By Arab News
By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
It was US President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski who established the Afghan Mujahedeen network when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.
Later on this network became the inspiration for Al-Qaeda and Taleban. The network continued even during the Reagan administration. And, on May 25, 1988 Hollywood paid $62 million to make a propaganda movie for the Afghan Mujahedeen titled Rambo III. The lead actor was Sylvester Stallone. The movie made every American support the Afghans even though some of them didn’t know where Afghanistan was located.
I still remember the comically scandalous interview by CBS anchorman Dan Rather with an Afghan villager about the Soviets. The villager answered every question with one word, yes. Did Brzezinski believe that the people of Afghanistan with their very diverse ethnic backgrounds could turn to be jihadist and true Muslims just one day after the Soviet invasion? We should also remember that Afghanistan is the main supplier of opium to the world. Some people even thought Afghan Mujahedeen could shoot down a Soviet-built MiG with a stone.
I had never been comfortable with the so-called Afghani jihad. Yes, I was against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and knew it was the battlefront for the Cold War of two superpowers. It was known that the US wanted to deliver the final blow to communism using Stinger missiles. It worked. The USSR was dismantled and communism vanished.
Then came Jan. 17, 1991 with the beginning of the Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait. For the first time in history, the world was watching live the coverage of a war. And when people saw the price tag of one single B-2 aircraft, then the whole world knew that America was the only superpower. The value of the plane? It is worth its weight in gold (literally) costing $2 billion.
At that time Americans knew they are the only superpower. This gave America an impression that no one country can dare to challenge them, let alone one man. That one man publicly threatened them and they didn’t pay attention. Why should they worry about a single man named Osama Bin Laden? They had a $1billion satellite that could see if Bin Laden brushed his teeth daily. Also he was the only wanted man in the history of mankind who travels in a private jet between his host countries such as Sudan and Afghanistan. America saw Bin Laden as a sitting duck. But, the American satellites couldn’t read what was in Ben Laden’s mind. He spent long time to refine his plans for a big attack on America. But, why did the top guns at Langley, Virginia fail to read Bin Laden’s lips? Didn’t terrorists do a practice attack on the WTC in February 1993?
We, the Saudis stripped Osama Bin Laden of his citizenship one year later in April 1994. And we warned the Americans about Bin Laden. Now, Bin Laden was history for the Saudis after that date. We, the Saudis didn’t hear his name in any Saudi media, but the American media made him prime-time news. He was elevated to the No. 1 hot topic and breaking news long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. America made him addictive to the media. They gave him free lessons on how to manipulate the audience and how to use the media. He knew how to use American media better than some US presidential candidates. And on Sept. 11, 2001 Bin Laden became America’s problem and No. 1 enemy. It cost America trillions of dollars, an invasion of two countries and thousands of lives to hunt and kill one man with a single bullet.
On May 2, 2011 Bin Laden was dead. The Arab and Muslim world didn’t react the way Americans thought they would. His death came at a time when the region was busy with its own problems. The US was warning the region that Bin Laden was their biggest threat. He wasn’t. The threat to the area was not from Al-Qaeda, but from the political and social systems. Bin Laden has nothing to do with what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq and Bahrain. Now, the area is not interested in listening about Bin Laden. They wanted to watch live coverage of former President Mubarak’s jail cell, Qaddafi’s comic speeches and Bashar Assad’s obvious lies. The US always criticizes this region for its lack of transparency. OK, please America show us some transparency. Who advised President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and who advised President Barack Obama to name the hunt for Bin Laden “Operation Geronimo” and whose decision was it to bury Bin Laden at sea?
— Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a commodore (retired), Royal Saudi Navy. ([email protected])