'CIA worked with Pak to create Taliban'
India Abroad News Service, March 6, 2001
London March 06, 2001 11:40 Hrs (IST) THE CENTRAL Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the "monster" that is today Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, a leading US expert on South Asia said here.
"I warned them that we were creating a monster," Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said at the conference here last week on "Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia."
Harrison said: "The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan." The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan's demand that they should decide how this money should be spent, Harrison said.
Harrison, who spoke before the Taliban assault on the Buddha statues was launched, told the gathering of security experts that he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan. "They told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets," he said. "I warned them that we were creating a monster."
For 17 years, Washington poured $4 billion into the pockets of some of the most brutal men on earth - with the overall aim of exhausting and ultimately destroying the Soviet Union in a futile war.
CIA director William Casey backed a plan by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA and Britain's MI6, with the British SAS trained future al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989.
John Pilger, The Guardian (September 20, 2003)
Harrison, who has written five books on Asian affairs and US relations with Asia, has had extensive contact with the CIA and political leaders in South Asia. Harrison was a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace between 1974 and 1996.
Harrison who is now senior fellow with The Century Foundation recalled a conversation he had with the late Gen Zia-ul Haq of Pakistan. "Gen Zia spoke to me about expanding Pakistan's sphere of influence to control Afghanistan, then Uzbekistan and Tajikstan and then Iran and Turkey," Harrison said. That design continues, he said. Gen. Mohammed Aziz who was involved in that Zia plan has been elevated now to a key position by Chief Executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Harrison said.
The old associations between the intelligence agencies continue, Harrison said. "The CIA still has close links with the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence)."
Today that money and those weapons have helped build up the Taliban, Harrison said. "The Taliban are not just recruits from 'madrassas' (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence, the intelligence wing of the Pakistani government)." The Taliban are now "making a living out of terrorism."
Harrison said the UN Security Council resolution number 1333 calls for an embargo on arms to the Taliban. "But it is a resolution without teeth because it does not provide sanctions for non-compliance," he said. "The US is not backing the Russians who want to give more teeth to the resolution."
Now it is Pakistan that "holds the key to the future of Afghanistan," Harrison said. The creation of the Taliban was central to Pakistan's "pan-Islamic vision," Harrison said.
It came after "the CIA made the historic mistake of encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan," he said. The creation of the Taliban had been "actively encouraged by the ISI and the CIA," he said. "Pakistan has been building up Afghan collaborators who will sustain Pakistan," he said.
"Whether we like it or not, the Taliban is part of the West's legacy..."
Evening Standard (London), Feb. 20, 2001
It also means turning our back on history, Afghanistan today is the product of a war fought by other on its soil. The US and its allies piled this country with Stinger missiles and cash to fuel the Mujahideen's opposition against Soviet occupation. They encouraged the growth of Islamic fundamentalism to frighten Moscow and of drugs to get Soviet soldiers hooked. The CIA even helped "Arab Afghans" like Osama bin Ladin, now "America's most wanted", to fight here. When the Soviet fled Kabul, US money and interest also evaporated, leaving a terrible mess. Whether we like it or not, the Taliban is part of the West's legacy of intrusion followed by neglect and Afghanistan is the last orphan of the Cold War."
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