SETTING THE STAGE



SETTING THE STAGE


This article is an excerpt of Hans Bratteruds upcoming book
about the endtime – The Fall of Islam and the Rise of Israel.


The threat of World War III probably became much more real to the world on 9-11-2001. On that day 4 large airline jets with fuel tanks filled to capacity were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, home of the US Department of Defense in Washington D.C. One plane crashed to the ground in rural Pennsylvania without hitting a target. Almost 3000 people were killed.

All of the 19 hijackers were Islamist terrorists from the Middle East, who had lived for some time and studied in the United States prior to their coordinated suicide attack upon America. The leader of the hijackers, Mohammed Atta, was from Egypt. One of them was from Palestine (Israel), and the other seventeen were from Saudi Arabia.

The terrorists were operating under the auspices of the Al Qaida (Islamic Salvation Army?) Foundation, which had been established in Afghanistan in the mid 1980s by Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden. This purportedly humanitarian organization was originally designed to transfer funds for the support of the jihad fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; later it was used to support Islamist mujahideen worldwide.[i]


Americas War On Terrorism.
The attack on 9-11-01 may be said to have had the effect on America of waking a sleeping giant, similarly to that of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Whereas Pearl Harbor brought America into World War II, 9-11-01 brought America into the War on Terrorism, which may very well lead into World War III.

From the beginning US authorities were careful to say that the War on Terrorism was not a war against Islam. But as the war continues, it is expected that the designation will become more specifically the War on Islamic Terrorism as it will become increasingly more difficult to separate the religion of Islam from the terrorism that springs directly from that very religion.

As America launched her War on Terrorism during the fall of 2001, the initial objective was to find and bring to justice Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaida terrorist network. At the time he was hiding in Afghanistan whose Taliban Islamist regime protected him and refused to hand him over to US authorities. So war was declared on the Taliban regime controlling most of Afghanistan. For President Bush had made it very clear that America would ?make no distinction between the terrorists … and those who harbor them.?[ii]

America then established contact with the opposition forces in Afghanistan, The Northern Alliance. They had not received any American support since 1991 when the US and the Soviet Union reached an agreement to end all military aid, by the Soviets to the Kabul regime, and by the United States to the rebels. This was just shortly before that vast empire was formally dissolved in late 1991. However, during the 1980s the US had invested large sums of money in the Afghan forces in opposition to the Soviet occupation, both in Pakistan and inside Afghanistan.

Ironically, Osama bin Laden who fought in Afghanistan as a mujahideen during the 1980s had profited greatly from this generous American aid. At that time he had carried out several quite extensive construction projects, building roads, hospitals, storage depots, and living quarters for the mujahideen, fortified in mountain tunnels and caves.[iii]

Consequently, as the Taliban forces gained control of most of Afghanistan, taking Kabul in September 1996, all of this fell into their hands. Moreover, as Osama bin Laden was returning to Afghanistan from his exile in Sudan during that same year, he made the Taliban regime his chief ally, and in the mountain strongholds he had built in the 1980s bin Laden established his new headquarters and continued to organize a worldwide Islamic jihad.

On August 7, 1998 when terrorist bombs struck the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, US officials named Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind these bombings. Two weeks later, on August 20, the US Navy launched more than 75 cruise missiles from ships in the Indian Ocean, aimed at a large complex of training camps built by bin Laden in the Khowst area south of Kabul, Afghanistan. 26 mujahideen died and 37 were wounded.[iv]

By then it was quite clear for US authorities that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network had replaced the Soviet Union as America&rsqs enemy number 1.


The Fall of Taliban Afghanistan.
After the terror attacks on 9-11-01, when it was evident that Taliban Afghanistan was harboring Osama bin Laden, US authorities acted swiftly to organize massive military aid to the Northern Alliance. The war in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001, when US bombers started to attack targets in that country. On the ground a few hundred American and British Special Operations commandos supported roughly 15,000 Northern Alliance fighters who were facing a Taliban army of about 45,000 men.[v]

The US air power was probably the most important factor in making this war a very short and decisive military campaign delivering full victory to the Northern Alliance Forces in basically just a couple of months. One of the first goals of the US forces was to destroy training camps and reserve units waiting to be called to the front lines as the Northern Alliance covered by American air support started to attack the regular Taliban forces.

In the beginning the Taliban soldiers fought with great courage and confidence thinking they had large reserves coming to relieve them as the fighting went on. But once thy realized that their reserve units were already attacked and in many cases completely destroyed, they soon surrendered or fled. The Northern Alliance, with generous supply of modern military equipment given by America and allied nations, fought down the Taliban forces from stronghold to stronghold throughout the country. Town after town and city after city fell. After just over a month of fighting Northern Alliance forces captured Kabul in mid-November 2001.

Then the city of Kandahar fell in December, and this may have been the most decisive blow to the whole Taliban organization. Kandahar is the main city in the south, dominated by the Pashtun ethnic group, which also makes up the bulk of the population in Afghanistan. It is also the place of origin for the Taliban fighters and remained their last major stronghold until it fell.[vi]

By the time the Afghan war was over, the US had suffered surprisingly few casualties, a total of 23 combat deaths as compared to at least 5,000 Taliban and Al-Qaida fighters killed in battle, and an estimated 10,000 wounded. In addition, 7,000 were taken prisoner by the US forces and their Afghan allies.[vii] A new democratic government under the leadership of Prime Minister Kharzai was established, and American forces were given the task of protecting the new government.

In order to facilitate the capture of Osama bin Laden the US government announced a reward of $25 million for information that would lead to his capture, dead or alive. Several local Afghan commanders in the Northern Alliance were eager to win this reward, and thus there was a rush to find the terrorist chief in the Tora Bora Mountains of eastern Afghanistan during the last part of December 2001. Sure enough, the caves that may have been home to his family and staff were found, stashed with firearms and ammunition. But he was gone.[viii]

Osama bin Laden&rsqs hiding place is probably his house at Qom in the Islamist heartland of Iran or his Iranian headquarters in Mashhad, near the border to Afghanistan, which he established in early February of 1997 in case conditions in Afghanistan become intolerable.?[ix] He may, of course, travel freely between these places, and probably also to his newest Afghan headquarters in the Pamir Mountains of Northwestern Afghanistan, in the Kunduz province, close to the border of Tajikistan. The building of this headquarter was initiated after US missiles struck Khowst in Eastern Afghanistan in August of 1998, and it was projected to be operational in early 2000.[x]

A year after the Afghan war, although Osama bin Laden was still at large, several Al Qaida operatives had been captured, including Chief of Planning, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the no. 3 man after Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was captured by Pakistani police in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 8, 2003. Other captured Al Qaida leaders include Chief of Operations, Abu Zubaydah, and suspected 20th hijacker,? Ramzi Binalshib. In addition to these, Chief of Military Operations, Mohammed Atef, was killed in Afghanistan by US bombs in November 2001.[xi]


Disarming Iraq.
The next chapter in the War on Terrorism was the disarming of Iraq and the ousting of its dictator Saddam Hussein. This war started on March 21, 2003, with an aerial bombardment against a Baghdad bunker in which Saddam was said to have been meeting with top officials including his tow sons, Uday and Kusay. Again on April 8th another place of a meeting reported to have been attended by Saddam and at least one of his sons still believed to be alive at that time, was bombed as US forces stormed into the city of Baghdad, which soon was under the control of the US-led coalition.

On April 9th Iraqis helped by an American armored vehicle tore down a tall bronze statue of Saddam in the center of the city. The head of Saddam&rsqs statue was torn off and dragged along the streets by jubilant citizens who were beating the head with their shoes and rejoicing in their newfound freedom. Statues of the dictator were torn down and his pictures were burned all over Iraq, as his stranglehold on the population of the country finally had come to an end. Saddam and his inner circle were at that time assumed either to be dead or in hiding, possibly outside of Iraq.[xii] During subsequent days and weeks more and more of the inner circle of the Saddam regime were captured by Allied forces that set out to establish a democratic government in Iraq.

In spite of consistent Iraqi denials of any links to Al Qaida, there is solid evidence of cooperation on several levels between Al Qaida and Iraqi intelligence during the latter part of the Saddam Hussein regime (1979-2003). This includes the setting up in 1998 of camps in Iraq for the training of intelligence operatives and guerilla fighters from among Osama bin Laden&rsqs supporters in Saudi Arabia. These were being smuggled back and forth across the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia by Iraqi intelligence forces.[xiii]

The Iraq - Al Qaida cooperation, however, was only initiated after a formal alliance between Iran and Iraq had been established in February of 1998 as part of the regional strategic cooperation then agreed to between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt as US pressure on Iraq was mounting. In the discussions between Iran and Iraq the latter offered various concessions as incentives, such as cutting support for the Iraq-based Iranian opposition group Mujahideen ul-Khalq. Also, Baghdad expressed willingness to reconsider Teheran&rsqs demand for $100 billion in damages for the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88).[xiv]

US authorities were of course fully aware of Iran&rsqs role as chief sponsor of Islamic terrorism worldwide and Teheran&rsqs designs for a world Islamic empire. President Bush has even hinted at placing Iran as a future target in the War on Terrorism. However, there are important indications that the great confrontation between the US and Iran probably will not come any time soon, perhaps not at all. We shall discuss this further in chapter 6.


Defining the times.

In his glittering speech before a joint session of Congress on September 20th 2001, just 9 days after the terror attacks on New York City and Washington DC, President George W. Bush made the following statement about the new and in many ways fearful situation in which America and the world now found themselves:

Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead, and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.[xv]

This statement, like so many others in that speech was met with roaring applause that reverberated throughout the world as the President&rsqs remarks were being broadcast live to all of America and around the globe. The idea that Americans through their elected government will define our times, not be defined by them,? was indeed appealing. It gave people great encouragement that helped shatter the dark clouds of despair.

Terrorism could be overcome. We did not have to be overcome by fear, but standing together we could win this war on terrorism and secure a safe future for our children. And we see in Bible prophecies concerning World War III that America will be leading a coalition of Christian nations in close cooperation with Israel, which will break the spirit of Islam as a force aspiring to world dominance and cause it to collapse.

Thus Bible prophecy seems to support the view expressed by President George W. Bush that even though there are struggles ahead and dangers to face,? America will take the lead and define our times.? Taking that awesome responsibility, then, with the blessings of God Almighty, the days ahead will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world,?[xvi] even throughout that terrible struggle approaching called World War III.




[i] Bodansky, p 44.

[ii] Statement to the Press, the President&rsqs Address to the Nation, September 11, 2001, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010911-16.html
[iii] Bodansky, p 12ff.
[iv] Bodansky, p 283

[v] TIME Magazine, October 14, 2002, p 38.

[vi] TIME, December 17, 2001, p 21ff.

[vii] TIME, Oct. 14, 2002, p 40.

[viii] TIME, Dec. 24, 2001, p 40.

[ix] Bodansky, p 197.

[x] Bodansky, pp 283, 312-313.

[xi] TIME, March 10, 2003, p 23, 24.

[xii] TIME, March 31, 2003, p 38ff.; CNN.com, Saddam&rsqs Regime in Ruins,? April 9, 2003.

[xiii] Bodansky, p 322-325.

[xiv] Bodansky, p 118.

[xv] Address by President George W. Bush for a joint session of Congress and the American People on September 20, 2001: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html

[xvi] Ibid.

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