#. 1. Sept. 30, 2001
By Bill Weinberg
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. US Drug War Aid to Taliban?
2. War on Terrorism or War for Oil?
3. Afghanistan War Planned before Terror Attacks?
4. Black Market Nukes: New Asian Export
5. Did CIA Create Taliban?
1. Terrorist Paranoia Hits Mexico
2. Terrorist Paranoia Hits Colombia
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. US DRUG WAR AID TO TALIBAN?
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks and President Bush's declaration of "World War III" on regimes that support terrorism, a May 22 Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Robert Scheer has been circulating on the Internet, claiming that the US gave $43 million in Drug War aid to Afghanistan's Taliban regime this year. However, according to a May 18 AP report, the aid was mostly for drought relief, and to be distributed through NGOs, ostensibly bypassing the Taliban. Some $10 million of it is for "crop-substitution programs," which is a part of the Taliban-led anti-opium campaign. Critics charge this frees up other funds for the Taliban's armed forces, which are carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Uzbeks, Tajiks and other minorities. Some three-and-a-half million refugees from Afghanistan languish in camps in Pakistan and Iran-the largest refugee population in the world now (US Committee for Refugees, Country Report: Afghanistan, 2000). Before his July resignation, United Nations Drug Czar Pino Arlacchi arranged $250 million dollars in anti-narcotics aid to the Taliban over the next decade-aid which is now in question (UK Observer, July 29, 2001).
2. WAR ON TERRORISM OR WAR FOR OIL?
Anti-war activists speculate that despite the spectacular September 11 terror attacks, the hidden agenda behind President Bush's war drive is to establish a Pax Americana in Central Asia and secure the vast oil resources of the Caspian Basin. US oil companies have been negotiating with the post-Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for access to the oil, but have been stymied by political instability in the region. Oil conglomerates were torn between two possible pipeline routes to Western markets: west through the war-torn Caucasus Mountains to Turkey, or south through war-torn Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. New York's WBAI Radio reported September 22 that a high-ranking aide to President Bush is linked to a multinational oil company which was seeking to build the pipeline across Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, National Security Council senior director for the Persian Gulf, Southern Asia and Other Regional Issues, was formerly employed as a consultant by Unocal, which was involved in the Afghan pipeline project until late 1998. On December 5, 1998, the New York Times reported on the proposed Afghan pipeline: "When Unocal joined the project in 1995, it was viewed by many analysts as the most audacious gambit of the 1990's oil rush in the Caspian...There was to have been a 1,005-mile oil pipeline and a companion 918-mile natural gas pipeline, in addition to a tanker loading terminal in Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadan...The company projected annual revenues of $2 billion, or enough to recover the cost of the project in five years...Unocal opened offices in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. To help it sell the project to the many governments involved, Unocal hired senior United States diplomats like the former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger... Probelms began with the Taliban's capture of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in September 1996, Unocal initially took a positive view of the movement's triumph."
3. AFGHANISTAN WAR PLANNED BEFORE TERROR ATTACKS?
On September 18, the BBC quoted former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik that the US was planning military action against the Taliban even before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Naik said he was told by senior US officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. He claimed he was told of the plan at a UN-sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan in Berlin earlier this year. The ultimate objective, Naik said, was to topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government-possibly under former Afghan King Zahir Shah (exiled in Italy since 1973). Naik claimed he was told Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place, that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation, and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby. Since the attacks, Russia has agreed to allow the US to use its military bases in Tajikistan, across Afghanistan's northern border.
4. BLACK MARKET NUKES: NEW ASIAN EXPORT
On September 11, the same day as the notorious terrorist attacks, the New York Times reported that post-Soviet Central Asia-just to the north of Afghanistan-has become the world's foremost smuggling route for nulcear materials. The materials are plundered from the former Soviet arsenal, and presumably headed for international terrorist groups or rogue states such as Iran and Iraq. Kazakhstan is especially rich in such materials, as it is where the USSR tested nuclear weapons and dumped nuclear waste. According to new figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency, incidents of nuclear smuggling have recently fallen in the rest of the world, but risen in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey. Only four of the 104 confirmed cases from 1993 to 1995 occurred in this region, but 16 of 72 confirmed worldwide cases were in the region from 1996 to 2001. The cases included smuggling of weapons-related materials such as uranium and plutonium. "There has, since the mid-1990's, been a shift of smuggling to the Middle East and Asia," said United Nations anti-terrorism chief Alex Schmid. One recent bust was July 20, in Batsumi, a Black Sea port in post-Soviet Georgia near the Turkish border, where anti-terrorist police arrested four men, including an army captain, with nearly four pounds of enriched uranium-235 in their hotel room. In reponse to the threat, the US has sent radiation-detection equipment to authorities in the post-Soviet republics. Twice in 2001, Uzbek authorities reported detecting abnormal radiation levels in trucks headed south from Kazakhstan, but failed to confiscate any material. Uzbek authorities charged the Kazakh authorities with allowing the materials to escape.
5. DID CIA CREATE TALIBAN?
In the 1980s, the CIA provided some $5 billion in military aid for Islamic fundamentalist rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, but scaled down operations after Moscow pulled out in 1989. However, Selig Harrison of the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently told a conference in London that the CIA created the Taliban "monster" by providing some $3 billion for the ultra-fundamentalist militia in their 1994-6 drive to power. Citing a conversation with the late Pakistani dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq, Harrison claimed the aid was funnelled via Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and that the Taliban remained "on the payroll" of the ISI. Times of India, March 7, 2001
1. TERRORIST PARANOIA HITS MEXICO
The day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Mexico's Federal Preventative Police reported they were investigating activity by international terrorist groups in Mexico. They particularly cited Lebanon's Hezbollah and Spain's Basque separatist ETA, claiming these groups had cells in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Morelos. National Security chief Adolfo Aguilar Zinser said the groups use Mexico as a staging area for attacks on other countries (Milenio, Sept. 13).
In response to the paranoia, Cesar Chavez Castillo, Chiapas state representative to the federal commission for peace with the Zapatistas, publicly affirmed that the rebel group is not terrorist. (La Jornada, Sept. 15)
2. TERRORIST PARANOIA HITS COLOMBIA
On the same day as the WTC/Pentagon terrorist attacks, a UPI "terrorism expert" quoted anonymous US officials as admitting that guerillas, not just drug traffickers, are the real target of Plan Colombia. One White House official reportedly said: "It's time to drop the fiction of anti-narcotics aid only." He insisted that "Americans are target" of the country's two guerilla groups, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). A "senior Pentagon official" reportedly said: "We no longer view the FARC and ELN guerillas as an internal threat to the security of Colombia, but as a threat to the security of the United States." A State Deptartment official reportedly added: "We want the Colombian army to be able to go and get the bad guys wherever they are." Yet another anonymous State official said: "we are talking about more direct military-to-military support." Former Pentagon "counter-terrorism analyst" John Moore claimed Cubans, Palestinians, Hezbollah, and advisors from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez regime are all aiding the Colombian guerillas.
The comments came just as a high-level, 50-person US "security delegation" arrived in Colombia to urge President Andres Pastrana take a harder line in combatting the guerillas. The delegation was led by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, and included representatives from the Justice Department, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, and the Drug Czar's office.
Dissenting from the military beef-up was Jina Amatangelo of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights group, who cited a study by the Colombian Commission of Jurists that 70% of killings of civilians in Colombia are carried out "by paramilitary groups associated with the army." UPI, Sept. 11, 2001
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