July 20, 2006
'Al-Qaeda Is a U.S.-sponsored Intelligence Assetí
Michel Chossudovsky, author of the international bestseller Americaís War on Terrorism,
personally graced the jam-packed local launch of the Philippine edition
of his latest book held at the Asian Center at the University of the
Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last June 24. During the launch, he
gave a lecture about the imminent danger of a U.S.-made nuclear
catastrophe amid the Bush administrationís preparations for war with
BY JOEL GARDUCE
Contributed to Bulatlat
Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller Americaís War on Terrorism,
made locally available by IBON Books. An economics professor at the
University of Ottawa in Canada, he personally graced the jam-packed
local launch of his latest book held at the Asian Center at the
University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last June 24.
During the launch, he gave a lecture about the imminent danger of a
U.S.-made nuclear catastrophe amid the Bush administrationís
preparations for war with Iran.
Garduce of Center for Anti-Imperialist Studies (CAIS) caught up with
the director of the Centre for Research in Globalization (CRG) during
his short weekend stay in the Philippines and conducted the following
JPG: How would you characterize your bookís contribution in giving a better understanding of the events surrounding 9/11?
Well, there have been many books on 9/11. In fact, I would say that we
have a lot of coverage of 9/11 from many angles. Many
of these studies are carefully researched. They are, however,
invariably ignored by the mainstream media.
In my own research, i have not centered on what happened on that particular day from the point of view of the WTC and Pentagon buildings. That aspect has been the object of several investigations.
I have focused on is the role which the 9/11 events have played in
justifying the invasion of Afghanistan almost a few weeks later after
9/11, and of course the invasion of Iraq, not to mention the police State legislation adopted in a number of Western countries.
focussed on 9/11 from a broad geopolitical perspective,
because essentially 9/11 is still the core event which justifies the
so-called "war on terrorism". Without 9/11, there is no war pretext. An
that is why 9/11 is a very important landmark. It is used
extensively by the Bush administration to attempt to demonstrate that
America is under attack, that the wars on Afghanistan and
Iraq are acts of self-defense. And consequently, the US must
carry out a humanitarian mandate which consists in waging a global war
against the terrorists, as well as against the so-called state sponsors
of terrorism, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
so I think that has been my focus, I've looked more at the
geopolitics of 9/11, the role of intelligence agencies. And Iíve also
centered on the fact that these terrorist cells, namely al-Qaeda, are
invariably linked to the CIA. They have been consistently
supported by U.S. intelligence. What we are dealing with is
a process, which consists in fabricating an enemy. The
creation of Al-Qaeda is an intelligence operation used as a
pretext to justify a war of conquest.
it begs the question: if al-Qaeda were, according to the Bush
administration, to have played a role in 9/11, then we would have to
investigate the relationship between al-Qaeda and the U.S. intelligence
The evidence confirms that al-Qaeda did not
play a role in 9/11. But in fact, that in itself is a red
herring, because al-Qaeda is a U.S.-sponsored intelligence asset.
JPG: Is it accurate to say that your research points to 9/11 looking more like an inside job?
MC: Well, I havenít made that statement. I never made a statement that itís "an inside job".
Iíve done in my writings is to show that the official narrative or
explanation regarding 9/11 can be refuted, namely that
the official narrative is a lie.
the 9/11 Commission Report has submitted is an extensive narrative of
what happened that day and what happened on the planes. And the
evidence suggests that the 9/11 report is a lie. Itís fabricated.
I canít say unequivocally that this was an inside job. What
I can say with certainty, backed by evidence, is that the U.S.
administration is involved in a cover up in pertaining to the
investigation of who is whoís behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
And what they have presented in the 911 Report, as well as in
numerous national security statements is to my mind totally
Your research goes against the thesis of some thinkers like Noam
Chomsky that 9/11 is principally a blowback operation. How would you
look at these views?
MC: Those views are totally incorrect. The blowback thesis assumes
that the relationship between al-Qaeda and the U.S. government
(including its intelligence apparatus) ceased in the wake of the Cold
War. Because thatís what they say and acknowledge.
say "yes we created al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war. We trained
the mujahideen, we helped them in fighting the Soviet Union. And in the
wake of the Cold War, al-Qaeda has gone against us." And thatís whatís
called the blowback. Blowback is when an intelligence asset goes
against its sponsors.
viewpoint I say is incorrect because in the course of the 1990s thereís
ample evidence of links between al-Qaeda and the U.S. administration,
during the Clinton administration as well as the Bush administration,
leading up in fact to 2001. Thereís evidence of active collaboration
between al-Qaeda paramilitary groups in the Balkans and senior U.S.
think that the blowback thesis, whether it emanates from
supporters of the Bush adminstration or from the Left is
mistaken and misleading. Why? Because it really provides legitimacy to
the war on terrorism. It essentially says "yes, the war on terrorism is
a legitimate objective of U.S. foreign policy." I would say that
people who support the blowback are either mistaken and unaware of the
facts, or alternatively they are tacitly involved in media
9/11 and U.S. client states
Youíve cited the role of countries like Pakistan through its
Inter-Services Intelligence agency or ISI. How would you reckon the
role of other countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and even Israel
in the perpetration of 9/11?
Well, weíre talking about intelligence agencies. Pakistan has played a
very key role historically in supporting al-Qaeda right from the
onslaqught of the Soviet Afghan war under the helm of Gen.
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military commander who was president of
Pakistan in the early '80s. And it was under the auspices of Pakistanís Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that the training camps, the madrassahs were established.
turn, Saudi Arabia played a role because they provided funding through
Islamic charities. So there is a connection between Saudi Arabia and
al-Qaeda. And according to several reports, Saudi intelligence also
played a role.
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan have certainly played a role but I think that
Pakistanís role was far more central in the institutional support
provided to al-Qaeda, always on behalf, of Pakistan's
ISIís counterpart, the CIA.
research has centered much more on the role of Pakistanís ISI. Because
Pakistanís ISI also appeared to be involved in the conspiracy in
the wake of 9/11, to wage the war on Afghanistan using 9/11 as the
JPG: There was a recent furor over the article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" that saw print in the London Review of Books
last March. Itís ruffled some U.S. circles about how the Israeli
government exercises much influence over the U.S. government,
specifically the Bush administration where many personalities
identified with the Bush ruling clique are considered neoconservatives.
How would you account the influence of the right-wing circles in Israel
over the Bush administration and the conduct of the U.S. war on
I think that this relationship is far more complex than that. I donít
believe that Israel overshadows U.S. foreign policy. I think that
thereís in fact a coincidence between Tel Aviv and Washington as
far as foreign policy perspectives are concerned.
And this is something that is not recent. It goes way back in fact to the creation of Israel.
on the other hand, to say that Israel overshadows U.S. foreign policy
is incorrect. Because I think that Israel is an instrument of U.S.
foreign policy. And it is being used in this particular context in the
pursuit of U.S. hegemony. Now, Israel has an agenda. So I would
identify (the U.S. and Israel) as involved in a longstanding military
alliance. The U.S. has extensive military aid to Israel for a long
I donít share the viewpoint that somehow Israel is now hijacking U.S.
foreign policy and manipulating it. That position is simply incorrect.
we also have to understand another dimension of this question. The
Jewish lobby in the U.S. may in fact play a role (through) their
U.S.-based organizations. These are not Israeli-based organizations.
And they certainly play a role in shaping U.S. foreign policy and in
sustaining a pro-Israeli position. That is probably true.
that is an entirely different mechanism to that of a foreign country
actually hijacking Americaís foreign policy. To the extent that
American foreign policy would be different had it not been for Israel,
I donít buy that. Because U.S. foreign policy in fact is quite
consistent in its stance from the Truman Doctrine which was formulated by George Kennan in the mid- to late '40s, and early '50s to the present neoconservative agenda.
other aspect, and itís very popular both among leftist analysts as well
as the libertarian right-wing analysts is to say somehow the
neoconservatives are really different from their predecessors. And they
are putting forth the Democrats as a possible alternative to the
neoconservatives when in fact, if you really look at whatís happening
in the last ten to fifteen years, you see a continuum.
I mean, you had the First Gulf
war, you had the war on Yugoslavia, you had the invasion of
Afghanistan, then you had Gulf War II. And if you go back further in
history, the wars in Afghanistan during the Cold War era to the
present, thereís been a very consistent thread and it has been pursued
both by the Republicans and the Democrats.
On the 9/11 truth movement
You have emerged as a leading resource speaker of what has been called
the international 9/11 truth movement. Unfortunately, Filipinos are not
yet familiar with that; there isnít much of an active 9/11 truth
movement locally. Could you familiarize us with this movement?
Iím not an active member of the 9/11 truth movement. I have
participated in some of their activities and I support their
have, however, some reservations regarding the group because it
has very contradictory elements within it. And there are various
internal disputes also within the group.
I do not believe that the analysis of 9/11 should be strictly limited
to looking at what happened to the WTC and the Pentagon
buildings. A much broader focus is required. Itís the use of
what General Tommy Franks calls "mass casualty-producing events" --implying civilian deaths-- with a view to justifying war.
when addressing the issue of mass casualty producing events, we
should limit our understanding to 9/11. We should be looking
at 9/11, but we should also examine the 7/7 London bombings, the Madrid as well as the 2002 Bali bombings, and so on.
should also address the various suicide attacks which have taken place
in the Iraqi war theater. And we know, as in the case of the Basra terrorists (British Special Forces disguised in traditional Arab clothing arrested by the Iraqi police) that many of those suicide attacks were instigated by the occupation forces.
So I think itís also important at least from my perspective to broaden this understanding of 9/11.
And the 9/11 truth movement has done lots of good work, focussing on Building 7 and the World Trade
Center, and what happened to the planes going into the Pentagon,
whether it was a plane or a missile. And all those things I think are
While Iíve been following that literature very carefully, I
have not been involved in research into that particular aspect of
9/11. I have, however, undertaken one piece of analysis which is
in line with that literature. Itís the issue of what
happened on the planes. And I have a chapter in my book which
focuses on what happened on the planes as outlined in the 9/11
Commission Report, because it struck me that there was a very important
relationship which had not been well-analyzed,
Commission's narrative is based on cell phone conversations. The
telecom industry is unequivocal. Those cellphone conversations
could have taken place from cellphones at altitudes above 8,000 feet.
And so I wanted to review the narrative in the 9/11 Commission
Report. And identify very concretely that it is simply fabricated. It
is impossible to make a telephone call from high altitude onboard a
plane. And most of their descriptions rest on that. Not all of it, but
most of it rests on telephone conversations between alleged passengers
on the one hand and family members on the other. And the telecom
industry is absolutely unequivocal on that. They say that you could not
make a telephone conversation at 31,000 feet. You might be able to do
it at 8,000 feet but the planes were flying at high altitude during a
good part of the time when they were in the air.
The U.S. and fascism
How do you view claims that the U.S. government especially under the
Bush administration has become a full-fledged fascist empire a la Nazi Germany?
Thereís certainly evidence to suggest that the Bush administration is
moving towards a police state. Thereís repeal of the rule of law
because people can be arrested arbitrarily.
Thereís a military agenda to conquer foreign lands, and the pretext to wage war is fabricated.
So, yes, there are certain features reminiscent of Nazi Germany. But on the other hand one has to be very careful in making those comparisons.
one of the features of Nazi Germany was that Nazism was also a means
for creating employment in the military-industrial complex, so that
they were building up their military and they had expanded defense
expenditures, infrastructure, and so on, which created a lot of jobs in
the course of the 1930s. And what characterizes the present regime in
America is yes, movement towards martial law and the police state,
militarization of civilian institutions, and also big contracts for the
military and lots of military spending. However, the type of
weapons systems which currently prevails is such that military spending
actually creates very few jobs.
so weíre today in a neoliberal context. Nazi Germany was not
characterized by neoliberal reforms. And that was one of the reasons
why there was more support for the Nazi programme in the middle to late
'30s. Because there was a promise of jobs which ultimately was reached
in the late '30s when the German military machine was in full swing.
Rifts in the U.S. establishment
There had been revelations in the U.S. media that point to the Pentagon
under Rumsfeld getting more control over the covert operations than the
CIA. and the U.S. State Department. How do you regard these
revelations? Do they indicate anything of value in terms of the changes
being undergone by the U.S. state?
Thereís always sort of a rivalry between competing agencies of the U.S.
government. I think that the Pentagon has been vying for some time to
implement its own intelligence operations. In this particular case,
they have implemented disinformation campaigns which
consist in planting news stories in the media. So yes, they
are involved in intelligence.
on the other hand, I donít view this necessarily as a crucial issue.
Itís a rivalry between bodies of the state apparatus, between the
military and intelligence agencies. There can be very significant
discrepancies, but they also work together..
at the person now whoís in charge of intelligence. Itís John
Negroponte, who was involved in the dirty war in Central America,
particularly in promoting the para-military death squads in Honduras
think in effect that these organizations are rivals but they also
involved in active collaboration. . They always have joint
committees, the Pentagon, the CIA., the NSA., and so on. I really donít
think that any change in direction would occur as a result of these
discrepancies. Theyíre normal within the US military-intelligence
There have been a string of prominent Americans coming out against the
Bush administration and its handling of the war in Iraq, of the U.S.
war on terror. They include active and retired generals, some previous
Cabinet secretaries and even some current members of the U.S. Congress.
There seems to be emerging rifts within the U.S. ruling class. What do
you think are the prospects of the anti-imperialist movement being able
to make use of these rifts within the U.S. ruling class?
I think there are people in the U.S., both Republicans and Democrats,
who recognize that the Bush administration, particularly in Iraq, but
also in relation to Iran, spells disaster.
itís not necessarily that they are against U.S. foreign policy as
decided by the Bush administration. They believe that it should be
conducted differently, perhaps with a less militarist perspective.
you have people like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who firmly
support the extension of America's sphere of influence in the
Middle East and Central Asia, to gain control over the Eurasian
corridor, and the oil and gas reserves of that region. These
people would, however, favor a somewhat more negotiated foreign
policy, rather than all-out military conquest and war.
people like that are now more or less presenting themselves as voices
of moderation. But it doesnít mean necessarily that they are in
disagreement with the broader objectives of U.S. imperialism, which is
really to colonize regions.
see dissent from within the establishment but I donít see necessarily
articulate dissent against the project of global domination and
militarization which the Bush administration has been putting forth.
So these emerging rifts within the U.S. ruling elite do not really
indicate a departure from the imperial project that the U.S. has been
I think that these differences in the current context could still play
a very important role. Itís not to say that things donít change.
Iím saying is that these differences of viewpoint do not constitute
some kind of big revolution in U.S. politics. Itís simply the fact that
within the ruling elite, people think the Bush administration has taken
on a course which is untenable and which ultimately will lead to
disaster. Moroever, this course is not furthering the U.S.
corporate agenda in the most effective way.
So these moderating views do not mean that the U.S.
all of a sudden has become a peaceful nation. It simply means that they
want to give a slightly more humane face to imperialism. Thatís really
the whole issue.
a global military agenda, thereís a plan to conquer, there is a plan to
dominate and impoverish. And some people in America within the
establishment think that there are better ways of doing it. Thatís the
way I see this critique. Because the people who were undertaking that
critique are themselves the architects of this military agenda,
the Democrats donít really have an alternative viewpoint to that of the
Republicans. They probably would be a little bit less radical in
pushing certain policies but I donít think that fundamentally they
would do things that differently if they were to form the next
must remember that there are certain institutions which will be there
all the timeóthe CIA, the Pentagon, and so on Ė irrespective of the
team of people who are in power. And ultimately, to what extent do
these people call the shots. The people who ultiamtely
decide are Lockheed Martin, the defense contractors, and the oil
But what if itís possible that the war crimes committed by the Bush
administration and those in the U.S. ruling elite are held to account?
Donít you think the peopleís movement in the U.S. and the antiwar
movement worldwide can benefit from holding to account the Bush
administration and even the Democrats who approved of this war on
I think that at one level, thereís certainly an opportunity to push
forward in terms of the antiwar movement, focussing on the
criminal nature of the Bush administration, letís say with regard to
Iraq, with regard to torture, the police state, etc.
we must not fall into the trap of thinking that if Bush is impeached or
if thereís change in direction leading letís say to a new president who
is a Democrat, that there will be fundamental change in America.
see, the U.S. is also involved in what we call regime change or regime
rotation. Regime rotation in America doesnít necessarily mean that
thereís going to be real and meaningful changes in the way in which the
country is moving nationally and internationally.
thatís where the confusion emerges, because thereís a movement in the
U.S. that says "anything else but Bush". And they say yes, we must get
rid of Bush.
that assumes first of all that Bush is actually making the decisions.
The evidence suggests that heís not making decision. He himself is
a puppet. He has a limited understanding of U.S. foreign policy and
essentially he is acting on behalf of powerful corporate. This is a war
driven by profit.
yes, the advisory team is important but I would say we have to look at
the role of U.S. intelligence, the military, the links between the
military intelligence establishment and the oil companies and the
defense contractors, and so on. And of course Wall Street which
ultimately is really the basic pinnacle of financial power in America.
Bush were to be impeached, which at this juncture seems
unlikely, or if thereís a change in regime, this does not
mean that thereís going to be fundamental change in America.
Impeachment could contribute
to demobilizing people who would otherwise be more aware of the
fact that you donít change a New World Order by simply changing a
You need much more carefully thought out ways of
waging the struggle against the New World Order. You have to target the
defense contractors, the oil companies, their insidious role in pushing
a military agenda, not to mention the use of 9/11 as a pretext for
waging a war.
the way I see it. I do not think that once you get rid of Bush you
solve the problem. But I should say that an impeachment of Bush would
be a very important achievement if it can be used as a stepping
stone towards a broader struggle.
ironic to say the least that there was an impeachment move against
Clinton for his involvement with Monica Lewinsky but when extensive war
crimes are revealed and when the U.S. president blatantly violates all
the domestic and international norms of justice, and engages the
US in a criminal war with no justification whatsoever, his
legitimacy as Head of State remains unscathed. His adminstration
continues in a routine fashion.
yes the impeachment of President Bush is something that I would
support. But I donít believe necessarily that it will resolve matters
in the longer run.
Given the unprecedented belligerence of the U.S. under the aegis of the
war on terror, what are the prospects of a schism developing within the
imperialist camp similar to what developed during World War II where
there were Allied Powers vis-ŗ-vis the Axis Powers?
MC: You mean, between the U.S. and UK on one hand, and France, Germany on the other?
JPG: Or say, Russia and China?
MC: China and Russia
are part of that imperialist design. Theyíre not countries which have
an imperial agenda as such. Iím not saying necessarily that they
couldnít in the future. But historically the Soviet Union didnít really
have an imperial agenda. And China has never had an imperial agenda.
Throughout its history, it has remained within its borders.
think what weíre looking at is the relationship which exists within the
Western military alliance. That is really the crucial thing. And the
fact that you have very significant divisions between the U.S. and
Britain, on one hand, and France and Germany on the other. I think
thatís very important.
you have splits in the military-industrial complex. Britain's
military industrial complex is integrated into that of the United
States. British Aerospace Systems Corporation (BAE) is actually
producing for the U.S. Department of Defense. It has exactly the
same privileges as the U.S. defense contractors, under an agreement
signed in 1999 under the clintion administration entitled the
then you have the European defense industry (i.e continental Europe)
which is based on an alliance between France and Germany. The
dominant company of the european military indsutrial complex is EADES,
which is a joint venture between Aerospatiale Matra and Deutsche
And so you have a split or
division between what I would call the Anglo-American axis, which
now includes Australia , Canada as full fledged partners and,
perhaps Israel, and maybe a few other countries, who are part of this
agenda. And then you have the Franco-German alliance.
I should also mention that NATO is still an organization which is
firmly under U.S. control. And thatís why in the buildup of a possible
war with Iran, NATO is firmly behind the US and Israel.
this context, both President Jacques Chirac and
Chancellor Angela Merkel are firmly behind the US military agenda
in relation to Iran.
And so you donít have a situation in any way
comparable to that prior to the war on Iraq, where France and Germany
were opposed to the Anglo-American axis.
Bulatlat [minor editing by Global Research]