In 1978, Nur Mohammad Taraki, Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal would begin the transformation of Afghanistan by bringing in the communist ideology which would have a lasting effect on the country to the present day. It began with the assassination of a respected and prominent Leftist, Mir Akbar Khyber, who was the leader of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). His untimely death was placed at the feet of Afghanistan President, Mohammed Daoud Khan. Just a year prior, Khan met the Soviet Union’s President, Leonid Brezhnev, to discuss bringing together the Afghan’s communist parties which were the Parcham and the Khalq. Both were factions of the People’s Democratic Part of Afghanistan.
Brezhnev considered this an important time for both the Soviets and the Afghans. A power play if you will was beginning and the Soviets knew that the roads to the Middle East oil was thru the largest country in the Asia, Afghanistan. However Daoud Khan was a revisionist for the country, he saw how Great Britain and its ally the United States began internally usurping other Arab Nationalist countries with newfound vigor, Daoud bluntly replied that Afghanistan would remain free and not under any foreign occupation.
Daoud Khan would return to his home country and began the process of eliminating any future contacts with the Soviets and instead wished to begin new relations with its Eastern Arab nation, Saudi Arabia and begin dialogue with King Khalid bin Abdulaziz al Saud regarding the regulation of oil to the Arabs only. Months later the assassination of Khyber took place, leading the communist bloc to stage rallying point against the Nationalist Party. Khan shocked by what he considered, treason within the country’s government, ordered the arrest of the PDPA leaders Taraki, Amin and Karmal. However his response to these arrests was not met with immediate action.
A coup d'etat was underway, and the Daoud loyalists who surrounded his home were outmatched by the PDPA armies. Daoud and his family were met with a hail of gunfire, and all were killed on the night of April 27th 1978. The government announced on radio that Daoud would leave the country and his presidency due to “health reasons”. This event in time was called The Saur Revolution. A cable from the United States addressed the immediate threat to the region, that the communist block of the PDPA was most likely backed by the Soviet Union. Many of the Afghans in the main capitol f Kabul welcomed the new government led by the leaders of the PDPA as they found Daoud Khan strict against the non-Pashtuns minority and its religious sector. The leadership of Afghanistan would construct as this, with Taraki as Prime Minister, Karmal as senior Deputy Prime Minister, and Hafizullah Amin as foreign minister.
Those who would initially welcome the PDPA however, would suddenly become to regret this decision. Taraki would begin implementing land reforms and also a more liberal transformation for women, voting and dressing in Westernized clothes for example were encouraged. Suddenly the traditionalist Afghans and its Pashtuns would realize that the socialist ideology was beginning to take an incremental hold of the country starting in Kabul. Tribal traditions were now banned, such as usury, bride price and forced marriages. Education was now at the forefront, literacy was also improving while beards on men were discouraged. The religious sector of Afghanistan took immediate notice, and their displeasure was loudly declared, they wanted a new government.
Marxist polices were replacing Afghan traditions, the Pashtuns protested…it would be met with extreme prejudice by the PDPA as the military wing began to arrest and even torture local tribal Afghans who were voicing their opinions too broadly. Some were even assassinated in the silence of the night. However a new coup was beginning to take place and on September 11, 1979, Taraki, who was returning from a meeting in Cuba, was greeted by Amin at the airport. Amin accused Taraki of being “incompetent” to govern the country and had him arrested. After Taraki’s arrest, Amin reportedly discussed the incident with Leonid Brezhnev in which he said, “Taraki is still around. What should I do with him?” The response from the Soviet leader was quite curt, “do what you will”.
Amin was adamant about expelling Taraki from the country, but the Soviets favored Taraki more than they did Amin. On September 15 1979, the Soviet battalion located at Bagram AFB was put on notice to try and rescue the imprisoned Taraki. But Amin loyalists had the manpower advantage, they stood down for now. The next day, the Politburo of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), declared Amin as the new General Secretary. Amin ordered the death of Taraki during the evening hours of October 8th 1979 and arrogantly believed he had the full support of the Soviets in doing so. Brezhnev heard about the murder of Taraki, and was enraged at the outcome.
Amin had also arrested the family of Taraki, and jailed them immediately after his death. Almost immediately Amin’s government began to invest in the reconstruction, or reparation, of mosques and cater to the tribal Afghans and its non-Pashtuns minorities. The Afghan military plunged, funding began going to the social sector and the private sector immediately took notice…so did the Soviets. Amin placed blame of mass executions in 1977–78 on the Taraki led government, and began instituting Quranic scripture in his future speeches, he began to be seen as a “pious” Muslim to the public at large. Amin’s enemies from the socialist block of the Taraki government, exiled in the Soviet Union, began plotting against him. An old ally, Babrak Karmal, began meeting with the Taraki loyalists, the meetings would be held in the Southern tip of the Soviet Union and these talks would prove to be beneficial to the Communist bloc. December 1979, Amin would meet with Agha Shahi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister. These meetings would embark on how to defend against future coups from the Taraki loyalists and the Communist bloc….thru the Pakistan ISI and the Pakistan Secret Police, they would begin training Mujahideen rebels located in Jalalabad, Pakistan.
Hafizullah Amin would begin to grow suspicious of everyone, and relocated to his home in the centre of Kabul. The conspiracies, which began with Soviet spies, began troubling Amin as a “double agent” for the United States. Many Afghans began to doubt the current leadership and the Soviets began to implement a coup against Amin. On December 27th 1979, Soviet military troops stormed Amins guarded palace and killed him, his son was also mortally wounded in the gunfire….Amin, even at the point of adjutant telling him it was the Soviets committing the coup, didn’t believe it.
The men of Amin’s family were all executed, while the women including his daughter were imprisoned. Immediately after his death, radio Kabul, played the pre-recorded speech of his one time ally from the PDPA…Babrak Karmal… “Today the torture machine of Amin has been smashed”. Karmal was installed by the Soviets as the new president. Karmal promised an end to executions, the establishment of democratic institutions and free elections, the creation of a constitution, and legalization of alternative political parties. All Amin loyalists were arrested, while many were executed. Karmal knew he had to win over the favor of the distrustful Afghan people. The Soviets protested, and Karmal replied, “As long as you keep my hands bound and do not let me deal with the Khalq faction there will be no unity in the PDPA and the government cannot become strong … They tortured and killed us. They still hate us! They are the enemies of the party …” The Khalq faction , from the PDPA,was removed from power, and only technocrats and individuals which the Soviets trusted would be appointed to the higher echelons of government.
Karmal tried to implement policies which many in the Afghan populace saw as an “invasion” of secular ideology purported by the Soviet Union. The religious minorities led by the non-Pashtuns and Afghan tribal leaders saw once again as an affront to their Islamic Sharia.
In January 1980, foreign ministers from 34 nations of the Islamic Conference adopted a resolution demanding “the immediate, urgent and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops” from Afghanistan. The United Nation’s General Assembly, passed a resolution protesting the Soviet intervention by a vote of 104 (for) to 18 (against), with 18 abstentions. Immediately the United States agencies, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) began covertly funding Afghan warlords, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hizib-i-Islami) and Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf (Northern Alliance) in their fight against the Soviet occupation.
Many other foreign agencies such as the Pakistan ISI, Israeli Mossad, British MI6 began funding the civil war, Pakistan would begin recruiting Muslims within the region to train a local military grounds. Seeing this was the global “jihad” most of the ultra-orthodox sector were dreaming about, one notable individual began to take full advantage of the war….Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a local imam and Pakistan Hafiz. Azzam would begin to implement a new ideology which was called “offensive and defensive jihad”. Azzam’s definition of “offensive jihad” refers to armed struggle against unbelievers in the classic definition from Islamic Law. Azzam’s jihad definition also makes clear that no civilians would be harmed or killed during battle. His speeches and teachings would resonate thru-ought Pakistan’s local madrassas, and one student of his took notice….that man was a Saudi student, Osama Bin Laden.
They both began to construct a recruitment center which would be the base of all training and operations, the name for this would be the Maktab al-Khidamat, or Afghan Services Bureau. Funded by not only Osama Bin Laden, thru his families company the Saudi BinLaden Group, the CIA,Pakistan ISI and Mi6 also began funneling money thru the Afghan services center. Bin Laden would also allow another individual to become a partner in the training center, someone who had long standing ties to known Egyptian terrorist groups such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Gamma Islmayyiah, his name is Ayman al-Zawahiri. Together all 3 men would recruit local Afghans as well as Muslims from around the globe to join the fight against the Soviet atheist invaders. According to CIA Alec Station Director, Michael Schurer, the Afghan Services Bureau, would approximately be funded to the tune of 600 million dollars. The recruitment center would expand to many area within the United States, with the very first base located in Arizona and the biggest base (al-Kifah refugee Center) located next to the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, New York.
The NYC Al-Kifah Refuge Center would be headed by al-Zawahiri’s mentor and leader of the Gamma Islamiyyah terrorist group, Omar Abel Rahman (Blind Sheikh). Rahman would enter the United States while being restricted to watch list, but his US Visa application would be approved multiple times by agents within the Cairo US embassy center, which was employed by the CIA. Meanwhile as the war raged, many Afghan Muslims would start dying off in large numbers from Soviet helicopters, many of these Afghans were Nationalist tribal members who were not of the ultra-Orthodox sect….they would be replaced by the “religious youth” or “mujahedin” from the Pakistan madrassas using Azzams teachings as the guidelines.
Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abdullah Azzam would make frequent visits to the United States, in places such as Oklahoma, Detroit, Arizona and New York…declaring the Soviets as the “Kuffar” and endlessly recruiting hopeful Jihadis to the war. Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hizib-i-Islmai Pakistan group would be the most funded warlord in the war. His sect would begin using these funds as well as the drug routes along the Afghan-China road (Silk Road) to purchase weapons from the Intelligence Agencies. Meanwhile the United States began funneling “Stinger Missiles” to the local Afghans, in hopes of turning the war in their favor. By 1984, the missiles were having their effects. Th Afghans began turning the tide in their favor. The Carter administration under National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, would implement policies which would be echoed throughout the U.S Foreign Policy world to the Present day….it was called the Grand Chessboard. In particular, he writes, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger should emerge capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America’s global dominance.
The Soviets knew the war would be a losing proposition and determined nit to suffer anymore casualties. By mid-1987 the Soviet Union, now under reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, announced it would start withdrawing its forces after meetings with the Afghan government. By 1989, all Soviet military had left the country, the casualties suffered in the war’s end with totals with 14,500 Soviets killed, 90,000 mujaheddin killed and approximately 1,300,000 Afghan civilians killed. The war made Osama Bin Laden an overnight hero in the Muslim world, as he helped by building roads, bridges and local recruitment centers during the 10 year war. The Maktab al-Khidamat continued to be funded by Muslims around the world, and Azzam would confront both of his confidants Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri about using the funds to help rebuild Afghanistan.
However al-Zawahiri had other ideas…he wanted to use the operations funding to keep the jihad going, this time against the United States, who had left the country to two civil wars which would have triple the casualty rates of the Soviet-Afghan war. On November 24, 1989, Abdullah Azzam son, Muhammad Azzam, was driving his father and brother to prayers (Salaat) held in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan when unknown assailants detonated a road side bomb as the vehicle approached, killing everyone in the car immediately. To this day, nobody was arrested for the murder and according to certain close contacts of Azzam had placed blame to Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahiri. Those same associates of Azzam suspect the killing was part of a purge of those who favored moving the jihad to Palestine, one of them was Al-Kifah Refugee Center imam, Mustapha Shalabi, who also agreed to continue the jihad in Palestine against the Zionist Jews.
Shalabi would later be killed in his home in Brooklyn in 1991 his murder, much likes Azzam, was unsolved with the main suspect was also another Egyptian cleric, Omar Abdel Rahman left to take control of the Al Kifah Refugee Center. Both al-Zawahiri and Rahman denied their involvements in the two murders. With the Maktab al-Khidamat now under the control of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden…the operations center would continue its base under a new name…..Al Qaeda (meaning, the base).