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Zbigniew and Zalmay's Excellent Afghan Pro-Terrorist Propaganda Adventure

By Jared Israel

[3 July 2002]


"Peddlers of junk science can make very persuasive arguments because most Americans lack training in the methods of science. The danger is that unsubstantiated opinions, stated often enough, will be mistaken for facts."

-- Kristin Bradof, 'Sorting the Sound Science from the Junk' [1]

Many if not most writers critical of the war in Afghanistan say, 'It's all about Oil,' and this view is also repeated in the mainstream press. The effect of this repetition is that many people, especially those suspicious of the official story about 9-11, assume the Oil explanation is a proven fact and don't think to challenge it.

A key part of the 'evidence' offered to support this claim is that Prof. Zalmay Khalilzad, now chief US representative in Afghanistan, was once (briefly, in 1997) a consultant for Unocal Oil, which at that time was part of a consortium that wanted to build a pipeline that would pass through Afghanistan.

Anyway, putting these two facts together (that Zalmay Khalilzad is now the US representative in Afghanistan and that he was once paid by Unocal to 'consult') articles are produced with titles or key phrases such as:

* "Former Unocal Consultant appointed U.S. Special Envoy To Afghanistan," and

* "Khalilzad's appointment means oil. Oil for the United States. Oil for Unocal" and

* "Unocal Advisor Named Representative ... "

And so on.

Zalmay Khalilzad's past involvement in the two-decade-long criminal destruction of Afghanistan is either omitted or presented from a perspective that assumes the central importance of his association with Unocal.

There are several problems with this sort of reasoning; here are two.

First, its proponents make no effort to subject their argument to the most elementary test: to see if events, which would have occurred if they were correct, have occurred. In order for one to argue that Zalmay Khalilzad's brief employment with Unocal has some bearing on the US/West European invasion of Afghanistan, doesn't one have to show some gain, or at least probability of gain, for Unocal, because of that invasion?

But Unocal, which pulled out of the Afghan pipeline deal in 1998, that is, three years before the attack, has not returned. There is exactly zero mention of Afghanistan in any post on their Website dated 2002. The last post mentioning the Afghan pipeline was a September 14, 2001 statement that concluded:

"Unocal suspended participation in the pipeline consortium in August 1998 (see statement [1a] ). Unocal officially withdrew from the consortium (in accordance with the consortium contracts) in December 1998 (see news release [1b] ). After several incorrect reports appeared, including one published in Pakistan in February 1999, Unocal reconfirmed its position regarding this matter in another statement dated February 1999 (see news release [1c])."

-- "Unocal statement: Company not supporting Taliban in any way," Sept. 14, 2001 [1d]

Perhaps I am missing something, but in all the Khalilzad's-Unocal-connection-shows-they're-doing-it-for-the-oil articles I have read, not one cited any evidence that Unocal has shown any interest in Afghanistan since 1998. Then what on earth is the significance of the supposed connection? Clearly it is raised not as evidence of anything real, but for effect, to create an impression. 'See? Khalilzad worked for Unocal. It shows this administration is awash in oil.'

The second problem with the Khalilzad/Unocal argument, related to the first, is that it violates a prime rule learned by every first year statistics student. That rule is, 'Correlation Does Not Prove Cause.'

Right off the bat, no less than three hypotheses could easily (indeed better!) explain the correlation between Khalilzad's gig at Unocal and his present high-power position in Afghanistan.

* Hypothesis 1: Khalilzad was used as a door opener

Khalilzad has been a key player in the Western policy of using Afghanistan to push Russia in desired directions, a policy that began in 1979 and has never stopped. Therefore he is very powerful, and Unocal hired him, as companies often hire powerful people, as a figurehead, because his name opens doors in Washington and Afghanistan, and he had no objection to taking their money. And precisely because he has been a key foreign policy strategist (since 1985), now that NATO is once again using Afghanistan to pressure Russia, it is natural that he take direct charge in Afghanistan.


* Hypothesis 2: Khalilzad used Unocal as a cover for covert work 

Since 1979, US and Saudi secret services and their offspring, the Pakistani ISI (secret service), have managed the attack on Afghanistan, in which Khalilzad was a very high-level operator. He accepted the job at Unocal as a cover for some covert assignment involving relations with the Taliban, the Northern Alliance, or whomever.


* Hypothesis 3: Unocal acted as an agent of Western Policy in Afghanistan

Pipelines mainly benefit the governments of the countries they pass through in the same way that taxi rides benefit the taxicab owners: because sovereign governments are paid a fee based on the volume of oil that passes through their territories. The Western plan was for the Taliban to consolidate control of Afghanistan by defeating or uniting with the Northern Alliance. Therefore Unocal, which enjoys friendly relations with the CIA, dangled the carrot of a pipeline before the Taliban, stressing:

"the benefits such a pipeline could bring to this desperately poor and war-torn country"

with the proviso that:

"the project could not and would not proceed until there was an internationally recognized government in place in Afghanistan that fairly represented all its people."

-- "Unocal statement: Company not supporting Taliban in any way," Sept. 14, 2001 (See footnote [1d].)

Under cover of being a consultant, Zalmay Khalilzad's role was to assist the Unocal people in properly dangling the pipeline-carrot.

Hypotheses 1, 2 and 3 are not contradictory; all could be true. Moreover they are not pure speculation because they are based on the study of actual data. Some of this data is cited in articles you can link to in 'Further Reading,' at the end.

I dug up some fresh data during 30 hours spent on the Internet reading newspaper and other reports published over the past 17 years about Zalmay Khalilzad. It's clear that he's important, so I will try to assemble a chronological account of Khalilzad's career. [This account, entitled "Zalmay Khalilzad - Special US Envoy for Islamic Terror," was subsequently posted - J.I.]
Below are two pieces of information about Khalilzad from the mid-1980s.

* Zalmay Khalilzad in 1986 *

According to a Feb. 5, 1986 article in the Washington Post, on Feb. 1, 1986 Khalilzad participated, as an "outside [i.e., outside of government] expert" on Afghanistan, in a VIP seminar on Afghanistan, sponsored by US Secretary of State George P. Schultz. Other participants included:

* Caspar W. Weinberger, Secretary of Defense;

* William J. Casey, Director of CIA;

* Zbigniew Brzezinski, formerly the Security Adviser to President Carter and, according to his own 'boast', a key planner of the terrorist war against Afghanistan in the 1980s;

* Donald Rumsfeld and James Schlesinger, both at that time former secretaries of defense;

* And William Hyland, editor of Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the powerful Council on Foreign Relations, and previously perhaps the top CIA expert on Russia.

Prof. Zalmay Khalilzad was then about 35 years old. The men named above were in their 50s, 60s or older.

* Zalmay Khalilzad In 1985 *

The year before Secretary of State Shultz's seminar, Zalmay Khalilzad's name came up in an AP dispatch that I have posted in full below.

Here are a few things I noticed about the dispatch:

* Though Khalilzad was then about 34 years old, the AP refers to him as a "luminary".

* Khalilzad was on the Board of a company called Friends of Afghanistan. Also on the Board was Zbigniew Brzezinski, a key advocate of using Afghanistan to attack Russia. [2]

* According to the AP dispatch, in 1985 Congress passed a law creating a fund to influence public opinion to support the terrorist Mujahideen. Congress virtually ordered that Friends of Afghanistan be hired for this work. It authorized $500 000 to start (about $1 Million today) with another $500 000 expected.

This AP dispatch is evidence that a) though very young, Khalilzad was an associate if not a protégé of Brzezinski and b) Khalilzad was already trusted by the powers-that-be to oversee the crucial work of organizing public support for the unsupportable US policy of fostering Islamic terrorism to destroy the Soviet Union. The "marching order" (AP's phrase) to hire Friends of Afghanistan certainly sounds like Friends was a top-level CIA front disguised as a private company, the better to deal with the press.

* The media has now rewritten history, propagating the view that US officials were simply unaware of the Islamic fanaticism of the pro-US side in Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad has voiced this "we didn't know" line himself. (I have unfortunately misplaced the quote in which he claims "I never knew how bad they were" but hopefully I'll find it again.)

As the AP dispatch below demonstrates, during the 1980s war the Western media misdescribed Islamic fundamentalists as "rebels." Thus the AP says:

"Afghan rebels, called the Mujahadeen [sic!], have been battling 100,000 Soviet troops..."

as if Mujahideen were a local name for these "rebels" rather than an Arabic word. 'Mu' means 'one who.' 'Jahid' means 'struggle' or 'strive for' but in practice - and abundantly in the Muslim holy writings, al-Hadith, narrations about the life of Muhammad - it means leaving home to fight for Islam. So a Mujahid is one fights for Islam. "Een" makes it plural. So Mujahideen are Islamic holy warriors. Muslim holy texts devote much attention to the special place in heaven reserved for slain Mujahideen. (See for example )

It is inconceivable that any reporter covering the Afghan travesty was unaware that the US was promoting Islamic holy warriors. Prof. Khalilzad, who is from Afghanistan, of course knew exactly what sort of forces were being created by the CIA et al in his country. The job of Friends of Afghanistan was precisely to play down the Islamic holy warrior reality, and play up the phony 'victimized rebels fighting Soviet tyranny' baloney.

In any case, unless Khalilzad's career did a nosedive after 1985-6, surely he is not a person one would define by virtue of his very brief employment as "an advisor to Unocal."

We will look at Khalilzad more in a later article, but for now, here is the AP dispatch.

[Note added 1 March 2003: That article can now be read at ]

-- Jared Israel


Headline: U.S. Provides $500,000 So Afghan Rebels Can Tell Their Story

AP, September 16, 1985, Monday, PM cycle
SECTION: Washington Dateline



Guerrillas in Afghanistan are about to get money from the United States government for a public relations campaign intended to bring their struggle against Soviet troops to the world's attention.

The money will train Afghan rebel journalists to use television, radio and newspapers to advance their cause. Reporters will be given mini-cameras to photograph the war inside Afghanistan.

"It is the goal of this project to facilitate the collection, development and distribution of credible, objective and timely professional-quality news stories, photographs and television images about developments in Afghanistan," said a notice in the Federal Register. The program will be overseen by Uncle Sam's own propaganda arm, the U.S. Information Agency. Congress appropriated $500 000 to hire experts and may provide more later.

In making the money available, Congress all but instructed USIA to consider an organization like Friends of Afghanistan, a new group whose board includes former Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, known for hard-line anti-Soviet views.

USIA has solicited proposals, due Sept. 25.

Friends of Afghanistan includes other American foreign policy luminaries such as Lawrence Eagleburger, a former undersecretary of state, and Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, a Columbia University political science professor and some-time paid adviser to the State Department on Afghanistan.

The American effort will enable the rebels to disseminate "the message to the world of what is going on there," said Sen. Gordon Humphrey, R-N.H., who proposed the idea to Congress. "The Soviets, unfortunately, have largely succeeded in their efforts of hiding that war from the people of the world and from world opinion," he said.

Humphrey, who thinks the Reagan administration has failed to provide enough assistance to the anti-Soviet fighters, told the Senate in June that the project was cleared with the National Security Council. Congress' understanding is that the administration may ask for another $500 000.

Afghan rebels, called the Mujahadeen, have been battling 100,000 Soviet troops who have occupied the rugged, mountainous country since December 1979. The rebels' headquarters is in Peshawar, Pakistan, on the Afghanistan border.

The Federal Register said the project is aimed at helping media representatives "overcome substantial obstacles" in bringing the story to world attention and to train Afghans "to develop an independent, self-funded media organization."

As a first step, USIA hired John O. Koehler, a former Associated Press administrator, to travel to Pakistan, Paris and other capitals to assess the needs both of problems guerrillas face in telling their story and of Western journalists trying to do the same thing.

Most Western reporters assigned to cover the Afghan conflict are based in Pakistan and manage to slip over the border occassionally for a first-hand look at the war.

"It's a story that hasn't been told," Koehler said.

Koehler was paid $9,000 plus $4,600 in expenses for his month-long feasibility study. He said he will also look for "people who are trainable."

Rosanne Klass, director of the New York-based Afghanistan Information Center, said the project could be helpful in promoting the story and persuading the Western press "to start using this stuff."

Congress' suggestion that it wanted the USIA to turn to the Friends of Afghanistan to run the program has angered other groups with similar ideas.

"If that is not a conflict of interest, I don't know what is," said Karen McKay, executive director of the Committee for a Free Afghanistan. The group, based in Washington has held seminars on the issue and sought to promote the Afghan cause.

The House-Senate conferees who drafted the legislation under which the money was appropriated said in a written report: "The conferees are further agreed that the United States Information Agency should consider such organizations as Friends of Afghanistan in awarding a grant for carrying out this project."

Generally, such suggestions are taken as marching orders by agencies in the executive branch.

Besides the media project, Congress has authorized the Board of International Broadcasting, a government agency, to begin a new service, Radio Free Afghanistan, to transmit news in Dari and Pashto, the Afghans' native languages.

The new service, scheduled to begin as a token operation this fall, will be similar to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, government-financed news services distributed to Communist countries.


Footnotes & Further Reading:


[1] 'Sorting the Sound Science from the Junk,' by Kristin Bradof can be read at

[1a] "Unocal Statement: Suspension of activities related to proposed natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan," El Segundo, Calif., Aug. 21, 1998, at
backed up at

The Unocal News Release Index for 1998 is at
backed up at

[1b] "Unocal statement on withdrawal from the proposed
Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline project," Dec. 10, 1998, at

backed up at

[1c] "Unocal reiterates position on withdrawal
from trans-Afghanistan pipeline project," El Segundo, Calif., Feb. 16, 1999, at
backed up at

The Unocal News Release Index for 1999 is at
backed up at

[1d] "Unocal Statement: Company not supporting Taliban in any way," El Segundo, Calif., Sept. 14, 2001, at
backed up at

The Unocal News Release Index for 2001 is at
backed up at

[2] 'Ex-National Security Chief Brzezinski admits: Afghan Islamism Was Made in Washington,' - magazine interview with Brzezinski with comments by Jared Israel. Can be read at

* * *

For an overview of the Afghan war, see
Washington Plots, Moscow Crawls, Kabul Burns"
by Jared Israel at

Also check 'Further Reading' at the end of 'THE EMPIRE ISN'T IN AFGHANISTAN FOR THE OIL!,' by Jared Israel at

Here are some articles helpful for understanding what's been done to Afghanistan:

A) 'Washington's Backing of Afghan Terrorists: Deliberate Policy' Article from "Washington Post' with introductory note from 'Emperor's Clothes'. Can be read at

B) 'Bush & the Media Cover up the Jihad Schoolbook Scandal,'
by Jared Israel can be read at

C) 'Taliban Camps U.S. bombed in Afghanistan Were Built by NATO'
Documentation from the 'N.Y. Times'. Combined U.S. and Saudi aid to Afghan-based terrorism totaled $6 billion or more. Can be read at

D) 'CIA worked with Pakistan to create Taliban'
From 'Times of India.' Can be read at

E) 'Osama bin Laden: Made In USA'
Excerpt from article on U.S. bombing of a pill factory in Sudan in August, 1998. Argues that bin Laden was and still may be a CIA asset. Can be read at

F) 'Excerpts from News Reports - Bin Laden in the Balkans' evidence that bin Laden aided or is aiding the U.S.-sponsored forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Can be read at


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You may send this article or the link to any person or Internet list. You may post any TENC article on the Internet as long as you cite Emperor’s Clothes as the source, credit the author(s), and state the URL, which in this case is

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The Emperor’s New Clothes (TENC) *