Ron Paul and the Libertarians are Wrong: The United States Did Not Create or Assist Osama bin Laden by Gregory Hilton

One of the many myths pedaled by the Libertarian Party and other isolationists is that the United States is responsible for the creation of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. This charge has frequently been made by Congressmen Ron Paul (R-TX) of the Liberty Caucus and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) of the Progressive Caucus.
Rep. Paul says “in our infinite wisdom we gave money, technology and training to Bin Laden. . . We went to the taxpayers at the point of a gun and said bin Laden is a great guy. That is what the Congress did in the 1980’s. You pay up, because we think bin Laden is a freedom fighter.”
Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) yesterday also falsely claimed that America provided weapons to bin Laden. As usual, Rep. Paul and the Libertarians take statements completely out of context to further their conspiracy theories.
An official statement from the CIA says the agency has “never employed, paid, or maintained any relationship whatsoever with Bin Laden.” The United States supported the Afghan freedom fighters, but Congressman Paul’s accusation that America financed and equipped the “Afghan Arabs” is completely false.
Neither the CIA nor the U.S. military had any relationship with the Afghan Arabs. U.S. officials did not meet with them, there were no discussions, there was no coordinated planning and no joint fighting.
The Afghan Arabs joined the effort to rid Afghanistan of Soviet occupation, but they had broader goals. All of this is documented in “The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB” by Milt Bearden.
He served as the CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, and was in charge of running the covert action program for Afghanistan. The author makes it clear that the CIA covert action program did not fund any Arabs or other Muslims to come to Afghanistan, and says “Contrary to what people have come to imagine, the CIA never recruited, trained, or otherwise used Arab volunteers.”
CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen notes that the “Afghan Arabs functioned independently and had their own sources of funding.” In the book, “Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden,” Bergen says:
“While the charges that the CIA was responsible for the rise of the Afghan Arabs might make good copy, they don’t make good history. The truth is more complicated, tinged with varying shades of gray. The United States wanted to be able to deny that the CIA was funding the Afghan war, so its support was funneled through Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI).
“ISI in turn made the decisions about which Afghan factions to arm and train, tending to favor the most Islamist and pro-Pakistan. The Afghan Arabs generally fought alongside those factions, which is how the charge arose that they were creatures of the CIA.
“Former CIA official Milt Bearden, who ran the Agency’s Afghan operation in the late 1980s, says: ‘The CIA did not recruit Arabs,’ as there was no need to do so. There were hundreds of thousands of Afghans all too willing to fight, and the Arabs who did come for jihad were ‘very disruptive . . . the Afghans thought they were a pain in the ass.’
“I have heard similar sentiments from Afghans who appreciated the money that flowed from the Gulf but did not appreciate the Arabs’ holier-than-thou attempts to convert them to their ultra-purist version of Islam. [Freelance cameraman] Peter Jouvenal recalls: ‘There was no love lost between the Afghans and the Arabs. One Afghan told me, ‘Whenever we had a problem with one of them we just shot them. They thought they were kings.’
“There was simply no point in the CIA and the Afghan Arabs being in contact with each other. The Afghan Arabs functioned independently and had their own sources of funding. The CIA did not need the Afghan Arabs, and the Afghan Arabs did not need the CIA. So the notion that the Agency funded and trained the Afghan Arabs is, at best, misleading. The ‘Let’s blame everything bad that happens on the CIA’ school of thought vastly overestimates the Agency’s powers, both for good and ill.”
Another excellent source to refute this claim is the late Ayman al-Zawahiri,who was al-Qaeda’s number two leader. He has admitted the Afghan Arabs did not receive any U.S. funding. In “Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner”, al-Zawahiri says the Afghan Arabs were funded with money from Arab sources: “Bin Ladin apprised me of the size of the popular Arab support for the Afghan mujahidin which amounted, according to his sources, to $200 million in the form of military aid alone in 10 years.”

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