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Three of America's "Great Satans" Dead
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The deaths in South Asia of three of the West’s ‘Great Satans’ were announced in recent weeks: Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani in Afghanistan; and Pakistan’s Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul.

I never met Mullah Omar though I was present at the birth and expansion of his movement, Taliban.

Mullah Omar was a renowned combat veteran of the 1980’s great jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In 1989, the Soviets wisely withdrew. Afghanistan was convulsed by civil war between the eleven mujahidin factions, many of whom were supported by CIA through Pakistani intelligence.

The ethnic Pashtun region of southern Afghanistan was scourged by rampant banditry and rape. A local Muslim preacher, Mullah Omar, rallied a group of religious seminarians (‘talibs’) and set out to fight the bandits and still powerful Afghan communists. Pakistan quickly aided the Taliban as a way of expanding its influence in next-door Afghanistan and fighting Communist forces.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, moved swiftly to arm and direct the rag-tag Taliban forces. Its head, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, a fierce Pashtun warrior and dedicated nationalist-Islamist, led the ISI effort. Pashtun Afghanistan rallied to Taliban, which quickly ended banditry, rape and almost extinguished the heroin trade.

Mullah Omar, a shadowy Pashtun warrior who had lost an eye fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980’s, declared Afghanistan a state run under Islamic values. Like Pakistan’s strongman, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, he aspired to overthrow the brutal Communist Red Sultanates of post-Soviet Central Asia.

But Washington had made a secret deal with Moscow over Afghanistan and it had other ideas. President Zia and his then ISI chief, Gen. Akhtar Abdul Rahman (both well known to this writer), were murdered in August 1988 when their aircraft was sabotaged.

Their deaths remain a mystery; but many Pakistanis blame the US. My view is that the Soviet KGB was likely responsible. Benazir Bhutto told me she believed a senior general, Mirza Aslam Beg, was responsible. I asked if she was responsible.

With Zia out of the way and the pliant Benazir installed in power, the US quickly abandoned allies Pakistan and Taliban.

Then came 9/11. President George W. Bush needed a target for America’s fury and humiliation. He foolishly chose Taliban, which had nothing to do with the attacks but which was hosting Osama bin Laden, a Saudi hero of the anti-Soviet war. Taliban offered to hand bin Laden over if the US produced evidence of his guilt for the 9/11 attacks. But no such evidence was ever produced. US oil firms, who had long-eyed transit routes through Afghanistan, cheered on the US attacks.


The US invaded Afghanistan and threatened Pakistan with being bombed back to the stone age if it did not become a vassal state and cooperate with the US takeover of Afghanistan. Taliban was demonized by the US media as wife-beating “terrorists,” then overthrown. The US created a new Afghan government made up of Taliban’s enemies, the drug-dealing Tajik and Uzbek minorities, and the criminal Afghan Communists. The new US-backed regime immediately restored and expanded Afghanistan’s heroin trade.

The fiercely bearded Pashtun tribal chief, Jalaludin Haqqani, had been a leading fighter against the Soviet occupation and a major CIA “asset.” I met Haqqani while covering the war in Afghanistan. The US hailed him a “freedom figher” when he battled the Soviets. When he sought to oust the US from Afghanistan he was branded a “terrorist.” After the US replaced the Soviets as the foreign occupier of Afghanistan, Haqqani became one of the most effective and feared leaders of the anti-US resistance. Countless US efforts to kill or suborn him failed.

After leaving the military, Gen. Hamid Gul remained a leading supporter of Taliban, so earning Washington’s wrath. Gul’s relentless anti-Indian feelings led him to back Kashmiri independence groups and a number of shady Pakistan extreme Islamist groups. However, Germany rightly asserted Gul had struck the first blow that brought down the Soviet Union.

Gul was very outspoken. He claimed ISI had proof that 9/11 was an “inside job” mounted by pro-Israel groups, US right-wingers and Israel’s Mossad. This claim was widely believed across the Muslim world, though Gul never produced any evidence backing this claim. The US claimed he was crazy. But the US also claims the religious, anti drug, anti-Communist movement Taliban are terrorists.

Gul claimed Benazir Bhutto was a US stooge. She had even less generous words for Gul. “Eric, you just love your Pakistani generals,” she always chided me, ‘specially that SOB Gul.”

Mullah Omar, with millions of dollars of US bounties on his head, wisely stayed out of sight. It now transpires that the Taliban leader may have died of natural causes in Karachi two years ago. Unable to settle on a new leader, Taliban, which is a loose confederation of tribes, kept silent on his death until recently when a new, little-knows emir, Mullah Mansour, was chosen. The same subterfuge was used with the deceased medieval Spanish leader, El Cid.

Washington was delighted, hoping Taliban would splinter and cease challenging its latest efforts to keep control of strategic Afghanistan. But I suspect most of the Pashtun will keep on fighting until Taliban’s goal of driving out all foreign occupation troops is achieved.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: 9/11, Afghanistan, Pakistan 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “Bitter Lake” by Adam Curtis is a must watch for anyone interested in what happened to Afghanistan. It parallels much of what Margolis is saying:

  2. Are your favoured Pashtuns all that matter Mr Margolis? What fraction of the Afghan population are they and how do they treat the other ethnic groups?

    • Replies: @jack shindo
  3. People conforming to the Jewish concocted profile of a white supremacist – Nazi are the designated eternal enemy of the US-Israel alliance.

    Muslims are merely short term minor irritations to the dirty diversity leaders of the US and Israel.

  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    It’s stupid posts that this that show unz needs to do quality review before allowing a blogger to inhabit the website. There are very high quality contributors like sailer, khan, lee, karlin, and probably several others but they are mashed up with an author writing with this drivel:

    Taliban offered to hand bin Laden over if the US produced evidence of his guilt for the 9/11 attacks. But no such evidence was ever produced. US oil firms, who had long-eyed transit routes through Afghanistan, cheered on the US attacks.

    • Replies: @CJ
    , @masmanz
  5. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    very high quality contributors like sailer

    LOL. This is a badly written article, but it’s better than anything Sailer has ever produced. Margolis is well past his prime, but at least his career was built on real field reporting not a mélange of trite observations.

  6. So that’s about 4 “number 2’s” killed in a couple of weeks.

    What I admire is the speed with which the United Terrorist Organizations Personnel Departments gets the new Organization Charts to the west’s corporate media.

  7. CJ says:

    US oil firms, who had long-eyed transit routes through Afghanistan, cheered on the US attacks.

    This is particularly absurd. “Transit routes” from where to where? Whose landlocked oil or gas could profitably be transported through Afghanistan to major markets?

    If U.S. oil firms really wanted to free up landlocked oil and gas, they could start with Canada.

    • Replies: @chris
  8. @Wizard of Oz

    Pushtuns have a negative perception problem in Afghanistan and are treated quite differently based on clan,political and financial affiliation. They are often seen as corrupt, untrustworthy and all that goes along with that mindset and they are known to be the instigators of racial attacks against their Uzbek and Hazara brothers. Tajiks have a better relationship but the Lion of Panjshr Shah Massud elevated the status of hatred towards him because he dared to confront, deter and challenge Taliban control. At best they are 45-53% of population but in some provinces they are a minority! US support has allowed for further arming of Pushtun forces but they in turn use their firepower to assert control over areas they may deem in their interest as opposed to fighting the enemies that would control and destroy the framework of what is Afghanistan.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  9. brutal Communist Red Sultanates of post-Soviet Central Asia

    Say say what?? Is this a joke?

  10. If only Morgie would admit Sept 11 2001 bombing attacks were self imposed/excuse to attack the far/mid east. Then I’ll trust 100% what he writes.

    • Agree: Carroll Price
  11. chris says:

    you do realize that resources don’t have to reach the U.S. In order for them to be strategically useful ? if you control the spigots, you can have them directed to your allies or kept out of the hands of your enemies!
    This is an excellent article!

  12. Sonic says:

    This article has some major inaccuracies. At this point in time, the Taliban and the Haqqani network claim that Shaykh Jalaluddin Haqqani (ha) is still alive. Sure, the Taliban’s track record here isn’t great given the fact that they hid the death of Mullah Umar (ra)…but there is historical precedence in the Muslim world (as well as the non-Muslim world) for keeping the death of a leader secret until a new leader is appointed. The main Taliban faction continues to say that Mullah Umar (ra) died several months back…whereas some in the Taliban as well as the Afghan and Pakistani governments claim that Mullah Umar (ra) died in early 2013. It is important to listen to the Taliban and their official outlets (not random twitter accounts) because it is a lack of understanding regarding the Taliban that has played an important role in the defeat of every adversary that has challenged the Taliban (including a coalition of the most powerful nations in the world today). What ISIS faces in Iraq at present is nothing compared to what the Taliban faced a decade ago…yet here they (the Taliban) are: gaining strength month by month and year by year!

    Another major inaccuracy in this piece is the claim that the Taliban were willing to hand over Usama bin Muhammad bin Laden (ra). The Taliban spokesman said at best, that they might be willing to try Usama (ra) in a Shariah court…and this would have to be setup by Muslims as opposed to westerners. Of course the US was not going to accept that. In response, Mullah Umar (ra) said that the issue is not one of Usama (ra), but one of Islam. All Mullah Umar (ra) had to do was hand over Usama (ra) and he would still be the leader of a government in Afghanistan (one similar to the Saudi regime in its conservative application of Islamic law). But, the Taliban refused to become an ally of the United States (unlike the House of Saud) and instead, held on to their Islamic principles. Read Mullah Umar’s (ra) own words here, and ask yourself whether or not he was true to his word…

    Regarding Jalaludin Haqqani (ha), there is an interesting story as to how he and his movement came to side against the US which was published in an article in Asia Times Online. I don’t have it right now, but if anyone is interested, I will try to look for it. The bottom line though is that men like Jalaludin Haqqani (ha) are following the footsteps of centuries of Pashtun tradition – and this is why Afghanistan/Khorasan is known as the graveyard of empires. The only thing to truly win over their hearts is Islam. And some researchers have even theorized that the Pashtu are one of the lost tribes of Israel. Ultimately, such theories are not important. The Taliban-lead insurgency and all that they have been able to withstand through the course of the last two decades speaks for itself. And it is that underlying spirit (which the author above mentions) which will make it very unlikely that major splits within the Taliban or the groups allied with it will occur. At least until the occupation ends and the puppet regime in Kabul is overthrown. Sure, the Afghan tribes may fight one another after that, but so long as there is a clear occupation or a clear proxy authority in power – the Pashtun and Afghan people will unite against it. It is also noteworthy to mention that there is strong resistance to the occupation and strong support for the Taliban in the northern provinces even though the majority in the north are of different ethnic groups (so don’t believe any of the conspiracy theories of posters like jack shindo).

    As for General Haq, I think he could never reconcile the contradiction between nationalism (which is of the Pakistani variety that he served) and Islamism. This led him to his conspiracy theories which grew wilder and wilder as he got older. When Alex Jones gives you a slot on his program, you’re truly at a dead end. The mystery surrounding the death of General Zia which the author here alludes to may have also contributed to such a conspiratorial mindset. But the reality of the matter is that the Islamists he supported and spoke so highly of, eventually came into conflict with the Pakistani government and military (which he also served proudly and unconditionally). What else can one do to explain such contradictions and conflicts of interest then, but to fall for conspiracy theories (and what a fitnah they are)!?

    and Allah knows best

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  13. Rehmat says: • Website

    In Muslim world – only “Satan” are United states and the Zionist regime.

    When Jeff Stein, a journalist with the ‘Washington Post’ called Gul Hamid ‘Tony Sopranos’ – that proved that the General must be doing something good for countrymen.

    Washington under Jewish lobby pressure even tried to get Hamid Gul’s name added to UN Security Council list of ‘International Terrorists’, but the move was blocked by China.

    Eric Margolis has misquoted Benazir Bhutto, because it was she who appointed Gul Hamid as head of ISI.

    Hamid Gul, who belonged to Mohmand Pakhtun tribe, supported Afghan resistance against Soviet and United states. He always considered American government a tool of World Zionism and anti-Islam. He claimed that West’s so-called War on Terror is in fact War on Islam. Therefore, Muslims around the world must get united to defend their faith against the new Judeo-Christian Crusade.

  14. masmanz says:

    Not sure why you think it is foolish to recount facts.

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Sir/Madam, you link to the Guardian text, and you state in your post what the real response to Washington’s demand was.

    However I distinctly remember BBC World reporting at the time to the effect of: “give us evidence and we will consider it” Consider what? Washington’s demand for the Taliban to give up the guy, or else.

    In the details there might have been something about a Sharia court or other items, which was not in the Guardian, but certainly the main message based on the media’s reporting was, “give us evidence to support your claim, and we will consider what you ask, because otherwise Islam prohibits us from kicking out a guest.” Right or wrong this was what stuck with me, apparently with Eric Margolis and, I would wager with many millions of people. The point at the time was not in the details, the main point being them saying, if you have evidence provide it to us. It was clear at the time a US action was imminent. Are you implying the only interest and history US had with Afgh was the guy?

    What if it were a Sharia court, or Islamic judges? Who should care, if justice and truth were the goals?

    I for one appreciate Mr. Margolis’ experience and work very much. Everyone has a perspective.

    • Replies: @Sonic
  16. Sonic says:

    Paper – Washington had long sought Usama bin Laden’s (ra) expulsion by the Taliban (long before 9/11). They failed to achieve this both before and after 9/11. A lot of the reporting you mention started off in the Pakistani press and thereafter, other media sources applied their own take and spin on what was initially said by the Taliban spokesman. Also, the Taliban sometimes have multiple spokesmen and a recent example can be found in the differing accounts of when Mullah Umar (ra) died. Now, I’m not saying that the Taliban spokesman at that time didn’t say something to the effect of what you remember…only that it may have been twisted and spun by local, regional, and international media sources (particularly given that the Taliban are outsiders as far as all these media sources are concerned). The Taliban have a very clever way of dealing with foreign press which to this day, baffles everyone else in the world. Take for example how comments from the Taliban talk about peace talks while at the same time, they intensify their military advancements. Or how they give full support to al-Qaidah on the ground, but never mention them in most of their public statements while giving the impression that they have no relationship with them at all. Recently, the rise of ISIS has forced the Taliban to change such tactics, and so, the new leader of the Taliban (Mullah Mansour h.a.) publicly accepted the bayah (allegiance) of al-Qaidah leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (ha) while praising this group.

    Returning to the issue of the Pakistani press, If we go by that, why not also make mention of the fact that according to a Pakistani paper – bin Laden (ra) denied any involvement in 9/11? Yes, it is true that often times such reports gain traction and give people a certain impression which becomes commonplace (or even mainstream). That is why we sometimes have to look back after the fact, to ascertain the real truth and expose false accounts and inaccuracies. Much of the Pakistani press is subservient to the Pakistani state in one way or another. This is true most everywhere, including in America (which ends up affecting the global press since the US has the greatest influence in the dissemination of global media). Also, we must consider that the domestic and international news media (whether state-run or transnational corporations) operate under a world order that was established after World War 2. Groups like the Taliban and al-Qaidah (but not necessarily other Islamist groups like Hezbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood) oppose that order and actively seek to change it. In this day and age, the reality is that anyone who opposes and wants to upset the current balance of power that was established in the post-WW2 order – will be considered a terrorist.

    Reality eventually comes out. The reason for such reporting in Pakistan was because the state of Pakistan had a great deal of investment in the Taliban which provided them with something called “strategic depth” in case of another conflict with India. Pakistan wanted the Taliban to hand over al-Qaidah, but the Taliban refused even though it could have saved their Emirate from losing power at that time (clearly, they are well on their way to gaining back power). Instead, it was the Pakistani government that abandoned the Taliban and opened their land, sea, and airspace to the US military. Despite all the sacrifices, lost lives, and lost treasure by both the US and Pakistan however, al-Qaidah has continued to spread (so much so that one of its own branches broke away from it and declared itself a Caliphate prematurely) while the Taliban (to use a term ISIS likes to use) is remaining and expanding.

    Surely, whatever Usama (ra) provided the Taliban in terms of money and men would pale in comparison to what US corporations could provide in terms of pipeline construction and assistance, not to mention all of the strategic and military assistance that Pakistan was already providing them. Yet, Mullah Umar (ra) chose the Muhajireen (meaning immigrants) as he was their Ansar (meaning supporters) per Islamic custom and history. The Pashtun also have their own tribal customs and history from even before embracing Islam which honors the guest and demands of them to give refuge to a guest and abide by and protect their guests. This area (Khurasan) has a long history of providing Arabs and others with sanctuary actually. So in that context, it shouldn’t be a surprise at all regarding what the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) did, and how things turned out. No amount of real, exaggerated, or fabricated reporting or spin can change this history!

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