One learns something new everyday, sometimes from weblogs. Here’s an excerpt from Juan Cole about Reagan’s role in support of the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the communist Afghan government and the Soviets in the 1980s.
In fact, of course, Ronald Reagan bears substantial responsibility for September 11. He and his administration were so gung ho to roll back Communism that they funneled billions of dollars to scruffy far rightwing radical Muslim mujahidin in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Orrin Hatch even flew to Beijing for Reagan in 1985 to ask the Chinese to pressure Pakistan to allow the US to provide the Mujahidin with ever more sophisticated weaponry. Even the Pakistani military had initially balked at this crazy idea, knowing who the Gulbuddin Hikmatyars and Usama Bin Ladens really were (unlike clueless Reagan, who called them freedom fighters). But the US twisted the Pakistanis’ arms, and they gave in. Likewise, Reagan forced the timid Saudis to match US contributions to the Mujahidin. (And then after Sept. 11 the former Reagan officials who had twisted the arms of the Saudis, like Richard Perle, turned around and blamed Riyadh for spreading radical Muslim ideas!!) It was the CIA that first established terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to hit the leftist government in Kabul. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the camps used by al-Qaeda had been built originally by the Reagan administration.
I didn’t know that the US government was more enthusiastic about the Mujahideen than Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
The Christian Coalition and other rightwing religious groups supporting Reagan even had a “biblical checklist” by which they wanted all senators and congressmen to be judged. And one of the items in the “biblical checklist” was “support for the Afghan ‘freedom fighters.’ The rightwing Christians were saying in the 1980s that if you didn’t support al-Qaeda and its Mujahidin allies, you didn’t deserve to be in Congress!