As the pipeline was expanded it began to spring big leaks. Problems with the pipeline had existed from the beginning, but by 1985 they were becoming more obvious. Twenty nine of the forty Oerlikon anti aircraft guns the CIA had purchased in Switzerland at over $1 million a piece never made it to Afghanistan. Somewhere along the line these and many other weapons were put to other uses by either the Afghans, the Pakistanis, or the CIA itself. A significant amount of the leaking was (as it stiff is) coming from within Pakistan, where corrupt government and rebel officials have suddenly become quite rich. Pakistani General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, head of the ISID up to 1987, and his successor, General Hamid Gul, are suspected to have been prime benefactors of the pipeline. They and their subordinates within the ISID’s National Logistics Cell (NLC) could easily have made a fortune off CIA supplies.
Since the genesis of the pipeline, the NLC has had the sole responsibility of transporting newly arrived weapons from Karachi to Quetta and Peshawar (weapons that come by plane, especially those that are American or British made, are flown directly to these cities).
NLC trucks have special passes that allow them to travel unharassed by customs or police officials on their several hundred mile drive. Along the way it is very easy for the NLC officials to exchange the new weapons and other supplies for old ones from the government’s stock.
Widespread corruption also exists among the rebel leaders but has gone practically unnoticed in the U.S. thanks to CIA propaganda. The same kinds of things that tarnished the contra’s image, such as killing civilians, drug smuggling and embezzlement are practiced by many Afghan rebels. Taking no prisoners, assassinating suspected government collaborators, destroying government built schools and hospitals, killing “unpious” civilians are just a few of the inhumane acts they have carried out. But the picture we receive of the rebels in the U.S. is of an uncorrupt, popular group of freedom loving people who aspire toward a democratic society.
The CIA and the State Department have worked hard to project this image. In 1984 Walter Raymond, on loan to the NSC from the CIA, “suggested” to Senator Humphrey (RNH) that Congress finance a media project for the rebels that would shed favorable light on the rebels’ side of the war.
Humphrey got Congress to easily approve the new “Afghan Media Project” which was handed over to the United States Information Agency (USIA) and Boston University. AA Boston University the project was headed up by a man named Joachim Maitre, an East German defector who had close connections with International Business Communications and the Gulf and Caribbean Foundation (both of which served important roles in illegally raising funds for the Nicaraguan contras). He also had worked closely with Oliver North to make TN’ commercials attacking Congressmen who had opposed aid to the contras.
Maitre escaped criticism for his contra connections and proceeded to train Afghan rebels to report on and film the war. Since it is illegal for the USIA to disseminate information in the U.S., the Afghan Media Project’s films and reports were to be sold only to foreign news agencies. However, American journalists who have a quick story to write or don’t want to enter Afghanistan have often found the rebels’ information too tempting to pass up. CBS, the station that has covered the Afghan war the most and in a very pro-rebel light, may have been one guilty party. CBS used footage provided by the rebels claiming that it was taken by its cameraman, Mike Hoover.
Corruption surrounding the CIA’s Afghan program has begun to surface during the last several years. For example, the fact that the rebels have been harvesting a large amount of opium was brought to light by the New York Times in 1986.
And DEA officials have privately admitted recently that the shipment of CIA weapons into Pakistan has allowed the trade in heroin three tons of which reaches the U.S. every year to flourish as never before.
One DEA official noted that virtually no heroin was refined in Pakistan before 1979, but “now Pakistan produces and transships more heroin than the rest of the world combined.” Neither U.S. nor Pakistani drug enforcement officials are any match for these heavily armed drug dealers.
In spite of these problems, from 1986 to the present, the CIA has expanded the pipeline to handle over $1 billion in new monies. As part of this package the CIA is sending the rebels highly sophisticated American made weaponry. Ironically, the CIA particularly its former Deputy Director John McMahon originally opposed this idea and insisted on continuing the supply of average Soviet styled weapons.
But by March 1986 the impasse was broken. On March 4, McMahon resigned from the CIA; one week later UN negotiator Diego Cordovez announced that he had “all the elements of a comprehensive settlement of the Afghan problem.”
With McMahon gone and the prospects for peace again on the horizon, members of the 208 Committee, with the President’s approval, decided immediately to send the rebels several hundred of the world’s most sophisticated anti aircraft gun, the American-made Stinger.
Although the Stingers are delivered more carefully than other weapons (they are flown on U.S. airplanes through Germany en route to Pakistan), once in Pakistan they can easily fall into dangerous hands. Initially the Stingers were safeguarded by keeping them from the rebels. Although the media began in April 1986 to report on the rebels’ immediate successes with the Stingers, the rebels hadn’t even touched one yet. Ethnic Pushtuns in the Pakistani Special Forces, disguised as rebels, were the ones firing the Stingers then, and many probably still are today.
Meanwhile, a group of “ex-Army specialists” hired by the CIA were training the rebels to use the new weapon. Once the rebels were adequately trained, the politics of the pipeline began to come into play. The ISID distributed a disproportionate amount of the Stingers to the more radical fundamentalist groups.
ISID has skewed the distribution of weapons to favor the fundamentalists all along, but it took the Stinger issue to highlight this fact. These are the groups that were responsible for selling nearly a dozen Stingers to Iranian Revolutionary Guards in July 1987 and who are stockpiling their weapons to continue their jihad if and when the U.S. cuts off its supply.
The CIA was aware of the Iran connection two months before it was revealed and before Congress approved sending more Stingers. It is also aware now that by arming these same groups, the U.S. is setting the scene for a major post withdrawal bloodbath.
But today President Reagan is flaunting the covert operation in Afghanistan as the prize of the Reagan Doctrine. The Soviets are finally negotiating in “good faith,” he claims, because U.S. aid allowed the “freedom fighters” to keep up their fight. Although the War has had its costs, the benefit of driving the Soviets out will make them worth it. The costs of intentionally prolonging the Afghan war have been a flourishing drug trade, an estimated one million dead, and the provisions for a bloody Islamic revolution. Unfortunately, in light of the administration’s hardening stance in the current negotiations, we must wonder whether the “bleeders” are really ready to end it now.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28, 1988.
Newsweek, March 23,1987
United States Department of State Special Report, no. 112, December 1983.
See James Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (Bantam: New York, 1982), pp. 473,475.
Miami Herald, June 5, 1983.
Boston Globe, January 5, 1980; Daily Telegraph (London), January 5, 1990.
Wall Street Journal, April 19,1994.
Washington Post, February 2, 1979; Maclean’s (Toronto), April 30, 1979.
ABC News, “20/20,” June 18,1981.
Sam Bamieh told of this deal during his sworn testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs committee in July 1987; also see. Bruce Amstutz, Afghanistan: The First Five Years (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, 1986), p. 202; the information about the Omani and Pakistani bank accounts came from several confidential sources.
See Bamieh testimony, ibid.
Baltimore Sun, April 4,1982.
Richard Cronin, “Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance Facts,” Congressional Research Service, July 20,1987, p. 2.
This inadequate accounting process was discovered in January 1986 when, at the request of Senators Humphrey (Rep. New Hamp.) and Chic Hecht (Rep. Nev.), a group of Senate intelligence staffers visited Pakistan (Confidential Source).
Philadelphia Inquirer. February 29, 1988; The Nation (Pakistan), January 8, 1987.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 29,1988.
Washington Post, September 25,1981.
Classified State Department Cables, May 14 and August 9, 1979, Spynest Documents, op. cit., n. 9, vol. 29; Selig Harrison, “The Soviet Union in Afghanistan in Containment: Concept and Policy (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, 1986), p. 464
New Republic, July 18,1981; Daily Telegraph, January 5,1980.
Le Monde, in Joint Publication and Research Service (JPRS) (U.S. Gov.), October 9, 1981; Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1981.
New York Times; May 4, 1983; Eight Days (London), in JPRS, October 31, 1981.
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 1, 1988.
New York Times, July 24,1982.
New York Times, May 4,1983.
Richard Cronin, “Afghanistan: United Nations Sponsored Negotiations,” Congressional
Research Service, July 23, 1986, p. 8.
New York Times, May 4, 1983.
Christian Science Monitor, May 10, 1983.
Some of the more radical fundamentalist groups have already succeeded in carrying out cross border attacks against the Soviets and have vowed to continue (Arab News, April 6,1987). For a more thorough discussion of the goals of the resistance see Olivier Roy, Islam and the Afghan Resistance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986)
Washington Post, March 30, 1983.
This news was leaked by the Soviets to the United News of India, cited in Christian Science Monitor, May 10, 1983.
New York Times, May 4,1983.
New York Times, May 27,1983.
Washington Post, December 29,1983.
New York Times, July 4,1983.
Washington Post January 13, 1985.
This was the Tsongas resolution which was finally passed on October 4,1994.
Washington Post, January 13, 1987.
Afghan Update (published by the Federation for American Afghan Action), July 13,1985.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 29,1988.
Confidential source who travelled with the resistance and showed the author photographs of explosives with the name of this company on them.
FBIS, May 14,1985.
New York Times, June 19,1986.
Wall Street Journal, February 16,1988.
Thames Television (London), “The Missile Trail” on This Week, September 17,1987.
Rumor has it that Nigeria was the third country, but it could have been Chile who sold Blowpipes to the CIA for its operation in Nicaragua.
Joint Senate Congressional Hearings on the Iran Contra Affair, May 20,1987; Exhibit
JKS 6. The proposed plan would allow the CIA to acquire Soviet bloc weapons for the Afghan rebels, the contras, UNITA and other “freedom fighters” without Congressional appropriations or approval.
The Wall Street Journal on February 16, 1988 revealed that weapons for the rebels had been purchased from Poland. A confidential source informed the author that Stettin was the port they were being shipped out of.
The Nation (Pakistan), January 8, 1987.
Jack Anderson in the Washington Post, May 12,1987.
Washington Post, January 13,1987.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28, 1988.
The Nation (Pakistan), January 8, 1988.
Columbia Journalism Review May/June, 1987; it is also worth noting that Maitre was a senior editor for CIA connected Axel Springer Publishing Company in Germany. He also, for no apparent reason, has military clearance. After the bombing of Libya, Maitre was one of the people who debriefed the American pilots.
Announced at USIA conference on Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., May 5,1987.
Los Angeles Times, January 13, 1988. CBS contract journalist Kurt Lohbeck also has strong ties to “Behind the Lines News Service,” an operation set up by arch conservatives Hugh Newton and Antony Campaigne.
New York Times, June 6,1986.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28,1988.
McMahon was the focus of attacks by rebel supporters on the CIA’s Afghan program (especially by the Federation for American Afghan Action which claimed responsibility for McMahon’s eventual resignation). Also see Bob Woodward, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981 1997 (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987).
FBIS, March 18,1986.
Warren Carroll, “The Freedom Fighter,” (Heritage Foundation), cited in Afghan Update, May 27, 1986.
Washington Post, February 8, 1987.
Strategic Investment Newsletter, March 9, 1987; Philadelphia Inquirer, March 1, 1988.
Independent (London), October 16, 1987.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28,1988