President Clinton's rationale for calling the August 20th cruise missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan has been steadily unraveling. Initially the nation was told that the strikes were launched both in retaliation for the terrorist bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania two weeks earlier, and as a preemptive measure against imminent terrorist attacks directed at American targets.
In very rapid order, however, the Clinton terror scenario began falling apart. The alleged VX poison gas plant in Khartoum, Sudan appears to have been only a pharmaceutical plant, and the Administration has provided no proof to back its claims that the plant was connected to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. Nor has it produced evidence to support the early assertions that bin Laden's network was behind the bombings of the U.S. embassies. There is plenty of evidence that Sudan has been, and is, a major sponsor of international terrorism, and it is no secret that bin Laden has declared war on America. But the justification for the specific targeting of the Sudan site and what were reputed to be bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan, together with the particular timing of the attack — coinciding with Miss Lewinsky's August 20th reprise before the grand jury — has not been forthcoming.
Lies Upon Lies
As with virtually every other aspect of the Clinton Presidency, the August 20th "strike against terrorism" has turned out to be a series of lies built upon lies.
In launching Tomahawk missiles to destroy the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical Co. factory in Khartoum, the Clinton Administration claimed it had destroyed a "chemical weapons-related" facility that was being used for the production of deadly VX nerve gas. Officials averred that the evidence was "compelling" and "irrefutable." It was neither, as unfolding events showed:
• British engineer Tom Carnaffin, who served as technical manager of the plant from 1992 to 1996, was quoted in the New York Times and other publications as saying, "I have intimate knowledge of that factory and it just does not lend itself to the manufacture of chemical weapons."
• Germany's ambassador to Sudan, Werner Daum, was quoted in the August 31st issue of Der Spiegel as saying that the factory "mainly produces antibiotics, medicaments against diarrhoea and malaria, preparations for transfusions, and veterinary products."
• Sudanese rescue workers and firemen could be seen on television news in the midst of the factory rubble without protective suits, together with barefoot, lightly clad onlookers, none of whom, apparently, suffered any ill effects from the supposed deadly chemicals.
• Under increasing pressure to produce evidence of chemical weapons production, Clinton officials claimed that a soil sample that had been secretly taken from the Al-Shifa site before the attack showed traces of the chemical compound EMPTA, which has no use except in chemical weapons. However, the New York Times reported that EMPTA can easily be confused in lab tests with FONFOS, an agricultural insecticide common throughout Africa.
• Administration officials have yet to produce any "compelling," let alone "irrefutable," evidence that the bombed complex was a "chemical weapons-related" facility. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told a global CNN television audience that "we have physical evidence" but "are not going to release it."
In a press briefing after the missile attack, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Sandy Berger claimed that exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden helped finance the Al-Shifa "chemical weapons plant." Claims of proof for this tie-in have turned out to be as empty as the EMPTA "evidence."
Although bin Laden did live in Sudan during the early 1990s and is reliably reported to still have operational ties to the terror regime in Khartoum, Clinton officials have shown no trail linking either bin Laden or the Sudanese government to Al-Shifa. No evidence has been forthcoming to support claims that the facility was part of Sudan's "military industrial complex." (Even if evidence were produced drawing the bin Laden financial connection to the Al-Shifa plant, what justification would it provide for a military strike against a civilian target?)
As the bin Laden connection foundered, officials leaked another anonymous story: Saddam Hussein had helped set up the supposed VX facility at Al-Shifa. But again, no evidence, and this line had its own problems. If Baghdad was behind the facility, and if this connection provided the rationale for the attacks, then why was the White House attacking bin Laden and simultaneously bending over backwards to avoid confronting Saddam over his chemical and biological weapons facilities in Iraq?
In his televised address to the nation, President Clinton claimed that the Afghan sites had been chosen as targets because "a gathering of key terrorist leaders was to take place there today." "Our target was terror," Mr. Clinton claimed in his August 20th Oval Office address, asserting that "convincing and compelling" intelligence reports indicated bin Laden's network was planning further attacks. The frightful spectre of a global convocation of terrorist kingpins planning imminent destruction for America was a powerful selling point. But it too appears to have been a Clintonian fabrication.
Reports on August 21st suggested that as many as 600 terrorists were in attendance at bin Laden's mountain redoubts. "This is the largest Sunni terrorist training facility in the world," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Hugh Shelton told a Pentagon briefing. In later reports, however, officials acknowledged that the terror summit story had been erroneous; bin Laden and other leaders were probably nowhere near the four camps that were hit by the Tomahawk attack.
On August 21st Sandy Berger offered this positive assessment: "The attacks have significantly disrupted the capability to use these camps as terrorist training facilities." William Cohen also claimed that the strikes "destroyed a number of facilities." But reporters who journeyed to the remote locations described only a few thousands of dollars worth of damage to obstacle courses, barracks, and tents, all relatively easy to replace. A paltry return for the expenditure of an estimated $100 million in cruise missiles.
Dubious Bomber Links
At about the same time that President Clinton was announcing to the world the compelling proof for his missile attack on bin Laden, FBI Director Louis Freeh was stating that his investigators had reached "no final conclusions" concerning who was responsible for the embassy bombings. And the Washington Post reported the day after the missile attack: "Even Thursday, federal law enforcement sources said they were a bit surprised by the attacks, since they are nowhere near bringing criminal charges against bin Laden — or anyone else allegedly involved in the embassy bombings." Little evidence has been released concerning the two prime suspects in the Nairobi bombing — a Yemeni national named Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, arrested in Kenya, and a Palestinian engineer named Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, arrested in Karachi, Pakistan - but there is justifiable cause for skepticism concerning the hasty, "detailed confessions" obtained from the duo.
Christopher Kremmer, correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald in Islamabad, interviewed General Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistani intelligence, who was quoted as stating: "Odeh is an imposter, planted by a foreign intelligence agency — probably Israel's Mossad or the US's Central Intelligence Agency — to provide a justification for the cruise missile attacks on bin Laden's Afghan bases." "It costs 1,000 rupees [about $30] to buy[off] any passport officer at Karachi airport," said General Gul. "Odeh's millionaire backer bin Laden hadn't given him that much money, nor even a reasonable forgery of a passport? This man wanted to be caught." Kremmer also quoted Pakistani defense analyst Dr. Shireen Mazari, who agreed with General Gul: "It just doesn't make sense. Hard-core political terrorists do not volunteer information the way Odeh has done. It's a set-up."
Ordering military strikes against targets in foreign countries is serious business, morally and politically, and always has carried serious and unknown ramifications.
The fact that both of the countries targeted by Mr. Clinton are run by radical Islamic regimes meant that there was already a special fallout danger that could be expected among Islamic co-religionists worldwide. That danger was greatly exacerbated by the obvious failure of Team Clinton to justify its target selection, especially in Sudan, where the destruction of the Al-Shifa plant took out a major source of medical supplies badly needed by the civilian population. This provided glorious grist for the anti-U.S. propaganda mills.
Even worse, from an Islamic perspective, are the charges by survivors of the Afghan camps that the U.S. missiles destroyed two mosques. Photos purporting to show the two pulverized buildings littered with singed fragments of the Koran have been circulating in the Muslim world press, inciting ever greater anti-American fervor.
Many of the points in our foregoing analysis have been made by other observers as well. However, precious few of even the most penetrating Clinton critics have managed to cut through the obvious failings of Mr. Clinton's overall policies concerning terrorism in general and his specific actions on August 20th to the core issue at stake. That core issue is this: We have no more hope of winning the "war against terrorism" than we have had in our failed "war against drugs," if we allow our leaders and policy makers to continue to subsidize, support, and treat as "allies" the principal state sponsors of terrorism. As long as the U.S. and other Western governments pretend not to see and understand the Russian and Chinese hands behind international terrorism and continue to pretend that Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, Libya, Iran, Syria, et al., are independent actors, we will see the victim corpses of terrorism pile higher and higher.
Middle East expert Laurie Mylroie has been a persistent and perceptive critic of President Clinton's terrorism policy. "One of the most extraordinary developments in American policy under Bill Clinton has been a shift in the nation's response to terrorism," she wrote in the April 1997 American Spectator. "Previously the United States had acted under the assumption that terrorist bombings were the work of terrorist states or terrorist organizations. President Clinton, however, has subtly but unmistakably turned terrorism from a national security issue into a law enforcement issue — rather than punishing nations or groups thought to be behind terrorist acts, Clinton lays the blame on individuals, and makes public pronouncements that the individuals will be brought to justice." As Mylroie pointed out, "the results have been disastrous." And as a specialist on Iraq, she has focused particular attention on the Clinton Administration's incredible contortions to avoid identifying the obvious hand of Saddam Hussein in a number of terrorist attacks on America.
Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a Washington Times columnist, shares much of Mylroie's perspective in these matters. Thus, he applauded the recent U.S. retaliation as "a faltering first step in what we can all hope is America's too long-delayed counteroffensive." "Sudan and Afghanistan are low-cost hideouts for terrorists, unfortunately not their headquarters," Beichman correctly pointed out. "The real culprits are those states whose past records and present activities indicate their dedication to terrorism as an instrument of national policy. What these states have learned is the importance of cutouts so that if a terrorist is caught he will be unable to implicate let alone identify anybody except one or two corporals, but never the generals who have mounted the jihad against America and the West." According to Dr. Beichman, "The attack on Sudan and Afghanistan will have meaning if and only if Iran and Iraq are persuaded that the next terrorist incident will be followed by attacks on military installations — not population centers — in those Middle East countries or the other three members of the Radical Entente — Libya, North Korea and Cuba."
The Radical Entente terror states do indeed use cutouts — individuals and organizations — both to carry out terrorist acts and to stake out more extreme positions that make the terror states appear moderate by comparison. This strategic use of "deniable assets" in a classic good cop-bad cop fashion has been copied with phenomenal success by terrorist groups such as the African National Congress, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Irish Republican Army.
But this scheme did not originate with the Radical Entente states. As Anatoliy Golitsyn, the most important Soviet defector to the West, has repeatedly pointed out, much of what passes for "Islamic fundamentalism," "Pan-Islam," "Islamic nationalism," and "Pan-Arabism" is, in reality, Moscow-directed and Soviet-controlled, with Iran serving as the principal change agent. In his 1984 book New Lies for Old, and his 1995 book The Perestroika Deception, Golitsyn revealed the Soviet plan for using and co-opting Islam. In The Perestroika Deception, he wrote that the upgraded Soviet strategy in the Commonwealth of Independent States "involves the use of the new 'independent' [but Soviet-controlled] Muslim states in the CIS to establish and develop economic and political cooperation with the fundamentalists in Iran and elsewhere in the Muslim world." Explained Golitsyn, "A primary objective of the strategy here is to achieve a partnership with the fundamentalists in Iran and Algeria and to replace the present American-oriented rulers of Saudi Arabia with fundamentalists."
This is happening through a number of important avenues. Christopher Story, publisher of the authoritative, London-based intelligence reports Soviet Analyst and Arab-Asian Affairs, has noted that Iran's revival of the Economic Cooperation Council (ECO) is a vital part of this Moscow-directed strategy. The new ECO, launched in Teheran in 1992, includes Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and CIS states Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan. "Thus, while Pakistan is supposed, according to conventional analysis, to be in 'China's camp,'" writes Story in the June 1998 Arab-Asian Affairs, "here we find it incorporated willingly within a transnational regional economic grouping of which Iran, extensively controlled by Moscow, has seized the leadership." This has resulted in "the establishment of a Muslim bloc to Russia's south with the appearance of geopolitical 'autonomy' but in practice controlled by Moscow."
In nearly every issue of his newsletter, Story provides new, additional proof that the communist strategists in Moscow and Beijing are carrying out a long-range, coordinated, Sino-Soviet strategy for control of the Middle East. The "fundamentalist" terror states and terrorist organizations are dependent upon Moscow and Beijing not only for weapons, but for much additional technology and technical support. The so-called Sino-Soviet experts who continue to insist that the "Cold War is over" have no excuse for their blindness, writes Story. "The evidence is now so overwhelming and blatant that the Communist strategists are still carrying out a strategy for global control - which includes international terrorism as a vital component," that only those who are totally dishonest or have a vested interest in their own ignorance can refuse to see.
Hilaire du Berrier, a longtime contributor to The New American and publisher of the Monaco-based HduB Reports, sees the recent Clinton attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan as a very foreboding development. As one who speaks Arabic, monitors the Arabic press, and has lived in and traveled throughout much of the Islamic world, du Berrier says the negative consequences of Mr. Clinton's act "are incalculable." One likely result, he told The New American, is that the ailing King Fahd of Saudi Arabia will likely be overthrown soon by the Russian-directed "fundamentalists." "It will be Iran all over again," he said, referring to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. King Hussein of Jordan is also very ill, he notes, and "there is a strong likelihood that he will be replaced by a radical, anti-American regime as well." Predicts du Berrier, "This will push many of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims into the radical camp, and will almost certainly lead to bloody global conflict on a scale far greater than most imagine."