West-stirred up Muslims terrorise Mumbai – II
by K. Gajendra Singh on 16 Dec 2008 2 Comments

This essay covers a century of Anglo-American policies and manipulations in the Islamic world, creating a Frankenstein monster of Islamic terrorism. It is meant for those really interested in the problem so as not to have knee-jerk reactions like suggesting carpet-bombing of Pakistan or to treat Muslims like Israelis treat Palestinians – Author

Middle East Oil and Partition of India

Former Indian diplomat Narendra Singh Sarila, in his well researched 'The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India's Partition,' based on British documents, uncovers the truth that after the Second World War, realising that London had to relinquish India, the British leadership across the political spectrum, Conservatives and Labour, intrigued, told lies, and finally partitioned the Indian sub-continent, creating the state of Pakistan. With Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to violence and Jawaharlal Nehru's non-real political idealism and vision of creating friendship and understanding among colonized and exploited people of the world, India would not join Western military pacts to protect the oil resources in the Middle East from the Soviet Union.

Britain's ultimate objective was to retain at least some part of the North-West of India, "for defensive and offensive action against the USSR in any future dispensation in the sub-continent." Britain knew this could be best achieved by having a willing and subservient Pakistan as its client. So the only way was to use Jinnah to detach areas of India which border Iran, Afghanistan and Sinkiang, and create a new state there. Sarila documents in detail how after the end of World War II in 1945, the new Labour Government of Clement Attlee and Wavell decided to divide India and used Jinnah and political Islam to protect their strategic interests.

A top-secret telegram of Lord Wavell, then Viceroy, to the Secretary of State in London dated February 6, 1946, suggested the lines on which British India could be divided. On June 3, 1947, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, while addressing the Labour Party's annual conference, spilled the beans that the division of India "would help consolidate Britain in the Middle East".

Sarila also traces the roots of the present Kashmir problem and how the matter was handled in the UN to favour ally Pakistan.

US-Pakistan military axis

Unlike India, Pakistan began with weak grassroots political organizations, with British-era civil servants strengthening the bureaucracy's hold over the polity and decision-making, and soon called for the military's help. While the politicians had wanted strengthening relations with Britain, General Ayub Khan, encouraged by the US military, forged closer cooperation with the Pentagon. In 1958, the military took over power with Ayub Khan, a mere Colonel at Partition, promoting himself to Field Marshall. He eased out officers who did not fit into the Anglo-Saxon scheme of using Pakistan's strategic position against the evolving Cold War confrontation against the Communist Bloc.  

General Zia ul-Haq was a cunning schemer, veritably a mullah in uniform. While seducing North Indian media with lavish praise and kebabs, he planned Operation Topaz, which in 1989 fueled insurgency in Kashmir. His Islamisation of the country made the situation untenable for women and minorities. The judicial killing of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977 turned General Zia into a pariah, but the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made him a US darling, restoring and fatally strengthening the Pakistan military's links with the Pentagon.

This led to the Pakistani military and ISI becoming pervasive, omnipotent, omniscient and ominous for Pakistan. This defense alliance, the seeds of which were planted by Ayub Khan, and the symbiotic relationship between the ISI and the CIA bolstered under General Zia, was never really dismantled, and is unlikely to be ever fully disentangled. The form of government in a country has seldom bothered the US in the pursuit of its national interests.  In fact US prefers military and other dictators; easier to handle.

Like the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, September 11, 2001 revived the necessity to bring Pakistan closer to US once again (Washington even threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it did not fall in line). The US needed Pakistan to protect itself from a backlash of its earlier Afghan policies of creating the Mujaheddin and then Taliban. Washington desperately wanted to stop Pakistan's nuclear material or bombs falling into jihadi hands, and to at least curtail further damage to US interests in the region. 

Establishment of terrorist nurseries in Afghanistan and Pakistan

From 1979 to the exit of Soviet troops in 1989, USA, UK other western countries, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Muslim states, and even China (which sold AKM assault rifles and Type 69 RPGs, with US even supplying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles systems), exploited jihadis  as a weapon against Russian forces in Afghanistan. Washington and Riyadh contributed most of the funds, reportedly totalling up to $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan (US with $600 million in aid per year, with a matching amount from the Gulf states).

The CIA and its allies, Pakistan ISI, British MI6 and others recruited, supplied, and trained almost 40,000 hardcore radical Mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Zia's military government established some 2,500 religious school-nurseries which were funded by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US. Some 225,000 children who went to these schools were trained to fight as guerrillas in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Not a penny was spent in defense of the Afghan people.

Among those who answered the call for jihad was Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. Although in his violent campaign against US interests, bin Laden had attacked US embassies in East Africa, with his camps being attacked by US missiles in retaliation, it was not until the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in September 2001 that realisation came painfully to USA of the possibilities of nuclear terror, with linkages between Al Qaeda, Taliban and others in nuclear-armed Pakistan's powerful ISI.

After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, the West largely forgot the monster it had created. But it was obvious that the festering nurseries of terrorists left south of the Russian underbelly and just across in the restive Muslim Xinxiang province of China and India's Jammu and Kashmir, would sooner or later afflict these nations. The Mujahideen mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah's name against the purveyors of secular "corruption." In fact, Lashkar-e Taiba was created while the West and Muslim countries were waging their war against Russia in Afghanistan. 

The 1980s jihad also spawned a home-grown malignancy in Pakistan - one that now poses a powerful threat to Pakistan itself. Free from the jihad against Soviet troops, in the 1990s Pakistan's ISI gave the jihadis a fresh assignment - to create terror in Jammu and Kashmir. Led by Afghan veterans, fighters were secretly trained, armed and funded to fight Indian soldiers in Kashmir. The best were later sent to help the Taliban in Afghanistan against NATO and US troops supporting the Karzai government in Kabul, foisted on Afghanistan by Washington after 2002.

"Be nice to America, otherwise we will bring you democracy" - New York poster

Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan remained unchanged, with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords comprising only 3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary elements had coalesced to form the People's Democratic Party (PDP). After the secret US intervention in 1979 mentioned previously, a seriously besieged leftist government of Taraki invited Moscow to send troops to help ward off the Mujaheddin and foreign mercenaries, all recruited, financed, and well-armed by the CIA.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle (17 November 2001) noted that under the Taraki regime, Kabul had been "a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city's university. Afghan women held government jobs - in the 1980s, there were seven female members of parliament. Women drove cars, travelled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women." This aroused serious opposition from several quarters; feudal landlords who opposed land reforms and tribesmen and fundamentalist mullahs who vehemently opposed the government's policy of gender equality and education of women and children.

In Afghanistan itself, by 1995, an extremist strain of Sunni Islam called the Taliban - heavily funded and advised by the ISI and CIA and with the support of Islamic political parties in Pakistan - fought its way to power, taking over most of the country, luring many tribal chiefs into its fold with threats and bribes.

The years of war that followed US intervention in July 1979 have taken millions of Afghan lives. Along with those killed by Cruise missiles, Stealth bombers, Tomahawks, Daisycutters, and landmines, are those who now continue to die of hunger, cold, lack of shelter, and water.

Al Qaeda

The strength and capability of Al Qaeda has been used as a bogeyman by the Bush administration for political and electoral purposes. Anand Gopal writes: "As Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants trickled into Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, Islamabad signed on to the Bush administration's Global War on Terror. It was a profitable venture: Washington delivered billions of dollars in aid and advanced weaponry to Pakistan's military government. In return, Islamabad targeted al-Qaeda militants, every few months parading a captured "high-ranking" leader before the news cameras, while leaving the Taliban leadership on its territory untouched. While the Pakistani military establishment never completely eradicated al-Qaeda - doing so might have stanched the flow of aid - it kept up just enough pressure so that the Arab militants declared war on the government. Despite such foreign connections, the Afghan rebellion remains mostly a homegrown affair. Foreign fighters - especially al-Qaeda - have little ideological influence on most of the insurgency, and most Afghans keep their distance from such outsiders. Al-Qaeda's vision of global jihad doesn't resonate in the rugged highlands and windswept deserts of southern Afghanistan. Instead, the major concern throughout much of the country is intensely local: personal safety."

Noted British journalist Simon Jenkins, after visiting USA recently wrote a column in The Guardian, "America, Cowering to an imaginary enemy, is not the country I once knew". He said "America seems much in need of Roosevelt's maxim to stop fearing fear itself. Virtually all comment on the Mumbai massacre has mentioned 9/11 and al Qaeda and thus invited citizens to continue feeling afraid. - Any stick will do to elevate al-Qaeda as America's enemy number one. - Al-Qaeda does not, yet it has become the ruling obsession of Bush's courtiers. They see al-Qaeda fiends on every side, bearded mullahs, caches of bombs, ricin and anthrax. The precautionary principle has become fanaticised."

Yes, Muslims across the world with grievances have created cells based on Al Qaeda philosophy and pattern.

How London's sordid affair with the Muslim Brotherhood was transformed into Washington's unleashing of Fundamentalist Islam

Let us look at how Britain and then USA promoted Islamic fundamentalism against popular, nationalist and socialist governments in Muslim countries to safeguard Western interests.

In his book "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam," Robert Dreyfuss paints a vivid picture of how the United States spent the last century taking over the British imperial apparatus in the Middle East; sponsoring and manipulating Islamic fundamentalism to control and exploit petroleum resources and politics. Dreyfuss' book, based on major academic literature and actors on the scene, is an excellent survey of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various 20th century offshoots.

The United States, Dreyfuss argues, has supported radical Islamic activism over the past six decades, "sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly," and is thus "partly to blame for the emergence of Islamic terrorism as a world-wide phenomenon." He writes about US support for the Muslim Brotherhood against Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, whose goal was to end Western domination and control in the Middle East. Western interests used the Islamic Brotherhood to destabilize the Nasser government. The Brotherhood remains active and continues to conduct terrorist activities in Egypt.

Britain's Imperial History of divide and rule in Middle East

Although the Muslim Brotherhood was formally launched in Egypt in 1928, the roots of the British-sponsored policy began in the last quarter of the 19th century when British intelligence sponsored the career of a Persian-born Shia named Jamaluddin, later known as Jamaluddin al-Afghani (1838-97) to hide his sect. A British (and French) Freemason and a professed atheist, al-Afghani spent his entire adult life as an agent of British intelligence, fomenting "Islamist" insurrections where they suited British imperial goals.

At points in his fascinating career, he served as Minister of War and Prime Minister of Iran, before leading an insurrection against the Shah. He was a founder of the Young Egypt movement, which was part of a worldwide network of British Jacobin fronts that waged war against Britain's imperial rivals during the second half of the 19th Century. In Sudan, following the Mahdi-led nationalist revolt and murder of Britain's Lord Gordon, al-Afghani organized an "Islamist" counterrevolution in support of restoration of British colonial control.

Al-Afghani was backed by the British with funding, a publishing house and other amenities. Al-Afghani's leading disciple and fellow British agent was Mohammed Abduh (1849-1905). The Egypt born Abduh founded the Salafiyya movement, under the patronage of the British proconsul of Egypt, Lord Cromer. In the 1870s, al-Afghani and Abduh founded the Young Egypt movement, which battled against secular Egyptian nationalists.

In 1899, two years after al-Afghani's death, Lord Cromer made Abduh the Grand Mufti of Egypt. Abduh in turn begot Syrian Mohammed Rashid Rida (1865-1935), his leading disciple. Rida founded the organization that would be the immediate precursor to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Society of Propaganda and Guidance, and an Institute. It published a journal, The Lighthouse, which provided "Islamist" backing to British colonial rule over Egypt by attacking Egyptian nationalists as "atheists and infidels." In Cairo, under British patronage, Rida brought in Islamists from every part of the Muslim world to be trained in political agitation in support of British colonial rule.

Hassan al-Banna (1906-49), a graduate of the Institute for Propaganda and Guidance, founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, which was an unabashed British intelligence front. The mosque in Ismailia, Egypt, the first headquarters of the Brotherhood, was built by the (British) Suez Canal Company, near a British World War I military base. During World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood functioned as a de facto branch of the British military. In 1942, the Brotherhood created the "Secret Apparatus," an underground paramilitary organization that specialized in assassinations and espionage.

To be continued…


K. Gajendra Singh, IFS (retd.) served as Indian ambassador to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Romania and Senegal, and is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies

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