Britain planned to help Afghan resistance after Soviet invasion

A top official negotiated how to channel covert military aid to guerrillas.

London: Britain had planned to assist the Afghan resistance just weeks after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, reveal secret documents that show a top official negotiating how to channel covert military aid to the guerrillas battling the Russians.

The Guardian reported on Thursday that barely three weeks after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, cabinet secretary Robert Armstrong began negotiating how to swiftly route military aid to the "Islamic resistance".

The details emerged from secret cabinet documents that were released to the National Archives under the 30-year rule.

After KGB special forces seized control of Kabul on December 27, 1979, the foreign secretary, Lord Carrington, said: "The Russians are resorting to the big lie by saying that they intervened at the invitation of Afghan authorities … we should take every opportunity to make them uncomfortable and bring home to them the consequences of their actions."

A month later, Armstrong put out a "secret, personal" note to then prime minister Margaret Thatcher on a meeting in Paris between senior US, French, German and British officials.

"There was some discussion of support for Afghan resistance to the invading Soviet troops," he was quoted as saying.

Then US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested providing Afghan guerrillas located just inside the Pakistan border with "surface to air missiles to defend themselves against air attack", the media report said.

The French on their part were of the opinion that military aid could be channelled through the Iraqis. The aim of the West, they said, should be to keep the Islamic world "aroused about the Soviet invasion that would be served by encouraging a continuing guerrilla resistance".

The documents show Armstrong stating a border war should be avoided but "so long as the Afghans were ready to continue guerrilla war resistance and Pakistan was prepared … to acquiesce in (its) territory being a base for such activity, the West could hardly refuse to provide support where it could do so with suitable discretion".

The cabinet secretary also sent a note to Thatcher and "C" (the head of MI6) arguing the case for military aid to "encourage and support resistance".

He said intervention "would make more difficult the process of Soviet pacification of Afghanistan and (ensure) that process takes much longer than it would otherwise do; and the existence of a guerrilla movement in Afghanistan would be a focus of Islamic resistance which we should be wanting to continue to stimulate".

Guardian reported that the West`s arming of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan has been seen as one of the contributing factors in the rise of al Qaeda, whose leader Osama bin Laden was a prominent Saudi financier of the Mujahideen.