Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Palining Around With Terrorists

Obama knew a man involved who was involved in terrorism 40 years ago, when Obama was 8. The Bush administration have been funding and arming dictators and terrorist groups who continue to kill Americans today - and murdered Daniel Pearl. Instead of punishing them they give them more money and more weapons - and McCain and Palin support those actions and would continue them.

Sarah Palin claims Obama will “pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country” on the basis that Bill Ayers sat on the same community council as Obama and donated money to his campaign. Obama was about eight years old when Ayers was involved with Weathermen bombing plots in the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s. When he found out about Ayers’ past actions he called them wrong and “detestable” (1).

Palin and McCain, meanwhile, vocally support the Bush administration, who, while talking about “freedom” and “democracy”, supported and funded the military dictatorship of General Musharraf until he resigned in August. Musharraf was a staunch ally of the Taliban. When the US invasion of Afghanistan began Musharraf warned the Northern Alliance against ‘taking advantage’ of this to force the Taliban out of government (2). Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid found that Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence kept arming and supporting the Taliban long after the invasion (3). So the Bush administration was indirectly arming and funding the Taliban and other Islamic extremists used by the ISI to intimidate Pakistan’s secular opposition and carry out terrorist attacks in India and Kashmir.

In January 2002 the American journalist Daniel Pearl was investigating links between the ISI, the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He was kidnapped and beheaded. Before they killed him his kidnappers demanded that the US release F-16 jets to Pakistan’s military. Musharraf had made the same request to Bush in a meeting in November 2001 before Pearl’s murder – and repeated it at another meeting afterwards, in Februrary 2002. Musharraf and his military government also often suggested Pearl had “got himself into this trouble” by being “over-intrusive”. Bush rewarded the murder by giving Musharraf the F-16s. Musharraf refused to extradite the kidnappers’ leader – Omar Sheikh of the ISI-backed Harkat Ul Ansar. Al Qaeda and the ISI also seem to have been involved in the Pearl kidnapping plot (4), (5).

A confession (probably false) was later extracted, after torture, from another Al Qaeda suspect, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (6). This was intended to save embarrassing questions for both Musharraf and the Bush administration.

So the Bush administration have funded and armed people who murdered an American journalist and fund and arm Taliban fighters who are killing American troops in Afghanistan; and John McCain and Sarah Palin have supported these actions.

It may well be that Bush, Cheney, McCain and Palin didn’t realise they were handing arms and money to people who were handing it on to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They should have known though. They were not eight years old when these events took place. The terrorism which was killing Americans wasn’t 40 years in the past either.

John McCain claims his experience on foreign policy issues makes him a ‘safer’ choice than Obama, but all the facts suggest otherwise. He has shown disastrously bad judgement in supporting Musharraf and Pakistan’s military – judgement that resulted in Americans being killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He’s shown the same bad judgement on Iraq and on the economy.

We might expect the US media to give this more coverage – but then one of Fox News’ most high profile reporters is Oliver North – who notoriously was involved in organising CIA operations arming Iran and smuggling cocaine into the US in order to fund death squads in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s. The FBI and other investigators found cocaine was smuggled into the US on the same planes that smuggled the arms for the contras ; so much for ‘fair and balanced’ (7), (8), (9), (10).

American Presidents, Republican and Democrat (like many other governments) have a long history of assuming that their enemy’s enemy is their friend and ending up supporting dictators, terrorists and murderers who later become a threat. Saddam Hussein, Noriega and Osama Bin Laden are examples. Bin Laden’s account of the beginning of his operations with the Mujahedin in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s was that ““I settled in Pakistan in the Afghan border region. There I received volunteers [from Arab and Muslim countries]...these volunteers were trained by Pakistani and American officers. The weapons were supplied by the Americans, the money by the Saudis.” (11).

In the early 1990s the US, Pakistani and Saudi governments and intelligence agencies were once again co-operating, this time to try to get the Taliban (Sunni extremists) into government in Afghanistan in order to reduce the Iranian (Shia) government’s influence there and the Indian government’s influence also. Within a few years the Taliban were providing a haven for Al Qa’ida and the Clinton administration had realised it had made a serious mistake in supporting them (12).

Today the Bush administration are not only blindly backing Pakistan’s military and ISI but also ordering the CIA to back Sunni extremist groups like Jundullah on the border between Pakistan and Iran. Jundullah have the same beliefs and methods as Al Qaeda. Just now they’re targeting the Iranian Shia government and military with bombings and beheadings (13). In the future it may well be Americans who are their targets.

Barack Obama has shown good judgement in opposing Musharraf and the Iraq war. He has a chance to avoid the mistakes made by past Presidents of supporting terrorist groups and dictatorships. Bush and Cheney have only repeated them – and McCain and Palin have supported every one of those mistakes.

(1) = CNN 05 Oct 2008 , ‘Obama campaign rejects Palin 'terrorist' gibe’,

(2) = New York Times 09 Oct 2001 , 'Pakistani Is Already Calling on U.S. to End Airstrikes Quickly', http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D01E3D9113CF93AA35753C1A9679C8B63

(3) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY 2008, pages 77-78, 48, 50, 114, 116

(4) = Wall Street Journal 24 Feb 2002, ‘Reporter Daniel Pearl Is Dead,
Killed by His Captors in Pakistan’, http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/pearl-022102.htm
(see 5th paragraph which reads ‘The group…also called for the U.S. to turn over F-16 fighter jets purchased by Pakistan in the late 1980s but never delivered’.

(5) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY 2008, pages 86 (Musharraf requests Bush release F-16s to him in 2001), 149 (February 2002 – Musharraf makes same demand after Pearl’s murder) , 113-114, 151-153

(6) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY 2008,p153, 427

(7) = Fox News 21 Jun 2007, ‘Bio – Oliver North’, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50566,00.html

(8) = Cockburn, Alexander & St. Clair, Jeffrey (1998), ‘Whiteout – The CIA, Drugs and the Press’, Verso, London & N.Y , 1998, Chapters 12 & 13

(9) = Scott, Peter Dale & Marshall, Jonathan (1998) ‘Cocaine Politics – Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America (1998 edition)’, University of California Press, Berkeley, London & Los Angeles, 1998

(10) = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_North#Involvement_with_drug_trafficking
(this is a wikipedia entry but provides reliable sources - including the Kerry report - a congressional inquiry into links between drug traffickers, the contras and the CIA - and FBI investigations)

(11) = AFP 27 Aug 1998 ‘Laden planned a global revolution in 1995’ cited by Ahmed Rashid (2001) ‘Taliban’, Pan MacMillan, London, 20001, Chapter 10 p132 & 258

(12) = Ahmed Rashid (2001) ‘Taliban’, Pan MacMillan, London, 20001

(13) = ABC News 03 Apr 2007 , ‘ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran’, http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/04/abc_news_exclus.html
A CIA spokesperson said ‘the US provides no funding to Jundullah’ – which may well mean that the funding comes from the Saudis and/or is indirect through funding for Pakistan’s military – as with the Mujahedin in the 80s and the Taliban in the early 90s

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