Malala Yousafzai, người Pakistan vùng thung lũng Swat gần biên giới A Phú Hãn.Nhà vận Động Nhân Quyền từ năm 11 tuổi, năm nay 16 tuổi đã bị Taliban bắn vì dám đối kháng đòi được quyền học hỏi hiểu biết và bình đẳngcho phái nữ. Cô nói tiếng Anh cực kỳ trôi chảy, và có sự hiểu biết vượt xa không chỉ với những người cùng tuổi nơi các xứ sở thấp kém, mà còn hơn hẳn khi so ngay những thanh thiếu niên tại Âu Mỹ.Cô có quan tâm và nhận thức tìm hiểu!
Cô được mời đọc diễn văn tại LHQ và vào Tòa Bạch Ốc gặp Obama cũng như xuát hiện trên các chương trình truyền hình Âu Mỹ. Cô được đề nghị lãnh giải thổ tả Nobel hòa bình v.v
Tài không đợi tuổi, phái tính, sắc dân, hay điều kiện kinh tế. Nó đến từ sự quan tâm và nhận thức tìm hiểu! Cô cổ vũ sự hiểu biết qua giáo dục, học hỏi như một giải pháp cho nhiều vấn đề. Nói ngắn gọn, cô Malala Yousafzai,cổ võ và xiển dương nhu cầu DÂN TRÍ và NHẬN THỨC.
Malala hiểu khá rõ về cấu trúc quyền lực: Quyền lực của kẻ thống trị hiện hũu do sự ngu dốt của nạn nhân. Vì thế Kẻ quyền lực rất sợ nạn nhân của nó hiểu biết. Chính sách nền tảng của quyền lực là ngăn chặn sự học hỏi tìm tòi hiểu biết qua nhiều biện pháp. Tuy nhiên, còn một khía cạnh tế vi của quyền lực mà Cô gái trẻ này chưa biết đến: Ở những nơi lạc hậu, kẻ quyền bính dùng bạo lực, tôn giáo, tín điều và truyền thống văn hóa để ngăn chặn như tại xứ sở của Cô. Tại những nơi “tiến bộ” hơn, kẻ quyền bính dùng chiêu bài tổ quốc an ninh để ngăn chặn tự do ngôn luận và thông tin, nơi mà Cô chưa được biết đến. Tất cả chì nhằm vào NGĂN CHẶN QUẦN CHÚNG TÌM HIỂU THÔNG TIN ĐÚNG ĐẮN, HỌC HỎI SUY NGHĨ TRUY RA SỰ THẬT. Cô chưa truy ra được sự thật này, và hình như đang nằm trong đó!!!
Qua các cuộc phỏng vấn cũng như kêu gọi của cô Malala, có một điều đáng chú ý, là với sự hiểu biết cũng như kinh nghiệm trực tiếp của cô và cha của cô về tình hình khu vực, nhưng cô chỉ lên án khủng bố hồi giáo Taliban, và không hể nhắc đến Taliban từ đâu ra? Ai hỗ trợ chính sách Taliban và đưa Taliban lên cầm quyền? Vì thật sự, ai cũng đã biết, chính Mỹ là kẻ đã đẻ ra Taliban thời Jimmy Carter đến Ronald Reagan,với cố vấn an ninh quốc gia Bignew Brezenski, năm 1979, đã đáp trực thăng tận nơi để cổ vũ Mujaheddin Taliban và nước trời Allah. Mỹ đã giúp Taliban lên nắm quyền sau khi hất chân Liên Sô.khỏi khu vực. Chính Ronald Reagan, năm 1985 đã tiếp các “chiến sĩ tự do Taliban tại dinh bạch ốc, và từng tuyên bố, “Những ông Talibans là những người có luân lý tương đồng với những nhà lập quốc Mỹ” (These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers”-RR.- kéo dài đến thời Bush vẫn tiếp tục đồng mình và làm ăn với Taliban cho đến khi có 911!
Những vấn nạn hiện nay ở xứ sở của Cô,Pakistan và của các nơi trong khu vực như A Phú Hãn, Iraq, Lybia v.v phần lớn không còn do “khủng bố chống Mỹ” mà là Khủng Bố Thân Mỹ, hay do Mỹ dựng lên như tại Lybia, Syria v.v.
Và đây là điểm khác biệt rất lớn giũa hai nhà vận động phái nữ của khu vực Afg-Pak, Malala Yousafzai của Pakistan và Malaila Joya của Afgan. Malaila Joya vẫn trẻ, nhưng lớn trưởng thành hơn Malala trên toàn bộ lãnh vực chính trị. Malaila Joya hiểu thấu mọi vấn nạn của khu vực và biết rõ trò chơi Âu Mỹ. Malaila Joya lên án cả đôi bên Âu Mỹ và đám cực đoan hồi giáo cũng như bọn tay sai như Kazai và các “lãnh chúa lão thành”. Malaila đi diễn thuyết và kêu gọi Âu Mỹ, Úc rút quân và ngưng ủng hộ bọn dân chủ giả hiệu do Mỹ ủng hộ đang cầm quyền. Do đó các chính phủ nhà nước Âu Mỹ và LHQ không mặn mà thổi phồng Malaila Joya như với cô thiếu nữ Malala. Và đây cũng chính là lý do đưa đến sự khác biệt trong sự ủng ho hai người tại Âu Mỹ: Yousafzai,Malala được các CHINH PHỦ NHÀ NƯỚC ÂU MỸ ủng hộ tài trợ, trong khi đó Malaila Joya chỉ được khối đấu tranh vận động ủng hộ , và đám nhà nước chính phủ báo chí chính qui tìm cách ngăn chặn!!! Malalai Joya được giới vận động độc lập thân ái gọi là “Sự Thât Bất Lợi” của Âu Mỹ (The inconvenience Truth)
Không phải ngẫu nhiên mà có những dư luận tại Pakistan chỉ trích thiếu nữ Malala Yousafzai và cha cô chỉ là con cờ do Âu Mỹ dựng lên! Dư luận ở Pakistan họ có những lý cớ riêng của họ. Nhưng chúng ta, nhìn vào thực tế sự kiện cũng đã thấy rõ những hàm ý chính trị của Âu Mỹ qua cách đối xử khác biệt với hai nhân vật vận động phái nữ này.
Khi nhìn vào tác động của việc làm, chúng ta thấy:
-Malala Yousafzai, giúp cho Âu Mỹ CHÍNH ĐÁNG HÓA HÀNH ĐỘNG CAN THIỆP vào KHU VỰC của họ.
-Malalai Joya lật tẩy mặt thật của cả hai phía nhà nước Afgan, Taliban và chủ đích của Âu Mỹ can thiệp vào khu vực nói chung và Afgan nói riêng. Malalai Joya lên tiếng vận động chống khối đàn ông tôn giáo thủ cựu độc quyền đòi hỏi bình quyền cho phụ nữ;, đặc biệt tuyên bố sự có mặt của quân đội Âu Mỹ là vấn nạn chứ không phải là giải pháp và yêu cần Âu Mỹ rút quân trả lại QUYỀN TỰ QUYẾT cho dân bản xứ…
Chúng ta cảm kích và ủng hộ mục tiêu của thiếu nữ Malala Yousafzai, mục tiêu việc làm của cô chính đáng, không thể không thừa nhận. Nhưng phải sáng suốt cảnh giác những kẻ Âu Mỹ đang lợi dụng và lạm dụng cô.và mục tiêu tốt đẹp của cô để chính đáng hóa hành động bạo ngược xen lấn nội bộ, chiếm đóng và sát nhân của chúng Và nếu có cơ hội phải nhắc nhở cô về sự toàn diện của vấn nạn không chỉ là Talibans. Với tầm tư duy, khả năng anh ngữ, và sự can đảm như Malala Yousafzai, nếu được trao đổi chắc chắn sẽ hiểu ra, dĩ nhiên nếu như không phải cô và cha cô đã tự nguyện làm công cụ cho Âu Mỹ từ đầu.
Chúng ta cứ phải sòng phẳng công bằng với cha con cô Malala Yousafzai, đặt giả thiết tích cực trước khi chưa có bằng chứng cụ thể.: Chúng ta ủng hộ tiêu chí vận động của Cô với sự cẩn trọng. Với trường hợp Malaila Joya đã quá rõ ràng chính đáng, chúng ta cần nhiệt tâm ủng hộ sự sáng suốt và can trường của người phụ nữ bản lãnh này!
Tài Liệu Tham Khảo:
Malala Yousafzai considered US stooge, CIA agent in Pak hometown
“Malala is spoiling Pakistan’s name around the world,” said Mohammad Rizwan, a shop owner in her hometown of Mingora. “We didn’t need Malala to come and tell us how important education is.”
Around the corner from his shop is the quiet street where Malala, 16, was shot a year ago after trying to defy the Taliban with her outspoken views on women’s right to education.
She survived after being airlifted to Britain for treatment and has since become a symbol of defiance against militants holed up in nearby tribal areas on the Afghan border.
But in this deeply conservative part of Pakistan, where women are expected to stay at home and keep their views to themselves, many people view Malala’s campaign with suspicion.
In a nation thriving on conspiracy theories, some have even doubted the sincerity of her campaign, claiming it is part of her family’s ploy to move to Britain or that she is just an attention seeker.
Social media sites are brimming with insulting messages. “We hate Malala Yousafzai, a CIA agent,” says one Facebook page.
“Here, people have been unkind to her. They want to forget her. They think she is a drama queen. But what can you do?” said Ahmad Shah, a childhood friend of Malala’s father who helped write her speech at the United Nations this year.
“Here in Swat, we have seen the hell that is Taliban rule. And yet, some people still say they would much rather side with the Taliban than Malala. Sometimes people never learn.”
In an impoverished region where violence is part of daily life, some of Malala’s neighbours were simply afraid. Some appeared keen to forget about her and move on.
The picturesque valley was overran by the Taliban, who imposed strict Islamic laws and kept its people in fear, in 2007. It is now controlled by the Pakistani army. Mingora, a dusty town of windy roads surrounded by jagged hills, is festooned with billboards reading “Long live the Pakistan Army!”
There were no posters of Malala.
“Malala is a talented girl, no doubt,” said Zahid Khan, head of the Swat Peace Jirga, an anti-Taliban body who has survived three attempts on his life for his work.
“I have been attacked. Shot. Almost killed. But no one is honouring me. The state hasn’t given me a cent in compensation.”
The Taliban have issued repeated threats to kill her.
“She says she does not want to live like an illiterate person in a walled compound and deliver children,” said Shahidullah Shahid, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman.
“Her mother and grandmother used to live in walled compounds and deliver children, so by saying that she didn’t even spare her mother.”
At Khushal Public School, a three-storey building where she studied, many avoided mentioning her name altogether.
A red and yellow school bus parked outside its metal gate was the same as the one in which Malala was shot on Oct. 9, 2012. In her classroom, her old seat was still empty. Someone had placed a schoolbag there to mark her presence.
But there were no events held to mark the first anniversary of her shooting.
“We want the girls to forget the trauma of that day,” said Nargis Bibi, a school administrator. “We want them to forget it. We don’t want them to relive it again. We all want to move on.”
Quratulain Ali, Malala’s friend, said quietly: “We are all very happy in our hearts (that she was nominated to win the Nobel Peace Prize) but we don’t often speak about it openly. There could be danger for us also.”
The award went to the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the destruction’s of Syria’s arsenal.
7 September 2011
Malalai Joya: an inconvenient truth
Activist, writer and a former Afghan politician Malalai Joya is currently touring the country.
She hasn’t yet had the ear of the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence to discuss the plight of her people or the reality of the war in Afghanistan, but perhaps if Prime Minister Gillard broke bread with Joya she might gain some real insight into the consequences of Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan.
I took the opportunity to catch up with Joya in Hobart. She was travel-weary but willing to share her experience and knowledge of the reality of life in Afghanistan.
In the first place, rather than be characterised by ethnic or tribal links, Joya prefers to be called Afghan “in the interests of national unity”.
She describes her Dad as “democratically minded”. Her parents always stressed the importance of education and her father in particular inculcated in her the fact that her brothers were no better than her. She is pleased to describe her mother as a housewife, although through Joya’s education her mother later became her student.
Her background reminded me of Ann Jones’ article ‘Women at risk from the Demon within’:
We might do well to consider that every Afghan woman or girl who still goes to school does so with the support of a progressive husband or father. Several husbands of prominent working women have been killed for not keeping their wives at home, and many are threatened. What’s taking place in Afghanistan is commonly depicted as it is on the Time cover, as a battle of the forces of freedom, democracy and women’s rights (that is, the US and the Karzai government) against the demon Taliban. But the real struggle is between progressive Afghan women and men, and a phalanx of regressive forces…
Joya spoke candidly about the books that have influenced her. Kathy Gannon’s “I is for Infidel, From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years in Afghanistan” gets an honourable mention. Kathy’s history of Afghanistan from 1986 to the present is available here and is a ‘must watch’.
Joya also laughed about how she really enjoyed Charlie Chaplin films: some things are universal.
She says she doesn’t think about death, only the hopes she has for her country. She doesn’t fear death; she fears political silence. But if she were to face death, “I would have no regrets because I have spoken the truth, the truth of my people”. Her people inspire her. Her approach to life and death accords with that of Khalil Gibran.
I asked her what sparked her interest in activism and politics. She describes herself as being “of the war generation”. Her family fled to Iran when she was four, then to Pakistan when she was seven. She was lucky to receive an education and after high school became a social activist. She returned to Afghanistan in 1998. She read lots of books and asked lots of questions of her father and her teachers because she couldn’t understand how criminals were permitted to run the country. Questions like: Who did that, and why?
Although she prefers to be a social activist she was in a political situation and couldn’t sit in silence. She knew that her speech to the Loya Jirga was an opportunity to share her views, and those of justice-loving people both in her country and abroad, with the international community.
Many in parliament didn’t dare speak out, she says. It still may cost her her life but she wanted to expose the crimes of the rulers. She has no regrets, but she still asks: “Why are they still in power and why are Western governments supporting them?”
She rattles off a list of names in the current and previous parliaments. One is Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. A former member of the Northern Alliance, Sayyaf is reputed to have first invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan. Also renowned for repeated atrocities (human butchery), to many Afghans he is “affectionately” known as “head-eater”.
Western leaders often spruik that the existence of a free media in Afghanistan is a result of the intervention, but there’s no free press for Joya: she is completely banned from the media scene. The media, she says, has two faces. She also describes the death of many journalists who have dared to report the truth.
I asked her about the recent WikiLeaks cable which says:
While former MP Malalai Joya is touring the United States and Canada promoting her new biography and calling for the removal of all US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, women in Kabul are sending a different message. Most women with whom Embassy officers have spoken over the past two months – from NGO directors to the residents of shelters for victims of domestic violence – support the US military and civilian presence in Afghanistan. Kabul women have told Embassy officials repeatedly that the US and international community presence in Afghanistan gives women opportunities that they would never have been granted under the Taliban… the protection the international forces provide allows women and girls to attend school; to work outside the home; to serve in the government; to be protected from domestic violence; and generally participate more fully in their society…
Her initial reaction to mention of any cables is to remind me that there are 92,000 WikiLeaks cables in the form of the ‘War Diary: Afghanistan War Logs’ that reveal the brutality supported by Western countries and outline the general malfeasance of all governments involved.
Turning to the cable referring to her, she confirms that life is different for women in Kabul to that of women in rural areas. She points out that some female political appointments are women hand-selected by warlords and druglords and are mere mouthpieces for them. Those appointees seek fame and wealth, whereas Joya prefers to be the voice of the women living in misery, the voice of the massacred. Tens of thousands of people have been massacred during the occupation she says, and there are many people without food. The US and NATO use women’s rights and human rights as an excuse for occupation, “yet they blindly bombard my people from the sky”. There is no democracy, she says: “It is the same donkey with a different saddle. It doesn’t matter who votes, it only matters who’s counting”.
I note that our political leaders often put forward as one of the many reasons for remaining in Afghanistan that the country may again become a “safe haven for terrorists” if our troops leave. She is familiar with that line, immediately responding that “Afghanistan is already a safe haven for terrorists” and commenting that our presence doubles the misery of her people. She knows it won’t be heaven after the troops leave, but she says that “if you withdraw your support for warlords and drug lords, like Matiullah Khan in Uruzgan, then it will help to break their backbone. Redirect your support to democratic institutions, to women’s organisations, to peace movements, to education, certain NGOs or the Solidarity Party of Afghanstan.”
She is concerned that the talk about foreign troops leaving Afghanistan in 2014 will prove to be a lie, a lie peddled because of forthcoming US elections. She says there are moves afoot to set up permanent US military bases in Afghanistan, a prospect which is deeply resented. She speaks about the geopolitical element of the occupation of Afghanistan and how the corporatisation and privatisation in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion parallels that occurring now in Afghanistan.
Joya only wants justice. Justice for her people, both the living and the dead. Justice for the perpetrators of atrocities in her country. Justice for the youth who have been destroyed by the opium production which has escalated since the occupation of her country. She wants Australians to open their eyes and put pressure on our Government to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan. But ultimately, she wants what we all want: peace.
When you hear what is really happening “on the ground” in Afghanistan you know deep down that we should be throwing our weight behind people like Joya, people who are prepared to risk their lives and their freedom for the benefit of their country and all of its people. If we make ourselves heard our government just might listen. Australians tempted to lapse into moral and philosophical apathy, which is easy to do when you are distant from the slaughter and side with the powerful and know your single voice doesn’t count anyway, might be encouraged by the latest release of WikiLeaks cables which confirms that political leaders can be concerned about public opinion. An example is the WikiLeaks cable titled ‘Australian Defence Chief’s Concerns Over the McChrystal Report’:
Australian Defence Force Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston told Charge on August 20 that he planned to call Admiral Mullen, General Patraeus and General McChrystal in the next few days to explain that it will be important that General McChrystal’s upcoming assessment on the situation in Afghanistan not inadvertently undermine Prime Minister Rudd’s attempts to maintain public support for Australia’s participation in the conflict.
Putting to one side the question of the propriety of an Air Chief Marshall managing military information for political purposes, what is this saying about the military having to support politicians trying to engineer an illusion of public support that doesn’t really exist? Those of us who oppose the perpetuation of the Afghanistan conflict and support the right of Afghans to self-determination need to make our position clear to our elected representatives. Supporting people like Joya is an easy way to start.
Thanks to the dedicated work of Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan, Stop the War Coalition, Overland Magazine and others, Joya’s tour of our country includes appearances at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and a series of talks in Sydney.
Join her struggle.
Kellie Tranter is a lawyer and activist.
According to a December 17, 1997 article in the British paper, The Telegraph, headlined, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas,” the Taliban was about to sign a “?2 billion contract with an American oil company to build a pipeline across the war-torn country. … The Islamic warriors appear to have been persuaded to close the deal, not through delicate negotiation but by old-fashioned Texan hospitality. … Dressed in traditional salwar khameez,Afghan waistcoats and loose, black turbans, the high-ranking delegation was given VIP treatment during the four-day stay.”
At the same time, U.S. government documents reveal that the Taliban were harboring Osama bin Laden as their “guest” since June 1996. By then, bin Laden had: been expelled by Sudan in early 1996 in response to US insistence and the threat of UN sanctions; publicly declared war against the U.S. on or about August 23, 1996; pronounced the bombings in Riyadh and at Khobar in Saudi Arabia killing 19 US servicemen as ‘praiseworthy terrorism’, promising that other attacks would follow in November 1996 and further admitted carrying out attacks on U.S. military personnel in Somalia in 1993 and Yemen in 1992, declaring that “we used to hunt them down in Mogadishu”; stated in an interview broadcast in February 1997 that “if someone can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters.” Evidence was also developing which linked bin Laden to: the 1995 bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Riyadh which killed five; Ramzi Yuosef, who led the 1993 World Trade Center attacks; and a 1994 assassination plot against President Clinton in the Philippines.
Back in Houston, the Taliban was learning how the “other half lives,” and according to The Telegraph, “stayed in a five-star hotel and were chauffeured in a company minibus.” The Taliban representatives “…were amazed by the luxurious homes of Texan oil barons. Invited to dinner at the palatial home of Martin Miller, a vice-president of Unocal, they marveled at his swimming pool, views of the golf course and six bathrooms.” Mr. Miller, said he hoped that UNOCAL had clinched the deal.
Dick Cheney was then CEO of Haliburton Corporation, a pipeline services vendor based in Texas. Gushed Cheney in 1998, “I can’t think of a time when we’ve had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It’s almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight. The good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States. Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered, one would not normally choose to go. But we go where the business is.” Would Cheney bargain with the harborers of U.S. troop killers if that’s where the business was?
The Telegraph reported that Unocal had promised to start building the pipeline and paying the Taliban immediately, with the added inducements and a donation of ?500,000 to the University of Nebraska for courses in Afghanistan to train 400 teachers, electricians, carpenters and pipefitters.
The Telegraph also reported, “The US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban’s policies against women and children “despicable”, appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” In a paper prepared by Neamatollah Nojumi, at the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Nojumi wrote in August 1997 that Madeline Albright sat in a “full-dress CIA briefing” on the Caspian region. CIA agents then accompanied “some well-trained petroleum engineers” to the region. Albright concluded that shaping the region’s policies was “one of the most exciting things that we can do.”
It’s also exciting to the Bush Administration. According to the authors of Bin Laden, the Hidden Truth, one of the FBI’s leading counter terrorism agents, John O’Neill, resigned last year in protest over the Bush Administration’s alleged obstruction of his investigation into bin Laden. (A similar complaint has been filed on behalf of another unidentified FBI Agent by the conservative Judicial Watch public interest group.) Supposedly the Bush Administration had been meeting since January 2001 with the Taliban, and was also reluctant to offend Saudi Arabians who O’Neill had linked to bin Laden. Mr. O’Neill, after leaving the FBI, assumed the position of security director at the World Trade Center, where he was killed in the 911 attacks.
As America’s New War now begins focusing on other “rogue nations,” UNOCAL’s stars have magically aligned. About two months after the Houston parties, UNOCAL executive John Maresca addressed the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and urged support for establishment of an investor-friendly climate in Afghanistan, “… we have made it clear that construction of our proposed pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders and our company.” Meaning that UNOCAL’s ability to construct the Afghan pipeline was a cause worthy of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
Maresca’s prayers have been answered with the Taliban’s replacement. As reported in Le Monde, the new Afghan government’s head, Hamid Karzai, formerly served as a UNOCAL consultant. Only nine days after Karzai’s ascension, President Bush nominated another UNOCAL consultant and former Taliban defender, Zalmay Khalilzad, as his special envoy to Afghanistan.
When UNOCAL makes big bucks from the pipeline they should donate 50% of all pretax profits to the 911 Fund. And they should also cut a very special check to the widow of FBI Agent O’Neill.
Tom Turnipseed is a civil rights lawyer in South Carolina. Visit Tom’s website at www.turnipseed.net
Afghanistan, the Taliban
and the Bush Oil Team
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), globalresearch.ca, 23 January 2002
According to Afghan, Iranian, and Turkish government sources, Hamid Karzai, the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, was a top adviser to the El Segundo, California-based UNOCAL Corporation which was negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Karzai, the leader of the southern Afghan Pashtun Durrani tribe, was a member of the mujaheddin that fought the Soviets during the 1980s. He was a top contact for the CIA and maintained close relations with CIA Director William Casey, Vice President George Bush, and their Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) Service interlocutors. Later, Karzai and a number of his brothers moved to the United States under the auspices of the CIA. Karzai continued to serve the agency’s interests, as well as those of the Bush Family and their oil friends in negotiating the CentGas deal, according to Middle East and South Asian sources.
When one peers beyond all of the rhetoric of the White House and Pentagon concerning the Taliban, a clear pattern emerges showing that construction of the trans-Afghan pipeline was a top priority of the Bush administration from the outset. Although UNOCAL claims it abandoned the pipeline project in December 1998, the series of meetings held between U.S., Pakistani, and Taliban officials after 1998, indicates the project was never off the table.
Quite to the contrary, recent meetings between U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain and that country’s oil minister Usman Aminuddin indicate the pipeline project is international Project Number One for the Bush administration. Chamberlain, who maintains close ties to the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan (a one-time chief money conduit for the Taliban), has been pushing Pakistan to begin work on its Arabian Sea oil terminus for the pipeline.
Meanwhile, President Bush says that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan for the long haul. Far from being engaged in Afghan peacekeeping — the Europeans are doing much of that — our troops will effectively be guarding pipeline construction personnel that will soon be flooding into the country.
Karzai’s ties with UNOCAL and the Bush administration are the main reason why the CIA pushed him for Afghan leader over rival Abdul Haq, the assassinated former mujaheddin leader from Jalalabad, and the leadership of the Northern Alliance, seen by Langley as being too close to the Russians and Iranians. Haq had no apparent close ties to the U.S. oil industry and, as both a Pushtun and a northern Afghani, was popular with a wide cross-section of the Afghan people, including the Northern Alliance. Those credentials likely sealed his fate.
When Haq entered Afghanistan from Pakistan last October, his position was immediately known to Taliban forces, which subsequently pinned him and his small party down, captured, and executed them. Former Reagan National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, who worked with Haq, vainly attempted to get the CIA to help rescue Haq. The agency claimed it sent a remotely-piloted armed drone to attack the Taliban but its actions were too little and too late. Some observers in Pakistan claim the CIA tipped off the ISI about Haq’s journey and the Pakistanis, in turn, informed the Taliban. McFarlane, who runs a K Street oil consulting firm, did not comment on further questions about the circumstances leading to the death of Haq.
While Haq was not part of the Bush administration’s GOP (Grand Oil Plan) for South Asia, Karzai was a key player on the Bush Oil team. During the late 1990s, Karzai worked with an Afghani-American, Zalmay Khalilzad, on the CentGas project. Khalilzad is President Bush’s Special National Security Assistant and recently named presidential Special Envoy for Afghanistan. Interestingly, in the White House press release naming Khalilzad special envoy, no mention was made of his past work for UNOCAL. Khalilzad has worked on Afghan issues under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a former member of the board of Chevron, itself no innocent bystander in the future CentGas deal. Rice made an impression on her old colleagues at Chevron. The company has named one of their supertankers the SS Condoleezza Rice.
Khalilzad, a fellow Pashtun and the son of a former government official under King Mohammed Zahir Shah, was, in addition to being a consultant to the RAND Corporation, a special liaison between UNOCAL and the Taliban government. Khalilzad also worked on various risk analyses for the project.
Khalilzad’s efforts complemented those of the Enron Corporation, a major political contributor to the Bush campaign. Enron, which recently filed for bankruptcy in the single biggest corporate collapse in the nation’s history, conducted the feasibility study for the CentGas deal. Vice President Cheney held several secret meetings with top Enron officials, including its Chairman Kenneth Lay, earlier in 2001. These meetings were presumably part of Cheney’s non-public Energy Task Force sessions. A number of Enron stockholders, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, became officials in the Bush administration. In addition, Thomas White, a former Vice Chairman of Enron and a multimillionaire in Enron stock, currently serves as the Secretary of the Army.
A chief benefactor in the CentGas deal would have been Halliburton, the huge oil pipeline construction firm that also had its eye on the Central Asian oil reserves. At the time, Halliburton was headed by Dick Cheney. After Cheney’s selection as Bush’s Vice Presidential candidate, Halliburton also pumped a huge amount of cash into the Bush-Cheney campaign coffers. And like oil cash cow Enron, there were Wall Street rumors in late December that Halliburton, which suffered a forty per cent drop in share value, might follow Enron into bankruptcy court.
Assisting with the CentGas negotiations with the Taliban was Laili Helms, the niece-in-law of former CIA Director Richard Helms. Laili Helms, also a relative of King Zahir Shah, was the Taliban’s unofficial envoy to the United States and arranged for various Taliban officials to visit the United States. Laili Helms’ base of operations was in her home in Jersey City on the Hudson River. Ironically, most of her work on behalf of the Taliban was practically conducted in the shadows of the World Trade Center, just across the river.
Laili Helms’ liaison work for the Taliban paid off for Big Oil. In December 1997, the Taliban visited UNOCAL’s Houston refinery operations. Interestingly, the chief Taliban leader based in Kandahar, Mullah Mohammed Omar, now on America’s international Most Wanted List, was firmly in the UNOCAL camp. His rival Taliban leader in Kabul, Mullah Mohammed Rabbani (not to be confused with the head of the Northern Alliance Burhanuddin Rabbani), favored Bridas, an Argentine oil company, for the pipeline project. But Mullah Omar knew UNOCAL had pumped large sums of money to the Taliban hierarchy in Kandahar and its expatriate Afghan supporters in the United States. Some of those supporters were also close to the Bush campaign and administration. And Kandahar was the city near which the CentGas pipeline was to pass, a lucrative deal for the otherwise desert outpost.
While Clinton’s State Department omitted Afghanistan from the top foreign policy priority list, the Bush administration, beholden to the oil interests that pumped millions of dollars into the 2000 campaign, restored Afghanistan to the top of the list, but for all the wrong reasons. After Bush’s accession to the presidency, various Taliban envoys were received at the State Department, CIA, and National Security Council. The CIA, which appears, more than ever, to be a virtual extended family of the Bush oil interests, facilitated a renewed approach to the Taliban. The CIA agent who helped set up the Afghan mujaheddin, Milt Bearden, continued to defend the interests of the Taliban. He bemoaned the fact that the United States never really bothered to understand the Taliban when he told the Washington Post last October, “We never heard what they were trying to say… We had no common language. Ours was, ‘Give up bin Laden.’ They were saying, ‘Do something to help us give him up.’ “
There were even reports that the CIA met with their old mujaheddin operative bin Laden in the months before September 11 attacks. The French newspaper Le Figaro quoted an Arab specialist named Antoine Sfeir who postulated that the CIA met with bin Laden in July in a failed attempt to bring him back under its fold. Sfeir said the CIA maintained links with bin Laden before the U.S. attacked his terrorist training camps in Afghanistan in 1998 and, more astonishingly, kept them going even after the attacks. Sfeir told the paper, “Until the last minute, CIA agents hoped bin Laden would return to U.S. command, as was the case before 1998.” Bin Laden actually officially broke with the US in 1991 when US troops began arriving in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. Bin Laden felt this was a violation of the Saudi regime’s responsibility to protect the Islamic Holy Shrines of Mecca and Medina from the infidels. Bin Laden’s anti-American and anti-House of Saud rhetoric soon reached a fever pitch.
The Clinton administration made numerous attempts to kill Bin Laden. In August 1998, Al Qaeda operatives blew up several U.S. embassies in Africa. In response, Bill Clinton ordered cruise missiles to be launched from US ships in the Persian Gulf into Afghanistan, which missed Bin Laden by a few hours. The Clinton administration also devised a plan with Pakistan’s ISI to send a team of assassins into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden. But Pakistan’s government was overthrown by General Musharraf, who was viewed as particularly close to the Taliban. The CIA cancelled its plans, fearing Musharraf’s ISI would tip off the Taliban and Bin Laden. . The CIA’s connections to the ISI in the months before September 11 and the weeks after are also worthy of a full-blown investigation. The CIA continues to maintain an unhealthy alliance with the ISI, the organization that groomed bin Laden and the Taliban. Last September, the head of the ISI, General Mahmud Ahmed, was fired by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his pro-Taliban leanings and reportedly after the U.S. government presented Musharraf with disturbing intelligence linking the general to the terrorist hijackers.
General Ahmed was in Washington, DC on the morning of September 11 meeting with CIA and State Department officials as the hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Later, both the Northern Alliance spokesman in Washington, Haron Amin, and Indian intelligence, in an apparent leak to The Times of India, confirmed that General Ahmed ordered a Pakistani-born British citizen and known terrorist named Ahmed Umar Sheik to wire $100,000 from Pakistan to the U.S. bank account of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker.
When the FBI traced calls made between General Ahmed and Sheik’s cellular phone – the number having been supplied by Indian intelligence to the FBI – a pattern linking the general with Sheik clearly emerged. According to The Times of India, the revelation that General Ahmed was involved in the Sheik-Atta money transfer was more than enough for a nervous and embarrassed Bush administration. It pressed Musharraf to dump General Ahmed. Musharraf mealy-mouthed the announcement of his general’s dismissal by stating Ahmed “requested” early retirement.
Sheik was well known to the Indian police. He was arrested in New Delhi in 1994 for plotting to kidnap four foreigners, including an American citizen. Sheik was released by the Indians in 1999 in a swap for passengers on board New Delhi-bound Indian Airlines flight 814, hijacked by Islamic militants from Kathmandu, Nepal to Kandahar, Afghanistan. India continues to believe the ISI played a part in the hijacking since the hijackers were affiliated with the pro-bin Laden Kashmiri terrorist group, Harkat-ul-Mujaheddin, a group only recently and quite belatedly placed on the State Department’s terrorist list. The ISI and bin Laden’s Al Qaeda reportedly assists the group in its operations against Indian government targets in Kashmir.
The FBI, which assisted its Indian counterpart in the investigation of the Indian Airlines hijacking, says it wants information leading to the arrest of those involved in the terrorist attacks. Yet, no move has been made to question General Ahmed or those U.S. government officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who met with him in September. Clearly, General Ahmed was a major player in terrorist activities across South Asia, yet still had very close ties to the U.S. government. General Ahmed’s terrorist-supporting activities – and the U.S. government officials who tolerated those activities – need to be investigated.
The Taliban visits to Washington continued up to a few months prior to the September 11 attacks. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s South Asian Division maintained constant satellite telephone contact with the Taliban in Kandahar and Kabul. Washington permitted the Taliban to maintain a diplomatic office in Queens, New York headed by Taliban diplomat Abdul Hakim Mojahed. In addition, U.S. officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca, who is also a former CIA officer, visited Taliban diplomatic officials in Islamabad. In the meantime, the Bush administration took a hostile attitude towards the Islamic State of Afghanistan, otherwise known as the Northern Alliance. Even though the United Nations recognized the alliance as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, the Bush administration, with oil at the forefront of its goals, decided to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and curry favor with the Taliban mullahs of Afghanistan. The visits of Islamist radicals did not end with the Taliban. In July 2001, the head of Pakistan’s pro-bin Laden Jamiaat-i-Islami Party, Qazi Hussein Ahmed, also reportedly was received at the George Bush Center for Intelligence (aka, CIA headquarters) in Langley, Virginia.
According to the Washington Post, the Special Envoy of Mullah Omar, Rahmatullah Hashami, even came to Washington bearing a gift carpet for President Bush from the one-eyed Taliban leader. The Village Voice reported that Hashami, on behalf of the Taliban, offered the Bush administration to hold on to bin Laden long enough for the United States to capture or kill him but, inexplicably, the administration refused. Meanwhile, Spozhmai Maiwandi, the director of the Voice of America’s Pashtun service, jokingly nicknamed “Kandahar Rose” by her colleagues, aired favorable reports on the Taliban, including a controversial interview with Mullah Omar.
The Bush administration’s dalliances with the Taliban may have even continued after the start of the bombing campaign against their country. According to European intelligence sources, a number of European governments were concerned that the CIA and Big Oil were pressuring the Bush administration not to engage in an initial serious ground war on behalf of the Northern Alliance in order to placate Pakistan and its Taliban compatriots. The early-on decision to stick with an incessant air bombardment, they reasoned, was causing too many civilian deaths and increasing the shakiness of the international coalition.
The obvious, and woefully underreported, interfaces between the Bush administration, UNOCAL, the CIA, the Taliban, Enron, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, the groundwork for which was laid when the Bush Oil team was on the sidelines during the Clinton administration, is making the Republicans worried. Vanquished vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman is in the ironic position of being the senator who will chair the Senate Government Affairs Committee hearings on the collapse of Enron. The roads from Enron also lead to Afghanistan and murky Bush oil politics.
UNOCAL was also clearly concerned about its past ties to the Taliban. On September 14, just three days after terrorists of the Afghan-base al Qaeda movement crashed their planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, UNOCAL issued the following statement: “The company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan. Beginning in late 1997, Unocal was a member of a multinational consortium that was evaluating construction of a Central Asia Gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan [via western Afghanistan]. Our company has had no further role in developing or funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban.”
The Bush Oil Team, which can now rely on the support of the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, may think that war and oil profits mix. But there is simply too much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL’s pipeline, not about fighting terrorism. The Democrats, who control the Senate and its investigation agenda, should investigate the secretive deals between Big Oil, Bush, and the Taliban.
Copyright Wayne Madsen 2002. Reprinted for fair use only.