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Will the real Osama bin Laden please stand up?

By Scott Marshall
If it turns out that Osama bin Laden really did mastermind the suicide destruction of the World Trade Center, then his crimes are truly horrible. For these crimes against humanity there can be no hint of justification. There is no "yeah, but ..." for this terrible butchery of people. Most victims were ordinary working-class folks and many were trade unionists. Likewise there can be no excuses or justification for those who may have aided him, nor for those who may have helped train him and shape him into a world class terrorist. Just as he must be brought to justice for his crimes, so must those who aided and abetted his twisted terrorist career. Bits and pieces of Osama bin Laden's past and present connections and associations are coming to light. It is high time for a thorough investigation into who helped him become a skilled terrorist mastermind, in addition to the current investigation of his responsibility for these terrible attacks.
Fortunately, enough of bin Laden's background and shadowy connections are beginning to emerge in the mass media to point the way to the real story. Back in 1998, in the wake of the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, Michael Moran, a senior editor at MSNBC, raised some serious questions in an article entitled "Bin Laden comes home to roost." Moran's story details some of bin Laden's direct involvement with the CIA in Cold War efforts to overthrow the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and in the 1980s. Moran shows the links between the CIA, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and bin Laden's terrorist front organization in Afghanistan, known as Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK). Bin Laden went on to use some of the more extreme right-wing elements of the MAK to form his al-Qaida organization. Moran states in his story, "It should be pointed out that the evidence of bin Laden's connection to these activities is mostly classified, thought it is hard to imagine the CIA rushing to take credit for a Frankenstein's monster like this."
It's time to demand that those files be opened and the truth revealed. This was not a simple Cold War effort to help those fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. According to Ahmed Rashid, writing in the November-December 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs: "With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad." In fact the CIA funnelled between $5 and $6 billion into these operations. By 1984 this meant the U.S. was sending 65,000 tons of weapons annually into Afghanistan, including sophisticated ground-to-air stinger missiles. It was the largest secret CIA operation of all time. At the same time the CIA, working mostly through the ISI, provided sophisticated terrorist and guerrilla training to bin Laden and his fanatical cohorts. That training is still used in bin Laden's al-Qaida, the organization Bush and Powell accuse of carrying out the New York and Washington attacks. Many of bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan were built with CIA money. It should also be noted that this ultra-right mix of spies, thugs and rightwing, phoney-religious nationalism has also provided terrorist forces for bloody, horrific operations in Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya. MAK veterans also led the Kosovo Liberation Army, which continues to threaten innocent civilians in Macedonia.
Another aspect of bin Laden's origins as a CIA operative in Afghanistan that needs to be explored is the CIA, ISI and MAK connection to the heroin trade. Within two years of the CIA operations in Afghanistan, the area, which once had no local production of heroin, became the world's top heroin producer.
Michel Chossudovsky Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, quoting other sources writes:
"The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related to the CIA's covert operations ... During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests ... U.S. officials had refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies 'because U.S. narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there.'" There is a final side to bin Laden that needs to be investigated. Some would portray him as a champion of the poor and downtrodden. Some have even called him anti-imperialist. This is rubbish that needs to be discarded. It is reported that bin Laden was given $300 million by his father as his inheritance.
Bin Laden's father owned one of the largest construction companies in the world with close ties to the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Bin Laden worked for a time in his family-owned, billion-dollar corporation. Much if not most of the cadre that bin Laden recruited for MAK and al-Qaida are from the upper classes. They are reactionary nationalists who certainly hate the U.S., but have no regard for the poor or working class of any country.
If bin Laden is guilty of attacks in New York and Washington, so are his handlers, financial backers and those who taught him terrorist expertise. They all should be brought to justice.
Further the American people need to demand an accounting of a military-spy complex that continues to use our tax dollars to produce the likes of Timothy McVeigh, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. For those who want more information here are a couple of useful Web links: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html (Michel Chossudovsky's article) http://www.msnbc.com/news/190144.asp (Michael Moran's article) http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/CIA%20Hits/Afghanistan_CIAHits.html (article by Mark Zapezauer)

Scott Marshall is a vice chair of the CPUSA and chair of its Labor Commission.