Smoke Never Goes Without a Fire - Democratic Anger Over ABC's 9/11 Serial Is For a Reason

Mehul Kamdar 

Published on February 13, 2007

Over the past two days, the US media has been busily reporting the anger of senior Democratic Party politicians over a serial on the incidents that led to 9/11. It has been reported that the serial, a fictionalised account of the events that led to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, has shown former US President Bill Clinton and several of his cabinet in a poor light. The timing of the serial could not have been more controversial, coming, as it does, just before the anniversary of that murderous event and just before campaigning begins for the elections to the Senate and the House of Representatives. The serial also comes at a time when crackpot conspiracy theorists have been claiming all kinds of things about the attacks that brought the twin towers down, from calling it a conspiracy by the US government itself to calling it a Jewish conspiracy to bring infamy to Muslims. While this article is not an attempt at providing an encyclopedic look into the background of events that led to the attacks, it is the writer's intention to look at an event whose importance has been consistently ignored by the US media though it is well known to have been of considerable significance in the run up to 9/11 and in what happened afterwards.

In May 1999, the Pakistani Army used a technique that it had very successfully employed in the past to capture parts of Kashmir when that region was an independent entity, not the currently disputed territory between the nations of India and Pakistan - it sent in thousands of tribal irregulars to occupy the heights of Kargil in Indian Kashmir, in a replay of the first Kashmir War of 1947-48. This time, as well, the raiders (about 5000 in number) were Afghan and other tribals and their officers Pakistanis, in an attempt by then Pakistani Army chief, Gen Parvez Musharraf to try to capture parts of the territory which had otherwise been in Indian control. This time, the tribals were Afghans from the Taliban government with fighters also from what is now known as the Al Qaeda organisation. What the raiders did not count on was the fact that Kargil is largely Shia in population, a community that is very suspicious of groups that are Sunni extremists like the tribal and Qaeda irregulars who came in to occupy the region. It was not long before the residents of Kargil alerted the Indian government to the massive scale of infiltration and war ensued.

The Indian Army soon mobilised more than 200,000 soldiers to attack the raiders though it found the deployment of the soldiers extremely difficult due to the rugged terrain, and air attacks by the Indian Air Force were repulsed on the first day of fighting when the irregulars used Stinger missiles that ahd been given to them to fight the Soviet Army in decades past were used to bring down two aircraft very shortly after bombing commenced. As Indian soldiers fought fierce battles to dislodge and kill as many of the raiders as possible, then US President Bill Clinton summoned the then Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharief to Washington and brokered an end to the fighting. The carrot dangled before India was reportedly the lifting of sanctions against several Indian entities that ahd been involved in the nuclear sector, sanctions that were imposed after the Indian nuclear tests a year earlier in 1998. The Indian Army which had surrounded the raiders by this time and was busily killing them by the hundreds was persuaded to leave an opening through which they could return to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan from there.

It has been variously reported that Mr Clinton was worried that India was readying to blockade the Pakistani port of Karachi and that the conflict could possibly lead to a nuclear war when he stepped in to bring an end to hostilities. It has also been argued that the possibility of what was clearly a local conflict expanding into a nuclear war was zero - why would Pakistan wage a nuclear war over the fates of Afghan tribals and sundry Islamist fighters from different parts of the world? Whatever the case may have been, the fact is that Mr Clinton's decision led to the lives of thousands od Taliban/Qaeda fighters being saved, fighters who would disperse into Pakistan and Afghanistan to continue fighting, this time against the US and it's allies after the attacks of 9/11. The facts also are clear as far as Mr Clinton's interaction with the Taliban is concerned - Pakistani journalist Ahmad Rashid has clearly documented the Clinton government's attempts at engaging the Taliban in dialogue when Argentinian petroleum company Bridas Corp (since acquired by a US corporation) seemed the leader in a plan to market Afghan Natural Gas to the world over US rival Unocal. Whatever murky incidents may have taken place within the US government at that time would never come to light and they are only known to Mr Clinton and his aides. The facts, and there are many of them at that, show that he was more than a little interested in engaging the Taliban, hosts to Al Qaeda in dialogue than in looking on them as a repressive, murderous force that would later kill thousands of people in different parts of the world. As a darling of the US media, Mr Clinton may be able to get his way and get many unpleasant facts about his own incompetence suppressed, especially because his wife currently considers herself a possible Democratic Presidential candidate. In the rest of the world, especially in South Asia, there are many who would laugh at this suppression of facts by a major US political party and by the US media in collusion.


Mehul Kamdar from Chicago is currently moderating Mukto-Mona forum. He was the editor of The Modern Rationalist under late M D Gopalakrishnan  and associated with various rationalist movements. He can be reached at