Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Author: Steve Coll
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by arjun101   2017-08-19


by StudyingTerrorism   2017-08-19

Operation Cyclone (1979-1989), which was the CIA-led operation to provide funding and weapons to the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, ended five years before the formation of the Taliban (1994). After the Soviets left Afghanistan, the United States lost virtually all interest in the country and the money for the mujahedeen dried up. Although a portion of the mujahedeen that were supported by the United States would end up joining the Taliban as it increased its hold over Afghanistan, others would join the Northern Alliance to stop the Taliban's rise. When the United States retaliated against the Taliban following 9/11, it provided money and air support to the Northern Alliance.

If you would like to know more, I recommend reading Michael Rubin's article "Who Is Responsible for the Taliban?" which outlines this history relatively briefly.

And I know you did not ask about this, but the following is a list of sources on the fact that the United States did not provide funding to those who would become Al-Qaeda.

One of the most reputable sources on Operation Cyclone is Steve Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 . In it, he states that there is no evidence that the United States provided any support to al-Qaida.

Additionally, Peter Bergen, a terrorism and a scholar on early al-Qaida, stated the following in an interview in 2006:

> The story about bin Laden and the CIA -- that the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden -- is simply a folk myth. There's no evidence of this. In fact, there are very few things that bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the U.S. government agree on. They all agree that they didn't have a relationship in the 1980s. And they wouldn't have needed to. Bin Laden had his own money, he was anti-American and he was operating secretly and independently.

> The real story here is the CIA didn't really have a clue about who this guy was until 1996 when they set up a unit to really start tracking him.

Lawrence Wright, in the Pulitzer-prize book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, states that al-Qaeda was funded outside of the U.S. funding stream. The group was irrelevant to the fight against the Soviets and the Arabs who came to Afghanistan either rarely saw fighting or were used as cannon fodder by the more capable Afghan mujahedeen.

Osama bin Laden himself, in an interview with Robert Fisk in 1993, stated "Personally neither I nor my brothers saw evidence of American help."