TV REVIEWS : Did U.S. Create Terror Monster

The very title of Peter Arnett’s CNN report--"Terror Nation? U.S. Creation?” (at 6 p.m. Sunday)--suggests the Frankenstein syndrome that seems to dog so many of the political monsters created during the Cold War.

Of course, one person’s monster is another person’s freedom fighter: Arnett’s particular monster here is militant Islamic leader and Afghanistan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who may be viewed as the loosest of loose cannons, arming and training terrorists for assaults on the West and Western allies. His Muslim brothers, though, posit him as a hero.

It is this devotion, and the suicidal martyrdom that results from it, that makes Hekmatyar’s alleged brand of terror so potentially dangerous. The first salvo in this war: the bombing of the World Trade Center.

Arnett, hardly a favorite of the U.S. defense Establishment since his spectacular Baghdad reports during the height of the Gulf War, will make no new friends with “Terror Nation?,” which convincingly explains how the Trade Center bombers received their initial training, under CIA sponsorship, during the war to free Afghanistan of the invading Soviet army.


Arnett is remarkably free to explore Hekmatyar’s network of Afghanistan terrorist training camps--he even arranges a talk with Hekmatyar himself.

With cash derived from a resurgent drug trade through the Khyber Pass, and a huge U.S. and Soviet arms supply left behind by the war, Hekmatyar, Arnett reports, has been able to wage a two-pronged battle. First, he is embroiled in a civil war to oust Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Second, with his control of between 5,000 and 10,000 militants, Hekmatyar has been able to extend his fundamentalist jihad (or holy war) into India’s Kashmir province, Egypt, Algeria and the Islamic-dominated southern provinces of the former Soviet Union.