Reagan Palled Around with Terrorists, Too

Now that McCain and Palin are doing everything they can to wrap themselves in the legacy of Ronald Reagan, it’s worth noting who was “palling around with terrorists” when the Gipper was at the height of his powers after his 1984 reelection and before the Iran-Contra scandal. It was back in 1985 that McCain’s and Palin’s hero hosted Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, then a key Mujahadin leader (and major Islamo-fascist, as some might call him), at the White House. (Hekmatyar is in the foreground on the far left in the photo.)

Hekmatyar, who, among other things, has voiced his admiration for Osama bin Laden, is now one of the trio of key warlords — they also include the Taliban’s Mullah Mohammed Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani — who have been named as Public Enemies Number One by the Pentagon in Afghanistan. Here’s how the Los Angeles Times described Reagan’s guest in a recent article:

“Hekmatyar, who is based north of Peshawar in Pakistan, is the most mercurial of the three. As an engineering student at Kabul University in the 1970s, he was accused of throwing acid in the faces of women who did not wear a veil. He became one of the most effective mujahedin leaders in the war against the Soviets during the 1980s, leading a group that received millions in CIA funding.

“The CIA and U.S. special operations teams, hoping to turn him again, have approached Hekmatyar in recent years through intermediaries, according to U.S. sources. Last year, he was also contacted by representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The talks went nowhere, according to Afghan news reports.

“Paul Pillar, former deputy chief of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center, described Hekmatyar as a “very ambitious, very strong-willed, vicious sort of guy. Unless he were directly, physically put out of commission, he is going to continue to vie for power.”

“Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami group was accused of an ambush in August near Kabul that killed 10 French paratroopers.”

It’s always useful to recall the Reaganite roots of the “global war on terror,” at least in Southwest Asia, to gain some historical perspective about the “exceptional” nature of U.S. foreign policy and its status as “the greatest force for good in this world,” as Palin put it last weekend at the same California rally where she accused Sen. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” Different times, different circumstances, of course. But Hekmatyar’s background and viciousness were well known at the time of his White House reception.

McCain, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, was, of course, an enthusiastic supporter of the Afghan “freedom fighters” and the “Reagan Doctrine” that supported them and other insurgent groups in countries Washington considered to be Soviet clients in the 1980s. As reported in a very good article by the Associated Press earlier this week, McCain served on the board of advisers of the U.S. section of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), the Phoenix-based U.S. Council for World Freedom, through at least 1984 and, according to his account, asked to have his name removed from the Council’s letterhead in 1986 (presumably just as the Iran-Contra scandal, in which the Council’s chief, ret. Gen. John Singlaub, played a key role), was breaking. As noted by AP, States News Service placed McCain at a Washington Council event that honored one of Hekmatyar’s comrades in 1985.

In an excellent 1986 book by Scott and Jon Lee Anderson, Inside the League: The Shocking Expose of How Terrorists, Nazis and Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League, the two brothers report on WACL’s September 1985 meeting in Dallas in which, among many other people with rather questionable backgrounds, participants included Mario Sandoval Alarcon, the head of Guatemala’s long-ruling “party of organized violence” (MLN); Yves Gignac, a former chief of the French Secret Army Organizations (OAS) “who spent five years in prison for his role in an assassination plot against Charles de Gaulle;” Chirila Ciuntu, an official of the Romania’s Iron Guard during World War II, then being sought for war crimes; and John Kosiak, a top Nazi collaborator in Byelorussia at the same time. “Yaroslav Stetsko, the Ukrainian who presided over the massacre of 7,000 Jews in the city of Lvov, was represented by his wife, Slava.” So far as I know, McCain did not attend, and Singlaub told AP the congressman and future senator and presidential candidate was never an active member. At the same time, Singlaub said he had no recollection of McCain ever resigning from the board, and there is no published account that I could find in which McCain expressed regret for his association with the group.

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Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Oh, this is no “big deal”, just the typical hypocrisy of the standard American politician.
    I was a Marine and am a Vietnam veteran. Yes, we were the invaders, just like now in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    McCain and Palin need to check their facts, but then they are running for office in America, where, it seems facts don’t matter all that much to the “average” voters.
    semper fi

  2. angloamericans have always been terrorists.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed a hidden Fact that on July 3, 1979, unknown to the public and American Congress that President Jimmy Carter secretly authorized $500 million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and “de-stabilize” the Soviet Union…
    The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following years poured $4 billion into setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan (Taliban means “student”).

    These people were sent to the CIA’s spy training camp in Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught “sabotage skills” – terrorism.
    Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York, In Pakistan; they were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS.

    Posted by: Ydotheyhateus on Jul 16, 2008 8:28 AM

    There was a point in Afghanistan’s tortured history when the future looked bright, when a determined effort to lift the country and its people out of backward agrarian feudalism almost succeeded.

    It began with the formation of the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) back in the sixties, which opposed the autocratic rule of King Zahir Shar. The growth in popularity of the PDPA eventually led to them taking control of the country in 1978, after a coup removed the former Kings’ cousin, Mohammed Daud, from power.

    The coup enjoyed popular support in the towns and cities, evidenced in reports carried in US newspapers. The Wall Street Journal, no friend of revolutionary movements, reported at the time that ‘150,000 persons marched to honour the new flagthe participants appeared genuinely enthusiastic.’ The Washington Post reported that ‘Afghan loyalty to the government can scarcely be questioned.

    Upon taking power, the new government introduced a program of reforms designed to abolish feudal power in the countryside, guarantee freedom of religion, along with equal rights for women and ethnic minorities. Thousands of prisoners under the old regime were set free and police files burned in a gesture designed to emphasise an end to repression. In the poorest parts of Afghanistan, where life expectancy was 35 years, where infant mortality was one in three, free medical care was provided. In addition, a mass literacy campaign was undertaken, desperately needed in a society in which ninety percent of the population could neither read nor write.

    The resulting rate of progress was staggering. By the late 1980s half of all university students in Afghanistan were women, and women made up 40 percent of the country’s doctors, 70 percent of its teachers, and 30 percent of its civil servants. In John Pilger’s ‘New Rulers Of The World’ (Verso, 2002), he relates the memory of the period through the eyes of an Afghan woman, Saira Noorani, a female surgeon who escaped the Taliban in 2001. She said: “Every girl could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian movies. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. It was sad to think that these were the people the West had supported.”

    Under the pretext that the Afghan government was a Soviet puppet, which was false, the then Carter Administration authorised the covert funding of opposition tribal groups, whose traditional feudal existence had come under attack with these reforms. An initial $500 million was allocated, money used to arm and train the rebels in the art in secret camps set up specifically for the task across the border in Pakistan. This opposition came to be known as the mujaheddin, and so began a campaign of murder and terror which, six months later, resulted in the Afghan government in Kabul requesting the help of the Soviet Union, resulting in an ill-fated military intervention which ended ten years later in an ignominious retreat of Soviet military forces and the descent of Afghanistan into the abyss of religious intolerance, abject poverty, warlordism and violence that has plagued the country ever since.

    Brzezinski confirms: “Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

  3. Innocence, or willful ignorance, among an aging population is a most dangerous condition within our militarily powerful nation.

    Why is it that we cannot admit that we voted, in the year 2000 CE, for persons with all the morality of the Nazis, whose cruelty we seem to be imitating in all its gory details?

    What is so difficult about admitting that we have made a terrible mistake?

  4. As one who spent over 20 years in the active milirary ending n 1964 I ill not vote this time. All we have is total loosers. Reagan was not the best either.

  5. Reagan and McCain = two of the world’s biggest terrorists.

    It is time to bring the Contra terrorists to trial for their crimes against humanity.

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