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9/11: War of economic interests

Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

On September 9, 2012, eleven years ago, a gruesome and heinous crime against humanity was committed in New York—wanton attack on twin towers of World Trade Centre symbolizing financial might of USA. Without explaining such a massive security lapse, George Bush and his team immediately blamed Al-Qaeda for blatant act of terrorism and decided to attack and occupy Afghanistan. It was alleged that the Taliban regime was adamant to protect Osama bin Laden—at that time head of Al-Qaeda and once a staunch supporter of Western-sponsored Jihad (holy war)against Soviet kafirs (infidels). For the last eleven years, US and its allies are at war with “terrorists”, world is in perpetual state of turmoil, the vested interests—terrorists, warlords, drug barons, oil and war industry tycoons—are minting money, and the citizens of the world are losing their civil liberties.

Many analysts are of the view that the proponents of ‘Free World’ and ‘Champion of Democracy’, in fact, support fundamentalists using ‘hidden hands’ (agencies) to keep various conflicts alive. They allege that the real beneficiaries of ‘war on terror’ are Late Neo-Colonialists having plans to colonise oil wealth of the world. The rulers in US and West are captives in the hands of tycoons of war and oil industries. The oil companies are main beneficiaries of ‘Arab Spring’, while war industry giants made huge money by selling weapons to all—militants, drug barons, monarchs and those fighting against them.

The killing of innocent people by anyone—governments, groups or an individual—is a crime against humanity, which is unpardonable. This is termed as fas’ad-fil-ardh (chaos on Earth) by the holy Quran. The mufsideen (creator of fas’ad)—motivated by self-interest abuse “religion”, “democracy” and “human rights” as justifications to take away human lives, which is called zulm (injustice) by Quran, which says when mufsideen are asked not to spread fas’ad-fil-ardh, they retort cheekily: “We do not spread fasad (disorder); rather we are the musliheen (reformists)”. The holy Quran warns: “Beware of these miscreants! They, indeed, are mufsideen who spread disorder in the name of reform” (2:12).

The self-acclaimed custodians of faith and war proponents justify killing of human beings in the name of religion or defending “Free World”, both are equally condemnable. Humanity has always suffered at the hands of these so-called “defenders of faith” and “Free World”. Equally criminal are the acts of rulers who are serving the interests of owners of war industry, oil companies and other giant multinationals which dominate and control Western democracies. During the war against erstwhile USSR in Afghanistan, the defenders of ‘Free World’ created “friends” (mujahideen, later dubbed as terrorists). Now the same mercenaries are being used as proxy to colonise the world resources. The arms and ammunitions used by both sides engaged in so-called ‘war on terror’—USA and its alliesand all militant groups—are manufactured and supplied by gigantic armament industry. It proves that behind the so-called “sacred wars”—each side so claiming—the real motive is economic interest.

It is a matter of record that much before 9/11, the US and its NATO allies decided to invade Afghanistan. The decision to this effect was taken in Berlin during the joint meeting of Council of Ministers held in November 2000.  It exposes the claims of US and coalition partners that 9/11 was the sole reason for invading Afghanistan. The actual cause was apprehensions regarding Turkmenistan Gas Pipeline Project in which powerful corporate entities, who actually rule US and other capitalist countries, had financial interests. It was not the existence of so-called Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan that forced US and its allies to invade Afghanistan but “financial interests” of US and its allies was the main cause of action. Till the said time, Al Qaeda was a weapon in the hands of US to put pressure on Islamic States having enormous oil, gas and mineral wealth to toe its line and extend financial benefits uninterruptedly.

George W. Bush appointed former aide to the American oil company UNOCAL, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan nine days after the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in Kabul. This appointment underscored the real economic and financial interests at stake in the US military intervention in Central Asia. Khalilzad was intimately involved in the long-running US efforts to obtain direct access to the oil and gas resources of the region, largely unexploited but believed to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf.

As an advisor for UNOCAL, Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline from the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in talks between the Oil Company and Taliban officials in 1997, which were aimed at implementing a 1995 agreement to build the pipeline across western Afghanistan. UNOCAL was the lead company in the formation of the Centgas consortium, whose purpose was to bring to market natural gas from the Dauletabad Field in southeastern Turkmenistan, one of the world’s largest energy reserves.

The billion dollars project involved a 48-inch diameter pipeline from the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border, passing near the cities of Herat and Kandahar, crossing into Pakistan near Quetta and linking with existing pipelines at Multan. An additional $600 million extension to India was also under consideration. Khalilzad also lobbied publicly for a more sympathetic US government policy towards the Taliban. Four years ago, in an op-ed article in the Washington Post, he defended the Taliban regime against accusations that it was a sponsor of terrorism, writing, ”The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran.” He said, ”We should… be willing to offer recognition and humanitarian assistance and to promote international economic reconstruction. It is time for the United States to re-engage the Afghan regime”.

The ”re-engagement”, suggested by Khalilzad, would of course have been enormously profitable to UNOCAL, which was otherwise unable to bring gas and oil to market from landlocked Turkmenistan. Khalilzad as close confidante of Bush at National Security Council was to report to Condoleezza Rice, then National Security Advisor [later became Secretary of State] who also served as an oil company consultant on Central Asia. After serving in the first Bush administration from 1989 to 1992, Rice was placed on the Board of directors of Chevron Corporation and served as its principal expert on Kazakhstan, where Chevron held the largest concession of any of the international oil companies. The oil industry connections of Bush and Cheney were playing the dominant role in US Afghan policy but entire Western media was portraying it as a war against “terrorists”.

There were just a few dissident voices like that of Frank Viviano who observed in San Francisco Chronicle of September 26, 2001: ”The hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil. The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century…. It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, Exxon, and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”

The reality stated by Mr. Viviano in 2001 was well understood in official Washington, but the most influential corporate-controlled media outlets—the television networks and major national daily newspapers—maintained silence that was politically motivated self-censorship. The sole exception was an article that appeared on December 15, 2001 in the New York Times business section, headlined, ”As the War Shifts Alliances, Oil Deals Follow.” The Times reported, ”The State Department is exploring the potential for post-Taliban energy projects in the region, which has more than 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and almost 40 percent of its gas reserves.” The Times noted that during a visit in early December to Kazakhstan, “Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he was particularly impressed with the money that American oil companies were investing there. He estimated that $200 billion could flow into Kazakhstan during the next 5 to 10 years.” Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham also pushed US oil investments in the region during a November visit to Russia, on which he was accompanied by David J. O’Reilly, chairman of ChevronTexaco.

The subsequent invasion of Iraq by US and its allies using the myth of weapons of mass destruction [which proved to be a hoax] and appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as US Ambassador proved beyond any doubt that the reality of ‘war on terror’ was nothing but quest for OIL. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele [TIME, May 19, 2003] remarkably exposed the dark side of American oil policy from classified government documents and oil industry memos, involving a pair of Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Afghanistan.

Barrack Obama faithfully followed the policy of his predecessor. On assuming power, he promised more military operations in war-ravaged country to please the war industry tycoons. No US President was ever interested in countering terrorism. The US and its allies just launched “oil and war bonanzas” around Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with multiple objectives: ensuring continuous enormous profits for war industry; control over oil and gas rich countries and containment of China by physical military presence in its nearby areas. The statement of Bush on September 8, 2008 declaring Pakistan “a major theatre” in ‘war on terror” and Obama’s Af-Pak Policy, followed by wanton attacks on civilians inside Pakistan’s territories, should be viewed in proper perspective: the purpose was to forewarn new government in Islamabad not to deviate from the commitments given by ex-ruler General Pervez Musharraf or results would be disastrous.  

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Economic Policy, in his article, ‘On 9/11 Doubts Were Immediate’,observes:  “The more the story of 9/11 was presented in the media, the more wondrous it became. It is not credible that not only the CIA and FBI failed to detect the plot, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, which spies on everyone on the planet, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, Israel’s Mossad, and the intelligence agencies of Washington’s NATO allies. There are simply too many watchmen and too much infiltration of terrorist groups for such a complex attack to be prepared undetected and carried out undeterred”.  He questions, “What will be the outcome of the doubts about the official story raised by experts? I worry that most Americans are too mentally and emotionally weak to be able to come to grips with the truth. They are far more comfortable with the story that enemies attacked America successfully despite the massive national security state in place. The American public has proved itself to be so cowardly that it willingly, without a peep, sacrificed its civil liberty and the protections of law guaranteed by the Constitution in order to be “safe.”

Dr. Roberts, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week, brilliantly commented: “Naive and gullible Americans claim that if some part of the US government had been involved in 9/11, ‘someone would have talked by now’. A comforting thought, perhaps, but nothing more. Consider, for example, the cover-up by the US government of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed or wounded most of the crew but failed to sink the ship. As the survivors have testified, they were ordered in a threatening way not to speak about the event. It was twelve years later before one of the USS Liberty’s officers, James Ennes, told the story of the attack in his book, Assault on the Liberty. I continue to wonder how the professionals at the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] feel about being maneuvered by the federal government into the unscientific position NIST took concerning the destruction of the WTC towers”.

This is the ugly reality of ‘war on terror’. United States and its allies are not interested in uprooting terrorism, this is their weapon. CIA in fact supports warlords and militants for its nefarious designs. Clinton, Bush, Obama et al have been levelling allegations against Iran and Pakistan of supporting militants, whereas CIA covertly keeps on aiding these elements. It unveils the hidden agenda of US and its allies: promote war industry, grab oil and gas resources, use religion to threaten governments and impose economic policies benefiting multinational corporations that finance and control the Western ruling elites.


The writers, tax lawyers, authors of many books and articles on narco-terrorism, are visiting Professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

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