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CIA shill Bruce Riedel's Pakistan rant

Dalit

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Bruce Riedel was sitting in the White House Situation Room when hijacked planes pierced the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Today, the seasoned US intelligence expert fears history is repeating itself. "Afghanistan is once again becoming a black hole, a very dangerous issue for the US and Europe."

“We had just started the morning meeting with National Security Council executives when we heard that an airliner had crashed into the World Trade Center. Our first reaction was that it was a sports plane or a helicopter over which the pilot had lost control. No one first thought of a passenger plane. But about a minute into our conversation, a senior officer entered the Situation Room and told National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that a second plane had hit the South Tower. At that moment we knew that a major terror attack was underway.”

When Bruce Riedel talks about the morning of September 11, 2001, it's still as if it happened yesterday. At the time, he served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to Republican President George W. Bush for North Africa and the Near East, a portfolio that included Afghanistan. Rice had asked him to stay on after doing the job for Democratic President Bill Clinton the previous four years, but unlike that period, his warnings about al-Qaeda had fallen on deaf ears. Until that morning.

Riedel: “I immediately came to the conclusion that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, because Achmed Shah Massud had been killed two days earlier. He was the leader of the Northern Alliance, which fought the Taliban, and was the main proponent of actions to drive al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in addition to the Taliban. The assassination of Massud was the necessary requirement for the 9/11 attacks. It only took me a second to connect those dots. This was also the attack that all intelligence reports warned about in August and early September 2001.”

That an Al Qaeda attack on the US was imminent was explicitly stated in the President's Daily Brief on August 6. Do you think the Bush administration could have prevented the attacks if it had taken this seriously?

“The Bush administration had no experience fighting al-Qaeda. The terrorist group had attacked the US in 1998, in East Africa. It made another attempt on Millennium Night, the transition from 1999 to 2000. So the Clinton administration had accumulated vast experience and always took the threat very seriously.

“When Clinton's National Security Advisor Sandy Berger handed over his post (after the election of George W. Bush, MR) to Rice, he told her that Al Qaeda was the single greatest threat to the US. They, the President and Vice President (Dick Cheney, MR) did not take them seriously. They thought that Al Qaeda was like any other terrorist organization, which, while it could target an embassy or an army base, was incapable of carrying out attacks in our capital and financial center.

“When the cautionary reports came in in August and early September 2001, they left it to the lower levels of government to look into it. There was, however, an intelligence group that evaluated threats. What the Clinton administration did was to give this group a follow-up in the event of serious threats with an extra meeting in the White House where the key players sat down: the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the CIA director and the secretary of justice. That did not happen under President Bush.

“As a result, important intelligence never reached other members of the government. The main puzzle piece was that the CIA knew that there were two Al Qaeda terror suspects in the US for more than a year and that they entered the country through southern California. We even knew their names. If this information had been correctly shared months before the attack, they would have been arrested and the whole plot would have failed. But because there was a lack of attention at the top, and the CIA made an unheard of mistake of not fully sharing the information, we were left blinded. Until 9/11.”

CIA Director George Tenet and Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan met just before 9/11 to discuss the Al Qaeda threat. Did Prince Bandar know that Saudi terrorists would be involved and if so, did his intelligence agencies do enough to find out who?

“The Saudi government was aware of the Al Qaeda threat but also minimized it. Prince Bandar was the member of their government most concerned about it. He had already met for two years with CIA Director Tenet, ex-Security Adviser Berger, and others where this was discussed. In a sense, Bandar was the convert, while his own government was also still in denial about how Al Qaeda had expanded in their own country. The terror group's true infrastructure in Saudi Arabia would not surface until a few years later when they began carrying out attacks against the kingdom and the foreign presence there.”

The director general of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI, which supported the Taliban with weapons and money, was also in Washington DC on 9/11. Is it possible that the ISI, or extremist elements of it, knew what was going to happen?

“I am convinced that they (the Pakistani intelligence services, MR) were aware of some things. They must have known that Massud's assassination was imminent, because literally the next day, the Afghan Taliban launched a large-scale offensive in northern Afghanistan in an attempt to take the last piece of Afghanistan left in the hands of the Northern Alliance. That was clearly all checked between the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the ISI.

“Whether the ISI knew that an attack on the US would also follow is less clear. We have no evidence for that. We do know that after the attacks, the ISI director received a blunt message from the Bush administration: 'You are either for or against us in the war against the Taliban and terror.'

“Pakistan quickly withdrew its support for the Taliban and you could see that the collapse of their regime was largely due to this, just as the fall of the current government in Kabul was the result of the withdrawal of support by the US government. The two episodes, from 2001 and 2021, are very similar in that sense. In 2001, the suspension of aid turned out to be very temporary. Within six months, Pakistanis were back supporting the Taliban, giving them refuge in Pakistan and enabling them to rebuild their networks. They did that very quickly. In 2005 they were back as a very serious opponent of NATO forces in Afghanistan.”

Massud was murdered by two fake journalists with Belgian passports. Could our governments have prevented this?

“Everyone underestimated Al Qaeda. Massud was a very introverted man. He didn't like traveling or interviews, but he was interested in EU support. During a trip organized in part by the CIA, he came to France to speak before the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He then also paid a short visit to Brussels. Al Qaeda used that visit to France to also organize an interview by 'Belgian journalists'. They later moved to his Afghan headquarters but wearing a suicide belt. I doubt whether the Belgian government could have prevented this at the time. These perpetrators were also unknown to anyone. They were recruited in such a way that they had no criminal background, so they couldn't stand out.”

After the invasion of Afghanistan, there was fighting for almost 20 years, but Osama bin Laden was also killed in Pakistan. Now everything seems to be starting again: the Taliban are back in Kabul. Was the invasion in vain?

“I think we should remember that in 2001 we invaded a country that had been at war since 1979. The infrastructure was completely destroyed. The Taliban had done little to rebuild the country. We had an opportunity in 2002 and 2003 to turn the situation around. It would have required massive investment, not only by the US but also by our allies. But we didn't. We talked about it, but then turned all our attention to Iraq.

“The Bush administration has made two tragic mistakes: it has failed to take Al Qaeda seriously and to keep an eye on the ball in Afghanistan, when in the years after 2001 it was possible to achieve a lot in a short time. Instead, we put all our resources into Iraq, got sucked into a war there, and as a result, we never gave Afghanistan the attention and resources it needed.

“Of course you can't stay in the same place forever. But there was no reason why we had to leave in 2021 just because Trump made a bad deal with the Taliban. President Biden was under no obligation to honor an agreement that the Taliban did not adhere to. I think he acted prematurely and hastily and the result is a catastrophe, which will leave Afghanistan in a much worse shape. In particular, it puts Afghan women in a very dangerous situation.”

President Biden and our European governments presented the evacuations as a Dunkirk moment, but you can also think of it as a Saigon moment. How do you look at it?
Winston Churchill rightly told the British after the Dunkirk miracle that 'wars are not won by withdrawal'. Yes, evacuating all these people is the right thing to do, but it is not a solution for Afghanistan itself. We have now evacuated more than 100,000 people, but there are almost 40 million Afghans.

“This defeat in Afghanistan is a huge psychological success for the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Pakistan. It is a huge victory for global jihad. There is no doubt that this is a serious, meaningful setback that will have repercussions elsewhere. Groups unrelated to Afghanistan, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, all welcome this outcome. They have received a huge boost, and that will translate into recruitment and fundraising.”

What is the risk that Al Qaeda, as well as the new group of IS-K, will grow under the Taliban and become an international terror threat again?

“Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been greatly weakened but not destroyed by President Obama's military campaign. The United Nations has reported several times that Al Qaeda is still deeply embedded in the Taliban, that there are very close relations, even through intermarriage. There is no doubt in my mind that Al Qaeda will be able to regenerate itself in Afghanistan now. To what extent we do not know. Unfortunately, our ability to observe this has virtually stopped. We are still collecting little intelligence in Afghanistan. There will be no more drones, human resources or a US embassy. Neither do our allies. Afghanistan is becoming a black hole again, a very dangerous issue for the US and Europe.”

Pakistan continues to play a major role today. Can the US or the EU keep the Taliban in line?

“We have very few levers in Pakistan. Pakistan is now China's closest ally in the world. They get billions of dollars in support and investment from Beijing. The Biden government has turned its back on Pakistanis. The President has appointed the Pakistani Prime Minister (Imran Khan, MR)not called in the past eight months. However, we must enter into dialogue with the Pakistanis. It is a very difficult and complicated country, but they are extremely important and we need to talk to them, as we talk to the Chinese and the Russians. Not because we like the way they rule their country but because they are important powers. It is important that European countries also do this, especially since they also have large groups of immigrant Pakistani residents. They are also more vulnerable to terrorist operations that radicalise, for example, British citizens of Pakistani origin. So we have to talk to them, even if this is going to be a difficult task.”

Ideally, NATO would have been succeeded by a temporary UN peacekeeping force. Is it too late for that?

“I think it's too late. The Taliban will not tolerate any more foreign troops.”

Now hundreds of people are left behind, including foreigners and Afghans with dual citizenship. Are they at risk of arrest, kidnapping or new attacks, as we already saw at the airport?

"Absolute. It's very scary. Millions of Afghans worked with NATO for twenty years. They're all in danger now. That they have to stay behind is a horrific display.”

After the withdrawal, should we now continue efforts to relieve Afghans?

“We have to give every assistance we can, but once we're gone it will be much more difficult. If they get out, we must assist them to resettle in the West. We have a moral obligation to do that.”

In addition to Afghanistan, 2003 also saw the controversial invasion of Iraq. Since then, a civil war has also erupted in Syria, with IS, Russian and Iranian interference, and more and more American and European withdrawals there too. Do Western democracies still have a role to play in the Middle East?

“We have a role to protect our national interests, be they American or Belgian. The importance of this part of the world is declining. We don't need their oil as much as we did twenty years ago. So we need to maintain our presence in this area, but with a small footprint. We don't need 20,000 US military personnel in the Persian Gulf anymore. We can do this in a much smaller way and rely more on diplomacy and economic assistance. In that sense, we need to reduce our profile, but be efficient, organized and not panicky or hasty. We should not close bases like we did in Bagram, Afghan, without letting the Afghans know we would turn off the lights. That was the wrong approach.”

In the Middle East, should we also work more through the UN Security Council and focus on the structural problems, such as the historic conflict between the Saudis and Iran, and find a solution for them?

“We can do this urgently in Yemen, where the worst humanitarian crisis of our time is unfolding. More Yemenis are at risk of severe malnutrition than in any other similar conflict in the past 25 years. In Yemen we do have leverage. We supply the Saudis with weapons and ammunition, and I'm talking about the US and the UK as well as France. We have the opportunity to stop this war, unlike the Syrian Assad regime, which bought its weapons in Moscow.

“We have to work through the UN Security Council. The current Yemen resolution passed five years ago is completely unbalanced. It calls on one side, the Houthis, to give up. We must pass a new resolution that is more balanced and we must immediately demand that the Saudis unconditionally lift the blockade. Only in this way can humanitarian aid flow to Yemen. All it takes is leadership. Unfortunately we haven't seen that leadership from Joe Biden yet, but maybe we can get it from our European friends.”

The 9/11 Commission of Inquiry never asked you to testify, but you already wrote that you would have emphasized the constant sharing of information between agencies, which can only happen under direct White House leadership. That leadership role is under attack again under President Biden?

“Yes, the withdrawal from Afghanistan was done carelessly, hastily and without strategic planning. If we knew that the Afghan army was incapable of resisting the Taliban, why did we leave so quickly?

“It raises serious questions about the competence of President Biden's national security team. I think it's helpful for the US Congress to hold hearings and still bring a measure of accountability. I think it was executed incompetently, too quickly and without any planning for the future. As a result, we now have an Afghanistan where on 9/11 Memorial Al Qaeda is back in Kabul.”

Is there a risk that Al Qaeda will use the symbolic date of 9/11 to carry out attacks?

“There is definitely a risk. There is also the likelihood that on the anniversary of 9/11, they will declare victory and distribute videos and statements highlighting their return to Kabul.”


I have translated the interview from a Belgian newspaper. The CIA shill makes some interesting remarks with regards to Pakistan. Apart from the usual rhetoric and lies, it looks like the CIA would like to use Pakistan as a hired gun. It looks like the Europeans and Americans are again going to plead to Pakistan for various malicious favors. Although the CIA shill acknowledges that Pakistan now firmly belongs in Chinese camp and the EU/US have little chance of persuasion. Straight from the devil's mouth. Should we remain under any illusion?
 
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Goenitz

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It was inside attack.. Now, the US losing, more people will say that openly. Like it was hard for people to say that Taliban are fighting for their country or they are freedom fighter.

Now, people will raise genuine question that how on earth jet fuel can pulverise concrete and cut through steel.
 

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