Afghan-Soviet War: The Consequences During & Afterwards
“The “jihad” has never recovered from Jalalabad. The Mujaheddin had showed the world that they had courage and skill to apply the pressures of guerrilla warfare to bring about the retreat of a super-power. Given the means to fight, given the cause of jihad, and given a modicum of sensible leadership, they could not be defeated. Take away these props and no army can win. Military history is a great teacher for both soldiers and politicians. It’s lessons are few often repeated. The problem lies in the learning.”
(Mohammad Yousuf, Brigadier Pakistan ISI from his book “Bear Trap”)
During the beginning stages of the Soviet-Afghan War, the Intelligence Services around the world began making financial drops to many burgeoning warlords who had the largest and most influential clans in Afghanistan and its neighboring country, Pakistan. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was known to just about every single agency around the world. CIA, British MI6, Mossad, Mukhabarat. His group, the Hizib-I-Islami, was the most financed out of all the warlords. He was also the most “ruthless”. Known to walk in Southern districts of Afghanistan and throw acid in women’s faces for not wearing a burka, Hekmatyar was known also to cause mayhem within his own adversaries even during the war.
Hekmatyar’s constant scheming against all of the mujaheddin factions led Pakistani general and leader Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to warn Hekmatyar that it was Pakistan that made him an Afghan leader and that Pakistan could and would destroy him if he resisted operational control by ISI. In 1988, Pakistan ISI General, Hamid Gul constituted an operation to use Mujahid forces to storm Jalalabad from the Afghan Army and implement Northern Alliance leader, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf as Prime Minister, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as Foreign Minister. Gul made the mistake of using “conventional” warfare against his opponent but underestimated them to the point of embarrassment. The Afghan army had soundly defeated Gul’s advances, this battle proved that the Afghan army could fight without Soviet help, and greatly increased the confidence of government supporters.
This defeat would cost the guerrilla armies led by Sayyaf and Hekmatyar, as many would oppose ranks and join the Afghan and Pakistan government entities. Hamid Gul was sacked by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and replaced by Shamsur Rahman Kallu, who pursued a more classical policy of support to the rebels fighting in Afghanistan. Bhutto was now in the cross-hairs of not only Gul and those loyal to him in the ISI but also to the guerrilla factions. The CIA began funneling money to the Maktab al-Khidamat in Peshawar, under the control of local imam, Abdullah Azzam in 1989. Gulbuddin was being primarily funded and backed by the Pakistan ISI at this point and would receive funding “behind the backs of the ISI” as the Pakistan agency didn't want any funding from any agency that represented the West. Zia ul-Haq began openly supporting local Mujahid from the madrassas which began the “defensive jihad” Azzam had began to teach as the motivation for the cause against the secular invaders from the Soviet Union.
This ideology would begin to spread, with rapid ascents” in Southeast Asia and towards even Mecca. It would bring about attention from not just Afghan Mujahids but to Saudi Muslims as well…one of them was Osama Bin Laden, who would think of Azzam as a “father figure”. With Bin Laden, came an Egyptian cleric from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a doctor….Ayman al-Zawahiri. With Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, the Maktab al-Khidamat would now have the financial and physical resources, worldwide, needed to defend Afghanistan while the Intelligence services funding the war thru the backdoor of the recruitment center in Peshawar.
While the war raged, Pakistan’s own madrassas would opine the “religious war” not just in Afghanistan….but also inside the United States. Two main recruitment centers located in New York City and Arizona, would have visitors from abroad, such as Omar Abdel Rahman (Blind Sheikh) and Abdullah Azzam, give fiery speeches in many U.S Cities such as Detroit, Brooklyn NY, New Jersey and Kansas City. Speeches about Jihad and the need to replace Western values, while the CIA watched from abroad the FBI were simply ill-equipped to understand much less acknowledge the enemy from within.
By 1987, Azzam begins to propagate that in order to obtain victory against the Soviets, there needs to be an Islamic ummah (Muslim unity) of both the Sunni and Shia sects. Azzam had envisioned the war as the beginning of the end of the war between the two Islamic groups. But this did not sit well with Sunni hard-line clerics, such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, but it wasn’t something he would end up completely disagreeing either. By this time the recruitment office of the Maktab al-Khidamat was now jointly governed by Abdullah Azzam, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Soviet Union was in the initial stages of “retreat” and the local guerrilla armies began to conduct operations on the “weaker” sects to fight for domination for the country itself.
Author Peter Bergen, who understood the nature of the war states that “by the most conservative estimates, $600 million” in American aid through Pakistan “went to the Hizb party … Hekmatyar’s party had the dubious distinction of never winning a significant battle during the war, training a variety of militant Islamists from around the world, killing significant numbers of mujahedin from other parties, and taking a virulently anti-Western line. In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid, Hekmatyar also received the lion’s share of aid from the Saudis.”
This rift between Pakistan and Afghanistan would continue into the civil war….a war between two factions…the Northern Alliance led by Ahmed Shah Massoud, and the Taliban led by Mohammed (Mullah) Omar. Omar began the Taliban with only “50 armed men” from madrassas within the Afghan refugee camps. The idea was to bring Afghanistan to Islamic rule, a country governed by Sharia Law met by the dictations of Muhammad in the Quran. The movement gained momentum through the year of 1993 and he quickly gathered recruits from Islamic schools totaling 12,000 by the year’s end with some Pakistani volunteers. By November 1994, Mullah Omar’s movement managed to capture the whole of the Kandahar Province and then captured Herat in September 1995.
It seemed the end of the secular government of Afghanistan was being replaced by the religious entity known as the Taliban, while the United States, whom left the country behind was watching from afar as tens of thousands were piling up from the internal struggle for Afghanistan raged within. The blood flowed quite deeply, this would later have grave ramifications for the United States in the years to come.