Afghanistan; How and Why the War BeganDestinations
Before the atrocities of 9/11 in 2001, few of us had heard of afghanistan-, few still had heard of al Qaeda.
Today, after witnessing over eight years of war most of us have now heard of both, but few are knowledgeble as to why our troops were involved and why they continue to fight in a far away land, against an organised militia we know little about, who seem to have as many issues with their own country men, as they do with the coalition forces stationed there.
OSAMA BIN LADEN.
Osama bin Laden was born in March 1957 in Riyadh,saudi-arabia-, to wealthy business man Awad bin Laden, and his tenth wife, Hamida, where he became one of 50 children of his father, and the first born and only son of his mother.
His parents divorced soon after his birth, and Osama was taken to live in Jeddah, where he was raised a devout Muslim of the Wahabi denomination.
He received a university education at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where he studied economics, business administration and civil engineering.
It was whilst at university that Osama began to show anti West and anti Jewish tendencies.
Already a pious Moslem and advocate of Sharia law, he was also beginning to show strong beliefs regarding anti semitism, anti socialism, anti communism and anti democracy.
He also believes that Israel must be eliminated, and that the West must stop their practices of fornication, homosexuality, the use of intoxicants, gambling and usury, ( the unreasonable charge of high interest on loans, a practice used in the West , but particularly by the Jewish business community.)
On leaving university he travelled to Afghanistan to help fight the war there against the Soviets.
It was whilst there that he met Abdullah Azzam who between them established Maktab al Khadamet, an organisation set up to funnel money and arms, and to recruit soldiers from around the Arab world, to help fight the war in Afghanistan.
With the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1985, Osama moved to Peshwar state in Pakistan, where it is understood he drew a great following of young Muslim men with strong anti Semitic and Anti Western views.
In 1990 he returned to saudi-arabia-.
In August of that year, Iraq invaded Kuwait.
Fearing Saudi Arabia's oil fields were in danger from Iraqui air strikes, Osama offered the services of his troops to protect these areas, but the Saudi government declined his assistance in favour of military help from the United States.
Osama was outraged that his government would use infidel troops to safeguard the kingdom's oilfields, so much so, that he publicly denounced the Saudi king and his government.
After continual harrasment from bin Laden, the Saudi government took steps to banish bin Laden from the kingdom in 1992, followed by withdrawal of his citizenship in 1994.
Osama fled to Sudan, where he undertook several building projects for the Sudanese government.
Whilst there Osama was to escape at least two attempts on his life, supposedly from Saudi officials.
It has been surmised that Osama started his group al Qaeda whilst here in Sudan, but this has never been substantiated, it is more likely to have started back in Pakistan, after the end of the Afghan / Russo war, where bin Laden had gained quite a following, and remember, he had soldiers at the ready when the Iraq / Kuwait conflict had started.
During this time Sudan received much international pressure for hosting bin Laden, to such an extent that they were forced to expel him in 1996.
It was after his expulsion from Sudan that he made his second visit to Afghanistan, where he became a staunch ally and friend of Taliban leader Mohammed Omar.
After having been the world's most wanted man for over a decade, bin Laden was eventually killed by U.S Forces on the 1st of May 2011 at a private compound in Abbottabad, north west Pakistan.
THE BIRTH OF THE TALIBAN.
Afghan refugees fleeing Soviet occupied Afghanistan and the Afghan civil war, settled in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, where young, orphaned Afghan men were educated along strict ideological lines in Madrasses.
The word madrass means school in Arabic, and can mean any type of school, just as the word does in English.
However, certain schools in the poorer areas of Islamic countries are run and funded by religious organisations, particularly from Saudi Arabia.( Similar to the free, church schools run in Victorian times for the children of the poor ).
The teachers of these students are generally of a strict Islamic ideology, which they instill into their students.
This has inturn led to many madrasses becoming hotbeds of Islamic fundmental teachings, where sharia law is encouraged and extreme Islamic culture is nurtured, along with anti - Jewish and anti - West propoganda.
As a goodwill gesture, Saudi Arabia opened up many madrasses complete with board and lodgings, in Pakistan, to accomodate these Afghan orphans, and to help Pakistan cope with the influx of thousands of extra people that the country had to house and feed in this area.
It is the students of these charity schools that went on to form the group of people, we know today as the taliban-.
The word talib means student in Arabic.
Back in the days when East and West traded silk, spices and other valuable commodities, their trade route, the imfamous ' Silk Road' passed through the Khyber Pass.
This mountainous, semi-desert region of grass steppe and inclement weather is situated in the central highlands of Afghanistan.
Coveted as a secure route for travellers and goods for centuries, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Moghuls, the Mongols, the Turks and the British, have all tried to conquer this region for their own.
During the 19th century, the British occupied the country as part of their British Empire.Securing it against infilltration from the Russian Empire, as it became Britains main route into their most prized empiral domain, India.
Following the third Anglo-Afghan war in 1919, Afghanistan gained full independence from Britain, but the British still had a vested interest in the country, as a spying post on the Soviet Union.
After the cooling of the 'Cold War' the British lost interest in the region, leading to a vacuum between Afghanistan and it's surrounding area.
Worried about incursion into their own territory via Afghanistan, Russia invaded the country in 1979.
The Soviet-Afghan alliance was not successful, and after the collapse of 'Perestroika', in 1985, the Red Army left Afghanistan.
During the Russian invasion, the Afghan government began to lose control of it's provinces.
During this time warlords flourished, and so too did it's opium production.
Regional commanders looking for ways to generate revenue for their 'cause', turned to opium cultivation.
From 1989 until 1994, Afghanistan became the greatest illicit opium producer in the world.
During the rise of the-taliban from 1994 until 2001, Afghanistan saw an annual opium crop of 4,600 metric tons.
At this time the Taliban leader, Mohammed Omar, declared poppy growing against Islam, and instigated the worlds most successsful anti- drugs campaign.
This had a double meaning for the Taliban leader, not only was this anti- drugs campaign gaining credence in the West, the worlds biggest customer base of opium, but because of the decline of the poppy trade, the farmers of Afghanistan were offered other lucrative ways of earning a living, by joining the Taliban and fighting for the cause, through undertaking suicide bombing missions or becoming guerilla combatants.
Their cause being, to make Afghanistan a wholly Islamic state, self sufficient, self governing and without outside interference.
This would be gained by toppling the present government, instigating Sharia law, and at the detrement of women's rights, by means of denying them education, healthcare, employment and the right to walk the streets unless chaperoned by a male family member.
( read Rosemarie Skaine's book 'The women of Afghanistan under the Taliban').
This treatment of women comes from the Taliban's unofficial policy of populating the country by means of a wholly male population, with the hopes of creating a country populated by radical and fanatical Islamists , which inturn would be a threat to world peace.
This has led to civil war within the country, with various warlords on the side of the Taliban regime, and defenders of the government.
However, after 9/11, under the U.S.A's war against terror campaign, which included overthrowing the Taliban and gaining control of the opium trade, the U.S invaded. Afghanistan, on 7th of October 2001, in a campaign called Operation Enduring Freedom.
The initial attacks of Taliban strongholds in the country removed most of the Taliban power, but with growing insurgent attacks from Taliban supporters, the Taliban gained a foothold once more, thus gaining more power and control within the country.
By November of that year, the colllapse of the economy enforced the nation's farmers to resort back to poppy cultivation.
The following month, under U.N auspices, a plan to re-establish the state of Afghanistan, including provisions for a new constitution was put into operation.
The United Kingdom was designated to lead the counter narcotics issue, in the main poppy growing regions of Kandahar and Helmand provinces, while troops from other coalition countries had been designated to train Afghan soldiers and police officers for the government, whose personnel was considered ill trained, corrupt and pro Taliban.
However this seems to be an uphill struggle, for as fast as soldiers and police officers are trained , insurgent suicide bombers, in sympathy with the Taliban's cause, kill groups of unsuspecting people in crowded venues such as market places and mosques, in the hope of killing newly qualified police and soldiers, thus rendering these government bodies ineffectual.
During all this, opium output has risen by 22%, Osama Bin Laden has not been found, thousands of Afghan civillians and 1,633 N.A.T.O troops have been killed and the N.A.T.O backed head of government, Hamid Karzai,has been accused of vote rigging in the last government election.
There could however, be other reasons as to why Western powers hold so much interest in the country.
Afghanistan's arid and mountainous topography has rich natural resources of gold, silver, copper, zinc, uranium, lead, iron and precious and semi-precious stones, not to mention it's as yet massive, untapped natural gas and petroleum reserves.
The word al Qaeda means' the base' in Arabic, and is probably derived from the word' base camp ', where many young Jihadists ( Holy warriors ) are trained to fight in the name of jihad ( Holy war.)
N.B. Over the years several rumours have come about of Osama bin Laden,s travels to London, Switzerland and the U.S. Non of these rumours can be substantiated, but with Osama's views of western countries and culture, it seems highly unlikely he would visit any of them.
In Osama's sister in law's book, ' The Veiled Kingdom ', by Carmen bin Laden,( who was married to Osama's elder brother Yeslam.) She speaks of many of Osama's brothers leaving the kingdom to study abroad or to visit Swiss hospitals for treatment, but as far as most people are aware, Osama has only ever travelled to a few Islamic countries.
His father died when he was 13, but his mother, half brothers and sisters, wives and children, still live in the kingdom.
According to Carmen's book, he has little contact with them other than by phone.
OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT AFGHANISTAN BY THE SAME AUTHOR;