The Shofar is the ancient trumpet which called the people of God to prayer, repentance, sacrifice and war.

November 2001:  AFGHANISTAN

From any perspective, we must give thanks to Almighty God that the evil Taliban regime is at the time of writing being driven out of Afghanistan.  The heart of God is grieved at injustice wherever it happens, and it happens nowhere more than under Muslim governments and especially under those practising the perverted 'Shariah' Islamic law-system with its injustice and mutilations.  As a result of the huge expenditure by the USA on its aerial bombardment, the loss of life amongst allied troops we feared has also largely been averted so far. However, the problem with a proxy war has been revealed; without an army under the same command as the air force, and God forbid allied troops should be involved in a land war, events on the ground are unpredictable. 

Equally, despite the best efforts of the 'spin doctors' in the American and British Governments, the purpose and conduct of the war in Afghanistan must still be questioned.  As to the conduct of it, there was a tragic loss of life on 11th September in the World Trade Centre, leading to demands for almost anything in retaliation, but from a Christian perspective, the parameters of justice and of a just war must be observed, and it is our duty to act as faithful witnesses to our leaders.  On the true purpose of the war, strange things are now coming to light as a result of investigative journalism and 'whistle-blowing'. 

A subtle shift certainly occurred in stated American and British aims in Afghanistan as events have unfolded.  Originally, the aim was to 'bring terrorists to justice,' and deal with 'those who harbour them'.  This always looked thin, because there was only ever circumstantial evidence against Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and senior American soldiers began to say that they might never find bin Laden in Afghanistan anyway.   However, in his trip earlier this month by Concorde to Washington, Tony Blair expanded the war aim into 'to get rid of the Taliban regime and replace them with a broad-based government.' 

Mr Blair has let the cat out of the bag.  America wants a puppet government in Afghanistan under its control.  Of course, despite the sins of our respective nations in the eyes of God, we enjoy more freedoms and still have a more accountable government than that of the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Nevertheless, we must be realistic and recognise that the middle-eastern governments supported by Britain and America are judged by our leaders less by their respect for freedom and democracy than by their ability and willingness to keep the oil flowing.  The Taliban regime would not play the game, and had to be replaced. 

The 'broad-based government' with which America want to replace Taliban would include all shades of tribal and Muslim allegiance in a 'power-sharing' executive.  Despite Mr Blair's rhetoric against them, the Taliban would be there, and so would representatives of all factions of the so-called 'Northern Alliance'.  There are uncanny parallels with Northern Ireland.  The global power-brokers really believe that peace is achieved by forced inclusivity imposed by a mixture of threats and inducements.  However, at the time of writing, the Northern Alliance have taken Kabul, and made it clear that a British or any other 'peace-keeping' presence will not be welcome.  The war-lords are not interested in power-sharing with their friends let alone their enemies, and they now mistrust the Americans whom they initially thought were on their side.

In truth the Americans are on nobody's side but their own.  The Western economies desperately need a continuous flow of oil, and there are vast reserves in the Caspian basin.  One pipeline route runs through Russia and the Balkans, which may help to explain Nato's interest in that part of the world.  But the route is long and the governments involved unpredictable.  The other route traverses Tajekstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  It is this latter pipeline which America hopes to control.  The journalist John Pilger revealed in the Daily Mirror on 29th October that when the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, their leaders were soon being entertained at the Houston offices of Unocal, the American oil giant. 

The Taliban were offered a cut of the profits from a pipeline through Afghanistan.  According to Pilger, a US diplomat explained that the Taliban would probably become a client state of America just like the Saudis, and that Administration could 'live with' the lack of democracy and the oppression of women.  But with billions of dollars at stake, the deal fell through.  Time began to run out for the Taliban.

There have been some astonishing hoaxes and weird theories swirling around on the internet.  Quite respectable Muslim websites and newspapers have been claiming that the bombing of the World Trade Centre towers was organised by the CIA, or by renegade American Air Force elements working with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.  If American security was involved in such a 'self-harm' operation, it would be a terrible act of unspeakable wickedness.  However, the theory, although useful to militant Islam, does not seem to fit the facts.  Although we need always to be wary of 'facts' in the media, often supplied to them by the security services and given government 'spin', the presence on each aircraft of Arab men trained as pilots was too widely reported to be untrue.  The World Trade Centre itself was a prime symbol of globalisation and capital, which Muslims identify with Jewish money interests.  An attack on it by Islamic extremists make infinitely more sense than one by Mossad.

Another more subtle theory is that American security was aware of an imminent attack but ignored the danger signs and let the operation run on too long.  The FBI found cars, hotel rooms, clothes, flight-training centres, travel arrangements associated with the bombers and so on within hours of the bombings.  Such research takes a lot of man-hours to be brought together.   It follows that the bombers had been under surveillance for some time.  Washington had become aware of the risk of possible suicide attacks back in August 1998.  According to a very senior Egyptian government minister, writing in the Evening Standard, Al-Qaeda was totally infiltrated by Saudi, Egyptian, American and Pakistani intelligence.  If that is the case, everything Al-Qaeda did in preparation for the atrocity of 11th September was overseen by the FBI.  So why were the bombers allowed to get away with it?  The American people will probably never know.

Following the breakdown of the Unocal Houston oil talks, Britain and America began plotting against the Taliban.  The attack on the World Trade Centre only accelerated (or in some cynical eyes provided an excuse for) action against them.  In an interview on BBC TV early on the morning of Saturday 27th October, Ben Bradshaw, the homosexual MP for Exeter who is now 'Minister for Afghanistan', let slip that the Foreign Office hosted a meeting in July to plan a post-Taliban Afghanistan.  In addition, the Guardian newspaper discovered that the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them at another conference in July.

The warning to the Taliban originated at a four-day meeting of senior Americans, Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis at a hotel in Berlin in mid-July. The conference, the third in a series dubbed "brainstorming on Afghanistan", was part of a classic diplomatic device known as "track two".

"Track two" is designed to offer a free and open-ended forum for governments to pass messages and sound out each other's thinking. Participants are typically no longer government officials but have close links with their governments.  The three Americans at the Berlin meeting were Tom Simons, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, Karl "Rick" Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs, and Lee Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs in the state department until 1997.

"The Americans indicated to us that in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also doesn't help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan," said Niaz Naik, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, who was at the meeting.

Asked whether he could be sure that the Americans were passing ideas from the Bush administration rather than their own views, Mr Naik said: "What the Americans indicated to us was perhaps based on official instructions. They were very senior people. Even in 'track two' people are very careful about what they say and don't say."

The plot gets even thicker with the realisation that the CIA funded Osama bin Laden during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.  He was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war.  The funding apparently came from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was routed through Pakistan's military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).  This enabled the CIA to maintain that they never funded bin Laden, and bin Laden to say that he never saw evidence of any CIA involvement.  Some in the ISI wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union.  The Americans agreed.  Incredibly, CIA money allowed some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries to join Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992, and tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs.

The CIA, using Pakistan's ISI, played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA-sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam: "Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete socio-political ideology, that holy Islam was being violated by the atheistic Soviet troops, and that the Islamic people of Afghanistan should reassert their independence by overthrowing the leftist Afghan regime propped up by Moscow." according to Dilip Hiro in Inter Press Services writing on 21/11/95.  Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad. 

Ironically, the Taliban was largely the creation of the very nation which turned against it.  In their covert campaign against the Soviet Union, the CIA and ISI also trained and equipped Chechen rebels.  Mujahideen mercenaries, indoctrinated in ISI madrasahs, fought in the Bosnian Muslim Army and in the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army, both financed by the Golden Crescent drug trade.  They are also strongly represented in the so-called 'Northern Alliance' in Afghanistan, so the idea that Afghanistan is going to get a liberal, humanist, western-style government will only come to fruition as a result of bribery with American tax-payers' money.  It gets worse.  The USA has a training camp in Florida where South American terrorists learn their trade.  American Congressmen tried recently to close it down, but only succeeded in renaming it. 

The conduct of the aerial bombardment of Afghanistan must be questioned since Britain and America promised they were after bin Laden and the Taliban who were sheltering him.  They were on the side, they said, of the Afghan people.  So why were cluster bombs being used?  It was sickening to see Tony Benn's son Hilary, who is now a government minister, defend such wickedness on BBC's Question Time programme on the grounds that there are loads of land mines in Afghanistan anyway.  It was equally nauseating to hear the Conservative spokesman Eric Forth, MP agreeing that the devices must be used to protect our soldiers.  The Liberal Democrat spokesman, Matthew Taylor, was incredulous, and supported the journalist Ann Leslie as she denounced what she described as 'aerial land mines.' 

Indeed, the devices lie dormant until someone steps on them.  Far from protecting our troops, they are an awful danger to them on the battlefield.  They also spread fear in the countryside for generations, maiming men, women and children going about their daily work.  Both the American Air Force and the RAF use these evil things.  They were on sale to despots the world over at an arms fair in London's Docklands on the very day of the World Trade Centre bombing.  For allied forces to use them is a disgrace.  For Hilary Benn to support their use is hypocritical.  For the Conservatives to back them up is an abdication of the responsibility of Opposition.

Collateral damage is the modern euphemism for the accidental killing of civilians.  Inevitably, innocents have died in Afghanistan, in a hospital, a mosque, Red Cross warehouses, on the roads, even in a Northern Alliance village, as so-called 'smart' bombs went astray or chose the wrong targets.  With the very first civilian casualty, any moral high ground which the Allies could have held was swept from under them.  Osama bin Laden or his successors if he is indeed caught or killed can say that the Americans are content to kill innocent Muslims.  Afghan lives, he will say, are not of as much value as American lives. 

In mainly-Muslim nations, militants still see the attack on Afghanistan as a religious war by 'Crusaders' against Islam in which their own national Christians are considered to be on the side of the USA.  Anti-American anger is therefore often taken out on national Christians, particularly as this attracts far less punishment than attacks on Westerners.  Early in the conflict, a 13-year-old Christian boy minding a stall in Pakistan was beaten to death by two men crying, "Take your payment from America."  The Christians massacred as they worshipped in church in Pakistan were also innocent victims of the conflict which has inflamed tensions across the Islamic world.

Cherie Blair, wife of the Prime Minister, is reported to be taking a step into the political arena by deciding to support the cause of Afghan women.  They were downtrodden and socially excluded under the Taliban, but what does Mrs Blair have in mind?  The key words 'women's health' were mentioned.  That should set Christian alarm bells ringing.  Just five days before, a spokesman for the UK LifeLeague claimed that Kabul is the new front line in the battle to extend abortion and contraceptive rights. 

"Whenever the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) goes into a conflict area their immediate response is to start flooding refugees and battle-worn civilians with abortions, sterilisations and powerful contraceptives," claimed Jim Dowson.  "They airlifted the morning-after pill immediately into Kosovar not appreciating Islam's deep aversion to killing their unborn children.  This is modern imperialism at its most arrogant and selfish; rather than feeding and clothing they cull the future population so that they do not present a threat to western materialism.

"Under the guise of reproductive health, groups such as UNFPA, International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes have been spending taxpayers' money to destroy whole generations within the developing world.  It is little wonder that Islam despises the sham values of Tony Blair who claims to defend the sanctity of human life.  In the UK alone over 6 million children have been aborted.  In true Taliban style, Tony Blair and his Overseas Development Minister Clare Short want to enforce this choice onto the women of Afghanistan."

What is presented here will come as a shock to many who honestly believed that America and its allies were fighting a just war against terrorism.  Horrible as it is to admit, America has been, and still is, deeply involved in international terrorism.  In Afghanistan, America is conducting not so much a war against terror but a war for a pipeline.  She claims to seek justice but those in high places see the opportunity to make money.  Britain was supposed to have an 'ethical foreign policy' but our Prime Minister is acting like America's Foreign Secretary, travelling the world shoring up - in the eyes of God - an unholy alliance between backslidden Christian nations, and despotic Muslim regimes like those of Saudi Arabia and Syria.  One of the most dangerous ploys of Britain and America must be the building up of Palestinian hopes at the expense of the security of Israel.  God is not mocked and He poureth contempt upon princes.  Out of ignorance or foolishness, Tony Blair met Palestinian leaders on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, reminding them of Britain's historic involvement with the modern state of Israel.

READ: Deut 30:15-19; 2 Chr 20:35-37; Ps 107:40; Is 59:9-14; Matt 6:33; 2 Cor 6:15-17; Rev 17:14.

PRAY: For true peace in Afghanistan, for the peace of Jerusalem, and for repentance in Britain and America.  Pray that the truth about the war, its origins and its conduct, is revealed by God, who can confound the mighty.