When The US And Al-Qaeda Fought On The Same Side

“Just for the record, the weather today is partly suspicious with chances of betrayal.” —Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

In A Nutshell

In 1978, Afghanistan’s moderate government was overthrown by a coalition of leftist military officers led by Nur Muhammad Taraki. Conservative Muslims did not approve. In 1979, the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan to help Taraki’s government, but they were opposed by an unlikely coalition of Afghans, Al-Qaeda, Pakistanis, Saudi Arabians, and United States fighters.

The Whole Bushel

The Afghan War of 1978–1992 was a war of ideologies, primarily between communism and religious fundamentalism, with a splash of US-based capitalistic interests thrown in for good measure.

In 1978, Nur Muhammad Taraki and other Afghan military officers overthrew the government of President Muhammad Daud Khan, installing a communist regime. Power was mainly held by Marxist-Leninist political groups, not the people. In fact, ironically, the communist overhaul had little popular support.

As a result, the communist Afghan government began to forge a close relationship with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union deployed troops to Afghanistan when the Afghans began a rebellion to overthrow the communist government in 1979.

In addition to the native Afghan rebels (the Mujahideen), another group rose to fight the Soviet Union: Al-Qaeda. Led by a man named Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda was a multinational group of jihadists determined to force the Soviet Union from the country and establish an Islamist government (later realized via the Taliban). Al-Qaeda was heavily responsible for training, recruiting, transporting, and arming the resistance to the Soviets.

The efforts of the Afghan rebels and Al-Qaeda were supported financially by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Such was the animosity between the United States and the Soviet Union, the US was willing to overlook the more threatening ideologies of the Afghan cause.

But did the US fund Osama Bin Laden? Not exactly. Much of Bin Laden’s funding came from his own wealth. His family owned an extremely successful Saudi construction company. US funding went to the Mujahideen. Despite being on the same side, the US and Al-Qaeda apparently had little contact.

The Soviet Union did not fare well in the war. After several years of fighting, the USSR was left with 15,000 causalities and little progress. In 1988, the United States (along with Pakistan and Afghanistan) signed an agreement with the Soviet Union forcing them to withdraw and for Afghanistan to become neutral, ending its alliance with the Soviets. The Soviet troops were gone by 1989.

In 1994, the radical Islamist political party, the Taliban, took control of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda directed its efforts against its former ally of convenience, the United States.

Show Me The Proof

Encyclopaedia Britannica: Afghan War
Encyclopaedia Britannica: al-Qaeda
BBC News: Who is Osama Bin Laden?
Fox News: Dispelling the CIA-Bin Laden Myth

  • UN

    why go in past when the same thing is happening in Syria right now…now im no supporter of govt there and they are getting what they deserve but talk about hypocrisy and lets not forget the fucking war on terror

  • Joe

    The US CREATED al-Qaeda. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pres. Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor was photographed alongside Osama bin Laden in 1979 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Not only that, but the term al-Qaeda is an umbrella term for made-up enemies of the US in the middle east. al-Qaeda means “the base” and was the original name of a computer database. To think Osama bin Laden attacked us with this so-called organization is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant.

  • Last year, one of our neighbours, a refugee from Afghanistan was expelled from the Netherlands. He fought alongside Al Qaeda against the Soviets in the 1980-s, which had something to do with him being expelled, but I’ve never found out what was going on exactly. His Dutch was difficult and my Farsi abominal. The police took him away in a blinded van and I heard via his wife that he spent over a year in several ‘detention institutes’ in the Netherlands after that, before he went off the radar.

  • Passin’ Through

    And the time the US aided Saddam Hussein, and the time the US helped overthrow the Cuban government and install Castro, and the time the US aided Manuel Noriega.

    A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.

    • UN

      Saddam & Rumsfeld

      • inconspicuous detective

        makes you wonder which dictators and madmen of tomorrow we shook hands with today.

        • UN

          Its US interpretation of dictators is what most worrying they in past have clearly shown supports to dictators all over the world from Shah of Iran, Musharraf in Pakistan , Mubarak in Egypt and clearly once they were fine with Saddam too……..so as long as US interests are meant……democracy can go take a hike