Unholy Wars | John K. Cooley

Summary of: Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism
By: John K. Cooley


Embark on a gripping exploration of the complex nexus of politics, religion, and intrigue that fueled the formation of global terrorism in John K. Cooley’s ‘Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism.’ This revealing analysis delves into the roots of contemporary terrorism, tracing it back to the curious ties between the U.S. and mujahideen fighters during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Discover the covert operations, secret alliances, and political maneuverings that transformed these Islamic warriors into global terrorists, shedding light on the intricate web of connections that link them to the drug trade, governments, and extremist ideologies.

The US-Soviet Conflict in Afghanistan

In 1979, the U.S. provided support to Afghan warriors resisting the Soviet-backed government, which later led to the Soviet invasion. U.S. National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, later admitted that U.S. aid was a conscious move to increase the possibility of Soviet intervention. The U.S. then unrolled a plan to arm and train Muslim zealots to fight the Soviet forces. Eventually, many of these warriors became terrorists that carried out attacks globally, including in New York.

Jihad Recruitment and Fundraising Techniques

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used various Muslim charities and religious groups to recruit volunteers for the jihad. The “Al Jihad” center in Brooklyn became infamous for its fundraising and recruiting efforts. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, later convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, aided the CIA’s recruitment in the Middle East. The top prospects were trained in the United States by CIA personnel on a wide range of skills, including explosives, combat, and paramilitary operations. The newly established army received funds from multiple sources, including private donors and governments like the US and Saudi Arabia. Moujahidin militants earned money through the drug trade, and drug and arms trading soon became intertwined. In addition, Afghan moujahidin were allowed to harvest their poppy crops before returning to fight. Despite these activities, the Taliban maintained its oppressive rule over Afghanistan, limiting women’s involvement in public life.

The Aftermath of the Afghan War

Foreign fighters trained in Afghanistan became a source of instability in Pakistan and beyond after the war ended. Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, supplied these warriors with arms, training, and other support. Many of the Soviet-made weapons that arrived for the war disappeared along the way, later reappearing on the black market or in Muslim uprisings across the world. The fighters who remained eventually became involved in the drug trade, stoking militant ideology and worsening Islamist violence in Pakistan. The FBI’s capture of World Trade Center bombing suspect Ramzi Ahmed Yousef from a bin Laden-owned hotel in Pakistan sparked fierce infighting and protests that forced Benazir Bhutto from power.

The Rise and Fall of Usama bin Laden

Usama bin Laden, with the blessing of his powerful father and Saudi benefactors, raised an Arab volunteer army to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He dubbed his burgeoning organization al-Qaida and enlisted Muslim volunteers through centers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan. After the Soviet withdrawal, bin Laden kept his training camps open, shifting from conventional military operations to urban warfare and terrorism. However, when Saudi Arabia allowed U.S. soldiers to operate from its holy soil in the 1990 Gulf War, bin Laden turned against the royal family and began supporting Saudi opposition groups. As a result, he was stripped of his Saudi citizenship. While expanding his fortune in Sudan, bin Laden finally fell afoul of his former U.S. patrons, who strongly suspected his involvement in attacks on American personnel in Riyad and Khobar.

Want to read the full book summary?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed