Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


Rumours of war and Blowback
John Heathcote

Was inconveniencing the Soviet Union in the 1980s by having the CIA support the anti-Soviet Afghan resistance worth the lives of 5,000 or so American civilians in 2001?

CIA dirty dealing - they're nothing new by Tim Wheeler

A Timeline of CIA Atrocities By Steve Kangas

In the last week we have been able to see the shape of a new World Order emerging from behind the dust of Manhattan. It is clear that the US is determined to pursue the infrastructure of al-Qaida, which they now claim is the organisation behind the attacks on September 11th, 2001. There is an apparent agreement amongst the Western European powers that the Bush Administration will have to take some major military action against at least Afghanistan - the country most associated with Osmah-bin-Laden's movement - if not a number of other Islamic nations. What constitutes a 'justified response' of course, depends on to whom you speak, or whom you listen to.

It was apparent within hours of the attacks that the Bush Administration, for reasons obvious to anyone who has studied the CV's of those ageing and paranoid Cold War warriors who constitute the greater part of his cabinet, was determined to 'up the ante'. From being regarded as a murderous act of terrorism, which was crying out for justice; we were hearing within hours that the attacks were 'an act of war,' crying out for revenge.

The history of How the West was Won; and the US Government's continuing, widespread use of mass imprisonment and the death penalty as methods of social control are not the only reasons that the reaction reached that point, so fast.

Any country suffering such a human loss in so short a time; as well as the obvious wounding of its prestige in the face of an unbelieving world, would have been tempted to intemperate overreaction. The United States, however, is not 'any' country, and the dangers inherent in any response it makes, both for the American people and their society, as well as the rest of us who share this tiny globe, are obvious.

Firstly, by calling the attacks 'an act of war', Bush has unwittingly perhaps walked into the very paradox - some would say trap- that the Thatcher regime in 80's Britain were so anxious to avoid when dealing with the IRA.

The issue was personified by Bobby Sands, who led the hunger strikers in the Maze Prison. He and others died in the determination to win political status, rather than criminal; and be recognised as 'prisoners of war".

The British Government did not want to give legitimacy to a struggle which was clearly based on political objectives - as has been proved in subsequent years, when they finally grasped the nettle and engaged in dialogue with people they once regarded as criminal terrorists.

The difficulty with the Bush Administration's rhetorical rush to war; is that in a typical piece of fuzzy logic the followers of bin-Laden are now seen by many in the Southern Hemisphere as they no doubt see themselves anyway; soldiers engaged in a holy war.

It has also elevated an act against a purely civilian target, which by all previous international legislation would be mass murder and a war crime, into a frame of reference we know as war. The obverse side of this is, of course, the difficulty determining what constitutes war, and what constitutes terrorism.

It will be hard to watch replays of cruise missiles exploding in the side of TV stations without unconsciously referring back to the dreadful footage of the South Tower being engulfed in a fireball as the 767 hit the side. After all, terrorism could be defined as an act of terror perpetrated on a civilian population for the pursuit of political or ideological aims.

The difference between war and terrorism has only really existed since the emergence of the Nation State. The First World War was instigated by a Serb asassinating an Austrian aristocrat; a people whose country had disappeared into the sprawl of Empire. It was the redrawing of those maps and borders after 1918 which left many peoples divided across nations; and others with no recognition at all - especially in the oil-rich Middle East; which perhaps generated the most bitterness amongst unrecognised and unrepresented peoples. This of course allowed those that distributed the remains of the old Ottoman Empire to pursue a policy of divide and rule by the new imperial masters of the region - the British, French and Americans, who had co-incidentally redrawn the maps.

The problem was further compounded with the imposition in the area of a new State in a country already inhabited. The Allies, and especially the British who were driven to the negotiating table by Zionist terrorism, imposed on the indigineous Christian, Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of the country called Palestine, the new exclusively Jewish State of Israel.

This not only left the original inhabitants of that country as stateless wanderers, replacing them with the desperate survivors of the European Holocaust and later large numbers of expansionist, American zealots; but also led to the emergence of what we now perceive as modern 'internationalterrorism'.

Two other major concerns in the Arab /Muslim world are the continuing bombardment of Iraq by US/British airforces, and the US deployment of up to 20,000 personnel in the Islamic homeland of Saudi Arabia; which controls 25% of the world's oil supply.

To begin to eradicate it, we must understand it. Otherwise, for every Osmah-bin-Laden we asassinate, another will spring up, with hundreds more young people ready to kill in self-sacrifice for a dream.

It is excusable in the Western Nations, especially the superpower US, for the people to not comprehend what makes someone feel so powerless and frustrated that they need to do this; but we have armies to protect us and are recognised as citizens of powerful nations whose lives are worth significantly more than those of people from less fortunate places.

(Recent reports in The Guardian concern the ongoing compensation scandal for victims of the Bhopal disaster, caused by yet another global US corporate giant that disappeared in the poison mist and left a legacy of death and mutilation. If I told you that individual lives have been compensated to the princely sum of $1500, would you believe me? Seventeen years on from the 1984 Union Carbide plant's chemical spill which killed 2000 people in one night, and left over 600.000 others directly affected and still awaiting compensation, the victims are still pursuing their cases through the Indian and US Courts .)

Unless we can make this leap of the imagination; and begin to redress the inbalance somehow, this will indeed be a war without end. The merging of war and terrorism was extended beyond the horror of the Second World War - instigated perhaps by the first "rogue nation", Germany, who brought terror to civilian populations across Europe and Africa.

Unfortunately, most of the world regard what happened in the secret undeclared war by Kissinger's US Bomber squadrons against the people of Laos and Cambodia, in which 600,000 people died during constant carpet bombing, as acts of international terrorism, for which no-one has been brought to justice.

Indeed, the ugly old spectre reared his head again last week; leading one to ask why does he have this continuing, pernicious influence on US foreign policy, never having been elected for anything; and more to the point, why isn't he sitting in a cell at The Hague next to our old friend Slobodan.

Many in the Middle East believe that Isreali Premier Sharom should also have been brought to justice for the Falange massacres in the refugee camps in the Lebanon.

It is apparent too, that war is always talked better than walked by people who have never been in one. Never known the nightmare of walking through landscapes of the dead where the only thing that you see moving will be something that just tried to kill you.

Many Washington insiders point to a division in the Bush Administration between hawks like Condoleeza Rice (academic background) and Dick Cheney (rich bastard oil baron buy-yourself-a-government background) on one side; and Colin Powell (professional soldier) on the other.

Blitzing History

Continual war is a different thing completely from isolated acts of terrorism. The terror felt by people in the Blitz, in London especially, was a result of night after night, week after week of World Trade Centres. And for the purposes of history as remembered by people who were there - not Tony Blair - the US did not stand side by side with us during the Blitz.

It is not forgotten here that many individual Americans, as well as Canadians, Commonwealth citizens and Poles did come to Britain's defence; but it is also remembered that Britain stood alone on the international stage in that crucial time against Nazi Germany.

It was the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour that encouraged a reluctant US establishment to agree with Roosevelt that war was inevitable.

The people, who are always the first to be sent to the field of slaughter, were of course reluctant to get involved in another European War; but as it turned out later many industrialists and bankers (including Senator Prescott Bush, George W's grandfather) were making money out of both sides for as long as it lasted.

Indeed, American Capitalists had been so friendly to Hitler's brand of corporate fascism that Henry Ford - himself a noted anti-semite - invested vast amounts of money in Nazi Germany, and was rewarded with his portrait being given pride of place on Hitler's study wall.

More to the point perhaps, it is now a well documented fact that various US Corporations were receiving royalties paid into Swiss Bank accounts from the production at their plants in Occupied Europe; with the full knowledge that slave labour was employed there.

Perhaps WWII should have alerted the US Establishment to the concept of 'blowback'.

Sleight of Hand - Obscuring the News.

The rush to war, as well as the mass media's concentration on the more personal, and often sensational aspects of the tragedy have obscured or submerged other elements of the news which are not only interrelated, but intertwined.

These are the acceleration, in the US and Britain in particular, of what will ultimately end up as technological police states, with the movements and freedom of expression of its citizens being more severely proscribed by the state than ever before.

The restrictions on immigration, introduction of identity cards and vastly increased powers of the intelligence agencies and police in these countries will probably have little effect on determined terrorist cells , but will undoubtedly increase the control and surveillance of the citizens themselves.

For instance, the introduction of identity cards in Britain - every little bureaucrat and secret policeman's dream since Winston Churchill abolished them - would have little effect at routing out determined terrorists in our crowded inner cities.

It would no doubt provide a steady income for forgers and dodgy Government clerks - the availability of Irish passports in South London pubs in the Eighties, the ink still damp on the cover, was a standard gag on the comedy circuit.

It would soon become another reason to stop and harass anyone who did not fit into the narrow parameters of police or state normality; e.g. anyone 'dark', 'dressed funny' (eco-protestors).

However, it would add to the paranoid tension of the phoney never-ending war (see George Orwell,1984 - a cliché, I know); and give the State one more tool to suppress dissent, which in their imagination will always lead to terrorism.

Sadly, most terror in the World is perpetrated by the governments against the very people they are meant to protect; and the first indications of this is the supression of dissenting voices.

This situation reminds us of the old anti-Vietnam song -

One, Two, Three, Four

What the hell are we fighting for ?

It is heartening in this time of saturation coverage of the forthcoming war, justified from every angle in a way comparable to mass psychological conditioning, that already a fairly organised peace movement has sprung up.

This is not so surprising in Europe, which has a healthy anti-war tradition; but US youth as well have started to mobilise against the rush to war. After all, they will be the ones who will be expected to die in some remote and barren land whilst their political masters take the glory for their sacrifice.

(Any news about the march on Washington this weekend, or further activism can be found at

From Dust to Bust

The other major news of the moment is the continuing collapse of the financial markets; no doubt accelerated by the attack on NYC; but well under way for the last six months.

I am sure that Flame was not the only publication to point out that with Republican pResidents you get war and financial collapse - especially one with the inheritance and dubious electoral mandate of this one.

In times of economic crisis, as we have seen in all of the bump and grind , boom and bust since the beginning of capitalism, the rich get richer and the poor get left behind.

For some of us the recession is always there, either round the corner, or staring us in the face.

Blowback and the shadows of war

Unholy Wars; Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism by John Cooley. pub. by Pluto Press, £12.99
Ghost Force; Secret History of the SAS by Ken Connors. pub. by Orion. £7.99
Jihad; The Secret War in Afghanistan by Tom Carew. pub. by Mainstream
The New Jackals; Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism by Simon Reeves. pub. by Deutsch £17.99
Reaping the Whirlwind; The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan by Michael Griffin. pub. by Pluto Press £19.95.
Afghanistan by Chris Steele-Perkins. pub. by Westzone £30

One of the most shocking aspects of the attacks for the people of the US is the failure of their intelligence agencies to prevent such a large, well organised group from perpetrating such a blatant atrocity so easily.

We are used to seeing Hollywood films in which sad or inconclusive endings have been banished - unlike reality- and the consequences of the plot are neatly tied up within the requisite 95 minutes.

We only have to look at the involvement of the US Government, and its intelligence branches over the last thirty years to see how pro-active involvement in the affairs of other peoples can return to haunt your children.

Tucked away In the back of the Guardian Books section (September 15th,2001) the author Giles Foden, whose book on the US Embassy bombings in East Africa is published by Faber in 2002, lists five forthcoming books which are all pertinent to the Afghanistan / terrorism situation since September 11th.

Using the books, and his own background knowledge, Foden points to a sequence of interrelated activities dating back to the Eighties, which demonstrate the clear links between Western Intelligence and Special Forces and the Muslim fundamentalists based in Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most interesting background to the current war effort is the material in Michael Griffin's book.

An expert on Afghanistan and that area of the World, Giffin points to the obvious detrimental effect on Russia's control of Central Asian Energy prices if a trans-Afghan oil pipeline was constructed.

He claims that the Clinton Administration held back from any antagonism towards the Taliban, in order to gain some advantage in any forthcoming deal.

Giffin also makes the interesting observation that the main US oil company involved (Unocal), whose prospective partners are the Saudi Royal family and BP, is closely connected to the Bush family.

Equally intriguing are claims in the book by John Cooley, the ABC journalist, that CIA executive Casey (later found floating downriver after going fishing in his pyjamas) was involved in the whole scheme.

Links between bin-Laden's father, oil broker Roy Furmark and Casey also extended to Adnan Kashoggi - who also did business with Mark Thatcher - and the Iranian businessman Mauchehr Ghorbanifar.

John Cooley also mention the promotion of fundamentalism by US intelligence services within the US Muslim community with the aim of recruiting support for the covert war against the USSR. Mosques and rifle clubs were apparently used.

Thatcher's administration in Britain were even more eager apparently, not only training mohajeddin fighters in Scotland's more remote regions (Ken Connor), but sending into Afghanistan units of SAS forces to give active support to the fighters (ex-SAS soldier Tom Carew).

Simon Reeves' book demonstrates the murkiness of a world where Western agents traded guns for opium,and the vast amounts of dirty money flowing both ways through so - called financial institutions (as the BCCI scandal demonstrated).

It only remains to be seen in the future how many of the young fundamentalists trained at the CIA Camp Peary in Virginia in the dark arts of espionage, sabotage and murder will be turning their skills back against those who nurtured them as the God-fearing alternative to Communism.