It cannot be denied that the heartrending events of September 11, 2001, changed all our lives. I saw the sad events on CNN and was really shocked. Could anything in the world really force anyone to perpetrate such brutal crimes? But again being a journalist/writer in his early career I was acquainted with the western researches on Al Qaeda. I had no hesitation in accepting that a group of mad zealots could in any case do it. But the entire operation was so effectively staged that I could not help but smell some wider conspiracy. Since then I have been reading and researching on the issue. The questions that occurred to me were simple. It is true that a group of religious fanatics were doing it all on its own. But was it possible that someone else was using them by effectually exploiting the conditions in which they were growing. My research brought me to some conclusions. These conclusions will be fully elaborated in the book that I am writing on the topic. However I am reluctantly reproducing below the synopsis of my work that was published in the Pakistani press in bits and pieces. I do not claim that the ideas presented here are based on any empirical evidence. They only represent informed guesswork. However I have taken special pains to keep them as much free of contentious theories as I could. All I have done here is to raise some questions that you’ll see, for yourself, are genuine and pertinent. I am reproducing the synopsis here because it is taking me considerable time in finding an appropriate editor and agent to workout the details and schedule for the book’s publication. Queries to me can be addressed through my email: or my website Let me also apologize in advance for the extraordinary length of this article. But it was the only way to do justice to the scope of the matter. But please do read it till the very end at an hour of your convenience]

When in the war on terror the CIA had to endure loss of another Director, in the ensuing days an attempt was made to link Porter Goss’s resignation to some internal friction, the Iranian nuclear program or at best the Iraq war, it is an open secret that it is the failure to make inroads into the nebulous al Qaeda that had compelled him to stand down. Why this constant failure on the part of the world’s smartest, if not the biggest, intelligence agency to catch the most sought after man and who is this incubus that has made life difficult for the US intelligence community? Is Osama bin Laden really the Robin Hood of the Muslim world? Let’s meet Osama to see what he has in store for us.
Uncountable attempts have been made to understand the sociology of Osama’s mind. Similarly, a host of books are available in the market that try to explain the genesis of al Qaeda and its delinquent orientations. Only a few works, however, stand out in the march of rational explanation. Peter Bergen’s Holy War Inc and Jason Burke’s Al Qaeda are the most promising works among them. Add to the list the 9/11 Commission Report and you have a good idea where does informed Western opinion stand today. But in a world so pregnant with secrets and mysteries, books do not tell everything.

Has it not occurred to you that when President George W Bush was really struggling in the opinion polls against John Kerry, Osama through his televised address rescued him just like Father Christmas? Yeah, right, the picture quality of the address resembled more the PIXAR’s computer animations rather than the footage of a man’s live speech, but that is a matter solely for the American people to decide whether their government was bluffing them or not.

Similarly let us talk of the Project for the New American Century, a so-called non-profit think tank comprising Reaganiites, established in 1997 to oppose the isolationist tendencies of the Clinton administration, and to pressure the government to seek an increased budget for defense purposes in order to transform the US military stature in more aggressive terms. The Statement of Principles of this think-tank contains signatures of the distinguished list of America’s who’s who, including Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Zalmay Khalilzad, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. The Project produced a very interesting report in September 2000 titled, “America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century”. A black comment (if seen without overblown biases) regarding the military capacity building reads like this: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.” Does it imply that this project was emphasizing the need for a new Pearl Harbor or may we say 9/11? No wonder then that 9/11 could take place only during the reign of a majority of signatories of its charter. Later the one eager to rebut this hypothesis inquired, whether the mere mention of the term new Pearl Harbor was proof good enough to work as an indictment? Folks, if you are expecting graphic and first hand proof of such would-be conspiracies then you are of course joking. If someone goes to the extent to plotting just a huge conspiracy he most certainly will not to leave any proof behind. What we can then do is to connect the available dots.

Sources about Osama’s early life are skimpy and insufficient. Unfortunately, he was so little known that none of the contemporary texts written on the Soviet-Afghan war even notices him. Whatever works we find written on him were penned after his rise to eminence. To our great disadvantage, we do not have any Dumbledore who could investigate the early life of this Muslim Voldemort and bring with him three dimensional memories to share with Harry in the Pensieve. So whatever information we have, comes from redoubtable obscure sources. As a result, we have absolutely different pictures emerging out of each attempt.

Nevertheless, since these days many books are being written under the influence of some vested interests, in the Western works you’ll necessarily find two distinct attempts. The first attempt focuses on establishing Osama’s pre-1996 terrorist profile. The second tries to distance Osama from the CIA of the time. Both of these things are done apparently to counter the allegations of a blowback – that Osama was somehow CIA’s own Frankenstein. But was there really a blowback?

Yet another point often emphasised is Osama’s piety. By impeaching claims of Osama’s convivialities, an attempt is made to dismiss all mundane motives for Osama’s association with the CIA. If he is really as pious and devout a Muslim, it is hardly possible that he would succumb to the lust of material luxuries. Does this all not paint a picture in which he is a terrorist driven by the “bloodthirsty” teachings of Islam, and a helpless CIA keeps struggling to get access to him denied regularly by Pakistan’s shady ISI?

But this image is not that realistic. For instance 1996, the year when the first terrorist acts were formally and publicly associated with Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, had another important development too. George Tenet, the acting Director of Central Intelligence, was confirmed the DCI after Tony Lake, the actual Clinton nominee for the post, faced great opposition from the Republican Party. George Tenet was confirmed easily. Tenet brought with him a career of counter-terror intelligence. Before his rise to the post, there was hardly anyone who knew about Osama in Western policy making circles. Colin Powell’s autobiography, which was published in 1995-6, did not carry even a single reference to al Qaeda. Similarly, Bill Clinton does not mention the name of Osama anytime in his autobiography before the 1996 US embassy bombings. With Tenet’s rise, not only did strange acts of terror start taking place, but their responsibility was shifted to Osama bin Laden.

Bergen and Burke often question the would-be motives behind such a manipulation and reasons for Osama’s cooperation with the CIA, albeit subliminally. The CIA was starving for a new lease on life after the collapse of the Soviet Union; the US military industrial complex was already under pressure to trim its appetite. It was at this juncture that the incubus of Islamic terrorism was invented to revive an ancient fear and insecurity.

Why would Osama do such a thing? Both Burke and Bergen try to seal the fate of any such speculation by using a very crude technique. Whichever fact you want to be discredited, just place it among the silliest notions you can gather. For instance, Burke places the theory that Osama spent a very colourful boyhood in the Middle East, just before the hearsay of his possessing a distorted male organ. Bergen drags the chances of the association between al Qaeda and CIA among rubbishy notions like Osama’s addiction to liquor. Bergen even tries to discredit the Jane’s Defence Review’s report “Blowback”, which had claimed, before 9/11, that such coalescing had taken place during the cold war days. If ends define the means, however, it is clear that Osama’s choice of not going to help liberate Palestine (the place his father wanted to fight for) and heading to failing states in regions critical to the US interests, serves those interests best. Add to it the interests of the bin Laden family, and you can easily assess that it may not be that difficult for them to volunteer a family member to help the neo-con cause. And in this world of technology, you can never know whether the man crouching in the caves is Osama himself or his replica. Nobody knows whether he is in this region or in a non-Muslim country imitating a Hindu, Sikh or a Christian.
– On September 11, 2001, a French mainstream newspaper Le Figaro carried a report claiming that between July 4th and 14th, Osama bin Laden not only received treatment at an American hospital in Dubai, but there the local CIA station incharge called on him. “A few days later, the CIA man bragged to a few friends about having visited bin Laden. Authorized sources say that on July 15th, the day after bin Laden returned to Quetta, the CIA agent was called back to headquarters.”

Later Dan Rather, the renowned CBS anchor, traveled to Pakistan and claimed that Osama had received medical treatment in Rawalpindi a few days before the attacks. Now even if Dan’s claim is taken at face value, there exists no proof to validate Pakistan’s willing part in Osama’s detours. Immediately after 9/11, emphatic Indian propaganda had rendered common sense useless, and conservatives and liberals alike were convinced of Pakistani involvement. But times have changed. With the luxury of hindsight, we can study the impact of terrorist attacks like a frozen caveman and see who benefited from them the most. India today has a friendly government in Kabul, Pakistan is under severe pressure, and New Delhi enjoys Washington’s unstinted support.

Post-Zia governments in Pakistan, owing to Zia’s own authoritarian legacy, were weak and powerless. The meltdown of governance in Pakistan was consciously tolerated by the US as post-Cold War realities had made Pakistan an unwanted liability. Yet the US did not lose its influence inside the Pakistani civil and military bureaucracy. The CIA had enough influence over every state organ inside Pakistan, and that too at every stratum. When someday the influences over the Pakistani state structure of the US will be studied methodically in the light of new declassified documents, I am sure that most of our Western friends will be taken aback by the evidence.

Now whenever Jason Burke or Peter Bergen try to qualify the CIA’s helplessness in mentoring of Osama and his cabal, they use Brigadier (r) Mohammad Yousaf and Mark Adkin’s book titled The Bear Trap (Afghanistan’s Untold Story). I am sure that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) must only be lamenting the severe damage this silly little book has caused. The book produces a detailed account of the Afghan war, and at times you can see the author’s overblown attempts at taking credit. In his desperate attempts at doing so, and perhaps under the influence of the Western co-author, the poor chap inhales his own propaganda that whatever clout the CIA had over the Afghan war was through Pakistan’s ISI. Now whosoever has studied the CIA’s last 60 years of operations, will know that it is not an agency too innocent to sever all its contacts with the Afghan struggle just upon a Pakistani demand. In this situation, the best insurance policy — apart from the continuation of the CIA’s station in Kabul headed by Graham Fuller until 1978 — was introduction of an element into the war that was not only more manageable by the CIA, but also more capable of gaining local trust. The Arabs could hence easily be used in this war, to both countercheck Pakistan’s sincerity in the war, and thwart its influence in the field.

In such a situation, the young member of a family so close to ex-CIA chief George HW Bush, that its head even met him on the very day of 9/11, went to Afghanistan to take part in Jihad. It is true that during the early days of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, George Bush senior, who had detached himself from the CIA only in 1977, still had considerable clout with the agency and the bin Laden family simultaneously. In those days, he was pursuing his business interests that also involved the Saudi Binladin Group. By the time the September 11 attacks were carried out, these interests and cooperation had culminated into such a relationship that Osama’s brother Shafig bin Laden and GHW Bush met on the very day of the attacks in a board meeting of the Carlyle Group.

Osama, meanwhile, was so well-known to the ISI during the Afghan war that Brig. Yousaf’s book did not mention his name even once. Even if it wanted it badly, ISI could not stonewall the CIA’s access to the Afghan war. Instead, it was perfectly possible for the CIA to stonewall ISI on the alternative arrangement. Myths like these were invented to give the ISI a fake sense of ownership. Similarly, another excuse tabled to make sense of the CIA’s lack of involvement in the war is that the US didn’t want to be caught so deeply involved in the struggle. But this flimsy argument is nothing but a smokescreen. The CIA is not an agency based totally on the Anglo-Saxon US citizens alone. If it wanted to, it could never be caught involved in the war. And in those days the US involvement was an open secret.

There is little contemporary work to prove what Osama and his friends kept doing in Afghanistan during the war. All claims about witnessing his activities appear in the press after his rise to eminence. For instance, BBC’s John Simpson would all of a sudden realise that the Arab he had come across in Afghanistan in 1989, and who wanted him dead, was none other than Osama! We, however, know that General Zia did not want the war to end before pro-Pakistan fighters seized control of Kabul, which seemed quite contradictory to the US plans for the region. General Zia perished in a mysterious plane crash. Since then, only chaos was to follow the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan that suited the US the best, and Osama also decided to move out of Islamabad. Chaos increased in the region and Pakistan’s stock fell in Kabul. India kept gaining influence over the Afghan fighters, adding to Pakistan’s confusion.

Understanding fully Zia’s will, his last appointed ISI chief Lt Gen Hamid Gul tailored yet another plan to add to Pakistan’s strategic depth, and the Taliban were born. Osama stayed away from the region till the time the Taliban were on the verge of seizing control of Kabul. The Taliban strategy was indeed a Pakistani brainchild, thoroughly approved by the US administration and, hence, Osama’s presence in Afghanistan to ensure a check on Pakistani intentions was essential. Osama’s religio-militant profile and Arab identity were enough to make him trustworthy in the eyes of the Taliban. Osama and his handlers took full advantage of this opportunity. Similarly, some of the CIA field operatives in the ISI that had willfully distorted or denied crucial data to their superiors on Osama’s activities during the Afghan war, resumed the vocation of blacking out Islamabad on Osama’s intentions. It is these elements that are believed to have helped Osama at various stages, consciously leaving behind a clear trail to be traced back to the ISI. Here the Indian interests also come into the picture
– “As for the theory that Danny (Pearl) was in touch with intelligence agencies, why not? What would be wrong with that? Shouldn’t a good journalist, in the search for the truth, look for information anywhere he might find it? Shouldn’t he follow up on every lead, make use of anything he can? Turn over every stone? Will I be accused of being a secret agent when I go to New Delhi to ask Indian intelligence what they know about his death?” — Bernard Henri Levy, Who Killed Daniel Pearl? (Page 52).

Throughout the known history of clandestine operations, intelligence operatives have used multiple aliases and legends in order to ensure that the identities of their handlers are not revealed. Legend developing is a critical part of espionage the world over in which the field operator is supposed to memorize his/her own multiple histories. This game of juggling identities seems to have been inherited by the most prized children of intelligence agencies – the Non-State Actors (NSAs), or more precisely the terrorist groups. This makes the labor of identifying the true handlers of such groups’ activities only too excruciating and onerous. But the perpetrators of each evil deed essentially leave some fingerprints. Obscure as they might be, the most legible fingerprints are left behind in the very propaganda of the handlers. These proofs often validate the notion that there still exists a connection between the NSAs and their intelligence mentors.

Fortunately for us, the most interesting hint comes from the premier Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) own propaganda. Before we move any further, let us recall that quite unlike the ISI that stayed a low-tech human-based operator during and after the Cold War, RAW was so successful at it manipulations that apart from uncountable operations like the execution of the entire royal family of Nepal and successful stonewalling of US intelligence at the time of the Indian nuclear tests in 1998, it had succeeded in penetrating the CIA to a surprising extent. Only recently, a RAW office-bearer fled when it was learnt that pretending to be a mole inside the agency, he was feeding the Americans the Indian propaganda at New Delhi’s will.

The most significant clue comes from Bernard Henri Levy’s book that was quoted at the beginning. In this French book, the author makes no bones about the fact that he received substantial information on Daniel Pearl’s assassination from RAW. In fact, Sudindrah Datta, the then deputy to the RAW chief, is quoted during his meeting with him at RAW headquarters saying, “We know you are an old friend of our country. But first tell me. It seems you have just been in Pakistan…How are those lunatics?” Levy’s book is a classic study in Pakistan bashing. And why should he not be, he is perhaps the only Western journalist who took active part in the war against Pakistan for the creation of Bangladesh. What is amazing about it is that it contains graphic details of Pearl’s execution, albeit as a figment of imagination. The excuse of consulting RAW is said to be the fact that Omar Sheikh, the said assassin of Pearl, spent some time caught in India. When you read the details of Omar Sheikh’s arrest in India, you get the sense of a premeditated surrender. Somehow, it seems that he was there with a view to be apprehended. A willing scapegoat for something bigger. May we say legend building for the sake of enhanced credibility in the Muslim movements and Pakistan?

In India what happened to Omar Sheikh is a story that only comes from Indian sources. But we know one thing. Omar, before coming to Pakistan, had also gone to the Balkans to fight for the Bosnians when actually the CIA itself was raising Muslim fighters to fight against Milosevic’s armies, the last vestiges of the communist order in Europe. The CIA’s operatives, coupled with the Muslim clergy, used to visit Western educational institutions and induct as many Muslim students as they could find willing to join. The next thing we find is Omar heading to Pakistan, where he would successfully fabricate claims of association with the Pakistani secret agencies. We have discussed the presence of some loose cannons inside the Pakistani secret agencies. There is a good chance that some association with such elements might have taken place. The next thing we know is he is caught in India. And then the December 1999 Indian plane hijack takes place. The plane is taken to Kandahar where, let us suppose, Osama compels the Taliban to tolerate its presence. India — quite unlike its past legacy — negotiates with the terrorists and frees some alleged terrorists, which include Omar Sheikh. And is it not baffling that the very man again to be tracked down as the assassin of Danny is none other than Omar, the very man with the Indian pointer on his head?

Omar spent six years in India as part of his prison term. We do not know what he did there. But we do know that India, since its very inception, has played its Muslim card well. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad used to visit Arab countries and claim that India was the biggest Muslim country in the world. Regardless of the truth of the claim, it cannot be gainsaid that India, despite its so strong Israeli relations, remains the darling of the Arab world. India still has considerable clout over the Arab freedom struggles. Was it not India whose help was invoked by a dying Yasser Arafat? Could it not influence, both on its own and through the CIA, the men being inducted in al Qaeda and all such outfits?

It is said that George W is more popular in New Delhi today than in Washington. And why should he not be? The US “war on terror” has brought India to a much more advantageous position than it could ever dream of. Kabul is firmly under the Indian influence. Pakistan is continuously under pressure to do more in fighting terrorism. While the much-hyped AQ Khan affair has cost Pakistan its nuclear credibility, India, the actual agent of nuclear proliferation in the region, which conducted its first nuclear detonation by obstructing all canons of decency using the fissile material provided by the West for the civil nuclear program, is being rewarded as a responsible nuclear power.

Let us face it. Even if Pakistan becomes the most consummate cheerleader of Western civilization, its nuclear program will still be seen with great suspicion. They call it the Islamic bomb for innocent reasons. In fact, New Delhi and Washington both share the common fear of Islamic political prowess. While both use Islamic terrorism as the excuse to rationalize this fear, there is no gainsaying that fear can never be rationally explained. Even though the Indian Muslims and Pakistan keep struggling for survival, were they not the ancestors of this lot that had ruled India for so many centuries? Even if none of the Muslim states have enough moral courage to stick to one principled stand, was it not this lot’s ancestors who had posed the Western aka Christian civilization a most serious challenge? Just see how convenient it becomes for anyone fearing your culture to invade your homes and dictate their terms, on the pretext of countering terrorism. It is thus logical to think that not even terrorists stand to gain as much from their misadventures as New Delhi and Washington do.

Quite astonishingly, in the 7/7 London bombings, while the culprits were identified as Muslims of Pakistani and Indian descent, the boxes and bags used to cause the explosions all came from an Indian manufacturing company. It took India no time to categorically state that it had some Muslim problem and the perpetrators could be the terrorists haunting India. But why would a Muslim group do something that only benefited India and put Pakistan in a further embarrassed position?
– The US government went in a state of euphoria at the demise of al-Zarqawi, as if he was the ultimate scourge on earth and his departure the promised panacea for all US woes. So great was this euphoria that even Hamid Karzai kept jumping at the news with joy. Indeed he had justification to do so, as the man heading the US mission in Iraq then was none other than his own handler, Zalmay Khalilzad.

However, if the truth be told, this hardly deserved to be called a significant win for the US. On the contrary, it ought to be termed as yet another American strategic maneuver. If you study the US strategy over the years carefully, a clear pattern emerges. Project a weak enemy or even an individual dissenter as the haunting phantom. Let him survive for a while and make him desperate, simultaneously plotting carefully against the deteriorating backdrop of a failing situation. And when people yell for some solace, take him out and claim victory. Just look again. The man killed did not even know how to use deadly weapons properly, what to talk of orchestrating a grand strategy to counter the US presence in Iraq.

One needs to ask what Osama might be thinking of this incident. Honestly, given the current disorganized and decentralized condition of his terror franchise, he must be rejoicing right now at the news of another claimant to his throne being decapitated. Even a child can tell that the freedom struggle in Iraq will continue unabated and that Osama actually has no love lost for Iraq. Had he been even a bit sympathetic, he would have known where the Bush administration would have gone after 9/11.

Let us now return to the theme we were discussing in the last article. If the US and the Indian intelligence agencies are involved in handling the terror networks and then exploiting their work to gain maximum political profit, why do religious folks fall for it? Why cannot they see whose interests they are serving? Are they equal partners in the game, or are they bloodthirsty demons so committed to quench their thirst that they consciously ignore the difference. I think jumping to the conclusion that they are driven by ulterior motives or their beastly urge to kill is a notion only too simplistic. Things do not happen in that simple a way in the real world.

In order to understand the complex phenomenon of collusion between the intelligence agencies and the terrorist non-state actors, we have to understand what currency is used to cajole and coax people into doing their bidding. The most credible currency in this context is credibility itself. There is no gainsaying that these are difficult times. In such circumstances, it is perfectly natural for people in general and the Muslims in particular to feel dizzy and uncomfortable. As this pain and frustration does not find any channel for catharsis, people turn to more desperate options available. In this situation when you do not rule out violence as an option, you essentially turn to the established names in the field. Once you have reached any such person and committed some small acts under his/her influence, you stop questioning the rationale and means. The only ones the manipulators need to puppeteer are the ones at the top.

Osama’s profile building was certainly done meticulously. Since 1996, the US administration is pumping air into this balloon. Osama’s name has been publicized so voraciously in the last 10 years that activists working for their respective freedom struggles, or others simply disillusioned by their lives, find it pretty tempting to work for him. Again considerable care has been taken in projecting Osama’s image. In all photo-ops he is shown as a humble person with no trace of malice. Such publicity essentially has its bearing on the minds of those looking at him with hope.

Then there is another important dimension of this phenomenon. Until fairly recently, India had effectual clout over the Arab countries. It was only after India decided to go whole hog in parroting the Israeli jargon that its credibility ebbed. Many Arabs still consider India as the largest Muslim country in the world and Pakistan a momentary imperial fixture. Hence India’s influence over many would-be recruits could be of great help. It was in the mid-90s that India installed some Kashmiri pseudo-freedom fighter outfits to regain influence over the Valley from Pakistan. It is since then that it has even invented terror groups for the sake of creating alibis for its actions. This trend has taken such a shape that even some of the most adroit intelligence handlers cannot tell the difference.

Finally, there comes in the issue of monetary benefits. The interests of the big business conglomerates, capitalist countries like the US and India, and of the terrorist groups are connected. Terror groups have no territorial ambitions. All they seek is popularity. Ambitious countries like India and the US need excuses to build their power. And in building power, the necessary equipment and technology needed comes from the large conglomerates. It is not difficult for the intelligence agencies to take over the terrorist outfits, which indeed benefits the states and their financiers alike.

Then look closely how events unraveled on the eve of the 9/11 attacks. Profits were made from the short selling of the stocks of the airlines and other companies to be affected by the attacks, only days before they took place. Even after the attacks, Bush went all out to declare the attacks as acts of war. It is noteworthy that while the victims of terrorism can claim money for their damages from the insurance companies, the victims of war cannot. It hence essentially benefits the business companies.

Likewise, take a closer look at what happened in Afghanistan. Only two days before the attacks, Ahmed Shah Masood, the leader of the Northern Alliance, was killed in a suicide attack. Who would have benefited from the death? Certainly not the Taliban, because to them that one person did not pose any serious threat. And if they knew anything about the attacks at all, they could not be oblivious of the consequences. It would have hardly made a difference to the losing side. His death could have benefited only the victors of the war on Afghanistan. He had indeed become too big for his boots. Had he risen to power, he would have pursued independent-minded policies and would have refused to be a puppet. Hence he and whosoever would come in the way of Zalmay Khalilzad’s creature puppet – Hamid Karzai – was killed. Karzai is India’s man through and through, which indeed suited the US interests in the region and has served big oil conglomerates. That would mean that the US could count on him. Hence it was evident that Masood’s death would have benefited only people of a particular school of thought. We will continue to explore other aspects of this nexus between big business, ambitious states and terror outfits in the next two concluding pieces.
— For those who are not well acquainted with the dynamics of power politics, there fortunately exists a movie called Wag the Dog. In this flick Robert De Niro, known better as Mr Fix-it, is hired by an embattled president to run his election campaign after he is caught in an illicit act. De Niro goes to Hollywood and hires in turn a film producer’s services to concoct evidence in order to prove that a helpless country like Albania has nukes and hence poses a threat. The plot is amended every now and then. The media footage of the threat, suffering humanity and the US military build up produced in Hollywood studios and the ensuing euphoria lead to soaring approval ratings of the president. Even when the CIA tries to debunk De Niro’s propaganda, he and his team repeatedly invent new sub-plots and hence a roaring success in the following elections is ensured.

It is a really worth watching dark comedy that may help us understand that the marriage of technology, shrewdness and authority can create a reality that actually never existed. Politics has its own dynamics and deceit indeed is one of the major ones. Quite astonishingly, the movie was released in the days of the Lewinsky fiasco. Similarly in Mario Puzo’s relatively less known novel called The Fourth K, the US president in order to avenge the murder of his daughter by Arab terrorists ignores the warnings of nuclear threat posed by an American student group opposing nuclear proliferation and the US nuke arsenal. Once the bomb goes off, martial law is imposed and the Arab state behind the assassination of the president’s daughter is attacked. While these can be dismissed as the figment of someone’s wild imagination, history provides several parallels.

For certain understandable reasons, early warnings of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were ignored by the US authorities exactly when the US needed an alibi to enter the World War. During the days of the Kennedy administration, the US establishment wakes up with a start to find out that the Soviets are providing Cuba with missiles. The Clinton administration when faced with the Lewinsky scandal all of a sudden realises that the little known man called Osama bin Laden crouching in Afghan caves is the terror-in-chief of the world and hence needs to be bombed. The list goes on and on.

Recently, CNN chose to show a program on the life of Osama bin Laden. Even though I was highly interested, I could only catch the second half of the programme, thanks to the poor quality of the cable TV. I read the transcript of the show later. The documentary essentially revolved around the few nodal points that we have already covered in this space. These are the points that make or break the entire logical chain of events furnished by the US government regarding Osama’s evolution. Like, whether he indulged in conviviality during his stay in Beirut in his early age or not; whether he is as pious as is claimed or not; whether he really leads a rough life wherever he lives despite being a millionaire or not; and finally, whether there could be less altruistic motives behind his actions or was he driven by his own interpretation of the Islamic scriptures.

Unfortunately, the entire footage had Wag the Dog written all over it as the list of the producers included Peter Bergen, whose book Holly War: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden Inc. has been discussed in this space pretty extensively. Bergen has been quoted in the past by no less than the US State Department while dismissing the allegations of the links between Osama bin Laden and the CIA. Before reading the book I could not understand why the US administration considered him credible enough to be quoted extensively on its official website. However, several readings of the book solved the mystery. The answer is, because it serves their purpose. What else does a government need when a journalist starts whitewashing all its misdeeds due to his own Islamophobia. Peter in his documentary introduces several characters allegedly from Osama’s past who try to paint him as a pious boy from the very start. Unfortunately, this profile doesn’t fit well with the convivial examples of Osama’s half brothers.

In his book, Peter goes to the extent of claiming that during the days of the Afghan jihad, a low tech human based intelligence agency like Pakistan’s ISI, despite all its resource limitations, was able to block the access of CIA, the world’s smartest and most well equipped intelligence outfit, to the Afghan freedom movement. The claim as is evident is absurd. I checked and rechecked the book for any verifiable endnotes and, unfortunately, whatever I found was not at all verifiable. And wait a minute. Just take a look at one quote from his book, a comment on Islamabad, and you will know how much our dear author cares to double check his facts and figures. On page 6 of the second impression of the 2002 paperback edition he writes: “Islamabad is divided into orderly zones with names like G-6 and F-1.” I beg your pardon? F-1? Since then, I have checked and rechecked the street map of Islamabad and have thus far failed to find a sector F-1. Yes, there exists a zone, or if you press a button on the keyboard of all new computers, but nowhere in Islamabad. So, perhaps, he was referring to his keyboard rather than Islamabad. This is no typo sir, as it occurs in repeated impressions and reflects on the author’s capability of ascertaining facts before publishing them.

I do not say that the entire CNN footage was concocted. Propaganda is the art of mixing fact with fiction. Yet the point is that it is so easy for anyone with resources to find people from someone’s past and put his own words in their mouth. Unfortunately, so much effort is taking place to prove that Osama has always been very pious in order to substantiate the claims that he is driven only by Islamic values. No one, however, realizes that even a pious and conservative person with love for his family can wreak havoc in order to serve the greater interests of his family. The bin Laden family, we know it well, is hand in glove with the Bush family in business. Michael Moore does considerable justice to the relationship between the Bushes and the bin Ladens. Similarly, it is quite easy for Osama to jump out of his luxury mobile camp in Afghanistan and walk into a cave whenever a photo opportunity arises. The fact that he is guarded only by close Arab confidantes can make such a thing quite easy.

But of course there are some visible facts in the CNN presentation too, like the interview of the widow of an alleged assassin of Ahmed Shah Masood. Again the virtue of the said assassin is emphasised. But who is denying the religiosity of the al Qaeda operatives. All we say is that if you control the man at the top, you can control the entire lot of his followers. The last piece of this series that appears a day before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will try to put together the relationship between the seekers, the militants and the terrorists.
– In 1935, a special committee of the United States 74th Senate led by Senator Gerald Nye produced a 1400-page report, which blamed the weapons and armament industry for the US decision to take part in World War II. Walter Millis’ book The Road to the War, which further elaborated the same thesis, became an instant bestseller. An astounding confession in the report on the power of the companies and big business reads thus: “The political power of the companies is best indicated, however, by a letter from Mr. John Ball, director of the Soley Armament Co Ltd., of England, in which he pointed out that ‘the stocks we control are of such magnitude that the sale of a big block of them could alter the political balance of power of the smaller states’.”

Likewise, when the US government was busy in painstakingly marketing the evil of the iron curtain and the red peril, inhaling the propaganda of its own officials like Paul Nitze’s ‘NSC 68’ and George Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’– two famous documents – it conveniently overlooked Moscow’s pacifist overtures. In 1952 when the Kremlin put forth the suggestion for the reunification of Germany without any conditions, Washington vetoed it by slapping its own condition that the state thus formed ought to be allowed to join NATO and went on to table the Mutual Security Act of 1952, which called for armaments worth $7.5 billion. Even during the Cuban missile crisis, the US was consciously ignoring the reports of its own CIA that Khrushchev’s 1960 announcement about the reduction of the Soviet military might by one third was already well underway.

The purpose of these rather irrelevant examples is to illustrate how the ‘militery-industrial complex’ works in the US and how the US government keeps reinventing the unending threat to their country. The fact that the US attempts were already underway to build Islam as the next enemy when terror experts like Walter Laqueur and Charles Krauthammer were busy in insisting that the source of all terrorism was the Soviet Union and Muslim militants were loyal allies against the Red Peril, is illustrated by one docudrama movie. In 1981, a movie called ‘The Man Who Saw Tomorrow’ was released based on the prophecies of Michel Nostradamus. Nostradamus, using the secret art of the Kabbalah – an aspect of Jewish mysticism – had some four and half centuries ago, predicted a host of things. The reason why he was the logical choice of the propagandists was that it seemed he had predicted that by the end of the millennium a great Muslim king of terror would come from the sky and wage war on the West. And the West with the help of Russia would put an end to this evil after a 27-year long war.

Ironically, in one of the formative mythical documents titled Postmodern Terrorism: New Rules for an Old Game published in 1996, Laqueur pointed out: “But with the new technologies and the changed nature of the world in which they operate, a handful of angry Samsons and disciples of apocalypse would suffice to cause havoc. Chances are that of 100 attempts at terrorist superviolence, 99 would fail. According to Nostradamus, “a great ‘king of terror’ will come from heaven in July 1999.” Nostradamus clicked with the mass media and the US authorities.

Laqueur’s co-author and fellow Jew Krauthammer is a renowned neo-con today. As Laqueur went places, he stayed a professor at Georgetown University from 1976 to 1988. After the demise of the Cold War, the architects of the struggle like Samuel Huntington were faced with the challenge of reinventing the threat when people like Francis Fukuyama were claiming that the West had won the war of ideas and therefore the end of history was at hand. The US establishment and the military-industrial complex were worried that people like Al Gore were now keen to bring technologies like the internet out of the military labs and globalize them. Huntington exploited Toynbee’s definition of civilizations and proclaimed that a clash between Islam and the West was imminent. The US establishment chose the incubus of terrorism to articulate its anxieties.

The CIA is a gift of US President Harry Truman, who almost miraculously moulded Roosevelt’s Four Policemen friendship overtures towards Moscow into general antipathy towards the Russians. Truman’s gift, like his use of nuclear weapons on Japan, was targeted at the USSR. Now the CIA knew fully well that with the fall of the USSR, the rules of engagement will change. It wanted an ideology but there was no image available more haunting than the return of Saladin on horseback.

Likewise, with the rise of the Taliban as our desperate attempt at introducing our favored order in Afghanistan, the Indian establishment was flustered. India wanted to exert itself as a global power. Ashok Singal, the head of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), had long been saying that India should forget that there was any other power in the world except the US and Israel. BJP’s success then introduced another dire phenomenon. It opened the doors of administrative control to the Hindu hardliners. India, that had considerable clout in the Arab world, wanted Pakistan as the price for its cooperation with the US neo-cons. The neo-cons were happy to pay this price but only if the ground realities in Pakistan permitted. The leader of the Arab militants, Osama bin Laden hence has been challenging the existence of Pakistan from the very start.

There are some other parallels too between the rise of Osama bin Laden, his notoriously popular fatwa and the CIA’s desperation. George Tenet was confirmed as the Director of Central Intelligence after Bill Clinton could not get his own nominee approved from Congress. Tenet was also recommended by George Bush Senior to his son when he became president. Osama bin Laden was the precious son of the Bush family friends, the Bin Ladens. The family stakes could have forced them readily to send their son to Afghanistan upon the insistence of the Bushes and their intelligence cohorts. Ayman Al Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor, was in prison on the charges of conspiring to assassinate Anwar Sadat during the early days of the Afghan war.

Nowhere in the West would you find a definitive remark on his release even though a few imagine that he was released as no case was proven against him. It is claimed by Muntasir Al-Zayyat, his lawyer, that he broke down under torture and revealed the name of an assassin. Then after being released he ended up serving the US interests in Afghanistan. Is it not possible, that in order to keep a double check on Pakistan’s service in the US proxy war in Afghanistan, the CIA was recruiting people from the Arab world and the Egyptian government itself gifted them Zawahiri if he was not already in their service?

Zawahiri’s arrest is also important because the 100 people arrested in connection with Sadat’s assassination also included Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, or the blind Sheikh. The Sheikh assumes importance for two reasons. First that Ramzi Yussef, the first man alleged to be trying to blow up the Trade Centre towers for al Qaeda’s sake, was not only in contact with him but also, as some say, even taking orders from him. The blind Sheikh managed to get multiple US visas twice in 1987 and 1990 with the help of at least one CIA operative. Ramzi Yussef is related to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Some people may say that quoting from the Project for the New American Century may not prove anything for the very fact that there is no evidence. The problem with the evidence is that it can be destroyed comfortably if you are the US president. Osama and Zawahiri today seem to post their messages on television channels according to the desires and needs of Bush, Blair and their other friends. If you now check the CIA website, you will find it encrypted. Perhaps those who still believe in baseless theses like the clash of civilizations should try educating themselves. Toynbee was a deceptive intellectual and the fact remains that we are one civilization, the human civilization. The sooner we learn it the better it will be.