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Soviet Invasion Of Afghanistan 1979 And Rise Of Islamic Jihad

Afghanistan is where the last of the Cold Wars were fought. And it is where the modern threat of Islamic terror was spawned. In 1979 the Soviet Union made its last attempt at muscle flexing when it invaded Afghanistan. It took ten years for Russia to realise that the Soviet system was falling apart and that it had no money to finance its international adventures.

America helped Russia in that comprehension by financing Islamic Mujahideen who made life miserable for the Russians in Afghanistan. If the US thought in 1989 that it had acted very cleverly by doing this, it was wrong.

A few years later the monster it had created to kill the earlier monster of Russian communism came back to haunt America. The roots of Al Qaeda lay in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The Russians in 1989 were very relieved to get out of a quagmire called Afghanistan


In Christmas 1979, Russian paratroopers landed in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The country was already in the grip of a civil war. The prime minister, Hazifullah Amin, tried to sweep aside Muslim tradition within the nation and he wanted a more western slant to Afghanistan. This outraged the majority of those in Afghanistan as a strong tradition of Muslim belief was common in the country.

Thousands of Muslim leaders had been arrested and many more had fled the capital and gone to the mountains to escape Amin's police. Amin also lead a communist based government - a belief that rejects religion and this was another reason for such obvious discontent with his government.

Thousands of Afghanistan Muslims joined the Mujahideen - a guerilla force on a holy mission for Allah. They wanted the overthrow of the Amin government. The Mujahideen declared a jihad - a holy war - on the supporters of Amin. This was also extended to the Russians who were now in Afghanistan trying to maintain the power of the Amin government. The Russians claimed that they had been invited in by the Amin government and that they were not invading the country. They claimed that their task was to support a legitimate government and that the Mujahideen were no more than terrorists.


VIDEO: Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: PART 1

End of the nightmare. Russian troops come home.

Mikhail Gorbachev took Russia out of the Afghanistan fiasco when he realised what many Russian leaders had been too scared to admit in public - that Russia could not win the war and the cost of maintaining such a vast force in Afghanistan was crippling Russia's already weak economy.


Soviet Union's pet dog, the stooge Afghan regime in Kabul, had to be left behind to the wolves

 According to this 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the CIA's intervention in Afghanistan preceded the 1979 Soviet invasion. This decision of the Carter Administration in 1979 to intervene and destabilise Afghanistan is the root cause of Afghanistan's destruction as a nation.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.


Often tanks are of little use against a determined adversary.



27 April: Afghanistan's communist People's Democratic Party seizes power in a coup but begins internal feuding. The country is renamed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). An Islamic and conservative insurgency soon begins in the provinces.

5 December: A friendship treaty is signed with the USSR, building on Soviet economic and military support given to Afghanistan since the early 1950s.


March: The USSR begins massive military aid to the DRA, including hundreds of advisers, as the US scales down its presence after the murder of its kidnapped ambassador. Afghan soldiers mutiny in Herat, massacring Soviet citizens before their rebellion is crushed.

September: Hafizullah Amin emerges as DRA leader from a bout of bloodletting in the government during which President Nur Mohammed Taraki is killed.

Soviet armour moves past Afghan civilians during withdrawal in 1988
The USSR said it had no troops left in Afghanistan after February 1989

24 December: The Soviet defence ministry reveals orders to senior staff to send troops into Afghanistan, following a decision taken by the Politbureau's inner circle on 12 December. Commandos seize strategic installations in Kabul.

29 December: After a week of heavy fighting during which Soviet commandos kill Amin and ground forces pour across the border, Babrak Kamal is installed as the DRA's new Soviet-backed leader.


Resistance intensifies with various mujahideen groups fighting Soviet forces and their DRA allies. The US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms. The US leads a boycott of the Moscow Olympics.


The United Nations General Assembly calls for Soviet withdrawal.


Half of the Afghan population is now estimated to be displaced by the war, with many fleeing to neighbouring Iran or Pakistan. New Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan.


The US begins supplying mujahideen with Stinger missiles, enabling them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Karmal is replaced by Mohammed Najibullah.


The DRA, USSR, US and Pakistan sign peace accords and the Soviets begin pulling out troops.


15 February:The USSR announces the departure of the last Soviet troops. Civil war continues as the mujahideen push to overthrow Najibullah, who is eventually toppled in 1992.




After 10 years of fighting the Afghans, the Soviet Union finally pulled out and learned a hard lesson about Afghanistan and its people and its history of resisting empires.

This resiliency is the central fact of Afghan history and it seems America — its military and diplomatic leadership — has made little effort to understand the lessons of history learned by those empires that went before them, particularly the Soviets.

For sure, all wars are different. The Soviets invaded for different reasons on Dec. 24, 1979, than the U.S. did on Oct. 7, 2001, and the Soviets came with different intentions. But the fight they fought — and lost — on the ground is very similar to the one the U.S. is fighting — and losing — on the ground right now.

Back then it was a battle to control the road network just as it is today. The Soviets were crippled when insurgents cut off the supply lines. The U.S. is suffering the same fate.

Trenin, who is the director of Carnegie Moscow Center, served for more than 20 years in the Russian military during the time of the occupation of Afghanistan, and eventually taught at the war studies department at the Soviet Military Institute.

“When the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan, it was not thinking about the exit. It had a concept of what it wanted to bring to Afghanistan, and less of an idea of what Afghanistan wanted or even what it was all about. The Soviets learned the hard way what Afghanistan was all about and that what they were offering the country did not want,” Trenin said.

“The U.S. is making the same mistake. But they are also making some of their own unique mistakes. They are not all the same mistakes as the Soviet Union,” he said.

“The U.S. is going to withdraw from Afghanistan, and it will leave without having accomplished the mission set by Bush to create a democratic state,” said Trenin, referring to President George W. Bush.

“In the end, the U.S. will leave Afghanistan not having done much to effect change in the country. Afghanistan will change at its own pace, and that’s the lesson empires learn in Afghanistan.”



KGB officers on the ground argued that if Moscow did not intervene more aggressively, Amin would surely be overthrown and an Islamic government installed. I attended a meeting of KGB intelligence and Soviet military intelligence in which the GRU [Soviet military intelligence] chief, General Ivashutin, argued strenuously for an invasion. "There is no other alternative but to introduce our troops to support the Afghan government and crush the rebels," he said.


By 1985 when the CIA released its assessment of Moscow's performance, "The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: Five Years After," the Red Army had suffered 8,000 fatalities in a sea of 25,000 casualties. Efforts to transform the country into a reliable client state met a stone wall. At best, occasional truces and bribery bought temporary loyalties. Things looked grim. "More than five years after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, they are bogged down in a guerrilla war of increasing intensity...The Soviets control less territory than they did in 1980, and their airfields, garrisons, and lines of communication are increasingly subject to insurgent attack."

Still, CIA analysts anticipated that Moscow would soldier on and augment what had become a 110,000 force with an additional 10,000 specialized combat and support units. The Agency speculated that frustration and the deteriorating situation could drive the Kremlin to add an additional 50,000 men. But the US analysts remained dubious. "Even then, however, they would not have enough troops to maintain control in much of the countryside as long as the insurgents have access to strong external support and open borders."

The analysts added that Kremlin "leadership miscalculated, and they acknowledge that they have paid a higher price than they anticipated. They are still searching for an effective way of pacifying Afghanistan short of a massive infusion of military forces." The objective, "to create a situation where the Afghan Communists can rule own their own country without a large Soviet military presence--and do so at the lowest possible costs in terms of Soviet lives and resources." The conundrum, "The insurgents are stronger than at any time since the invasion."

Despite repeated changes in Soviet tactics, an aggressive effort to restrict infiltration from Pakistan and Iran and to bolster the "illiterate, ill trained, unready for combat" Afghan army, Moscow found itself unable to generate an effective strategy. The divided and incompetent Afghan government complicated matters.

What the CIA did not foresee was the possibility that Moscow would retreat from Afghanistan. Rather its analysts concluded, "If the Soviet hold on Afghanistan were seriously threatened, we do not rule out a much more sizable reinforcement...." And what would that force require? "An increase of perhaps 100,000 to 150,000 [troops] might allow the Soviets to clear and hold major cities and large parts of the countryside to block infiltration from Pakistan and Iran, although it probably could not do both." To achieve both objectives, the Kremlin would require more troops, many more. "An even larger reinforcement of 200,000 to 400,000 men probably would allow Moscow to make serious inroads against the insurgency."


By 1982, the Mujahideen controlled 75% of Afghanistan despite fighting the might of the world's second most powerful military power. Young conscript Russian soldiers were no match against men fueled by their religious belief. Though the Russian army had a reputation, the war in Afghanistan showed the world just how poor it was outside of military displays. Army boots lasted no more than 10 days before falling to bits in the harsh environment of the Afghanistan mountains. Many Russian soldiers deserted to the Mujahideen. Russian tanks were of little use in the mountain passes.


The CIA’s strategy in Afghanistan can be separated into three phases.

The goal of the first phase (1979-1984) was to harass and contain the Soviet occupation army. The mission was plausible deniability. Resistance groups were supplied with money, logistical support, and weapons originating in Warsaw Pact countries, and Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) acted as the middleman between the CIA and the mujahideen.

The goal of the second phase (1984-1989) was to roll back Soviet military power from Afghanistan. This was achieved by dramatically increasing funding, supplying the mujahideen with American weaponry, and beginning direct CIA-rebel contacts.

The goal of the third phase (1989-1992) was to ensure that the government of post-Soviet Afghanistan was not Moscow-oriented. The CIA’s sustained funding and support of various warlords and rebels was essential to this phase.

1979-1989: CIA'S BIGGEST WAR

During the Reagan years, the CIA ran nearly two dozen covert operations against various governments. Of these, Afghanistan was by far the biggest; it was, in fact, the biggest CIA operation of all time, both in terms of dollars spent (US$5 to US$6 billion) and personnel involved.

Its main purpose was to "bleed" the Soviet Union, just as the U.S. had been bled in Vietnam. Prior to the 1979 Russian invasion, Afghanistan was ruled by a brutal dictator. Like the neighboring shah of Iran, he allowed the CIA to set up radar installations in his country that were used to monitor the Soviets. In 1979, after several dozen Soviet advisors were massacred by Afghan tribesmen, the USSR sent in the Red Army.

The Soviets tried to install a pliable client regime, without taking local attitudes into account. Many of the mullahs who controlled chunks of Afghan territory objected to Soviet efforts to educate women and to institute land reform. Others, outraged by the USSR's attempts to suppress the heroin trade, shifted their operations to Pakistan.

As for the CIA, its aim was simply to humiliate the Soviets by arming anyone who would fight against them. The agency funneled cash and weapons to over a dozen guerrilla groups, many of whom had been staging raids from Pakistan years before the Soviet invasion. For many years, long after the Soviets left Afghanistan, most of these groups were still fighting each other for control of the country.

One notable veteran of the Afghan operation is Sheik Abdel Rahman, famous for his role in the World Trade Center bombing.

The CIA succeeded in creating chaos, but never developed a plan for ending it. When the ten-year war was over, a million people were dead, and Afghan heroin had captured 60% of the U.S. market.



Heat-seeking, supersonic shoulder-fired "stinger" missiles and launchers were doled out generously by the CIA to inflict a humiliating blow on the Soviet Union.

From 1986 to 1989, the CIA distributed more than a thousand of these surface-to-air missiles to the Afghan mujihadeen, who used some of them to bring down 270 Soviet aircraft. The U.S. is still looking for the Stinger missiles, fearing they may be in the hands of Islamic extremists, like Osama bin Laden, or hostile foreign governments.

In a covert buy-back scheme, funded by the U.S. Congress, the CIA has offered up to $US175,000 apiece, five times their original cost, to get the missiles back. The scheme initially provoked a flood of responses from Afghan warlords and shady Pakistani middlemen. Hundreds of Stingers are believed to be still unaccounted for.

Pakistani technicians trained mujihadeen fighters to use the Stingers, which enjoyed a 79% strike rate.

The lion's share of missiles went to mujihadeen leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who became Afghanistan's U.S.-backed Prime Minister. He is now exiled in Iran.

China, Iran and North Korea are among the countries rumored to possess Stingers bought from Afghan commanders.

This could be a picture of Russia in the late eighties, if it were a person


The American media recently started to use the term "blowback." Central Intelligence Agency officials coined it for internal use in the wake of decisions by the Carter and Reagan administrations to plunge the agency deep into the civil war in Afghanistan. It wasn't long before the CIA was secretly arming every mujahideen volunteer in sight, without considering who they were or what their politics might be--all in the name of ensuring that the Soviet Union had its own Vietnam-like experience.

Not so many years later, these "freedom fighters" began to turn up in unexpected places. They bombed the World Trade Center in New York City, murdered several CIA employees in Virginia and some American businessmen in Pakistan and gave support to Osama bin Laden, a prime CIA "asset" back when our national security advisors had no qualms about giving guns to religious fundamentalists.

The Mujahideen fighter lurks with a US supplied bazooka to hit a Soviet convoy


Zbignev Bzezhinski in an interview to French Le Nouvel Observateur said: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujaheddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it On July 3, 1979 US President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul...We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would. The day the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war... 

The mujahideen were a mix of Afghan resistance fighters, Afghan refugees who had crossed into Pakistan at the onset of the Soviet invasion and later been recruited to fight the Soviet infidels, and Islamists and Muslims from other Arab nations who answered the international call to jihad against the Soviets. Contrary to popular myth, most of the mujahideen were not Islamic radicals, but rather a group of loosely allied Afghan tribes. Two main portions of the mujahidin, however, were Islamic fundamentalists.

The mujahideen received significant financial and military support from various nations and individuals. The United States supported the mujahideen primarily through the CIA. This was controversial because the mujahideen clearly were not any more accepting of American modernity and culture then they were of the Soviet modernity. But, compared to the risks of the Soviet threat, "the relatively new threat of Islamic fundamentalism" was inconsequential, and "fighting communism was still first and foremost in the minds of U.S. policymakers" (Hartman). This was dictated by the Cold War world geopolitical code – defeating communism was part of the daily U.S. foreign policy routine on the global scale. Consequently, "The U.S. ignored the threat of Islamism and used it as a bulwark against communism and revolution" in Afghanistan. 

The US and Pakistan's ISI trained and financed these men

The Mujahideen proved to be a formidable opponent. They were equipped with old rifles but had a knowledge of the mountains around Kabul and the weather conditions that would be encountered there. The Russians resorted to using napalm, poison gas and helicopter gun ships against the Mujahideen - but they experienced exactly the same military scenario the Americans had done in Vietnam. 

The Mujahideen pose on a destroyed Russian helicopter

The bad American who did the dirty work in Afghanistan. Charlie Wilson of the CIA was the one who looked after the arming of Islamic fighters. In the picture he looks smug. Today, one can say with certainty, he will be feeling far from smug


Charlie Wilson, the Texan Democrat who championed covert CIA support for Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s and whose life was chronicled in a Hollywood film, has died. He was 76.

As a long-time member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr Wilson quietly helped to steer billions of dollars to the CIA, which distributed the funds to buy Afghan fighters high-tech weapons such as Stinger missiles, which were used to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships.

"I just saw the opportunity to grab the sons o'bitches by the throat," the fiercely anti-communist Mr Wilson told the Dallas Morning News in a 2007 interview.


The Stinger missile missed hitting the Russian copter

The Russians protect the Afghan highways

This is what the Mujahideen did to the Russians in the eighties and are doing to the Americans now

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Petercat said...

"The Mujahideen fighter lurks with a US supplied bazooka to hit a Soviet convoy"
Wrong. That's an RPG, either stolen from the Russians, bought from a Russian soldier, or supplied by China.

Anonymous said...

USA did put the seeds of that horor in 1980-89,and right now this idiotic forse kick back the Father"uncle SAM" biblecal

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