The Sordid History of British Manipulation of American Democracy Series: Read it and weep!
“The Safari Club set a precedent and some guidelines for the subsequent CIA operation in Afghanistan. As its name implied, the Safari Club’s main task was to carry out missions – always anti-Communist ones, for America, on the ‘good guys’ side of the Cold War…” – John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars, 1999
The Safari club represented the true essence of what CIA Director Allen Dulles had intended when setting up the Central Intelligence Agency following World War II; an autonomous covert action organization with global reach, beyond the jurisdiction of American democracy and responsible to no one.
A spinoff of the right-wing Pinay Cercle as a secret off-the books “Private Sector Intelligence agency,” and in league with the CIA and Brian Crozier’s 6th International, the Safari Club was only formerly acknowledged in 2002 by the one-time head of Saudi Arabian Intelligence Prince Turki Al-Faisal to have come into existence in 1976.
But as revealed by John K. Cooley in his groundbreaking 1999 study, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, the Safari Club members had been active informally for years secretly protecting CIA assets and covert operations from the prying eyes of Congressional investigators following Watergate and the revelations of the Church Committee hearings on 30 years of CIA coups, cover-ups and assassinations.
Cooley writes, “The Carter team adopted a method of avoiding the stigma of direct CIA involvement in covert operations which could go wrong and backfire on the United States. It was a method which Henry Kissinger… had refined and applied with skill: get others to do what you want done… the ‘others’ in Kissinger’s era of the early 1970s, a time of rehearsal for the approaching adventure in Afghanistan, were a set of unlikely colleagues…”
Kissinger’s set of unlikely Safari Club colleagues included, France’s Count Alexandre de Marenches chief of French external intelligence, The Shah of Iran, King Hassan II of Morocco, President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt and Kamal Adham, head of intelligence for Saudi Arabian King Faisal. More to the point, the Safari Club was more than just an off-the-books spy operation doing covert operations for the CIA whose methods the Carter team adopted. The Safari Club was the real CIA, covertly funded by Saudi Arabia and run out of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by the CIA’s former director Richard Helms, U.S. Ambassador to Iran from 1973-1977.
As presented by one-time CNN Special Assignment investigator Joe Trento in his 2005 exposé Prelude To Terror, “Both Prince Turki and Sheikh Kamal Adham [head of Saudi intelligence] would play enormous roles in servicing a spy network to replace the official CIA while it was under Congressional scrutiny between the time of Watergate and the end of the Carter administration… Several top U.S. military and intelligence officials directed the operations from positions they held overseas, notably former CIA Director Richard Helms, at this time Ambassador to Iran.”
According to Trento, at this time, Sheikh Kamal Adham took control of intelligence financing for the United States by setting up a network of banks with the official blessing of the CIA’s George Bush; turning “a small Pakistani merchant bank, the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), into a worldwide money-laundering machine, buying banks around the world in order to create the biggest clandestine money network in history.”
Working alongside the bank’s founder Sheikh Agha Hasan Abedi, Adham not only gained “a comprehensive knowledge of U.S. intelligence operations,” but expanded the very concept by using BCCI to merge the Safari Club’s objectives with “every major terrorist, rebel, and underground organization in the world.” A 2001 Time magazine report found that the bank functioned as “a vast, stateless, multinational corporation that deploys its own intelligence agency, complete with paramilitary wing and enforcement units, known collectively as the “black network:’” a black network that would threaten, bribe or assassinate anyone it needed to turn Afghanistan into the place to trap the Soviet Union in their own Vietnam.
Trento writes, “Adham did not rely simply on money to carry out the plan. Adham and Abedi understood they would need muscle. They tapped into the CIA’s stockpile of misfits and malcontents to help man a 1,500-strong group of assassins and enforcers.”
1973: The Red Prince Daoud overthrows the King
To most of Washington, the bloodless 1973palace coup of the Afghan King Zahir Shah by his cousin and former Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud along with a faction of the Afghan left was a non-event. But to the Safari Club’s Shah of Iran, Daoud’s coup signaled a leftward drift and provided the opportunity to demonstrate his influence as America’s policeman in the Gulf. Considered to be too friendly to Moscow (which had earned him the nickname the Red Prince), Daoud was known primarily for his repeated claims to Afghan (ethnic Pashtun) provinces seized by the British during the 19th century in (what is today) Pakistan. Due mainly to America’s lack of interest in the country, the U.S. State Department viewed Daoud mostly as an Afghan nationalist and a nuisance. Afghanistan rated at the bottom of U.S. foreign policy priorities and had since the end of the British Raj in 1947, been cast into the Soviet’s sphere of influence. But as president, Daoud planned to break the mold and needed the West’s economic assistance to do it. He had come to the newly oil-rich Shah of Iran for help but found himself at the mercy of the notorious Safari Club and the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK. South Asia expert Selig Harrison writes, “On the one hand, Teheran used its aid leverage to press Daoud for the removal of suspected Communists. At the same time, Savak channeled U.S. weapons, communications equipment, and other paramilitary aid to anti-Daoud groups.”
The Shah’s campaign against Daoud quickly drove him to unceremoniously dump the Afghan left, but not before a coalition of CIA-backed agents from Pakistan and Iran had come together to organize his enemies on the left and the right against him. Harrison continues, “Pakistani harassment of Daoud reached its climax in a series of Islamabad-orchestrated raids on police posts in the Pansjer valley. Savak, the CIA and Pakistani agents were also involved in the abortive, fundamentalist-backed coup attempts against Daoud in September and December 1973 and June 1974.”
One Pakistani-trained group involved in the Pansjer raids were the Setam-i Melli (Against National Oppression), a Tajik-based Shiite/Maoist splinter group broken-away from the Marxist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). As pro-Chinese and anti-Pashtun, the Setam and a variety of other Shiite /Maoist groups would find themselves attractive to Chinese intelligence and at odds with both Prince Daoud and the Pashtun dominated PDPA and were driven underground. But as Chinese involvement in Afghanistan grew, they would return in a mysterious role that would spontaneously deliver the pivotal element Zbigniew Brzezinski would need to enact his grand plan.
Mohammed Daoud fought off the CIA’s initial intrusions from Savak, the CIA’s Pakistani agents and their fundamentalist (soon to be) holy warriors. But with Western influence in Southeast Asia closing out in Vietnam in 1975, a new Great Game for Central Asia was about to begin. And without the State Department knowing much about it, President Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski was busy moving the chess pieces into position.
April 1978: Daoud goes down in an unusually bloody coup
Brzezinski’s plot to weaponize China against Russia by sacrificing Afghanistan was straight out of James Burnham’s Machiavellians. The spontaneous April, 1978 Marxist coup against the King’s cousin, Mohammed Daoud played like clockwork directly into his “predictions” of Soviet infiltration and subversion but on close inspection appeared to fit too conveniently. Nobody at the State Department had expected Daoud to be overthrown by Communist agents because it wasn’t in their interests to do so, nor did it in any way satisfy a broad range of Soviet interests. The Indian expert M.S. Agwani of Jawaharlal Nehru University offered this cogent analysis at the time:
“On the eve of the fateful events of April 1978 Afghanistan seemed to be the most unlikely candidate for a Communist take-over. And there were at least two good reasons for that. First, the Communist movement in Afghanistan did not possess the necessary means—in terms either of a well-oiled party machine or of a popular base—to launch a successful revolution on its own. Secondly, there was no apparent ground for Afghanistan’s Communist neighbor to encourage revolutionary action in that country. On the contrary, a Communist take-over in Afghanistan could offer no advantage to the Soviet Union, in terms either of security or of influence relationship, which it did not already possess.”
Of course, Zbigniew Brzezinski ignored what to everyone else was obvious. Selig Harrison writes of the coup, “Vance recalls that the April coup was depicted by Brzezinski as the opening gambit in a Soviet master plan for achieving hegemony in Southwest Asia. It would be followed in due course, Brzezinski argued, by the incorporation of Afghanistan into the Soviet orbit (which the U.S. had already accepted) and ultimately by political and military moves to subjugate the Gulf oil-producing states.”
As Secretary of State, Vance found no basis for Brzezinski’s argument and rejected it out of hand. Despite Brzezinski’s subterfuge, the State Department was still committed to preserving détente and moving on with the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, SALT. U.S. Ambassador Theodore Eliot expressed positive feelings toward the new Afghan regime and believed the U.S. could find a way to work with them. But in spite of the State Department’s position, Brzezinski’s plan had already been set in motion and by the spring of 1978 was taking on a life of its own.
Brzezinski Plays the China Card
The decision by Zbigniew Brzezinski to “play” China against Russia at the expense of détente and SALT II would set off a chain of events that would eventually bring the Vance/Brzezinski struggle into stark relief and American foreign policy into deep crisis. Brzezinski had traveled to China only weeks after the April takeover and used the coup as an opportunity for promoting a revolutionary U.S.-China military alliance against the Soviet Union based on his false claim that they were behind it. Exaggerating the coup as frightening evidence of the Soviet’s grand design, Brzezinski mimicked Brian Crozier’s trumped-up predictions, offering to cooperate on Afghanistan and share high-level secrets about Soviet capabilities with the astonished Chinese. In one stroke, Brzezinski had used the coup to singlehandedly turn American foreign policy toward his anti-Soviet position – leaving Cyrus Vance twisting in the wind and making the death of détente a fait accompli.
The State Department’s Soviet specialist Raymond Garthoff writes, “Whether President Carter fully realized it, in overriding Secretary of State Vance’s objections and sending Brzezinski to Beijing he set in train the development of a rapprochement with China on an anti-Soviet basis. The President did not intend the China card as a counter to Soviet and Cuban activities in Africa, but his action had much broader and deeper consequences . . . it is very unlikely he realized he was giving priority to Chinese relations at a time and in a way that would contribute to American-Soviet estrangement.”
Whether or not President Carter understood he was contributing to American-Soviet estrangement by befriending China on an anti-Soviet basis, we now know that within a year, Carter formerly sanctioned Brzezinski’s bold plan to use Afghanistan to lure the Soviet Union into its own Vietnam and later lied to the public about it when the Soviets fell into the trap. But as Joseph Trento writes, Carter’s deceptive ignorance of Brzezinski’s efforts didn’t end there. “Carter may in fact have signed his directive in July 1979, but the Safari Club’s Islamic fighter had been taunting Moscow into invading for nearly a year before that. The effort included cross-border raids into Soviet territory.”
Afghanistan’s April coup organizer, Hafizullah Amin was well known to the KGB having been brought to the U.S. twice under a CIA funded education program designed to turn future third world leaders into agents for American interests. The KGB did this sort of thing in the third world as well but none had played out quite so fortuitously for the U.S. side as Hafizullah Amin. After failing to receive his doctorate Amin had left New York in mid-1965, gone back to Afghanistan and taken a job at Kabul University’s Institute of Education “virtually run by American aid advisors” according to former Associated Press Moscow bureau chief Henry S. Bradsher, author of 1983’s Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. From there he joined the Khalq faction of the leftist Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan, PDPA and became its central organizer. While using his teaching position to recruit young students Amin worked his way up to a leadership position, distanced himself from the Soviets but stayed in regular contact with the Americans. According to an Afghan source close to Amin whom we interviewed, he also maintained close ties to the Islamist right, and especially to his fellow Pashtun tribesman, the notorious Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Enter Ambassador Adolph “Spike” Dubs
Replacing Ambassador Theodore Eliot three months after the Marxist coup, Adolph “Spike” Dubs arrived in Kabul in July 1978with an urgent mission: Bring Hafizullah Amin over to the American side and keep the Russians out. As stated to us in an interview we conducted with Selig Harrison in 1993. “Dubs… came out there with a very sophisticated conception of what he was going to do politically; which was to try to make Amin into a Tito – or the closest thing to a Tito/Ceausescu – detach him. He’d still be pretty close to the Russians but he’d have more freedom of action and it would be enough to make it safe from our point of view.”
President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski on the other hand, had already engineered a grander mission: Pressure Hafizullah Amin and the Afghan Marxists to increasingly draw on Russian support through destabilization from Iran, Pakistan and China and then keep them tied down long enough to give the Soviets their own Vietnam. Ambassador Dubs was working from the standard State Department playbook in courting Amin and met with him 14 times, according to Selig Harrison. But Brzezinski’s ongoing destabilization through the Safari Club, his budding military relationship with the Chinese and Amin’s provocative behavior toward the Russians was making life for the American ambassador increasingly dangerous.
So alarmed was Adolph Dubs by Amin’s behavior he demanded to know from his CIA station chief if he was employed by the CIA. He was told no and the CIA has always denied that Amin was their covert agent, but the facts speak louder than the denials. Denying responsibility is standard practice for an agency engaged in covert operations and Brzezinski had been running a covert operation since taking over as national security advisor to President Carter in January of 1977. According to the now legendary April 1, 1967 Ramparts Magazine Article “Three Tales of the CIA” the CIA recruited lots of Afghan students during Amin’s era who returned home to become key, high level officials in the Afghan government including the cabinet and state treasury. According to a Harrison interview with resident American Afghan expert Louis Dupree, Amin made no secret of his CIA connection telling him: “He took American money for his school and then, behind their backs, recruited the brightest teachers for the Communist Party. But you can imagine how it all looked to the Russians.”
Hafizullah Amin may not have been an “agent” but two specific classifications may apply to his covert role. The term “nonofficial cover” (NOC) pertains to individuals working at the deepest levels of CIA covert operations but without any official backing. The other is Controlled American Source (CAS) which the State Department describes in one of its own documents “is a code name for the CIA”. Author Richard D. Mahoney claims in his book about American Taliban member John Walker Lindh Getting Away with Murder that CAS was the classification assigned to Hafizullah Amin.
But whether a CAS or an NOC, the perception that Amin was CIA was all that was needed to spook the Kremlin’s Soviet gerontocracy into taking the bait that Brzezinski had laid out for them. And as his plot moved forward into January of 1979, Ambassador Dubs found himself at the center of a Saudi-funded Safari Club operation that would not only give the right-wing the revenge for Vietnam they so longed for, but transform Afghanistan into the center for Islamic terrorism and the heroin capital of the world.
Copyright © 2018 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved
The Sordid History of British Manipulation of American Democracy Series
Part 1: MI6 intelligence has always been an anti-Soviet/Russian “Rumor Factory”
Part 2: America’s “Soviet problem” is the old “Russia problem” that European Imperialists have been facing since Napoleon’s disastrous march on Moscow in 1812
Part 3: How U.S. foreign policy came to be directed by a diabolical, London-backed, privately funded, neoconservative/right-wing alliance
Part 4: How the Safari Club became the real CIA
Part 5: Brzezinski‘s Safari Club “Friends” Did the Dirty Work Behind the Scenes
Part 6: The Death of Adolph Dubs – Cui bono? ‘To whom is it a benefit?’
Part 7: The Coup d’état –
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire and The Voice. Visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk.com