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This essay is Chapter 12 of Kevin Barrett, John Cobb Jr., and Sandra Lubarsky, eds., 9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out (Olive Branch Press, 2007).



Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed


INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM HAS ROUTINELY BEEN UNDERSTOOD AS A phenomenon integrally linked to radical Islamism. After 9/11, this trend of thought, already prevalent in official circles, became the defining discourse of Western international relations, now permanently configured within the paradigm of the “war on terror.”

So widespread is this notion that it has penetrated even the discourse of mainstream Islam itself. Thus, the respected moderate American Muslim cleric Hamza Yusuf declared after 9/11 that: “Islam has been hijacked by a discourse of anger and a rhetoric of rage.”1Consequently, much of the debate on the roots of international terrorism, both among Western policymakers and among Muslims themselves, concerns the role of Islam as an exploited ideological facilitating factor in the intensification of terrorist attacks around the world. Prominent Muslim commentators such as Ziauddin Sardar lamented after 9/11 that

“Muslims everywhere are in a deep state of denial. From Egypt to Malaysia, there is an aversion to seeing terrorism as a Muslim problem and a Muslim responsibility.... Terrorism is a Muslim problem... Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iran—there is hardly a Muslim country that is not plagued by terrorism....Muslims have stubbornly refused to see terrorism as an internal problem. While the Muslim world has suffered, they have blamed everyone but themselves. It is always ‘the West’, or the CIA, or ‘the Indians’, or ‘the Zionists’ hatching yet another conspiracy. This state of denial means Muslims are ill-equipped to deal with problems of endemic terrorism.”2

A number of salient points can be derived here. Sardar, articulating a narrative very much supportive of Western officialdom’s perspective on international terrorism, sees terrorism as ultimately a question of Muslim responsibility. The consequence of this for Muslims is that they should firstly lend their wholehearted support in principle to the West’s fight against international terrorism, and secondly that they should manifest such support by routing out extremism within their own midst. Moreover, Sardar, once again echoing officialdom’s perspective, supports President Bush’s resounding a priori condemnation of “outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty.”3 By implication, the guilty, then, are not merely the terrorists themselves, but Muslims as such for whom terrorism is an “internal problem” regarding which they persist in “denial.”

This paradigm, however, is not based in an objective analysis of international terrorism itself. Indeed, it is devoid entirely of meaningful historical and empirical content. As such, it generally tends to generate two conventional forms of rebuttal, both of which are equally devoid of relevant historical and empirical analysis of the very phenomenon under discussion. The first comes from within Islam itself, and attempts to challenge the idea of using Islamic scripture—namely the Qur’an (considered to be the Word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammed) and Ahadith (historical records of the Prophet’s life, sayings, and actions)—that terrorism can be justified on its basis. Thus, it is argued that an authentic understanding of Islam delegitimizes terrorism. The second rebuttal comes from what might be amorphously described as the antiwar movement, and attempts to explore the dynamics of precisely why Muslims have developed the “internal problem” of terrorism. Those dynamics are found to be located precisely in a series of devastating historical conjunctures between the West and the Muslim world, proceeding for several centuries, whereby Western imperialism has subjugated predominantly Muslim regions of the Middle East and Central Asia. Events such as the 2003 Iraq War are considered to be merely extensions of this world-historical process.

The content of these rebuttals, on their own terms, is well documented and highly persuasive. However, in one simple way, they are exactly similar to the very argument that they attempt to refute, by failing to comprehend the reality of the phenomenon of international terrorism itself. As such, by refusing to confront this phenomenon directly, they inadvertently perpetuate the defactualization of analytical discourse that supports Western officialdom’s bold equation of international terrorism with radical Islamism, and henceforth as a distinctly Muslim problem that needs to be dealt with by finding some sort of Muslim solution, even if that be a peaceful one.4

Therefore, my approach here will not be to pursue the arguments of conventional rebuttals to the paradigmatic perspective of the underpinnings of international terrorism, but rather to critique this paradigm on its own terms using a historical and empirical analysis.

My argument is not that there are no violent interpretations of Islam within the Muslim world that might be seen as endorsing terrorism. Of course there are. And my argument is not that the West’s imperial role in the Muslim world should be ignored.

Certainly, it should not. Rather, my argument is that when international terrorism is scrutinized impartially, scientifically, the conventional understanding of its supposed inextricable linkage with radical Islamism is fundamentally weakened in surprising ways.

The evidence that 9/11 was the result of a distinctly radical Islamist plan is highly questionable. The nature of “al-Qaeda” as a distinctly radical Islamist organization is also questionable. Finally, compelling evidence that identifiable groups involved in terrorist activity around the world are, in fact, manipulated on behalf of entirely non-Islamist Western geostrategic interests challenges the entire official narrative of the “war on terror.”


1. Deconstructing the al-Qaeda–9/11 Mythology

9/11 and the Myth of Islamic Suicide Bombers

According to the official narrative, nineteen Muslim fundamentalists belonging to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network hijacked four civilian planes on the morning of 9/11 and flew two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon; the fourth, assumed to be on its way to Washington, DC, crashed in Pennsylvania. But this narrative, widely accepted by both proponents and critics of US imperial foreign policy, is problematic at its core: the very identities of the alleged hijackers.

It is now known that at least ten of the nineteen alleged hijackers are alive, according to multiple, credible news accounts by the BBC, CNN, the Telegraph, the Independent, and other international media. As Jay Kolar observes, “at least ten of those named on the FBI’s second and final list of 19 have turned up and been verified to be alive, with proof positive that at least one other ‘hijacker’, Ziad Jarrah, had his identity doubled, and therefore fabricated.” Reviewing video evidence furnished by the government to support its narrative—including alleged footage of the hijackers at Dulles Airport and the infamous Osama bin Laden confession tape—Kolar finds them to be riddled with impossibilities and anomalies, and concludes that they are utterly unreliable at best, and downright forgeries at worst.5

The abject failure of the Bush administration and its key allies to substantiate its narrative of what happened on 9/11 with regards to the most basic issue of who perpetrated the terrorists attacks obviously raises fundamental questions about the official narrative as such. The failure can be summarized as follows: If the alleged hijackers identified by the FBI have now turned up alive, then we still do not know who, in reality, hijacked the aircraft on 9/11. And thus, the question of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks remains unanswered. Why has such a failure not been rectified, if the evidence exists? There are a number of possible explanations, the simplest of which is that the alleged hijackers were not, in fact, hijackers at all; or rather, that there were no Arab hijackers on board the planes. Another explanation is that there were hijackers, but that disclosing their real identities and the extent of the evidence of their connection to 9/11 might inevitably disclose a large number of related connections that would be deeply embarrassing, to say the least, for the US government. So we will not attempt to answer this question here. Suffice it to say that with the identities of the alleged hijackers not only in dispute, but essentially unknown, the core underpinning of the official narrative is vacuous; it is merely an unknown, a question. 

Such questions extend to the very activities of the alleged hijackers as conventionally identified prior to 9/11. A variety of reports based on journalistic investigations and eyewitness testimonials provide a bizarre picture at odds with the conventional portrayal of the alleged hijackers as Islamic fundamentalists. Two of them, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, visited the popular Woodland Park Resort Hotel in the Philippines several times between 1998 and 2000, according to numerous local residents and hotel workers, who recognized them from news photographs. They reportedly “drank whiskey with Philippine bargirls, dined at a restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine and visited at least one of the local flight schools.” Al-Shehhi threw a party with six or seven Arab friends in December 2000 at the hotel, according to former waitress Gina Marcelo. “They rented the open area by the swimming pool for 1,000 pesos,” she recounts. “They drank Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey and mineral water. They barbecued shrimp and onions. They came in big vehicles, and they had a lot of money.  They all had girlfriends.” But one big mistake they made was that unlike most foreign visitors, “[t]hey never tipped. If they did, I would not remember them so well.” Victoria Brocoy, a chambermaid at the Woodland, recalls: “Many times I saw him let a girl go at the gate in the morning. It was always a different girl.”6

According to US investigators, five of the hijackers, including Atta, al-Shehhi, Nawaq Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, and Hani Hanjour, visited Las Vegas at least six times between May and August 2001. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that here they “engaged in some decidedly un-Islamic sampling of prohibited pleasures in America’s reputed capital of moral corrosion,” including drinking alcohol, gambling, and visiting strip clubs.7 As the South Florida Sun Sentinel observed, the hijackers’ frequent debauchery was at odds with the most basic tenets of Islam:

 “Three guys cavorting with lap dancers at the Pink Pony Nude Theater. Two others knocking back glasses of Stolichnaya and rum and Coke at a fish joint in Hollywood the weekend before committing suicide and mass murder. That might describe the behavior of several men who are suspects in Tuesday’s terrorist attack [i.e., the alleged hijackers], but it is not a picture of devout Muslims, experts say. Let alone that of religious zealots in their final days on Earth.”

For instance, Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, specialist in Islamic and Middle East studies and professor of religion at Temple University in Philadelphia, noted that the prohibition of alcohol, gambling, and sex outside marriage are Islam’s most fundamental precepts: “It is incomprehensible that a person could drink and go to a strip bar one night, then kill themselves the next day in the name of Islam. People who would kill themselves for their faith would come from very strict Islamic ideology. Something here does not add up.”8

Similar reports abound regarding other al-Qaeda terrorists connected to 9/11. Even the alleged 9/11 mastermind, al-Qaeda icon Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, reportedly “met associates in karaoke bars and giant go-go clubs filled with mirrors, flashing lights and bikini-clad dancers,” according to evidence collected by Philippine investigators:

“He held meetings at four-star hotels. He took scuba-diving lessons at a coastal resort. When he wasn’t engaged with the gogo dancers, he courted a Philippine dentist. Once, to impress her, he rented a helicopter and flew it over her office, then called her on his cell phone and told her to look up and wave.

“Mohammad’s al-Qaeda associates engaged in much the same behavior. They had local girlfriends and held a drinking party ‘to celebrate the anniversary of the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland.’”9

Clearly, this pattern of debauchery is not by any standard commensurate with the strict requirements of al-Qaeda’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism. As Professors Quintan Wiktorowicz and John Kaltner point out, al-Qaeda is

 “a radical tendency within a broader Islamic movement known as the Salafi movement... The term Salafi is derived from the Arabic salaf, which means ‘to precede’ and refers to the companions of the Prophet Muhammed. Because the salaf learned about Islam directly from the messenger of God, their example is an important illustration of piety and unadulterated religious practice. Salafis argue that centuries of syncretic cultural and popular religious rituals and interpretations distorted the purity of the message of God and that only by returning to the example of the Prophet and his companions can Muslims achieve salvation. The label ‘Salafi’ is thus used to connote ‘proper’ religious adherence and moral legitimacy, implying that alternative understandings are corrupt deviations from the straight path of Islam.”

Thus, although there are various schools of thought within Salafism—-including al-Qaeda’s violent jihadist interpretation—-they all emphasize and indeed attempt to derive their legitimacy from the Salafist goal of “piety and unadulterated religious practice” based directly on the piety and practice of the Prophet.10

In this context, the depraved conduct of the alleged 9/11 hijackers in terms of their routine violation of the most basic Islamic precepts contradicts al-Qaeda’s strictly puritan Salafist philosophy.

The Takfir Paradigm

How to explain this anomaly? Time magazine reports that intelligence officials claim many al-Qaeda terrorists are “followers of an extremist Islamic ideology called Takfir wal Hijra (Anathema and Exile). That’s bad news: by blending into host communities, Takfiris attempt to avoid suspicion. A French official says they come across as ‘regular, fun-loving guys—but they’d slit your throat or bomb your building in a second.’” Another French official says that the goal of Takfir “is to blend into corrupt societies in order to plot attacks against them better. Members live together, will drink alcohol, eat during Ramadan, become smart dressers and ladies’ men to show just how integrated they are.”11

However, this depiction of al-Qaeda and Takfir wal Hijra is thoroughly inaccurate. Takfir wal Hijra was the title given to a radical Islamic movement also known as the Society of Muslims. The latter was founded in Egypt by Muslim Brotherhood member Shukri Mustafa after his release from prison in 1971. The group disintegrated after Mustafa was arrested and executed by the Egyptian government, but some of its followers went on to join other radical groups such as al-Jihad and/or fled to North Africa. Rather than attempting to integrate into modern society to carry out attacks as intelligence officials now claim, Takfiri ideology advocated the very opposite: “As contemporary society was infidel, he argued, Takfir would set up its own alternative community that would work, study and pray together.... Takfir declared that not only the regime but the society itself was infidel and under excommunication. This entailed...a personal withdrawal from society.” Even Takfir’s rival radical Islamic group in Egypt, Jama’at al-Jihad, which means “the Society of Struggle,” espoused such a harsh perspective of Islamic practice that it advocated as Islam’s top priority “jihad against unbelievers—including ‘Muslims’ who did not observe the religion’s requirements properly”—let alone endorsing in any manner a violation of those requirements.12

So extreme is Takfir’s ideology that it sees bin Laden as not sufficiently Islamic in his violent approach. The Sunday Times reported a month after 9/11 that Takfir “regards Osama bin Laden as an infidel who has sold out.” The group’s members “have embarked on killing sprees in mosques against fellow Muslims in the belief that a pure Islamic state can be built only if the corrupt elements of the last one are wiped out.” Takfir’s enmity toward al-Qaeda is based on the perception that Osama bin Laden is “excessively liberal.” In 1995, four Takfir members attempted to assassinate bin Laden at his home in Khartoum. Takfiris continue to be “angered” at bin Laden’s leadership of a “compromised jihad.” According to the Times, “Takfir denounces all but those who copy the behaviour of the prophet Muhammad as infidels and promises to kill them.” One senior Sudanese government source confirmed that Takfir “regard [bin Laden] as a sellout... the Takfir think that everything in contemporary Muslim society is corrupt and should be destroyed.”13

Djamel Beghal and Kamel Daoudi—-alleged UK-based terrorists arrested in September 2001 for plotting a series of spectacular terrorist assaults on Europe—-were both supposed to be members of Takfir wal Hijra. But according to one Algerian in London who knew Beghal, integrating into Western culture by engaging in various acts of debauchery in violation of Islamic tenets was the last thing this alleged Takfiri would ever do: “Believe me, you do not want these people in your country... they will kill anybody, including their own family, if they are caught smoking or drinking.”14

Thus, the new scenario being proposed by Western intelligence officials to explain the patently un-Islamic behavior of the 9/11 hijackers is largely incoherent. Despite claims to the contrary, Takfir wal Hijra is aggressively opposed to al-Qaeda and its strict ideology is fundamentally incommensurate with the prospect of permitting defiance of Islamic rules under any circumstances. Furthermore, al-Qaeda is in turn staunchly opposed to Takfir. Therefore, the anomaly of the 9/11 hijackers persists: They clearly did not possess the conduct of hardened Islamic fundamentalists connected to al-Qaeda. So, who were they?

Al-Qaeda and the Myth of a Radical Islamist International Terrorist Organization

I will not attempt to answer the preceding question here. It suffices to point out that firstly, given that the names, faces, and identities of at least ten of the alleged hijackers belong to innocent, living individuals, the connection of the alleged 9/11 hijackers to the actual events of 9/11 is deeply questionable at best, and secondly, even assuming the validity of such a connection, the notion that the alleged hijackers were Islamist fundamentalists is simply unsustainable. 

The problem is not isolated to these individuals believed to be members of bin Laden’s international al-Qaeda terrorist network.  The same questions can be addressed to al-Qaeda itself. Given that according to the official narrative, these individuals were members of an elite al-Qaeda cell, what does their un-Islamic conduct reveal about the real character of al-Qaeda? Two alleged hijackers—-Mohamed Atta, who was reportedly leader of the cell, and Khalid al-Mihdhar, another elite member—-were reportedly members of the Islamic Jihad group led by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.15  According to intelligence sources, “Atta and several others in the group” responsible for the attacks, “met with senior Al Qaida leaders, most notably Ayman al-Zawahiri” in Afghanistan shortly before 9/11.16  Thus, these distinctly un-Islamic characters had very close relationships to the senior leadership of al-Qaeda.

Other prominent members of al-Qaeda also reportedly behave in distinctly un-Islamic ways. The example of Syrian al-Qaeda leader Laui Sakra provides a case in point. Suspected of involvement in the November 2003 bombings of UK and Jewish targets in Istanbul that killed 63 people, Sakra was arrested in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey.17 Turkish officials said that Sakra is “one of the 5 most important key figures in al-Qaeda.” By his own off-the-record account to police, “he knew Mohamed Atta” and had “providing money and passports.” He also claimed involvement in the July 7, 2005, London bombings,18 confessed to be in frequent contact with bin Laden, and admitted involvement in terrorist activity in the US, Britain, Egypt, Syria, and Algeria.19 Citing further official revelations, the Turkish daily Zaman revealed that Sakra, like many of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, did not act in accordance with basic Islamic edicts. When Turkish Security Directorate officials told him that “he might perform his religious practices to have a better dialogue… and to gain his confidence,” Sakra responded: “I do not pray. I also drink alcohol.” Curiously, his fellow al-Qaeda detainees and underlings, Adnan Ersoz and Harun Ilhan, did “perform their religious practices.” Police officials admitted that “such an attitude at the top-level of al-Qaeda was confusing.”20

Sakra’s story confirms the bizarre mixture of un-Islamic conduct penetrating the elite membership of al-Qaeda and the radical puritan exterior apparent in the use of Islamist language and symbols by its members. It is impossible to explain this within the parameters of the official narrative, which views al-Qaeda as one of the most militant elements of a radical Islamist tendency. In fact, the evidence perused so far fundamentally challenges the idea that al-Qaeda can be properly categorized as a genuinely Islamist entity. Other statements by Sakra further challenge the very idea of al-Qaeda as constituting an international organization in any meaningful sense, and throw further light on what might explain its duality between apparent fundamentalist Islamist and patently un-Islamic conduct. In his own words:

 “Al-Qaeda organizes attacks sometimes without even reporting it to Bin Laden. For al-Qaeda is not structured like a terrorist organization. The militants have the operational initiative. There are groups organizing activities in the name of al-Qaeda. The second attack in London was organized by a group, which took initiative. Even Laden may not know about it.”21

Sakra’s description of al-Qaeda contradicts entirely the official narrative. But he went even further than that. Zaman reported incredulously the most surprising elements of Sakra’s candid revelations during his four-day interrogation at Istanbul Anti-Terror Department Headquarters: “Amid the smoke from the fortuitous fire emerged the possibility that al-Qaeda may not be, strictly speaking, an organization but an element of an intelligence agency operation.” As a result of Sakra’s statements:

 “Turkish intelligence specialists agree that there is no such organization as al-Qaeda. Rather, al-Qaeda is the name of a secret service operation. The concept “fighting terror” is the background of the ‘low-intensity-warfare’ conducted in the mono-polar world order. The subject of this strategy of tension is named as ‘al-Qaeda.’ ...

Sakra, the fifth most senior man in Osama bin Ladin’s al-Qaeda... has been sought by the secret services since 2000. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interrogated him twice before.  Following the interrogation CIA offered him employment. He also received a large sum of money by CIA... in 2000 the CIA passed intelligence about Sakra through a classified notice to Turkey, calling for the Turkish National Security Organization (MIT) to capture him. MIT caught Sakra in Turkey and interrogated him....

Sakra was [later] sought and caught by Syrian al-Mukhabarat as well. Syria too offered him employment. Sakra eventually became a triple agent for the secret services... Turkish security officials, interrogating a senior al-Qaeda figure for the first time, were thoroughly confused about what they discovered about al-Qaeda. The prosecutor too was surprised.”22

According to Sakra then, himself a paid CIA recruit, al-Qaeda is less a coherent centralized organization than a loose association of mujahideen often mobilized under the influence of Western secret services. His own lack of traditional Islamic piety at a senior level within al-Qaeda further discredits the widespread perception of al-Qaeda as a truly Islamist Salafist group.

Two key issues arise here—firstly the question of the manner in which al-Quad exists; and secondly, the question of Turkish intelligence’s interpretation of al-Quad as integral to a “secret service operation” within a wider “strategy of tension.”

As for the first issue, it is indeed difficult to identify any way in which al-Quad genuinely exists as a concrete international terrorist organization—or at all—as conventionally promulgated by Western government and security sources.

Award-winning film maker Adam Curtis in his series of BBC documentaries “The Power of Nightmares,” went so far as to argue that al-Quad does not even have members, a leader, “sleeper cells,” or even an overall strategy. As a concrete international organization “it barely exists at all, except as an idea about cleansing a corrupt world through religious violence.”23 Dr. Andrew Sike, a criminologist and forensic psychologist at the University of East London serving on the UN Roster of Terrorism Experts, similarly notes that al-Qaeda lacks “a clear hierarchy, military mindset and centralised command.” At best, it constitutes a loose network of “affiliated groups sharing religious and ideological backgrounds, but which often interact sparingly.” Al-Qaeda is less an organization than “a state of mind,” encompassing “a wide range of members and followers who can differ dramatically from each other.”24

Numerous other experts have thus questioned conventional portrayals of al-Qaeda, concluding that there is no solid evidence that it exists, let alone that it might function as an organized network. Conversely, mainstream studies that have endorsed such a perspective in support of the official narrative are profoundly flawed. Rohan Gunaratna’s Inside al-Qaeda, for instance—-widely acclaimed as the most comprehensive, authoritative, and well documented analysis of al-Qaeda available—-is consistently unreliable and inconsistent, to the point that the book’s British publishers inserted a disclaimer in its edition cautioning readers to avoid interpreting its content as factual, but rather as “nothing other than a suggestion.”25

This, of course, raises yet another question. If al-Qaeda does not exist in the conventional sense, then how does this fit with Sakra’s description of al-Qaeda as a “secret service operation” operating within the parameters of a “strategy of tension”? The answer to this can be best sought in an examination of precisely what is denoted by what Turkish officials describe as “a strategy of tension.” And to answer this, we must delve deeper into history to discover the roots of international terrorism in the Cold War.


2. International Terrorism: Ideological Framework, Covert Reality

International Terrorism as Ideological Construct

In the summer of 1979, a group of powerful elites from various countries gathered at an international conference in Jerusalem to promote and exploit the idea of “international terrorism.” The forum, officially known as the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism (JCIT), was organized by Benjamin Netanyahu—-now a former Israeli prime minister and minister of finance—-on behalf of the Jonathan Institute. The institute was established in honor of the memory of Netanyahu’s brother, Lt. Col. Jonathan Netanyahu, an Israeli officer killed by a stray bullet during the IDF raid on Entebbe.26

Over two decades ago, the JCIT established the ideological foundations for the “war on terror.” The JCIT’s defining theme was that international terrorism constituted an organized political movement whose ultimate origin was in the Soviet Union. All terrorist groups were ultimately products of, and could be traced back to, this single source, which—-according to the JCIT—-provided financial, military, and logistical assistance to disparate terrorist movements around the globe. The mortal danger to Western security and democracy posed by the worldwide scope of this international terrorist movement required an appropriate worldwide antiterrorism offensive, consisting of the mutual coordination of Western military intelligence services.27 The JCIT’s findings served as the basis of the worldwide publication of hundreds of newspaper, think tank, and academic accounts of Soviet involvement in orchestrating an international terrorist network.

But as Philip Paull documents extensively in his master’s thesis at San Francisco State University, the JCIT’s own literature and use of source documentation was profoundly flawed. It heavily cited, for instance, statistics purporting to demonstrate a drastic ten-fold increase in incidents of international terrorism between 1968–1978—-but as Paull shows, these figures were deliberately concocted and inflated, contradicting original CIA data illustrating a decline in terrorist incidents for the same period.28 It also routinely relied on techniques of blatant disinformation, misquoting and misrepresenting Western intelligence reports, as well as recycling government-sponsored disinformation published in the mainstream media.29 Paull thus concludes that the 1979 JCIT was:

“... a successful propaganda operation... the entire notion of ‘international terrorism’ as promoted by the Jerusalem Conference rests on a faulty, dishonest, and ultimately corrupt information base.... The issue of international terrorism has little to do with fact, or with any objective legal definition of international terrorism. The issue, as promoted by the Jerusalem Conference and used by the Reagan administration, is an ideological and instrumental issue. It is the ideology, rather than the reality, that dominates US foreign policy today.”30

The new ideology of “international terrorism” justified the Reagan administration’s shift to “a renewed interventionist foreign policy,” and legitimized a “new alliance between right-wing dictatorships everywhere” and the government. “These military dictatorships and repressive governments have long used the word ‘terrorist’ to characterize the opposition to their rule.” Thus, the administration had moved to “legitimate their politics of state terrorism and repression,” while also alleviating pressure for the reform of the intelligence community and opening the door for “aggressive and sometimes illegal intelligence action,” in the course of fighting the international terrorist threat.31

The primary architects of the JCIT’s “international terrorism” project were, reports Paull,

“present and former members of the Israeli and United States governments, new right politicians, high-ranking former United States and Israeli intelligence officers, the anti-détente, pro-cold war group associated with the policies of Senator Henry M. Jackson, a group of neoconservative journalists and intellectuals..., and reactionary British and French politicians and publicists.”32

Individuals who participated included:

1.    Menachem Begin, then Prime Minister of Israel and former  Irgun “terrorist”

2.    Benzion Netanyahu, then–Cornell University professor emeritus

3.    Shimon Peres, then leader of the Israeli Labor Party

4.    Gen. Chaim Herzog, former Israeli military intelligence chief

5.    Maj. Gen. Meir Amit, former Israeli military intelligence chief

6.    Lt. Gen. Aharon Yariv, former Israeli military intelligence chief

7.    Maj. Gen. Schlomo Gazit, former Israeli military intelligence chief

8.    Paul Johnson, former editor of the New Statesman

9.    Honourable Sir Hugh Fraser, Conservative MP and former British undersecretary of state for colonies

10.Henry M. Jackson, influential right-wing senator from the state of Washington

11.Richard Pipes, a professor and Russian expert in President Reagan’s National Security Council

12.Ray S. Cline, former deputy director for intelligence at the CIA

13.Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan, former US Air Force intelligence chief

14.George H. W. Bush, former CIA director and then presidential candidate who later became president33

It is perhaps no coincidence that Bush Sr.’s son, President George W. Bush, has most effectively overseen the enforcement of an entire domestic and international American political program based principally on the ideology of “international terrorism.” Noting the instrumental influence of the JCIT on US policy during the Reagan administration, re-emerging with the George W. Bush administration, Diana Ralph rightly concludes that the new “war on terror” is “modelled on Islamophobic myths, policies, and political structures developed by the Israeli Likkud in 1979, to inspire popular support for US world conquest initiatives.”34

Soviet Threat as Negligible

If the target of the US government’s anti-terrorist program was not real, what was the government targeting? According to the late Richard Barnet, former state department aide to Assistant Secretary for War John McCloy, the inflation of Soviet-sponsored “international terrorism” was useful precisely for demonizing threats to the prevailing US-dominated capitalist economic system:

“Even the word ‘communist’ has been applied so liberally and so loosely to revolutionary or radical regimes that any government risks being so characterised if it adopts one or more of the following policies which the State Department finds distasteful: nationalisation of private industry, particularly foreign-owned corporations, radical land reform, autarchic trade policies, acceptance of Soviet or Chinese aid, insistence upon following an anti-American or non-aligned foreign policy, among others.”35

This view is supported by the fact that there was no tangible, imminent Soviet threat to any of the regions subjected to aggressive US and Western military interventionism during the Cold War. Recently declassified top secret British Foreign Office files, among other documents, establish this case decisively. These have been extensively examined by British historian Mark Curtis, former research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. A selection of the documents unearthed by Curtis is reviewed below.36

A December 1950 Foreign Office paper pointed out that “only three Middle Eastern countries... are exposed to direct Soviet attack.” It went on to illustrate that such an attack was inconceivable. “Short of general war... an attack on Turkey is unlikely owing to the Western guarantees which she enjoys.” As for Iran (Persia), “the Soviet government must be aware that any attack on her would carry a grave risk of general war, and it is more likely that Soviet efforts to gain control of Persia will be confined to propaganda, diplomatic and subversive activity.” Regarding Afghanistan, “there is little danger of attack.”37

Another document noted that “the Arab states are all orientated towards the West in varying degrees, opposed to communism and generally successful at present in minimizing or suppressing existing communist activities through restrictive measures.” Rather, “ultra-nationalist elements may exercise greater influence and form a greater threat to maintenance of a pro-Western orientation.”38

Regarding Africa, the State Department observed during 1950 that “‘Black’ Africa is orientated towards the non-Communist world. Communism has made no real progress in the area.”39 To the contrary, nationalism “constitutes the real force of the future in this area,” according to Assistant Secretary of State McGhee.40

Concerning Asia, Kennan, then head of US Policy Planning Staff, affirmed that “the problem is not one primarily of Russians but of basic relations of Americans with Asiatics.”41 The State Department commented in 1950 that “in most of Southeast Asia there is no fear of communism as we understand it.”42

The stark contrast between Western national security discourse and reality during the Cold War was also noted by the London Guardian reporting on newly declassified British government documents from 1968, including a pertinent analysis by the Foreign Office Joint Intelligence Committee summarized as follows:

 “The Soviet Union had no intention of launching a military attack on the West at the height of the Cold War, British military and intelligence chiefs privately believed, in stark contrast to what Western politicians and military leaders were saying in public about the ‘Soviet threat.’ ‘The Soviet Union will not deliberately start general war or even limited war in Europe,’ a briefing for the British chiefs of staff—-marked Top Secret, UK Eyes Only, and headed The Threat: Soviet Aims and Intentions—-declared in June 1968.”43

The primary threat to Western interests was described in a 1952 Foreign Office study as “the problem of nationalism,” which consisted of five key components parading themselves as “Communism”: “(i) insistence on managing their own affairs without the means or ability to do so, including the dismissal of British advisers; (ii) expropriation of British assets; (iii) unilateral denunciation of treaties with the UK; (v) ganging up against the UK (and the Western powers) in the United Nations.”44

All this fundamentally contradicted Western national security discourse throughout the Cold War period. Indeed, this data suggests that there was negligible Soviet/Communist threat to the Middle East, “Black” Africa, North Africa, the Far East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. This does not preclude that the Soviet Union posed a potential threat, which would explain the dynamics of the bipolar system. But countering Soviet expansionism was not the central galvanizing factor in Western national security strategy. The bipolar system functioned as a convenient framework for both superpowers to command and mobilize domestic politics and resources in the service of powerful vested interests.45


International Terrorism as Covert Operations Construct

International terrorism was not merely a construct of ideology, framed around the Soviet Union. It swiftly became a very real construct of Western covert operations. It is now well documented and no longer disputable that during the Cold War, high-level sections of the American, British, and Western European secret services participated in a sophisticated NATO-backed operation to engineer domestic terrorist attacks that were to be blamed on the Soviet Union. The objective was to galvanize public opinion against left-wing policies and parties, and ultimately to mobilize drastic anti-Communist policies at home and abroad, most of which were in fact designed to legitimize interventionism against nationalist independence movements throughout the South. The most authoritative study of this “strategy of tension,” NATO’s Secret Armies, is authored by Dr. Daniele Ganser, senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies in the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. Ganser’s sources are unimpeachable: the transcripts of European parliamentary inquiries; the few secret documents that have been declassified; interviews with government, military and intelligence officials, and so on.

The process was begun on the order of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who in July 1940 called for the establishment of a secret army to “set Europe ablaze by assisting resistance movements and carrying out subversive operations in enemy held territory.”46 By October 4, 1945, the British Chiefs of Staff and the Special Operations branch ofMI6 directed the creation of a “skeleton network” capable of expansion either in war or to service clandestine operations abroad: “Priority was given in carrying out these tasks to countries likely to be overrun in the earliest stages of any conflict with the Soviet Union, but not as yet under Soviet domination.”47 In the ensuing years, Col. Gubbins’ Special Operations branch of MI6 cooperated closely with Frank Wisner’s CIA covert action department Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) on White House orders, and in turn coordinated US and UK Special Forces, to establish stay-behind secret armies across Western Europe.48

The program soon developed into a dangerous conglomerate of unaccountable covert operations controlled largely by clandestine structures operating as parallel sub-sections of the main intelligence services. Among the documents Ganser brings to attention is the classified Field Manual 30-31 (FM 30-31), with appendices FM 30-31A and FM 30-31B, authored by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to train thousands of stay-behind officers around the world. As Ganser observes: “FM 30-31 instructs the secret soldiers to carry out acts of violence in times of peace and then blame them on the Communist enemy in order to create a situation of fear and alertness. Alternatively, the secret soldiers are instructed to infiltrate the left-wing movements and then urge them to use violence.” In the manual’s own words:

 “There may be times when Host Country Governments show passivity or indecision in the face of Communist subversion and according to the interpretation of the US secret services do not react with sufficient effectiveness... US army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger. To reach this aim US army intelligence should seek to penetrate the insurgency by means of agents on special assignment, with the task of forming special action groups among the most radical elements of the insurgency... In case it has not been possible to successfully infiltrate such agents into the leadership of the rebels it can be useful to instrumentalise extreme leftist organizations for one’s own ends in order to achieve the above described targets... These special operations must remain strictly secret. Only those persons which are acting against the revolutionary uprising shall know of the involvement of the US Army...”49

The existence of this secret operation exploded into public controversy in August 1990 when Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti admitted the existence of “Gladio,” a secret sub-section of Italian military intelligence services, responsible for domestic bombings blamed on Italian Communists. Ganser documents in intricate detail how this subversive network, created by elements of US and UK intelligence services, orchestrated devastating waves of terrorist attacks blamed on the Soviet Union, not only in Italy, but also in Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, Greece, and throughout Western Europe. Despite a number of European parliamentary inquiries, a European Union resolution on the Gladio phenomenon, NATO’s closed-door admissions to European ambassadors, confirmations of the international operation from senior CIA officials, and other damning documentary evidence, NATO, the CIA, and MI6 have together consistently declined to release their secret files on the matter.

This secret history demonstrates that in the absence of an existing mobilizing factor legitimizing the militarization of Western societies, military intelligence services took it upon themselves to manufacture, ideologically and operationally, a projected external threat of monolithic proportions. This was, then, the elemental ideological and operational structure of the Cold War:

1.            Predominance of Western interests in the expansion and consolidation of a US-dominated capitalist world system;

2.            Lack of a real Soviet threat sufficient to legitimize the militarization necessary to pursue those interests;

3. Ideological and operational construction by Western military intelligence services and policymakers of a projected external threat consisting of Soviet-directed “international terrorism.”

The collapse of the Soviet Union entailed the collapse of this self reinforcing structure, which was intrinsic to the policing of world order under US hegemony during the Cold War. Yet it for the first time opened the way for the projection of military power in theaters previously forbidden because of the possibility of Soviet reprisals. But to sustain such force projection required a new sort of threat projection, in which al-Qaeda was to play a crucial strategic role. Sakra’s testimony as a leading al-Qaeda insider to the effect that al- Qaeda is a tool of a post–Cold War strategy of tension points to a startling and radical departure from the official narrative, and suggests that al-Qaeda plays a far more functional role in Western geostrategic imperatives than we are conventionally permitted to believe.


3. The Post–Cold War Strategy of Tension

The New Destabilization Doctrine

As early as June 1979—the same year the JCIT had established “international terrorism” as a defining ideological framework legitimizing the militarization of Western societies—the United States had already commenced covert operations in Afghanistan to exploit the potential for social conflict. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser under the Carter administration, US involvement began long before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 27, 1979.50 According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, “al-Qaeda” was created in 1988 “with US knowledge” by Osama bin Laden, a “conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells” spanning “at least 26 countries.”51

But conventional wisdom dictates that after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union beginning in 1989, there was no longer any need for an alliance with the mujahideen. As such, Western military intelligence services broke away from their former proxies and severed their relationship with Osama bin Laden.

This is simply false. The CIA had never envisaged that the operational scope of bin Laden’s international al-Qaeda network would be restricted to Afghanistan alone. On the contrary, as one CIA analyst told Swiss television journalist Richard Labeviere—-chief editor at Radio France International and author of Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam:

 “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.52”

Al-Qaeda operations were seen as integral to a new doctrine of covert destabilization, to be implemented in new theaters of operation strategically close to Russian and Chinese influence: namely, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

A number of studies confirm in substantial detail this overarching trajectory of al-Qaeda sponsorship in these regions in the post–Cold War period. Shortly after 9/11, for example, Michel Chossudovsky, professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, published a number of detailed analyses documenting US sponsorship of al-Qaeda in the Balkans and Caucasus, in relation to a number of conflicts, including Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. “The ‘blowback’ thesis is a fabrication,” he concludes. “The evidence amply confirms that the CIA never severed its ties to the ‘Islamic Militant Network.’ Since the end of the Cold War, these covert intelligence links have not only been maintained, they have in fact become increasingly sophisticated,” with new covert operations initiated in “Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans,” financed by “the Golden Crescent drug trade.”53

Focusing on Central Asia, Peter Dale Scott, professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley, has unearthed considerable evidence of US sponsorship of al-Qaeda to accelerate the fragmentation of the Soviet Union and its successor republics, particularly in Azerbaijan. In his testimony to the US Congress in July 2005,

Scott noted that for more than

 “two decades the United States has engaged in energetic covert programs to secure US control over the Persian Gulf, and also to open up Central Asia for development by US oil companies...  To this end, time after time, US covert operations in the region have used so-called ‘Arab Afghan’ warriors as assets, the jihadis whom we loosely link with the name and leadership of al-Qaeda. In country after country these ‘Arab Afghans’ have been involved in trafficking Afghan heroin.... In short, the al-Qaeda terror network accused of the 9/11 attacks was supported and expanded by US intelligence programs and covert operations, both during and after the Soviet Afghan War.”54

Ahmed Rashid, correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Daily Telegraph, and the Wall Street Journal, documents the consistent US sponsorship of the Taliban—which was essentially equivalent to al-Qaeda’s state-support infrastructure—throughout the late 1990s through allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to make the country safe for a UNOCAL pipeline project.55 Rashid quotes a US diplomat commenting in 1997 on the new “free Afghanistan”: “The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis... There will be Aramco [consortium of oil companies controlling Saudi oil], pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.”56


In all such cases, the operational imperative was to secure access routes to lucrative energy resources based largely in Central Asia and the Caspian basin. My own research has attempted to extend these analyses worldwide, focusing on the detailed dynamics of American, British, and European connections with al- Qaeda in the Balkans, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asia-Pacific.57

A Case Study: Al-Qaeda in North Africa

In order to convey the manner in which this phenomenon occurs, we will focus here on the regional example of North Africa, which firstly furnishes the two principle operational modes by which covert Western sponsorship of al-Qaeda is achieved, and secondly clarifies the category of interests these modes are intended to secure.  The first example, that of Algeria, provides data establishing a model of the indirect state-regional mode of sponsorship. The second example, that of Libya, provides data establishing a model of the direct human-network mode of sponsorship.

Algeria: State-Regional Node: The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) is an al-Qaeda–affiliated terrorist group in Algeria. The group was first “created in the house of the Muhajirin in 1989 in Peshawar.” From here, on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, “the first hard core of ‘Algerian Afghans’ launched their terrorist campaign against Algeria.” The al-Qaeda veterans of the Afghan war against the Soviets, “trained in the Afghan militias, returned to Algeria with the help of international networks, via Bosnia, Albania, Italy, France, Morocco or Sudan.”58 According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, in the late 1980s between 400 and 1,000 Algerians who trained as bin Laden’s mujahideen in Afghanistan joined various armed groups in Algeria. By January 1993, most of these groups united under the banner of the GIA.59 The latter forged close links to al- Qaeda “in the early 1990s,” reports the office of the attorney general in Australia, when the UK-based Abu Qatada “was designated by bin Laden as the spiritual adviser for Algerian groups including the GIA.”60 Afghan veteran Khamareddine Kherbane was close to both the GIA and al-Qaeda leaderships. Both the GIA and its sub-faction the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) “developed ties with al-Qaeda early on.” From 1997 to 1998, al-Qaeda achieved further “large-scale penetration of Algerian groups.”61 So far the total civilian death toll from the GIA massacres in Algeria amounts to nearly 150,000.62 The GIA is also implicated in terrorist atrocities outside Algeria and has been “linked to terrorist attacks in Europe.”63 According to Algeria expert Stephen Cook of the Brookings Institute, “there are Algerian [terrorist] cells spread all over Europe, Canada, and the United States.”64

British journalists John Sweeney and Leonard Doyle interviewed “‘Yussuf-Joseph,’ a career secret agent in Algeria’s securite militaire until he defected to Britain.” “Joseph,” who spent fourteen years as an Algerian secret agent, had much to reveal about the reality of GIA terrorism. He told Sweeney and Doyle that “the bombs that outraged Paris in 1995—blamed on Muslim fanatics—were the handiwork of the Algerian secret service. They were part of a propaganda war aimed at galvanising French public opinion against the Islamists.” The massacres in Algeria, blamed on the GIA, are “the work of secret police and army death squads.... The killing of many foreigners was organised by the secret police, not Islamic extremists.” GIA terrorism is “orchestrated by two shadowy figures... Mohammed Mediane, codename ‘Tewfik,’ and General Smain Lamari, the most feared names in Algeria. They are, respectively, head of the Algerian secret service, the DRS, and its sub-department, the counter intelligence agency, the DCE.” According to Joseph:

“The GIA is a pure product of Smain’s secret service. I used to read all the secret telexes. I know that the GIA has been infiltrated and manipulated by the government. The GIA has been completely turned by the government.... In 1992 Smain created a special group, L’Escadron de la Mort [the Squadron of Death]. One of its main missions to begin with was to kill officers, colonels. The death squads organise the massacres. If anyone inside the killing machine hesitates to torture or kill, they are automatically killed.... The FIS aren’t doing the massacres.”

As for the Paris bombings, Joseph reveals that Algerian secret agents sent by Smain organized “at least” two of the bombs in Paris in summer 1995. “The operation was run by Colonel Souames Mahmoud, alias Habib, head of the secret service at the Algerian embassy in Paris.”65 Joseph’s testimony has been corroborated by the statements of numerous defectors from the Algerian secret services.66

Western intelligence agencies know far more than they have publicly conceded. In a remarkable report in the Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor recorded that: “An unprecedented three-year terrorist case dramatically collapsed... when an MI5 informant refused to appear in court after evidence which senior ministers tried to suppress revealed that Algerian government forces were involved in atrocities against innocent civilians.” The report refer to “secret documents showing British intelligence believed the Algerian government was involved in atrocities, contradicting the view the government was claiming in public.” Attempting to suppress the evidence, three British Cabinet ministers—Jack Straw, Geoffrey Hoon, and the late Robin Cook—”signed public interest immunity certificates.”67

The secret Foreign Office documents “were produced on the orders of the trial judge” eighteen months late. When they finally arrived, “they were in marked contrast to the government’s publicly-stated view, expressed by the Foreign Office in 1998, that there was ‘no credible, substantive evidence to confirm’ allegations implicating Algerian government forces in atrocities.” The documents, read out in open court, revealed that according to Whitehall’s Joint Intelligence Committee: “There is no firm evidence to rule out government manipulation or involvement in terrorist violence.” According to one document: “Sources had privately said some of the killings of civilians were the responsibility of the Algerian security services.” Another document from January 1997 cites a British source as follows: “military security [in Algeria] would have... no scruples about killing innocent people.... My instincts remain that parts of the Algerian government would stop at nothing.” Multiple documents “referred to the ‘manipulation’ of the GIA being used as a cover to carry out their own operations.” A US intelligence report confirmed that “there was no evidence to link 1995 Paris bombings to Algerian militants.” On the contrary, the US report indicates “that one killing at the time could have been ordered by the Algerian government.” Crucially, a Whitehall document cites the danger to British government interests if this information becomes public—”if revealed,” it warns, it “could open us to detailed questioning by NGOs and journalists.”68

The Algerian junta–GIA–al-Qaeda terror nexus has received heavy Western financial assistance. In the late 1990s, the European Union released 60 million Euros—some $65 million—to the Algerian generals. The total loan package was worth 125 million Euros.69 In June 2000, US-based international banks and investment houses such as Chase Manhattan visited Algiers, along with then Under-Secretary of the Treasury Stuart Eizenstat. US private investments in Algeria were estimated at between $3.5 and $4 billion—almost entirely in oil and gas exploration and production.70

Algeria has the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is the second largest gas exporter, with 130 trillion proven natural gas reserves. It ranks fourteenth for oil reserves, with official estimates at 9.2 billion barrels. Approximately 90 percent of Algeria’s crude oil exports go to Western Europe, including Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. Algeria’s major trading partners are Italy, France, the United States, Germany, and Spain.71

John Cooley further reports the presence of “500 to 600 American engineers and technicians living and working behind barbed wire” in a collection of “protected gas and oil enclaves in Algeria.” US commercial involvement in Algeria “began in earnest... in 1991.” At the end of that year, the regime

“opened the energy sector on liberal terms to foreign investors and operators... About 30 oil and gas fields have been attributed to foreign companies since then. The main American firms involved, Arco, Exxon, Oryx, Anadarko, Mobil and Sun Oil received exploration permits, often in association with European firms like Agip, BP, Cepsa or the Korean group Daewoo.... The majority of oil and gas exports go to nearby Europe... the main clients in the late 1990s [being] France, Belgium, Spain and Italy.”72

According to European intelligence sources, CIA meetings with Algerian Islamist leaders from 1993 to 1995 are responsible for the lack of terrorist attacks on US oil and agribusiness installations in Algeria.73

Libya: Human-Network Node: David Shayler worked for the international terrorism desk of MI5 for six years before resigning in 1997. In 1995, he obtained classified MI6 data detailing a covert British intelligence plan to assassinate Libyan Head of State Col.  Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi. MI6 paid over £100,000 to the al-Qaeda network in Libya to conduct the assassination. The operation failed. The al-Qaeda cell planted a bomb under the wrong car, killing six innocent Libyan civilians.74 According to Shayler, the plot came to his attention in formal meetings with his MI6 colleagues. The Observer’s Martin Bright revealed that the said officers involved in the plot were “Richard Bartlett, who has previously only been known under the codename PT16 and had overall responsibility for the operation; and David Watson, codename PT16B.” The latter was the MI6 handler for Libyan al-Qaeda operative “Tunworth,” who was providing information from within the cell.75 In a press release on the subject, Shayler observed:

“We need a statement from the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary clarifying the facts of this matter. In particular, we need to know how around £100,000 of taxpayers’ money was used to fund the sort of Islamic Extremists who have connections to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network. Did ministers give MI6 permission for this? By the time MI6 paid the group in late 1995 or early 1996, US investigators had already established that Bin Laden was implicated in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre. Given the timing and the close connections between Libyan and Egyptian Islamic Extremists, it may even have been used to fund the murder of British citizens in Luxor, Egypt in 1996.”76

Shayler elaborated on these concerns in the Observer. The “real criminals,” he argued, “are the British Government and the intelligence services. The Government has a duty to uphold the law. It cannot simply be ignored because crimes are carried out by friends of the Government.” Given that innocent civilians were killed, “senior Ministers should, of course, have called in the police immediately.... The Government’s failure to ensure that two MI6 officers are brought to justice for their part in planning a murder is what I would expect of despots and dictators.”77

The British government completely denied the allegations.  Then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook described Shayler’s allegations as “pure fantasy.”78 However, the government soon accused Shayler of breaching the 1989 Official Secrets Act—-his revelations were an alleged threat to British national security—-and subsequently pursued prosecuted him to prevent further publication of his information. Reporting on the upcoming trial in October 2002, the Evening Standard observed that

“Michael Tugendhat, QC, appearing for various national newspapers, is expected to argue that the Government has provided no evidence that national security will be threatened by the trial and will underline the importance of open justice...  Shayler will be defending himself during the trial. He is expected to claim that British secret service agents paid up to £100,000 to al-Qaeda terrorists for an assassination attempt on Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffy in 1996. He is seeking permission to plead a defense of ‘necessity’—-that he acted for the greater good by revealing wrongdoing by the security service.”79

In further startling revelations supporting Shayler’s allegations, the French intelligence experts Jean-Charles Brisard, adviser to President Chirac, and journalist Guillaume Dasquié documented that among the members of the Libyan al-Qaeda cell hired by MI6 to assassinate Col. Gaddafi was one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted lieutenants, Anas al-Liby. Anas al-Liby is on the FBI’s list of “Most Wanted Terrorists” “in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.... The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Anas Al-Liby.”80 As Observer home affairs editor Martin Bright reported:

“British intelligence paid large sums of money to an al-Qaeda cell in Libya in a doomed attempt to assassinate Colonel Gadaffi in 1996 and thwarted early attempts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. The latest claims of MI6 involvement with Libya’s fearsome Islamic Fighting Group, which is connected to one of bin Laden’s trusted lieutenants, will be embarrassing to the Government...

“The Libyan al-Qaeda cell included Anas al-Liby... He is wanted for his involvement in the African embassy bombings.  Al-Liby was with bin Laden in Sudan before the al-Qaeda leader returned to Afghanistan in 1996. Astonishingly, despite suspicions that he was a high-level al-Qaeda operative, al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000.

“A police raid at al-Liby’s Manchester accommodation discovered a 180-page al-Qaeda “manual for jihad” containing instructions for terrorist attacks.”81

A Model of Covert Sponsorship: In the case of Algeria, the Algerian military regime constitutes a state-regional structure that is interpenetrated through direct military-intelligence liaisons with a domestic Islamist terrorist organization officially identified as an al-Qaeda network. This interpenetration acts as the catalyst through which Western financial, military, and intelligence assistance is provided through the state to the network. The entire relationship is sealed within the logic of Western interests in securing and controlling access to regional energy resources. The regime thus acts as a state-regional node by which the West sponsors a local al-Qaeda affiliate in order to protect geostrategic interests. 

In contrast, in the case of Libya, there is no structural intermediary to facilitate the funneling of assistance between Western military intelligence services and a local terrorist network officially identified as an al-Qaeda network. Rather, Western financial and logistical intelligence support to the terrorist network is secured directly through immediate interpenetration between the intelligence service and the network, though the presence of double agent operatives. This relationship of direct interpenetration, a human-network node, provides the medium of control and the means of material assistance to al-Qaeda. In this case, although energy interests may have been an overall overriding factor in determining the general strategic direction of al-Qaeda sponsorship, the specific objective was an illegal assassination of a head of state considered, at that time, to be inimical to Western geostrategic interests.

Extensive empirical and historical data shows that the dual model established above applies differentially but consistently across the world’s most strategic regions.82 In all these regions, al-Qaeda destabilization programs consistently function—to this day—to guarantee US geostrategic imperatives. The extensive geographical scope and systematic temporal pattern of this operational symbiosis of US–al-Qaeda interests suggests that the strategy of tension is alive and well, but now in a sophisticated and elusive new form that yet largely conforms to the same self reinforcing structure prevailing during the Cold War:

1.            Predominance of Anglo-American interests in the expansion and consolidation of a US-dominated capitalist world system;

2.            Lack of clearly identifiable regional threats sufficient to legitimize the militarization necessary to pursue those interests in those regions;

3.            Ideological and operational construction by Western military intelligence services and policymakers of a projected external threat consisting of al-Qaeda–directed “international terrorism,” used selectively and systematically as a tool of destabilization to secure specific regional interests.

This, of course, presents a fundamentally different picture of al-Qaeda than that of the official narrative. On the one hand, al-Qaeda as a coherent self-directed international entity barely exists in any meaningful sense. On the other, al-Qaeda as a euphemism for an ongoing US covert operations apparatus penetrating disparate Islamist groups, and extending the Cold War “strategy of tension” into the post–Cold War period, does exist.83 This brings us to a much clearer understanding of the duality of al-Qaeda as a seemingly radical Islamist tendency, many of whose elite operatives and senior leaders are patently non-Islamic. 

The reason for this ideological duality lies in its operational duality, in terms of its concocted exterior image as an organized network supposedly fighting against Western imperialism in the Muslim world, and in terms of its interior reality as a decentralized, disparate, amorphous association of mujahideen penetrated and manipulated on behalf of Western military intelligence interests. The strategy of tension—-the demands of Western threat projection premised on legitimizing Western militarization—-requires the former dimension, whereas the geostrategy of covert destabilization-—a post-Cold War strategy that goes beyond the strategy of tension—is reliant on the latter dimension. In the post-Cold War period, al-Qaeda encapsulates not one but two US covert strategic doctrines: the strategy of tension and the doctrine of destabilization.

The Post-9/11 Destabilization Doctrine

There is compelling circumstantial evidence of the operation of the destabilization doctrine in the post-9/11 period. In a little noted but important article for the Los Angeles Times, US defense analyst William Arkin referred to a classified “outbrief” compiled by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Science Board 2002 Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism. The secret study—-drafted to guide other Pentagon agencies—-recommended the implementation of “new strategies, postures and organization” in fighting the “war on terror.” The principal vehicle of these new methods is:

“... a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception.”

Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at “stimulating reactions” among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction—-that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to “quick-response attacks by US forces.”

Military intervention would be justified because such actions “would hold ‘states/sub-state actors accountable’ and ‘signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk.’” The Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) is not an entirely unprecedented structure. Rather, its roots go back to the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) established in 1981, which “fought in drug wars and counter-terror operations from the Middle East to South America,” building a reputation for lawlessness. Throughout the 1990s, the ISA operated under different guises, and today is active under the code name “Gray Fox”:

“Gray Fox’s low-profile eavesdropping planes also fly without military markings. Working closely with Special Forces and the CIA, Gray Fox also places operatives inside hostile territory. In and around Afghanistan, Gray Fox was part of a secret sphere

that included the CIA’s paramilitary Special Activities Division and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command. These commands and ‘white’ Special Forces like the Green Berets, as well as Air Force combat controllers and commandos of eight different nations report to a mind-boggling array of new command cells and coordination units set up after Sept. 11.”84

In other words, the P2OG merely expands an already existing apparatus for covert operations connected to terrorism. However, the language of the Defense Science Board clarifies that P2OG’s primary purpose is to provoke terrorist groups into actually conducting anti- US operations in order permit a US military response. The board additionally proposes “tagging key terrorist figures with special chemicals so they can be tracked by laser anywhere on Earth” and “creating a ‘red team’ of particularly diabolical thinkers to plot imaginary terror attacks on the United States so the government can plan to thwart them.” A key role for “an elite group of counter-terror operatives” would be “duping al Qaida into undertaking operations” and attempting to “stimulate terrorists into responding or moving operations.” This will be facilitated by dramatic increases in urban warfare capabilities through “the development of a detailed database of most of the cities in the world... with GPS coordinates marking key structures and roads.” This constantly updated database would “come together in a three-dimensional display showing buildings, including windows and doors, streets and alleys and underground passages, obstacles like power lines and key infrastructure like water and communications lines.”85

The new Pentagon strategy then is ultimately “aimed at luring terrorists into committing acts of terrorism” as an integral part of fighting terrorism.86 As journalist Chris Floyd wryly observes:

“Once they have sparked terrorists into action—by killing their family members? luring them with loot? fueling them with drugs? plying them with jihad propaganda? messing with their mamas? or with agents provocateurs, perhaps, who infiltrate groups then plan and direct the attacks themselves?—they can then take measures against the ‘states/sub-state actors accountable’ for “harboring” the Rumsfeld-roused gangs.”87

P2OG undoubtedly demonstrates that the strategy of tension continues to define the operational parameters of the “war on terror.”

Applying the Doctrine in Iraq

This incestuous relationship between the West and its own alleged arch enemy has continued well into the post-9/11 period, including apparently in Iraq. In November 2004, a joint statement was released on several Islamist websites on behalf of al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Saddam Hussein’s old Ba’ath Party loyalists. Zarqawi’s network had “joined other extremist Islamists and Saddam Hussein’s old Baath party to threaten increased attacks on US-led forces.” Zarqawi’s group said they signed “the statement written by the Iraqi Baath party, not because we support the party or Saddam, but because it expresses the demands of resistance groups in Iraq.”88

The statement formalized what had already been reported for a year—-that, as post-Saddam Iraqi intelligence and US military officials told the Sunday Times: “al-Qaeda terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have formed an alliance with former intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein to fight their common enemy, the American forces.” Al-Qaeda leaders “recruit from the pool” of Saddam’s former “security and intelligence officers who are unemployed and embittered by their loss of status.” After vetting, “they begin al-Qaeda-style training, such as how to make remote-controlled bombs.” Both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan appear to be integrally involved in the operation. “The alliance, known as Jaish Muhammad—the army of the prophet Muhammad—is believed to be responsible for increasingly sophisticated attacks on US soldiers.” Jaish Muhammed is smuggling “millions of dollars, weapons and hundreds of Arab fighters across the desert border with Saudi Arabia.”89

Pakistani military sources revealed in February 2005 that the “the US has... resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population” involved in the Iraqi insurgency. For the purpose, the US has secretly “procured Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry.” Consignments were bulk-loaded onto US military cargo aircraft at Chaklala airbase arriving from and departing for Iraq. “The US-armed and supported militias in the south will comprise former members of the Ba’ath Party”—the same people recruited and trained by Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda network in Iraq. A Pakistani military analyst familiar with strategic and proxy operations noted that US-made arms were not being supplied so as to conceal the role of US assistance. This was, indeed, the same policy behind US procurement of Pakistani arms to the mujahideen during the Cold War. He said:

“A similar strategy was adopted in Afghanistan during the initial few years of the anti-USSR resistance [the early 1980s] movement where guerrillas were supplied with Chinese-made AK-47 rifles [which were procured by Pakistan with US money], Egyptian and German-made G-3 rifles. Similarly, other arms, like anti-aircraft guns, short-range missiles and mortars, were also procured by the US from different countries and supplied to Pakistan, which handed them over to the guerrillas.”

Military sources added that their destination was not the Iraqi security forces “because US arms would be given to them.” Rather, the US is playing a double game to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement”—-in other words, to exacerbate the deterioration of security by penetrating, manipulating, and arming the terrorist insurgency, thus legitimizing permanent Anglo-American military involvement in Iraq purportedly to promote security.90

It is thus plausible to conclude that “al-Qaeda” in Iraq actually designates yet another category of US covert operations. The insurgency appears to consist of two contradictory elements—a genuinely indigenous resistance movement, and a much smaller, insidious, alien element constituting operatives co-opted and sponsored by US military intelligence in coordination with key allied military intelligence services responsible for terrorist violence.

The endgame of this secret strategy is clearly the generation of destabilization, which is the classic and pre-eminent role al-Qaeda has played worldwide, consistently in service to Western military strategic interests. Indeed, the plausibility of this view has not been lost on Iraqis, neither Sunnis nor Shi’ites. Sheikh Jawad al-Kalesi, the Shi’ite imam of the al-Kadhimiyah mosque in Baghdad, told Le Monde: “I don’t think that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi exists as such.  He’s simply an invention by the occupiers to divide the people.” Iraq’s most powerful Sunni Arab religious authority, the Association of Muslim Scholars, concurs, condemning the call to arms against Shi’ites as a “very dangerous” phenomenon that “plays into the hands of the occupier who wants to split up the country and spark a sectarian war.”91



The overall picture given here has not been designed to provide exhaustive answers to the questions raised at the outset, but to establish the existence of fatal anomalies in the official narrative, which ultimately defines international terrorism as a distinctly Muslim problem. Thus establishing the logically permissible boundaries of political debate, the official narrative purports to leave the world with only one logical alternative, a Muslim solution, or perhaps more accurately, a final solution targeted principally at Muslims and Islam.

The data discussed here undermines the credibility of this narrative in its most core assumptions. Not only are the identities of the alleged 9/11 hijackers in question, their status as Islamist fundamentalists is thoroughly problematic. As for al-Qaeda, not only is its organizational existence dubious, its continuing character as a radical tendency within the Islamist Salafist movement is implausible. The ephemeral and contradictory nature of what is conventionally labeled al-Qaeda is rooted in its ongoing utility to the Western covert operations apparatus. It is difficult in this context to justify the idea that there really is a “war on terror.”

This counter-narrative, rooted in reliable documentation, strikes at the heart of the official narrative and challenges the entire paradigm of the “war on terror,” not only as an accurate encapsulation of post-9/11 international relations, but also as a legitimate vehicle of Western domestic and foreign policies. As a discourse, it is discredited; as a policy regime, it is bankrupt.

The implications of this analysis have broad implications for understanding other anti-Western terrorist atrocities after 9/11. It can no longer be simply taken as given that terrorist attacks, officially blamed on Muslim extremists, are the consequence of a Muslim problem, implying that countering terrorism equates to “dealing” with Muslim communities. On the contrary, given the historic and contemporary role of Western powers in sponsoring terrorist networks officially identified as branches of al-Qaeda in key strategic regions, it would perhaps be prudent for scholars, journalists and policymakers to embark on some serious soulsearching—starting at home—to uncover the fundamental sources of international terrorism within the arteries of Western financial and military power itself.



1 BBC News, “Islam ‘Hijacked’ by Terror,” Oct. 11, 2001 (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1591024.stm).

2 Ziauddin Sardar, “Islam Has Become Its Own Enemy,” The Observer, Oct. 21, 2001 (observer.guardian.co.uk/islam/story/0,1442,577943,00.html).

3 Remarks by the president to the United Nations General Assembly,“ President Bush Speaks to United Nations,” UN headquarters (New York), Nov. 10, 2001 (www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/11/20011110-3.html).

4 Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “9/11 ‘Conspiracies’ and the Defactualisation of Analysis: How Ideologues on the Left and Right Theorise Vacuously to Support Baseless Supposition,” Media Monitors Network (Los Angeles), June 28, 2002 (www.mediamonitors.net/mosaddeq37.html).

5 Jay Kolar, “What We Know About the Alleged 9/11 Hijackers,” in Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, vol. 23 of Research in Political Economy (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006). 

6 Don Kirk, “Filipinos Recall Hijack Suspects Leading a High Life,” International Herald Tribune, Oct. 5, 2001 (www.intellnet.org/ news/2001/ 10/05/7357-1.html).

7 Kevin Fagan, “Agents of Terror Leave Their Mark on Sin City: Las Vegas Workers Recall the Men They Can’t Forget,” San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 4, 2001 (www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/10/04/MN102970.DTL). 

8 Jody A. Benjamin, “Suspects Actions Don’t Add Up,” South Florida Sun Sentinel, Sept. 16, 2001 (www.sunsentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-warriors916.story).

9 Terry McDermott, “Early Scheme to Turn Jets into Weapons: Philippines: Police Say Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Led a Cell Aiming to Blow up Planes in ’95,” Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2002. 

10 Quintan Wiktorowicz and John Kaltner, “Killing in the Name of Islam: Al Qaeda’s Justification for September 11,” Middle East Policy X, no. 2, summer 2000 (www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111/1475-4967.00107).

11 Michael Elliot, “Hate Club: Al-Qaeda’s Web of Terror,” Time magazine, Nov. 4, 2001.

12 David Zeidan, “Radical Islam in Egypt: A Comparison of Two Groups,” Middle East Review of International Affairs 3, no. 3, Sept. 1999 (meria.idc.ac.il/journal/1999/issue3/jv3n3a1.html). 

13 Nicholas Hellen, “Ultra Zealots: If You Think Bin Laden is Extreme—Some Muslims Want to Kill Him Because He’s Soft,” Sunday Times (London), Oct. 21, 2001.

14 Anthony Barnett, et. al., “London-based Terror Chief Plotted Mayhem in Europe,” Observer, Sept. 30, 2001. 

15 Giles Foden, “The Hunt for ‘Public Enemy No 2”: Egyptian May Now be Running Terror Operations from Afghanistan,” Guardian, Sept.  24, 2001 (www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,556872,00.html). 

16 Douglas Waller, “Was Hijack ‘Ringleader’ in Bin Laden Orbit?,” Time magazine, Oct. 5, 2001 (www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,178228,00.html).

17 “Turkey arrests al Qaeda suspects,” BBC News, Aug. 10, 2005 (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4140210.stm).

18 “A ‘Strange’ Al Qaeda Leader: ‘I Don’t Pray, I Drink Alcohol,’” Journal of Turkish Weekly [contributions from Turkish dailies, Zaman and Hurriyet], Aug. 14, 2005 (www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=17778). 

19 Ercun Gun, “Sakra: I Dispatched Men to US and UK for Terrorist Activity,” Zaman, Aug. 15, 2005 (www.zaman.com/?bl=national&alt=&trh=20050815&hn=23056).

20 Gun, “Interesting Confession: I Provided 9/11 Attackers with Passports,” Zaman, Aug. 14, 2005 (www.zaman.com/?bl=national&alt=&trh=20050815&hn=23006).

21 Gun, “Sakra: I Dispatched Men to US and UK for Terrorist Activity.”

22 Gun, “Al-Qaeda: A Secret Service Operation?” Zaman, Aug. 14, 2005 (www.zaman.com/?bl=national&alt=&trh=20050815&hn=22982). 

23 Andy Beckett, “The Making of the Terror Myth,” Guardian, Oct. 15, 2004 (www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,12780,1327904,00.html). 

24 Andrew Sike, “Profiling Terror,” Jane’s Police Review, Aug.7, 2003 (www.janes.com/security/law_enforcement/news/pr/pr030807_1_n.sht ml).

25 For further discussion see Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “Terrorism and Statecraft: Al-Qaeda and Western Covert Operations after the Cold War,” in Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, vol. 23 of Research in Political Economy (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006).

26 Philip Paull, “International Terrorism”: The Propaganda War, San Francisco State University, California, June 1982 (Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in International Relations), 9–10. I would like to thank the Arab American Institute for kindly sending me this thesis within a matter of days, and journalist Roger Trilling for alerting me to it in the first place. 

27 Ibid., 18–20.

28 Ibid., 48–52.

29 Ibid., 59–91.

30 Ibid., 95, 99–100.

31 Ibid., 96–98.

32 Ibid., 8.

33 Ibid., 9–17.

34 Diana Ralph, “Islamophobia and the War on Terror: The Continuing Pretext for US Imperial Conquest,” in Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, vol. 23 of Research in Political Economy (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006).

35 Cited in Ruth Blakely, “Rhetoric and Reality: US Foreign Military Training Since 1945,” Network of Activist Scholars of Politics and International Relations (NASPIR) (www.naspir.org/members/ruth_blakeley/rhetoricandreality1.htm), viewed Feb. 19, 2004.

36 Mark Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy since 1945 (London: Zed, 1995); The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order (London: Pluto Press, 1997); Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World (London: Vintage, 2002); Unpeople: Britain’s Human Rights Abuses (London: Vintage, 2004).

37 Foreign Office (UK), “Russian Strategic Intentions and the Threat to Peace,” Documents on British Foreign Policy [DBFP], calendar to ser. II, vol. IV (Dec. 7, 1950), 9, 57.

38 Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs, “Regional Policy Statement: Near East” (Dec. 28, 1950), Foreign Relations of the United States [FRUS], vol. V, 271–272.

39 Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs, “Regional Policy Statement on Africa South of the Sahara” (Dec. 29, 1950), in FRUS vol. V, 1587.

40 Summary of remarks by McGhee (Oct. 25, 1950), in FRUS, vol. V, 1570, 1572.

41 Minutes of a Policy Planning Staff meeting (11 Oct.  1950), in FRUS (1949), vol. I, 400.

42 Report of the Mutual Defence Assistance Programme Mission to Southeast Asia (6 Dec. 1950), in FRUS, vol. VI, 168.

43 The Guardian, January 1, 1999. Also see the introduction to my Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (Gabriola Island: New Society, 2003).

44 In W. Strang to T. Lloyd, British Documents on the End of Empire [BDEE], 21 June 1952, ser. A, vol. 3, part I (June 21, 1952), 13–19.

45 Mary Kaldor, The Imaginary War: Understanding the East-West Conflict (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990). Also see William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995); Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1991, 1992); Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1939–1945 (London: Vintage, 1970); Kolko, Confronting the Third World: United States Foreign Policy, 1945–1980 (New York: Pantheon, 1988).

46 Cited in Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (London: Frank Cass, 2005), 40.

47 Ibid., 41.

48 Ibid., 42.

49 Ibid., 234, 297. The field manual was published in the 1987 parliamentary report of the Italian parliamentary investigation into the terrorist activities of P2, the CIA–MI6 sponsored Italian anti-communist network. See Commissione parlamentare d’inchiesta sulla loggia massonica P2. Allegati alla Relazione Doc. XXIII, n. 2-quarter/7/1, serie II, vol. VII, tomo I (Roma, 1987), 287–298.

50 Agence France-Presse (AFP), Dec. 12, 2000. 

51 Rahul Bedi, “Why? An Attempt to Explain the Unexplainable,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, September 14, 2001. Cited in Michel Chossudovsky, “Who is Osama bin Laden?”, Center for Research on Globalization (Montreal), September 12, 2001 (www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html).

52 Richard Labévière, Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam (New York: Algora Publishing, 2000), prologue. 

53 Chossudovsky, “Osamagate,” Center for Research on Globalization, Oct. 9, 2001 (www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO110A.html). 

54 Peter Dale Scott, “9/11 in Historical Perspective: Flawed Assumptions—Deep Politics: Drugs, Oil, Covert Operations and Terrorism, A Briefing for Congressional Staff,” in The 9/11 Report: One Year Later-—A Citizen’s Response (congressional briefing, Washington, DC, July 22, 2005). Available at ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~pdscott/911Background.htm.

55 Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000).

56 Ibid., 179.

57 Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005).

58 M. Boudjemaa, “Terrorism in Algeria: Ten Years of Day-to-Day Genocide,” in Jakkie Cilliers and Kathryn Sturman, ed., Africa and Terrorism: Joining the Global Campaign, Institute for Security Studies Monograph no. 74 (Pretoria, July 2002). Available at www.iss.co.za/PUBS/MONOGRAPHS/No74/Chap6.html.

59 Colin Robinson, “Armed Islamic Group a.k.a. Groupement Islamique Arme,” Center for Defense Information (Washington, DC), Feb. 5, 2003 (www.cdi.org/terrorism/gia_020503.cfm). See Ahmed, War on Truth.

60 ABC Asia Pacific, “Cause & Effect: Terrorism in the Asia Pacific Region,” 2004 (abcasiapacific.com/cause/network/armed_islamic.htm). 

61 Rohan Gunaratna and Phil Hirschkorn, et. al., “Blowback,” Jane’s Intelligence Review 13, no. 81 (Aug. 2001).

62 Guardian, April 8, 2004.

63 “Armed Islamic Group: Algeria, Islamists” in Terrorism: Questions & Answers, Council on Foreign Relations (Washington, DC), 2004 (cfrterrorism.org/groups/gia.html).

64 Cited in Betsy Hiel, “Algeria Valuable In Hunt For Terrorists,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Nov. 18, 2001.

65 John Sweeney and Leonard Dolye, “Algerian Regime Responsible for Massacres: Algerian Regime Was behind Paris Bombs,” Manchester Guardian Weekly, Nov. 16, 1997.

66 See Ahmed, The War on Truth, 68, 74.

67 Richard Norton-Taylor, “Terrorist Case Collapses after Three Years,” Guardian, March 21, 2000.

68 Ibid.

69 Derrick Jensen, “Nothing to Lose but our Illusions: An Interview with David Edwards,” The Sun magazine, June 2000. 

70 HRW, World Report 2000, op. cit.

71 See “Algeria,” United States Energy Information Administration, Feb. 1999 (www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/algeria.html). 

72 John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (London: Pluto Press, 1998), 205–206. 

73 Labévière, Dollars for Terror, 182–189. See Ahmed, War on Truth, 74, 75–77.

74 Paul Joseph Watson, Order Out of Chaos: Elite Sponsored Terrorism and the New World Order (AEJ Productions, 2002). 

75 Martin Bright, “MI6 ‘Halted Bid to Arrest bin Laden’,” Observer, Nov. 10, 2002 (observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4543555-102279,00.html). See Ahmed, War on Truth, op. cit. 

76 David Shayler, “MI6 Plot to Assassinate Colonel al-Qadhafi: Police Enquiries Confirms Plot is Not ‘Fantasy’,” press release, November 11, 2001 (www.cryptome.org/shayler-gaddafi.htm). 

77 David Shayler, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger,” Observer, Aug. 27, 2000 (www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4055752,00.html). 

78 Mark Hollingsworth, “Secrets, Lies and David Shayler: The Spy Agencies Are Pursuing the Press Because They Are Afraid,” Guardian, March 17, 2000 (www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604, 181807,00.html).

79 Patrick McGowan, “Call for Secret Shayler Trial,” Evening Standard, Oct. 7, 2002 (www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/articles/ 1488303). A detailed review of the Shayler affair can be found in the book by his partner, former MI5 officer Annie Machon, Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5, MI6 and the Shayler Affair (Brighton: Book Guild, 2005).

80 The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Most Wanted Terrorists, “Anas al-Liby” (www.fbi.gov/mostwant/terrorists/teralliby.htm). Viewed June 11, 2004.

81 Martin Bright, “MI6 ‘Halted Bid to Arrest bin Laden’,” Observer, Nov. 10, 2002, (observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4543555-102279,00.html). See Ahmed, War on Truth, 113–117. 

82 See Ahmed, War on Truth.

83 See Ahmed, “Terrorism and Statecraft.”

84 William M. Arkin, “The Secret War: Frustrated by Intelligence Failures, the Defense Department is Dramatically Expanding its ‘Black World” of Covert Operations,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 2002 (www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-op-arkin27oct27.story). 

85 Pamela Hess, “Panel Wants $7bn Elite Counter-terror Unit,” United Press International, Sept. 26, 2002 (www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20020925-041703-4695r).

86 Bill Berkowitz, “Hellzapoppin’ at the Pentagon: Rumsfeld’s Defense Science Board Proposes ‘Prodding’ Terrorists to Terrorism,” Working For Change (online magazine), Nov. 13, 2002 (www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=14076). 

87 Chris Floyd, “Into the Dark: The Terrorist Plan to Provoke Terrorist Attacks,” Counterpunch, Nov. 1 2002 (www.counterpunch.org/floyd1101.html).

88 Correspondents in Dubai, “Iraq Extremists Threaten Attacks,” The Australian, Nov. 24, 2004 (www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11488568%255E1702,00.html). 

89 Marie Colvin, “Al-Qaeda Directs Iraqi Hit Squad,” Sunday Times (London), Aug. 10, 2003. Excerpts available online at watch.windsofchange.net/03_0804_0810.htm#directs. 

90 Syed Saleem Shahzad, “US Fights Back Against ‘Rule by Clerics,’” Asia Times, Feb. 15, 2005 (www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/GB15Ak02.html).

91 “Cleric says al-Zarqawi died long ago,” Al-Jazeera News, Sept. 17, 2005 (english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/73570F02-EA07-492F-9E04-C080950DF180.htm).

+ + + ++ +

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in Brighton, England. He is the author of The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked, September 11, 2001 (2002), which won the Naples Prize, Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (2003), and The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism (2005).