"The hijackers were instruments of evil who died in vain. Behind them is a . . .

Cult of Evil

. . . which seeks to harm the innocent and thrives on human suffering. Theirs is the worst kind of cruelty, the cruelty that is fed, not weakened, by tears. Theirs is the worst kind of violence, pure malice, while daring to claim the authority of God. We cannot fully understand the designs and power of evil. It is enough to know that evil, like goodness, exists. And in the terrorists, evil has found a willing servant." -- George W. Bush, October 11, 2002

Related page, see Cult of Goodness

This is an approximate account of a show by Ashwin Raman which was broadcast in German
by SWR on March 10, 2003 called, "Al Qaida - the Long Arm of bin Laden".

SWR, March 10, 2003

[Inside a former Soviet Air Force hangar in Afghanistan, young women in cheerleader costumes perform on stage with a US flag as a backdrop]

The cheerleaders were sent from Washington on a mission -- to raise the morale of the 82nd Airborne in Bagram near Kabul. For the 5,000 soldiers that are here for Operation Enduring Freedom, it was a welcome diversion after a year's deployment. In any case it was more pleasant than searching for enemy weapons or hunting al Qaida terrorists.

[Now in beach attire, they dance to the Beach Boys, Everybody's gone surfin' ... surfin' USA...]

The day after. The dancing girls are long gone. Today over 300 soldiers must scour the al Qaida strongholds in southeast Afghanistan. The mission is to last 3 days and three nights. Every chiliburger, bottle of water and every cartridge has be carried along. Operations of this sort have had some success in the search for weapons. In the past several months the Americans have managed to find and destroy many tons of ammunition. The fight against al Qaida itself, though, has hardly progressed at all.

The helicopters leave the base shortly after sunrise. The flight to the border area lasts almost an hour. For this elite unit, this sort of flight is routine, nevertheless, it is always a flight into the unknown. The dangers in the mountains of Afghanistan lurk everywhere. Sites of engagement are a military secret. The Chinook transport is accompanied by 2 Blackhawk helicopters, each armed with rockets. Since the helicopters are forced to fly low near the mountains, they are especially prone to attack from surface-to-air missiles, but when we ask how many attacks have taken place in the past, we receive no answer.

Landing in a dried out riverbed. Now things have to move quickly. Ammunition and supplies are unloaded so the helicopter can again immediately take off. Attacks are no rarity. The supplies include what the soldiers refer to as Mrs. Miller's Cataloni special or Mrs. Brown's Thai chicken. There are also hundreds of bottle of mineral water imported from Saudi Arabia.

Contact with the locals is not particularly welcome, but not even the American have an effect upon where the Afghan goats stray for food. There is not much to do in the camp except lounge, doze in the sun, eat and drink until late afternoon. Wherever the soldiers are, they are accompanied by a chaplain.

Chaplain: The first night we were out on a mission several days ago, some ammunition that was found unexpectedly blew up. Some of the debris hit several soldiers. They were treated, but they also had to have their spiritual needs ministered to.

What do you think about the war in Afghanistan?

As you know, this country has been destroyed by war over the years. I hope we can stay here long enough for the area to stabilize, and give the government a chance to work.

Will you win the hearts of the people here?

I think we will. We don't simply kick down the doors when searching. We ask the people who live here about dangerous ammunition and missiles. When we go, we leave blankets, water and food for the locals.

At sundown, the first unit goes on a search for terrorists. They will be gone the whole night, and will not return to camp until the early hours of the next morning.

70 kilometers east of where the 82nd Airborne is operating is a village of 4,000, a large portion of which patronized the Taliban and al Qaida until just a few months ago. The apparently tranquil atmosphere is deceptive. War here has not been over for that long of a time. In the middle of Ramadan, Al Qaida attacks in broad daylight.

[sound of gunfire]

Unexpectedly and unwillingly, we are witness to an incident, the likes of which does not occur here that seldom. About 50 al Qaida terrorists attack the regional garrison. The fighters have the town under their control for about a day. The attackers don't fear death, as they consider that any who die on a field of battle becomes a martyr. They are armed with Kalashnikovs and armor-piercing weapons. We filmed this from the window of our lodgings. The battle ended with dozens wounded and 16 dead. Although al Qaida's influence has decreased in Afghanistan, it is still present.

[seated man]

Visiting one of the men allegedly behind this operation.

Ghani Saifullah

He is rather high up on the list of international terrorists. He recites verses from the Koran the morning of Ramadan.

Seated man: Afghanistan is a country of respectable people. That is because here Islam is what's most important. Now the Americans are here, and we are their enemy. No Afghan will be on the side of the Americans. The Afghans are very angry with the Americans. They oppress us. They bomb us without reason. Innocent people are arrested and abused. It is our duty to defend ourselves.

Then he told us that there were also foreign fighters to support them against the Americans.

Here there are fighters from Chechnia, Pakistan, the USA and Russia.

Where does the money come from?

It comes from the believers in other countries.

From which countries, then?

The money comes from Iran, Chechnia and Turkmenistan.

Is that all?

As I told you, Iran, Chechnia and Turkmenistan.

The Americans appear about 2 o'clock in the morning. A long column of soldiers and tanks. Too late, al Qaida have long ago pulled back into the surrounding mountains.

Back at camp, after three days the 82nd Airborne did not catch any terrorists, but they found some missiles of unknown origin. While an expert prepares the missile for demolition, an officer coordinates the evacuation of the surrounding villages.

Officer on field phone: Well just go down there and find the town elder and alert everybody. Once we get everybody down, go ahead and initiate. It might take a little bit, but let's make sure we have everything safe, over.

With the help of an interpreter, the inhabitants of the villages are warned to leave and bring their animals to safety.

[3 whistle blasts, an explosion]

The soldiers are obviously impressed by the powerful explosion. The operation had a consequence, however. There was collateral damage. The captain is responsible for monitoring and controlling the damage. A building and garden were destroyed and a donkey was killed.

Officer into phone: We destroyed a building, a garden and a donkey while doing some demolitions work. We were destroying some weapons caches at the request of the villagers.

The captain is an attorney in the US Army, and in this sort of job, he travels along with everybody else. The destroyed building and garden will cost 500 dollars, he tells us. He estimates the donkey at 20 dollars.

Officer into phone: This would probably be considered a non-combat activity.

After 3 nights under the open sky in freezing temperatures and days of marching around the mountains, the young soldiers are happy to go back to base, where they can take a hot shower and get a hot meal. And so another stage of the Alamo Sweep operation comes to an end.

Those who the American soldiers are really looking for are located in the area bordering Pakistan. These so-called "autonomous" regions, packed with fundamentalists, are where the Taliban and al Qaida hide. Surrounded by mountains, the area is not easily accessible. It's almost impossible to check who passes through. The searches by the young, inexperienced border guards have mostly a symbolic character.

Guard: We are here to check the vehicles and to make sure the country is safe. We search the vehicles for weapons, explosives and drugs.

Are you also looking for Taliban and al Qaida?

But of course!

After this last check point, there is still 20 kilometers to the Pakistani border, which can be crossed at any point. For 20 rupees the taxi drivers will take you across the border, that's about 30 cents, no visa required. Al Qaida makes use of this, not to get weapons or terrorists into Afghanistan, but for a completely different reason. This is the way money can be brought to Kabul from where it can be transferred overseas without a trace.

The market in Kabul, where almost anything can be acquired, from socks and shoes intended for the US soldiers, to beer and wine from the international peace-keeping troops stationed there. In Kabul, along the dried out river by the same name, there is the Shesada [sp?] market. The money market, where business is in full swing. Dollars brought in by foreign troops and journalists and aid agencies can be transferred from here to anywhere in the world. It's done by the simple Oriental hawala system, which is based on mutual trust. You give an agent a specific amount of money. His partner over here transfers a specific amount of money, in whatever currency you want. It is received in the country specified. No banks are involved. Neither are transfer documents. Terrorist groups such as al Qaida have taken over this system. This is the way they finance themselves all over the world. Western intelligence agencies have no way of ever stopping it.

[Interviewing Mohammed S.]

If I bring you ten thousand dollars, can you send it to Germany for me?

Yes, of course.

Well how does it happen?

It will take 5 - 10 days before everything's arranged.

Must someone pick up the money?

Yes, of course.

Will your contact person come to me?

No he cannot come, but if you have an account in a German bank, he can transfer money to that account.

Can he give me the money in cash?

Yes he can give you the money in cash.

Mohammed then tells us that his customers include UN organizations, and the German and American embassies, but most of his customers are private persons. The many thousands of Arab and Pakistani al Qaida fighters who used to be in Afghanistan were his best customers. They sent their money back home regularly.

Many of those fighters are now in prison, or were brought to the desert along the gas pipeline between northern Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and buried. We were able to reach this area only with great difficulty. According to the United Nations, approximately 2,000 al Qaida and Taliban soldiers were slaughtered here and buried. Many were massacred by the North Alliance. This Spring the graves were supposed to be newly investigated by the UN. Human rights organizations believe that the fighters here in November 2001, after the fall of Kunduz, had surrendered to the Northern Alliance. The corpses have injuries to the heads and chests. Everything indicates executions by the North Alliance.

The survivors are in prison. They have been waiting for over a year to be either shipped to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or released.

We were the first television team to be successful in interviewing the al Qaida prisoners. Despite inhumane living conditions, the spirit of these Pakistanis, no differently from their fanaticism, appears to be unbroken.

Prisoner: We came here for the Jihad. When an Islamic country is attacked by unbelievers, it is the duty of all Muslims to fight.

When you get out of here, are your prepared to fight again?

You know something? If the situation was the same as it was before in Afghanistan, we'll be ready again.

What about after what happened in New York?

What they did in New York has nothing at all to do with Afghanistan. This is a poor land. Many here do not have enough to eat. They do not even have the means of escaping. How could they conceive of such a complicated plan, much less carry it out?

[Meal time. Tubs with food are carried in.]

There is only one meal a day. It's always the same thing, rice with chick peas. This is the only time during the day that the door is opened. After the meal, they tell us about the fight at Kunduz. They were bombed by the Americans day and night. They described the thousands of their comrades-in-arms who had died as martyrs.

Now what do you think of al Qaida and the Taliban?

They are good, respectable people. They are Muslims. We are Muslims.

What do you think of bin Laden and Mullah Omma?

They are outstanding people. They are faithful Muslims, but above all they are good people.

What do you think of what al Qaida did in New York?

What makes you think that was al Qaida? There has been a lot of talk, but since you're journalists, why don't you investigate what really happened?

Once again, what do you think about the 11th of September?

Those are two different things entirely. We are here because this country was under attack. This whole nonsense about the 11th of September is something the Americans started with the Israelis. They did it in order to blame us. It was a pretext to attack Afghanistan and the Muslims.

Why should they attack Afghanistan anyway?

Because it upsets them that Afghanistan is an Islamic state and people live according to Islam. The Americans were afraid that other Arab countries would use Afghanistan as a role model and that they too would undertake a war upon the unfaithful. Therefore they flew their own airplanes into the twin towers.

Do you think that Saudi Arabia is against America?

Of course! If not now, then soon. The USA is afraid that Muslims all over the world will wake up.

This conclusion about the 11th of September could be heard in the other quarters where the Arab and Afghan al Qaida members were held separately. The guard verified that the ill humor against the Americans was not present only in the prison, especially in southern and eastern Afghanistan, such as here in Kandahar. One detects growing sympathy for the Taliban. Daily more than 2,000 people visit the graves of the fallen al Qaida fighters on the outskirts of Kandahar. After the fall of the Taliban, people had hoped for a better life, but today more than 9 million Afghanis suffer from hunger. For Shiites, there is nothing left for them to do but beg. There is a lack of hospitals, schools and streets. Unemployment is very high. Even the soldiers who are responsible for keeping peace are not paid on a regular basis. When they are paid, it is only about ten dollars a month. Even military commanders such as Mohammed Karzin have growing doubts about the motivation of the Americans. As to whether al Qaida is responsible for the 11th of September, he won't say anything. He hopes the Americans leave so Afghanistan can be a sovereign country again soon.

The people praying above the graves also hope that the Americans leave soon. Not because they want peace to return to the country, but they pray that fundamentalist Islam will once again rule in Afghanistan, like in the days of the Taliban.

Avanti July - August 2002

Afghanistan: Massacre in the desert

New eyewitness reports accuse US soldiers, along with warlord troops, of having murdered thousands of prisoners. The US government has refused to let the accusations be investigated.

"I was a witness, when an American soldier broke the neck of a prisoner, and poured acid over others. In this and other reports from eyewitnesses, which have been collected by renowned Irish documentary tele-journalist Jamie Doran in Afghanistan, serious accusations were made against US troops. A film was presented in the European Parliament in the middle of June which dealt with the event at the end of 2001 concerning the conquest of north Afghanistan by soldiers of the USA and of Rashid Dostum, North Alliance warlord. About 8,000 Taliban and their allied fighters had surrendered at that time. 500 of them, who were suspected of membership in al Qaida, were singled out and sent to a compound near Mazar-i-Sharif.

An uprising by the inmates, the background for whom today is still not clear, was quashed with the help of the US Air Force. There were only a few survivors. Even back then a correspondent from The Times and other journalists had reported beheaded corpses with their hands bound behind their backs as indications of a massacre. A human rights organization demanded an investigation, which was refused by the USA.

The new accusations concern the fate of the rest of the prisoners. Between 1,500 and 4,00 of them were brought to the desert. Those were did not die of suffocation confined in the containers during transport or of previously inflicted torture, were shot and buried. The order to do this, according to Doran's research, cam from a US officer. 30-40 US soldiers were directly involved in the crime.

Dominion of the Warlords

This would be a war crime according to both American and International law. It is improbable, however, that Bush and Milosevic will cross paths in the Hague. The US administration immediately rejected the accusation. Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan did not rule out, however, mass murder by troops allied with the Northern Alliance. The official line of defense, then, is to pass responsibility for the brutality on to the notorious Dostum.

But not even this version throws a good light on the politics of the USA and of the West. That is because Dostum and other warlords are the most important caretakers of the transient government. Western states have tried, however, to balance the power of the warlords with Hamid Karzai and former King Zahir Shah, but neither really has any material basis of power in the country. Independent of the jurisdiction of the ministries it is the warlords who, with the exception of Kabul, who economically and militarily rule practically all regions of the country.

They control the lucrative opium trade, which gives them a bigger budget than the West is going to pay Karzai. Western Afghanistan ruler Ismail Khan, by himself, controls more than 15,000 armed men, in contrast to Karzai, who commands only an incomplete battalion of 400 soldiers. The western supporters are not prepared to deal with the military and financial risks which a confrontation with the warlords would entail.

For the time being, they'll be satisfied with a superficial stabilization. That will enable the US troops to conduct their war against the remaining Taliban and al-Qaida fights without interruption. With further destabilization in Pakistan and a possible India-Pakistan war, the risk of a nationwide guerilla war is not in the USA's interests. Germany, which profiles itself as an intervention force and intends to build world political influence, has just as little interest in risky confrontations.

Appeal for Intervention

Satisfying the warlords, however, means strengthening their positions. They can reinforce the power in their territories and thus prepare themselves for the next round of possible war. For this reason, human rights organizations and secular Democratic Afghan groups like the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) demand an international military intervention against the warlords.

Although the warlords' power can be broken only with military means, the problem is of a political nature. Only if a movement is organized which propagates a social alternative and which can survive the social hopelessness can any measures against the warlords lead to something other than a new round of war. That is not a simple mission in a country where there is no chance for integration in the capitalistic world market to develop, and organizations like RAWA are currently much too weak.

Western states, however, act solely with financial and military means; they have neither the will nor the way to mobilize political support. Doran's research, moreover, shows to what brutality an expansion of western intervention could lead.

Harry Tuttle