“We used them to the Hilt’
“There was an opportunity to use America to build our Bomb and to help Afghanistan regain Freedom. Who’s interest was it? Primary Interest?? People say Pakistan was used by America, I would say No! We used them. And we used them to the Hilt!” boasts a very cool, collected and self confident Hamid Gul, the ISI Chief who was the closest ally of US during the Afghan War.
Then he continues about Afghan effort “We were the conduits.. and we would not let them go beyond a certain point.”
There is always the blame on the US on having trained the Mujahideens. But who was actually DOING it? Were it the US soldiers or the Pakistani soldiers? Continues Gul: “They were the logistics providers for heaven’s sake! CIA-trained Mujahideen is a bloody joke! CIA never trained any Mujahideen. We trained them.. its a pride of Pakistan Army! What I mean by Army is.. ISI is also the Army only.”Complete history and geopolitics of Afghanistan and Pakistan #Jehad #terror Click To Tweet
While Gul is given to a lot of boasting, there is a fair amount of truth in what he says. HIs predecessor, General Akhtar Abdul Rahman was more instrumental in the Afghan Jehad than Hamid Gul was. But, Gul has seen and trained the Mujahideens from close quarters and helped the transition of the Afghanistan society from a Nationalistic Pashtun dominated normal society to a Jehadis dominated War Zone.
Hamid Gul’s boast is corroborated by Peter Tomsen, George H.W. Bush’s special envoy and ambassador to the Afghan resistance from 1989 to 1992:
So that was the reason. It was a secret organization; [it] had an ability to move money, materiel, weapons of all sorts. He could do this sort of privately.
Yes. There were arms dumped in the country — huge arms dumps. And there were marshaling areas. Each of the mujahideen resistance parties — there were seven in all — they had their own ammunition depots, and they had their own commanders inside the country. …
All run by the ISI?
Everything was run by the ISI. And I would add another point: ISI knew everything that was going on, not only on the frontier on the Pakistani side, but over the frontier inside Afghanistan, certainly in the Pashtun areas, but also beyond. Inside of Pakistan, of course, in the tribal agencies they knew what was happening in every square meter of that area.
So, Americans were indeed “logistics and arm providers”, as Gul suggests. ISI was the “real deal”.
The minorities of Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and Turkamans ultimately came out of the domination, while the Pashtuns ran right into the waiting hands of Pakistani commanders.
The refugees which came in – most of them Pashtuns – to Pakistan from Afghanistan, were recruited into madrassas, which became an instrument of State Power for Pakistan for its influence in Afghanistan and the covert war with India.How Pakistan set up #Jihad and Terror in Afghanistan and Used it Globally Click To Tweet
The emergence of Taliban was a direct result of the madrassas along the Pakistani border where the Salafi/Wahabi Islamic theology was ingrained in the poor youth. The madrassas were used to send reinforcements for Taliban in their wars in Afghanistan. In 1997, for example, over 2500 students of these madrassas were sent across to Afghanistan by Maulana Samiul Haq of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam on insistence from Mullah Omar. The next year, 8000 youth were sent across.
JUI has a very strong link to ISI’s top bosses. Maulana Fazalur Rahman was especially close to Hamid Gul and his boss General Akhtar Rahman.
The strong and close relationship between the Jehadis – like Taliban – in Afghanistan; the Jehadis in Pakistan and the ISI was at its peak by the start of the new millenium.
That was when, bigger and more ambitious projects were being targeted beyond the sub continent. Around the mid of 2000, ISI Chief Lt Gen Mahmoud had become particularly religious – said to be “born again Muslim” by his colleagues. In 1999, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (variously referred to as Omar Sheikh or Sheikh Sayed) was released by Indian Government in exchange for the passengers on the hijacked plane IA Flight 814. By summer of 2000, Omar Sheikh was in regular touch via phones with the ISI Chief Lt. Gen Mahmoud.
Between June and September of 2000, over $100,000 was transferred to Mohammad Atta (the lead hijacker of 9-11) by someone in United Arab Emirates. Also, in August of 2001, just a month before the 9-11, another tranche of $100,000 was sent to Mohd. Atta by Omar Sheikh. In 2002, Indian Intelligence gave evidence of the calls to the author of the book “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” – Bernard-Henri Levy about the calls between Omar Sheikh and Lt. Gen. Mahmoud. Washington sources confirmed that to be true.   In fact, Indian intelligence actually gave the phone number of Omar Sheikh used to call Lt. Gen Mahmoud before the sending of money to Atta.
The FBI investigators have come across what has been termed as the “most damaging evidence” vis-à-vis the former ISI chief’s connection with Omar Sheikh, the Pakistan-born British national, who was released by the Government of India along with Masood Azhar and Mushtaq Zargar towards the end of 1999 to seek the freedom of passengers of the hijacked plane of Indian Airlines at Kandahar in Afghanistan.
The FBI investigators are reported to have conceded that India’s inputs proved to be “vital”. A highly-placed intelligence source told EXCELSIOR that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) provided the critical lead, which was vigorously pursued by the FBI investigators in Pakistan for more than 10 days until the cat was out of the bag.
The critical lead, the source elaborated, was the cellphone number of Omar Sheikh. In the initial stages, America’s intelligence establishment was found having certain reservations on India’s inputs. The scenario changed after the RAW made available Omar Sheikh’s cellphone number-0300 94587772.
The FBI’s examination of the hard disk of the cellphone company Omar Sheikh had subscribed to led to the discovery of the “link” between him and the deposed chief of the Pakistani ISI, Gen. Mehmood Ahmed. And as the FBI investigators delved deep, sensational information surfaced with regard to the transfer of 100,000 dollars to Mohammed Atta, one of the Kamikaze pilots who flew his Boeing into the World Trade Centre. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, the FBI investigators found, fully knew about the transfer of money to Atta.
Between September 4 through 13 Lt. Gen Mahmoud had the following schedule/agenda:
- 4 September: Ahmad arrives in the US on an official visit.
- 4-9 September: He meets his US counterparts including CIA Head George Tenet.
- 9 September: Assassination of General Massood, leader of the Northern Alliance. Official statement by Northern Alliance points to involvement of the ISI-Osama-Taliban axis.
- 11 September: Terrorist Attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. At the time of the attacks, Lt General Ahmad was at a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with the chairmen of the
- House and Senate Intelligence Committees Sen Bob Graham and Rep Porter Goss. Also present at the meeting were Sen. John Kyl and the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., Maleeha Lodhi.
- 12-13 September: Meetings between Lt. General Ahmad and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Agreement on Pakistan’s collaboration negotiated between Ahmad and Armitage. Meeting between General Ahmad and Secretary of State Colin Powell
- 13 September: Ahmad meets Senator Joseph Biden (now Vice President), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Afghanistan and its Historical Baggage
To understand the forces at work today from and around Afghanistan, one has to go back into the history to completely understand the historical context.
For 40 years – from 1933 to 1973, King Mohammad Zahir Shah ruled over Afghanistan. In 1973, the King’s cousin and former Prime Minister, Mohammad Daoud Khan overthrew the King and put an end to the monarchy in a coup and became the ruler of Afghanistan. He also further strengthened the issue of Pakhtunistan or Pashtunistan. Pashtuns were the largest tribe in Afghanistan.
Pashtun unity throughout history has been fragmented. Everyone from Aurangzeb to the British to the Pakistanis planned to subjugate and dominate the Pashtuns through some devious mechanism or the other.