ĎAl-Qaeda Is a U.S.-sponsored Intelligence
author of the international bestseller Americaís War on Terrorism,
personally graced the jam-packed local launch of his latest book held at
the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon
City last June 24. During the launch, he gave a lecture about the imminent
danger of a U.S.-made nuclear catastrophe amid the Bush administrationís
preparations for war with Iran.
BY JOEL GARDUCE
Contributed to Bulatlat
is the author of the international bestseller Americaís War on
Terrorism, made locally available by IBON Books. An economics
professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada, he personally graced the
jam-packed local launch of his latest book held at the Asian Center at the
University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last June 24. During
the launch, he gave a lecture about the imminent danger of a U.S.-made
nuclear catastrophe amid the Bush administrationís preparations for war
Joel Garduce of
Center for Anti-Imperialist Studies (CAIS) caught up with the director of
the Centre for Research in Globalization (CRG) during his short weekend
stay in the Philippines and conducted the following interview.
JPG: How would you
characterize your bookís contribution in giving a better understanding of
the events surrounding 9/11?
MC: Well, there have
been many books on 9/11. In fact, I would say that we had a lot of
coverage of that event from many angles.
I have not centered
on what had happened that particular day from the point of view of what
happened to the buildings, and so on, which has been the subject of a lot
What I have focused
on is the role which the 9/11 events have played in justifying the
invasion of Afghanistan almost a few weeks later after 9/11, and of course
the invasion of Iraq.
And so Iíve tried to
analyze the 9/11 events from geopolitics of war because essentially 9/11
is still the core event which justifies the war on terrorism. Without
9/11, there is no war pretext. That is why 9/11 is a very important
landmark because it is being used extensively by the Bush administration
to attempt to demonstrate that America is under attack, that these (wars
on Afghanistan and Iraq) are acts of self-defense, and consequently that
they must make war on the terrorists, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
And so I think that
has been my focus, I've looked more on the geopolitics of 9/11, the role
of intelligence agencies. And Iíve also centered on the fact that these
terrorist cells, namely al-Qaeda, are invariably linked to the CIA
(Central Intelligence Agency). They have been consistently supported by
U.S. intelligence, and so that this whole process of fabricating an enemy,
namely, al-Qaeda, is in fact also an intelligence operation.
So it begs the
question: if al-Qaeda were, according to the Bush administration, to have
a role in 9/11, then we would have to investigate the relationship between
al-Qaeda and the U.S. intelligence apparatus. I personally believe that
the evidence supports it that al-Qaeda did not play a role in 9/11 in any
way. But in fact, that that in itself is a red herring. Because al-Qaeda
is a U.S.-sponsored intelligence asset.
JPG: Is it
accurate to say that your research points to 9/11 looking more like an
MC: Well, I havenít
made that statement. I never made a statement that itís an inside job.
What Iíve done is to
show that the official narrative or explanation which was provided
regarding 9/11 can be refuted, (that this official narrative) is a lie.
What the 9/11
Commission Report has submitted is an extensive narrative of what happened
that day and what happened on the planes. And the evidence suggests that
that reporting is a lie. Itís fabricated.
And I canít say
unequivocally that this is an inside job but I can say unequivocally that
the U.S. administration is attempting to cover up in terms of actually
investigating whoís behind 9/11. And so they have to send in the picture
of what happened which is to my mind totally fabricated.
JPG: Your research
goes against the thesis of some thinkers like Noam Chomsky that 9/11 is
principally a blowback operation. How would you look at these views?
MC: Those views are
totally incorrect. The blowback assumes that the relationship between al-Qaeda
and the U.S. government intelligence ceased in the wake of the Cold War.
Because thatís what they say.
They say we created
al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war. We trained the mujahideen, we
helped them in fighting the Soviet Union. And in the wake of the Cold War,
al-Qaeda has gone against us. And thatís whatís called the blowback.
Blowback is when an intelligence asset goes against its sponsors.
That viewpoint I say
is incorrect because in the course of the 1990s thereís ample evidence of
links between al-Qaeda and the U.S. administration, during the Clinton
administration as well as the Bush administration, leading up in fact to
2001. Thereís evidence of active collaboration between al-Qaeda
paramilitary groups in the Balkans and senior U.S. military advisers.
I think that that
view is mistaken, whether it emanates from the Left or from other
quarters. It is totally mistaken and it is very misleading because it
really provides legitimacy to the war on terrorism. It essentially says
yes, the war on terrorism is a legitimate objective of U.S. foreign
policy. And either they are mistaken or they are involved in media
9/11 and U.S. client states
JPG: Youíve cited
the role of countries like Pakistan through its Inter-Services
Intelligence agency or ISI. How would you reckon the role of other
countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and even Israel in the
perpetration of 9/11?
MC: Well, weíre
talking about intelligence agencies. Pakistan has played a very key role
historically in supporting al-Qaeda right from the beginning under the
helm of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military commander who was president
of Pakistan in the early Ď80s. And
it was under the auspices of Pakistanís Inter-Services Intelligence that
the training camps, the madrassahs were established.
In turn, Saudi Arabia
played a role because they provided funding through Islamic charities. So
there is a connection between Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda. And apparently
thereís also a role played by Saudi intelligence.
Israel, Saudi Arabia,
Pakistan have certainly played a role but I think that Pakistanís role was
far more central in the institutional support provided to al-Qaeda, on
behalf, always on behalf, of the (ISIís) counterpart, the CIA.
My research has
centered much more on the role of Pakistanís ISI. Because Pakistanís ISI
also appeared to be involved in the conspiracy in the wake of 9/11, to
wage the war on Afghanistan using 9/11 as the pretext.
JPG: There was a
recent furor over the article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign PolicyĒ that saw print in the
London Review of Books last March. Itís ruffled some U.S. circles
about how the Israeli government exercises much influence over the U.S.
government, specifically the Bush administration where many personalities
identified with the Bush ruling clique are considered neoconservatives.
How would you account the influence of the right-wing circles in Israel
over the Bush administration and the conduct of the U.S. war on terrorism?
MC: I think that this
relationship is far more complex than that. I donít believe that Israel
overshadows U.S. foreign policy. I think that thereís in fact a
coincidence as far as foreign policy perspectives are concerned.
And this is something
that is not recent. It goes way back in fact to the creation of Israel.
But on the other
hand, to say that Israel overshadows U.S. foreign policy is incorrect.
Because I think that Israel is an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. And
it is being used in this particular context in the pursuit of U.S.
hegemony. Now, Israel has an agenda. So I would identify (the U.S. and
Israel) as involved in a longstanding military alliance. The U.S. has
extensive military aid to Israel for a long time.
But I donít share the
viewpoint that somehow Israel is now hijacking U.S. foreign policy and
manipulating it. That position is simply incorrect.
However, we also have
to understand another dimension of this question. The Jewish lobby in the
U.S. may in fact play a role (through) their U.S.-based organizations.
These are not Israeli-based organizations. And they certainly play a role
in shaping U.S. foreign policy and in sustaining a pro-Israeli position.
That is probably true.
But that is an
entirely different mechanism to that of a foreign country actually
hijacking Americaís foreign policy. To the extent that American foreign
policy would be different had it not been for Israel, I donít buy that.
Because U.S. foreign policy in fact is quite consistent in its stance from
the Truman Doctrine which was formulated by George Keenan in the mid- to
late Ď40s, and early Ď50s to the present neoconservative agenda.
The other aspect, and
itís very popular both among leftist analysts as well as the libertarian
right-wing analysts is to say somehow the neoconservatives are really
different from their predecessors. And they are putting forth the
Democrats as a possible alternative to the neoconservatives when in fact,
if you really look at whatís happening in the last ten to fifteen years,
you see a continuum.
I mean, you had the
Gulf war, you had the war on Yugoslavia,
you had the invasion of Afghanistan, then you had Gulf War II. And if you
go back further in history, the wars in Afghanistan during the Cold War
era to the present, thereís been a very consistent thread and it has been
pursued both by the Republicans and the Democrats.
On the 9/11 truth movement
JPG: You have
emerged as a leading resource speaker of what has been called the
international 9/11 truth movement. Unfortunately, Filipinos are not yet
familiar with that; there isnít much of an active 9/11 truth movement
locally. Could you familiarize us with this movement?
MC: Iím not a member
of the 9/11 truth movement as such. I have participated in some of their
I have some
reservations regarding this group because it has very contradictory
elements within it. And there are various internal disputes also within
Moreover, I do not
believe that the analysis of 9/11 should be strictly limited to looking at
what happened to the buildings and so on. Itís a much broader focus which
is required. Itís the use of massive casualty-producing events to justify
And so we are simply
not looking at 9/11. Weíre looking at 9/11, weíre looking at the London
bombings, weíre looking at the Madrid bombings, weíre looking at the Bali
bombings, and so on.
Weíre also looking at
the various suicide attacks which have taken place in the Iraqi war
theater. And we know that many of those suicide attacks in fact were
instigated by the occupation forces.
So I think itís also
important at least from my perspective to broaden this understanding of
9/11. And the 9/11 truth movement has done lots of good work. They tend to
be much more specialized in focusing on Building 7 and the World
Trade Center, and what happened to
the planes going into the Pentagon, whether it was a plane or a missile.
And all those things I think are very important. Iíve been following that
literature very carefully.
I have not been
involved in the direct investigation into that particular aspect of 9/11.
I have done one piece of analysis which maybe is a bit in line with that
literature, recently. Itís the issue of what happened on the planes. And I
have a chapter in my book which focuses on that because it just struck me
that there was a very important relationship which has not been
well-analyzed, that none of those cellphone conversations could have taken
place from cellphones at altitudes above 8,000 feet. And so I wanted to
review that narrative in the 9/11 Commission Report. And identify very
concretely that it is simply fabricated. It is impossible to make a
telephone call from high altitude onboard a plane. And most of their
descriptions rest on that. Not all of it, but most of it rests on
telephone conversations between alleged passengers on one hand and family
members on the other. And the industry is absolutely unequivocal on that.
They say that you could not make a telephone conversation at 31,000 feet.
You might be able to do it at 8,000 feet but the planes were flying at
high altitude during the good part of the time when they were in the air.
The U.S. and fascism
JPG: How do you
view claims that the U.S. government especially under the Bush
administration has become a full-fledged fascist empire a la Nazi
MC: Thereís certainly
evidence to suggest that the Bush administration is moving towards a
police state. Thereís repeal of the rule of law because people can be
Thereís a military
agenda to conquer foreign lands, and the pretext is fabricated. So, yes,
there are certain features reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
But on the other hand
one has to be very careful in making those comparisons.
Because one of the
features of Nazi Germany was that Nazism was also a means for creating
employment in the military-industrial complex, so that they were building
up their military and they had expanded defense expenditures,
infrastructures, so on, which created a lot of jobs in the course of the
1930s. And what characterizes the present regime in America is yes,
movement towards martial law and the police state, militarization of
civilian institutions, and also big contracts for the military and lots of
military spending. (However) the type of weapons systems which currently
prevails is such that these hardly create any jobs.
And so weíre today in
a neoliberal context. Nazi Germany was not characterized by neoliberal
reforms. And that was one of the reasons why there was more support for
the Nazi programme in the middle to late Ď30s. Because there was a promise
of jobs which ultimately was reached in the late Ď30s when the German
military machine was in full swing.
Rifts in the U.S. establishment
JPG: There had
been revelations in U.S. media that point to the Pentagon under Rumsfeld
getting more control over the covert operations than the CIA. and the U.S.
State Department. How do you regard these revelations? Do they indicate
anything of value in terms of the changes being undergone by the U.S.
MC: Thereís always
sort of a rivalry between competing agencies of the U.S. government. I
think that the Pentagon has been vying for some time to implement its own
intelligence operations. In this particular case, they implement
disinformation campaigns which consisted of planting news stories in the
media. So yes, they are involved in intelligence.
But on the other
hand, I donít view this necessarily as a crucial issue. Itís a rivalry
between bodies of the state apparatus. There can be very significant
Look at the person
now whoís in charge of intelligence. Itís John Negroponte, who was
involved in the dirty war in Central America, particularly in promoting
the para-military death squads in Honduras and also his role in
I think in effect
that these organizations are rivals but they also collaborate well. They
always have joint committees, the Pentagon, the CIA., the NSA., and so on.
I really donít think that any change in direction would occur as a result
of these discrepancies. Theyíre normal within governmental structure.
JPG: There have
been a string of prominent Americans coming out against the Bush
administration and its handling of the war in Iraq, of the U.S. war on
terror. They include active and retired generals, some previous Cabinet
secretaries and even some current members of the U.S. Congress. There
seems to be emerging rifts within the U.S. ruling class. What do you think
are the prospects of the anti-imperialist movement being able to make use
of these rifts within the U.S. ruling class?
MC: I think there are
people in the U.S., both Republicans and Democrats, who recognize that the
course adopted by the Bush administration, particularly in Iraq, but also
in relation to Iran, is going to lead essentially to a complete fiasco.
And itís not that
they are against U.S. foreign policy as decided by the Bush
administration, but they believe that it should be conducted differently,
perhaps with a less militarist perspective.
So you have people
like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was a firm believer in the idea that America
should extend its interests into Central Asia, for instance, and gain
control over the Eurasian corridor, and the oil reserves of that region,
but would probably favor a somewhat more negotiated policy, rather than
all-out military conquest and war and so on and so forth.
So people like that
are now more or less presenting (themselves as) voices of moderation. But
it doesnít mean necessarily that they are in disagreement with the broader
objectives of U.S. imperialism, which is really to colonize regions.
I see dissent from
within the establishment but I donít see necessarily more articulate
dissent against the project of global domination and militarization which
the Bush administration has been putting forth.
JPG: So these
emerging rifts within the U.S. ruling elite do not really indicate a
departure from the imperial project that the U.S. has been conducting?
MC: I think that
these differences in the current context could still play a very important
role. Itís not to say that things donít change.
What Iím saying is
that these differences of viewpoint is not some kind of big revolution in
U.S. politics. Itís simply the fact that within the ruling elite, people
think the Bush administration has taken on a course which is untenable and
which ultimately will lead to disaster, and is not furthering the U.S.
corporate agenda in a most effective way.
So these moderating
views do not mean that the U.S.
all of a sudden has become a peaceful nation. It simply means that they
want to give a slightly more humane face to imperialism. Thatís really the
Thereís a global
military agenda, thereís a plan to conquer, the plan to dominate and
impoverish. And that some people in America think that there are better
ways of doing it. Thatís the way I see this critique. Because the people
who were undertaking that critique are themselves the architects of this
military agenda, including Brzezinski.
And the Democrats
donít really have an alternative viewpoint to that of the Republicans.
They probably would be a little bit less radical in pushing certain
policies but I donít think that fundamentally they would do things that
You must remember
that there are certain institutions which will be there all the timeóthe
CIA, the Pentagon, and so on Ė irrespective of the team of people who are
in power. And ultimately, to what extent do these people call the shots in
consultation, letís say, with Lockheed Martin, the defense contractors,
and the oil companies?
JPG: But what if
itís possible that the war crimes committed by the Bush administration and
those in the U.S. ruling elite are held to account? Donít you think the
peopleís movement in the U.S. and the antiwar movement worldwide can
benefit from holding to account the Bush administration and even the
Democrats who approved of this war on terrorism?
MC: I think that at
one level, thereís certainly an opportunity to push forward in terms of
letís say the peopleís movement in the U.S. as a result of the faults of
the Bush administration, letís say with regard to Iraq, with regard to the
But we must not fall
into the trap of thinking that if Bush is impeached or if thereís change
in direction leading letís say to a new president who is a Democrat, that
there will be fundamental change in America.
You see, the U.S. is
also involved in what we call regime rotation. A regime rotation in
America doesnít necessarily mean that thereís going to be real and
meaningful changes in the way in which the country is moving nationally
And thatís where the
confusion emerges, because thereís a movement in the U.S. that says
anything else but Bush. And they say yes, we must get rid of Bush.
Now that assumes
first of all that Bush is actually making the decisions. Heís not. He
himself is a puppet. He has limited understanding of U.S. foreign policy
and acting on behalf of other interests.
Clearly yes, the
advisory team is important but I would say we have to look at the role of
U.S. intelligence, the military, the links between the military
intelligence establishment and the oil companies and the defense
contractors, and so on. And of course Wall Street which ultimately is
really the basic pinnacle of financial power in America.
And so having come to
the understanding that somehow if Bush is impeached or whether thereís a
change in regime that thereís going to be fundamental change, I think is
On the contrary, it
might mean that it might demobilize people who would otherwise be more
aware of the fact that you donít change a New World Order by simply
changing a president. You need much more carefully thought out ways of
waging the struggle. You have to target the defense contractors, the oil
companies, the insidious role in pushing a military agenda, not to mention
9/11, the use of 9/11 as a pretext.
Thatís the way I see
it. Iím not particularly impressed by that perspective that ultimately
once you get rid of Bush you solve the problem. But I should say that an
impeachment of Bush would be a very important achievement.
Itís ironic to say
the least that there was an impeachment move against Clinton for his
involvement with Monica Lewinsky but when extensive war crimes are
revealed and when the U.S. president blatantly violates all the domestic
and international norms of justice, and engages upon a criminal war with
no justification whatsoever, that more or less he could continue exactly
the way he wants, I think there we have a problem.
So yes the
impeachment of President Bush is something that I would support. But I
donít believe necessarily that it will resolve matters in the longer run,
in the longer term.
JPG: Given the
unprecedented belligerence of the U.S. under the aegis of the war on
terror, what are the prospects of a schism developing within the
imperialist camp similar to what developed during World War II where there
were Allied Powers vis-ŗ-vis the Axis Powers?
MC: You mean, between
the U.S. and UK on one hand, and France, Germany on the other?
JPG: Or say,
Russia and China?
MC: Well, certainly,
I wouldnít say that China
and Russia are part of that
imperialist design. Theyíre not countries which have imperial agenda as
such. Iím not saying necessarily that they couldnít in the future. But
historically the Soviet Union didnít really have an imperial agenda. And
China has never had an imperial agenda. In its history, itís always
remained within its borders.
I think what weíre
looking at is the relationship which exists within the Western military
alliance. That is really the crucial thing. And the fact that you have
very significant divisions between U.S., Britain, on one hand, and France
and Germany on the other. I think thatís very important.
And you have splits
in the defense industry, the military-industrial complex. Britain is
integrated into the United States. The British aerospace systems is
actually producing for the U.S. Department of Defense as exactly the same
privileges as the U.S. defense contractors. And it was an agreement that
was signed in 1999.
And then you have the
European defense industry which is really Franco-German. And so you have a
split or divisions between what I call the Anglo-American alliance where
you can add Australia, Canada, perhaps also Israel, and maybe a few other
countries, who are part of this agenda. And then you have the
But I should also
mention that NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is still an
organization so firmly under U.S. control. And thatís why you see the fact
that now with the buildup of the possible war with Iran, whatís happening
is that you have also tacit support expressed by President Jacques Chirac
of France. And so you donít have a situation in any way comparable to that
prior to the war on Iraq. Bulatlat
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.