulations, which forbid the deployment of the SDI project ( the "star wars" missile defence system) and the deployment of anti-aircraft/anti-missile batteries around major population centres such as Washington and New York, people will be asking, "why weren't these systems in place?". Its almost as if a situation like this will allow the US to finally militarise even more than any time since World War II - But for the first time since 1991, the public will be whipped up into a gung-ho frenzy of might is right.: is it the tail wagging the dog or the other way round? Let us not forget what Eisenhower gave in his farewell address in 1961; "In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex". In other words: is this going to be escalated to serve the interests of big business and military hotheads? Is it going to be as much of a call to arms as the right wing tract The Turner Diaries, which inspired the Unabomber? Or will it, as mass sales of guns and US flags can evidence, whip the US public into a frenzied call for blood and revenge?
Thousands have already died because of senseless, political violence. Will spilling any more blood solve the problem, or merely whet the appetites for revenge? The US will see foreign policy at the moment like a wounded animal - for the first time since pearl harbour, the US has been attacked on its home soil. It is vulnerable, the war it fights and imposes on other continents has come home to their backgarden. Will the US finally recognise the causes of why this has happened - a short sighted foreign policy, or will it continue the same path as before? An eye for an eye? That will leave everybody blind sooner rather than later. More killing and more violence won 't solve anything, it'll simply satisfy a kneejerk thirst for revenge. Perhaps the best analogy here is not Pearl Harbor or Hiroshima , but the Cuban missile crisis. A world on the brink of war, and many people calling for it. Only by treading carefully, and keeping our options open can the deathtoll only be the thousands of Tuesday - and not the thousands more than will inevitably die in an approach of military brute force and bloody ignorance that seems to be almost inevitable now. But that decision is out of our hands. That decision lies with George W. Bush. Lets hope he makes a choice that will save lives, not end more of them. It would be a travesty if the only way he could pay tribute to the thousands who have died would be by increasing the body count. Let us think of those who have died: not just in the US as a result of horrific terrorist attacks, but those who've died in US hands as well - the civilians who died in Baghdad in 1991 when the US bombed civilian shelters. Retribution will only bring more death, more misery, and more bitterness ; A martyred "soldier" will inspire twelve more. Enough blood has been spilled today - there's no need to wish for more.
(Please Note: The opinions represent the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the other contibutors. The above piece was written on September 16th, and the Author is a graduate in History from University of Teesside)