March 23, 2011
Islam’s Role in the
New Middle East
By Mike McManus
Will the revolution sweeping Arab states empower a new
generation of ayatollahs who extinguish democracy, and repress any dissent
with force as they have in Iran?
Most experts say no, but the primary public backers of the
Egyptian constitutional reforms that won 77% of the vote last weekend, were
the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Islamist Movement, which follows the
ultra-conservative Islam of Saudi Arabia.
The reforms were opposed by many of the youth
protesters who overthrew Mubarak, by such leaders as Mohammed El Baradei,
the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize who hopes to run for President and by
Christian Copts, who fear a Muslim tyranny.
The referendum set up quick Parliamentary
elections this summer that only the Brotherhood may have an organizational
structure to compete with nationally.
Second question: will the Libyan War inspire
a new generation of young jihadists who will go to war against Israel and
America – despite America’s bombing of Libya to help the “freedom fighters”
stand up to Col. Qaddafi? Today those rifle-waving fighters are thanking
America for its air cover and for bombing Qaddafi’s tanks.
However, remember that the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the
1980s, thanked America for CIA’s arming of them to fight the Russians. They
called themselves “Holy Warriors,” but guess who said this:
“Throughout the world…its agents, client states and satellites
are on the defensive – on the moral defensive, the intellectual defensive,
and the political and economic defensive. Freedom movements arise and
assert themselves. They’re doing so on almost every continent populated by
man – in the hills of Afghanistan, in Angola, in Kampuchea, in Central
America… (They are) freedom fighters.”
Is that a call to jihad (holy war) from one of Osama Bin Laden’s
No. That was President Reagan in 1985,
speaking about the “evil empire” of Russia and its client states who were
being opposed by Contras in Central America and Mujahedeen in Afghanistan.
Today we call them the Taliban, or jihadists. “Our” freedom
fighters of a generation ago, or perhaps their offspring, are today’s enemy
And who did the CIA hire to recruit the Mujahedeen from Egypt’s
Muslim Brotherhood, bring them to Afghanistan, build camps to train them,
give them American arms, and direct their clandestine warfare against the
Would you believe it was Osama Bin Laden?
Is that news to you? It was to me, and I’ve
been a reporter for decades.
Osama, one of 20 sons of a billionaire
construction magnate in Saudi Arabia, “arrived in Afghanistan to join the
jihad in 1980. An austere religious fanatic and business tycoon, bin Laden
specialized in recruiting, financing and training the estimated 35,000
non-Afghan mercenaries who joined the mujahedeen,” wrote Norm Dixon for an
Australian paper on September 19, 2001, only 8 days after the 9/l11 attack
on the U.S.
A more recent history says bin Laden was “the
head CIA man during the Afghan War,” the previous war, that is, against the
Russians. In 1988, when that war ended with the defeat of the Russians, bin
Laden disassociated himself from the CIA, and build Al Qaeda with the help
of Al-Zahawiri of Jihad Islami, now loosely translated as the Muslim
Brotherhood of Egypt.
They trained Al Qaeda jihadists, a strongly
anti-Western network of ex-Mujahedeen - in camps paid for with CIA money!
Only three years later, a handful of those he trained flew planes into the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Perhaps he used CIA funds to do so!
Remember that history when you think of
Libya’s freedom fighters, about whom we know nothing.
These men are not like the freedom fighters
in Poland led by Lech Walesa, who were educated, well trained dock workers
who overthrew their Communist government without any help from America in
nine months. They are not like the Czechs who did so in nine weeks, or the
East Germans who took only nine days to “tear down that wall,” as Reagan
The Libyans are not even like the young
Muslim in Egypt, whose revolt has been partly managed behind the scenes by
the Egyptian Army trained and funded by America. At the appropriate time,
the Army turned on Mubarek and got him to step down, without bloodshed.
There is no comparable institution in Libya.
The primary fighters for Qaddafi are mercenaries hired from poor nations in
Africa. Sound familiar?
However, they are not led by Osama bin
Laden. At least, not yet.