Western support for terrorism

The following is part of a series of articles from Chris Tolworthy reposted here with kind permission. The articles together ask many questions about the September 11 atrocity and its aftermath, as well as looking into it from numerous angles. The articles are split into a number of pages on this site (which you can follow using the links at the bottom).

Western Support for Terrorism
Chris Tolworthy
March 2002

The September 11th FAQ1 referred to western sponsored terrorism. Here are some examples. These examples all relate to America. America is not the only state to support terrorism. Similar lists could be made for (for example) Britain or France, especially in previous generations. However, America is most relevant to the so-called "War on Terror."

Many people say "America would never do that!" If you feel that way, please pay special attention to the first few examples. Most people - even those who defend America's record - now accept that these atrocities did happen. The other examples are less well known, but the evidence is there for all to see.

On this page:

  1. Footnotes


For the CIA backing of terrorism in Guatemala, see congressman Bill Delahunt's press release in 1999(1) or the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA Annual Report 1997 - 1998(2).
Estimated civilian deaths: over 200,000 people.


"The violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende changed the course of the country ... Revelations that President Richard Nixon had ordered the CIA to 'make the economy scream' in Chile to 'prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him,' prompted a major scandal in the mid-1970s, and a major investigation by the U.S. Senate." ...

An unknown quantity of documents remain lost or classified, but those that have been released confirm efforts to 'destabilize' Chile economically. Chile has been suffering ever since."(3)

Occupied Palestinian territories:

The American government has paid Israel almost one hundred billion dollars over the years. Part of that money is used for occupying Palestinian land, in opposition to international law, and to kill dissenters. For details of American support and for the best known atrocity, see the Sabra and Shatila2 page. For the latest news, see The Palestine Chronicle3. (Why not add up the number of Israelis killed and compare them to the number of Palestinians killed? Choose any year you like.) For how the west reports the news, see Palestine Media Watch4. The parallels with South African Apartheid are striking, except in how it is reported.

"What if we had supported the apartheid regime of South Africa against the majority black population? What if we had lauded the South African white leadership as 'hard-line warriors' rather than racists? What if we had explained the shooting of 56 black protesters at Sharpeville as an understandable 'security crackdown' by the South African police. And described black children shot by the police as an act of 'child sacrifice' by their parents? What if we had called upon the 'terrorist' ANC leadership to 'control their own people'.

"Almost every day that is exactly the way we are playing the Israeli-Palestinian war. No matter how many youths are shot dead by the Israelis, no matter how many murders - by either side - and no matter how bloody the reputation of the Israeli Prime Minister, we are reporting this terrible conflict as if we supported the South African whites against the blacks. No, Israel is not South Africa (though it happily supported the apartheid regime) and no, the Palestinians are not the blacks of the shanty towns. But there's not much difference between Gaza and the black slums of Johannesburg; and there's not much difference between the tactics of the Israeli army in the occupied territories and that of the South African police. The apartheid regime had death squads, just as Israel has today. Yet even they did not use helicopter gunships and missiles."(4)

Estimated civilian deaths: 100,000 Palestinian people.


"Systematically, the Contras have been assassinating religious workers, teachers, health workers, elected officials, government administrators. Remember the 'Assassination Manual' that surfaced in 1984? It caused such a stir that President Reagan had to address it himself in the presidential debates with Walter Mondale. They use terror to traumatize society so that it cannot function.
[after describing various atrocities - the kind of thing that makes Osama Bin Laden seem kind and gentle by comparison:] "These are the activities done by the Contras. The Contras are the people President Reagan called 'freedom fighters.' He said: 'They are the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.'"

Estimated civilian deaths: over 13,000 people.

This is "The Big One." What America did in south-east Asia shocked all levels of American society - right up to the President:

"President Ford was reacting to Senate and House committee reports both concluding that the CIA had become a 'rogue elephant' crushing foreign citizens under foot in its bid to win the Cold War. For instance, more than 20,000 Vietnamese were killed during the CIA-guided Operation Phoenix intended to weed out communist 'agents' from South Vietnam." (BBC report, "CIA's licence to kill" Tuesday, 23 October, 20015)

Testimony before congress indicates that these "agents" included women and children.

"At one point Congressman Ogden Reid pulled out a list signed by a CIA officer that named VC cadre rounded up in a particular action in 1967. 'It is of some interest that on this list, 33 of the 61 names were women and some persons were as young as 11 and 12,' noted Reid." (8)

"Between 1967 to 1973 an estimated 40,000 Vietnamese were killed by CIA-sponsored "counterterror" and "hunter-killer" teams, and hundreds of thousands were sent to secret interrogation centers."(8) It was an ugly time.(9) In the end the U.S. public decided that the U.S. was wrong to start this war, and the war was finally ended.

Estimated total civilian deaths: 2,500,000 - 3,500,000 people.


Other places: who is guilty?

The above three examples are the best known. Now we have established that the west (in this case, the U.S.) does support terrorism, we can move on to many other examples.

Many of these examples are controversial. In some, the U.S. may be "innocent" (whatever that means, where bombs are involved.) In other cases, the deaths were "collateral damage" during wartime. It should be pointed out that every terrorist considers that he is part of a war, and that makes civilian casualties unavoidable. Is that an excuse?

Perhaps, in some of these cases, American intervention makes the world a better place? The evidence for this is shaky.(6) Yes, it is possible to argue (as many do) that bombing other countries is the route to lasting peace. But it seems hypocritical to then complain when other countries (and individuals) bomb us. Anyway, the reader is left to examine these in detail.

Other places: sources of information

For full documentation, please refer to the following books. This page is not intended as an endorsement of these books. It is simply an acknowledgement that the evidence exists. Innocent people have been killed. We have been involved. We need to deal with it. For each case, we have a choice. Condemn it? Excuse it? Or ignore it? You decide.

  • "Rogue State" by William Blum
  • "Killing Hope" by William Blum
  • "The Real Terror Network" by Edward S. Herman
  • "The Culture of Terrorism" by Noam Chomsky
  • "Blackshirts and Reds" by Michael Parenti
  • "The Beast Reawakens" by Martin A. Lee
  • "To Kill A Nation" by Michael Parenti
  • "What Uncle Sam Really Wants" by Noam Chomsky
  • "Derailing Democracy" by David McGowan
  • "Against Empire" by Michael Parenti
  • "The Sword and the Dollar" by Michael Parenti
  • "NATO in the Balkans" by Ramsey Clark et al
  • "Colombia: The Genocidal Democracy" by Javier Giraldo
  • "The Continuing Terror Against Libya" by Fan Yew Teng
  • "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn
  • "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen
  • "Saving Private Power" by Michael Zezima
  • "Counterrevoution: U.S. Foreign Policy" by E. & R. Boorstein
  • "Deterring Democracy" by Noam Chomsky
  • "Year 501: The Conquest Continues" by Noam Chomsky
  • "Confronting the Third World" by Gabriel Kolko
  • "Imperialism: From the Colonial Age to the Present" by Harry Magdoff
  • "Culture and Imperialism" by Edward Said
  • "Imperial Brain Trust" by Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter
  • "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb" by Gar Alperovitz
  • "Bloody Hell: The Price Soldiers Pay" by Daniel Hallock
  • "Deadly Deceits" by Ralph W. McGehee
  • "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media" by Norman Solomon
  • "Inventing Reality" by Michael Parenti
  • "Manufacturing Consent" by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
  • "War, Lies & Videotape" edited by Lenora Foerstel.

Here are some examples of US supported terror as detailed in these books and summarized at http://free.freespeech.org/americanstateterrorism/ ChronologyofTerror.html6. That Web site uses strong language and strong imagery, but given what happened, that is understandable. Don't shoot the messenger!. The "estimated civilian deaths" includes all those deaths attributed to violent action by governments or bodies supported by the United States.

The current war has killed 2000-8000 innocent civilians, but the earlier American involvement (1979-1992) may have killed over one million through the resulting war and hunger. For the latest killings, see Who kills innocent civilians?7
Estimated civilian deaths (this time round): 2000-8000.

Washington's support for the Contra terrorists is one of its most shameful open secrets.
Estimated civilian deaths: over 13,000 people.

America's record in Cuba is not good. Attempted assassinations of a head of state, bombings, military invasion, crippling sanctions... it's not a pretty picture.
Estimated civilian deaths: unknown.

El Salvador

"Officially, the U.S. military presence in El Salvador was limited to an advisory capacity. In actuality, military and CIA personnel played a more active role on a continuous basis. About 20 Americans were killed or wounded in helicopter and plane crashes while flying reconnaissance or other missions over combat areas, and considerable evidence surfaced of a U.S. role in the ground fighting as well. The war came to an official end in 1992; 75,000 civilian deaths and the U.S. Treasury depleted by six billion dollars." (7)

Columbia is perhaps the most violent country in the world. The U.S. government sends aid to the Columbian government, which is blamed for killing thousands of its own citizens.
Estimated civilian deaths: over 67,000 people.

(See the Iraq8 page.)
Estimated total civilian deaths: 200,000 people directly from the 1991 terror campaign, over 1,000,000 from sanctions and related secondary effects.

The events of 1963 were very similar to the events of the early 1990s. Iraq was demonized (back then, for moderate left-wing sympathies). An invasion was planned. After various dirty tricks, the then president was removed by his people.

"Papers of the British cabinet of 1963, later declassified, disclose that the coup had been backed by the British and the CIA.
"Added note: For the coup of 1963 the British MI6 and the CIA hired a young Iraqi man in Cairo to do their dirty work and help them destroy the Iraqi Communist Party. That man's name: Saddam Hussein." (7)

The west sees this as a problem created by the Serbs. The Serbs9 see this as a problem that was made much worse by the west. Antiwar.com10 has extensive material on this topic. Whatever the truth about the wider conflicts (and remember who it was created Yugoslavia in the first place), nobody can deny that bombing creates terror.
Estimated civilian deaths: over 3000 people from the 1999 bombing. Perhaps this prevented further casualties? Or perhaps the whole mess might have ben avoided if the Americans (and German) had taken different decisions in 1990?

The Congo has had a very difficult (and bloody) time since its independence. Many people trace this to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first p