Since 9/11 the World has been constantly at war with Terror, something which has manifested in vast human suffering as collateral damage. First the war in Afghanistan, later Iraq then Libya and now Syria; has created a Reign of Terror that has spread across continents from Middle East to North Africa to Europe to Asia. But the reign of terror that has been unleashed on the world in the form of state actors or non-state actors- is it just a co-incidence or a carefully calibrated strategy? To understand the backdrop of War on Terror, that has been launched post 9/11 one needs to go back a year and understand some missing links in the whole jigsaw puzzle.
America’s Global Dominance in 21st Century
One needs to refer to a Strategic document that was prepared and released in September 2000, which outlined America’s Military Role in the 21st Century on maintaining its Global Hegemony. The project outlines how America ought to use its Military Industrial Complex to extend its Global Hegemony in the 21st Century post the collapse of Soviet Union and the likely rise of China in Asia-Pacific. The Strategic Documents details in depth about the need for American forces to be among the most ready to be deployed anywhere in the world, with finely honed war fighting skills and the only forces configured for combat- highly versatile and mobile with a broad range of capabilities; indicating the true American commitment to its allies and their security interests. The Document also says that allies like the United Kingdom are “the most effective and efficient means of exercising American Global Leadership. The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The Document calls for a blueprint for maintaining global US Pre-eminence and shaping the “International Security Order” in line with “America’s principles and interests”. This “American Grand Strategy” must be advanced ‘as far into future as possible’ and the US must Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars’ as a Core Mission. The Documents highlights North Korea, Syria, Iran and Libya as “dangerous regimes” and says their existence justifies the creation of a worldwide command and control system. The strategic document further highlights the prospect of ‘Regime Change’ in China by stating that it is time for the presence of American Forces in South East Asia. This could lead to ‘America and Allied Power providing the spur to the process of democratisation of China’.
The Document calls for the creation of “US Space Forces” to dominate the space and total control of the cyber space to prevent their enemies from using the Internet. There is also a subtle hint of developing biological weapons that can target genotypes as this may transform biological warfare from realm of terror to a politically useful tool. The Documents further goes on to say that this ‘process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalysing event like a New Pearl Harbor’. It is rather intriguing that this strategic document mapping US’s future strategies in the decades ahead was released in September 2000 almost a year to 9/11; the America’s ‘New Pearl Harbor’ subsequent to which the War on Terror was Launched.
It is also rather queer that Neo-Cons who were part of this Strategic document released in September 2000 were also part of Bush Administration, months down the lane when 9/11 happened. Many of the top US Security Establishment members were part of this strategic vision document. The Catastrophic Events of 9/11 changed the way the world knew terror and thus in the name of that terror came a new wave of Taking down Regimes and propping up Brutal Dictators, clandestine help to Ultra Jihadists and dispatching the allied forces in the name of ‘War On Terror’.
Since September 11, 2001, US Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, including their numbers, their budget, their clout in Washington and their place in the country’s popular imagination. The command has, for example, more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 today, including a jump of roughly 8,000 during the three-year tenure of recently retired SOCOM chief Admiral William McRaven. During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, US Special Operations forces (SOF) were deployed to 133 countries roughly 70 percent of the nations on the planet according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This capped a three-year span in which the country’s most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises. They carried out shadowy missions over much of the planet: sometimes covert raids, more often hush-hush training exercises from Chad to Uganda, Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Albania to Romania, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, and Belize to Uruguay and consisted of the Special Operations forces (SOF), America’s most elite troops – Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, among others and odds are, if you throw a dart at a world map or stop a spinning globe with your index finger and don’t hit water, they’ve been there sometime in 2015.
The elite of the elite in the special ops community, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) take on covert, clandestine, and low-visibility operations in the hottest of hot spots. Some covert ops that have come to light in recent years include a host of Delta Force missions: among them, an operation in May in which members of the elite force killed an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf during a night raid in Syria; the 2014 release of long-time Taliban prisoner Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya; and the 2013 abduction of Anas Al-Libi, an al-Qaeda militant, off a street in that same country. Similarly, Navy SEALs have, among other operations, carried out successful hostage rescue missions in Afghanistan and Somalia in 2012; a disastrous one in Yemen in 2014; a 2013 kidnap raid in Somalia that went awry; and that same year a failed evacuation mission in South Sudan in which three SEALs were wounded when their aircraft was hit by small arms fire.
The Global Reign of Terror
In the name of War on Terror post 9/11, US has not only increased its global military footprint operating Drones from Africa to Middle East to Afghanistan, to having Military bases across the globe with special forces but also private mercenaries carrying out raids, bombing and drone strikes which have evoked sharp criticism about human rights violations. The latest strike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan is just one more such incidence where indiscretion in the name of war on terror has surpassed all humanistic boundaries. The Kunduz Hospital Strike by USAF that hit Doctors, Medical Staff and Patients evoked sharp criticism that are holding united states liable for War Crimes. President Obama has apparently apologized to Medical Organizations working there saying that the strike was based on Faulty Intelligence of a Taliban Operative being present in the hospital aided by Pakistan’s ISI. But this is one of few incidents which have caught the attention of the world yet there are so many unaccounted horrific massacres owing to indiscriminate strikes and special operations by Coalition Forces across regions from Afghanistan to Yemen to Somalia and Syria/Iraq.
On 11th March 2012, Massacre of 17 Afghan Civilians including 9 children and 4 women raised the fundamental question about the nature of Colonial Nature of War on Terror that mirrored practices of a colonial army engaged in prolonged occupation and the character of an Imperial state that gets away despite committing war crimes in a most inhuman manner. As per US Administration at 3 am on March 11, 2012 a deranged soldier walked off a Special Forces Base in rural Kandahar Province and without command authority entered two villages (two miles apart), shot and killed 17 unarmed civilians, mostly women and children and wounded an unspecified number of villagers; then he doused their bodies with gasoline, set them on fire and hiked back to base to surrender himself to his commanders. This ‘surrender’, the Pentagon claims, was recorded on video and no less than the President of the United States, Barack Obama, vouched for its authenticity.
Eyewitnesses have testified that up to 20 soldiers were involved, aided by a helicopter in what they described was typical of a US Special Forces’ night time raid, which involved the systematic breaking down of doors, rousing the sleeping families and shooting Afghan victims. What was supposed to have been a typical midnight assault on a “pacified” village in search of Taliban supporters, turned into the mass murder of children and their mothers in bed with virtually no adult males (husbands, fathers, uncles or brothers) present to protect them. In the days after news of the massacre leaked out, a furious Afghan President Karzai claimed that “hundreds” of similar massacres had been perpetrated by US and NATO forces and had gone unreported in the Western media and unpunished. Karzai has repeatedly called for an end to US Special Forces’ night raids on sleeping villages.
MarSOC was created three years ago on the express orders of Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary at the time, despite opposition from within the Marine Corps and the wider Special Forces community. Troops from the US Marines Corps’ Special Operations Command, or MarSOC, were responsible for calling in air strikes in Bala Boluk, in Farah, in May 2009 believed to have killed more than 140 men, women and children – as well as two other incidents in 2007 and 2008. The first controversial incident involving the unit happened just three weeks into its first deployment to Afghanistan on 4 March 2007. Speeding away from a suicide bomb attack close to the Pakistan border, around 120 men from Fox Company opened fire on civilians near Jalalabad, in Nangahar province. The Marines said they were shot at after the explosion; eyewitnesses said the Americans fired indiscriminately at pedestrians and civilian cars, killing at least 19 people. In August 2008, a 20-man MarSOC unit, fighting alongside Afghan commandos, directed fire from unmanned drones, attack helicopters and a cannon-armed Spectre gunship into compounds in Azizabad, in Herat province, leaving more than 90 people dead – many of them children.
On the evening of February 12, some 25 friends and relatives gathered at the home of Hajji Sharaf Udin in the village of Khataba, a few miles outside Gardez, the capital of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan. They were there to celebrate the naming of Udin’s new-born grandson. “Sitting together along the walls of a guest room, the men had taken turns dancing while musicians played,” The Times (UK) later reported. Before sunrise five innocent Afghan civilians, all relatives would be murdered. Around 3:00 am, one of the musicians went outside the compound to use the toilet. Someone shined a light in his eyes. He ran inside and yelled that the Taliban were outside. While most of the guests slept, Udin’s son, Mohammed Dawood, a police commander, went out to investigate with his 15-year-old son Sediqullah. Perhaps under fire, no doubt in terror, father and son ran back across the courtyard. Both were shot by a gunman on the roof. Dawood was killed instantly. His son was hit twice but lived. Three women were crouching behind Zahir in the doorway- Bibi Shirin, 22, the mother of four children under five; Bibi Saleha, 37, the mother of 11 children; and Gulalai, 18. Both mothers were pregnant. All three were gunned down by the volley that killed Zahir.
Despite harsh criticism US and NATO Refused to accept responsibility and rather put out a lame story of a fire fight and a threat intent. The Gardez massacre is also a brutal illustration of the reactionary character of the U.S. occupation. The U.S. has offered $2,000 “compensation” to the family for each victim. Not only Special Operations but US Coalition Troops have been accused of War Crimes, Violation of Geneva Convention in case of missing reports of scores of Afghan civilians a prime e.g. of which was one Qandi, who worked as a cashier at the Wardak office of the Ministry of Information and Culture, who was arrested at his house in early November 2012 by US soldiers and their Afghan interpreters. He said was taken to the Special Forces base in Nerkh and held there for 45 days, where he was accused of working with the insurgents. He claimed he was tortured into making false confessions by American soldiers and their Afghan interpreters, including Zikria, and that they subjected him to beatings, shocks with a Taser, mock drownings, as well as sexual abuse.
Special Operations troops struck a seemingly endless succession of targets. No figures are publicly available that break out the number of raids that Team 6 carried out in Afghanistan or their toll. Military officials say that no shots were fired on most raids. But between 2006 and 2008, Team 6 operators said, there were intense periods in which for weeks at a time their unit logged 10 to 15 kills on many nights, and sometimes up to 25. Team 6 and its Army counterpart, Delta Force, have delivered intrepid performances that have drawn the nation’s two most recent presidents to deploy them to an expanding list of far-off trouble spots. They include Syria and Iraq, now under threat from the Islamic State, and Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, mired in continuing chaos.
Not only in Afghanistan but such operations have been carried through Drone Strikes in Afghanistan-Pakistan border or in Yemen where scores of civilians have been killed in the name of War on Terror. At 6 am on December 17, 2009 a US Navy vessel stationed in the Gulf launched at least one cruise missile towards Al-Majala. The US target that day was Saleh Mohammed al-Anbouri, also known as Al-Kazemi. The man was a known militant, who had allegedly been ‘bringing nationals from different countries to train them to become Al Qaeda members’, as stated in a later inquiry. He was linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a franchise of the global terrorist organization, which had launched multiple attacks against US, interests in Yemen. Al Anbouri had brought his wife and four young sons to live with his tribe in Al-Majala. Also living in the hamlet was the extended Al Haydara family, mostly women and children. They had no known links to AQAP. Al Anbouri told locals that after recently being released from prison, he wanted to ‘start a new life.’ On the morning of December 17, he and a group of other men were digging a well.
Forty-one civilians died in the US attack. Fourteen members of the extended Al Haydara clan were killed, along with 27 members of the Al Anbouri clan. Three more people later died when they stepped on left-over cluster munitions. Among those killed that day were 22 children. The youngest, Khadje Ali Mokbel Louqye, was just one year old. A dozen women also died, five of them reportedly pregnant. For the Pentagon’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) – the group that captured Saddam Hussein and would later kill Osama bin Laden – the first US attack in Yemen in seven years seemed a success. A wanted terrorist and his alleged associates were dead.
Approximately 4,500 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudis lead coalition began bombing 150 days ago, according to UN. 23,000 more have been wounded. UNICEF estimates nearly 400 children have been killed and over 600 injured and in past 4 months in the poorest country of the Middle East. Not only US Special Forces but even allies like Saudi Arabia have caused vast human tragedies raging across continents all in the name of war on terror. Adding to the misery are also the Conflicts raging in Eastern Ukraine where Russian Backed rebels massacred hundreds of Ukrainian Soldiers. Soldiers from a Ukraine volunteer battalion say they were gunned down after pro-Russians Rebels went back on a deal to allow them safe passage out of the besieged town of Ilovaisk. Similarly Assad Regime in Syria has been said to have committed war crimes by indiscriminate barrel bombing of Cities which has nearly killed 1, 70,000+ Civilians in Regime Offensives and bombings.
War on Terror: An Endless War
In may 2013 a Senate Armed Services committee member asked a senior Pentagon official, Assistant Secretary Michael Sheehan, how long the war on terror would last; his reply: “At least 10 to 20 years.” At least. A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed afterward “that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today – atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted.” Leon Panetta, who served as Obama’s Defense Secretary and CIA Director, said of Obama’s new bombing campaign: “I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war”. He added that the war “will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere”. Former US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel in Oct 2014 said ‘get used to Endless war’.
Bloomberg reported in September 2014-Led by Lockheed Martin Corp., the biggest U.S. defense companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world. Lockheed, the world’s biggest defense company, reached an all-time high of $180.74 on Sept. 19, when Northrop, Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics Corp. also set records. That quartet and Chicago-based Boeing accounted for about $105 billion in federal contract orders last year. For defense companies, the offensive against Islamic State and al-Qaeda extremists is more than a showcase for big-ticket weapons such as Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor fighter, the stealth jet that debuted in combat last year. Not only US but Russia has also joined the race to showcase its weapons in War Zones like Syria where it fired latest Long Range Cruise Missile SS-N-30 from Caspian Sea into Syria or deploying its Flanker Jets (Sukhois).
These very nations’ imperialistic military campaigns and excesses in garb of same has fuelled more extremism and grotesque jihadist groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, AQAP who are committing mass executions, beheading leading to a larger human travesty out of this war on terror by prompting more military campaigns – an endless self-sustaining vicious cycle. These night raids, special operations, covert assassinations, extrajudicial killings, drone strikes, the use of military contractors, massive detentions and torture, and all-around terror are embedded in the nature of this imperialist occupation. This has been vividly captured in a Documentary Film ‘Dirty Wars’ (2013) where an investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command. He exposes covert operations to capture and kill people (Kill Lists), but those agents do not exist on paper.
It’s a sad reflection that leading nations across the world guided by their military industrial complex, ringing in big bucks seem to have become deaf and mute spectators to human tragedy that is unfolding every day in this never ending sordid saga of War on Terror. It would be correct to say that War on Terror is actually Global Reign of Terror where enemies (terror threats) will be first created like Al Qaeda in Afghan Jihad and then the very same organizations will be used to justify imperial military campaigns. It is said that in this world both Good and Evil Exists and till the time evil exists the unfortunate truth is that this war on terror will continue.