War in Afghanistan spawned a global narco-terrorist force 1995

Executive Intelligence Review

This article appeared in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.


War in Afghanistan spawned
a global narco-terrorist force

by Jeffrey Steinberg

On Christmas Eve 1979, the Soviet Red Army invaded Afghanistan. Advance echelons of KGB units captured the presidential palace, assassinated the once staunchly pro-Moscow President, and installed a more pliable successor, who announced—from Soviet territory—that he had “invited” the Russian forces to intervene under a recent Soviet-Afghani friendship treaty. Within a short period of time, Moscow had 89,000 troops inside Afghanistan.

Less than a month later, U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, stood at the Khyber Pass in Pakistan, and was photographed pointing a rifle across the border into Afghan territory. Brzezinski was in Pakistan to deliver a commitment from President Carter that the United States was ready to provide the government of Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq with massive military aid to help build up the Afghani mujahideen resistance to the Soviet invaders.

The ensuing decade of surrogate warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union drew the two superpowers into a geopolitical trap that proved disastrous for both. The defeat that the Red Army suffered at the hands of the massively western-backed Afghan mujahideen aggravated the ongoing crisis within the Warsaw Pact, that was actually triggered on March 23, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative, a policy that Moscow’s top leadership knew had been designed by Lyndon LaRouche. The SDI—not the Afghan War—was the principal, driving factor that accelerated the collapse of the Soviet system. The defeat in Afghanistan was but one more serious sign that the Bolshevik system was headed for the scrap-heap of history.

The impact upon the United States and the West as a whole would be more subtle, but, in the long run, equally disastrous. By falling for a British-authored geopolitical strategy of encouraging the spread of a virulently anti-western, nominally Islamic form of fundamentalism, the United States gave aid and comfort to the creation of a new terrorist international—far more deadly than the earlier global terrorist apparatus that stalked world leaders during the decade of the 1970s. The new terrorist international—built around the mujahideen veterans of the 1979-89 Afghan War—is responsible for such terrorist incidents as the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. And British intelligence-controlled operatives, such as Lord William Rees-Mogg’s underling Dr. Jack Wheeler, who were actively involved in the recruitment and training of the Afghani mujahideen, were implicated before the fact in the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which claimed 168 lives. The Afghani mujahideen are the primary force carrying out the irregular warfare destabilization of France, since the election of Jacques Chirac as President, and France’s ensuing break with the British “Entente Cordiale.”

Over the ten-year period that followed Brzezinski’s visit to the Khyber Pass, the United States would officially pour $3 billion into the Afghan mujahideen war against the Red Army, a relatively small fraction of the total cost of the effort. A broad spectrum of nations—from Britain and Israel, to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, China, and even Iran—would collectively contribute an equal amount of money.

According to one well-placed U.S. intelligence source, the combined Medellín and Cali Cartel contribution to the Afghan mujahideen was $10-20 billion!

A new opium war

Whether that figure is accurate or not, the profits from illegal narcotics sales unquestionably bankrolled the war—on both sides. By the mid-1980s, the Golden Crescent, extending from Iran to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was providing one-half of the heroin reaching the streets of the United States. Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) became a hub of guns-for-drugs trade, and Pakistan’s gross revenue from opium and heroin sales soared to $8-10 billion a year by 1988. That figure represented one-quarter of the Gross Domestic Product of Pakistan. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration statistics as of 1994 still identified Afghanistan as the source for one-third of all the heroin sold in the United States.

Prior to the outbreak of the Afghan War in 1979, the region’s opium production had been relatively small, after early 1970s eradication programs pushed through by the Nixon administration had taken the Golden Crescent out of the world heroin trade. What opium poppy was produced, went into the small addict population in South Asia. The Afghan War changed all of that. Not only did the Golden Crescent of Southwest Asia surpass the Southeast Asian Golden Triangle in opium production in the mid-1980s; by the same date, Pakistan’s opium addict population had skyrocketed to over 1.3 million people. In 1980, the figure was 5,000.

In the aftermath of the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan in February 1989, Afghanistan degenerated into a battlefield of rival mujahideen factions, who were more interested in controlling the lucrative opium poppy fields and in using the wartime military bases and vast stockpiles of hardware as training grounds for a whole new generation of international terrorists. According to one senior U.S. intelligence official, Iran moved quickly into the vacuum created by the sudden U.S. pullout.

At the center of both the drug and the terror efforts was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the head of one of Afghanistan’s seven rival mujahideen factions, who enjoyed the most active support of Pakistan’s British-trained and -modeled military intelligence agency, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).

Although American diplomats and intelligence officers posted in Pakistan often warned of Hekmatyar’s strong anti-western and pro-Iranian views, speculated about possible Soviet KGB links, and even acknowledged his undisputed status as Afghanistan’s “heroin king,” his forces received the largest portion of American and other international military support throughout the Afghan War. Intelligence reports back to Washington about the progress of the war were notoriously biased, and filled with disinformation portraying Hekmatyar’s mujahideen as the most successful fighters. Often the reports to the Pentagon and the CIA were identical to the reports prepared by British intelligence—complete with the same spelling and typographical errors. More reliable on-the-scene reports indicated that Hekmatyar spent more time and effort fighting rival mujahideen groups than battling the Soviets.

Yet, months after the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan, CBS journalist Kurt Lohbeck witnessed a massive delivery of weapons to Hekmatyar’s camp at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by American intelligence officials. And according to Lohbeck, the Bush administration placed so much emphasis on Hekmatyar’s conquest of postwar Afghanistan that U.S. diplomats were ordered to drop all public criticisms of Hekmatyar, as the arms pipeline remained open.

A new terrorist international

Under a summer 1979 Presidential Finding, the Carter administration expanded the already-ongoing covert financing of the Afghan mujahideen for the stated purpose of “increasing the costs” to the Soviet Union of its efforts inside Afghanistan. Even after the December 1979 Soviet invasion of the country, the goal remained essentially the same.

When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated President in January 1981, the U.S. objective in Afghanistan shifted. No longer satisfied to heap additional penalties on the Soviets, the Reagan administration sought to drive the Red Army out of Afghanistan. To accomplish this, it was estimated that a mujahideen fighting force of no less than 150,000 trained and well-equipped troops would have to be created. To accomplish this, a worldwide recruitment effort was conducted, which stretched from the Afghani exile communities in Europe, to North Africa, to other parts of the Islamic world, to the streets of America.

By the time the Red Army completed its pullout from Afghanistan, in February 1989, the ranks of the Afghan mujahideen groups were swelled with combatants who had been recruited to fight the “Great Atheistic Satan” in Moscow. Out of that operation evolved a mercenary force, currently estimated at over 10,000, who have shifted their anger from Moscow to the West, and who now comprise the largest labor pool of potential terrorists ever seen.

According to the April 1995 edition of Jane’s Intelligence Review, “afghansi” fighters are now actively deployed “across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, China and Kashmir, the Philippines and Tajikistan and the U.S. eastern seaboard.”

Among the largest “Afghan veteran” contingents: 5,000 Saudis, 3,000 Yemenis, 2,000 Egyptians, 2,800 Algerians, 400 Tunisians, 370 Iraqis, and 200 Libyans. According to the Jane’s report, the Chechen capital of Grozny became “a key transit point for Arab veterans of the Afghan war.”

While the majority of these veterans are not part of the new terrorist international, enough of them have been recruited—either by British intelligence, Iran, or other intelligence services or crime syndicates—that they now represent a serious national security concern for virtually every nation on earth.

Sinking into the trap

The United States had become involved—at a token level—in bankrolling several Pakistani-supported mujahideen groups in May 1979, when CIA station chief John Joseph Reagan was introduced, for the first time, to a pre-selected group of Afghani rebel leaders. The Pakistanis told the Americans that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was the most skilled, best armed, and most popular of the half-dozen mujahideen leaders actively engaged in battling the Soviet client regime in Kabul. Reagan had virtually no independent intelligence profile of the Afghan rebels, and had no alternative but to take the Pakistani ISI briefings at face value. The briefings were a British-scripted lie.

Ironically, back in Washington, President Carter’s CIA director, Adm. Stansfield Turner, had initially voiced his opposition to even the token aid program for the Afghan mujahideen. According to several published accounts, including Bob Woodward’s biography of William Casey, Turner was disturbed that U.S. intelligence had fallen under the near-total domination of British intelligence; and it was apparently the British, who were gung-ho to get the Americans engaged in a surrogate war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Turner’s prescient concerns were ignored by President Carter, who had by then fallen increasingly under the sway of his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski had, in turn, been seduced by a senior British intelligence figure, Oxford University’s leading Arabist, Dr. Bernard Lewis, into believing that Islamic fundamentalism could be played as a “geo-strategic” card to destabilize the Soviet empire all across South Asia. In a Time magazine cover story published on Jan. 15, 1979, Brzezinski proclaimed Iran, Afghanistan, and the Indian subcontinent as an “arc of crisis” that posed a grave challenge to the West, but could also spell doom for the Soviet empire.

Time’s cover story on “The Crescent of Crisis” ended with the following observation: “In the long run there may even be targets of opportunity for the West created by ferment within the crescent. Islam is undoubtedly compatible with socialism, but it is inimical to atheistic Communism. The Soviet Union is already the world’s fifth largest Muslim nation. By the year 2000, the huge Islamic populations in the border republics may outnumber Russia’s now dominant Slavs. From Islamic democracies on Russia’s southern tier, a zealous Koranic evangelism might sweep across the border into these politically repressed Soviet states, creating problems for the Kremlin…. Whatever the solution, there is a clear need for the U.S. to recapture what Kissinger calls ‘the geopolitical momentum.’ That more than anything else will help maintain order in the crescent of crisis.”

Fifteen years later, when some of the very Afghani mujahideen who had given Moscow a bloody nose were turned loose as an international terrorist force, carrying out some of their most heinous crimes on the streets of America (including at the front gate of the CIA headquarters), a senior CIA officer who had played a central role in the Afghan War admitted to New York Times reporter Tim Weiner that, back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, when the United States first began pouring in billions of dollars in aid to the Afghans, it had never occurred to anyone inside U.S. intelligence that the program would blow back in such a bloody fashion. Charles G. Cogan, the CIA’s operations chief for the Near East and South Asia from 1979-84, told Weiner: “It’s quite a shock. The hypothesis that the mujahideen would come to the United States and commit terrorist actions did not enter into our universe of thinking at the time. We were totally preoccupied with the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It is a significant unintended consequence.”

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Replaying the ‘Great Game’

Maybe it was unintended in Washington and Langley, but not so elsewhere. Such American naiveté was anticipated in London, where British intelligence had a 200-year history of playing what Rudyard Kipling had dubbed the “Great Game” across the steppes of Central Asia, and where Islam had been probed, prodded, and profiled by the British East India Company, and by the successor British India Office’s Arab Bureau, since the time of James Mill, and, later, Lawrence of Arabia.

Great Britain jealously guarded its Great Game, and, at times, fiercely fought to keep the United States out of the picture.

In 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had gone so far as to assert that Afghanistan was “denied territory” to the Americans, when President Franklin Roosevelt dispatched his most trusted military aide, Gen. Patrick Hurley, to Kabul to get a first-hand picture of how Afghanistan might be drawn into FDR’s vision of a postwar decolonized world. British intelligence did everything short of assassinating Hurley to prevent him from successfully reaching the Afghan capital. When Hurley did finally get to Kabul and spend four days with the king and senior government officials, he made such a lasting impression that the Afghanis immediately declared themselves anxious to forge a partnership with the Americans, whom they saw as totally different from the two imperial Great Game rivals, England and Russia, who had kept the country in a state of enforced backwardness and poverty for half a century, preventing the construction of even a railroad or a paved highway. Senior British military officials, based out of the Northwest Frontier Province across the border in Pakistan, had, however, put their stamp of approval on the production of vast crops of opium poppy in the rich mountains of Afghanistan, and had facilitated the processing and distribution of that opium in the South Asian and Chinese markets.

With the death of FDR, Afghanistan’s vision of economic partnership with America died as well. Once again, Afghanistan fell into the category of denied territory for the United States.

The British destabilization of the “arc of crisis” began with the Khomeini Revolution in Iran, which overthrew the Shah in February 1979. Khomeini had been a longstanding British intelligence tool, and Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution was a crucial ingredient in the Bernard Lewis Plan.

Brzezinski, long schooled in British geopolitics, had locked the United States into the British Great Game in the early days of the Carter administration, when he rejected Japanese offers to finance major development projects in Iran and Mexico. Brzezinski had declared that there would be “no new Japans in the Persian Gulf or south of the Rio Grande.” That American embrace of British geopolitics doomed the Shah, and drew the United States into the British covert drive to install Khomeini in power. With the taking of the American embassy hostages in November 1979, the United States was drawn ever deeper into the “arc of crisis.”

It would be an oversimplification to say that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was the result of a fine-tuned British conspiracy. However, mujahideen operations had been launched inside Afghanistan as early as 1974, when Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was manipulated into sponsoring a 5,000-man guerrilla force under the direction of a young Islamic fanatic, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to destabilize the country and dissuade Afghanistan’s President Muhammed Daud from pursuing a “Greater Pushtun” nation extending into Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Territory. Back at the height of the Great Game in the late nineteenth century, the British had deliberately created an Indian-Afghan border that cut through the middle of the Pushtun tribal territory, thereby setting up a border crisis that could be manipulated at will.

Although Hekmatyar’s forces were soundly defeated in 1974, the effort did result in Muhammed Daud’s decision to negotiate a border deal with Primen Minister Bhutto that brought a temporary peace to the area. The situation dramatically changed when Prime Minister Bhutto was overthrown in 1977 by the Pakistani military, under the direction of Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. During the same period, the Soviet-backed Afghani communists launched their own drive to power, which ultimately resulted in the overthrow of Muhammed Daud and the installation of a Soviet-puppet regime in April 1978.

British brains and American dollars

A careful review of the covert apparatus established to support the Afghan mujahideen effort against the Red Army (see other articles in this section) shows that the entire program was directed, top-down, from London—either directly through senior British intelligence figures like the Privy Council head, Lord Cranborne, or through notorious Anglophiles within the U.S. intelligence establishment, like Wall Street banker John Train and International Rescue Committee President Leo Cherne.

Under National Security Directive 3, signed by President Reagan in early 1982, Vice President George Bush was placed in charge of the entire global covert action program. It was Bush’s Special Situation Group (SSG) and Crisis Pre-Planning Group (CPPG) at the White House, that deployed Oliver North, Richard Secord, “Public Diplomacy” head Walter Raymond, and the entire Iran-Contra crew. Throughout the 1980s, the Afghan War was the largest single program under this Bush chain of command. And because the Afghan program was sold to the U.S. Congress as an opportunity to give the Soviets “their own Vietnam,” it enjoyed nearly unanimous support and financing—and was to remain a well-kept secret.

Private sector figures like John Train and Leo Cherne (who also served on President Reagan’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, PFIAB), who coordinated the American aid program to the Hekmatyar forces, were senior officials in the Bush-directed program.

The ‘Get LaRouche’ effort

It is particularly noteworthy that Train and Cherne simultaneously played central roles in the campaign to slander and then frame up Lyndon LaRouche and his associates, on behalf of George Bush and Henry Kissinger.

While heading the Afghan Relief Committee (ARC), Train organized a media salon, involving the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL), NBC-TV, Readers Digest, the New Republic, and others, which churned out mountains of black propaganda against LaRouche, and set the stage for the railroad prosecution and jailing of him and many of his associates. Train’s chain of command on the “Get LaRouche” effort ran into the White House via Walter Raymond—the same person who coordinated Train’s Afghan support efforts within the Bush White House task force.

Cherne used his position on PFIAB to ensure, on behalf of his close friend Henry Kissinger, that the FBI launched a bogus “national security” probe of LaRouche in January 1983—at the very moment that LaRouche was serving as a back channel for National Security Adviser William Clark in sensitive talks with Moscow on what later became President Reagan’s SDI.

This article appeared in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

The Anglo-American support apparatus
behind the Afghani mujahideen

by Adam K. East

Following the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in December 1979, the U.S. administration, first under Carter and then under Reagan, launched a massive support and training campaign for the Afghan freedom fighters, or “mujahideen” (holy warriors), as they came to be known. In addition to overt and covert funding operations by various U.S. governmental agencies for the mujahideen, a plethora of private “aid” agencies, think-tanks, and other odd outfits joined the fray, with the ostensible aim of helping the Afghans to liberate their nation from the clutches of the Soviet invaders.

However, a closer look at the activities of these private agencies reveals that there was much more at stake. As the profiles below show, the source of policy for most of these groups was British intelligence. As such, these groups lobbied the U.S. Congress, set up conferences, launched pro-mujahideen propaganda campaigns, and, in some cases, even provided military training for various mujahideen groups. U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, and the region, was largely determined by the aims of these “committees,” which also represented the controlling “mediators” between the mujahideen and British policy.

Some of the members and leaders of the organizations profiled below were also involved with some of the figures in the drugs-for-guns related Iran-Contra networks of then-Vice President George Bush and his sidekick Oliver North.

Afghan Aid U.K./Radio Free Kabul

Afghan Aid U.K. (AIUK), together with Radio Free Kabul of London, were the two most important coordinators of Afghan mujahideen aid efforts internationally throughout the Afghan War.

Afghan Aid U.K. was set up in Peshawar, Pakistan, by Romy Fullerton, in the early stages of the war. She was the wife of the British journalist John Fullerton, who has written extensively on Afghanistan, and the Afghan War. The main sponsor and funder of the group was Viscount Cranbourne, currently Lord Privy Seal (chief of the Queen’s Privy Council), and Leader of the House of Lords.

Viscount Cranbourne is a member of the Cecil family, one of the oldest and most powerful oligarchical families in Britain, whose ancestor, Lord Burghley, was the Lord Privy Seal and Lord Treasurer of Queen Elizabeth I. Viscount Cranbourne is the son and heir to the current Sixth Marquis of Salisbury. His grandfather, the Fifth Marquis, had been a British colonial secretary in World War II, and a postwar foreign minister, as well as having been Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. His great-great-grandfather, the famous Third Marquis of Salisbury, had been the British prime minister and foreign minister from 1878-87, and again 1900-02; he helped lay the basis for World War I. The family motto is, “Late, but seriously.”

AIUK’s initial refugee aid programs were soon expanded to include numerous other services, including medical and agricultural aid, and it even offered a hostel for British journalists. According to one U.S. journalist, AIUK received “considerable British government funding” in addition to “massive amounts of money” from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In order to solicit U.S. government funds for this British operation, Viscount Cranbourne once appeared before the U.S. Congress Special Joint Task Force on Afghanistan, where he attracted considerable attention by twirling his full-length cape around his chair before seating himself to testify.

AIUK funneled much of its support to Masood in the north of the country, to the Tajiks (as opposed to the Pushtuns in the south). Masood’s brother is currently the Afghan “ambassador” to London.

Radio Free Kabul

Radio Free Kabul was formed almost immediately after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, by Lord Nicholas Bethell, a former lord-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II. A career British intelligence official with a specialization in Iranian and Arab affairs, Lord Bethell had served in the Mideast and Soviet sections of official British intelligence, MI6. Lord Bethell had been a decades-long friend and colleague of British intelligence operative Kim Philby, who “defected” to the Soviet Union in 1963.

Radio Free Kabul, which was formed virtually single-handedly by Lord Bethell, was run out of Coutts and Co., the private banker to Queen Elizabeth.

In 1981, Lord Bethell accompanied British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on a tour of the United States dedicated to drumming up support for the mujahideen. Thatcher and Lord Bethell met over 60 congressmen and senators, and aided in organizing the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, the de facto U.S. arm of Radio Free Kabul. In 1983, Radio Free Kabul sponsored the formation of Resistance International, which pulled together various “freedom movements” sponsored by the Thatcher and Reagan-Bush administrations, including the Afghan mujahideen, the Nicaraguan Contras, anti-Castro Cubans, and various anti-communist eastern European and African movements.

Lord Bethell was also the British sponsor of the operations of Jon Speller, a former aide to CIA director Allen Dulles, who played an instrumental role, as did Bethell, in coordinating the operations of the Sikh independence movement (Khalistan), which was allied to the Afghan mujahideen.

Other figures on the board of Radio Free Kabul included:

  • Ray Whitney, a former British intelligence official who had for years run the disinformation operations unit of the Foreign Office, the so-called Information Research Department. Whitney’s outfit was the model for the Reagan administration’s new creation, the National Endowment for Democracy. 
  • Winston Churchill III, the grandson of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, who was reportedly the main financial backer of the group. 
  • Lord Morrison of Lambeth, the former head of the British Foreign Office when two of his employees, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess of the Philby ring, fled to Moscow. 
  • Baron Chalfont, the former British foreign secretary and longtime defense correspondent, with a particular expertise in Mideast affairs.
Afghanistan Relief Commitee

The Afghan Relief Committee was established in 1980 by Wall Street investment banker and spook John Train, who handles the family fortunes of some of the oldest and most powerful U.S. establishment families, such as the Mellons. The organization was housed in Train’s investment consultant office. Train was the president of the group, and, according to a 1980 Washington Post article, “its financial whiz.” Simultaneous with his founding of ARC, Train was organizing a “media salon” of press prostitutes to launch a massive slander attack on EIR’s founder, Lyndon LaRouche.

The stated purpose of the ARC was to raise “seed money” for medical organizations treating casualties among the mujahideen. After receiving the Relief Committee’s seed money, the medical organizations were expected to go elsewhere for financing. The ARC was especially fond of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami group (see article, p. 26).

Also operative were Leo Cherne’s International Rescue Committee (IRC), whose Peshawar-based office was staffed mostly with Hekmatyar’s gang; the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); and the State Department’s Agency for International Development. CIA director William Casey was on the IRC’s board of directors, and served as its president at one time. Cherne was then vice-director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), with offices at the White House.

From its inception, the ARC worked closely with Freedom House, which had been chaired by Cherne since the 1940s, and whose treasurer, Walter Schloss, was a longtime business associate of Train. Rosanne Klass, vice president of the ARC, was also the director of Freedom House’s Afghanistan Information Center, and had formerly been the founding director of the Afghanistan Council of the Asia Society.

Founders of the ARC, in addition to Train, included four former U.S. ambassadors to Afghanistan: Francis L. Kellogg, a decades-long associate of Train from the prominent grain-interest family; Train’s cousin Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.); and the ubiquitous professors Louis Dupree and Thomas Gouttierre, both longstanding Afghan hands for U.S. intelligence. Jeane Kirkpatrick, later the Reagan administration ambassador to the U.N., was co-chairman of the group.

The main known financial beneficiaries of the group were:

  • Doctors Without Borders, run by Ronny Brauman in Paris. This organization, whose most prominent representative was Danielle Mitterrand, wife of President François Mitterrand of France, also received money from the National Endowment for Democracy. 
  • Freedom Medical of Washington, D.C. 
  • Aide Medicale International 
  • Sainte Sud of Marseilles

Most money to such groups, although not these specifically, originated with the International Rescue Committee or Relief International. The first two listed received almost all of ARC’s funds.

ARC on-the-ground operations (like those of many other western organizations) were based in Peshawar, Pakistan, the main Pakistani base of the mujahideen. ARC-funded physicians were smuggled into Afghanistan from this base. Foreign national physicians were preferred for this function.

ARC also worked with the National Endowment for Democracy, the congressionally created funding conduit for Project Democracy, on two NED Afghan projects: the Writers Union of Free Afghanis and Freedom House’s Afghan Information Center. The two groups were dedicated to training Afghan mujahideen spokesmen in “communication skills.” Additionally, the group received NED grants to operate schools inside Afghanistan.

Honorary co-chairmen of the group drawn from the Congress included: Senators Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana, Alfonse D’Amato (R) and Daniel Moynihan (D) of New York, Claiborne Pell, Gordon Humphrey (R) of New Hampshire, Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah, and Representatives Charles Rangel (D) of New York and Bill McCollum (R) of Florida.

Committee for a Free Afghanistan

CFA was founded in 1981 in the aftermath of a trip by Prime Minister Thatcher and Radio Free Kabul founder Lord Bethell to the United States, dedicated to building U.S. support for the mujahideen. The founding executive director of CFA, Karen McKay, was reputed to be the mistress of Lord Bethell. From its inception, the CFA acted as the U.S. arm of Bethell’s London-based Radio Free Kabul.

McKay, a major in the Rapid Deployment Force reserves, had spent four years in the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, studying unconventional warfare in the 1960s. Following active duty, McKay spent nine years in Greece and Israel as a freelance journalist, during which time she also studied for a doctorate in history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She returned from Israel shortly before taking over CFA.

CFA’s publicly known funding came largely from the Heritage Foundation, an offshoot of the British Fabian Society, the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation headed by Paul Weyrich, and Accuracy in Media, of which CFA was a formal arm.

CFA also held numerous conferences and other events throughout the early and mid-1980s, which attempted to organize Americans to support the Afghan mujahideen cause, while simultaneously raising funds. It also put out a publication called the Free Afghanistan Report.

The committee actively lobbied Congress. In addition, it managed to gain the sympathy of some high-ranking military officials.

Although the CFA provided funds for almost all of the “Peshawar Seven” groups of mujahideen, the Jamiat-e-Islami, of Burhanudeen Rabbani and his military commander Ahmad Shah Masood, was CFA’s favored group. It brought various mujahideen leaders to Washington in order to influence the decision-making regarding aid for the Afghan War.

In late 1981, McKay took part in a conference in Paris organized by Lord Bethell aimed at patching together an alliance of the more traditionalist groups of the mujahideen, under the banner of the Islamic Federation of Mujahideen. The groups included the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan of Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani—the group most patronized by Lord Bethell; the Afghan National Liberation Front of Sebghatullah Mojaddidi; and the Islamic Revolutionary Movement of Mohammed Nabi Mohammedi.

CFA was also engaged in raising funds for Radio Free Kabul, International Medical Aid, and Doctors Without Borders.

Some of CFA’s key figures included:

  • Maj. Gen J. Milnor Roberts, chairman of the CFA board of directors, a member of the board of the U.S. branch of World Anti-Communist League (WACL) during the 1980s, and executive director of the Reserve Officers Association. In 1984, Roberts expressed satisfaction over the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which he stated benefited the Afghan War against the Soviets. He also later told a journalist that the 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi would help western interests in the region. 
  • Charles Moser, professor of Slavic Studies at George Washington University. 
  • David Isby, author of a book for Jane’s Defense Weekly of Britain, which analyzed Soviet weaponry. Isby was working for Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Calif.) when he joined the CFA. He later became a contributing editor and Soviet analyst for Soldier of Fortune magazine. 
  • Brig. Gen. Theodore Mataxis, who served as a “military adviser” to the mujahideen, and also paid regular visits to the Salvadoran-based Contras, and the Cambodian rebels in Thailand. From 1986-70, Mataxis was a senior officer with the Army’s Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Iran.

The list of CFA’s Council of Advisers also included Gen. John Singlaub, the former international president of WACL who was deeply involved in various Iran-Contra operations; former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency head Gen. Daniel Graham; former Reagan-Bush administration National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen; Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Claiborne Pell, Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.), and Paul Simon (D-Ill.); and Representatives Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.), Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), and Charles Wilson (D-Tex.).

Other members of its advisory council included Washington Times editor Arnaud de Borchgrave, whose cousin Alexander de Marenches was then running French intelligence; and two known CIA operatives, Louis Dupree and Thomas Goutierre. A Peace Corps veteran of Afghanistan, Goutierre is now the director of the Center for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska. Dupree, formerly with the U.S. Military Academy, has written a book on Afghanistan and also authored many articles for Soldier of Fortune during the Afghan War.

Fundraisers for the CFA included the Bush-linked televangelist Pat Robertson, former Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke, and former U.S. Attorney General Eliot Richardson.

Federation for American Afghan Action

The FAAA was founded in 1983, with the help of Paul Weyrich and his Coalition for America, the Heritage Foundation, and the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, of which it was a de facto arm. The first executive director of the Federation for American Afghan Action, which was based at the Heritage Foundation, was Andrew Eiva. Eiva’s career started at West Point; upon graduation in 1972, he went on to command paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division in North Carolina. While with the 82nd, Eiva also led a detachment of Green Berets which specialized in Soviet weapons, tactics, and languages.

Eiva officially gave up his West Point commission in 1980, and went to Afghanistan and other places in order to train the mujahideen. He reportedly trained Afghan guerrillas in bases in West Germany and the United States. Later that year, Eiva came to know Louis Dupree of the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, and soon became president of the Free Afghanistan Alliance in Massachusetts. In that capacity, he came in contact with the CFA’s Charles Moser, who brought him to Washington, D.C.

A few notable figures who were on the FAAA board of directors include:

  • Louis Dupree of the Committee for a Free Afghanistan. 
  • Don Weidenweber, who founded American Aid for Afghans (AAA) in 1980, which organized the delivery of combat supplies to the Afghan mujahideen, and which worked closely with Lord Bethell’s Radio Free Kabul. 
  • Matthew D. Erulkar, formerly with the Peace Corps in Zaire, who worked as the legislative director of FAAA, and executive director of its American Afghan Education Fund. In 1985, he formed an organization called the Afghan Support Team in Washington, D.C. That same year he claims to have covertly penetrated the Soviet Union with the Afghan mujahideen, “carrying Korans and other Islamic texts.”

In cooperation with Senator Tsongas and others, FAAA introduced legislation in Congress to provide funds for the mujahideen in 1984-85. Its May 1985 International Conference on Afghanistan, held in Virginia, was attended, among others, by:

  • Louis Dupree, FAAA board member. 
  • Edward Luttwak, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 
  • Col. Robert Downs (USAF, ret.), an expert in “clandestine air resupply operations,” according to Karen McKay. 
  • Anthony Arnold, a former CIA officer and author of Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Perspective, whose overseas service included two years in Afghanistan. 
  • Ralph Magnus, a former United States Information Service (USIS) official in Kabul (1962-65). From 1983-84, Magnus served as the original project director of “Americares For Afghans,” a project of the Americares Foundation, with responsibility for establishing ties between Americares and the Peshawar offices of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, and the Belgian group Solidarité Afghanistan. Americares was created by George Bush’s career-long associate, Robert C. Macauley, and included the president’s brother, Prescott Bush, on its board. 
  • Angelo Codevilla, legislative assistant to Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.). 
  • Mike Utter, executive director of the International Medical Corps. IMC worked closely with the American Aid for Afghans and was also contracted by the USAID to help resupply the Nicaraguan Contras. IMC was instrumental in the effort to send Stinger missiles to the Afghan mujahideen, and also helped to force CIA Deputy Director John McMahon out of office. McMahon had reportedly displayed hesitancy in sending Stingers to the Afghans.

To make matters even more intriguing, former British foreign secretary Robin Cook – as loyal a pro-American Atlanticist as exists – conceded in the Guardian on July 8, 2005 that “Bin Laden was…a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”

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