Thursday, August 21, 2008

The CIA didn't create Osama

Well, at least it didn't fund him in Afghanistan. It's a common myth, perpetuated by the short-attention-span media.

It turns out there were two groups of fighters in the Afghan fight against the Soviets. Local and Pakistani mujahidin were funded by the CIA. The so-called Arab Afghans were bin Laden's group, and we had nothing to do with them. In fact, you may remember the Afghan mujahidin--they later became known as the Northern Alliance, who helped a lot in our ousting of the Taliban in 2001.

Richard Miniter (his excellent book is Disinformation : 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror) actually interviewed the man in charge of funding the fighters. That man turns out to be now be a congressman:
Even if the CIA wanted to pay “Arab Afghans” -- which agency officials insist they did not -- bin Laden would be a far from obvious choice. Bin Laden himself rarely left the safety of Pakistan’s northwestern cities and commanded few troops of his own. At the time, bin Laden was the Arab Afghan’s quartermaster, providing food and other supplies.

If a CIA officer tried to give money to bin Laden, he probably would not have lived through the experience. The arch-terrorist was known for his violent anti-Americanism. Dana Rohrabacher, now a Republican congressman from California, told me about a trip he took with the mujahideen in 1987. On that trek, his guide told him not to speak English for the next few hours because they were passing by bin Laden’s camp. “If he hears an American, he will kill you.”
Now if only we can keep the Taliban from resurging.

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