The US and the Rise of International Terrorism

As the old adage states:  One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.  Thus as long as there are significant societal contradictions within the various social formations across the world, there will likewise be cleavages which regimes not only create or enhance by systematically discriminating against and imposing violence upon some group or groups but, as well, which in turn engender targeted groups to wage violent uprisings against their tormentors.  Thus as long as people and their governments live by violence and intimidation, then there will be aggrieved others who will die and, in return, kill by the sword.

Rhetorically, the US—as do most other governments—claims to be acting to rid the world of terrorists.  However, the US record has not lived up to this ideal.  A few simple examples should suffice.  Back in 1998, President Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was interviewed by a French journal, wherein he admitted not only to advising President Carter to support Mujahadeen fighters in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet Union’s intervention into the country in December of 1979 but, as well, to utilizing jihadist fighters only as a means to counter Soviet influence in the country.  As the interview notes:

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.1

This decision by President Carter to arm the Afghan terrorists was confirmed by former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Robert Gates in his memoirs From the Shadows.2 Collectively, the entire clandestine effort to arm terrorists to oppose the Afghan government was known as Operation Cyclone.  Functioning from 1979 to 1989, the program was run by the CIA and focused on arming and supporting militant Islamic fighters favored by then Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.  Initially expending between 20 and 30 million dollars per year, the program eventually peaked at $630 million per year by 1987 (“Operation Cyclone”).

Secondly, it has long been known that the US played an instrumental role in creating the Al Qaeda terrorist group.  As Chengu notes:

Lest we forget, the CIA gave birth to Osama Bin Laden and breastfed his organization during the 1980′s.  Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Al Qaeda was unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies.  Mr. Cook explained that Al Qaeda, which literally means an abbreviation of “the database” in Arabic, was originally the computer database of the thousands of Islamist extremists, who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, in order to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan.3

Even Hillary Clinton testified that the US had created Al Qaeda, an admission which can be viewed over YouTube today.

That the US has long utilized terrorists to accomplish its foreign policy objectives is a well-known fact amongst those who are active in US military circles.  As General William Odom, the former director of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan remarked: ‘by any measure the U.S. has long used terrorism.  In 1978-79, the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced [however], the lawyers said the U.S. would be in violation’”.4

Thirdly, the 2014 program to expend $500 million to train and arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels was another effort to arm terrorists to attempt to overthrow a legitimate sovereign government, though by 2015, the program was supporting only “‘four or five’ rebels fighting in Syria, with dozens more killed or captured”.5

Fourthly, recently declassified Pentagon documents reveal that the United States has long supported the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) [otherwise known variously as the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), Islamic State (IS), or Daesh.6  As Chengu remarks: “Much like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region”.


1- St. Clair, Jeffrey and Alexander Cockburn.  January 15, 1998.  “How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen.”  Counterpunch.  Petrolia, CA:  Counterpunch.  This is a translated reprint from the original interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, by the French journal Le Nouvel Observateur, January 15-21, 1998.  Le Nouvel Observateur, p. 76.  [].

 2- Gates, Robert.  1996.  From the Shadows:  The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War.  New York, NY:  Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

 3- Chengu, Garikai.  September 19, 2014.  “How the US Helped Create Al Qaeda and ISIS.”  Counterpunch.  Petrolia, CA:  Counterpunch.  [].

 4- Ibid.

5- Timm, Trevor.  September 19, 2015.  “The US decision to send weapons to Syria repeats a historical mistake.”  The Guardian.  London, UK:  The Guardian Media Group.  [].

6- Crowcroft, Orlando.  December 2, 2015.  “Why Isis hates being called Daesh:  What’s the correct name for the world’s most dangerous terrorists?”  IBTimes.  New York, NY:  IBT Media.  [].


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