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|U.S. hit squads signal new twist to Afghan war|
|05/16/02 at 21:21:47|
|May 12, 2002|
U.S. hit squads signal new twist to Afghan war
By ERIC MARGOLIS -- Contributing Foreign Editor
Toronto Sun (Sun Newspapers)
Gen. Ariel Sharon's habit of sending hit squads to kill people he deems
caught on in Washington. It's been revealed that last Monday the CIA
assassinate my old acquaintance, the Afghan leader, Gulbadin Hekmatyar.
U.S. forces and CIA agents have targeted senior members of al-Qaida and
Taliban since October.
But Hekmatyar belonged to neither group: he leads the well-established
Hisbi-Islami Party, which played the leading role in the 1980s struggle
Afghanistan from Soviet rule. He had nothing to do with al-Qaida or
Sept. 11, and
was an enemy of the Taliban.
But in Washington's eyes, Hekmatyar was marked for death because he
the U.S.-installed regime in Kabul of Hamid Karzai, and was thus a
I've known Hekmatyar since the mid-1980s, when we spent time together in
Peshawar. Tall, heavy lidded, and extremely pale, the turbaned Pashtun
looked like a saint from a Goya painting. Engineer Hekmatyar was the
mujahedin leader who did not come from a traditional tribal background:
he was a
raw and hated upstart who called for the end of tribalism and for the
creation of an
Hekmatyar was also the most effective mujahedin leader. Among the seven
guerrilla groups, his Hisbi Islami was the leading recipient of U.S.
arms and money,
and did the bulk of fighting against the Soviets.
Gulbadin worked closely with the CIA and Pakistan's once crack
ISI. But at war's end, the U.S. decided Hekmatyar and his fellow
Islamists were a
liability. Overnight, the CIA's closest Afghan ally, once hailed by
Washington as a
"freedom fighter," was marked for termination.
Hekmatyar told me the CIA tried to assassinate him by detonating a large
bomb that killed scores of civilians, but missed him. In the early
served as prime minister of Afghanistan until it dissolved into civil
war. He has now
returned from exile in Iran and is calling on Afghans to oust the
regime, which he calls a puppet under the control of foreigners - which
it clearly is.
A missile-armed Predator drone - the CIA's new weapon of choice in
- was sent to kill the troublesome Hekmatyar. The missiles failed to hit
reportedly killed bystanders. What makes this attack noteworthy - and
disturbing - is that Washington now seems to have decided to "liquidate"
troublesome foreign political opponents, using unproven charges of
"terrorism" as a
pretext. The administration might as well accuse political opponents of
"enemies of the people," as Stalin did.
The White House and Pentagon have embarked on a campaign to rub out foes
because of what they might do. It's called "pre-emption," a favourite
Iraq must be invaded because Saddam Hussein might at some distant future
have weapons of mass destruction that he might be crazy enough to use
U.S. and thus invite the vaporization of himself and his nation. Muslims
U.S. might get up to no good, so Grand Inquisitor/cum Attorney General
Ashcroft has ordered that many be rounded up and interrogated.
Old ally Hekmatyar might cause trouble for America's puppet regime in
he must be rubbed out. The Bush administration is so gripped by
Sharonism that not one of its members has challenged the CIA's attempted
of Hekmatyar, though this misdeed could well constitute a crime under
In fact, George Bush's hang 'em high White House has shown an alarming
concern with domestic and international law. Not just in its crusade
foes, or in threatening the rights and liberties of Americans, but also
arrogant, Neanderthal unilateralism that has outraged friends abroad:
rejection of the Kyoto Accords; spitting on the worthy idea of an
to try war criminals; abrogating arms treaties with Russia; violating
the laws and
conventions of war in Bush's Guantanamo gulag; and abetting Israel in
devastation of the Occupied West Bank.
Prime Minister Sharon's mantra, basically: "We are right and the rest of
the world is
wrong," has become that of his acolyte and admirer, George W. Bush. The
Pentagon claims the "war" in Afghanistan is over.
This is nonsense. The Taliban and al-Qaida have blended back into the
population and are simply lying low - for now. The conflict costs U.S.
$1 billion U.S. monthly; Bush just asked Congress for $14 billion more
end. Each day the U.S. is getting sucked deeper and deeper into
The CIA's attempted murder of Hekmatyar marks an ominous, new stage in
America's involvement in the murky Afghan conflict. How long before the
murdering political opponents of Pakistan's U.S.-backed military
Pervez Musharraf? Or all those irksome radical Arabs and Iranians? Or
CIA's missile-armed Predators are certainly a more effective murder
the exploding cigar it once tried to send to Fidel Castro, who, by the
remains on Washington's hit list.
Besides, in the U.S. view, killing from the air is simply "bombing," not
murder. Bush and his far-right Republicans think it's perfectly
acceptable for the
world's greatest democracy to act like Murder Inc. It is not.
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