Monday, February 14, 2005

U.S. Arming the Insurgency

Not that this is without historical precedent, of course. The Asia Times carries a story about the US's involvement in arming insurgents who will oppose religious rule.
Classic Negroponte, really. Roving death squads were his specialty.


Blogger Management said...

Published on Thursday, February 10, 2005 by
The Pentagon's 'NATO Option'
by Lila Rajiva

Washington is shocked by Seymour Hersh’s scoop about the Pentagon’s “Salvador Option,” an ambitious plan to deploy secret special forces in friendly and unfriendly countries to spy, target terrorists and their sympathizers, and conduct “hits,” all without Congressional oversight. Its model is the American counter-insurgency program in Salvador in the 1980s which funded nationalist death squads to hunt down insurgents. What’s new today is that the program would be run by the Pentagon, not the CIA, and it would be much broader in scope. According to Hersh, the Pentagon's gremlins are already at work in Iran prepping targets for possible US or Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

But Washington’s shock is misplaced. There’s nothing new about the “Salvador Option.” At the end of last month, Frank Cass in London released a new book by Dr. Daniele Ganser of the Center for Security Studies at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich called, “NATO’s Secret Armies. Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe,” which offers plenty of evidence that there was also a “Salvador Option” in post-war Europe. It turns out that during the Cold War, European governments and secret services conspired with a NATO-backed operation to engineer attacks in their own countries in order to manipulate the population to reject socialism and communism.

It was called “the strategy of tension” and it was carried out by members of secret stay-behind armies organized by NATO and funded by the CIA in Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and other European countries. The strategy apparently involved supplying right-wing terrorists with explosives to carry out terrorist acts which were then blamed on left-wing groups to keep them out of power.

Only three countries, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland, have had a parliamentary investigation into NATO’s role and a public report. The US and UK, the two nations most centrally involved, are refusing to disclose details, so crucial pieces of the story are missing. Still, Ganser’s book offers some disturbing insights into a hidden aspect of the Cold War.

It all began during WWII when British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, ordered a secret army to be created to fight communism. Allen Dulles, the first chief of the CIA, worked out the original plan, and British MI6 and special forces teamed up with the CIA to train “stay- behind armies” in Western Europe to counter a possible Soviet invasion. It was all very James Bond - only grim - with forged passports, dead letter boxes, and parachute jumps over the channel, according to some of the trainees.

It turns out that what Washington meant by counter-terrorism, might often have been, well, terrorism.

Here’s the money part from one of the field manuals (FM 30-31B):

"...when the revolutionaries temporarily renounce the use of force ….US army intelligence must have the means of launching special operations which will convince Host Country Governments and public opinion of the reality of the insurgent danger…”

That’s to say, if there wasn’t any terrorism to speak of, the secret armies were prepared to get some going.

According to Ganser, the secret army was behind waves of attacks in Italy in the 1970s. In Spain, it worked with Franco and may have supported over a 1000 attacks. In Germany, it had standing plans to murder leaders of the Social Democrat party in case of a Soviet invasion. It carried out terrorist actions against President de Gaulle and the Algerian peace plan in France. It seems to have been involved in the assassination of Amilcar Cabral and Eduardo Mondlane, prominent leaders in African liberation in the Portugese colonies. It was involved in the coup against Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and fomented terrorism against the Kurds in Turkey. In the Netherlands, Luxemborg, Denmark, and Norway, however, the secret networks don’t seem to have been linked with terror.

The secret armies were first outed in August 1990 when then Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti confirmed the existence of Gladio, Latin for sword, a super secret group squirreled away in the military secret service, that had been manipulating the public with terrorist acts that it blamed on the Italian left.

NATO’s reaction to Andreotti’s revelation was first denial, then stone-walling, and finally a closed-doors admission to the ambassadors of the European countries. Since then, although a former CIA director William Colby has confirmed the creation of the stay-behind command centers and networks, NATO itself has withheld details. Asked about Gladio in Italy in 1990, former CIA director Stanford Turner angrily ripped off his microphone and shouted: "I said, no questions about Gladio!"

Today, with the Pentagon’s “Salvador Option” on the table, it’s time to revisit this hidden history of European counter-terrorism. While the Washington press corps seems convinced that the main problem with the "Salvador Option" is that the Pentagon is taking over what’s always been the CIA’s turf, the story of NATO’s stay-behind armies suggests that whether the CIA or Pentagon runs it, the new program will be a very ugly business.

As one of Gladio’s operatives said, “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”

Despite repeated requests from researchers, the CIA, like MI6, refuses to release its files on the subject. Before the government begins the new “Salvador Option,” though, isn't it time for the world to learn about the very first one?

3:33 PM  
Blogger Management said...

US fights back against 'rule by clerics'
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Given the widespread Sunni boycott of Iraq's January 30 elections for a National Assembly, with voting concentrated among the Kurdish north and Shi'ite south, the polls served more as a referendum to prove Shi'ite and Kurd strength.

This can be seen in the results of the polls released on Sunday, with the Shi'ite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance capturing 48% of the vote and the Kurdish alliance 26%.

Now it emerges that there is a strong movement in southern Iraq for the establishment of autonomous Shi'ite provinces as a precursor to introducing vilayet-e-faqih (rule by the clergy) in the whole country.

Of these calls for autonomy or federalism, the most disconcerting for US authorities is the call for religious rule. Already, leading Shi'ite clerics in Iraq are pushing for "Islam to be recognized as the guiding principle of the new constitution".

To head off this threat of a Shi'ite clergy-driven religious movement, the US has, according to Asia Times Online investigations, resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population to "nip the evil in the bud".

Asia Times Online has learned that in a highly clandestine operation, the US has procured Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. Consignments have been loaded in bulk onto US military cargo aircraft at Chaklala airbase in the past few weeks. The aircraft arrived from and departed for Iraq.

The US-armed and supported militias in the south will comprise former members of the Ba'ath Party, which has already split into three factions, only one of which is pro-Saddam Hussein. They would be expected to receive assistance from pro-US interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord.

A military analyst familiar with strategic and proxy operations commented that there is a specific reason behind procuring arms from Pakistan, rather than acquiring US-made ones.

"A similar strategy was adopted in Afghanistan during the initial few years of the anti-USSR resistance [the early 1980s] movement where guerrillas were supplied with Chinese-made AK-47 rifles [which were procured by Pakistan with US money], Egyptian and German-made G-3 rifles. Similarly, other arms, like anti-aircraft guns, short-range missiles and mortars, were also procured by the US from different countries and supplied to Pakistan, which handed them over to the guerrillas," the analyst maintained.

The obvious reason for this tactic is to give the impression that the resistance acquired its arms and ammunition from different channels and from different countries - and anywhere other than the United States.

Asia Times Online contacts said it is clear that Pakistan would not be the only country from which the US would have procured arms. And such arms could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them.

For the Americans, the situation in southern Iraq has turned into a double-edged sword. Iraqis there fully embraced the elections - even if they had to be convinced by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to do so - and this participation was welcomed as a sign of democracy taking root in the country.

But with Shi'ite religious parties emerging as the strongest power, no sooner were the elections over than voices were raised for the creation of an autonomous southern Iraqi region, and for vilayet-e-faqih .

People from different walks of life from Basra and other southern provinces can be heard on television and radio channels demanding a federal system in which southern Shi'ites could govern their oil resources for their benefit.

Notably, Ahmad Chalabi, a leading secular Shi'ite candidate in the Iraqi elections, has called for autonomy for the Shi'ite south, which contains some of the world's largest oil fields. Chalabi, a former US favorite who fell out with Washington after the 2003 invasion, said the move would ensure a fairer share of wealth for a region that provides the bulk of Iraqi revenue but receives only a fraction of state spending. The mainly Shi'ite southern provinces of Amara, Nasiriya and Basra are Iraq's poorest, Chalabi said.

Observers say this is the beginning of a new era which could climax in a movement for vilayet-e-faqih , a compulsory part of the Shi'ite faith that is intertwined with the concept of imamat or leadership (all Muslims under one leader). The difference between a caliph and an imam is that a caliph can be anyone accepted by Muslims, but an imam must hail from the Prophet Mohammed's family and be a recognized religious authority (clergy).

Already, members of the Da'wa Party, many of whom were taught in Iran, have taken over mosques in Basra, and members of Hezbollah have heavily infiltrated the Shi'ite population, in addition to Iranian intelligence and members of the Pasdaran-i-Inqalab (Iran's Revolutionary Guards) to pave the way for vilayet-e-faqih.

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Bureau Chief, Pakistan Asia Times Online. He can be reached at

3:33 PM  

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