Narco News 2001
U.S. Policy Backfires
Colombia to Afghanistan
By Kim Alphandry
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
the wake of the attacks on U.S. soil,
Afghanistan and its ruling Taliban are at the center of media
The Taliban, whose name means "holy student," was created
by the the Pakistani Intelligence Agency (ISI), and developed
during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The Taliban army
consists of Muslim fundamentalist mercenaries from Afghanistan,
Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, armed and financed primarily by the
United States and Saudi Arabia. Over the last six years the Taliban
have gained control over 90% of the country. (Until recently
the Taliban have been referred to as 'freedom fighters' in the
The Taliban, thus, began as a U.S.-backed paramilitary organization,
using the same strategy as was used in Colombia with the formation
of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). As in South
America, the explosive mixture of paramilitary groups and the
massive profits to be made in narco-trafficking under drug prohibition
has grown into a force beyond control of its makers. Even as
the U.S. government today opposes the Taliban in Afghanistan,
it is creating another one in Colombia.
And as with the Colombian people and the paramilitaries unleashed
upon them by U.S. policy, the Afghan people are not supporters
of the Taliban. In fact, there is a very strong opposition movement
in Afghanistan to the Taliban. Yet, as with Plan Colombia, a
U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan could end up harming
the innocent Afghani people who oppose the Taliban.
Just last week, the opposition movement to the Taliban lost its
Afghan community is now mourning the
death of their most highly regarded leader, Ahmad Shah Mas'ood,
commander of the Northern Alliance (NA), opposition forces to
the Taliban in Afghanistan. (The NA is referred to a as a 'rebel
group' in the western press.)
Commander Ahmad Shah Mas'ood has held this fragile opposition
group together since the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
He is famous for leading battles on the frontlines.
Kamran, an Afghan-American states, "It is with great pain
that I inform you that Ahmad Shah Masood, commander of the Northern
Alliance forces against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden passed
away on Sunday, September 9, 2001."
Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Mas'ood was the victim of an assassination
attempt by bin Laden this last Sunday -- two Arab men posing
as journalists exploded a bomb at a meeting being held in his
office in the Takhar Province of Northern Afghanistan.
Saudi dissident Ossama bin Laden is blamed for the attack. Osama
bin Laden is not a member of the Taliban, but apparently assists
the Taliban in it's objectives by violent means.
Mas'ood's death is viewed with such deep concern that countries
wary of Afghanistan's Taliban held an emergency meeting on Thursday,
representatives from Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, India and Uzbekistan
attended. His loss will be a major blow to the NA as Mas'ood
has been an important Afghani leader for 22 years, fighting the
Soviet Red Army and, for the past six years, as leader of the
Kamran explains, "While the whole world has been preoccupied
with the events in NY and DC, this has been an extremely painful
week for millions of Afghans who will never forget their fallen
heroes and the sacrifices they have made for their country."
Alia, another Afghan-American, went on
to say that, "Ahmad Shah Mas'ood was one of the bravest
heroes in the history of Afghanistan. He spent his entire lifetime
fighting to free his nation. The only dream and hope he had was
for a free and peaceful Afghanistan. "
On Tuesday September 11th, two hours after the bombings of the
World Trade Center, the Northern Alliance retaliated for the
assassination of their leader by shelling Kabul, the Taliban
controlled capitol of Afghanistan. At which point CNN reported
that the US government could be responsible for the bombings
-- and later apologized for the erroneous report.
once a stable nation, has been literally
destroyed as it has been forced to fight a civil war the past
20 years. Six million of its population are refugees, with more
than 75 percent of the country laid to waste.
"The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.
It was the last hot war it would fight, and one whose failure
played a leading role in its loss in the Cold War and disintegration.
Afghanistan is infamous today for being in the grip of the most
benighted, fanatical and misogynist government in the world."
[Cosma Shalizi's review of "The Soviet Invasion and the
Afghan Response, 1979-1982" (University of California Press,
1995), by M. Hassan Kakar, (http://www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/reviews/kakar-soviet-invasion/)]
Over the last few years the US has known that the Taliban has
been a threat to the stability in the region - the Gulf, Central
Asia, and South Asia - because of the growth of terrorism and
the drug trade (Afghanistan is the second-largest producer of
heroin in the world). And, especially because the Taliban can
no longer be controlled by Pakistan and therefore cannot be controlled
by the United States.
The US government has been examining its options for protecting
its interests in the region for some time, and just this year
chose to give the Taliban in Afghanistan $10
million dollars 'to institute a ban on drugs,' part of an
overall US aid package of $43
million dollars, hailed by U.S. Secretary of State Colin
to a September 14 report by the BBC,
"A quarter of Afghanistan's 26 million people face starvation
this autumn following three years of drought and the pull-out
[of all foreign aid workers from the country]." The plea
for help given by the Afghan people has been for the most part
Pakistan's own civil stability is now at extreme risk because
of economic pressures from decades of mounting debt combined
with political and economic corruption that has made the country
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has reluctantly promised
full co-operation with US demands Saturday September 15th, placing
Pakistan in an extremely precarious situation. There are millions
of Taliban-aligned extremists in Pakistan along with Islamic
militant training camps. The Pakistani corps commanders and intelligence
chiefs are deeply divided as its own secret service is backed
by Islamic militants.
With current events unfolding as they are right now, Alia remembers,
"Mas'ood's famous prediction that the war would end in Pakistan.
Even if Pakistan sides with the US, the Taliban-aligned fundamentalists
of Pakistan will declare a holy war against it's own government
and destroy it."
... an attack on Afghanistan, could come as early as this week.
Kim Alphandary, freelance
journalist and international news contributor to Radio for Peace
International, has traveled and studied extensively in Pakistan,
Turkey, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.
For more background information
see http://www.antiwar.com for current coverage, such as
current links entitled: "US Troops Land in Pakistan,"
Taliban Threatens Pakistan with War," and "Bush Finalizes
The Hour to Speak
the Truth is Now