Under the Noses of
CIA's Top Officials

by Yoichi Clark Shimatsu
September 20, 2001

Islamabad, Pakistan – If President George W. Bush is truly serious about punishing those ultimately responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, then he should dispatch an expeditionary corps to annihilate the world's biggest "school of terrorism," CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It is an undeniable fact that the Central Intelligence Agency trained, armed and motivated the Islamic paramilitaries to wage a war by any means in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kosovo. It was the CIA handbook that taught the Islamic fighters to use civil infrastructure such as tunnels and airliners to attack military forces and "soft targets" no matter the collateral damage to civilians. It was CIA advisers to the Afghan fighters who gleefully encouraged the massacre of teachers, doctors, members of women's organizations and other civilians following the Soviet pullout from Kabul. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was entirely predictable that the CIA's brutal new rules of engagement would come full circle – back to Washington and New York.

The absurdity of Bush's brave talk of "war" is that his own team in the State Department are very same individuals who indoctrinated Osama bin Laden under the administration of his father, George Bush the Elder. Richard Armitage, current Deputy Secretary of State and White House point man on South Asia, was the chief organizer of the clandestine flow of weapons to the Afghan guerrillas during the 1980s. Armitage, today's "fireman" in charge of suppressing the inflammatory bin Laden, is yesterday's "arsonist," who saw the lanky-bearded firebrand as one of his best and brightest protégés.

Though Osama bin Laden, a popular hero in the Muslim world, makes a tempting, if elusive, target for American grief, it is a mystery how he could have organized the U.S. attacks right under the noses of the CIA's top intelligence experts camped out at his front door. Over the past summer, the entire State Department team for South Asia – all of them former or acting CIA officials – has visited or been stationed in the capitals of Pakistan and India. They include:

  1. George Tenet, CIA director – made a clandestine visit to Islamabad and Peshawar, the listening post near the Afghan border.
  2. Richard Armitage, a CIA and Defense Intelligence veteran – met with Indian security officials in New Delhi.
  3. Christina Rocco, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and former official in the CIA Directorate of Operations (the covert arm that conducts sabotage and assassination) – toured Pakistan in July.
  4. Wendy Chamberlin, Bush's newly appointed Ambassador to Islamabad, is also a former CIA operative and close associate of Rocco.
  5. Robert D. Blackwill, the new Ambassador to New Delhi, is an intelligence veteran and served as assistant in the National Security Agency to then President George Bush in 1989-90. Blackwill, by the way, was the faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who served as the CIA's chief "handler" of the Chinese PLA officer who defected late last year.
  6. As late as September, three members of the Senate Intelligence Subcommittee also visited Pakistan with an entourage of espionage operatives.

All of these top intelligence professionals – with their 30 billion dollar tool chest of satellite remote sensing, radio intercepts and double agents – failed to detect even a glimmer that the audacious Twin Towers operation might be in the works. This is because the attack was conducted by citizens of the faraway United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, US allies in the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War. Despite the talk about hitting back at host countries of the hijackers, nobody in Washington is suggesting air strikes against Saudi Arabia – a vital oil-producing Gulf state – the safe haven for the actual suspects. Since the pilots trained in the "rogue state" of Florida, the hideout of Jeb Bush surely belongs on the President's list of airstrike targets. Before sending an armada to the Indian Ocean and inserting American troops into the Graveyard of Empires, as Afghanistan is sometimes called, Americans should consider four reasons why Islamic fighters including bin Laden are angry at the United States.

First and most obvious is the unstinting US support for Israel, even as Israeli security forces openly gun down Palestinian children in the streets and in their homes.

Second, the CIA's successful attempt following the Camp David accords to recruit key members of the Egyptian military to neutralize the only Arab country capable of bringing the Israeli war machine to heel.

Third, the deliberate US bombing of Iraqi civilians during the Gulf War and subsequent sanctions on even milk and medicine, which have killed hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.

Fourth and most symbolic, the failure to withdraw American troops from Saudi soil following the Mecca Incident of 1993, long covered up by the Pentagon and revealed now for the first time by highly reliable sources in the Pakistani military. Mecca may well prove to be the rock that will break American military might.

According to these sources, in 1993, a mob of drunken US servicemen attempted to barge into the holiest shrine of Islam. When a crowd of pilgrims pleaded with them and tried to block their entry, the armed American soldiers physically assaulted the worshippers and stormed into the sanctuary. The guards of Mecca opened fire, killing 18 US soldiers.

Outraged by this blatant act of sacrilege and supreme insult on top of so many injuries, leading Saudi families demanded the immediate expulsion of American troops from Saudi Arabia. After the unrepentant Pentagon stubbornly refused to depart, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, the first in a string of attacks against American interests that reached a climax on September 11, 2001.

Though it is instinctive to resist Muslim demands after such a devastating attack, Americans should face the fact that the ultimate responsibility for the carnage in New York rests squarely on policies, actions and attitudes of the CIA, the Pentagon and the White House. Until these policies are reversed, more attacks can be expected and civil liberties will shrink even further as the naked fear sinks into the body politic.

The enemy to blame for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the clandestine attacks to come, may be fanatical, but they are certainly not shadowy or unknown. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.

Yoichi Clark Shimatsu, former general editor of The Japan Times Weekly and journalism lecturer at The University of Hong Kong, recently traveled to Pakistan to report on the Kashmir issue.

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