By Ryan Mauro:
Pavel Stroilov is a Russian historian who, in 2004, copied a top-secret Soviet archive of about 50,000 documents from the Gorbachev Foundation, where he was a researcher. He smuggled the documents to the West and was granted political asylum in London. He was a friend of FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered in London with the Russian government widely suspected of being responsible. Stroilov translated and edited his writings after his death, titled Allegations: Selected Works by Alexander Litvinenko.
His books include EUSSR: The Soviet Roots of European Integration, co-authored with Vladimir Bukovsky and Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen From the Kremlin That Shends a New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East.
The following is Pavel Stroilov’s interview with RadicalIslam.org’s Ryan Mauro:
Mauro: One of the revelations in your new book is that Soviet records show that the Communists actively sponsored the growth of radical Islam. How much work did the Soviets put into this effort and what did they hope to achieve?
Stroilov: Oddly enough, the story actually did not begin with the ideology of radical Islam but with the method, terrorism. The Soviets created modern international terrorism and the archival documents leave no doubts about that. Vladimir Bukovsky’s archival collection shows that the Soviets were financing, arming, and training terrorists from “liberation fronts” all over the world since the 1960s.
According to the highest-ranking and very credible defector from the Soviet Bloc, General Ion Mihai Pacepa, it was the then-head of the KGB’s intelligence arm, General Alexander Sakharovsky, who insisted that “In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon.”
In the narrow circle of high-ranking Soviet Bloc spymasters, Sakharovsky boasted that airplane-hijacking was his own invention. His personal office decoration at KGB headquarters was a large world map, covered with countless red flags, each pinned by Sakharovsky to mark a successful hijacking. Another notorious species of terrorist attacks—mass shootings in airports and other public places—was also invented by the KGB in the wake of the successful campaign to hijack 82 airplanes in 1969 alone.
Originally, this was a worldwide campaign, with the Middle East-brand of terrorism being just one of many, along with other “liberation fronts” on every continent, even in Europe (e.g. the Irish terrorists or the Red Brigades). But then, resulting from practical experience rather than design, Palestinian terrorists became the most successful. The term “Palestinian” is a rather misleading adjective here, because Palestinians are not a nation, but rather a voluntary organization. “Palestinian” is what they call themselves, without any particular historic or geographic connection with Palestine, except that they hope to conquer it. It is more accurate to call it Arab anti-Western (and hence, anti-Israeli) terrorism.
Religion was brought into it at a rather late stage. From the scarce documents and witnesses that are available, it seems to be in the 1970s. It was then that the new head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, came up with the idea of using Islam to broaden the base of anti-Western “liberation fronts.” Again, apparently this was not limited to Islam alone. Around the same period, the world saw similar ugly hybrids of religion with socialism mushrooming everywhere—for example, the Catholic “Liberation Theology” in Latin America. And again, the Muslim world has proven to be the most fertile soil for these evil seeds, so much so that the Islamic terrorism has long outlived its Marxist creators.
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