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America in Afghanistan. The Backlash of the 1980s. Where is Afghanistan?. Background to Afghanistan. April 1978 - People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) supported strengthening relationships with the USSR

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America in afghanistan

America in Afghanistan

The Backlash of the 1980s

Background to afghanistan
Background to Afghanistan

  • April 1978 - People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)

  • supported strengthening relationships with the USSR

  • policies enraged the wealthy semi-feudal landlords, the Muslim religious establishment and the tribal chiefs.

  • began organizing resistance to the government's progressive policies, under the guise of defending Islam.

Christmas day 1979
Christmas Day 1979

  • December 1979 Afghanistan's government fell to the PDPA

  • Soviet troops entered the country to prevent the new government's fall

  • reactionary jihad now gained legitimacy as a “national liberation” struggle in the eyes of many Afghans.


  • many tribal groups were hostile on ethnic and political grounds.

  • Mujahid (Arabic for “struggler”) - a person involved in a jihad (holy war)

  • Mujahideen (plural) - also describes the Afghan resistance

Operation cyclone
Operation Cyclone

  • Massive CIA operation funding of the Afghan mujahideen

  • training, arming, and supplying of mujahideen

  • Initially considered a major success

  • Under Reagan funding reached levels of $600 million/year.


  • Washington feared the spread of Soviet influence to its allies in Pakistan, Iran and the Gulf states

  • The goal was to drain the USSR dry; the war would be too costly for them


  • CIA provided assistance through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI)

  • CIA entered Afghanistan directly and established secret relationships with Afghan fighters

Brzezinski interview

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, equip troops with weapons President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998 Posted at 15 October 2001

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam.

Brzezinski Interview

Backlash equip troops with weapons

  • CIA’s covert war created a pan-Islamic identity and unity

  • Islamists from around the globe came to defeat Soviets

  • Huge success – belief they took down a world power

Unintended backlash
Unintended Backlash equip troops with weapons

  • Washington's favoured mujahideen faction was one of the most extreme, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

  • OBL was a close associate of Hekmatyar and his faction.

Al qaeda
Al-Qaeda equip troops with weapons

  • Means “the base”

  • created in 1989

  • OBL and colleagues began looking for new jihads

  • OLB and his fighters received American and Saudi funding

  • Some analysts believe OBL had security training from the CIA

Ghost wars by steve coll
Ghost Wars equip troops with weapons by Steve Coll

Overall, the U.S. government looked favorably on the Arab recruitment drives. ... Some of the most ardent cold warriors at [CIA headquarters at] Langley thought this program should be formally endorsed and extended. ... [T]he CIA "examined ways to increase their participation, perhaps in the form of some sort of international brigade," ... Robert Gates [then-head of the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence] recalled. ... At the Islamabad station Milt Bearden felt that bin Laden himself "actually did some very good things" ... But nothing came of it ...[Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (Penguin, 2005 edn), pp.145-6, 155-6.]

Bin laden quotes
Bin Laden Quotes equip troops with weapons

  • “bin Laden said that, in Afghanistan, ‘the largest heretic power on earth was destroyed and [it was] where the superpower myth vanished in the face of the mujahedin’s outcry of Allah Akbar [God is great].’”

Bin laden quotes ii
Bin Laden Quotes II equip troops with weapons

  • “Miller says bin Laden told him “There is a lesson to learn from this [the Afghans’ victory] for he who wishes to learn….The Soviet Union entered Afghanistan in the last week of 1979, and with Allah’s help their flag was folded a few years later and thrown in the trash, and there was nothing left to call the Soviet Union….It cleared from Muslim minds the myth of superpowers.’”

Result of the war
Result of the War equip troops with weapons

  • OBL stepping stone to leadership

  • Leader – valiant battlefield warrior

  • Allied with many fundamentalist groups

  • Revered because he gave up riches

More results
More Results equip troops with weapons

  • Unquestioning faith in Allah’s victory

  • Belief in destruction of world powers

  • Forged a military brotherhood united by Islam

Rise of al qaeda
Rise of al-Qaeda equip troops with weapons

  • The "Arab Afghans", as they became known, were battle-hardened and highly motivated.

  • 1996 - HQ and a dozen training camps moved to Afghanistan, where Bin Laden forged a close relationship with the Taliban.

Afghanistan 9 11
Afghanistan equip troops with weapons  9/11?