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In Depth

Al-Qaeda and the Question of State Sponsorship

By Alan F. Fogelquist, Ph. D.
International Monitor Institute

Completed August 29, 2002

© Copyright 2002 Alan F. Fogelquist, Ph. D.

Introduction

Shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush declared an open-ended "war on terrorism".  Within a few days, intelligence and law enforcement organizations in the United States and around the world had gathered massive evidence that the global terrorist network, Al-Qaeda, headed by Osama Bin Laden, had organized and financed the attacks which were carried out by cells whose members had been recruited, trained, and dispatched by the organization's top operational leaders. [1] Al-Qaeda became the primary target in this war and the US government sought support from governments around the world.

At the center of many discussions on how to defeat Al-Qaeda are questions about the level of military, financial, and logistical support which the organization has received from existing governments or regimes.  In the language of international relations and terrorism specialists this is the issue of state sponsorship.

This study traces the history of Al-Qaeda and reviews some of the most important evidence of state support for the organization and its affiliates.[2]

Sympathizers of Al-Qaeda and allied extremist groups claimed that the attacks of September 11 and similar acts of violence were justified by the need to "defend Islam" from outside aggressors or corrupt governments led by people who had abandoned real Islam and the need to free the Palestinian and other Muslim peoples from occupation of their lands and from oppression. Al-Qaeda propagandists singled out and targeted the United States for its economic and military support of the state of Israel . Beyond defending Muslims from the encroachments of "Jews", "Crusaders" and "apostates" was a program to establish a world "Islamic" government led by Al-Qaeda based on the shariah or divine law as interpreted by Al-Qaeda affiliated ideologues or clerics. This ideology is a twisted and politicized extremist interpretation of Islam at odds with the views of the majority of Muslims . Although the supporters of Al-Qaeda's vision represented only a tiny extremist minority in any part of the world, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, the events of September 11 showed that this minority had built up a formidable network capable of wreaking death and destruction on thousands of innocent victims, and that, unchecked, it posed a threat to world peace and security that could no longer be ignored.

Origins of Al-qaeda

The Al-Qaeda organization had its origins in movements of Islamic resistance to the Soviet war in Afghanistan . During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan , thousands of Arab volunteers from various countries arrived in neighboring Pakistan to fight against the pro Soviet forces in Afghanistan . Al-Qaeda grew out of a support network for these Arab volunteers under the leadership of an Islamist idealogue of Palestinian origin, Abdullah Azzam. In the early 1980s, a wealthy young Saudi volunteer, Osama Bin Laden joined Azzam's organization, which he would lead after Azzam's death. Bin Laden, whose family owned Saudi Arabia 's largest construction firm and had hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in the Saudi Kingdom , was able to contribute money and resources to the Afghan war effort. Large sums of money raised from wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States were funneled into Islamic charities set up by Azzam, which served as fronts for the Afghan jihad or holy war. Azzam also raised money for his Afghan efforts from Arab and Muslim communities in the United States .[3]

In 1984 Abdallah Azzam and the young Osama Bin Laden set up an organization named the Maktab al-Khidmat, MAK to act as a service center for Arab volunteers arriving in Pakistan to fight in the Afghan "jihad". After Abdallah Azzam's death by assasination in Pakistan in November 1989,  Bin Laden emerged as the leader of the organization, which became known as Al-Qaeda or the base. In the 1980's the organization raised money world wide, conducted propaganda campaigns and eventually recruited, trained, and equpped, thousands of Arab and Muslim volunteers for the war in Afghanistan .  In Afghanistan Bin Laden established close cooperation with a group of Egyptian Islamists, the most important of whom was Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who had been implicated in the assassination of Anwar Sadat. After Abdallah Azzam's, death members of the Egyptian group took over key positions in the Al-Qaeda leadership. Al-Zawahiri, who returned to Egypt to head the Islamic Jihad organization at the beginning of the 1990s, became the leading ideologue for the organization and was instrumental in Al-Qaeda's move towards terrorism on a global scale and for attacks on United States interests.

After the Soviet departure from Afghanistan , completed by the beginning of 1989, the pro-Soviet government of Najibullah remained in power. "Arab Afghans" with ties to Bin Laden continued to fight against this government until its fall in April 1992, brought on by the collapse of Communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union

At the end of 1989, Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia , leaving the Al-Qaeda bases and training facilities in Pakistan in the charge of lieutenants. In Saudi Arabia , he worked for his family's construction business while maintaining contact with Al-Qaeda and the networks of Arab Afghans. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the beginning of the Gulf War, Bin Laden developed serious differences with the Saudi royal family and the Saudi government. He objected vociferously to the Saudi government's alliance with the United States and especially to the stationing of non-Muslim or "infidel" troops in the holy lands of the Arab Peninsula . This acrimonious quarrel led to Bin Laden's declaring the Saudi rulers apostates and to his launching efforts to overthrow the Saudi monarchy. In April 1991, he left Saudi Arabia for Pakistan . Later in the year, he moved to Sudan on the invitation of Sudan's Islamist leader, Hassan al-Turabi.

After the departure of Soviet troops and especially after the fall of the Najibullah regime, Arab Afghans began returning to their original countries where they joined or formed organizations aimed at overthrowing the existing governments and replacing them with "Islamic" states governed by their organizations. Returning Arab Afghans the Islamic Gama'ah al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) and Islamic Jihad, organizations, which fought to overthrow the government of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Others joined the Islamic Groups or GIA that launched a bloody civil war in Algeria in an effort to overthrow the military regime there. Still other Arab Afghans returned to Yemen, where some of them entered an alliance with the Yemeni government in the north to suppress a secessionist movement in the formerly Socialist south. When the governments of Egypt and Algeria began making headway in their efforts to suppress these Islamist groups, members of the organizations began moving into Europe, where they set up terrorist cells in various European countries. Especially important were the cells in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, which later played a role in the September 11 attacks. England became a a major center of propaganda and recruitment for Islamic extremists with ties to Al-Qaeda. In the mid 1990's remnants of the Algerian GIA conducted a campain of terrorist bombing in France. Members of Islamic extremist groups with links to Al-Qaeda or organizations allied with it fought in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Kosovo, where they established links to groups of indigenous Muslims fighting for national independence. In Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, fighters with links to Al-Qaeda fought on the side of local Islamists attempting to overthrow secular governments allied to Russia. In the 1990s, Al-Qaeda, having establlished alliances with Islamic extremist parties and organizations like the GIA and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in dozens of countries, emerged as a global terrorist network recruiting, training and equipping thousands of additional volunteers for terrorist operations throughout the world.

During the 1990's the governments of three countries allowed Al-Qaeda to establish its headquarters in their territory, Pakistan, Sudan, and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. From its founding until 1991, Al-Qaeda's headquarters were in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province near the Afghan-Pakistan border. At that time the organization's main activity was still fighting against the pro-Soviet regime of Najibullah. In 1991, Al-Qaeda moved its headquarters to Sudan, where it set up terrorist training camps under the protection of the Sudanese Islamist government led by General Al-Bashir and Hassan al-Turabi. In 1996, when the Sudanese government, under pressure from the United States, forced Bin Laden and his associates to leave the country, Bin Laden transferred Al-Qaeda's center of operations to Afghanistan.

He arrived at a critical moment in the Afghan civil war when the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors were organizing the final assault on Kabul, which would establish Taliban control over Afghanistan's capital and most of the country.[4]  Bin Laden, offering money, resources, and Arab Afghan fighters to the Taliban, was able to establish his influence over their main leader, Mullah Omar. Bin Laden dispatched elite units of Al-Qaeda's Arab Afghans to fight against the forces of the former Afghan government and its allies in the Northern Alliance. The Taliban leadership rewarded Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda for their support by allowing Bin Laden and his associates to turn Afghanistan into their central headquarters for the growing terrorist network. Al-Qaeda set up base camps for terrorist training all over Afghanisan, and by September of 2001 had effectively taken over leadership of the Taliban military. The marriage between Bin Laden's daughter and Mullah Omar further cemented the relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban leadership.

The War on Al-Qaeda Terrorism and the Question of State Sponsorship

President Bush's post-September 11 call for a war on terrorism ushered in a new era in international relations and global geopolitics with terrorism as the central issue. The first stage of the "war on terrorism" was the military campaign against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which had allowed the Al-Qaeda organization to use its territory as a base for recruitment, training and organizing acts of terror against the United States and its allies around the world. The second stage, following the collapse of the Taliban regime, has involved an effort to destroy the remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighting forces in Afghanistan and adjacent areas of Pakistan and to assist friendly governments or "allies" in the war on terrorism to locate and destroy Al-Qaeda affiliated organizations and their terrorist cells. The latter effort has involved intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, military assistance, and efforts to disrupt or destroy the sources of funding of the Al-Qaeda terrorists. Most governments around the world have accepted the rationale for these two stages of the US led war and have offered varying degrees of support. Even regimes like those of Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, and Libya which prior to September 11 had harbored or supported terrorist organizations were sufficiently impressed by the resolve of the United States led anti-terrorism campaign to cut back on such activities. Governments that had previously tried to appease the terrorists or had been reluctant to crack down on terrorist cells began arresting and prosecuting members of these groups.

Since September 11, there has been much debate over the issue of state sponsorship of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, and whether or not such sponsorship will requires an effort to topple an offending regime or possibly a full-scale military campaign to defeat it and dismantle it.

Pakistan's Role

Among the countries that at one time or another have played a major supporting role in the rise of the Al-Qaeda network, Pakistan is at the top of the list. Pakistan's massive military, diplomatic and logistical support assured the success of the Taliban drive to control Afghanistan in the middle and late 1990s. Until recently, Pakistan was by far the most significant state sponsor of Al-Qaeda terrorism. Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI, encouraged the alliance between the Taliban and Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda. The ISI made use of Al-Qaeda training camps to train guerrillas to fight against Indian forces in Kashmir and also used the camps to train Islamist guerrillas for operations in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and other parts of Central Asia and the Caucasus where the Pakistani military wanted to establish its influence. In Central and South Asia, Pakistani governments were the stategic ally of the Taliban regime and ofAl-Qaeda. This situation changed only after September 11, when the United States exerted enormous pressure on President Musharraf to change the course of Pakistan's foreign and security policie.[5]

Pakistan's flawed geopolitical calculations were the main force behind the rise of the Tailban and the establishment of the Al-Qaeda training camps in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. Pakistani military and civilian leaders promoted the Taliban and Al-Qaeda mainly to use them as instruments in regional power politics against such rivals as India, Russia, and Iran, although they did not share the ideology of their surrogates.[6] The events of September 11, showed that the surrogates had become an out-of-control monster capable of dragging Pakistan into a global confrontation and possibly into a nuclear war with India.

From the beginning of the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pakistani military and intelligence services took nearly total control of the Afghan resistance movements based on the Afghan-Pakistani border and of the distribution of money and weaponry to the Afghan fighters. Iran played a lesser role in supporting resistance groups of Afghan Shiites. The United States and Saudi Arabia were the principal bank rollers of the covert war against the Soviets and their Afghan allies. They funneled billions of dollars of financial and military aid to anti-Soviet guerrilla fighters through Pakistan. China also provided significant amounts of weaponry to the anti-Soviet cause in Afghanistan, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt helped recruit Islamic volunteer fighters. While the United States CIA played a critical role in providing technical assistance and mobilizing resources for the effort, direct operational control over the distribution of military and financial aid and management of political relations with and between the Afghan resistance groups and the groups of Arab and Muslim volunteer fighters was in the hands of Pakistan's military and Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, the ISI.

Throughout the war, the United States sat back and allowed Pakistan almost total freedom to interfere in the Afghan political scene. As it turned out, the Pakistani military and intelligence services, gave the bulk of their support to the most extreme fundamentalist resistance organizations whose membership was largely Pashtun. The Pakistanis sought to establish "strategic depth" in South Asia against their arch-rival India by dominating the Afghan hinterland with the help of dependent Pashtun Islamist organizations. They also sought to counter the influence of any Afghan political or military organizations not under their control or any groups that might seek support from any of Pakistan's regional rivals such as Iran, Russia, or India. After the departure of the Soviets and the fall of the pro-Soviet Najibullah government. Pakistan's policy was the main factor fueling the Afghan civil war.

The Afghan war gave Pakistan's military dictator Zia Al-Haq a golden opportunity to gain United States military and financial support in return for Pakistan's participation in a proxy war against the United States' Cold War adversary. Zia and the Pakistani military greatly enhanced their power internally with the help of aid, money, and resources they received from the United States and other members of the anti-Soviet coalition.

Zia had come to power in 1979 after staging a military coup against Pakistan's popular president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the head of the Pakistan People's Party, whom he had executed. Zia encouraged the growth of religious parties and organizations in Pakistan as an alternative power base to counter the influence of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. The consequences of these policies were to last way beyond Zia's death in 1989. In the 1980s and 1990s several extremist religious parties appeared which developed their own military-terrorist formations.  Pakistan's ISI developed close relations with several of these groups, which were regarded as useful geopolitical tools in Pakistan's efforts to exert its influence in the world, especially South-Central Asia, and as instruments in Pakistan's internal power struggles.

For Pakistan's military leadership, support of radical Islamist extremist groups eventually proved to be a two-edged sword. By the mid 1990s armed extremist groups like the Taliban, Jamiat ul-Ulema Islami, the Sipah-e Sahaba, Harkat ul-Ansar, Hizb ul-Mujahedin, Jaish-i Muhammed, Al Badr, Lashkar-i Taiba, Lashkar-i Jangvi, and others had developed their own independent power bases and political, military, and financial resources.  In the course of the 1990s several of Pakistan's religious extremist organizations developed close links with Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda and sent their militants to receive training in Al-Qaeda run training camps. In the 1990s, several of these groups either changed their names or produced offshoots, increasing the number of organizations engaged in terrorism. Among their targets were Christians, Shiites, moderate theologians, intellectuals, members of secular political groups and independent journalists. Certain members of the ISI had developed a close relationship with the religious extremists and many younger officers and members of Pakistan's armed forces and the intelligence service had grown up under extremist influence and shared a similar ideology. In a poor country, ravaged by corruption, Afghan war-related drug trafficking, massive drug addiction, corruption and periodic political and economic crises, the extremists found many poverty stricken and disaffected people willing to listen to their call. By the end of the 1990s, Pakistan was a near hostage to these groups.[7]

A major breeding ground for Pakistan's religious extremist parties was the country's growing network of Deobandi and Wahhabi religious schools some of which received large amounts of money from public and private religious foundations in Saudi Arabia.  The religious schools afforded an opportunity for Pakistani poor to provide their children an affordable education. The schools not only indoctrinated the children with an intolerant and fanatical brand of Deobandi Islam but provided the students with military training and served as a recruitment ground for the Taliban and other extremist military-political formations. Successive Pakistani governments tolerated and at times encouraged the growth of these religious schools, extremist political parties, and armed guerrilla or terrorist groups.[8]

Although Pakistani governments from Zia al-Haq through the first two years of Musharraf's government have continued to deny it, the evidence of Pakistan's direct involvement in training, arming, and sending thousands of armed extremists into Afghanistan, India, and Kashmir is overwhelming. The Afghan government led by Burhaneddin Rabbani repeatedly provided the United Nations with evidence of direct Pakistani involvement in the Taliban effort to oust from power the internationally recognized Afghan government.  Hundreds of Pakistani citizens including members of the military and intelligence services were captured by forces loyal to or allied to the Rabbani government both before and after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on September 26, 1996. [9] Abundant incontravertable evidence is also available on Pakistan's arming, training, and dispatching members of the religious extremist armies into Indian controlled Kashmir as well as other parts of India.[10]

The policy of sending these extremists into Kashmir and India has had a lethal effect on political developments in Kashmir.  The militant incursions have caused the Indian armed forces to launch a massive campaign to locate and destroy the extremist military formations that take refuge among the civilian Muslim population of Kashmir.  Indian military campaigns have killed many extremists but there have also been many civilian casualties and some excesses by the Indian security forces.

The armed religious extremists have pushed aside, intimidated and sometimes killed members of Kashmir's indigenous nationalist movement.  The ruthless killing by the Pakistani sponsored religious extremist groups such as the Harkat al-Ansar, Harkat al-Mujahidin, and the Lashkar-I Taiba, Jaish-i  Muhammad, Al-Badr, and others have caused a mass exodus of Hindus from northern areas of Kashmir.

Only after the September 11 attacks and Washington's declaration of a war on terrorism, did the Pakistani government led by General Parvez Musharraf launch a serious effort to curb militant Islamist organizations. At considerable political risk to himself, General Musharraf, broke with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, arrested leaders and followers of several armed extremist organizations and introduced legislation to bring the religious schools under government control and curb the influence of extremists and outside powers. Musharraf also reorganized the ISI leadership pushing out some generals with Islamist sympathies.

It is still too early to reach a definitive judgement of the long-term effectiveness of Musharraf's measures. Early in 2002 some of the militants who were arrested during the United States campaign to defeat the Taliban were released from jail. Extremist organizations are still able to carry out acts of terror and sabotage inside Pakistan as witnessed by their killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, attacks on Christian churches, and the killing of French technical workers since the beginning of 2002. Members of armed Islamist organizations continue to cross the Pakistani border into Kashmir, where the killing continues. The Indian government as well as some independent observers are not satisfied that Musharraf has made a maximum effort to curb these cross-border incursions by militants into Indian controlled Kashmir and other parts of India.  During May and June 2002, Indian and Pakistani forces were on hair trigger, exchanging artillery fire across the Kashmir Line of Control and threatening to use nuclear weapons against each other if all-out war were to occur. The arming of guerrillas to fight against India has been a long standing Pakistani policy with wide support inside the country even by people who are not associated with the religious extremist organizations. There is little doubt that this policy has constantly inflamed relations with India, undermined all efforts to establish a lasting peace between the two countries, and threatened world peace and stability.

Al-Qaeda in Sudan

The second most important state sponsor in the development of Al-Qaeda was Sudan. From 1991 to May 1996, Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were headquartered in Sudan and received the support and protection of Sudan's leaders Hassan Al-Turabi and General Omar Al-Bashir.  Hassan Al-Turabi, the regime's leading ideologue, aspired to turn Sudan into the center of world Islamic revolution.

According to an arrangement worked out between Osama Bin Laden and Al-Turabi, Al-Qaeda set up camps and provided training in guerrilla warfare to the militias of the Sudanese National Islamic Front, NIF, which was fighting a war in southern Sudan with the Sudanese People's Liberation Front' and which continues to the present day. By the end of 1991 most of Bin Laden's trained mujahedin had moved from Afghanistan to Sudan.

While in Sudan, Bin Laden invested a large part of his inheritance in business and financial ventures which he intended to use to finance the expansion of the Al-Qaeda and its operations around the world. Bin Laden's Al Hijra construction company obtained contracts from the Sudanese government to build roads, bridges, and government buildings.  Other Bin Laden enterprises in Sudan included Laden International, the Al-Thema agricultural company, and the Wadi Al-Aqiq trading company. At the same time, Bin Laden also invested in a variety of businesses in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere and he opened bank accounts in many countries.  These businesses and investments became an important pillar of Al-Qaeda's terrorist activities around the world.[11]

The Sudanese government also allowed a number of terrorist organizations other than Al-Qaeda to set up offices, bases, and training facilities on its territory.  Among these were the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine, Lebanese Hizballah, the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of Palestine, Palestinian Hamas, the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front, Tunisia's Nahda, the Egyptian Islamic Group (Al-Gama'ah al-Islamiya) and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. During Bin Laden's stay in Sudan he developed a closer relationship with the Egyptian and North African Islamist organizations including the GIA and helped finance the dispatching of fighers to Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir and elsewhere while continuing to maintain Al-Qaeda safe houses, bases and training facilities in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

When the Pakistani government, under pressure from the United States following the first World Trade Center Bombing in 1993 expelled some of the Arab Afghans, Bin Laden paid for their tickets out of the country. Many of these fighter came to Sudan to participate in Bin Laden's training camps there while other training facilities were simply moved across the Pakistan-Afghan border into Afghanistan.[12]

In March 1993, while Bin Laden was in Sudan, the first bombing of the World Trade Center took place in New York City. Among the participants in that WTC bombing were members of a mosque headed by Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, a radical Islamist cleric and leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group, who had entered the United States from Sudan and had been granted political asylum. Sheikh Omar and a number of his associates were implicated in a parallel attempt to bomb the United Nations and the Holland Tunnel, an act which, if successful, would have led to massive casualties of innocent civilians. Among those implicated in the United Nations bombing plot were two Sudanese diplomats who had been attached to the Sudanese United Nations mission in New York City. In August 1993, the United States State Department placed Sudan on its list of state sponsors of terrorist activity.

It is still not clear exactly what role Al-Qaeda played in the first World Trade Center bombing.  In 1993, Bin Laden had yet to formalize ties with organizations and factions that by the end of the decade were to form part of the Al-Qaeda. What is clear is that the Egyptian Islamic Group headed by Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman had links to Al-Qaeda going back to the late 1980s and later became one of the main components of the Al-Qaeda led allinance of radical Islamic terrorist organizations. Two of Sheikh Omar's sons joined Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, where they remained until after the September 11, attacks.

The mastermind of the 1993 WTC plot, Ramzi Yusef, is believed to have had links to Islamic extremist groups associated with Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan before the 1993 bombing. After his flight from the United States the same day the bombing occurred he developed a closer association with Al-Qaeda supported groups in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. Some investigators believe that Ramzi Yusef became Al-Qaeda's chief representative for Southeast Asia[13]

During Osama Bin Laden's stay in Sudan, his relationship with the Saudi regime further deteriorated.  The Saudis made several unsuccessful attempts to convince him to return to the Kingdom. Bin Laden intensified his efforts to undermine the royal government, founding the Advice and Reformation Committee which issued an anti-regime manifesto known as the Memorandum of Advice in 1992.  The Saudi government responded to Osama's anti-regime moves by freezing his assets in the kingdom and in 1994 revoked his citizenship. In March 1994, the Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia issued a press statement denouncing and condemning Osama's political activities.[14]

In 1995 Egyptian extremists stepped up their violence against the Mubarak government. They organized an assassination attempt against the Egyptian president at the Addis Ababa summit in Ethiopia on June 26, 1995 and bombed the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad on November 19 of that year.[15] In response to these actions by the Bin Laden-allied Egyptian groups, the United States and Eygpt began putting intense pressure on Sudan to expel Osama Bin Laden and his entourage from the country while the Saudi government continued its efforts to induce the Sudanese to end their support for Bin Laden. In spring of 1996, Sudan no longer able to resist the continued international pressure, asked Bin Laden and his fighters to leave the country.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Rise of the Taliban

The Taliban appeared as a political and military force in late 1994 while Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were still headquartered in Sudan.  In fall 1994, a group of armed men led by the former mujahedin commander Mullah Omar helped the Pakistanis to wrest control of the area near Kandahar from recalcitrant warlords after some of their men had attacked a convoy of Pakistani trucks carrying goods for export.  General Nasirullah Babar, the Pakistani Minister of Interior in Benazir Bhutto's government was impressed by Mullah Omar's operation and began efforts to organize his group as a political and military force.

General Babar and his allies in the Pakistani military set out to turn the Taliban into Pakistan's main ally and instrument for establishing their influence in Afghanistan.  They encouraged Mullah Omar and his  allies to begin recruiting fighters from fundamentalist madrasahs or religious schools located in Pashtun and Baluch populated areas of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions.  The name Taliban means "students" in Persian and Urdu.  During this period, Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party was allied to a fundamentalist political party known as the Jamiat ul-Ulema, which had developed an extensive network of fundamentalist Islamic religious schools, especially in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The other major Islamic political party, the Jama'at-e Islami led by Qazi Hussein Ahmad was opposed to Benazir Bhutto's government and along with many operatives of the Pakistani ISI supported the Hezb-e Islami of Golbuddin Hekmatyar in his efforts to overthrow the Tajik-led Afghan government of Burhaneddin Rabbani. [16]

On the initiative of general Babar, the Pakistani government was soon providing weaponry and training to the Taliban's new political and military force.  In addition to religious students from the madrasahs, the Pakistanis recruited former officers and NCOs from the Pashtun-dominated  Khalqi wing of the army of the former pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan as well as former mujahedin commanders a number of whom had been members Yunus Khales's Hezb-e Islami party. The latter was a separate Afghan political party created by Khales after a split with the party of the same name led by Golbuddin Hekmatyar.

Until autumn 1994, the Pakistani government had been supporting the Hezb-e Islami led by the ruthless extremist Golbuddin Hekmatyar.  At the beginning of 1994, the Pakistani military and intelligence services, with the approval of Benazir Bhutto, organized an alliance of Hekmatyar, the Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, and the pro-Iranian Hezb-e Wahdat party composed of Hezara Shiites led by Abdul Ali Mazari.  This Pakistani sponsored alliance made an unsuccessful attempt to oust the government of President Burhaneddin Rabbani and his leading general Ahmad Shah Mas'ud. In summer of 1994 after the alliance of Hekmatyar, Dostum, and Mazari had failed to dislodge the Rabbani government and had suffered a series of military defeats near Kabul, the Pakistanis began considering other options to secure their domination of the Afghan political and military scene.[17]

In the fall and winter of 1994-1995, the Taliban achieved some major military successes, first wresting control of the Kandahar region from a group of warlords nominally allied with the Rabbani government.  From their base around Kandahar in southeastern Afghanistan, the Taliban first began attacking the positions of Golbuddin Hekmatyar and the Shiite Hezb-e Wahdat in central Afghanistan.  The Taliban presented themselves as an uncorruptable force of strict traditionalist Muslims whose goal was to right the wrongs of Afghanistan's warlords and fractious mujahedin whom they accused of having betrayed the original ideals of the anti-Soviet jihad.

Saudi Arabia joined Pakistan in an effort to secure the success of the Taliban. Saudi Arabia provided money while Pakistan provided weapons, training, expertise, and logistical assistance for the Taliban military offensive.  Saudi Arabia's motive for supporting the Taliban was to counter the influence of Iran and its Shiite allies in Afghanistan as well as to establish a stake in a proposed natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan which would link Pakistan to natural gas fields in Turkmenistan. [18]

Pakistan's military and political assistance and Saudi financial assistance were critical to the success of the Taliban.  The latter's success was not merely a question of military organization, manpower, and weaponry. The Taliban were able to gain control over certain regions of Afghanistan without firing a shot.  With the help of Saudi money, they bought off regional warlords and governors by offering them generous sums to retire from political life or join their administration.  When military force was necessary, the Taliban were often able to overpower their opponents with the help of thousands of volunteers recruited inside Pakistan by activists from religious parties with ample assistance from the Pakistani military and intelligence services. The ranks of the Taliban included Pakistani officers and former military personnel.

Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency which had initially supported Golbuddin Hekmatyar soon threw its weight behind the Taliban.  By the time the Taliban took Kabul from the Rabbani government in September 1996, they had received millions of dollars in support and weaponry from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  Pakistan was able to convince the United States government that the Taliban were simply a traditionalist Muslim group with no geopolitical or ideological ambitions outside of Afghanistan.  Islamabad also convinced the Americans that the Taliban could establish stability in Afghanistan, stamp out the drug trade, suppress Afghan Arab terrorist groups, and act as a counterweight to Iran.  During the first year and a half of the Taliban's rise to power, Bin Laden and his organization were still centered in Sudan and had little contact with the Taliban.  It was only after leaving Sudan and arriving in Afghanistan shortly before the fall of Kabul, that Osama Bin Laden began developing close ties to the Taliban and eventually established his influence over the Taliban leadership.

Gradually the Taliban movement led by Mullah Omar developed into a Frankenstein-like monster with its own independent power, resources, and ambitions. The Taliban soon found that they could collect millions of dollars in revenue by taxing opium production and the drug trade in the regions they controlled.  It was the areas of southeastern and southern Afghanistan which they seized early in their campaign to conquer all of Afghanistan that accounted for the bulk of Afghanistan's drug production

Iran and Al-Qaeda

While Al-Qaeda was headquartered in Sudan from 1991 to 1996, the organization developed links to Iran and the Iranian backed Hizballah organization in Lebanon, which had already created an international terrorist network. Hizballah was responsible for two suicide bombings in Argentina targeting the local Jewish community and Israeli interests in 1992 and 1994. There are credible intelligence reports that Al-Qaeda had direct contacts with Iran and received Iranian and Hizballah technical assistance and training in bomb making and other skills used for terrorist operations. Iran also provided direct military and financial assistance to the Sudanese government, Al-Qaeda's host,  and engaged in joint efforts with Sudan to promote world-wide Islamic revolutionary activity.

Rohan Gunaratna's recently published study on Al-Qaeda, based on interviews with intelligence officials and a host of documentary evidence provides some important details on the collaboration between Iran, Lebanese Hizballah, and Al-Qaeda. While Osama Bin Laden was in Sudan he had a meeting with Sheikh Nomani, an Iranian government representative in Khartoum, which led to further meetings with the Iranians. A few weeks after the first meeting, the Iranians arranged for an Al-Qaeda team to visit Lebanon to receive training in explosives production and other techniques. According to Gunaratna's investigation, Iran, provided Al-Qaeda with explosives that were used against East African targets.[19]

Two events took place in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, which suggest that the interests of Iran and the radical Sunni opposition to the Saudi regime were converging.

On November 13, 1995, a group of Saudi extremists bombed the Office of the Program Manager of the Saudi National Guard, killing five Americans, two Indians and wounding some sixty others. The US victims were part of a military assistance program to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis arrested five suspects, four of whom were executed while the other died in detention. The confessions of the four men before their execution were broadcast on TV, and the investigations revealed that they had been influenced by Osama Bin Laden and the radical Islamist opposition.

On June 25, 1996, another group of Saudi terrorists exploded a bomb at the Al-Khobar Towers apartment complex that housed personnel of the US Airforce, killing nineteen American servicemen.  A long drawn out investigation ensued during which American investigators on several occasions criticized the Saudi authorities for their failure to provide essential information. According to information released, the attack was carried out by a group of radicals belonging to a hitherto unknown Saudi "Hizballah" organization, whose members were mainly from the country's Shi'ite minority recruited by an Iranian intelligence official. In the first stages of the investigation, US officials believed the conspirators might have had links to  Al-Qaeda. There was also evidence that some participants in the conspiracy were Sunni Muslims and that preparations for the bombing had taken place in the Biqa' Valley of Lebanon, the stronghold of Hizballah. The bombing involved a complex set of preparations including frequent reconnaissance of the proposed target. The power of the explosion was enormous and required advanced expertise in the manufacture of explosives.[20]

After Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were forced out of Sudan, ties with Iran worsened. The Iranian government did not like the fact that Bin Laden was establishing such a close relationship with the Taliban regime, which had proved to be the mortal enemy of Iran's closest allies in Afghanistan. The Taliban had killed Abdul Ali Mazari, the leader of the Iranian backed Hezb-e Wahdat (Party of Unity) the main organization of the Hezara, a Persian speaking Shiite ethnic group in Afghanistan.[21] From that time on, the Pakistani armed Taliban carried on a relentless war against the Hezara of central and northern Afghanistan. In September of 1995, the Taliban took the city of Herat close to the Iranian border driving out Afghan government forces led by Ismael Khan, the regional governor who had friendly relations with Iran.[22] Ismael Khan took refuge in Iran and received Iranian support in his efforts to retake Herat. in the autumn of 1996, after the Taliban's capture of the Afghan capital Kabul, Hezb-e Wahdat, the forces of the Afghan government led by General Ahmad Shah Mas'ud, and the Uzbek militia of northern Afghanistan led by General Abdul Rashid Dostum formed what became known as the Northern Alliance. Osama Bin Laden contributed money, weapons, expertise, and Al-Qaeda fighters to the Taliban's effort to wrest northern Afghanistan away from the Northern Alliance. To counter Pakistan's massive military and manpower assistance to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces, Iran and Russia began giving modest amounts of weaponry, munitions, and supplies to the groups comprising the Northern Alliance. The lowest point in Iran's relations with the Taliban came in September of 1998, when the Taliban took the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i Sharif and slaughtered ten Iranian consular workers.[23]

An additional reason for an end to cooperation between Iran and Al-Qaeda was the election of Mohammad Khatami as President of Iran in May 1997 and a campaign by the new Iranian government to reduce tensions with moderate Arab governments like those of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, By establishing a more cordial and less confrontational relationship with the Arabs, Iran hoped to win diplomatic support and reduce its vulnerability to pressure from the United States, which had increased economic sanctions against Iran in recent years. Iran's overtures towards Saudi Arabia were one reason for the Saudi government's desire to downplay evidence of an Iranian role in the Dhahran bombings of June 1996.

In conclusion, after Bin Laden's move to Taliban controlled Afghanistan and his alliance with Iran's regional enemies and after the launching of a new policy of rapprochement with moderate Arab governments and the countries of the European Union, Iran's motivation for cooperating with Al-Qaeda has greatly diminished. Although there is some evidence of continued contact between Iranian hard-liners and Al-Qaeda in the Lebanon - Palestine theater against Israel, assisting Al-Qaeda is no longer considered to be in Iran's interest by the majority of the country's political establishment, especially by members of Khatami's pro-reform faction. Iran condemned the September 11 attacks and cooperated with the United States by sharing intelligence during the military campaign to oust the Taliban in October and November 2001.

There have been some reports that corrupt officials or members of hard-line anti-American groups may have assisted Arab Afghans with links to Al-Qaeda to flee Afghanistan through Iranian territory. There are also Afghan and Iranian drug smuggling and contraband networks that have moved drugs from Afghanistan across Iran to Middle Eastern and European markets. Members of the Iranian law enforcement forces have often lost their lives in battles with the smugglers. Iran does not at this time appear to be a strategic ally of Al-Qaeda, but past Iranian association with the organization merits continued monitoring and improved intelligence.

Expansion of Al-Qaeda's Global Operations from Taliban Controlled Afghanistan

After establishing Al-Qaeda's headquarters in Taliban controlled Afghanistan and cementing a close relationship with Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders, Bin Laden increased  the scope and intensity of the organization's activities world-wide and launched a series of direct attacks on United States interests culminating in the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, which resulted in the death of more than three thousand people on one day. On February 22, 1998 Bin Ladin, announced the founding of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders. In addition to his signature, the organization's proclamation had those of Ayman al Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Rifai Ahmed Taha of the Egyptian Islamic Group (Gama'ah Al-Islamiya), and the signatures of leaders of several other extremist organizations in Pakistan and Bangladesh.[24]

Until 1998, most of the violence unleashed by Al-Qaeda and its allies had been against military or civilian supporters of Middle Eastern governments that had been declared apostates or supporters of governments fighting Muslim insurgencies in places like Bosnia, Chechnya, the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, Xinxiang province of China, and the Philippines. The new World Islamic Front soon showed that it was ready to strike directly at United States and western targets.  On August 7, 1998 Al-Qaeda operatives launched powerful bomb attacks on the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es-Salaam, Tanzania. On September 20, 1998, the United States responded to the embassy bombing with missile strikes against several Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a chemicals factory in Sudan. The strikes failed to kill Bin Laden or any of the top Al-Qaeda leaders or the owner of the chemicals factory, who denied any links to Al-Qaeda and sued the US government for damages. On December 14, 1999, police arrested Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian with ties to the GIA whose vehicle contained explosives with which he planned to blow up Los Angeles international airport, LAX.  On October 5, 2000, Yemeni terrorists belonging to an Al-Qaeda cell launched a suicide bombing from a small boat against the USS Cole in Aden harbor, killing 17 seamen and wounding 39 others. After the US embassy and Cole bombings, the United States tried unsuccessfully to influence Pakistan to force the Taliban to shut down terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and to hand over Bin Laden for trial in the United States. It was only after the September 11 attacks, that the United States was able to make the Pakistani leadership stop shielding the Taliban and take measures to crack down on extremist groups in Pakistan itself.[25]

Iraq, al-Qaeda, and the War on Terrosim

Since the defeat of the Taliban regime in November 2001 and the launching of a campaign to find and destroy Al-Qaeda cells around the world, there has been much discussion of a possible third stage in the war on terrorism which would involve military action against state sponsors of terrorism. At the top of the list of regimes that could be targets in a third stage of the war on terrorism and which may require toppling or military action to remove them in the eyes of some policy makers is that of Iraq.  A separate but related issue which appeared even before September 11 was whether or not such action would be justified or necessary in the light of Iraq's continuing pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) despite the United Nations ban on Iraq's production, development and deployment of such weapons. Whether or not it can be proved that Iraqi government is a major sponsor of terrorism or had a role in the September 11 attacks, some believe that the threat to US and world security posed by the Iraqi weapons programs is serious enough to warrant military action in a major effort to overthrow the regime of Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein. [26]

Saddam Hussein has to date started two major wars with neighboring states, used chemical weapons against Iran and the Iraqi Kurds, and he expelled United Nations weapons inspectors from the country at the end of 1998. Hard evidence that Iraq assisted the Septemer 11 plotters or is now assisting the Al-Qaeda network to acquire WMD, would indicate Iraq's willingness to use these weapons against the United States and US citizens or to assist Al-Qaeda in doing the job. Al-Qaeda's leaders have threatened to kill millions of Americans. These threats as well as their past acts of violence against civilians in numerous other countries have made their intentions very clear. The issue of state sponsorship or assistance of Al-Qaeda is therefore a critical aspect of any international effort to protect the people of the world from possible future actions which could result in mass casualties.[27]

The Iraqi regime has long played host to a variety of radical Palestinian guerilla organizations that have carried out acts of terrorism over the last decades, mainly against moderate Palestinian groups and Israelis. The State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism Report for 2001, published in May 2002, notes that Iraq has provided sanctuary and resources to such terrorist organizations as the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) as well as such Palestinian groups as the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which increased its armed activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2001.[28] In August 2002, the notorious Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, who had been given sanctuary by the Iraqi regime at the end of 1998, was reported to have been found dead in his Baghdad apartment, his body riddled with bullets.[29]  In 1993 Iraq organized an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate President Bush during his visit to Kuwait that year. Iraq was also responsible for acts of terrorism against United Nations personnel in the early years following the Gulf War.[30] Most of Iraq sponsored terrorism in recent years has been directed, however, at members of anti-regime opposition groups. Support for terrorist groups in the Middle East appears to be part of Iraq's regional policy and the result of Saddam Hussein's dream of leading the Arab world in efforts to undermine and destroy Israel.

The most important question from the point of view of this study concerns the nature of Iraq's relations to Al-Qaeda. At present there is still insufficient hard evidence to prove that Iraq participated in the September 11 attacks on US targets organized by Al-Qaeda. There is, however, evidence that Mohammed Atta, a coordinator of the September 11 hijackings, met with the Iraqi agent Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in the Czech Republic in April 2001. On June 4, 2002, the Czech UN ambassador, Hynek Kmonicek confirmed that the meeting had indeed taken place as originally revealed by the Czech Interior Minister in autumn of 2001.  According to Ambassador Kmonicek, the Czech government had gathered "detailed evidence" of this meeting. He indicated that the Czech government records showed that Atta had entered the Czech Republic twice.[31] The subject discussed by Mohammed Atta and the Iraqi agent is unknown. Al-Ani was expelled from the Czech Republic on April 22, 2001 after Czech intelligence agents observed him lurking outside the building of Radio Free Iraq in Prague.

The meeting between the Iraqi intelligence agent and Muhammed Atta is troubling but in does not of itself prove that Iraq was involved in a major way in the events of September 11. There is a body of hard evidence of Atta's contacts with other participants in the September 11 air hijackings and of his links to senior al-Qaeda officials. There is also abundant evidence that the money used to pay the expenses of the hijackers and to finance the entire operation came from Al-Qaeda. Several of the hijackers or members of their support network were trained in Al-Qaeda run camps in Afghanistan and had ties with al-Qaeda cells in Europe. So far interrogation of Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere and examination of the mass of material collected from Al-Qaeda safe houses and bases in Afghanistan have failed to uncover evidence of an Iraqi role in the September 11 attacks.

Over the years there have been reports of contact between Al-Qaeda or its precursor organizations with the Iraqi regime. One of the individuals interviewed recently by New Yorker investigator Jeffrey Goldberg claimed to have attended a meeting in 1992 between Saddam Hussein and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, then head of the Islamic Jihad organization and later a top leader of Al-Qaeda.  According to intelligence sources consulted by Roland Jacquard, Al-Qaeda emissaries contacted Saddam Hussein three times in 1997 through diplomatic channels to discuss the possibility of joint action "against the enemies of Islam, the United Staes, Israel and their agents in the Gulf." Al-Qaeda reportedly offered to help the Iraqis circumvent the embargo on importation of dual use items, such as electronic equipment and spare parts that could be used for military purposes. According to Jacquard's sources, none of the three Al-Qaeda attempts to engage Saddam in 1997 produced an agreement on joint cooperation. According to Jacquard, another source reported that Saddam Hussein had used a different channel to set up a "secret operational 'connection'" with Bin Laden in Kashmir and Manila in 1998, and that he had appointed Colonel Khairallah al-Takriti as case officer.[32] Unfortunately, Jacquard provides no specific information about the identity or national origin of the sources of these reports nor does he provide any information on joint actions carried out by the Iraqis and Al-Qaeda.

Dr. Laurie Mylroie, a Middle East expert at the American Enterprise Institute, has suggested a possible connection between Iraqi Intelligence and Ramzi Yusef, the convicted organizer of the 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing. Based on an investigation of Ramzi Yusef's passports and travel documents, she concludes that the organizer of the WTC bombing may have been using the doctored and stolen passport of a Kuwaiti born Pakistani national, Abdul Basit. She notes that Yusef entered the United States a few months before the bombing with an Iraqi passport. Shortly before the bombing, he appeared at the Pakistani consulate in New York with photocopies of two Pakistani passports that had been issued to Abdul Basit in 1984 and 1988 both of which had numerous missing pages. Yusef used the photocopy to obtain a new passport in the name of Abdul Basit. Mylroie points out that that Abdul Basit's height as shown on the two passports was much less than that recorded for Ramzi Yusef when he entered the United States at the end of 1992 shortly before the WTC bombing. She believes that the real Abdul Basit, may have been killed during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and his documents stolen and doctored by Iraqi intelligence. Mylroie suggests that Yusef may have been employed by Iraqi intelligence sometime during or after the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait[33]

The real Abdul Basit is known to have studied electrical engineering at a college in the UK in the late 1980s and his fingerprints were recorded by British police authorities.  If the fingerprints taken by the British for Abdul Basit match those of the convicted organizer of the WTC bombing, then they are one and the same person. After September 11, on the recommendation of such people as Dr. Mylroie and former CIA chief James Woolsey, the United States government requested that the British provide Abdul Basit's fingerprints in order to establish the identity of Ramzi Yusef and Abdul Basit once and for all. For some unexplainable political or bureaucratic reason, the British authorities failed to grant the request.[34]

Whatever the truth about Ramzi Yusef's identity turns out to be, it is clear that he developed close ties to individuals and organizations that became part of the Al-Qaeda's global alliance.  Before arriving in the United States to organize the 1993 bombing, he had developed a close relationship with Pakistani, Afghan, and Arab networks of Islamic extremists and their training camps in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.  When he arrived in the United States, he immediately established contact with members of the Egyptian Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman's mosque and his network of Islamic extremists, who became the core participants in the first World Trade Center bombing.

After fleeing the United States for Pakistan on the day of the bombing, Yusef developed an even closer relationship with people and organizations that became part of the Al-Qaeda alliance.  Many of these individuals and organizations had ties to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) and were part of the network of religious schools, Islamist political parties, and terrorist training camps with ties to the Arab Afghans.

From Pakistan Ramzi Yusef moved to the Philippines where he established contact and cooperated with members of the Abu Sayyaf group, which was already allied to Osama Bin Laden.  The Abu Sayyaf group was made up of Islamist extremists who were fighting the Philippine government in Mindanao and Muslim populated areas of the southern Philippines.  The leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group had fought in the Afghan jihad and trained with the Arab Afghans allied to Bin Laden.  Yusef established a terrorist cell in Manila and organized a conspiracy to blow up commercial airliners in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region.  His cell also developed plans to assassinate the Pope and president Clinton during their planned visits to the Philippines.

Yusef's Philippine cell was discovered when an explosion occurred at the apartment that the group had rented to manufacture explosives and to serve as a base for operations in Southeast Asia.  Investigations by the Filipino police and intelligence services led to important discoveries about Yusef's relationship to individuals and groups that today form part of Al-Qaeda's global network including the organizers of the September 11 conspiracy.  The Filipino authorities also provided the United States and Pakistan with the information that led to Ramzi Yusef's arrest in Pakistan and his extradition to the United States, where he was eventually sentenced to prison for his leading role in the World Trade Center bombing.

Ramzi Yusef's links to Pakistani extremists and Arab Afghan networks allied with Al-Qaeda are clear.  Unless new incontravertical evidence is discovered, any connection between Ramzi Yusef and Iraq will remain a matter of speculation.

Iraq, The Kurds and Al-Qaeda

Since 1998 armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda have appeared in Iraqi Kurdistan. There is evidence that these groups are cooperating directly with Saddam Hussein's intelligence service (known as the Mukhabarat) in an effort to destabilize the democratically elected autonomous Kurdish administrations in Northern Iraq under the leadership of  the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdish Democratica Party (KDP).

The first of these recenty formed Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, Al-Hamas al-Islami (Islamic Zeal) and the Islamic Unity organization are offshoots of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, led by Mullah Ali. From these there were two more offshoots known as Al-Tawhid Al-Islami (Islamic Unification) and Soran-2 Force. In summer of 2001, the latter two splinter groups joined to form the Jund al-Islam led by Mullah Abdallah from Arbil.  Sometime in the latter half of 2001, on the recommendation of Osama Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda leadership, the group changed its name to Ansar al-Islam, incorporated some new members, and came under the formal leadership of Mullah Krikar (also known as Mullah Fatih). 

Members of this new armed Islamic extremist organization include Kurdish Islamists who fought in Afghanistan on the side of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Arab Afghans from various other countries, and some local recruits from the ranks of previously existing Islamist organizations and the general population. What set the new groups apart from previously existing Islamist organizations was their readiness to use violence and terrorism against their political opponents and their dedication to a global Islamic revolution.[35]

At the beginning of 2002, when the nominal leader of Ansar al-Islam, Mullah Krikar was interviewed by journalists from the Arab weekly Al-Majallah, he denied any association with Al-Qaeda and claimed that his forces had only attacked other organizations after being attacked.[36] However, Kurdish intelligence sources and captured prisoners beloning to Ansar al-Islam and its precursor organizations have all testified to the organization's links to al-Qaeda and to Iraqi intelligence. Independent media from the democratic autonomous areas of Kurdistan have for months frequently carried reports of the evolution of the Kurdish Islamist organizations and armed clashes between the latter and the Kurdish militias loyal to the autonomous regional administration. Therefore, there appears little reason to doubt the existence of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorism in Iraqi Kurdistan, and there is also considerable evidence pointing to collusion between the terrorist organizations and the Iraqi regime, both of which are hostile to the Kurdish administration in the north and to its US and western supporters.

Conclusions

Al-Qaeda emerged in the late 1990's as a global organization with its own resources, based in Taliban controlled Afghanistan with the blessing of Pakistan's ISI.

Al-Qaeda's ties to foreign governments evolved in conjunction with the changing international geopolitical environment.

There is massive evidence of Al-Qaeda's sponsorship and financing of the September 11 attacks.  The most important state sponsor of Al-Qaeda through September 11, 2001 was Pakistan.

There is strong evidence of a Iranian and Lebanese Hizballah cooperation with Al-Qaeda throughout the mid 1990's, but the interests of Iran and Al-Qaeda rapidly grew apart as a result of Al-Qaeda's alliance with the Taliban.

Al-Qaeda has received large sums of money from private Saudi sources and especially from Islamic charities based in Saudi Arabia with or without the knowledge of the leaders of the charity organizations.

There were a few reports of sporadic contacts between Iraq and Al-Qaeda in the 1990's but little direct evidence of cooperation in the major attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda.

There is evidence today of cooperation between the Iraqi intelligence and Al-Qaeda affiliated Kurdish terrorist organizations against the autonomous anti Saddam Kurdish organizations in northern Iraq.

Al-Qaeda operatives have moved back and forth through Iran between Afghanistan and Middle  Eastern countries to the west and appear to have made use of contacts with Iranian based smuggling networks to move in and out of Afghanistan both before and after September 11. There have recently been some unconfirmed reports that hard-liners in the Iranian regime have allowed Al-Qaeda operatives fleeing from Afghanistan to hide in Iran.

There is an urgent need for improved intelligence and information gathering on Al-Qaeda and its relations with the governments of a number of countries around the world including those of Iraq and Iran. There is a need for more precise and detailed information about Al-Qaeda's relations with factions and individuals inside and outside the governments of countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, some of whose citizens have supported Al-Qaeda in the past.


© Copyright 2002 Alan F. Fogelquist, Ph. D.


[1] Evidence linking the hijackers to Al-Qaeda was discussed in detail in news publications around the world. The following news articles appearing shortly after the events of September 11, 2001 are a sampling of some which review the massive evidence uncovered by police and intelligence authorities in the United States and elsewhere: "The allies' case against Bin Laden," Guardian (8 October 2001) Chris Cooper, Steve Levine, Daniel Pearl, Hugh Pope, Carla Anne Robbins, and Neil Kin Jr.," Bin Laden's Far-Flung Network Makes Retaliation a Difficult Task," The Wall Street Journal (14 September 2001); Peter Finn, "German Officials Link Hijackers to Al-Qaeda Group," The Washington Post (27 September2001); T. R. Reid,  "Intelligence Data Leave 'No doubt' of Role in Attacks," The Washington Post (5 October 2001), p. A01; H.G. Reza, Evan Halper, and Lisa Getter, "Suspected Hijackers: 19 Quiet Lives that Shattered the World," Los Angeles Times (15 September, 2001); "the Secret War (Part 1)," The Observer (30 September, 2001); United Kingdom, "Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States, 11 September 2001" (October 2001), Eurasia Research Center Archive; and Carol J. Williams, John-Thor Dahlburg, and H. G. Reza, "Mainly they Just Waited," Los Angeles Times (27 September, 2001). Since the allied forces defeat of the Taliban regime and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan much more evidence has been uncovered from Al-Qaeda safe houses, training camps and other facilities in Afghanistan.

[2] This study has been conducted under the auspices of the International Monitor Institute's project on Iraq and the Middle East.

[3] For the most up-to-date general accounts of the history of the Al-Qaeda see, Peter Bergan, Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (New York, London, and Toronto: The Free Press, 2001), Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al-Qaeda: Gobal Network of Terror (New York:: Columbia University Press, 2002); and Roland Jacquard, In the Name of Osama Bin Laden: Global Terrorism and the Bin Laden Brotherhood, Ed. Samia Serageldin, Trans George Holoch (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002. The following video tapes from the International Monitor Institute's collections on terrorism contain detailed information on the Afghan war and the rise of Islamist extremist movements in the 1990s: ME 292 September 11, 2001 news footage incliding CNN's "American Under Attack"; ME 295, PBS Frontline, 'In Search of Bin Laden, 2001;  ME 299 CBS 60 Minutes, "The Second Most Wanted Man," 2001; ME 301, "Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America," no date given; ME 308, "Afghanistan: Twelve Years of Violence, BBC, no date given; and ME 321,  "Osama Bin Laden Video," CNN, released December 13, 2001; ME 340, PBS Frontline, "Hunting Osama Bin Laden," 2001.

[4] Amir Taheri, "Taleban Ladership Split Over Afghan Arabs," Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (18 October 1996), pp. 1,4, FBIS-TOT-97-001-L and Amir Taheri, "Part Two of interview with "deposed Afghan President Borhaneddin Rabbani by Amir Taheri in Paris, Al-Sarq Al-Awsat (2 December 1996), p. 16, FBIS-NES-96-233.

[5] For works on Pakistan's role in the anti-Soviet  war in Afghanistan, the rise of the Taliban, Pakistan's use of armed Islamic extremist groups as an instrument of foreign and domestic policy  and the role of the Pakistani military and intelligence services in Pakistan's foreign and security policies, see: Mark Adkin and Mohammad Yousaf, Afghanistan the Bear Trap: The Defeat of a Superpower (Havertown, PA: Casemate, 1992); John Cooley, Unholy Wars, Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (London: Pluto Press, 1999); Hesameddin Emami, Afghanestan va Zohur-e Taleban (Tehran: Ketabkhaneh Melli-ye Iran, 1378 shamsi / 1999); Michael Griffin, Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan (London: Pluto Press, 2001; William Maley, Editor, Fundmentalism Reborn?: Afghanistan and the Taliban (New York:: New York University Press, 1998); Neamatollah Nojumi, The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War, and the Future of the Region (New York, Palgrave, 2002) Chengiz Pahlavan, Afghanestan, Asr-e Mojahedin va Bar Amadan-e Taleban (Tehran: Aftab, 1377 shamsi / 1998); Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: The Rise of Miliitant Islam in Central Asia (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002) and Ahmed Rashid, Taliban:Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000); Barnet Rubin,  Barnet R. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan:State Formation and Collapse in the International System (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995;  Lawrence Ziring, Pakistan in the Twentieth Century: A Political History (Karachi, Oxford, New York, and Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998).

[6] A more detailed discussion of the rise of the Taliban appears in a later section of this report.

For evidence of the ISI's links to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other armed extremist organizations see: Khaled Ahmed, "A Foreign Policy that can't be changed," Friday Times (28 January - 3 February 2000); Richard Behar, "Kidnapped Nation: Welcome to Pakistan," Fortune (29 April 2002), p. 88+; "Bleed and Bungle," Hindustan Times (06 January 2000); Jason Burke and Harinder Baweja, "Osama Bin Laden: We Should Target India," India Today (4 October 1999) ; Anthony Davis, One Man's Holy War: Want proof that Islamabad is helping Afghanistan's Taliban? Read on," Asiaweek (CNN Asia Now) (6 August 1999), http://europe.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/99/0806/nat7.html; Kathy Gannon, "Bin Laden Said to Be Training Jihad, Associated Press (14 November 1999); Human Rights Watch, Behind the Kashmir Conflict: Militant Abuses in the Valley ( New York: HRW, May 1999), http://hrw.org/hrw/reports/1999/kashmir/mil-abuses.htm; James Risen and Judith Miller, "Pakistani Intelligence Had Links to Al-Qaeda, U.S. Officials Say, New York Times ( 29 October 2001); and Brig. (retd) Tariq Rafi, "A technical review of armed ffreedom struggle in Kashmir," Jang (18 August 1999), p. 10, FBIS-NES-1999-0826.

[7] For a history of Pakistan's religious extremist parties see: Mahmood Zaman, Blood, sweat tears Counsel of Peace, Death and everything after," Dawn's The Review, A Weekly Magazine (11 September 1997), Eurasia Research Center Archive.

[8] For a history of Pakistan's extremist religious schools and their role in the political life of the country see: Saeed Ahmed Minhas, "Sectarianism and Deeni Madaris (religious schools) in Pakistan," Sangat Review (January 1999), http://sangat.org/review/islam/minhas.html.

[9] Besides the sources presented previously in this section on Pakistan's involvement see: Afghanistan, Statement by H.E. Abdul-Rahim Ghafoorzai, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic State of Afghanistan before the Security Council on the Situation in Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 9th, 1996 (New York, Afghanistan Missioin to the United Nations, 1996, Eurasia Research Center archive;

[10] See: B Rehman, "Musharraf, Bin Laden and the Lashkar," SAPRA India (2 July 2001), http://www.subcontinent.com/sapra/terrorism/terrorism20010702a.html; Human Rights Watch, Behind the Kashmir Conflict: Militant Abuses in the Valley  (May 1999) http://hrw.org/hrw/reports/1999/kashmir/mil-abuses.htm; Rahul Bedi, "Kashmir insurgency is being 'Talibanised' Jane's.com (5 October 2001); Ajay Darshan, "The Supporting Strutures for Pakistan's Proxy War in Jammu & Kashmir," Strategic Analysis XXV, No.3 (June 2001), pp. 393-410, http://www.idsa-india.org/an-jun-5.htm; B. Raman, "Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)," South Asia Analysis Group, SAAG, Paper no 287 (1 August 2001); http://www.saag.org/papers3/287.html;  B Raman, "Musharraf & Terrorism," South Asia Analysis Group, SAAG, Paper no. 333 (4 October 2001), http://www.saag.org/papers4/paper333.html ; Victoria Schoefield, Kashmir in the Crossfire ( London and New York: I.B. Taurus, 1996; and Brig. (retd) Tariq Rafi, "A technical review of armed freedom struggle in Kashmir," Jang (18 August 1999), p. 10, FBIS-NES-1999-0826. In the article by Pakistani Brigadier General Tariq Rafi, the general openly discusses and the military effectiveness of the militant Islamic extremist groups supported by Pakistan.  Several of the captured militants interviewed by Human Rights watch admitted being trained and armed by the Pakistani military and intelligence services. Pakistani and Indian newspaper accounts about the armed actions of these groups number in the thousands. The Eurasia Research Center archives have dozens of artilcles from both Indian and Pakistani sources on the armed actions of these groups. Ahmed Rashid's works on the taliban, cited earlier, provide ample evidence of ISI support for the militant Islamic groups. Various hearings of the United States congress on terrorism also detail Pakistan's support for armed Islamic groups engaging in cross-border violence.

[11] Bergan, pp. 79-80 and Gunaratna, pp. 31-32

[12] Richard Z. Chesnoff, Brian Duffy, and Louise Lief, "Bad Company in Khartoum," US News & World Report  (30 August 1993), p. 45 and "Is Sudan Terrorism's New Best Friend," Time (30 August 1993), p. 30.

[13] Simon Reeeve, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999) ,  pp. 24-92

[14] Bergan, pp 88-89 and Gunaratna, p. 34.

[15] "Mubarak Survives Ambush," Minneapolis Star Tribune (27 June, 1995); "Sudan Denies Role in Mubarak attack," Jerusulem Post (27 June 1995) "Ethiopia Assassins: Three Mubarak Ambush Suspects Arrested," Inter Press Service News Wire (4 August 1995);.Raja Asghar, "Bomb Kills 15 at Egyptian Mission in Pakistan," News India (24 November 1995) ; "Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan Bombed by Extremists," National Public Radio Morning Edition (NPR) (20 November 1995; "Canadian Listed Among Most Wanted Terrorists," Xinhua (27 December 2001).

[16] On the rise of the Taliban see: Michael Griffin, Reaping the Whirlwind, pp 33-68; William Maley, ed, Fundamentalism Reborn; Neamatollah Nojumi, The Rise of the Taliban pp. 125-150; and Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, pp. 82-116. Full references to these works appear earlier. Also see Anthony Davis, "Afghanistan's Taliban," Jane's Intelligence Review (1 July 1995)

[17] On the events of 1994 see Anthony Davis, "Peace Eludes Afghanistan, Jane's Intelligence Review - Year Book (31 December, 1994), electronic version via Lexis-Nexis.

[18] See Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban, pp. 117-127 and pp. 196-206.

[19] Gunaratna, pp. 146-148.  See also Gary C. Gambil and Bassam Enrawos, "Bin Laden's Network in Lebanon," Middle East Inelligence Bulletin, III, No. 9 (September 2001), http://www.meib.org/rticles/0109_l1.htm

[20] Gunaratna, pp. 142-149; Joshua Teitelbaum, Holier Than Thou: Saudi Arabia's Islamic Opposition (Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute of Near East Policy, 2000), pp. 73-97; United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria Division, Indictment June 2001 Term at Alexandria (June 2001), Eurasia Research Center Archive. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia charged 14 members of Saudi Hizballah with the following counts: conspiracy to kill United States Nationals, conspiracy to Murder Employees of the United States, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against nationals of the United States, conspiracy to destroy buildings and property of the United States, conspiracy to attack National Defense Premises, bombing of Khobar Towers resulting in death, use of weapons of mass destruction against nationals of the United States in Saudi Arabia, counts 7 through forty-five against individual members of the conspiracy, murder while using destructive device durinig crime of violence, murder of employees of the United States,

[21] " Shiite leader dies after killing six" UPI (13 march 1993).

[22] " Taliban Capture Herat," IRNA (5 September 1995).

[23] "Iran starts maneuvers on border: Afghan tension over dead envoys," Financial Times (11 September 1998), pp. " Focus-Taleban Men Killed Iranians, Bodies Found" Reuters (10 September 1998), ERC Archive.

[24] Bergen, pp. 92-95 and Jacquard, 73-85

[25] Yonah Alexander and Michael S. Setnam, Usama Bin Laden's Al-Qaida: Profile of a Terrorist Network (Ardsley, New York: Transnational Publishers, 2001); pp. 42-51, Bergan 105 - 126 and 167-194; Gunaratna, pp. 39-53; and Paul L. Williams, Al-Qaeda: Brotherhood of Terror (USA: Alpha, 2002), pp. 127-142.

[26] Among the International Monitor Institutes collection of video tapes with detailed information on Iraq, and its weapons programs are: ME 014, "Dispatches - Saddam's Secret Time Bomb," air date Febrary 23, 1998; ME 025 UNSCOM, raw video footage showing mustard filled artillery munitions found in April 1998, May/June 1998; ME 087, PBS Frontline, "The Survival of Saddam," air date January 25, 2000; ME 162, CNN, "The Unfinished War," air date February 1, 2001.

[27] For background on Iraq see: Said K. Aburish, Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2000; Richard Butler, The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Growing Crisis of Global Security (New York:: Public Affairs, 2000); Anthony Cordesman, Iran and Iraq: The Threat from the Northern Gulf (Boulder Colorado: Westview Press, 1994); Anthoney H. Cordesman and Ahmed S. Hashim, Iraq: Sanctions and Beyond (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997); Fred Hazelton, Editor, Iraq Since the Gulf War: Prospects for Democracy (London and New Jersey: ZedBooks Ltd., 1994); Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict (New York: Routledge, 1991 and Dilip Hiro, Neighbors Not Friends: Iraq and Iran After the Gulf Wars (London and New York: Routledge, 2001); Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1985); David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1996); Middle East Watch, Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds (New York, Human Rights Watch, 1993); Middle East Watch, Needless Deaths in the Gulf War: Civilian Casualties During the Air Campaign and Violations of the Laws of War (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1991);  Laurie Mylroie, Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America (Washington, D. C.: The AIE Press, 2000); Tim Trevan, Saddam's Secrets: The Hunt for Iraq's Hidden Weapons (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999). International Monitor Institute video tapes with detailed presentations on Iraq's geopolitical relations, the Iraqi Kurdish question, and Iraq's human rights record include: ME OO1, PBS Frontline, "Saddam's Killing Fields," air date March 31, 1992; Viewpoint '93, "Saddam's Killing Fields," parts 1-3, 1993; Me 044 Iranian Prisoners of War in Iraq, documentary in Persian, no date given; ME 087, PBS Frontline, "The Survival of Saddam," air date January 25, 2000; ME 167, IMI Interview with Khalid Al-Janabi, former security official with Iraq's Mukhabarat (Intelligence) conducted in Amman Jordon, January 6, 2001; and ME 197, ABC, "Saddam's World: An Unauthorized Look at Saddam," air date, February 22, 2001

[28] United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 ( Washington D.C.: US Dept. of State, May 2002), pp. 65-67, http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2001/

[29] Earleen Fisher, "One-time Palestinian terror tyrant Abu Nidal reportedly dies in Baghdad Apartment," Associated Press (22 August 2002) and Smeer N. Yacoub,"Iraq says Abu Nidal shot himself in the mouth, died 8 hours later," Associated Press (22 August 2002); Amand Riply, "Assisted Suicide?," Time (2 September 2002, p. 35.

[30] Cordesman and Hashim, pp. 287-288.

[31] Rick Jervis and Marcus Walker, "The Response to Terror: Investigators Focus on Prague," The Asian Wall Street Journal (23 October 2001), p.12; "Senior Czech Official confirms Iraqi - Atta Interview," Associated Press (4 June 2001); and "Senior Czech Diplomat Insists on Atta's Meeting with Iraqi Official," CTK News Agency, Prague in BBC Monitoring Newsfile (4 June 2002).

[32] Jacquard, pp. 112-113.

[33] Mylroie, pp. 44-77.

[34] Telephone Interview with Dr. Laurie Mylroie (18 June 2002) and R James Woolsey, "The Iraqi Connection" The New Republic (24 September 2002).

[35]  Jefrey Goldberg, "The Great Terror," The New Yorker (3 March 2002), pp. 63-70; "Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish Leaders Cited on Activities of Jund Al-Islam," Al Majallah (10-16 February 2002), pp. 16-17; and Scott Peterson, "Iraq Funds, Training Fuel Islamic Terror Group," The Christian Science Monitor (2 April 2002), p. 01.

[36] "Iraqi Kurdistan," p. 17.

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© Copyright 2002 Alan F. Fogelquist, Ph. D.



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