Al Qaida was formed by Osama bin Laden in 1988 at the close of the Afghan – Soviet war. His goal was to continue the struggle to protect Islam against another adversary – the USA. With his fortune estimated at $250 million, he becomes the paymaster of operations around the world including New York City. The assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1990 is one of the first overt acts of that group.
In 1993, the first World Trade Center bombing is organized by bin Laden associate Sheikh Abdul Rahman, who had entered the US on a visa signed by the CIA. His previous work was the recruitment of militants to fight in the Afghanistan war. The tower does not fall at that time and only causes $700 million dollars of damage.
Osama was forced out of Saudi Arabia because of his political views on the monarchy in 1991. Bin Laden operated out of Sudan in the period of 1991 to 96 before US pressure is too great on the Sudan government. He moved to Afghanistan, developed a relationship with the Taliban and was named one of the most significant sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. In the 90’s, Al Qaida is responsible for a significant number of bombings in Kenya, Yemen, US, Saudi Arabia and other locations.
Captured operatives provided considerable information to the FBI or CIA on the organization’s finances, structure and plans. “The United States intelligence community was told in 1998 that Arab terrorists were planning to fly a bomb-laden plane into the World Trade Center, but the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration did not take the threat seriously” according to a New York Times article.
Back in Afghanistan, the Taliban took control over most of the country in 1996. Support for the Taliban military initiative came from the Pakistan government. The arms, training and technical support made the “students” a viable force.
The government soon consisted of only Pashtun tribe members and a very strict interpretation of Islamic law was instituted, with flogging being a punishment or much worse. Women were forbidden to go to school or to work, which in a country of many widows of war, amounts to a death sentence. War crimes, including mass murder of 15,000 Hazara civilians were noted in the city of Mazar-e Sharif. One of their worst cultural crimes was the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas.
At this time, Unocal and Enron were looking for a pipeline route to permit natural gas from the Caspian Sea reserves to market through a route other than Russia or Iran. Enron allegedly pays millions to the Taliban to encourage the pipeline approval. The US wanted the Taliban to turn over bin Laden to them but they also wanted a pipeline. In 1998, Clinton bombed Al Qaida training camps in Afghanistan with the hope of killing bin Laden and in response to bombing of US embassies in Africa.
Unocal abandoned the idea of a pipeline in late 1998. Clinton banned commerce with the Taliban in 1999. Plans begin for overthrowing of the Taliban during 2000. Prior to 9/11 the new administration of George W made a threat to the Taliban – accept war or a pipeline. The response was an attack on the Twin Towers in New York. The bin Laden – Mullah Omar collaboration were never interested in a pipeline but to turn back the clock to an Islam of many centuries past. The overthrow of secular Muslim states and the formation of Islamic states with Sharia law is the real goal.
When the planes crashed into the twin towers, the tango was over and the Americans knew instantly who had done it. The government had ignored the intelligence community due to commercial considerations of the big energy companies and also because their support for the fundamentalists had been useful in tormenting the Russians and dismantling their empire.
Many books have been written about the subject of the CIA, Afghanistan and Al-Qaida that cover the territory better than I can in a few brief paragraphs. It is clear that the policy of supporting an extreme fundamental Islam has blown back into the U.S.’s face.
Osama bin Laden had previously declared war on the US and bombed embassies in foreign lands. But when he brought his war onto US soil, he had suddenly become almost the highest priority. The highest priority was alway Iraq.
Next article – Six years of war get us where?