The murder of three innocent Israeli teenagers has once again led to recriminations by Israel against the Hamas controlled Palestinian authority in Gaza. This adds more fuel to a combustible mix where you have the ultra-puritan jihad warriors of ISIS trying to create an orthodox Sunni Islamic state, centered on Iraq and Syria, but which will encompass the whole world according to the master plan. As British, French and other nationals join the jihad, geopolitics shifts rapidly.
Britain and USA supported rebels trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a rather unpleasant dictator of an unpleasant regime which has attracted the support of Third Reich fanatics such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin.
However the enthusiasm for the rebels has been dampened when it was discovered that the achieved a near impossible feat of wanting to create something even worse than the Ba’ath party dictatorship which was modelled on the totalitarian state of Hitler and Stalin. Could anything actually be worse than the Assad regime with its secret police and ideological anti-Semitism which attracted former top Nazis such as Remer, who helped round up the German officers who tried to assassinate Hitler? Well actually yes, and President Obama got a rather strong rebuke for arming the Syrian rebels who saw Assad as too secular with his state controlled by his Alawite minority, and where a sizable Christian population lived.
Iran, pressured by western nations for its secret nuclear weapons programme is now seen as a potential ally, because of its support for Assad and its hatred for jihadis. These fighters are Salafis, backed by Saudi and Qatar, based on the Wahhabi brand of Islam which hates Shias. But in fact it would not be the first time that western nations cut a deal with the Khomeinist state where Revolutionary Guards regularly chant “Death to America”. It is also an unfortunate fact that western ‘understanding’ of the region would create ISIS and groups even more extreme than al-Qaeda.
In reference to the assassination of President John F Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X compared it to chickens coming home to roost. This would not be inaccurate when describing the present war on terrorism.
If Nixon missed out on helping his whisky-drinking friend Yahya Khan in Islamising East Pakistan it would be a mantle picked up by his later successor. Ronald Reagan did not just court the religious fundamentalists in his own country when he became president. He actively built up the Islamist arsenal abroad, while engaging with the right-wing Christian groups such as the Moral Majority in America. With regard to the former the military dictatorship of Zia ul-Haq was to prove invaluable.
Zia overthrew the democratically elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977 and openly boasted that Pakistan did not believe in democracy. Trained at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in 1960, he was sent to Jordan in 1968 where two years later he helped King Hussein massacre the Palestinians in what became known as Black September. For this he received the kingdom’s highest national honour. Good training indeed for how brutality would help propel him to international stardom as the foremost idol of the ‘Free World’. Reagan became a staunch supporter of the Zia regime as a frontline in the fight against communism after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Investment in the Afghan jihad was to be the biggest CIA covert operation anywhere. Yet from 1978 Pakistan underwent increasing Islamisation as Zia brought in the clergy to legitimatise his undemocratic rule, backed by the Jamaat-i-Islami in implementing sharia law in 1979.
He was also praised by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “wise man” as Britain increased its arms sales to Pakistan. Zia also now found himself in the very advantageous position to demand billions of dollars in aid for the Mujahideen from the Western states, famously dismissing a United States proposed £198 million aid package as “peanuts”. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and Special Service Group now became actively involved in the conflict, and in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Army Special Forces supported the armed struggle against the Soviets. But Zia insisted on Pakistan retaining overall control in supplying the Afghans. This meant that about a third of the weapons never even reached the mujahedeen, but instead were sold in the black market. In 1981 the Reagan Administration sent the first of 40 F-16 jet fighters to the Pakistanis. Zia-ul-Haq also increased the number of madrassas from 893 to 2,801 during his years in office, and this included state sponsorship.
At a state dinner on 7 December 1982, President Reagan praised Zia thus: (http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1982/120782f.htm )
A great intellectual forefather of Pakistan, Muhammed Iqbal, once said that, “The secret of life is in the seeking.” Well, President Zia, today the people of the United States and Pakistan are seeking the same goals. Your commitment to peace and progress in South Asia and the Middle East has reinforced our commitment to Pakistan. We want to assure you, Mr. President, and the people of your country that we will not waver in this commitment.
Our relationship is deep and longstanding. It stretches back to Pakistan’s first days of independence. It stretches forward as far as we can see. It’s based on mutual interest, yes, but also on shared visions and goals in the world around us. It is based, as well, on the fact that the people of both our countries sincerely value the good relations and the affinity between us.
While Reagan is given credit for ending the Cold War and defeating the Soviets, his policies led directly to another brewing conflict. Zia allowed use of Pakistan as a launchpad against the USSR in exchange for the Americans not interfering as Pakistan developed its own nuclear weapons. The country was being drawn into an axis with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the USA to provide support for mujahedeen fighting the Soviet occupation and its puppet regime in Kabul. Bin Laden was in fact one of the first Arab expatriates to arrive there, as early as 1980, using his own money to recruit and train Arab volunteers in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for which he was given free reign by the CIA. As Curtis explains on page 142 of his book, the Americans were helped in their efforts by the British:
The SAS worked alongside US special forces in training Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG), whose commandos guided guerrilla operations in Afghanistan. British and US instruction was intended to enable SSG officers to pass on their training to the Afghan groups and mujahedeen volunteers. One SSG commander at this time was Brigadier Pervez Musharraf, who spent seven years with the unit and who is believed to have trained mujahedeen. Musharraf had been chosen by Zia as a devout Deobandi and had been recommended by the JI [Jamaat-i-Islami], according to some analysts; it was then that Musharraf came into contact with Osama bin Laden.
Thatcher praised Zia as “a wise man” in February 1979 just as he was imposing sharia on the masses. Arms supplies increased and in October 1981 the British prime minister herself visited Islamabad where she praised Zia’s courage and skill in helping to fight the Soviets. Yet Reagan and Thatcher hardly mentioned Zia’s jihad against the Anglosphere. When Carter had suspended arms supplies to Pakistan, its erstwhile ally looked to forge an alliance with revolutionary Iran. Carter was later to re-examine his views and along with Cyrus Vance actually praised Zia for sending troops to protect the American embassy in Islamabad from a large hostile mob in November 1979. But that is in fact the polar opposite of what really happened.
The Messiah that Failed
There have been many cult leaders that have promised their disciples a paradise on earth if they would just trust in him. In reality the utopia has degenerated into a nightmare of death and destruction. The name of Charles Manson stands out as a classic example, but there were others. Jim Jones led his followers to obediently line up and drink cyanide. The followers of David Koresh died in an inferno after being besieged by the FBI. Proof to the votaries of jihad that America is a degenerate cess pit of Satanic norms. Yet the world of radical Islam produced its own death cult leader, a messiah who occupied its holiest shrine.
Juhayman al-Otaybi was a former corporal in the Saudi National Guard, and a former student of Sheikh Abdel Aziz al Baz, who went on to become the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. But the anti-western Baz was too moderate for Juhayman, who gathered his messianic supporters and in the early morning of 20 November 1979 seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The insurgents released most of the hostages and locked the remainder in the sanctuary.
They took defensive positions in the upper levels of the mosque, and sniper positions in the minarets, from which they commanded the grounds. The mosque’s public address system was used to broadcast the insurgents’ message throughout the streets of Mecca, calling for the cut off of oil exports to the United States and the expulsion of all foreign civilian and military experts from the Arabian Peninsula.
Juhayman denounced the Saudi monarchy as illegitimate. The Saudi ruling family themselves were embarrassed about how this could happen in Islam’s holiest shrine, and their utter incompetence at being unable to take it back. They rejected help from Jordan, considering it was the Hashemites whom they had expelled from the Hijaz in 1924. Hence they turned to the country which now outstripped America as the Saudis’ biggest supplier of arms; France
Top French commandos became exasperated at the inability of the Saudis to even plan effective counter-insurgent strategy. Hence the only way they could take back the mosque from Juhayman was by doing it themselves. This is exactly what happened after a quick conversion en masse by the French troops to Islam so that they could enter Mecca. Once again the Saudis had been helped not by fellow Muslim nations, but the west. However this did not stop conspiracy theories flying. Now under the control of Shia clerics, Iran was hated by the Saudis. Nevertheless Ayatollah Khomeini blamed the USA and international Zionism for the actions of Juhayman. Anti-American demonstrations followed in the Philippines, Turkey, Bangladesh, eastern Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Mobs in Dhaka shouted “Death to America”. In the NATO member state of Turkey, Islamic radicals protested against the Pope’s proposed visit.
The Islamist and Turkish nationalist Mehmet Ali Agca had already killed the editor of the left-wing Milliyet. He blamed the Zionists for the Mecca siege and planned to assassinate Pope John Paul II: something which he would almost achieve in Rome in 1981. Sunni leader Sheikh Hassan Khaled of Lebanon and secular Syria’s national radio both blamed the Zionists and imperialists.
On 2 December 1979 the American embassy in Tripoli, Libya, was burned down. But what happened on 21 November 1979 in Pakistan is less well known. While the taking of American hostages in Tehran following the overthrow of the shah in 1979 is notorious, few discuss the burning of the American embassy in Islamabad that same year. Mobs blaming America for the siege at Mecca, encircled the embassy and were bolstered by buses filled with Jamaat-i-Islami supporters arrived from Quaid-i-Azam University.
The soldiers standing guard handed their weapons over to the lynch mob or melted into the mass crowd. Gunshots and petrol bombs were used by the mob now numbering hundreds which also scaled the walls as staff locked themselves behind steel doors of a vault, having being denied permission to even use firearms in self-defence while they risked being roasted alive. Zia let the embassy burn, refusing to intervene or take phone calls from President Carter. Buses from Rawalpindi, where Zia was present, arrived to bolster the anti-American behemoth.
Marine Security Guard Steve Crowley, 20; another American, Army Warrant Officer Bryan Ellis, 30, and two Pakistan staff members were killed in the attack. Hundreds of nonessential staff were evacuated in the aftermath with Pakistan’s autocrat saying smugly that this was unnecessary. In its Arabic language broadcast, Pakistan state radio proudly boasted of the attack and to date the country has expressed no regret for the incident. Khomeini welcomed 120 senior military officers returning to Pakistan from making hajj to Mecca when they stopped off in Iran en route, and warmly praised the destruction of the American embassy in Islamabad. Iran’s leader also predicted that African-Americans would stage a mass uprising against their government and support Iran and Pakistan. Yaroslav Trofimov is one of the few to expose the sordid atrocity in his 2007 book, The Siege of Mecca. Page 111:
Energized by the government’s reluctance to protect Westerners in the country, rioters flooded the streets across Pakistan. In Rawalpindi, just as Zia visited town, mobs incinerated the Christian Convent of Jesus and Mary and burned down the U.S. information center, a British library, and offices of American Express. The American cultural center was set ablaze in Lahore, and the American consulate and Pan-American Airlines institutions, declared a student leader in Lahore, had to be burned because “The Holy Kaaba has been occupied by the Americans and Jews.”
In India by contrast the police dispersed a violent mob which, encouraged by the ‘secular’ Congress Party fulminations against the nonexistent US-Zionist plot to destroy the holiest shrine of Islam, had gathered to attack the American consulate in Calcutta. Few know of how in contrast to its pro-western neighbour under an Islamist dictator, the world’s largest democracy respected and protected western diplomatic protocol. For this India was rewarded by America and Britain arming its hostile belligerent neighbour as western powers turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear programme and sponsorship of international terrorism. Realising his country’s geostrategic importance to the west, and simultaneous vulnerability to Soviet expansionism, Zia-ul-haq stopped his flirtation with Iran and again hawked himself as a pro-western ally. In January 1980 President Carter announced that his country was committed to defending Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Jihad in Dollars and Sterling
The CIA helped fund translations of the Quran into Uzbek which were then distributed by Afghan rebels. MI6 funded the leader of Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, to pump money and Islamic literature into Soviet Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Qazi had close links to mujahadeen leaders Massoud and Hekmatyar. Indeed the latter worked with operations run by the CIA, MI6 and ISI to launch guerrilla attacks within the aforementioned Soviet republics, which reached their peak in 1986, with the intention of spreading radical Islam among Muslims of the USSR. British and American supplies for the Afghan jihad would help to establish violent jihadi organisations. Harkat al-Jehad was formed in 1980 by the Jamaat Ulema e-Islam and the Tableeghi Jamaat, and worked closely with the ISI.
This later split and one faction became the Harkat ul-Mujahadeen which fought Islamic holy war in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Bosnia. The London 7/7 bombers in 2005 had links to this group. They were also linked to Lashkar-e-Toiba which also sent terrorists to Kashmir, with ISI support. The process of radicalisation also spread to the Pakistani community in Britain where Deobandi clerics from Pakistan replaced clerics in mosques across Britain. The kidnap and murder of an Indian diplomat in Britain by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in 1984 should have set alarms ringing. Yet even the mass street protests five years later over Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, orchestrated by the Jamaat-i-Islami and UK Islamic Mission did not alert the host country to the monster it had created.
Britain backed the Mahaz-i-Milli Islam (National Islamic Front) as well as more hardline groups such as Hizb-i-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was himself invited to Downing Street in 1986 and met Foreign Office officials two years later. Despite the modelling of Hizb-i-Islami on a Stalinist model, the USA supplied at least $600 million in aid to Hekmatyar.
Yet now he is declared as an international terrorist by that very country which once so publicly supported him. Yet even during the 1980s he had taken an anti-western line and was regarded by other mujahedeen factions – whom he often attacked – as extremist. From the dark substratum of Hizb-i-Islami there emerged an even more hardline group influenced by the Deoband school of Islam which originated in post-1857 India as a pan-Islamic and anti-British theological movement.
This faction included Mullah Omar and Deobandis became very influential over the Afghan ulema. In Pakistan the Deobandis had set up the Jamaat-i-Ulema-Islami. Its leader Fazlur Rahman not only joined the government of Benazir Bhutto, but also backed the creation of the Taliban. Even the so-called ‘moderates’ were hardly any better. Ahmed Shah Massoud was a member of Rabbani’s Jamaat-i-Islam, and had been a lecturer in sharia law at the University of Kabul in 1973. Areas under his control suffered mass rape and were heavily involved in the heroin trade. Ideologically the Afghan war saw the fusing of Deobandi and Wahhabi ideas into an explosive mix. Zia was himself a Deobandi and with his tacit encouragement the movement began its evolution into what would become the Taliban. Saudi funding gave the Deobandi school global dimension and it spread its influence to British Muslims of Pakistani origin during the 1980s.
The death of Zia in 1988, ending of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Cold War led further down the path of civil war as various factions battled it out. There were millions of Afghan refugees, thousands of expatriate fighters such as Bin Laden, an uncontrolled trade in drugs, social and economic dislocation, the latest American weapons on the black market, and an increasingly radicalised Islamic ideology in the mix.
Between 1981 and 1983 American military aid through the ISI increased from $30 million to a staggering $280 million. The Saudis sent half a billion dollars to CIA accounts with businessman Adnan Kashoggi benefiting handsomely from these arms deals The Afghan war massively increased already endemic corruption in Pakistan. The resultant drug trade fuelled a black economy and gang wars, especially in Karachi, while by 1987 the country had 2 million addicts. Children of Afghan refugees in the camps grew up rootless and vulnerable to the radical Islam that was being funded by the British and American taxpayer.
The break up of the USSR in 1991 allowed Pakistan to pursue an aggressively imperialist policy, backing mujahadeen factions in Afghanistan and Islamist insurgents in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and even Chechenya. In 1994 the ISI helped train Shamil Basayev and his Chechen jihadis at a camp run by Hekmatyar. Four years later hundreds of Chechens were being trained in ISI-run camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. From Peshawar 2000 Afghans were recruited by the American company Mega Oil (which had CIA links) in 1991 to act as mercenaries for the government in Azerbaijan to prevent Christian-majority Armenia from taking Nagorno-Karabakh. By 1994 there were 2500 jihadis in that former Soviet republic, some of whom had been recruited by Hekmatyar. Despite American and British backing, Armenia actually won this conflict.
But it was in Afghanistan that Pakistan reached its greatest success helping the Taliban seize power in 1996. This was backed by America as a counter to the Iranian threat and because the CIA concluded that the Taliban were not unfriendly to American interests. However domestic pressure regarding the treatment of women in Afghanistan compelled the Clinton administration to break with Kabul in 1997 and switch support to Massoud and other anti-Taliban forces. But in general the USA and Britain were apathetic if not supportive, thus allowing Bin Laden to meet with ISI generals and build up his arsenal. In 1998 Britain was unfazed by Pakistan’s nuclear tests and cooperated in high level military training exercises with the state which it had carved from India over half a century before.
Western Jihad against India
The ISI turned its attention to training terrorists such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba to annex Kashmir from India and annihilate its Hindu minority; which had been already partially achieved when they were ordered from their indigenous homeland at gunpoint in 1989.
Eking out a miserable existence in refugee camps in Jammu, this time there would be no Senator Kennedy to draw the world’s attention to their plight as Pakistan used western arms and political backing in its ambition to ‘liberate’ Kashmir from India.
Britain not only turned a blind eye to the jihad in Kashmir but sent arms supplies to its Islamic ally, while British citizens of Pakistani origin such as Mohammed Bilal and Omar Saeed Shaikh joined about nine hundred other volunteers in the 1990s in the holy war against infidel India.
Ironically the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7 only increased Pakistan’s importance in the eyes of London and Washington as a frontline state in the international war on terror. In April 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint press conference with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani saying that they shared interests and an enemy of Pakistan was also an enemy of Britain. India must have felt like Czechoslovakia following the farcical Munich Agreement of 1938.Lashkar-e-Toiba has spread its attacks form Kashmir to attack Mumbai in 2008. Pakistan barely camouflages its support for terrorist attacks on India. But Britain itself has now become dependent on the ISI to catch terrorists which it has either trained or tacitly supports. Then again it was Britain that was instrumental in creating what became international ‘terrorism’. Curtis on page xii:
Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are partly British creations: Saudi Arabia was bloodily forged in the 1920s with British arms and diplomatic support, Pakistan was hived off from India in 1947 with the help of British planners. These countries, while being different in many ways, share a fundamental lack of legitimacy other than as ‘Muslim states’. The price paid by the world for their patronage of particularly extreme versions of Islam – and British support of them – has been very great indeed. Given their alliance with Britain, it is no surprise that British leaders have not called for Islamabad and Riyadh to be bombed alongside Kabul and Baghdad, since the War on Terror is clearly not a war at all, but rather a conflict with enemies designated by Washington and London. This has left much of the real global terrorist infrastructure intact, posing further dangers to the British and world public.
Further on page 346:
Indeed the situation is truly absurd: in order to defeat the forces of the Taliban, Britain is dependent on their main ally. Britain’s position is so weak that it t has to rely on pro-Islamist forces to support the projection of British power, even when the strategy is self-defeating.
ISI is needed to catch terrorists. But it trains those very terrorists in the first place as Pakistan plays an openly double-game of appeasing and more often supporting radical Islamic outfits, and doing nothing to support Taliban from attacking British forces in Afghanistan. The ISI has provided the Taliban with Stinger missiles and officers in the Pakistani Frontier Corps engage in joint operations with the Taliban in attacking NATO and Afghan government forces. Britain has supplied aid to train this very unit in the Pakistani army. In similar vein Jalalluddin Haqqani was a military leader in the US-backed and UK-backed Hezb-i-Islami to fight the USSR. Now that same person attacks NATO forces and those of President Karzai.
Also from the same outfit is Hekmatyar who has not only attacked NATO and Afghan forces, but also helped Bin Laden escape from the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan after 9/11. The Hekmatyar and Haqqani terrorists are in turn protected by the ISI, with Pakistan supplying fuel, ammunition and, from its madrasas, new recruits. Curtis’ damning conclusion on page 337:
It is thus difficult to square Britain’s support for Islamabad with confronting the Taliban in Afghanistan Hence the UK is desperate for a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict and its delicate extrication from it by negotiating with the very Taliban which it had overthrown.
Western Appeasement and Apologists for the Saudi Reich
In 1993 the Foreign Office report entitled Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East said that its threat to western interest and national security was minimal and indeed Britain could have manageable relations with Islamist regimes. Indeed radical Islam was less of a threat than more secular ideologies such as Nasserism. At the 1955 Bandung Conference, President Sukarno of the host nation Indonesia worked with Nasser, India’s Nehru, Tito of Yugoslavia, as well as Kwame Nkrumah, Ho Chi Minh, Chou Enlai and King Norodom Sihanouk to adopt “declaration on promotion of world peace and cooperation”. Adopting Nehru’s five principles of Panchsheel the conference pledged to remain neutral in the Cold War.
Sukarno was leader of the most populous Muslim nation and western nations saw his regime as too sympathetic to the powerful Parti Kommunist Indonesia. The USA, Britain and Australia organised arms and funds to help disaffected army officers in their rebellion of 1957 and 1958.
One such dissident was Ahmad Hussein who was linked to the fanatical Darul Islam which wanted Indonesia to become an Islamic state and had staged several rebellions against Sukarno since independence. In 1953 the US Ambassador Hugh Cumming referred to the terrorist organisation as “a promising phenomenon.” The USA provided arms in the late 1950s to radical cleric Daud Beurah who declared the Islamic Republic of Acheh. Although crushed in 1962, remnants of Darul Islam would play a major role in the massacres of real and suspected PKI members in 1965 and 1966, and would form violent splinter groups such as Jemaah Islamiya.
In hindsight this may seem incredible, but is not so shocking when we consider how the CIA was funding the Muslim Brotherhood after its suppression by Nasser and exile in Saudi Arabia. As well as India, Egypt and Indonesia, Syria was also seen as being too pro-Soviet and anti-western. Despite reservations, Britain and America backed the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1957.
When in the same year the pro-western King Hussein of Jordan dismissed his Nasserist prime minister Suleiman Nabulsi, he was supported by Britain, America and the Saudis who sent 6000 troops to back their long-time Hashemite foe. All political parties were banned, except the Muslim Brotherhood which fully supported the Hussein, and hunted down communist and Leftist opponents. However with Nasser’s death 1970, the way was open for western states to fully back the Islamist stormtroopers of the Saudis.
Sadat reversed the pan-Arab nationalism of his immediate predecessor Nasser, when he became president of Egypt in 1970. He also reversed the Arab icon’s policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood by releasing their incarcerated members from prison. Islam was enshrined as state religion in 1971, and with Saudi support, allowed exiled Muslim Brothers to return from the kingdom as he established close relations with Kamal Adham, head of Saudi intelligence.
The returnees quickly spread their influence through Egyptian universities with groups such as Jamaat Islamiya, countering Nasserist, Marxist and secular ideas as they poisoned minds with the Wahhabi doctrines they had inculcated while exiled in Saudi. Turning Egypt away from the USSR and towards a new axis with Saudi and the kingdom’s western allies, Sadat used the Muslim Brotherhood against his leftist and secular opponents. This strategy was eventually to claim his own life when the president was assassinated in 1981 by al-Jihad outfit, rooted in an Islamic study group based at Asyut University. Yet Sadat’s Islamisation strategy helped Anglo-American aims at fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, as Egyptian volunteers eagerly courted jihad and martyrdom oiled by Saudi money.
Saudi Arabia has constantly been described as a ‘moderate’ state. Linguistic enthusiasts interested in how words change their meaning should perhaps gaze in awe at this use of ‘moderate’ when used to describe a medieval style theocracy which preaches, inculcates and aggressively exports the Wahhabi school of thought which denounces all other forms of Islam. Saudi importance to western interests only increased with the loss of Iran as an ally in 1979.
Khomeini seized power soon after the Shah was toppled. Initially it made not an iota of difference. Britain continued to supply arms to Iran and Iranian army officers were being trained in Britain. In 1980 Thatcher upheld the Khomeini regime as a counter to Soviet communism in neighbouring Afghanistan. In 1982 Britain even helped the Islamic revolutionary regime crush the communist Tudeh Party after Vladimir Kuzichkin defected from the KGB with a list of Soviet agents operating in Iran. MI6 and the CIA leaked the details to the Iranians. The war with Iraq provided an excellent business opportunity as Britain sold tank barrels, tank engines, Land Rovers, and defence radars to Khomeini.
King Fahd of Saudi Arabia pressured OPEC to keep oil prices low while financing Reagan’s wars in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Zaire. Angola and Chad. The also sent generous funds to Zia and Saddam Hussein, the later to fight Iran which was now a competitor in bidding for the leadership of the Muslim world. In 1979 the Iranian revolution and the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Islamic radicals led Fahd to apply stricter Wahhabi Islamisation policies in an already puritanical theocracy. Having imposed a news blackout on the siege in Mecca, the Saudis successfully portrayed Juhayman as a Shia radical and his actions as an Iranian-backed Shia uprising.
Therefore as enemies of Shi’ite Iran, the Saudis were natural pro-western Sunni allies. In reality Juhayman was a Wahhabi extremist who thought the application of puritanical Islam in his home country, which portrayed Shia Islam as an anti-Muslim conspiracy by the Jews, was too diluted. At least he achieved a posthumous victory as Islamic puritanism became more radical and stricter in its application.
Women announcers were removed from Saudi television. Restrictions were imposed on display of imagery. Female personnel were dismissed from Lockheed. Alcohol became harder to obtain for westerners and western enclaves themselves were subject to raids by the mutawwa. The Islamic universities of Mecca and Riyadh received more funding as did the increasing missionary work by the Saudi state in pushing Wahhabi Islam abroad.
This was encouraged by America which saw this Islamic rage as being directed against the Soviets in Afghanistan, with help from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Saudi Prince Turki worked with the CIA to recruit Islamic holy warriors to fight with the Afghan mujahadeen. One of the Saudis who joined the jihad organised by Turki’s intelligence services was a twenty-one year old Osama bin Laden.
The fall of the Shah of Iran, and Khomeini’s resultant seizure of power in 1979, allowed Saudi Arabia to exploit western fears of radical Shia Islam, and thus project the Wahhabi state as ‘moderates’ and an essential ally to thwart the radical Shia Iranian threat to the Gulf. The west duly backed Riyadh against its enemies in Tehran. But this ‘moderate’ state had a middle-class which was nurtured under a bureaucratic theocracy and drilled in Islamic fanaticism as it was shielded from global reality. As well as helping grow human fodder for the Afghan jihad, it also made the already extremist state religion in Saudi Arabia more violent. While it was effectively de-westernising what little western influence had infiltrated Riyadh’s Iron Purdah and thus nurturing what would become al-Qaeda, Thatcher visited the state in April 1981 where she praised the kingdom. Between 1985 and 1988 Britain sold £15 billion worth of military equipment, including the supply of Tornado jets and hawk trainers, overtaking the USA as the kingdom’s biggest arms supplier.
Hence Thatcher again stressed the excellent bilateral relations in 1987. Afghan-Arab veterans were offered by Bin Laden in his meetings with intelligence chief Prince Turki and defence minister Prince Sultan to defend the Wahhabi state from Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iraq in 1990. He was rebuffed in favour of the infidel Americans. Saudi Arabia contributed $50 billion to the Anglo-American war against Iraq in 1991. Britain meanwhile sent over 40,000 troops as well as MI6 officers to help the ousted Jabar al-Sabar of Kuwait, in collusion with the Saudis.
Yet even Saudi could not control the monster it unleashed. The presence of western troops during the war to oust Saddam from Kuwait was too much for Bin Laden who now saw his Saudi benefactors as legitimate targets. Juhayman’s uprising had inspired the youth who also felt that the Saudi monarchy were usurpers of Mecca.
Osama was one of a new generation of Saudis who had been radicalised by the invasion of the Grand Mosque by Wahhabi radicals but had learnt from Juhayman’s mistakes. He moved to Sudan in 1992, where he was welcomed by Dr Hasan al-Turabi’s National Islamic Front.
Yet even when it revoked his citizenship in 1994, Saudi remained the source of funds for Bin Laden. He was never a serious threat to the Wahhabi state and was more concerned by the presence of kuffar troops on Islamic soil. Britain and America in turn turned a blind eye to this. Incredibly, in a speech at Chatham House in October 1993, Thatcher praised King Fahd and lauded the stability which the Saudi version of radical Islam provided for the theocracy, while ironically admitting that it was this very Islamic fundamentalism that posed a threat to other nations.
Britain enhanced Thatcher’s bipolar attitude in becoming host to Bin Laden’s Advice and Reformation Committee, a Saudi dissident outfit which set up shop in London. Again interest to linguists because in this context ‘reformation’ does not mean anything liberal.
In fact it states the diametric opposite. Saudi Arabia is an active participant in the Axis of Evil. Saudis have funded global jihad with madrasas in Pakistan, India and Nepal. Saudi charities the World Muslim League and Islamic Relief Organisation had links to 9/11 itself. Ironically while Saudi Arabia has received uncritical support from America and Britain, its involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo under the guise of assisting war victims and refugees received a frosty reception from the Muslims there when they tried to enforce Wahhabi mosques and centres over the indigenous Sufi traditions. It was also in Bosnia that the USA ignored Saudi, Turkish and Iranian funding of mujahideen fighters, and also directly funded the Bosnian army throughout the war with Serbia. Curtis, page 212:
According to Bosnian Muslim military intelligence sources, Britain was also one of the main channels through which foreign jihadists entered Bosnia, while London hosted several financiers and recruiters for the cause. Moreover it appears that Britain, along with the US, actively encouraged foreign jihadists to go to Bosnia.
Washington’s secret alliance with Iran and the Bosnian Muslims meant that it allowed mujahideen fighters to be flown in; Richard Holbrooke, the US’s chief peace negotiator in the Balkans, later noted that the Bosnian Muslims ‘wouldn’t have survived’ without this help and called it a ‘pact with the devil’. Furthermore, former Indian intelligence officer B. Raman has noted that ‘according to reliable estimates, about 200 Muslims of Pakistani origin living in the UK went to Pakistan, got trained in the camps of the HUA [Harkat ul-Ansar, the Pakistani terrorist group] and joined the HUA’s contingent in Bosnia with the full knowledge and complicity of the British and American intelligence agencies.’ Raman notes that ‘the CIA asked the ISI to divert part of the dregs’ of the HUA to assist the Muslims, and that the first group of militants entered Bosnia in 1992. The contingent was organised by the ISI, funded by Saudi intelligence and armed by Iranian intelligence, while leadership and motivation were provided by serving and retired officers of the ISI and Turkish intelligence.
British citizens included Omar Saeed Sheikh, student at the London School of Economics, who joined HUA to fight in Bosnia, although never made it there himself. Mujadid al-Brittani freely travelled around the UK to raise money for the jihad in Bosnia, and was himself killed in combat in 1995. Egyptian-born refugee Abu Hamza, who lost an eye and both hands in an explosion in Afghanistan in 1993, made trips to Bosnia under the pretext of relief supplies, but actively worked with foreign jihadis there.
Turkey’s role in this is quite interesting as it has always been lauded as a secular state right since the time Ataturk abolished the caliphate, exiled the Ottoman sultan and disestablished Islam as the state religion. But not only did Turkey support the jihad in Bosnia, it imported Islamic holy warriors from the Balkans to help crush the Kurds. From 1995, MIT, the country’s intelligence services, worked with the Islamist Refah Party to transport the Islamic fighters to training camps in northern Cyprus.
For this, Turkey was generously armed by Britain, and further used this western backing to bolster the jihadist militia Hezbollah in counter-insurgency against the Kurdish PKK. America at best acted apathetic to Turkey’s clear use of radical Islam, just as it had always done with its Saudi ally. Insurgency in Iraq has been blamed on Iran. But Saudi has provided the bulk of foreign jihadis there fighting coalition forces, and by 2007 45 per cent of these fighters were actually Saudis. Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Gordon Brown however continued to praise the Wahhabi state, sending it arms supplies and lavishing praise on it for helping fight terrorism.
When Obama omitted mentioning the Saudis in his call for democracy in the Middle East, he was merely following a well-trodden path endorsed by his no conservative opponents. America has constantly ignored Saudi exporting jihad along with oil. Riyadh has backed the military and Salafis in Egypt, and possibly Ennhada in Tunisia. The Saudis have helped found madrasas in Pakistan while that country has exported mercenaries to quell dissent in the realms of its autocratic benefactor.
The Arab Spring effectively ended in 2011 when Saudi tanks rolled over the causeway into Bahrain to crush the aspirations of the Shia majority, with tacit support from America which has a major naval base there. Emboldened the Saudis then began meddling in this anarchic mess that was its southern neighbour of Yemen. But then this is the deadly embrace as the USA offers guaranteed billions of dollars in steady income for Saudi oil. In the meantime the export of Wahhabi poison is fuelling Islamic militancy in places such as southern Thailand and wiping out the syncretic Islamic culture once found in South-East Asia. Oil revenues and custody of the two holiest shrines in Islam have eased Saudi propagation of Wahhabi doctrines worldwide and with it international terrorism. Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam (Phoenix, London, 2003), page 111:
Imagine that the Ku Klux Klan or some similar group obtains total control of the state of Texas, of its oil and therefore of its oil revenues, and having done so, uses this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom, peddling their peculiar brand of Christianity. This parallel is somewhat less dire than the reality, since most Christian countries have functioning public school systems of their own.
In some Muslim countries this is not so, and the Wahhabi-sponsored schools and colleges represent for many young Muslims the only education available. By these means the Wahhabis have carried their message all over the Islamic world and, increasingly, to Islamic minority communities in other countries, notably in Europe and North America. Organized Muslim public life, education and even worship are, to an alarming extent, funded and therefore directed by Wahhabis, and the version of Islam that they practice and preach is dominated by Wahhabi principles and attitudes. The custodianship of the holy places and the revenues of oil have given worldwide impact to what would otherwise have been an extremist fringe in a marginal country.