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“BLOWBACK” – A Veterans Perspective


Ron Paul is criticized for using the term “Blowback” and claiming that the 9/11 terrorists were motivated by our foreign policy in the Middle East. Veterans understand exactly what Ron Paul means when he refers to “Blowback”. More veterans contribute to Ron Paul’s campaign than any other candidate, because many of us share his perspective of “Blowback”. Let me explain in more detail.


“Blowback” is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh1 in Iran. “Blowback” is used to describe the unintended consequences suffered by a civilian population due to actions by its own government that were deliberately kept secret. In the case of 9/11 the American civil population suffered at the hands of al Qaeda terrorists, because of missteps by the United States Federal Government (US). Civilians caught up in “Blowback” see it as a random act of violence, when in fact there was a direct cause. After 9/11 we were told the terrorists attacked us because we are free and independent.  The George W. Bush (Bush 2) administration did not tell us the real reason we were attacked. Not until the release of the 9/11 Commission Report were the American people told the truth. It all starts in the summer of 1990.


On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. Five days later, August 19, 1990, US started deploying forces to Saudi Arabia. The 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing comprised of the 415th, 416th, and 417th Tactical Fighter Squadrons deployed 42 F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighters to Khamis Mushayat King Khalid Air Base, Saudi Arabia. By January 17, 1991, the initiation of hostilities against Iraq, nearly 1,000,000 personnel, equipment, and 4,000 combat aircraft were based in Saudi Arabia. The map below depicts US and coalition forces on the Saudi Arabian peninsula. The X’s mark two US Army Corps the 5th and 7th.

Figure 1


Is it significant that we based these assets on the Saudi Arabian Peninsula? You bet it is.


Islam was founded in Saudi Arabia and it is home to the two holiest cities, Medina and Mecca. Medina is the second most holy city in Islam with three of Islam’s oldest Mosques. Mohammed the prophet is buried in Medina and unbelievers are forbidden within the city. Mecca is the most holy city in Islam and the faithful pray in the direction of (Ka’abah) in Mecca five times per day from anywhere on earth. It is the birthplace of Muhammad and the place where the archangel Gabriel revealed the Koran.  The fifth of the five pillars of Islam is to make a pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca at least once in a Muslim’s life.  Unbelievers are forbidden in Mecca and would be killed instantly if discovered. The best way to illustrate how serious the Muslims are about Mecca is to quote English Explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who in 1853 disguised himself as an Afghan Pashtun and participated in the Haj.


“… neither Koran or Sultan enjoin the death of Jew or Christian intruding within the columns that note the sanctuary limits, nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever.” 2


Muslims are very serious about their faith and they don’t take kindly to unbelievers intruding on their holiest of land.


On Figure 1 you will notice that the US based B-52 Bombers on King Abdul Aziz Air Base in Jeddah, the gateway to Mecca, 89 miles northwest. We based F-111′s at Ta’if 90 miles to the southeast of Mecca. Within a span of six months the US and coalition forces occupied Islams holiest Saudi Arabia Peninsula. To the rank and file Muslim these were unbelievers. The B-52′s and F-111′s launched almost every night heading North with one mission – to bomb Muslims. The war ended quickly and most troops returned home to a great parade, but the US left 5,000 personnel and equipment in place on the Saudi Arabian Peninsula to enforce the “No Fly” zone over southern Iraq. This was a huge mistake and illustrates the incompetence of the George H.W. Bush (Bush 1) and William Jefferson Clinton administrations. Not until August 2003 did the US remove all personnel and equipment from Saudi Arabia to address al Qaeda’s number one motivation for 9/11.


The 9/11 Commission Report makes a very important statement on page 7 of the Executive Summary. The report states;


The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise. Islamist extremists had given plenty of warning that they meant to kill Americans indiscriminately and in large numbers. Although Usama Bin Ladin himself would not emerge as a signal threat until the late 1990′s, the threat of Islamist terrorism grew over the decade.”3


This is a very important note about the 1990′s; 1) February 26, 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, 2) November 13, 1995 Khobar Towers Bombing, 3) August 7, 1998 African Embassy Bombings, 4) October 12, 2000 USS Cole Bombing, and 5) September 11, 2001. In between there were smaller individual plots to kill Americans, but each time al Qaeda’s made its grievances known. That grievance is written in the 9/11 Commission report on page 49;


“He (Usama Bin Laden) inveighed against the presence of U.S. Troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s holiest sites.”


This grievance was transmitted to the world as early as August 1996 when Osama Bin Laden issued a Fatwa entitled Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.


He wrote;


The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam …”


The 1998 Fatwa To declare a holy war, or jihad, against the West and Israel again transmitted al Qaeda’s grievances;


“First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.”


It is clear that al Qaeda’s number one grievance against the United States was our billeting of troops on the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. Now contrast that to what we were told by our government. On September 11, 2001 Bush 2 took to the airwaves and told a grieving American public what they wanted to hear, not what they should have heard.  Bush 2 stated;


“America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.”

G. W. Bush 9/11 Speech [Click to watch the entire speech.]


The American people were not told the real reason for the attacks, because it would have put on display the incompetence of Bush 1 and the Clinton administrations.  But more importantly 9/11 gave the Bush Administration the green light to implement the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.  Preparations began for regime change in Iraq and the removal of our personnel and equipment from Saudi Arabia.


H.R. 4655 Iraq Liberation Act 1998 was signed by President Bill Clinton on October 31, 1998. The act called for the removal of Sadaam Hussein from power in Iraq.  This act and Weapons of Mass Destruction was the justification for the Authorization for Military Force in 2002 to invade Iraq. The Iraq War started in March 2003 and by May 1, 2003 the military capability of the Iraqi Army was all but destroyed. On April 29, 2003 the announcement was made that all forces in Saudi Arabia would be removed starting in August 2003. Below is the headline from the New York Times on April 29, 2003. Click on this link to read the entire news story.

Figure 2


Since August 2003 no attacks against American civilian targets have occurred. Osama Bin Laden achieved what he set out to do, rid his holy land of US troops. Had the United States simply left Saudi Arabia in 1991 with all personnel and equipment, there would most likely not have been a 9/11 or Iraq War 2.


Veterans understand this instinctively, that is why they support Ron Paul’s candidacy for President more than any other candidate. Ron Paul is correct the terrorist were motivated to commit 9/11 because of our foreign policy in the Middle East.


Endnote:  Osama Bin Laden made this statement in an interview with al Jazzera in October 2001;  “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed.  The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”  Was he correct?  The Patriot Act, The National Defense Authorization Act 2011, Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security, etc.

[The author is a former Captain in the United States Air Force from 1980 - 1989.  Assignments included 3rd TFS Clark AB, Philippines, 497th TFS Taegu, Korea, 23rd TFS Spangdahlem, GE, and US V Corps Frankfurt am Mein.]


2 Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to al-Medinah and Mekkah, Sir Richard Francis Burton


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