Operation Cyclone



OperationCyclone is a codename given to an afghan-based program financed bythe US Central Intelligence Agency. The program involved providingfinancial assistance, training, and arms to the mujahideen before andafter the Soviet-Afghan war that lasted between 1979 and1989. The warwas an extended of impeding expansion of communism in Europe andMiddle East. After Second World War II, The Soviets adopted Marxismprinciples that led to the spread of communism (Surhone et al.,2010). The communist People`s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)formed the Afghanistan government in 1978. However, Billard,“,” 25 asserts, “Thenewcommunist policiesenraged the wealthy semi-feudal landlords, the Muslim religiousestablishment and the tribal chiefs.”Several groups blossomed throughout Afghanistan because the citizenswere against Marxism. The US provided military training, weapons, andfinancial assistance to a group that was already receiving supportfrom the Pakistani government. Initially, the US set a budget of$20-30 million dollars per year (Billard, 2010). However, the Sovietarmy supported the PDPA government to prevent from being defeated.The intervention resulted in a grueling war that extended from 1979to early 1990s. By 1987, the US was spending over $600 million a yearto sustain the war. is the most expensive CIAmission up to date. The long-term ramifications of the collaborationbetween the US and the mujahideen throughout the 1980s resulted inthe ultimate failure of because the mujahideenlater used that original training against the US in the 2000s(Surhone et al., 2010).

OperationCyclone background

Afterthe World War II, the Soviet Union embarked on a mission of spreadingcommunism across Asia and Europe. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the UnitedStates’ president in 1954, described the “domino principle”. Heasserted that if one country embraced Marxism in a region, theideology would quickly spread to other neighboring states. The USresolved to provide military intelligence, weapons and financing tocountries that were at risk of the communism influence. The People`sDemocratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed the Afghan governmentin April 1978 under Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Aminleadership (both Khalqis) (Aubrey, 2004). However, Amin killed andoverthrew Taraki’s administration. He then enforced a communistadministration that received high support from the Soviet Union.Unfortunately, the PDPA introduced several policies that made hisgovernment unpopular with many Afghans. For example, he advocatedgender equality, banned usury, and changed the color of the flag fromthe usual green color to extensive red hue that resembled that of theSoviet (Torrin, 2012). Moreover, the PDPA state was based on secularprinciples that upset many Afghans. The policies angered the tribalchiefs, well off semi-feudal landlords, and the Muslim leaders whostarted guerilla war against the Marxist administration. The PDPAreceived Soviet military support in combating the escalatingrebellion. The Soviet army was too strong and experienced for theAfghan guerillas. This implies that the Afghan was apparently on theverge of becoming a communist state. The British and Americans hadbeen preventing the spread of Marxism principles for over a century.On July 1979, President Carter signed a decree that permittedfinancing the Afghanistan’s anticommunist guerrillas in a programdubbed “”. Later, President Reagan enhanced theprogram by sending CIA agents to collaborate with Pakistani army intraining, arming and financing the Mujahideen, who was fightingcommunism in Afghanistan. In an interview with President JimmyCarter`s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hechallenged the critics, “Whatis most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or thecollapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or theliberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war(Surhone et al. 2010, 9)?”


Surhoneet al., “International Terrorism,” 12 notes that the UnitedStates purpose for empowering the Mujahideen was crashing communismin Afghanistan because Marxism would have spread to the Gulf States,Iran, and Pakistan. In 1970s and 80s, the USSR was a superpower as ithad high military and financial capacity it required spreadingcommunism policies across Asia and Europe. On the contrary, the USand Britain would have incurred high war cost and losses if itengaged in direct combat with the Soviet-backed PDPA administration.The cheapest strategy was arming and financing local anti-communistguerrilla groups to overthrow the administration. However, the warlasted for several years since the PDPA government requested Sovietmilitary support (Choueiri 1990, 29).

Originally,the CIA offered assistance the Mujahideen indirectly. They gave thePakistani secret service money and arms so that it could crush theresistance. However, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) wasinadequate in empowering the guerillas. President Reagan authorizedCIA agents to enter Afghanistan secretly, and establish stronger tiesand train more guerillas that would effectively overcome theexpanding communism. Paramilitary officers from the C IA SpecialActivities Division were posted in Afghanistan to accomplish themission (Choueiri 1990, 48).

Apartfrom the CIA, the People’s Republic of china, British SAS and M16,and the Saudi Arabia trained and armed over 100,000 insurgents from1978 to 1992. Coll, “Ghost Wars,” 4 notes that the countrieswere encouraging mujahideen volunteers from other Muslim states tojoin in the war. The volunteers were provided with a wide range oflogistics, weapons, and tactics that that improved their capacity toresist the soviet army. The program played a key role in terminatingSoviet invasion in Afghanistan and the neighboring countries becausethe invaders suffered high casualty in the hands of the mujahideen.The United States supplied the guerrillas with large quantities ofstinger missiles that were effective anti-aircraft weapons. Inaddition, the US supplied the mujahideen with advanced guns such asthe AK-47s in from 1985 as the nation was determined to win the coldwar “by all means available” (Torrin 2012, 7). Initially, mostrebels were using the old guns that the British were using during theWorld War I. The effect of the new weapons was increased casualty onthe Soviet army and damage of helicopters that made the war toocostly for the communists. In addition, the US had gained loyalty ofthe Saudi Monarchy that quadrupled the oil price for the Soviet. TheUSSR was incurring losses of more than $20 billion a year. The costwas too high such that the state could not meet the cost of theincursion in Afghanistan. The solution was to end the invasion inAfghanistan (Billard 2010, 19).

Themujahideen triumph of driving the Soviets from Afghanistan wassignificant to the world, especially the British and the Americans.They succeeded in preventing the extension of communism the expansionof Marxism to the neighboring states. By 1989, the Mujahideen werehighly motivated after defeating the Soviets, a Superpower of 1980s(Aubrey 2004, 22). The liberation army was determined to maintain anIslamic based state that was independent of Western influence. On theother hand, the West attempting to interfere with the new liberatedgovernment. As usual, the west attempted advocating democratic rightssuch as gender equality, which was against the principles of diehardmujahideen (Billard 2010, 37).

PresidentCarter had allocated $500 million in 979 to establish an institutionfor training and educating liberal armies drawn from various Arabcountries to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, theenlightened and military empowered students from the institutionturned against the Americans because they wanted to be independent.The British SAS and M16, Pakistan’s ISI, and the American CIAtrained and armed hundreds of thousands of mujahideen (Torrin, 2012).The Islamic training schools based in Pakistan radicalized severalyoung fighters and sent them to Afghanistan to fight the communists.Some devoted members of the Mujahideen further attended the CIA’sspy training center located in Virginia to learn “sabotage skills”that could accelerate defeating the communist administration. Somemujahideen trained at the CIA headquarters later became themasterminds of al-Qaeda. They used the “sabotage skills” theAmericans taught them to wreak havoc against the west (Jalali &ampGrau, 2001).

Mujahideenbacklash on United States

Afterthe Soviets moved out of Afghanistan, the US stopped providingfinancial support, training and military equipment to the mujahideenabruptly. The US had predicted that the PDPA government would crashwithin six months without Soviet support. Besides, the mujahideenwere highly motivated since they felt they had crashed a superpower.Unfortunately, The US established a base for Islamic fundamentalismthrough the mujahideen and left it untamed. The Pakistani ISI hadrecruited several volunteers from the Arab states. However, manyliberal fighters acquired did not get material benefit from the war.They remained soldiers of fortune available to fight for monetarygain in other Arab states (Jalali &amp Grau 2001, 55).

Accordingto the United States’ fund distributors, all the funds it providedwere directed towards the mujahideen fighting the communists.Nonetheless, new evidence indicates that several mujahideen are partof the contemporary al-Qaeda group that fights against the UnitedSates. Throughout the Afghan-Soviet war, the mujahideen was composedof several independent rebels composed of various tribal groupsdivided along political and tribal grounds. The withdrawal of theSoviets led to the escalation of a civil war in Afghanistan as therebels, and communist government supporters fought for power (Jalaliand Grau 2001, 60). Finally, the mujahideen finally captured Kabul in1992 and overthrew the communist administration. The fighters formed“Islamic State of Afghanistan” that was recognizedinternationally. However, the new administration was not based onstrict principles of Islamic law. This led to a faction of themujahideen that intended to get rid of a communist state andestablish a state that was strictly governed by “sharia laws”extend the civil war past 1992 (Torrin 2012, 40). The rebelsfighting the new administration were part of the highly trainedMuslim fighters by the United States CIA, Britain’s M16, and SASand Pakistan’s ISI among other allies involved in the cold war. Therebels were strong since they still had large quantities of USdonated supplies during the civil war. As the United States wasbacking the Islamic state formed implied that the rebellingmujahideen had turned against their former masters. The civil lastedbetween extended to 1996 when the Taliban mujahideen oustedBurhanuddin Rabbani’s &quotIslamic State of Afghanistan&quot andestablished the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. The Talibanadministration was based on “Islamic fundamentalism” that washighly criticized worldwide (Coll 2005, 44).

Althoughthe United States and other nations did not recognize the Talibanadministration, the mujahideen were highly motivated because theybelieved they had defeated a superpower. Torrin, “A Guide to,” 55 warned President George Bush during the coldwar that that empowering mujahideen was creating a “Frankenstein”. Most of the funds donated by the United States were channeled to theMujahideen via Pakistani ISI. The ISI gave the largest chunk of thefunds, military training services, and weapons to Gulbuddin HekmatyarHowever, it later emerged that Hekmatyar was a close ally to OsamaBin Laden. Bin Laden was managing “Maktab al-Khadamat”, anorganization that was consolidating funds for recruiting foreignsoldiers willing to volunteer in the Afghan-Soviet war. The closerelationship between Osama and Hekmatyar made it possible for him toaccess American weapons, funding, and possibly send some Americantrained mujahideen in “sabotage skills” – terrorism (Coll 2008,33).

However,the former financiers of the mujahideen such as Saudi Arabia andPakistan Inter-Services Intelligence did stop financing the Talibanrebels after they ousted Rabbani’s Islamic State of Afghanistan.From 1996 to 2001, The Taliban implemented strict sharia laws. Themassacred civilians and conducted earth-scorched policies that madethe administration unpopular with international communities. Inaddition, the “Deobandi fundamentalism” followed by the Talibancontributed to extreme treatment of women. Countries such as theUnited States were significantly opposing Taliban administration,thereby leading to a deteriorating relationship with the faction(Coll 2005, 72). Meanwhile, Osama was providing military support tothe Taliban administration using former mujahideen the Americans hadtrained and armed to fight the Soviets. Attempts by the United Statesto halt the expansion of the al-Qaida and mujahideen radicalizationattracted the wrath of Muslim fundamentalists (Coll 2008, 91). Thefighters organized and executed the September 11 attacks in theUnited States. While the attack was intended to scare and force theUnited States to refrain from intercepting the policies of the Muslimfundamentalists, it became the origin of a long-standing war betweenthe Muslim fundamentalists and the Americans (Jalali &amp Grau 2001,95).

TheUnited States ousted the Taliban administration in 2001 because itwas associated with Osama Bin Laden. Osama was allegedly aninternational extremist commanding a big army of well-armed andAmerican trained mujahideen. The soldiers trained by the UnitedStates to attack the soviets turned against them in 2000s. A bigportion of the Taliban faction was composed of American-trainedmujahideen, and they form a big part of al-Qaeda. The main functionof al-Qaeda was gathering funds, training mujahideen, and postingthem to Arab states that required support to maintain Islamicfundamentalism. Despite the combined NATO effort to crush al-Qaeda,achieving success has been extremely challenging (Coll 2008, 58).Historians claim the CIA trained Osama Bin Laden on security issues,thus making him a difficult target to defeat. He had internationalconnections on donations, well-trained soldiers, and sabotage skillsthat could assist him in fighting the US army successfully (Jalali &ampGrau 2001, 101).

Howard,“Terrorism and Counterterrorism,” 13 claims that the CIA deniesthat none of the assistance in the form of weapons, funds, ortraining offered to Afghan rebels benefited foreign fighters.However, analysts assert that even Osama was one of the voluntarymujahideen fighters that benefited from the CIA training program.Osama established al-Qaeda (means the base) in 1988 with theobjective of providing Afghanistan and allied Arab countries withspecial military wing that could avert future external invasions.Many members of the group were “Arab-Afghans” that were warveterans trained by the west and its allies. Besides, the mujahideenwere highly motivated because they had allegedly destroyed asuperpower (Coll 2008, 108).

UScollaboration with the mujahideen was not successful because itcreated Arab heroes with high military and leadership skills. Forinstance, Osama used his leadership success and connection withdonors in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other allies to accumulatewealth that he in turn used in establishing a unified military wingfor protecting Arab nations from invaders. Besides, the war was theorigin of Muslim brotherhood. War analysts claim that severalvolunteer fighters from Arab states in North Africa, Europe, and Asiavolunteered to fight against the communist government. The militarywing started attacking the west in general, and United States inparticular from 2000s so that they can refrain from interfering withtheir internal affairs (Choueiri 1990, 27).

Thewar with Islamic fundamentalists has been deteriorating over timesince the mujahideen have access to advanced technology. The UnitedStates supported mujahideen to repel communists because they dependedheavily on oil from the Gulf States. However, mujahideen establishedharsh policies towards its citizens. Attempts by the US government toadvocate democracy in the Arab states provoked mujahideen wrath (Coll2005, 16). They commissioned Osama’s al-Qaeda, which was created toprovide military support for combating invaders interfering withinternal policies of the Arab-associated states. The group hasattracted several hardened fighters because Osama does distributeriches to its members (Coll 2008, 19). In addition, he does providemilitary assistance to other Islamic fundamentalists across the globewith the aim of fighting the west or other countries/individualsopposing Islam fundamentalism. For example, the ‘al-Shabaabmilitia’ in Somalia and ‘Boko Haraam militia’ in Nigeria arelinked to Osama’s al-Qaeda group. The groups receive funding,military intelligence experts, weapons, and training from extremistsassociated with al-Qaeda (Jalali &amp Grau 2001, 67).

Insummary, was a long-term failure because it foundedIslamic fundamentalism that has raised international terrorism. Theperpetrators of extremism in the world are former mujahideen trainedby the US government to curtail communism. If the United States hadnot collaborated with the Afghan Arab in fighting the Soviets, itwould probably not be facing the current extensive terroristatrocities. Moreover, defeating the group is difficult because theperpetrators are professionals that were trained by the UnitedStates’ government. All the fighters are united by a sense ofMuslim brotherhood that traces its root to operation cyclone. Thewest allies recruited fighters from neighboring Arab States in orderto assist Afghan from Soviet Occupation (Surhone et al. 2010, 11).However, the west failed to predict the power and influence that thegroup it was creating could have if it turned against them. Thefighters were equipped trained to use advanced technology weaponssuch as the stinger missiles, determining logistics and amassingresources. The west also trained the Islamists on strategies ofsabotaging or “creating terror” on a rival to increase the costand losses until the enemy can no longer withstand battlefieldpressure. Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani prime minister in the 1980s,had cautioned President George H. W. Bush to refrain from fundingmujahideen because the faction could become a ‘Frankenstein’ inthe future. Unfortunately, the US continued supplying largequantities of funds and weapons to the mujahideen so that they coulddefeat the communists. The outcome of the victory was belief thatAllah was so powerful that they could defeat every world power andbecome the new hegemony. Al-Qaeda was primary created to trainmujahideen who would destroy the non-believers in the world, and thendeclare Islam as the only religion. The battle-hardened mujahideenhave never achieved democracy and stability that the United Statesgovernment intended to introduce in the Middles East. Instead, theyganged up to fight the west so that they can implement Islamicfundamentalism that does not advocate democracy. Therefore, thelong-term ramifications of the collaboration between the US and themujahideen throughout the 1980s resulted in the ultimate failure of because the mujahideen later used that originaltraining against the US in the 2000s.


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Surhoneet al., “International Terrorism,” 12

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