Is Bush Backing Al qaeda?

By Michael I. Niman

ArtVoice (etc.) 3/15/07

What do you call someone who knowingly gives money to Al Qaeda? There are a host of new laws, edicts and presidential declarations that criminalize even thinking of supporting Al Qaeda—or supporting anyone who supports anyone who supports anything that can be called Al Qaeda by anyone. If you’ve breathed the same air as Al Qaeda you can be accused and condemned for giving material support to terrorism—no trial and no questions asked.

So, wrap your mind around this: Seymour Hersh, one of the United States’ most respected journalists, published an earthshaking exposé in the New Yorker last week, alleging that the Bush administration has been covertly funding an array of militant Sunni extremist groups sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Whether or not the Bush administration is using American funds to directly fund Al Qaeda, the movement officially responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, is a semantic point. Al Qaeda is not an organization—it’s an ideology. It has iconic “leaders,” but their role is mostly symbolic. That’s why it’s so difficult to stop. As long as the US provides a steady stream of visual images of American troops abusing Muslims or occupying Muslim lands, Al Qaeda, the ideology of confronting empire with terror, will grow.

There’s no centralized organization or leadership to defeat or co-opt. There’s just a deadly and pathologically destructive ideological umbrella uniting those that are sympathetic to its mission. This mission, however, is also morphing as it expands its target base to include not only the proverbial West, but Shiite and secular Muslims as well. Al Qaeda primarily comprises fundamentalist Sunnis responsible for much of the havoc targeting American troops and Shiites and secular Muslims in Iraq with fratricidal, Muslim-on-Muslim terrorism.

Hersh, citing his now legendary network of former CIA spooks, former Bush Administration officials, government consultants and congressional sources, ties together a web of clandestine programs in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, executed with the help of Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, where Osama bin Laden and 16 of the September 11 hijackers hail from.

The “d'uh” Factor

Here’s the “strategy,” if you can call it that. The “duh” factor is the reality that many of us predicted before the Iraq invasion, that Iran would be the only strategic winner in our horrendous folly of a war. Iran is a theocratic, fundamentalist Shiite nation whose regional aspirations have been held in check by a powerful, Sunni-dominated, secular Iraq—with a war between the two countries claiming millions of victims in the 1980s. Then along comes the government of George W. Bush, which hijacked the might of the US military to accomplish what Iran could never dream of doing—transforming secular, Sunni-dominated Iraq into an emerging Shiite theocracy with close ties to Iran. Iran’s fundamentalist leadership couldn’t say “Let’s roll” any more clearly. The US invasion of Iraq transformed Iran into a regional powerhouse.

To counter Iranian power, according to Hersh, Dick Cheney cooked up a new strategy to aid militant Sunni groups who would attack Shiites, and hence, in the eyes of Cheney, Iranian interests in the Middle East. Hersh details a web of US support for Sunni militants in Iraq as well as Syria, where they could destabilize the government of Bashar al-Assad, and Lebanon, where they offer a political counterweight to the Shiite Hezbollah movement. These are militant terrorist groups that fall under the umbrella of what we call Al Qaeda—and some of them are directly responsible for much of the horrendous carnage in Iraq today—targeting civilians and US troops.

Countering Iranian power may or may not be the reason behind the Bush administration’s alleged shift to shore up Al Qaeda-linked groups. Historically, everything that the Bush senior and junior administrations have done in the region has strengthened Shiite fundamentalism in Iran—a movement that would have crumbled in Persian Iran had it not been for American saber-rattling, which always serves to distract Iranians from domestic repression and unite then against “The Great Satan” (see “Getting a Grip,” Artvoice v5n20:

Anything But Peace

So if the real reason for supporting Al Qaeda-linked Sunni groups isn’t countering Iran, as Hersh suggests, then what is it? With the US now four years into what the administration initially suggested would be a three-month war, and building permanent military bases the size of cities in Iraq, the reason may just be to maintain a balance of permanent chaos—one that “justifies” a permanent US presence. With all of the other official reasons for the war now debunked, and with the stated goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power accomplished, the new reasoning for continuing the war against anybody, everybody and nobody in particular in Iraq is—and they don’t mean for this to be a sick joke—to maintain order and prevent Iraq from descending into chaos.

Get it? We’re there maintaining the peace. And we’ll be there forever, since we seem hell-bent on allowing anything but peace to prevail.

We’re also divvying up the oil. And, in all likelihood, we’ll be divvying up the country as well, into small, ethnically homogeneous, militarily weak and politically compliant oil-producing states.

Despite the ongoing civil war, the Iraqis seem united on at least one issue: They want us the hell out of their country so they can deal with the repressive religious zealots and homicidal Al Qaeda maniacs. Crushed between the US occupation and the ethnic civil war there is a third path. It’s called “civil resistance” and it’s embodied by the Iraqi Freedom Congress (IFC). Comprising labor unions, neighborhood groups, students and women’s rights organizations, it’s working to protect multicultural enclaves from attacks by both US forces and ethnic and religious militias.

In an open letter to anti-war activists around the world, IFC president Samir Adil writes, “We strongly believe that security and stability will not prevail unless the occupation is ended.” He goes on to explain that the IFC works “in several regions in Iraq to create secured neighborhoods where sectarian and ethnic hatred have no ground whatsoever.”

Whether groups like the IFC will ever succeed at reining in the sectarian violence unleashed by the US invasion remains to be seen. We do know that if the Bush administration is bolstering both sides in Iraq’s civil war, supporting both the Shiite-dominated occupation government and the Sunni terrorist opposition, it is only serving to shower an inferno with gasoline, decimating whatever traces remain of the “cradle of civilization.”


Among the militant Sunni organizations Hersh alleges the Bush administration is supporting are groups falling under the Al Qaeda ideological umbrella. These are often the same people who are attacking and killing American troops in Iraq. And they’re the same people officially behind the September 11 terror attacks. Supporting these groups is treasonous.

We know that the Bush family’s policies have so far only served to strengthen both Al Qaeda and Iran. Now there are credible allegations of the Bush administration hijacking American resources and using them to lend material support to Al Qaeda. Seymour Hersh, the reporter who broke this story, has a history of accurate reporting, based on a well placed network of sources close to the US government. His allegations warrant an immediate congressional investigation. If they’re true, we can’t afford to sit on our thumbs while our president diverts “war on terror” funds to Al Qaeda operatives. In the interest of America, as well as the interest of justice around the world, we need to pressure Nancy Pelosi to put impeachment on the table. This is no longer a partisan issue. It’s an issue of national security that both Republicans and Democrats should rally behind.

ęCopyright 2007

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