Bin Laden, The Hidden Truth, Chapter 1
by Guillaume Dasquié and Jean-Charles Brisard
Published November, 2001
Translated from the French version here to English using Babelfish
Chapter 1. Laila Helms, profession : Lobbyist for the Taliban
Her name is Laila Helms, she lives in Washington, and with her family's relations, it seemed not very probable that Laila Helms remains away of the world darkest zones. Laila Helms is no less than the niece of Richard Helms, a former director of CIA and former US ambassador in Iran.
In her sparkling forty, this American woman of Afghan origin, grew at the rhythm of the tumultuous relations between her country of origin and her country of adoption. Already in the Eighties, from the East coast of the United States, Laila Helms embraced the cause of the moudjahidines who were fighting against the Soviet invader.
At that time, Laila Helms is a member of the American association called "Friends of Afghanistan", a real nongovernmental organization encouraged by the American State Department and the White House. This " Friends of Afghanistan" Association is intended to secure sympathy of the public opinions with regard to the Afghan moudjahidines. The " Friends of Afghanistan" was a kind of Western relay of the holy war carried out on remote grounds against the USSR.
For this reason, for example, the young Laila Helms organized the voyage to the United States of Sayed Mohammad Gailani ( the head of moudjahidin), between March 20 and April 5, 1986. Incidentally, during his trip, this framework of the Afghan guerrilla discussed lengthily with the vice-president, a certain George Bush. It was on March 21, 1986 in Washington(1).
The chances of History, her entregent with the Afghan religious heads, but also her address book, gradually made of Laila Helms the impossible to circumvent lobbyist of Afghanistan near the American circles of capacity. Pure "product" of US policy in this area of the World, Laila Helms supported the islamists leaders who had for a long time the favours of the American Administration.
Also, as from the year 1995, Laila Helms is part of the number of the representatives of the taliban interests in Washington. Taliban which are on the point of seizing the power in Kabul, with the blessing and the dollars of Saudi Arabia and the benevolence of the American State Department.
During the last six years, Laila Helms was devoted to supervise various actions of influence in the name of the taliban, in particular at the United Nations. The activities of Laila Helms for those "customers" (the taliban) will never decrease, even after 1996, when the head of the taliban Mohammed Omar becomes officially less frequentable by the American government (Mohammed Omar had largely recoursed to summary executions).
Laila Helms will persist after 1997, when the taliban welcomed Ossama Ben Laden, and even after 1998, when Ossama Ben Laden was "recognized guilty" by the USA who believe that Ossama Ben Laden have financed the attacks against the American embassies of Nairobi and Dar es-Salam. Thus, in February 1999, Laila Helms carried out a TV documentary for NEC, after she has obtained from NEC a team to shoot the movie during two weeks in Afghanistan (2). Her documentary devoted to the life of the Afghan women. The result : a propaganda film, which would present the optimistic living conditions of the Afghan women. Neither NEC nor any other American TV networks never agreed to diffuse her documentary.
Even if it seems now very strange, Laila Helms' activism did not represent an exception in the United States. Others delegated of the taliban were prosperous and highly respected there, up to one very recent period, through various more or less discrete structures.
For example the American office of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan", a kind of Taliban Chancellery established in the United States. This Office had a semi-official statute, since the Taliban system was never recognized by the United States (3). (the word "taliban" means "students in religion")
However, still in August 2001, this Taliban's representation in New York had many rooms inside a building of the Queens, where this Taliban's representation received Maulana Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, the "abstract" ambassador of the taliban in North America.
After February 5, 2001 and the Taliban' request for an official recognition, it is quite naturally than Laila Helms got the mission of orchestrating -- in Washington -- the new Americano-Afghan' relationship. In a few weeks, Laila Helms deployed treasures of diplomacy to obtain that the highest persons in charge of the Bush Administration, will meet with the emissary of mollah Omar. In the US Administration, the former partners of Laila Helms -- from the time of moudjahidines war against the USSR -- represent invaluable contacts. In the Republican camp, the persons who formerly massively supported the islamists guerrillas ( to destabilize Moscow ) were again occupying the keys-stations. They are allies of very invaluable circumstances.
The first results feel two months later, between March 18 and March 23, 2001. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi, 24 y.o., Ambassador of the taliban and personal adviser of Mohammed Omar, pays a short visit in the United States. This displacement intervenes after the dynamiting of the thousand-year-old Buddhas of Bamyan.
In spite of the tended context, the lobbyist Laila Helms, planned several meetings for this young Afghan dignitary. According to the American journalist Wayne Madsen (4), a specialist in the questions of security and former Intelligence Officer, at least two structures of the US Administration agree to discuss with him : the central Management of the CIA (5) and the Intelligence Office of the US State Department (6).
Better : in the country of the king medias , Laila Helms obtains for Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi two interviews on « supports » who are particularly followed by the political decision-makers : ABC and the National Public Radio. A great occasion to improve the image of the taliban, and thus to facilitate the negotiations (7).
What is the purpose of this visit ? Does it simply result from the talents of Laila Helms ? Who are her sponsor ? And especially, what is the logic of this voyage ?
Actually, since the beginning of the year 1999 and until August 2001, in the United States it exists a concerted and persistent will to lead to a settlement of the Afghan matter. The only notable evolution : the Republicans decide to accelerate the process engaged by the members of the Clinton administration.
February 5 2001, the declaration of the Taliban Foreign Minister simply states that the Masters of Kabul want to quickly manage an agreement. Both sides, interests are well understood.
In the name of its energy policy, Washington will support a process of progressive international recognition for the taliban. In exchange, the taliban will adopt a more peaceful policy. They will also give up their support of Ossama Bin Laden, the supposed Integrist Head and they will agree in their international relations to remain in the line of the Sunnites Fundamentalist States (8). Which fundamentalist Sunnite States, outside their borders, take positions in conformity with the directions fixed by Saudi Arabia, first financier of radical Sunnisme and first allie of United States in the « Arab World ».
Eminent personalities are working so that this exchange of good processes is carried out. Thus, a s of January 2000, a high person in charge of the State Department meets in Pakistan with the Taliban Ambassador Saeed Mohammed Muttaqi (9).
This VIP of US State Department also takes advantage to discuss with theUS Ambassador in Pakistan, Tom Simons. Tom Simons will gradually become the « driving belt » of these talks. The last act of the Americano-Afghan negotiations starts there.
In the East coast of the United States, these negotiations are summarized to obtain that the allies of yesterday re-enter finally in the rows. Because the Taliban system was not always honni by the persons in charge of the White House and in charge of the State Department. On the contrary. During several years, one the US perceived the Taliban system like a providential movement.
From 1994 to 1998, the United States expresses a relative benevolence with regard to the Taliban. It is true that the sudden starts of a country are singularly perceived from the cossus and solid masses buildings which skirt banks of the Potomac, cutting this north-eastern district of Washington where such an amount of power sereinement sits.
There, on a surface of three or four square kilometres, the financial staffs, the political and military staffs -- of the World Bank to Pentagon --, follow the World businesses by observing the screens which describe the raw materials markets and by quickly reading the diplomatic telegrams which summarize the hurly-burly of the planetary topicality.
About Afghanistan, those indicators are without call. The country is the key of Central Asia energy reserves : it must be dominated by a strong and uncontested government to peacefully benefit from this situation. Thus, even after the attacks of Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam in 1998, whereas the Taliban openly protect Ossama Bin Laden, supposed sponsor of these attacks, the United States still and always negotiates.
(1) Files of Committee for has Free Afghanistan and of the organization Friends of Afghanistan.
(2) Testimony of Deonna Kelli, researcher in East Carolina University and coordinatrice of the Social Association of Muslim Scientists.
(3) Only Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, i.e. the Taliban State.
(4) Testimony collected by the authors.
(5) It is about Directorate of Central Intelligence (DCI). It includes the director of the CIA as well as a cabinet charged to coordinate all the activities of the agency. In fact the DCI also manages all the significant contacts with foreign personalities.
(6) the Office of Intelligence and Research of the State Department provides political analyses and strategic information to the heads of diplomacy
(7). Wednesday March 21 200 at 2 p.m., Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi is lengthily interviewed by Juan Williams on the National Public Radio. Friday March 23 2001 at 6.30 p.m., Sayed Rahmatullah Hashimi answers the questions of Bill Redeker on ABC News.
(8). Mainly: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.
(9). Files of the US embassy in Islamabad.
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