November 28, 2003

- - Blowback and Backfire II - -

In a continuation of the theme of my last post on 11/26, PNS tells how, in effect, CIA is responsible for shooting our young women and men out of the sky. Excerpts:

The recent downing of U.S. Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq is yet another example of how the aid supplied by the CIA to Islamist terrorists in the 1980s has contributed to the escalation and spread of terrorism everywhere in the world.

At least two of the U.S. Black Hawk helicopters that crashed in Iraq recently were brought down by the same sophisticated technique -- by taking out the ship's vulnerable tail rotor with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). As right-wing columnists and Web sites have been quick to point out, this is exactly the technique that brought down three Black Hawks in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. Three weeks after this devastating attack, the United States pulled out of Somalia, an event Osama bin Laden has cited as proof that America can be defeated.

But no one to date has pointed out what Mark Bowden, author of the best account of that battle, "Black Hawk Down," reported: that the Somalis on the ground had been trained by Arabs who had fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. As Bowden wrote, it was these Arabs who taught that the best way to bring down a helicopter with an RPG was to shoot for the tail rotor (which keeps the helicopter from spinning by countering torque from its main rotor).

We now know that the Arab trainers of the Somalis were members of al Qaeda . . .

It is of course easy in retrospect to challenge the wisdom of having imparted such skills to jihad-waging Islamists. These were extremists who, even at the time, made it clear they despised the West almost as much as they did the Soviet Union. But what remains is the dangerous system whereby small numbers of policy-makers, acting at the very highest levels of secrecy, are able to make ill-considered decisions that will have long-term, tragic effects worldwide.

Be at peace.