The Taliban and the Islamic State
February 21, 2015 by Thomas Wictor
The US never supported, trained, or armed either the Taliban or the Islamic State. Every day somebody tells me that the US created both terrorist organizations. This is evidence of the decay of education in the western world and how politics destroys one’s ability to engage in critical thinking. When you personalize politics, you pledge fealty to a narrative regardless of its obvious fraudulence. It becomes impossible—emotionally—for you to admit that you’ve swallowed a transparent lie.
Compounding the problem is that most people are too passive to do their own research. Whenever I tell people about the origins of the Taliban and the Islamic State, they demand links. I can’t understand the mindset. If someone makes a definitive statement to me, I always look it up on my own.
But here are the thumbnail histories of the two terrorist organizations that the United States neither created nor helped.
Nobody knows the precise origins of the Taliban. The movement began in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan AFTER the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. That’s all I need to write, really. The word “taliban” means “students” in Pashto, so it’s likely that the organization has its roots in Pakistani madrassas that were funded by Saudi Arabia. Taliban terrorists are Wahhabist Sunni Muslims, puritans who embrace jihad to eradicate all other forms of Islam and to convert the world.
Scholars can’t even agree on the definition of Wahhabism and Salafism. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to say that Salafists and Wahhabists are virtually indistinguishable, except that Wahhabism is even more violent and is centered in Saudi Arabia.
On April 28, 1978, the Communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the Afghan government. This led to civil war and the rise of insurgents called mujahedin; they were supported, armed, and trained by Pakistan. By the summer of 1979, the US began financing the mujahedin through Pakistan, in response to a flood of Soviet military advisers entering Afghanistan. It’s called “geopolitics.” Afghanistan being what it is, the PDPA assassinated its own president in September of 1979 and replaced him. The Soviets invaded on December 24, 1979, and assassinated the new president on December 27. After a puppet government was set up, the Soviets entered a raging Afghan civil war.
To defeat the Soviet occupation, the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and China continued funding the Pakistani training of mujahedin. The US never trained a single insurgent. Much has been made about the American Stinger shoulder-fired missiles given to the mujahedin.
This man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) was sent to Pakistan; the instructors were Pakistani, since the nation already had the weapon in its arsenal. It takes six weeks to learn how to use a Stinger. However, the Pakistanis trained the first eight gunners in only a month, using dummy weapons.
I can’t count the number of times people have sent me this photo of President Ronald Reagan meeting with Afghan mujahedin in 1983.
The US was funding them and providing them with weapons. Why wouldn’t Reagan meet with them? Their stated goal was to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan. Are you not aware that in World War II we were formal allies with the Soviet Union against the Nazis? Churchill and Roosevelt met with Stalin.
They knew Stalin was a butcher. Again, it’s called geopolitics.
Someone told me that the mujahedin and the Taliban are the same people; they just changed their name. Thus the US is guilty of supporting the Taliban. Well, in World War II the Nazi army was called the Wehrmacht. In 1955 West Germany formed the Bundeswehr.
Plenty of the officers and men had served in the Wehrmacht. When the US military had exercises with the Bundeswehr, were they training with Nazis? Same people, different name, right? Or does intent matter?
The Taliban carried out its first military action in 1994, five years after the US had stopped supporting the Pakistani training of mujahedin. Mullah Omar—a former anti-Soviet insurgent—commanded the 15,000 fighters who took the city of Kandahar. Omar was not trained in Pakistan; he went there only after becoming disabled in combat. He was an Afghan xenophobe who received no support form the US, ever, yet he’s the man who started the military career of the Taliban.
Plenty of mujahedin joined the Taliban, but our former Russian allies—whom we’d also funded and equipped—turned on us after World War II. It’s the way of the world. Circumstances determine how most people behave.
The Islamic State
Unlike the Taliban, the Islamic State has a verifiable pedigree. It was started in 1999 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian psychopath and former career criminal. He called his group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Organization of Monotheism and Jihad) or JTJ. Based in Jordan, its plan was to overthrow the kingdom. After the Coalition invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, JTJ terrorists became active in that country, attempting to create a Sunni-Shia civil war which they felt they would win.
In October of 2004, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and changed the name of his group to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (Organization of Jihad’s Base in Mesopotamia), universally referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Zarqawi’s methods were so savage that al-Qaeda distanced itself from him, particularly after he bombed three popular hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing sixty. In January of 2006, AQI and several other insurgent groups coalesced into the Mujahedin Shura Council (MSC), shura meaning “consultation.”
Zarqawi was killed by a US Air Force 500-lb bomb on June 7, 2006. On October 12, 2006, MSC merged with three terrorist groups and six Sunni tribes to create the Mutayibeen Coalition, which soon made an announcement.
An 8:32 minute video was issued by the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq today, Sunday, October 15, 2006, declaring the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq… A message introducing the video explains that the state of the truth, the state of Islam, has been created to protect the Sunni people, and will judge according to the Islamic Shari’a (law), using such as an aegis for the people, and to defend the religion. It also calls upon Muslims to provide financial support, men, and prayers.
The Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) was defeated by the Sunni Awakening and the American troop surge of 2007. In 2010 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the leader of ISI and began recruiting former military and intelligence officers from Saddam Hussein’s regime. ISI terrorists joined the Syrian Civil War on the rebel side in August of 2011, creating Jabhat al-Nusra li Ahl as-Sham (the al-Nusra Front) on January 23, 2012.
On April 8, 2013, ISI announced that the al-Nusra Front and ISI had merged; the new entity was the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), also called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). However, both the al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda denied this. Ayman al-Zawahiri—the leader of al-Qaeda—designated the al-Nusra Front as his representatives in Syria and ended all cooperation with ISIS in February of 2014.
From January to June of 2014, the al-Nusra Front and ISIS fought each other as well as the Syrian Arab Army of Bashar al-Assad. In an age-old Muslim tradition, al-Nusra fighters in one Syrian town defected en masse to ISIS.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of the global caliphate on June 29, 2014, and he changed his group’s name to the Islamic State. He himself became Caliph Ibrahim.
As for the US training al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, or Islamic State terrorists, it appears that no wide-scale training of anybody has taken place. By October 16, 2014, 1000 Syrian rebels had been trained, and now the Pentagon says that it’s screened another 1200 for future training.
For Washington, the concern is that the forces it supports are ineffectual, or corrupt, or will defect to ISIS or Nusra—or all of the above.
Republican lawmakers in D.C. are at their boiling point over the Obama administration’s anti-ISIS strategy, whether it is a failure to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, or unreliability with the issue of aid, or the Pentagon’s promised train-and-equip plan for the Syrian rebels.
“This strategy makes Pickett’s Charge appear well thought out,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, referring to the poorly planned and futile Confederate assault at Gettysburg. “We’re about to train people for certain death.”
I can’t find any proof that the US is providing the rebels with anything except rifles.
In recent months, at least five rebel units have posted videos showing their members firing U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles at Syrian positions. The weapons are believed to have come from Saudi Arabia, but experts on international arms transfers have told McClatchy that they could not have been given to the rebels without the approval of the Obama administration.
Do you really think the Saudis asked for permission? From who?
There’s nobody minding the store. We all know it. What are the chances that these pathologically risk-averse guys are handing serious firepower to our enemies? The Iraqis say that they’re getting almost nothing in terms of weapons or training.
In an interview with The Associated Press, [Prime Minister] Haider al-Abadi said the coalition has stalled on key issues, particularly commitments on training Iraqi forces and weapons deliveries.
“We are in this almost on our own,” he said. “There is a lot being said and spoken, but very little on the ground.”
Western powers view the Kurds as a crucial safeguard against further Islamic State advances, but in order to take the offensive, the Peshmerga say they need more help.
“The United States really needs to think about the message it is sending,” added the KRG official. “If ISIS is an existential threat as the Iraqis claim; and if it really threatens U.S. interests abroad and its security at home then more must be done to arm the Peshmerga.”
Yet you’re telling me that the same self-serving gasbags who NEVER follow through are brazenly arming and training terrorists, not even slightly worried about the potential consequences to their own precious hides?
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