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23 August 2014


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FB Ali

Col Lang,

One new factor that adds to the appeal (and staying power) of the present Salafi/Wahhabi wave is the pressure of armed Western power on their lands and societies. Previously, it was just the spread of Western ideas and culture that they fought against.

The start of this wave can be ascribed to the Brzezinski-inspired jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia suddenly woke up to the great potential carried by their wealth allied to fanatical jihadis. (If they had a sense of humour they would find it funny that the US protects their power base even as it fights their creation in some places while aiding it in others by squeezing their opponents).


Considering the islamic laws (according to Wikipedia), ISIS does not seems to be doing anything that is expressively prohibited by their religion. And we will probably get called islamaphobes.

While many muslims are against the ISIS and its methods, what is the possibility that equal number (all over the world) would see IS as a sort of a utopian "kingdom of heaven"?






"ISIS does not seems to be doing anything that is expressively prohibited by their religion" That is not really true since "what is Islam" is a matter of consensus among some group of Muslims it is not possible to say what is or is not "prohibited" in general. pl


FB Ali

"The start of this wave can be ascribed to the Brzezinski-inspired jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia suddenly woke up to the great potential carried by their wealth allied to fanatical jihadis." Even more ironic is that the Saudis backed only one of the seven mujahid groups. The other six were supported through ISI by the US. The Saudis also poured money into the medaris where Wahhabi and Deobandi Islam were taught to the Taliban. These medaris were all in Pakistan. pl

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang and F.B. Ali,

Pardon my ignorance – this is a period of history about which I know little, and I am hesitant about exposing the full extent of my ignorance. But while I am familiar with the acronym 'ISI' I am not familiar with 'ISU'. Are they one and the same, and if not, who are 'ISU'?


IMO this latest wave of Wahhabism has taken root in fields left fallow after Pan-Arabism was uprooted. I cannot help but think that despite its shortcomings, pan Arabism was an effective counterweight to salafism. It is not a coincidence that many of the intellectuals Involved in Pan-Arabism were minorities and Christians in the levant who saw in pan Arabism a way out of sectarianism.

Pan-Arabism had many shortcomings but I also believe that it was seen as a threat and undermined both by the west and opposing regimes within the ME. Pan-Arabism was effectively destroyed as a project, partly a casualty of the Cold War. We are now harvesting the bitter fruit of that seasons work.

FB Ali

It was also fortunate for the US and the Saudis that the ruler in Pakistan was Gen Zia-ul-Haq, son of a small-time mullah, with aspirations to restore (his version) of Islam in Pakistan and beyond.

Zia was an Armoured officer, a branch of the service whose officers were especially 'liberal'. Many of them in his regiment made it a point of regularly inviting him to join their drinking sessions in the Mess bar. Of course, he had the last laugh on them.


swerve 21

I could not agree more and that would have included the
Baath. pl


David Habakkuk

Did I write that? pl


swerve 21

"Your dad?" pl

FB Ali

I think Col Lang meant ISI.

He is quite right that the US funneled support (via money) through the ISI. Someone told me that when he once visited the DG of the ISI, the latter opened one of his filing cabinets that was filled with packets of 100-dollar bills.

The US also made a lot of officers very rich!

FB Ali

It depends on which version of Islamic law one looks at.

The Grand Mufti of Al Azhar recently condemned the actions of the IS as violating "long-established principles of Shariah".


Babak makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I believe there was also a number of times that Jihad had been declared in North Africa by one group of Muslim tribes against the inhabitants of the cities.

I just do not recall which one was it that resulted in the complete destruction of the irrigation systems left in North Africa from the Roman times.

Likely cause was that the jihadists killed so many people at that time that there was no one left to tend to the irrigation systems.

And then their tribal structure that saw wealth in camels, sheep and goat probably did not make them aware of the value of agriculture.

That system has not been restored to this day. I believe that North Africa has not been able to recreate the agricultural productivity of the Romans to this day either.


FB Ali

Yes, ISI. I changed it. I supplied just about all the combat intelligence that ISI gave the non Sayyaf mujahid groups for operations since CIA was incapable of it. This was for actual operations against Soviet 40th Army. In that period CIA DO was dominated bu former US Armed Forces NCO case officers like Anderson and Bearden. I could name quite a few more but they have not given me obvious offense . They had succeeded the Ivy WASP aristos who created the CIA after service in OSS. The last thing these ex-enlisted and minimally educated people wanted was interference from professional military officers. This got really rough at times. A number of retired officers of my acquaintance tried to join the DO and were warned off through threats of "referral" to DoJ for "war crimes" in VN. Strangely, no such "referrals" occurred after these officers stopped trying to join CIA. So, the US support to ISI for the mujahid war against the Soviets was run by ignorant grasping fools. This all occurred because the armed forces were barred from covert ops in a situation short of war. Much the same crew have made a lot of money as CIA and DoD contractors in the recent wars. pl

Michael Hammill

This is very good on ISIS


FB Ali

Col Lang,

On the topic of the anti-Soviet jihad, it was a prime example of how the appeal of jihad can destroy old tribal structures - something that is now happening in Syria and Iraq.

The tribal belt of Pakistan had a very strong tribal structure from time immemorial. The British built their system of control of the area on it - tribal leaders were given funds for their tribes, their authority and status was enhanced wherever possible, but they were made responsible for the good behaviour of their tribesmen, which they ensured using old tribal customs. Pakistan continued this policy, even removing all troops from the area.

When the jihadi recruiters came with their religious calls to jihad, and young tribesmen joined up to fight, the authority of the maliks (tribal leaders) began to erode. When these young, indoctrinated, battle-hardened men came back from the war, it was completely shattered. The whole structure of governmental control broke down.

The same thing happened in Afghanistan, until then essentially a tribal society. That is why it is so hard to get a state functioning there now.


FB Ali

As I have written below the Americans in CIA DO who were the conduits to the non Sayyaf mujahid groups were ignorant former sergeants in US armed forces intelligence. As you know, CIA is an agency completely separate from the armed forces. These men succeeded to the mantle of authority from their Ivy WASP masters and hated officers. I represent all the groups they disliked. I told them a number of times that they were destroying traditional tribal structures but to no avail. pl


Col. Lang,

Great quotes, very apropos. Thanks!



If you had led tribesmen in combat you would see how truly great Lawrence was. Glubb and I discussed this at length and agreed that this was true. Lawrence was a tragic genius. pl


The moral clarity of IS is refreshing when you compare it to the moral relativism and fear of giving offense that pervades so much of the West.

It is also, of course, horribly wrongheaded. It seems like we are set up for a Hegelian conflict.


Many thanks for the insight to that period. Makes sense to me how it all came about.

The beaver


Just for my curiosity, was CIA operative Gust Avrakotos who worked with Charlie Wilson a good fellow or was he one of those who succeeded the WASPs?


Hi Pat,

As an ex Army Intel NCO am beginning to take offense....just kidding. Know exactly what you mean, though not sure you would have fared any better with the Ivy League Wasps?

The beaver


OT: Something is boiling in Tripoli, Libya.
Islamists took over the airport and now it seems that 15 of them were killed during two airstrikes




I know nothing of Stavropulous but I expect he was one of those people. You need educated people to do this kind of work. pl

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