The Counterterrorist Myth

From: Bill Douglass (
Date: Sun Sep 16 2001 - 16:52:52 MDT

The July/August 2001 issue of _The Atlantic_ had an article which is
highly relevant to our current situation. I'll post the first few paragraphs
below, and the entire text can be found at:

The Atlantic Monthly | July/August 2001
Notes & Dispatches


The Counterterrorist Myth

A former CIA operative explains why the terrorist Usama bin Ladin has
little to fear from American intelligence
by Reuel Marc Gerecht

The United States has spent billions of dollars on counterterrorism since
the U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, in August of 1998. Tens
of millions have been spent on covert operations specifically targeting
Usama bin Ladin and his terrorist organization, al-Qa'ida. Senior U.S.
officials boldly claim—even after the suicide attack last October on
the USS Cole, in the port of Aden—that the Central Intelligence Agency
and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are clandestinely "picking apart"
bin Ladin's organization "limb by limb." But having worked for the CIA
for nearly nine years on Middle Eastern matters (I left the Directorate
of Operations because of frustration with the Agency's many problems),
I would argue that America's counterterrorism program in the Middle East
and its environs is a myth.

Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier, is on the cultural
periphery of the Middle East. It is just down the Grand Trunk Road from
the legendary Khyber Pass, the gateway to Afghanistan. Peshawar is where
bin Ladin cut his teeth in the Islamic jihad, when, in the mid-1980s,
he became the financier and logistics man for the Maktab al-Khidamat,
The Office of Services, an overt organization trying to recruit and aid
Muslim, chiefly Arab, volunteers for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
The friendships and associations made in The Office of Services gave
birth to the clandestine al-Qa'ida, The Base, whose explicit aim is to
wage a jihad against the West, especially the United States.

According to Afghan contacts and Pakistani officials, bin Ladin's men
regularly move through Peshawar and use it as a hub for phone, fax, and
modem communication with the outside world. Members of the embassy-bombing
teams in Africa probably planned to flee back to Pakistan. Once there
they would likely have made their way into bin Ladin's open arms through
al-Qa'ida's numerous friends in Peshawar. Every tribe and region of Afghanistan
is represented in this city, which is dominated by the Pathans, the pre-eminent
tribe in the Northwest Frontier and southern Afghanistan. Peshawar is
also a power base of the Taliban, Afghanistan's fundamentalist rulers.
Knowing the city's ins and outs would be indispensable to any U.S. effort
to capture or kill bin Ladin and his closest associates. Intelligence
collection on al-Qa'ida can't be of much real value unless the agent
network covers Peshawar.

FREE voicemail, email, and fax...all in one place.
Sign Up Now!

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:49 MDT