Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

John Cooley Discusses America's Muslim Mercenaries

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

John Cooley Discusses America's Muslim Mercenaries

Article excerpt

JOHN COOLEY DISCUSSES AMERICA'S MUSLIM MERCENARIES

American journalist John Cooley, who served as NBC and ABC's Middle East correspondent for almost 30 years, spoke at a June 16 briefing organized by the Afghanistan Foundation at the Center for Strategic International Studies. He discussed his latest book, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, which addresses U.S. involvement in the Afghan jihad against the Soviet invasion, and in the nurturing of a network of Islamic extremists throughout the Muslim world.

Cooley began by quoting a letter from Niccolo Machiavelli to his patron, Prince Lorenzo de Medici, warning of the dangers of a ruler hiring mercenaries to fight his wars rather than using his state's regular forces. "While taking your shelter mercenaries would fight their own wars and turn against you when your war is ended," wrote Machiavelli.

"All this happened," Cooley said, "with Muslim mercenaries hired and trained by the CIA as a `project manager' to harass, fight and eject the Soviets from Afghanistan.

"What I tried to do in my book," he told the audience, "was to show some details of how the Carter administration initiated and the Reagan administration subsequently followed supporting a worldwide radical Islamist network."

Cooley explained how a "flirtation" between America and radical Islamist groups began when the CIA started supporting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in an effort to counter President Gamal Abdel Nasser's pro-Soviet politics.

According to Cooley, between 1979 and 1989 the CIA, using proxy methods, and with the help of Pakistani ISID (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate) officers and Afghan guerrilla leaders, trained more than 50,000 Muslim mercenaries, including Arabs, Turks, Chinese Uighurs and Filipinos. …

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