By Patrick Martin
Cont'd... US planned war in Afghanistan long before 9/11
Fri Apr 28, 2006 14:46

"Mr. Naik was told that if the military action went ahead it would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest."

Four days later, on September 22, the Guardian newspaper confirmed this account. The warnings to Afghanistan came out of a four-day meeting of senior US, Russian, Iranian and Pakistani officials at a hotel in Berlin in mid-July, the third in a series of back-channel conferences dubbed "brainstorming on Afghanistan."

The participants included Naik, together with three Pakistani generals; former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Saeed Rajai Khorassani; Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister of the Northern Alliance; Nikolai Kozyrev, former Russian special envoy to Afghanistan, and several other Russian officials; and three Americans: Tom Simons, a former US ambassador to Pakistan; Karl Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs; and Lee Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs in the State Department until 1997.

The meeting was convened by Francesc Vendrell, then and now the deputy chief UN representative for Afghanistan. While the nominal purpose of the conference was to discuss the possible outline of a political settlement in Afghanistan, the Taliban refused to attend. The Americans discussed the shift in policy toward Afghanistan from Clinton to Bush, and strongly suggested that military action was an option.

While all three American former officials denied making any specific threats, Coldren told the Guardian, "there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action." Naik, however, cited one American declaring that action against bin Laden was imminent: "This time they were very sure. They had all the intelligence and would not miss him this time. It would be aerial action, maybe helicopter gun ships, and not only overt, but from very close proximity to Afghanistan."

The Guardian summarized: "The threats of war unless the Taliban surrendered Osama bin Laden were passed to the regime in Afghanistan by the Pakistani government, senior diplomatic sources revealed yesterday. The Taliban refused to comply but the serious nature of what they were told raises the possibility that Bin Laden, far from launching the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon out of the blue 10 days ago, was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats."
Bush, oil and Taliban
Further light on secret contacts between the Bush administration and the Taliban regime is shed by a book released November 15 in France, entitled Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth, written by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie. Brisard is a former French secret service agent, author of a previous report on bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, and former director of strategy for the French corporation Vivendi, while Dasquie is an investigative journalist.

The two French authors write that the Bush administration was willing to accept the Taliban regime, despite the charges of sponsoring terrorism, if it cooperated with plans for the development of the oil resources of Central Asia.

Until August, they claim, the US government saw the Taliban "as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia." It was only when the Taliban refused to accept US conditions that "this rationale of energy security changed into a military one."

By way of corroboration, one should note the curious fact that neither the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban regime. Such a designation would have made it impossible for an American oil or construction company to sign a deal with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

Talks between the Bush administration and the Taliban began in February 2001, shortly after Bush's inauguration. A Taliban emissary arrived in Washington in March with presents for the new chief executive, including an expensive Afghan carpet. But the talks themselves were less than cordial. Brisard said, "At one moment during the negotiations, the US representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs'."

As long as the possibility of a pipeline deal remained, the White House stalled any further investigation into the activities of Osama bin Laden, Brisard and Dasquie write. They report that John O'Neill, deputy director of the FBI, resigned in July in protest over this obstruction. O'Neill told them in an interview, "the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it." In a strange coincidence, O'Neill accepted a position as security chief of the World Trade Centre after leaving the FBI, and was killed on September 11.

Confirming Naiz Naik's account of the secret Berlin meeting, the two French authors add that there was open discussion of the need for the Taliban to facilitate a pipeline from Kazakhstan in order to insure US and international recognition. The increasingly acrimonious US-Taliban talks were broken off August 2, after a final meeting between US envoy Christina Rocca and a Taliban representative in Islamabad. Two months later the United States was bombing Kabul.

The politics of provocation
This account of the preparations for war against Afghanistan brings us to September 11 itself. The terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Centre and damaged the Pentagon was an important link in the chain of causality that produced the US attack on Afghanistan. The US government had planned the war well in advance, but the shock of September 11 made it politically feasible, by stupefying public opinion at home and giving Washington essential leverage on reluctant allies abroad.

Both the American public and dozens of foreign governments were stampeded into supporting military action against Afghanistan, in the name of the fight against terrorism. The Bush administration targeted Kabul without presenting any evidence that either bin Laden or the Taliban regime was responsible for the World Trade Centre atrocity. It seized on September 11 as the occasion for advancing longstanding ambitions to assert American power in Central Asia.

There is no reason to think that September 11 was merely a fortuitous occurrence. Every other detail of the war in Afghanistan was carefully prepared. It is unlikely that the American government left to chance the question of providing a suitable pretext for military action.

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, there were press reports-again, largely overseas-that US intelligence agencies had received specific warnings about large-scale terrorist attacks, including the use of hijacked airplanes. It is quite possible that a decision was made at the highest levels of the American state to allow such an attack to proceed, perhaps without imagining the actual scale of the damage, in order to provide the necessary spark for war in Afghanistan.

How otherwise to explain such well-established facts as the decision of top officials at the FBI to block an investigation into Zaccarias Massaoui, the Franco-Moroccan immigrant who came under suspicion after he allegedly sought training from a US flight school on how to steer a commercial airliner, but not to take off or land?

The Minneapolis field office had Massaoui arrested in early August, and asked FBI headquarters for permission to conduct further inquiries, including a search of the hard drive of his computer. The FBI tops refused, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of criminal intent on Massaoui's part-an astonishing decision for an agency not known for its tenderness on the subject of civil liberties.

This is not to say that the American government deliberately planned every detail of the terrorist attacks or anticipated that nearly 5,000 people would be killed. But the least likely explanation of September 11 is the official one: that dozens of Islamic fundamentalists, many with known ties to Osama bin Laden, were able to carry out a wide-ranging conspiracy on three continents, targeting the most prominent symbols of American power, without any US intelligence agency having the slightest idea of what they were doing.

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US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11

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