I’m still slowly making my way through Devil’s Game, How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, by Robert Dreyfuss. Some sections kind of drag, and it’s so chock full of information that you get overloaded.
This jumped out at me, though, given the various arguments I’ve heard made against Muslims in the last few years. Somehow the throwing of acid in girls’ faces always gets brought up. I don’t know which anti-Islam screecher pushes the acid-in-the-face angle, but I keep hearing it.
[US National Security Advisor 1977-1981] Brzezinski, and then [Director of Central Intelligence 1981-1987] Casey, embraced the Pakistan-Saudi axis. But both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had their favored clients in Afghanistan.
For Pakistan, it was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the militant Islamist whose group was called the Islamic Party (Hizb-i Islami). Hekmatyar had a well-earned reputation for being a brutal fanatic:
Gulbuddin was the darling of Zia and the Pakistan intelligence service. Like other mujahideen leaders, he had been working with the ISI [Pakistan intel service] since the early 1970s, when Pakistan had begun secretly backing fundamentalist students at the University of Kabul who were rebelling against Soviet influence in the Afghan government. Back then Gulbuddin was very much a part of the emerging global wave of Islamic radicalism. By all accounts, he was responsible for the practice of throwing acid in the faces of Afghan women who failed to cover themselves properly.
Hekmatyar’s specialty was skinning prisoners alive. Sigbhatullah Mujaddidi, an Islamist of somewhat less radical stripes, called Hekmatyar a “true monster.” But Representative Charles Wilson, a Texas Republican who was the leading congressional advocate for the Afghan jihad, approvingly noted that Zia was “totally committed to Hekmatyar, because Zia saw the world as a conflict between Muslims and Hindus, and he thought he could count on Hekmatyar to work for a pan-Islamic entity that could stand up to India.”