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Mark Curtis on British Intelligence and Islamic terrorism
Bin Laden, the Taliban, Zawahiri: Britain's done business with them all

Five years after the 7/7 bombings in London, the UK's decades-long collusion with radical Islam is still going strong

By Mark Curtis

Quote:When the London bombers struck five years ago, many people blamed the invasion of Iraq for inspiring them. But the connection between 7/7 and British foreign policy goes much deeper. The terrorist threat to Britain is partly "blowback", resulting from a web of British covert operations with militant Islamist groups stretching back decades. And while terrorism is held up as the country's biggest security challenge, Whitehall's collusion with radical Islam is continuing.

Two of the four London bombers were trained in Pakistani camps run by the Harkat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) terrorist group, which has long been sponsored by Pakistan to fight Indian forces in Kashmir. Britain not only arms and trains Pakistan but in the past provided covert aid benefiting the HUM. There are credible suggestions that Britain facilitated the dispatch of HUM volunteers to fight in Yugoslavia and Kosovo in the 90s. Earlier, MI6's covert war in Afghanistan involved the military training of various Islamist groups to counter the Soviet occupation of the country. Many HUM militants were instructed by an insurgent faction that Britain was covertly training and arming with anti-aircraft missiles.

One of that faction's warlords was Jalalludin Haqqani, who is now the Taliban's overall military commander fighting the British; his past is not something the Ministry of Defence relates to the young soldiers deployed to Helmand province. Another old friend is the Afghan commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, known as a ruthless killer, who was given covert aid and training in the 1980s and was even received by officials in Whitehall. It was Hekmatyar who Britain backed to conduct secret operations inside the Muslim republics of the Soviet Union.

The further twist is that Britain is now reliant on doing a deal with these forces to secure something more than a humiliating exit from the increasingly brutal war in Afghanistan. The stakes are exceedingly high – General Sir David Richards, the head of the British army, has said that the "UK's authority and reputation in the world" are on the line in Afghanistan. He also remarked last week that talks should be held with the Taliban "pretty soon".

In fact, Whitehall has been desperately trying to do a deal with the Taliban since at least 2004, when it is claimed that Maulana Fazlur Rahman, a radical pro-Taliban cleric in Pakistan, was invited to visit the Foreign Office. Rahman told the Pakistani media that "Britain is holding indirect talks with the Taliban militia to seek an honourable American exit from Afghanistan".

This dependence on militant Islamists to achieve foreign policy objectives is an echo of the past, when such collusion was aimed at controlling oil resources and overthrowing nationalist governments. The Anglo-American operation in Iran in 1953 to remove the popular Mossadeq government, which had nationalised British oil operations, involved plotting with Ayatollah Seyyed Kashani, the founder of the militant fundamentalist group Devotees of Islam. MI6 and the CIA financed demonstrations against Mossadeq, and even discussed installing Kashani – a predecessor of Ayatollah Khomeini – as Iran's leader after the coup. The Foreign Office noted that in power Kashani "would conceivably accept western money", but viewed him as "a complete political reactionary", and therefore not reliable as a long-term asset.

Also targeted was Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, who in 1952 overthrew the pro-British King Farouk, providing an Arab nationalist alternative to the pro-western monarchies in the Middle East. Britain had first covertly funded the Muslim Brotherhood, a new radical force with a terrorist wing, in 1942, and further links were made with the organisation after Nasser's revolution. By 1956, when Britain invaded Egypt, contacts were developed as part of plans to overthrow Nasser. Indeed, the invasion was undertaken in the knowledge that the Muslim Brotherhood might form the new regime. After Nasser died in 1970, and the pro-western president Anwar Sadat secretly sponsored militant Islamist cells to counter nationalists and communists, British officials were still describing the Brotherhood as "a potentially handy weapon" for the regime.

Declassified files reveal that planners recognised their Islamist collaborators as anti-western, but entered into marriages of convenience to achieve short-term objectives. As British power waned in the Middle East, Whitehall sought out all the allies it could find, with little regard for the long-term consequences. Britain's role in the emergence of global terrorism should not be exaggerated, but there are many contributions: opposition to Arab nationalism, which paved the way for the rise of radical Islam in the 1970s; support for the Afghan holy warriors in the 1980s, from which emerged Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida; and the phenomenon of "Londonistan" in the 1990s, when the capital became an organising centre for global jihad, tolerated by the authorities.

But Whitehall's view of Islamist militants as handy weapons or shock troops is far from historical. In 1999, during Nato's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, the Blair government secretly trained fighters in the Kosovo Liberation Army to act as Nato's soldiers on the ground. The KLA was openly described by ministers as a terrorist organisation, and worked closely with al-Qaida fighters who joined the Muslim cause; their military centre was in the same camp network in Kosovo and Albania where the SAS were providing training. One KLA unit was led by the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden's right-hand man. This murky feature of Blair's "humanitarian intervention" remains conveniently overlooked in most accounts of the war.

The attacks of 9/11 and 7/7 have made Britain revise but not end its secret affair with radical Islam. In the occupation of southern Iraq, Britain's weak position led to conniving with Shia militias. Liberal, secular forces were bypassed after the invasion, and when Britain withdrew its combat forces it in effect handed responsibility for "security" to these militias. The irony is that Britain's favoured collaborator, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, has long been Iran's favoured vehicle for its policy in Iraq. Britain also continues its deep alliance with a Pakistan that is the main protector of the Taliban, and does little to press Islamabad to end its support for the jihad in Kashmir. Thus, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Whitehall has been in the bizarre situation of being allied to its enemy.

Militants may be serving other useful functions. The then Foreign Office minister Kim Howells told a parliamentary inquiry in March 2007: "At dinners at embassies around the world I have suddenly discovered that somebody happens to be sitting next to me who is from the respectable end of a death squad from somewhere. The ambassador has, with the best will in the world, invited that person along because he thinks that, under the new democracy, they will become the new government."

The government says it has prevented 12 bomb plots in the last decade and that we face a threat from 200 networks. My concern is that the wards of state pledging to protect us have neither accounted for "blowback" nor stopped contributing to it. Governments guided by morals would have different priorities and would discontinue policies based on interests that endanger us and much of the world.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche
Quote:Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam 24Apr10

Mark Curtis’ new book recounts the history of British collusion with radical Islamic and terrorist groups.

It was published by Serpent’s Tail on 1 July 2010.

“Startling and deeply disturbing evidence about how, in an effort to preserve declining influence in the world’s oil-producing regions, the government has lent frequent and critical support to the states that have been the primary sponsors of radical Islam and the terrorism that it spawns...’
Noam Chomsky

“Sensational in the best sense, Secret Affairs examines the darkest corners of the imperial past to reveal the truth behind today’s news.”
John Pilger

“This valuable and important book presents a far more accurate and balanced picture than the shallow simplicities fed by Bush’s so-called war on terror.”
Michael Meacher

About Secret Affairs:

In his ground-breaking new book, Mark Curtis reveals the secret history of British collusion with radical Islamic and terrorist groups. It shows how Labour and Conservative governments have connived with militant groups linked to al-Qaida to control oil resources, overthrow governments and promote Britain’s financial interests. The current terrorist threat to Britain is partly ‘blowback’.

The story of how Britain has helped to nurture the rise of global terrorism has never been told. Secret Affairs reveals how Britain has covertly supported radical Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, Indonesia and Egypt. Drawing on declassified government files, it documents Britain’s hidden strategic alliance with the two major state sponsors of radical Islam – Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. And it shows how British policies of ‘divide of rule’ – rooted in the Empire – have used Islamic forces to promote imperial interests in India, Palestine, Jordan and Yemen. Similar British policies continue today in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mark Curtis shows how British collusion with radical Islam is intimately related to its postwar imperial decline. Expedient and pragmatic, and lacking any moral compass, policy-makers have aimed to counter popular, nationalist forces in a desperate attempt to uphold their power in a changing world.
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
An interesting example of selective amnesia - just where is MI6 and its psychopathic special forces in this portrait? - and the enduring relationship of Langley and its Islamic "opponents":

Quote:Peter Beaumont, Ed Vulliamy, & Paul Beaver, “CIA’s bastard army runs riot in Balkans,” The Observer, 11 March 2001, p.2

The United States secretly supported the ethnic Albanian extremists now behind insurgencies in Macedonia and southern Serbia.

The CIA encouraged former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters to launch a rebellion in southern Serbia in an attempt to undermine the then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, according to senior European officers who served with the international peace-keeping force in Kosovo (K-For), as well as leading Macedonian and US sources.

The accusations were made in a series of interviews…They emerge as America has been forced into a rapid U-turn over its support for Albanian extremists in Kosovo seeking a ‘Greater Kosovo’ that would include Albanian communities in Serbia and Macedonia.

In the past week ethnic Albanian guerrillas have intensified their campaign of attacks in two areas, threatening a new war in the region which last week put US troops in the firing line in the Balkans for the first time.

The accusations have led to tension in K-For. European officers are furious that the Americans have allowed guerrilla armies in its sector to train, smuggle arms and launch attacks across two international borders.

One European K-For battalion commander told…yesterday: ‘The CIA has been allowed to run riot in Kosovo with a private army designed to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic. Now he’s gone the US State Department seems incapable of reining in its bastard army.’

He added: ‘Most of last year, there was growing frustration with US support for the radical Albanians. US policy was and still is out of step with the other NATO allies.’

The claim was backed by senior Macedonian officials in the capital, Skopje. ‘What has been happening with the National Liberation Army [which has been responsible for a series of attacks on Macedonia’s borders in recent weeks] and the UCPMB [its sister organisation in southern Serbia] is very similar to what happened when the KLA was launched in 1995-96,’ said one.

‘I will only say this: the US intelligence agencies have not been honest here.’

The claims were given extra credence from an unexpected source – Arben Xharafi, leader of Macdeonia’s main Albanian party who tried to prevent the crisis on the border igniting an ethnic civil war inside Macedonia itself.

A US State Department official blamed the last administration. There had now been ‘a shift of emphasis.’
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

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