by Pepe Escobar and first posted at AsiaTimes
It was 20 years ago today. Asia Times published Get Osama! Now! Or Else…The rest is history.
Retrospectively, this sounds like news from another galaxy. Before Planet 9/11. Before GWOT (Global War on Terror). Before the Forever Wars. Before the social network era. Before the Russia-China strategic partnership. Before the Dronification of State Violence. Before techno-feudalism.
Allow me to get a little personal. I was back in Peshawar – the Islamic Rome, capital of the tribal areas – 20 years ago after a dizzying loop around Pakistan, tribal territory, a botched smuggling op to Kunar, biding time in Tajikistan, arriving by Soviet helicopter in the Panjshir valley, a harrowing road trip to Faizabad, and a UN flight that took ages to arrive.
In the Panjshir, I had finally met “the Lion”, commander Masoud, then plotting a counter-offensive against the Taliban. He told me he was fighting a triad: the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Pakistani ISI. Less than three weeks later he was assassinated – by two al-Qaeda ops disguised as a camera crew, two days before 9/11.
No one, 20 years ago, could possibly imagine the subsequent slings and arrows of outrageous – terror – fortune. Two decades, $2.3 trillion and at least 240,000 Afghan deaths later, the Taliban are back where they were: ruling Afghanistan. Masoud Jr in theory leads a “resistance” in the Panjshir – actually a CIA ops channeled through CIA asset Amrullah Saleh, former Afghan Vice-President.
Al-Qaeda is a harmless skeleton, even rehabilitated in Syria as “moderate rebels; the new bogeyman in town is ISIS-K, a spin-off of the Islamic State in “Syraq”.
After negotiating a stunning package deal with the Taliban, the Empire of Chaos is concluding a humiliating evacuation from the land it bombed into democracy and submitted for two decades. Once again the US was de facto expelled by a peasant guerrilla army, this time mostly consisting of Pashtuns, descendants of the White Huns – a nomad confederation – as well as the Sakas, nomadic Iranic peoples of the Eurasian steppes.
The CIA shadow army
ISIS-K, the new viper’s nest, opens multiple Pandora boxes that may lead to the new incarnation of the Forever Wars. ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the horrific Kabul suicide bombing.
ISIS-K is apparently led by one ghostly emir Shahab al-Mujahir (no photo, no biography details), supposed to be an urban warfare expert who previously worked as a mere mid-level commander for the Haqqani network.
In 2020 media-savvy ISIS-K released one of his audio messages in Pashto. Yet he may not be Pashtun, but actually from some latitude in the Middle East, and not fluent in the language.
Even CENTCOM commander Gen Mackenzie has admitted that the US military are sharing intel on ISIS-K with the Taliban – or rather vice-versa: Taliban spokesman Zahibullah Mujahid in Kabul stressed that they warned the Americans in the first place about an imminent threat to the airport.
The Pentagon-Taliban collaboration is by now established. The perennial CIA shadow wars are a completely different ball game.
I have shown in this in-depth investigation how the top priority for the Taliban is to target the ramifications of the CIA shadow army in Afghanistan, deployed via the Khost Protection Force (KPF) and inside the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
The CIA army, as I explain, was a two-headed hydra. Older units harked back to 2001 and were very close to the CIA. The most powerful was the KPF, based at the CIA’s Camp Chapman in Khost, which operated totally outside Afghan law, not to mention budget.
The other head of the hydra were the NDS’s own Afghan Special Forces: four main units, each operating in its own regional area. The NDS was funded by the CIA and for all practical purposes, operatives were trained and weaponized by the CIA.
So the NDS was a de facto CIA proxy. And here we have the direct connection to Saleh, who was trained by the CIA in the US when the Taliban was in power in the late 1990s. Afterwards, Saleh became the head of the NDS – which happened to work very closely with RAW, Indian intel. Now he’s a “resistance leader” in the Panjshir.
My investigation was confirmed right away by the deployment of Task Force Pineapple last week, an operation carried out by CIA/Special Forces to extract the last sensitive intel assets from Kabul who were being chased by the Taliban.
In parallel, serious questions are piling up regarding the Kabul suicide bombing and the immediate MQ-9 Reaper response targeting an “ISIS-K planner” in eastern Afghanistan.
This page has been carefully tracking prime information regarding what could be described as the Abbey Gate Massacre, not surprisingly buried by Western mainstream media.
The You Tube channel Kabul Lovers, for instance, is engaging in street-level journalism that puts to shame every multi-million dollar TV network. A military officer who examined the bodies of many of the bombing victims at Kabul Emergency Hospital claimed that most were not victims of the suicide bombing: “All victims were killed by American bullets, except maybe 20 people out of 100.” The full, original report, in Dari, is here.
Scott Ritter, for his part, has emphasized the need of “perspective” on the claimed drone strike against ISIS-K “from an actual drone expert like Daniel Hale, but they put him in jail for telling the truth about how bad our drone program actually is when it comes to killing the right people.”
By now it’s established that contrary to Pentagon claims, the drone strike hit a random house in Jalalabad, not a moving vehicle, and there was “collateral damage”: at least 3 civilians.
And the civilian death toll of a subsequent missile strike on another alleged “ISIS-K planner” in a car in Kabul is already at 9 – including 6 children.
The Syria-Afghanistan rat line
The much-lauded Pentagon offensive against ISIS in “Syraq” has been derided all across the Axis of Resistance as a massive farce.
Over the years, we have had exposés coming from Moscow; Tehran; Damascus; Hezbollah; and some of the People’s Mobilization Units (PMUs) in Iraq.
Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly asserted how “the US have been using helicopters to save ISIS terrorists from complete annihilation in Iraq/Syria and transporting them to Afghanistan to keep them as insurgents in Central Asia against Russia, China and Iran.”
The extremely well informed Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, has pointed out that Russia had received the same information from local tribal leaders. Even former President Hamid Karzai – now a key negotiator forming the next Taliban-led government in Kabul – has branded ISIS-K a “tool” of the United States.
It’s important to remember that ISIS-K has become much more powerful in Afghanistan since 2020 because of what I describe as a shadowy transportation ratline from Idlib in Syria to Kunar and Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan.
Of course there is no smoking gun – yet: but what we do have is a serious working hypothesis that ISIS-K may be just another CIA shadow army, in collaboration with the NDS.
All that, if confirmed, would point to a dark future: the continuation of the Forever Wars by other means – and tactics. Yet never underestimate the counter-power of those no-nonsense descendants of White Huns and Sakas.
A criminal association paid for by the state and charged with law enforcement.
Applause to Pepe for a rational contextual assessment of Empires shadow force.
The Talibs won’t be left in peace. These shadowy forces provide the pretext for empire. They include deranged Muslims (a specific fringe), black ops, mercs, supported and nurtured by the alphabet Intel agencies along with close allies providing funding, training and logistical support.
Wherever empires strategic goals are threatened they conveniently find their way there for the perfect pretext for the AZE to implement their R2P criminal invasions. Hence, its their tool and pet.There main target are usually Muslims or anyone who happens to stand in their way.
Pepe’s assessment is appropriate for the current context.
Interesting news that I was sent that needs confirmation. I repeat confirmation. It was an Arabic release by the talibs. They want to outlaw Salafism. This is tricky as not all salafists should be implicated but this particular group usually binds under this umbrella. This fringe group that does get sucked in consider the orthodox adherents as innovators and some go as far as declaring them as collateral. This includes the talibs of Afgh.
Empire will certainly try to foment turf war but the positive news is the talibs do have the upperhand and Intel.
The CIA/US military has been shipping takfiiris out of Syria for ages. Some ended up in Azerbaijan, some in Afghanistan. The southern flanks of Russia (and the western front of China) was always the end game.
Turkey shipped ISIS/AQ fighters to Azerbaijan, a few up to Donbass on the Ukie side, thousands to Libya and recently some into Afghan.
The first significant group transported by CIA/US Mil that came from the ME went to the Tajikistan border. Russia began reinforcing at its base over a year ago. More recently, CSTO forces in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been bolstered as Russia has warned the Taliban and other crazies Central Asia will not suffer any CIA or ISIS wars.
Thank you highly informative education.
question: I guess u already know the answer, let’s just make it rhetorical at this point ( no one has to answer it…), who is ultimately ordering the NDS around- and why?
What is their objective of a “forever war” if we all live in a finite universe? (This one is key)
He who has found peace within himself does not bring war upon other peoples. He also does not want to buy the system in order to determine the state with it, but only wants state decisions to be made on a factual basis for the benefit of the citizens.
The US is officially out of Kabul and Afghanistan. The last plane left in the middle of the night.
The flow of lies is proceeding from Pentagon, State and WH shortly.
Right now, CENTCOM is writing a history it wants suckers to believe.
“CENTCOM is writing a history it wants suckers to believe.”
So funny !
Where can a man buy
a cap for his knee,
or the key to a lock
of his hair ?
Great article by Pepe!
I came across several articles that describe thousands of refugees being flown directly from Kabul to military bases in Europe (Ramstein, Bondsteel).
According to this one its 25,000..
This is the first time I’ve heard of refugees being brought into miliary bases. Aren’t military bases off-limits to civilians, including the housing barracks…?
I would have expected Afghan refugees to be airlifted out of Kabul to a safe haven in neighboring country and, with involvement from organisations like UNHCR , be dispatched to their host countries.. seems strange that so many are being handled by US military…?
The Brits are not beating about the bush about this:
“The UKG is considering proposals to create brand new regiment consisting of Afghan special forces troops evacuated from Kabul.”
I saw all those stories of the ISIS Chinook Airlines too. The CIA/Pentagon Propaganda Lie Machine goes back 7 Decades. They just reload with a new Terrorist Army. An Airborne Invasion with the 82nd Division is out of the question and the Grunts are now going to be wary of any talk of a ‘Surge’. The only option is more Terrorists.
Being outsiders, & estimated to consist of 2500 fighters, the best these “Isis-K” cia assets can hope for is a dark cave life, or hole in the ground like in Syria, supplied by covert US air-drops..
With tribal-networking and grass-roots support, the Taliban should have little problem in rolling-up such a small contingent..
Who else but Pepe could write such an article, from past & present experience?
Very good Pepe. I was missing your precious amd sharp analysis on duplo expresso amd 247. Now I have found you! Good! Will be connected.
Thank you for offering us such clear amd deep perspective. Politics around the works is changing, war became daily routine. Permanent wars. I only wish the empire would fall… but I don’t believe it to be possible. They will reinvent themselves… evil knows many tricks
“It was 20 years ago today, Sargent Peppers…”
Thank you Pepe!
I read the whole piece because I like the writing style, but you sure lost me way before the end :)
one question comes to mind: these cia criminals and gangsters, they take the liberty to kill and murder; i don’t understand why THEY are never bothered or at risk of being arrested or even killed? it’s a war so it should be a fair thing to do no??!