Bin Laden's Letter to Me
by Eric Margolis: Franceís
Far Right Climbs Out of the Shadows
Why was I
named in alleged al-Qaida letters last week as a recipient for documents
not founded by Osama bin Laden, as many wrongly believe, but in
the mid-1980ís in Peshawar, Pakistan, by a revolutionary scholar,
Sheik Abdullah Azzam.
I know this
because I interviewed Azzam numerous times at al-Qaida HQ in Peshawar
while covering the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Azzam set up
al-Qaida, which means "the base" in Arabic, to help CIA
and Saudi-financed Arab volunteers going to fight in Soviet-occupied
Afghanistan. In those days, the west hailed them as "freedom
allegedly captured by US special forces from bin Ladenís compound,
Al-Qaidaís public relations people cited me and 19 other western
journalists as potential recipients of new documents about the 9/11
attacks on the US.
there. Iíve followed al-Qaida for the past 26 years as a writer,
broadcaster and military consultant. My columns are read widely
across South Asia and the Gulf. I have a reputation for being fiercely
independent-minded and determined to get at the truth, no matter
The big US
news networks heavily censored al-Qaidaís statements on government
orders, or misreported them, complete with fake videos of bin Laden.
cites redoubtable British writer Robert Fisk, the New Yorkerís
ace investigator Seymour Hersh, ABC News investigator Brian Ross,
and me as journalists who reported fairly and accurately on the
All of us veterans
have tried to report facts honestly and cut through propaganda from
all sides. We have all been strong critics of al-Qaida and terror
attacks, but also critics of heavy-handed, often counter-productive
US and western policies in the Muslim world.
As these letters
shows, Al-Qaida was never the vast, worldwide terror organization
that President George W. Bush claimed. As I witnessed, it was always
tiny, no more than 200 men. Al-Qaidaís original goal was to fight
the mostly Tajik and Uzbek Afghan Communists and their Soviet masters.
an ally of Taliban in this anti-Communist struggle. But Taliban
had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. As the renowned journalist
Arnaud de Borchgrave reported from Afghanistan, Talibanís tribal
chiefs tried to oust firebrand Bin Laden from their nation.
whatís left of al-Qaida numbers no more than 25 men in Afghanistan,
according to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Yet President Barack
Obama cites the alleged al-Qaida "threat" as the reason
for keeping US forces in Afghanistan and keeping Pakistan under
semi-occupation. That was the real purpose for releasing these letters.
Al-Qaida has become an integral part of US politics.
being used as a bogeyman by Americaís Republicans to defend bloated
US military spending and defend torture as having led to finding
bin Laden. My sources tell me a huge bribe led the US to bin Laden,
has been leaking so-called information claiming bin Laden was planning
a wave of terror attacks just before he died. In fact, bin Laden
had become an isolated, powerless jihadi living in retirement when
he was killed.
Why was he
not brought back to the US for trial?
An open trial
would have finally allowed Americans to discover the truth about
the crime of 9/11, al-Qaida, and anti-Americanism in the Muslim
world. Tragically, this did not happen. Dead men tell no tales..
still donít know how much bin Laden was involved in 9/11, or if
it was hatched in Pakistan. My own understanding is that 9/11 was
planned in Hamburg and Madrid, and executed by mostly Saudi citizens.
on after bin Laden, but as a tiny bunch of western-hating militants
with no power and little ability to stage major attacks. Violent
anti-American groups from West Africa to Indonesia have adopted
the title al-Qaida. For example, al-Qaida in Iraq never existed
before the US invasion.
Itís like the
slaves in the film "Spartacus" crying out, "we are
of al-Qaida are not centrally linked and have nothing in common
except for opposing western domination of the Muslim world and espousing
religious law. As US intervention in Africa and Central Asia intensifies,
so will they spread. Itís a perpetual terrorist motion machine.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2012 Eric Margolis
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