International Terrorism: The Communist Connection Revisited
Archives show Islamist terrorism linkages to Soviet Cold War intelligence
Posted: Saturday, June 1, 2002
Seeing the unseen links
Polite company would seldom entertain such an idea of global, Soviet-sponsored terrorist networks, at least in the days of détente and Jimmy Carter and America’s post-Vietnam malaise. The CIA called Possony’s notion nonsense. Nobody in the prestige press of foreign policy establishment, it seemed, was willing or able to take the idea seriously.
But a few others, like Claire Sterling with the strong financial backing of Reader’s Digest, did, and that combined research fired the imagination of President Ronald Reagan’s incoming national security team in 1980 and 1981.
The new CIA Director, William J. Casey, ordered a thorough review of intelligence collection and analysis to test the outside writers’ validity – and to test the competence of the U.S. intelligence community in the face of international terrorism.
Casey’s contentious intelligence review, which underwent fierce bureaucratic resistance and denounced in press leaks as “politicization of intelligence,” found that Possony was correct.
Here is what Possony found, using what he called “structured analysis” of open-source information:
There is virtually no terrorist operation or guerrilla movement anywhere in the world today, whether communist, semi-communist, or non-communist, from the Irish Republican Army to the Palestine Liberation Organization to our own Weather Underground, with which communists of one sort or another have not been involved. This includes non-communist operations and movements, for communist parties and governments always stand ready to exploit disorder in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere, however and by whomever it is fomented.
Because Moscow, Peking, Havana and other communist centers are linked to so many terrorist and guerrilla groups and organizations, and because so many of the groups look to those centers not simply for support and assistance but also for ideological inspiration, the groups often seem to be connected with one another. They are certainly cooperating with one another more and more, as if they constituted a Terrorist International, controlled and directed by some central authority. This study does not make that claim because the facts do not warrant that conclusion.
But it does recognize – and will show – that a significant degree of coordination of terrorist activities does exist, and that it is mainly communists who are doing the coordinating.