American Politics, Terrorism and Islam - Part 3: Accusations of State Terrorism against America

American Politics, Terrorism and Islam - Part 3: Accusations of State Terrorism against America

By Habib Siddiqui

In the absence of a general agreement on its definition, discussions around terrorism can get rather complicated and unpleasant. While western countries like to portray their violence, even when these are committed against civilians, as non-terrorist acts, according to most experts they are nothing short of state terrorism. Princeton professor Falk argues that the U.S. and other first-world states, as well as mainstream mass media institutions, have obscured the true character and scope of terrorism by hiding their crimes, promulgating a one-sided view from the standpoint of first-world privilege. He opines that without an impartial view of terrorism we won’t be able to mitigate the problem.[1]

Until now, in modern times, acts of individual terror have been the weapon of the weak and the poor, while acts of state and economic terror have been the weapon of the strong.[2] According to award-winning veteran journalist John Pilger, “The terrorism of groups and individuals, however horrific, is tiny by comparison with that of states. But the media have no language to describe state terrorism.”[3]

While all the communist countries (e.g., former Soviet Union, China and Cuba), illiberal democracies (e.g., India, Russia, Georgia and Egypt) and authoritarian/repressive regimes (e.g., Burma or Myanmar, Iraq, Syria, Yugoslavia/Serbia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan) are long known for practicing terrorism against their own citizens, especially the minorities and dissidents, even many liberal democracies (including Australia and the USA) are not immune from that charge. Palestinians in Israel are routinely terrorized by various government agencies, including the ultra-right Zionists. The fate of Kashmiri Muslims in Indian Occupied Kashmir does not fare any better.

In the post-WW II era, as much as the KGB (now split into groups like the FIS or SVR, FSB, etc.) has been involved in aiding a number of foreign organizations to topple regimes that they considered anti-Soviet (or pro-American)[4] so has been the CIA to bring about desired changes against pro-Soviet (or anti-American) regimes.

The specific allegations of state terrorism against America include dropping of atom bombs in Japan (1945), arming anti-Castro groups in Cuba (1959 to present), aiding the Contras in Nicaragua (1979-90); toppling the popular nationalist government of Musaddeq in Iran (1953) and controlling the state apparatus through Shah’s notorious Savak for the next quarter of a century, and covert attempts through terrorist organizations like the MEK and Jundullah to topple the Islamic regime since 1979; overthrow of the Guzman government in Guatemala in 1954 and controlling state apparatus for the next four decades; overthrow of the Allende government in Chile in 1973, and aiding the repressive Pinochet government until 1990;[5] aiding the repressive government in El Salvador (1980-1992) that killed 75,000 people; assassination campaign in 1985 against Shaykh Hossein Fadlallah of Lebanon, which killed, instead, 81 civilians.[6] It is also known that America aided groups like the Iraqi National Accord of Dr. Iyad Alawi (between 1992 and ‘95) for bombing and sabotage campaigns against Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, and the Iraqi National Congress of Dr. Ahmed Chalabi to topple the regime.[7] Add to this list, America’s current activities against the leftist governments in Venezuela and Guatemala. Many Bangladeshis and journalist Lawrence Lifschultz believe that the CIA was involved in the assassination of Sheikh Mujib, the founding leader of the nation, in 1975.[8]

Arno Mayer, Emeritus Professor of History at Princeton University, has stated that “since 1947 America has been the chief and pioneering perpetrator of “preemptive” state terror, exclusively in the Third World and therefore widely dissembled. Besides the unexceptional subversion and overthrow of governments in competition with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Washington has resorted to political assassinations, surrogate death squads and unseemly freedom fighters (e.g., bin Laden). It masterminded the killing of Lumumba and Allende; and it unsuccessfully tried to put to death Castro, Khadafi, Saddam Hussein (and bin Laden?). These “rogue” actions worsened local political and economic conditions and were of a piece with equally unscrupulous blockades, embargoes, military interventions, punitive air (missile) strikes and kidnappings, always in the name of democracy, liberty and justice. To be sure, for some of these actions America secured the sanction of the United Nations and the collaboration of NATO allies. At the same time, however, Washington refused to pay its dues to the United Nations, defied the nascent International Criminal Court and condoned Israel’s violation of international agreements and UN resolutions as well as its practice of preemptive state terror.”[9]

America’s indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets in Afghanistan and Iraq, and destruction of the entire infrastructure qualify her as a country that practices state terrorism. Her occupying forces committed some of the worst war crimes, which include raping, killing and burning of civilian victims, let alone shooting cold-bloodedly at any one, not just in places like Haditha,[10] Mahmudiyah,[11] Hamdaniah,[12] Abu Ghraib[13] and Tel Afar but almost every place that they entered in Iraq under the name of cleaning the territory from al-Qaeda of Iraq.[14]

In its April 2007 report, the Global Policy Forum observed, “The United States and its allies claim they do everything in their power to prevent civilian casualties. Yet, there are many accounts of Coalition forces opening fire and killing Iraqi civilians in circumstances where there was no imminent threat of death or injury to the Coalition troops or anyone else. This is in clear breach of international human rights standards relating to the use of force. In many cases of patrols, house searches, and relentless bombing campaigns, military personnel have used lethal force in absolutely unjustified circumstances. Studies of civilian mortality in Iraq suggest that tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed in this way since the occupation began. Murders and atrocities are the extreme form of the daily deadly violence. In Iraq, where US Coalition forces see every man of military age as a potential fighter, and where fear and anger affect the behavior of troops, events like the Haditha massacre are all too likely to occur.… This environment of extreme violence and impunity paves the way for murder, rape and atrocities. These acts are prohibited by The Hague Conventions and the Geneva Conventions and they constitute serious war crimes.”[15]

Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT argues that “Washington is the center of global state terrorism and has been for years.”[16] Chomsky has characterized the tactics used by agents of the U.S. government and their proxies in their execution of American foreign policy in countries like Nicaragua as a form of terrorism and has also described the U.S as “a leading terrorist state.”[17] John Pilger writes, “More terrorists are given training and sanctuary in the United States than anywhere on earth. They include mass murderers, torturers, former and future tyrants and assorted international criminals. This is virtually unknown to the American public, thanks to the freest media on earth.”[18]

These are very harsh allegations of state terrorism against today’s only superpower, and make Bush’s finger pointing against others, especially Iran, highly hypocritical and problematic.[19]

Who can also forget the CIA’s role in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979? As stated by the former director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, in his memoirs From the Shadows, the American intelligence services began to aid the rebel factions (the Mujahideen) six months before the Soviet deployment in Afghanistan. On July 3, 1978 President Carter had signed an executive order authorizing the CIA to conduct covert propaganda operations against the communist regime. This fact is further corroborated by Carter advisor Dr. Brzezinski. He stated, “According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise.” Dr. Brzezinski himself played a fundamental role in crafting the U.S. policy, which, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy “to induce a Soviet military intervention.” In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Dr. Brzezinski recalled: “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would…That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap…The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War.”[20]

America was thus successful to bring about the Vietnam upon the Soviet Union, thanks to the so-called jihadists or Mujahideen, only to be later dumped as the terrorists. The CIA recruited fiery clerics like Abdullah Azzam and the Egyptian “blind Shaikh” Dr. Omar Abdur Rahman to enlist Muslim youths to fight its dirty war against the “Evil” Soviet Empire. All on a sudden, “Jihad” became a favorite buzz-word in the mouths of those western patrons who provided arms and ammunitions to Muslim youths. And join they did in vast numbers from all the continents to fight America’s jihad against the ungodly Soviets. The CIA even recruited Osama bin Laden (OBL).

The rest is history! The casualties of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan resulted in the death of more than a million of Afghans, five million refugees to Pakistan and Iran, and two million internally displaced people. There were another 4.2 million disabled Afghans as a result of land mines, bombs and bullet injuries. The entire irrigation system was destroyed by the Soviets.[21] As the Soviets bled Afghanistan to death and ruination so did they bleed, albeit in tens of thousands, and eventually collapsed under the massive weight of the war. There was no more the USSR. No time in history was a third party able to so successfully bring about the downfall of its most powerful adversary without a single casualty on its side.

But what the USA and its allies did after the Mujahideen were able to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan is simply criminal. They lost interest in Afghanistan and did little to help rebuild the war-ravaged country, which, not unexpectedly, led to a state of warlordism, eventually paving the way for the Taliban to take control in Kabul in 1996. And guess: who came forward with the much needed cash to help Afghanistan? It was the CIA’s former operative - Osama, who called Afghanistan his home, after being driven out of Saudi Arabia (1992) and Sudan (1996).

Who can also forget the White House reception of the Afghan Mujahideen in 1985 when President Reagan dubbed them as “moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers”? Only 13 years later the same people would be dubbed as terrorists, having harbored a ‘terrorist’ leader. On August 20, 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered missile attacks against OBL. Another 3 years later, Bush Jr. would declare an all-out war to either kill or capture OBL, accusing him of masterminding 9/11.
So, what did really change within those 16 years (1985-2001)? Why someone like OBL, once trained and armed by the CIA, would end up being the most sought after “terrorist” figure in our planet, dead or alive, with a bounty of more than 25 million dollars?

(To be continued)


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[1] Falk, Richard, “Thinking About Terrorism”, The Nation, 242 (25): 873-892, June 28, 1986.
[2] See for allegations of state terrorism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State-sponsored_terrorism
[3] http://www.newstatesman.com/200409200016
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_state_terrorism_by_Russia
[5] http://archives.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/americas/09/19/us.cia.chile.ap/
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_state_terrorism_by_the_United_States
[7] http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0609-02.htm
[8] Lifschultz L. The long shadow of the August 1975 coup. The Daily Star. Vol. 5 Number 434. Available at: http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/08/15/d5081501033.htm
[9] http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2001/10/05/opinion/3509.shtml
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haditha_killings
[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmudiyah_killings
[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamdania_incident
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse
[14] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/19/iraq/main3273980.shtml; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCWe59oK4Kw; http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/17/winter_soldier_us_vets_active_duty  Some. soldiers even desecrated the Qur’an: http://www.examiner.com/a-1397454~US_soldier_removed_from_Iraq_for_shooting_at_Quran.html .
[15] http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/occupation/report/atrocities.htm
[16] http://www.democracynow.org/2000/5/22/noam_chomsky_speech_on_state_terror
[17] http://www.monthlyreview.org/1101chomsky.htm
[18] The New Rulers of the World , by John Pilger, published by Verso. See also Pilger’s article, The Great Charade, July 14, 2002, the Guardian, UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jul/14/usa.terrorism
[19] For a list of Bush’s hypocritical stand in relation to Iraq, just before invading the country, see Amir Ali’s article: http://www.mediamonitors.net/mamirali9.html
[20] http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
[21] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan


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