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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2734

Talking Peace but Training Terrorists

By Shenali Waduge

The world is in unison that the scrooge of terror must end. Whether these attacks are aimed at innocent people, VIPs, world leaders or economic infrastructure becomes immaterial and we must unite to condemn these attacks. The more we wonder how the menace of terror has become invisible we need to factually take into account the sources and links that have directly or indirectly pumped life into these monsters and their terror cells and establishments. The answers to these will provide the reasons why terror still remains over and above the calls for the elimination of terrorism from the world.

How do these terrorists operate – from where do they get the money to buy weapons and ammunition – how do they escape international and local detection - how are they able to transport these items to various destinations – who trains these men and women and even children and where are these training bases – why are they not revealed to the international public? Do they have links to a country’s intelligence services, which are the countries that profit from the arms trade and how much of these are provided to terrorists and why?

These are some of the questions that will answer why terrorism still exists. Of the oft quoted examples we are aware that money is raised from extortion, drug trafficking, foreign supporters, money laundering, charitable organizations, legitimate businesses and even State patronage. Islamic terrorist groups pass money through a system known as ‘hawala’. Afghanistan is the haven for opium as is Myanmar and one of the reasons why Taliban regime thrives and surprisingly enough despite the US occupation in Afghanistan opium production has plummeted to over 4000 tons – the IMF says that heroin represents 40-50% of Afghanistan’s economy & 95% of its economic recovery. Did we mention that the US is the world’s largest user of heroin! There is a greater urgency to explore the links to these non-state actors and to find out whether they are being influenced by legitimate Governments & their connected agencies & offices.

The list of terrorist organizations is many. Governments of various countries have their own individual lists and the UN the custodian of world peace has its own list. Many would prefer going by the UN list of terrorists but unfortunately the UN list has come into controversy with the inclusion of Haji Muhammad Ashraf of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who’s been dead for over 6 years.

Countries also have banned some groups and even frozen their assets. The US State Dept has 42 Foreign Terrorist Organizations listed. The UK has 45 international terrorist organizations listed. The EU has placed 47 terrorist organizations on its list but surprisingly enough the EU has excluded the Al Qaeda. This may be in large measure due to the fact that the Al Qaeda is more of a franchise entity with a network collection of groups all linked to it. But, there still remains only one supreme commander therefore EU needs to explain why its list excludes Al Qaeda. Australia’s list of terrorist organizations number 18. Amidst the inconsistency in designating terrorist organizations we are compelled to explore whether the proverbial saying that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist is actually true. As we wonder why terrorism continues to thrive and contemplate how much terrorism has turned into a lifestyle for some and a business for others we need to realistically picture the real situation in order to understand what exactly is really happening around us.

Links to terrorists

Amidst the controversies there are plenty of allegations and counter allegations often against Governments and their intelligence services who in the pretext of their national sovereignty foster terror in foreign climes by training terrorists. It was the US who created Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda to fight a war against Russia who invaded Afghanistan. Could it not be that these fighters trained to resist moves of forceful occupation are now confused by the change in ideology when the US decides to invade Iraq and Afghanistan? As we raise alarms over terrorism and its rise throughout the world, we should first ask how and why powerful Governments chose to carry out covert and overt operations by creating monsters that have now become out of control. You find Pakistan being accused of training terrorists, its army accused of links to terror groups but similarly all other countries including UK, Germany, France, Iran, Israel, India, China and the US all have plenty of skeletons in their closets though they enjoy preaching peace.

India’s intelligence agency – RAW is accountable for the training, arming and financial support that eventually internationalized the LTTE into becoming one of the world’s most ruthless killer forces. India will not acknowledge this nor will India allow the Government of Sri Lanka to end the terrorism that prevails in the island nation. India’s National Security Advisor Narayan was one time tasked with handling the LTTE leader. Similarly, the Indian Intelligence Agency – RAW is accused of collaborating with the Northern Alliance remnants & training anti-Pakistan terrorists (tribal dissidents) in Afghanistan through its 4 consulates located in Afghanistan.

In the wake of the Mumbai attacks a new form of terror arose – where 10 armed men were able to attack 13 places in the financial hub of Mumbai and take on elite commandos for 60 hours (four successive days) A global power that watched silently for 4 days as gun fire, grenade explosions, fires took place may need to look inward and ask why India took so long to bring things under control and it would become rather farcical if India goes to war on the grounds that these men were from Pakistan and that they were trained there. The fact of the matter remains that all the countries that declare “war on terror” are the culprits of creating that terror. Had it not been for the selfish and self-centered reasons for allowing intelligence services to equip, train and order these men and women to carry out terror we would not have to fear walking on the streets or entering public places.

The US has been training members of Palestinian President’s Fatah security forces in Jericho in the West bank since late 1990s. Currently 300 security members are under US training. US also provide the Fatah Force 17 which also serves as the Preventative Security Services with arms and assault rifles in a bid to bolster Fatah against the Hamas. The funding for the US training is estimated at USD86.5million approved by the US Congress. It is widely believed that known terrorist leaders including the deputy commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and other members of the group that carried out suicide bombings in Israel in 2005/2006.

Despite giving an amnesty by Israeli former Prime Minister Olmert as a gesture to Palestinian President Abbas, the Brigade members have not disarmed but have continued their terror attacks. Thus, while the US may voice eulogies on its solidarity with the Israeli people the US training (military and intelligence) and arms supplies to Fatah have been responsible for the spate of attacks on Israeli interests. Thus, we can safely assume that the financial, military and intelligence training provided for the Palestinian resistance by the US has left over 1000 Israeli dead and us wondering what the US rhetoric on terrorism is really about. "Schmoozing with Terrorists," a book by Aaron Klein has even declared that US funded Hamas schools & university has chemistry labs which produce rockets and suicide bomb belts.

The US Army School of Americas (SOA now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) has been under attack for using terror for foreign policy objectives. The mission of the school is to train Latin American soldiers in combat, Counter-insurgency And counter-narcotics. It therefore should come as no surprise when nearly all of Latin America’s human rights abusers have actually graduated from the school including Panama’s Manuel Noriega a CIA operative until he was removed by the US in 1989. Graduates of the SOA were also part of the 1973 military coup in Chile, the 1976 assassination of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier in Washington, and the wars in Argentina and Bolivia in the 1970s. The SOA is also responsible for training Anastasio Somoza’s National Guard in Nicaragua in the 1970s, the civil war abuses in El Salvador and kidnappings in Colombia as well as murders of peace commissioner.

President Eisenhower during his presidency used plenty of covert operations through CIA to overthrow suspected communist Governments. Three attempts were made during his Presidency to overthrow Governments in Iran – CIA replaces Muhammad Mossadegh with Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi (when Mossadegh seized British oil properties in 1953). In Guatemala, the CIA overthrew Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954 & Indonesia in 1958 with the overthrowing of Sukarno. His Eisenhower Doctrine promised Middle East nation’s military aid if they were being threatened by communism.

Presently, there is much focus against Iran and a build up made to project Iran as fostering terrorism and nuclear weapons. In 2007, Congress agreed to President Bush’s request to fund a major covert operation against Iran. A covert operation would mean working with opposition groups which ultimately will create another terror force. Is it these creations that eventually refuse to be bound to their masters and prefer instead to take their own path of instilling terror and anarchy?

The issue of using covert state terrorism to advance neo-liberal global project has varied views – we can take as an example the CIA bombing of a Cuban airliner on October 6, 1976 which killed 73 innocent civilians. It was meant to create fear and submission by the Cuban authorities. George Bush Snr., was the CIA Director at the time and there were close ties that linked the Bush family to oil businesses and key politicians in Venezuela. James Baker who was appointed Secretary of State owned the Commerce Bank of Texas in Venezuela. Posada the CIA agent arrested by Cuban authorities for the bombing threatened to reveal details which would create another “Watergate” – secrecy, hidden documents all end up cover ups for realities of situations that take place beyond the score of public review though the public end up beneficiaries of the terror. The western Balkans the fate of the “new Kosovo” has emerged following detection of 3 Germans whether any moves were afoot to replace the UN office with an EU office. However, the Kosovo media say that the 3 men are German intelligence agents (BND). This is further to a Christian Science Monitor report which gave details of a deal with Serbia to deploy a EU mission in Kosovo.

The public needs to be aware of the interrelationships between the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. In the case of Iraq, the Iraqi people may wonder whether the dictator Saddam was ever as bad as their current situation where an average 50 deaths are reported daily.

Evidence in a report compiled by German TV ZDF reveals how the CIA and the German Intelligence (BND) supported the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which has links to the Al Qaeda. The report reveals that German intelligence knew 3 weeks prior to the March 17 attacks on Serbs throughout Kosovo & Samedin Xhezairi of the KLA was the link between Albanian extremists and the Al Qaeda. Samedin Xhezair had also fought in Chechniya, was trained in Afghanistan and was evacuated by US paratroopers from the US private military company MPRI from Macedonia barely a few weeks before the September 11 attack on the US. If the US military has been working with the Al Qaeda we can but wonder what the "war on terror" is all about.

What remains true is that the Atlantic Alliance supported the KLA and made them attack ethnic Albanians in order to allow the NATO and US troops to enter citing "humanitarian" grounds and accuse the Serbian Government of ethnic cleansing. This was the US and NATO’s "just war" which resulted in the bombing of Yugoslavia and supported by western media which provided a disinformation campaign. No one claimed that the invasion of Kosovo was a violation of international law. As terror groups most of whom happen to be Islamic fundamentalists become armed with sophisticated weaponry we not only wonder whether the peace keeping forces are actively or passively creating a new form of terror that is assured to turn against their creators as we have seen.

The earliest form of overt operation was committed by the US on hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese in 1945 by dropping not one but 2 atomic bombs. There is also the 1965-72 napalming of large areas of Vietnam and then the 2003 bombing of Baghdad once again by US troops.

When a nation’s public silently agree to covert operations because their State Dept labels nations as “rogue nations” the damage is colossal. Was not the “Special Forces” trained during the World War 2 men who were trained in unconventional warfare? The US media has been party to most of the heinous crimes that the US Government’s covert operations have ventured upon. Without balancing their argument they prefer to project everyone as enemies of the US. In many ways the 9/11 became a wake up which left many asking whether the US’s decision of turning teams hostile to other nations was not another form of terrorism? The CIA’s budget is Top Secret and even not disclosed to Congressmen. So while there is the US military there is also another set of private and shadow force with the power above US law. As we read deeper into US "interests" we need to realize how far the US is likely to go to protect "US interests?" The US entered Somalia in 1991 on the pretext that 1000 people were starving – it turned out not to be quite the contrary.

What should countries like the US wish to make countries unstable – is this the way they look after the people’s human rights? There are many ways invasions are justified – to save people from ruthless dictators and weapons of mass destruction as was the Iraq example, starvation was the reason in Somalia, genocide in Kosovo, 9/11 in Afghanistan….now the covert operations in these nations by US Special Forces means that men are being trained and supplied with arms so long as they remain faithful to US interests. Saddam Hussein was a friend of the US in the 1980s & so was Osama bin Laden.

As we look deeper into terrorism we need to explore its close ties to Government foreign policies especially those that apply covert & overt operations and wonder how far they are interlinked. The expense currently been used to eliminate terrorism and its associated entities could have cured the world of hunger and even provided different means of employment. There are 300,000 unemployed in the US. Of the 6.7billion world population 10,023,383 have died so far this year. USD60,900,000 is spent on weight loss programs in the US. 80,000 tons of food is wasted daily in the US.

Only USD19,700,000 is needed to feed the world. USD25,800,000 is spent on pet food in the US & Europe. In 1994 alone, the developing world spent close to £90 billion on weapons. Yet the United Nations has estimated that just £11 billion of this money would pay for all the primary health care needs in all countries that are considered to be developing countries today.

World military expenditure in 2006 is estimated to have reached $1204 billion in current dollars; The USA, responsible for about 80 per cent of the increase in 2005, is the principal determinant of the current world trend, and its military expenditure now accounts for almost half of the world total. The US accounts for 46% of world military spending following by UK, France, Japan and China with 4-5% each. Of the active conflicts in 1999, the United States supplied arms or military technology to parties in more than 92% of them --39 out of 42. In over one-third of these conflicts - 18 out of 42 - the United States provided from 10% to 90% of the arms imported by one side of the dispute. Between 1986 and 1995 the United States delivered $42 billion worth of armaments to parties in 45 ongoing conflicts. A significant portion of the $6 billion in covert U.S. arms and training sent to Afghan rebel groups in the 1980s was funneled to right-wing Islamic fundamentalist forces that now use these resources to attack U.S. allies and citizens.

United States has a consistent record of giving military aid and weapons to governments that engage in serious human rights abuses, including Uzbekistan, Colombia, and Turkey. With the arms trade being such an influencer we cannot ignore some of the practices and impacts of the arms industry. Most of the armament firms lobby for war policies so they can continue to sell their arms. These firms even bribe government officials both at home & abroad even emissaries, roughly $2.5 billion a year is paid in bribes, nearly a tenth of turnover; these firms are also able to influence public opinion through control over news media locally & internationally.

These firms are even able to play one country against another.
We can but wonder how successful has the post 9-11 War on Terror has actually been & how far human rights of innocent people has been secured by those waging the war. If we take a look at the Indo-Pak scenario while the international community wishes for restraint in the Indo-Pak border, UK & US are attempting to sell arms to India. We can then wonder why Condoleeza Rice made such a hurried stopover in India following the Mumbai attack!

So what are the hard realities – is it not true that the arms manufacturers are profiting from terrorism. We can but wonder whether these arms are for Governments to defend terror or for terrorists to terrorize us.

86% of all arms sold come from the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia & China)

How can these countries Talk Peace but sell arms? Are not these very nations guilty of having links to terror outfits who were once their friends but who have now become their foes? The people of the world are today suffering as a consequence of the clandestine foreign policies adapted by nations who have involved themselves in covert/overt/espionage & most recently striking deals with terrorists – most of whom have been sent through a brainwashing process, trained to hate, armed to kill & determined to destroy – can any negotiation work? Obviously not, that is why we will never see a reduction in arms trade & that is why the world can only dream of a peaceful tomorrow. Leaders & countries who attempt to quell terrorism are brought down by fabricating scenarios like human rights violations, kidnapping, extra-judicial killings so as to provide the basis for world opinion to go against these countries & to deny them the glory of defeating terrorism.

Sri Lanka in its last leg of a war that has gone on for almost 30 years has had to face similar accusations – genocide, ethnic cleansing, and human rights violations. The brigade that unites to overshadow the military successes of the Government are doing their best to create a scenario that undermines the Government. So far the successes of the military, their ability to take over rebel-held territory have silenced many. The answer to the untruths of genocide and ethnic cleansing are equally easy to prove – Sri Lanka suffers none of these fabrications. Yet a formidable challenge to Sri Lanka still remains India who for internal political survival ends up having to appease Tamil Nadu leaders most of whom nurse a separatist agenda that compliments the LTTE terrorism.

How can India warn Pakistan of nurturing terror on its soil when there are conclusive evidence against India for its role in training Sri Lanka’s LTTE on Indian soil (in a camp located at Chakrata, Tamil Nadu) by India’s intelligence service RAW who even termed the LTTE as "our boys". Is this not a visible example of encouraging cross-border terrorism by India upon a friendly SAARC neighbor? Yet, Sri Lanka’s public while condemning the actions of past and present political leaderships of India still have the highest of regard for India and its people.

The dangers of allowing terror to continue need not be reminded to India. The past few years India has had to endure series of bomb explosions culminating in a 60hour siege by just 10 men. Even for political survival, India should not have to dance to the tunes of men like Karunanidhi and Vaiko. We are surprised how the Indian Government can allow them to openly portray their allegiance with the LTTE while India preaches peace & the determination to overcome terrorism. Little does India realize that the LTTE is only a ploy for these Tamil Nadu leaders to eventually carve out a separate State in Tamil Nadu using Sri Lanka’s North as their base – the fate of Algeria’s Ben Bella is likely to happen to Prabakaran the leader-in-hiding of the LTTE.

World leaders those of whom have contributed to the creation of terrorist organizations and their cells must finally realize that they cannot control these hostile elements. The tragedy remains that these world leaders have not been magnanimous enough to accept this reality – or perhaps the creation of these terror cells is to continue the sale of arms, the indoctrination of countries and its people to neo-liberal attitudes etc. Can the world’s powerful nations those that benefit from wars and terrorism please answer!

- Asian Tribune -

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