(Editor's note: After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave had an exclusive interview with former Pakistani Gen. Hamid Gul. In light of the role Gul is given in the recently released secret U.S. military documents, UPI republishes de Borchgrave's interview with Gul. The item was originally published Sept. 26, 2001.)
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The retired Pakistani general who is closest to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden contends the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington were the work of renegade U.S. Air Force elements working with the Israelis. Gen. Hamid Gul led Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence during the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Gul serves as an adviser to Pakistan's extremist religious political parties, which oppose their government's decision to support the United States in any action against Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Gul contends bin Laden had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, saying instead that they were the work of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service -- a version of events that has been endorsed by Islamic fundamentalist clerics and is widely accepted by Muslims throughout the Arab world.
Here is the transcript of the exclusive interview Gul gave to Arnaud de Borchgrave, United Press International editor at large:
De Borchgrave: So who did Black Sept. 11?
Gul: Mossad and its accomplices. The U.S. spends $40 billion a year on its 11 intelligence agencies. That's $400 billion in 10 years. Yet the Bush Administration says it was taken by surprise. I don't believe it. Within 10 minutes of the second twin tower being hit in the World Trade Center ... CNN said Osama bin Laden had done it. That was a planned piece of disinformation by the real perpetrators. It created an instant mindset and put public opinion into a trance, which prevented even intelligent people from thinking for themselves.
Q: So you're already convinced bin Laden didn't do it?
A: I know bin Laden and his associates. I've been with them here, in Europe and the Middle East. They are graduates of the best universities and are highly intelligent with impressive degrees and speak impeccable English. These are people who have rediscovered fundamental Islamic values. Many come from the Gulf countries where ruling royal families have generated hatred by the way they flout divine law, wasting billions on gratifying their whims, jetting around in large private jets by themselves, and sailing the Mediterranean in big private boats for weeks on end. Osama's best recruits come from feudal areas that are U.S. protectorates and where millions of poor people are seeking human dignity. I have even visited a Christian convent school in Murree, 60 miles from here, where my 13-year-old daughter is studying. The young girls there have told me Osama is their hero. Osama's followers identify with Mujahideen freedom fighters wherever they are defending Islam and its values.
Q: So what makes you think Osama wasn't behind Sept. 11?
A: From a cave inside a mountain or a peasant's hovel? Let's be serious. Osama inspires countless millions by standing up for Islam against American and Israeli imperialism. He doesn't have the means for such a sophisticated operation.
Q: Why Mossad?
A: Mossad and its American associates are the obvious culprits. Who benefits from the crime? The attacks against the twin towers started at 8:45 a.m. and four flights are diverted from their assigned air space and no air traffic controller sounds the alarm. And no Air Force jets scramble until 10 a.m. That also smacks of a small scale Air Force rebellion, a coup against the Pentagon perhaps? Radars are jammed, transponders fail. No IFF -- friend or foe identification -- challenge. In Pakistan, if there is no response to IFF, jets are instantly scrambled and the aircraft is shot down with no further questions asked. This was clearly an inside job. Bush was afraid and rushed to the shelter of a nuclear bunker. He clearly feared a nuclear situation. Who could that have been? Will that also be hushed up in the investigation, like the Warren report after the Kennedy assassination?
Q: At this point, someone might be asking what you've been smoking. What is Israel's interest in such a monstrous plot, which, of course, no one believes except Islamist extremists who concocted this piece of disinformation in the first place, presumably to detract from the real culprits?
A: Jews never agreed to Bush 41 (George H.W. Bush, the 41st president) or 43 (his son George W. Bush, the 43rd president). They made sure Bush senior didn't get a second term. His land-for-peace pressure in Palestine didn't suit Israel. They were also against the young Bush because he was considered too close to oil interests and the Gulf countries. Bush senior and Jim Baker had raised $150 million for Bush junior, much of it from Mideast sources or their American go-betweens. Bush 41 and Baker, as private citizens, had also facilitated the new strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran. I have this from sources in both countries. So clearly the prospect of a Bush 43 was a potential danger to Israel.
Jews were stunned by the way Bush stole the election in Florida. They had put big money on Al Gore. Israel has given its imperialist guardian parent opportunities to turn disaster into a pretext for imposing an all-encompassing military, political and economic agenda to further the cause of global capitalism. While Colin Powell is cautious and others are reckless and want to make up for their failure to defeat Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War 10 years ago, the global agenda is the same.
Israel knows it has a short shelf-life before it is overwhelmed by demographics. It is a state that was born in terrorism that terrorized Palestinians into the exile of refugee camps, where they have now subsisted in squalid refugee camps, and is now very much afraid of Pakistan's nuclear capability.
Israel has now handed the Bush family the opportunity it has been waiting for to consolidate America's imperial grip on the Gulf and acquire control of the Caspian basin by extending its military presence in Central Asia. Bush conveniently overlooks -- or is not told -- the fact that Islamic fundamentalists got their big boost in the modern age as CIA assets in the covert campaign I was also involved with to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Bush senior was vice president during that entire campaign. And no sooner did he become president on Jan. 20, 1989, than he summoned an inter-agency intelligence meeting and issued an order, among several others, to clip the wings of ISI (Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence) that had been coordinating the entire operation in Afghanistan. I know this firsthand as I was DGISI at the time (director general, ISI).
Q: So how do you read U.S. strategy in Pakistan?
A: The destabilization of Pakistan is part of the U.S. plan because it is a Muslim nuclear state. The U.S. wants to isolate Pakistan from China as part of its containment policy. President Nixon's book "The Real War" said China would be the superpower of the 21st Century. The U.S. is also creating hostility between Pakistan and Afghanistan, two Muslim states to reverse the perception that the Islamic world now has its own nuclear weapons. Bush 43 doesn't realize he is being manipulated by people who understand geopolitics. He is not leading but being led. All he can do is think in terms of the wanted-dead-or-alive culture, which is how Hollywood conditions the masses to think and act.
All summer long we heard about America's shrinking surplus and that the Pentagon would not have sufficient funds to modernize for the 21st century. And now, all of a sudden, the Pentagon can get what it wants without any Democratic Party opposition. How very convenient! Even your cherished civil liberties can now be abridged with impunity to protect the expansion of the hegemony of transnational capitalism. There is now a new excuse to crush anti-globalization protests.
Bush 43 follows Bush 41. Iraq was baited into the Kuwaiti trap when the U.S. told Saddam it was not interested in his inter-Arab squabbles. Two days later, he moved into Kuwait, which was an Iraqi province anyway before the British Empire decreed otherwise. Roosevelt baited the Pearl Harbor trap for the Japanese empire, which provided the pretext for entering World War II. And now the Israelis have given the U.S. the pretext for further expansion into an area that will be critical in the next 25 years - the Caspian basin.
Q: Were you a fundamentalist in the days of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan when you worked closely with the CIA?
A: Not as much as I am today.
Q: What turned you against America?
A: Betrayals and broken promises and what was done to my army career.
Q: And what was that?
A: President Ishaq Khan, who succeeded Zia ul-Haq after his plane was blown out of the sky, wanted to appoint me chief of staff, the highest position in the Pakistani army. The U.S., which by then had clipped ISI's wings, also blocked my promotion by informing the president I was unacceptable. So I was moved to a corps commander position. As ISI director, I held the whole Mujahideen movement in the palm of my hands. We were all pro-American. But then America left us in the lurch and everything went to pieces, including Afghanistan.
The U.S. pushed for a broad-based Afghan government of seven factions and then waved goodbye. Even in the best of democracies, a broad-based coalition does not work. So we quickly had seven jokers in Kabul interested in only one thing - jockeying for power. The gunplay quickly followed, which led to the creation of Taliban, the students of the original Mujahideen, who decided to put an end to it.
Q: What happened to the 1,000 shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that were supplied by president Reagan in 1986 and 87 to the Mujahideen, and that literally grounded the Soviet air force?
A: After the Soviets pulled out, the CIA allocated $60 million to try to buy them back. This just drove the black market price up for one Stinger from $100,000 to $300,000. The Taliban still have about 250 of them for the kind of situation they face today against U.S. aircraft.
Q: Is the U.S. now your enemy?
A: Is the U.S. national interest in contradiction with the Muslim world? The U.S. needs oil, as do its European allies. You have between 6 and 8 million American Muslims and their ranks are growing. About the same number in Europe. Israel aside, we are America's natural allies. Prof. Sam Huntington in his "Clash of Civilizations" puts Confucius and Judeo-Christians in one corner, and us n the other. His prescription is wrong but is being adopted by Bush 43 who has now put 60 countries on his hit list. This is the diabolical school that wants to launch an anti-Muslim "crusade." Muslims understood what Bush meant when he used that word.
We need a meeting, not a clash, of civilizations. We are on the brink of disaster. It is time to pull back from the brink and reassess before we blow ourselves up. The purpose of Islam is service to humanity. The time for like-minded people to have a meeting of the minds is now.
Q: But you are against democracy, so how can there be a meeting of the minds?
A: Democracy does not work. Politicians are constantly thinking of their next election, not the public good, which means, at best, constantly shading the truth to hide it from their constituents. Their pronouncements are laced with lies and the voters are lulled or gulled into believing utter nonsense. The Koran says call a spade a spade. It is the supreme law and tells right from wrong. There is no notion of "my country right or wrong" under divine law. The creator's will predominates. All if subservient to Allah's will and adherence to a set of basic, fundamental values.
Q: So what kind of a system are you advocating?
A: The world needs a post-modern state system. Right now, the nation-state and round the clock satellite TV lead people to imitate America's way of life. Which is mathematically impossible. You have 4 percent of the world's population consuming 32 percent of the world's resources. The creator through Prophet Mohammed said equal distribution. Capitalism is the negation of the creator's will. It leads to imperialism and unilateralism.
Q: So what does this post-modern state system look like?
A: A global village under divine order, or we will have global bloodshed until good triumphs over evil. Islam encapsulates all the principal religions and what was handed down 1,400 years ago was the normal evolutionary sequel to Judaism and Christianity. The prophet's last sermon was a universal document of human rights for everyone that surpasses everything that came since, including America's declaration of independence and the U.N. Charter of universal rights. If you superimpose true secular values on true Islamic values, there is no difference. So surely divine law should supersede man-made law. Islam is egalitarian, tolerant and progressive. It is the wave of the future.
Q: Marxism also believed that the nation-state would eventually wither away.
A: Socialism jumped the rails when it was co-opted by the imperialist Soviet state. Islam believes in dynamism, Christianity stands for static statism. The pope in all his pronouncements has expressed a dogmatic attachment to the status quo. Why are so many black Americans converting to Islam? Because they are looking for true equality which they cannot find under capitalism. Allah has no gender, neither male nor female. Islam has no indirect taxation in an interest-free economy. Usury was a Jewish concept.
Q: Is Iran your model?
A: There isn't a single true Islamic state in the world today. Iran has moved forward from its 1979 revolution, but I am not sure whether it's the right direction.
Q: And Taliban?
A: They represent Islam in its purest form so far. It's a clean sheet. And they were also moving in the right direction when this crisis was cooked up by the U.S. Until Sept. 11, they had perfect law and order with no formal police force, only traffic cops without sidearms. Now, in less than two weeks, they have mobilized some 300,000 volunteers to fight American and British invaders if they come.
Q: And you reaction to U.S. demands on Pakistan?
A: If Pakistan gives the U.S. base rights we will have a national upheaval. And if the U.S. attacks Afghanistan, there will be a call -- a fatwa -- for a general jihad. All borders will then disappear and it will be a no-holds-barred Islamic uprising against Israel and American imperialism. Pakistan will be engulfed in the firestorm. So I can only hope that cooler heads will prevail in Washington.
Q: What about the other U.S. demands?
A: Overflight rights are meaningless since the U.S. violates air space daily all over the world. As for intelligence sharing with ISI, you can't even catch your own terrorists. And what ISI gives you will be of marginal value anyway.
Q: President (Pervez) Musharraf has made strong statements supporting the U.S.
A: He was my student in the army. He is a good man, but he doesn't understand Islam. The army will never fight the masses. If push comes to shove, Musharraf will say no to the Americans rather than turn against the people. He is not just facing a handful of angry people. By his own admission, it's 10 percent to 15 percent of the population, or at least 10 million people willing to fight. For openers, they would close the port of Karachi. A country cannot breathe without lungs.
Q: Back to Osama's terrorist network. Who was behind the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya?
A: Mossad is strong in both countries. Remember the Israeli operation to free hostages in Entebbe (Uganda)? Both Kenya and Tanzania were part of the logistical tail. A so-called associate of Osama was framed at Karachi airport. The incidents took place on Aug. 8, 1999, and on the 10th a short, clean-shaven man disembarks at Karachi airport and presents the passport of a bearded man. Not your passport, he was told. He then tries to bribe the clerk with 200 rupees. A ludicrously small sum given the circumstances. The clerk says no and turns him in and he starts singing right away. Not plausible. Osama has sworn to me on the Koran it was not him and he is truthful to a fault. Pious Muslims do not kill innocent civilians who included many Muslim victims. The passport must have been switched while the man was asleep on the plane in what has all the earmarks of a Mossad operation. For 10 years, the Mujahideen fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and not a single Soviet embassy was touched anywhere in the world. So this could not have been Osama's followers.
Q: What if bin Laden has been lying to you and is guilty. Is that inconceivable?
A: If Taliban are given irrefutable evidence of his guilt, I am in favor of a fair trial. In America, one is entitled to a jury of peers. But he has no American peers. The Taliban would not object, in the event of a prima face case, to an international Islamic court meeting in The Hague. They would turn extradite Osama to the Netherlands.