*This article is the featured piece in my August 29, 2021 Red Alert newsletter. If you wish to subscribe, click the link and gain access to weekly analysis on world communism and current events for $35/year. Thank you for your support on Red Alert and here on The American Citadel. Thank you to those who also support me by purchasing my books and t-shirts. God Bless and Long Live Liberty!*
In this brief newsletter, I want to talk about the fall of Afghanistan. I will highlight the predictable Russian and Chinese incursion into that beleaguered nation. And then I’ll discuss the age-old question – Cui bono? Who benefited?
Let’s begin with some facts. Even before the United States abandoned Afghanistan, the Taliban began conquering town after town after town. In fact, right now it’s the peak Taliban campaign season. Despite the Taliban’s surge, we did nothing.
As soon as we hastily fled Bagram Airforce base, the emboldened Taliban seized even more territory and rushed to Kabul which they are in the process of capturing. As we were leaving, the Biden regime shipped loads of military equipment to Afghanistan to augment the billions of dollars’ worth of gear already there. This conveniently found its way into the Taliban’s hands. This is being called a “conspiracy theory” and “false” by the all-knowing fact-checkers, yet it’s irrefutably true.
Time, which is obviously not a right-wing conspiracy rag, published an article on August 17 titled “How $83 Billion Spent on the Afghan Army Ended Up Benefiting the Taliban.” It noted:
“Built and trained at a two-decade cost of $83 billion, Afghan security forces collapsed so quickly and completely — in some cases without a shot fired — that the ultimate beneficiary of the American investment turned out to be the Taliban. They grabbed not only political power but also U.S.-supplied firepower — guns, ammunition, helicopters and more.
“The Taliban captured an array of modern military equipment when they overran Afghan forces who failed to defend district centers. Bigger gains followed, including combat aircraft, when the Taliban rolled up provincial capitals and military bases with stunning speed, topped by capturing the biggest prize, Kabul, over the weekend.
“A U.S. defense official on Monday confirmed the Taliban’s sudden accumulation of U.S.-supplied Afghan equipment is enormous. . . .
“Of the approximately $145 billion the U.S. government spent trying to rebuild Afghanistan, about $83 billion went to developing and sustaining its army and police forces, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a congressionally created watchdog that has tracked the war since 2008. The $145 billion is in addition to $837 billion the United States spent fighting the war, which began with an invasion in October 2001.
“The $83 billion invested in Afghan forces over 20 years is nearly double last year’s budget for the entire U.S. Marine Corps and is slightly more than what Washington budgeted last year for food stamp assistance for about 40 million Americans.”
Cui bono? Not America. Not the American People. Not the U.S. military. Not our Western allies. Not the people of Afghanistan. Not Central Asia.
A Forbes article goes further in breaking down what it calls the “staggering” numbers of U.S. hardware gifted to the Taliban. A small part of the article records:
“This month, the Taliban seized Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft. As late as last month, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense posted photos on social media of seven newly arrived helicopters from the U.S., Reuters reported.
“Black Hawk helicopters can cost up to $21 million. In 2013, the U.S. placed an order for 20 A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft for $427 million – that’s $21.3 million for each plane. Other specialized helicopters can cost up to $37 million each.
“The Afghan air force contracted for C-208 light attack airplanes in March 2018: seven planes for $84.6 million, or $12.1 million each. The airplanes are very sophisticated and carry HELLFIRE missiles, anti-tank missiles and other weaponry.
“The PC-12 intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance airplanes use the latest in technology. Having these planes fall into Taliban control is disconcerting. Civilian models sell new for approximately $5 million each and the military planes could sell for many times that price.
“Basic fixed-wing airplanes range in price from $3.1 million to $22 million in the DLA database.
“Of course, helicopter prices also range widely depending on the technology, purpose, and equipment. For example, according to the DLA, general purpose helicopters range in price from $92,000 to $922,000. Observation helicopters can cost $92,000 and utility helicopters up to $922,000.
“Even if the Taliban can’t fly our planes, the parts are very valuable. For example, just the control stick for certain military planes has an acquisition value of $17,808 and a fuel tank sells for up to $35,000.”
Cui bono? Not the United States. Not Freedom. Not our allies.
Perhaps more to the point, Tyler Durden wrote:
“The Taliban’s latest offensives have been nothing short of impressive, acquiring 600,000 weapons, 75,000 vehicles, and 200 aircraft, transforming the terrorist group into a rogue military power overnight. One military device Taliban forces have sized is the U.S. military’s biometrics database that has sounded alarm bells with U.S. officials.
“Called the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE), it was seized last week during the Taliban’s offensive, according to The Intercept, who spoke with current and former military officials. The sensitive data, now in Taliban hands, contains a biological database on the Afghan population. Some sensitive data include thousands of Afghan civilians who worked alongside U.S. Army Special Forces as interpreters.”
Fun, huh? The Taliban now has the most modern of military equipment at its disposal – and in large quantities. But even handier, the Taliban can now use its newly-acquired Black Hawks in conjunction with the biometric database we compiled to hunt down U.S. sympathizers. Need we even ask “cui bono?” What’s more, Biden not only handed the Taliban terrorists “a biological database on the Afghan population,” which includes “thousands of Afghan civilians who worked alongside U.S. Army Special Forces,” but the regime literally handed a kill list to the Taliban:
“[D]uring this surreal press conference late on Thursday, Biden did not deny the report of U.S. handing over names of Americans to Taliban, saying ‘There may have been.’
““There have been occasions where our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this bus is coming through…made up of the following group…let it through,” the president said. “Yes, there have been occasions like that.”
“Biden added that to his knowledge, the “bulk of that group” has been let through but can’t say with “certitude” that there was a list of names passed to the Taliban. In short, yes, the Biden admin handed “kill lists” to the Taliban.
“A day that will live in infamy for the reeling Biden administration just got even worse, after Politico reported that Biden administration officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to grant entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of the city’s airport, a choice which according to the media outlet which was just purchased by Germany’s Axel Springer, “prompted outrage behind the scenes from lawmakers and military officials.”
““Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” said one defense official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.””
Cui bono? Did America benefit? Are the hundreds of Americans stranded in Afghanistan benefiting? Did our Afghan allies benefit? Has the U.S. Constitution benefited from our military adventurism lo these many years?
The Taliban, despite promises that they’ll be nice this time around, are already publicly burning and decapitating women to create a chilling effect among resisters. As this happens and the United States abandons its former “allies,” the Taliban proceeds to capture strategic parts of the country. They just seized the militarized portion of the Kabul Airport – using American weapons. They also took control of the largest lithium deposit on planet earth. Potentially $1-3 Trillion in value, the deposit – which includes gold, iron, and other important minerals – sits in the Wakhan Corridor which borders Red China.
China is now preparing to swoop in to secure the crucial region. They’ll likely do it in the name of fighting terrorism. As you read the following insight from a recent article, ask yourself “cui bono?”:
“China shares a small border with Afghanistan called the Wakhan Corridor that is just 210km long and between 20 km and 60 km wide. While the length of the border may appear insignificant, its location is what makes Wakhan crucial in geopolitics.
“The Wakhan Corridor links China’s restive Xinjiang province with Afghanistan’s Badakshan province, with Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan’s Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Kashmir to the south. The mountainous terrain in the region had made the Wakhan Corridor a difficult place for building road networks.
“However, its location is crucial for the security and viability of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key part of China’s larger Belt Road Initiative (BRI). An article by Australia’s Lowy Institute explained the significance of Wakhan as “The port of Gwadar in Pakistan marks the beginning of this corridor (CPEC), and the tip of the Wakhan marks entry point for CPEC into China.”
“The Wakhan Corridor has been a route used by Uighur militants who are opposed to Chinese rule in Xinjiang. China has previously expressed fears the Taliban-controlled territory could be used by Uighur groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). In fact during his meeting with Baradar, Wang had said, “We hope the Afghan Taliban will make a clean break with all terrorist organisations including ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) and resolutely and effectively combat them to remove obstacles, play a positive role and create enabling conditions for security, stability, development and cooperation in the region.”
“Securing the Wakhan Corridor would help China control the activity of Uighur militants, while also ensuring the security of CPEC. Multiple projects linked to CPEC have been attacked in Pakistan in recent years. The CPEC, which is a network of road and rail links, is being built at an estimated cost of $62 billion. CPEC is intended to give China land access to the Arabian Sea, boosting trade prospects to the Middle East, Africa and Europe by cutting travel time. . . .
“Afghanistan is believed to have large deposits of gold, iron, copper, zinc, lithium and other rare earth metals, valued at over $1 trillion. “Afghanistan may hold 60 million metric tons of copper, 2.2 billion tons of iron ore, 1.4 million tons of rare earth elements (REEs) such as lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and veins of aluminium, gold, silver, zinc, mercury…” an analysis in The Diplomat in 2020 said.
“Various rare earth elements are used for making key components of phones, cameras, computer disks, TVs and other equipment. They also have applications in clean energy and defence industries. . . .
“China potentially getting control of untapped deposits of lithium and rare earths in Afghanistan would prove a major advantage for Beijing in its evolving competition with the US and Europe for resources. In 2019, the US imported 80 per cent of its rare earth minerals from China, while the EU states got 98 per cent of these materials from China.”
So, cui bono? Did we benefit? Or did our enemies? You can answer for yourself.
On a similar note, one of the enduring myths that burns me up is that the United States invaded Iraq “for the oil.” Bunkum. China actually received most of oil that left Iraq, not the United States. In fact, Iraq’s first oil contract after the ousting of Saddam was with China. It’s the same with Afghanistan. We didn’t go in for material gain, oil, or rare earth minerals. China appears like it will be the recipient yet again. So, I ask, cui bono?
Let’s now shift to Russia. Are you sick of me talking about Russia? Well, buckle up. Last week, in Red Alert No. 29, I shared Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov’s statement on the Taliban. He said: “They are sane people.” To an insane person, perhaps! And there are few as insane as Russia’s leadership. This statement alone should make you wonder about Russia’s true intentions.
On July 18, in Red Alert issue No. 26, I dove more into the problem of Russian intervention in Afghanistan:
“Last week, I reported on the fact that Russia has been intruding in Afghanistan in a major way. I noted that they’re trying to fill the power vacuum left by the United States – as they’ve done in Syria and elsewhere. Now, this week, Russia held military drills in neighboring Tajikistan ostensibly aimed at potential operations against the Taliban. This is a farce. It’s a cruel joke on humanity. Russia is arming both sides – Kabul’s security forces as well as the Taliban. They’ve been openly hosting talks with Taliban leaders in Moscow for several years. Now, suddenly, they’re so concerned about the Taliban and are seemingly gearing up their military for an entrance into Afghanistan? . . . .
“To add to the farce that Russian is legitimately “concerned” about Afghanistan – a nation they invaded and ravished not too many years ago – is the fact that Russia has now demanded that the Kabul government cooperate and deal with the Taliban! You can’t make this up. While being so supposedly concerned about the Taliban that it has to hold military drills on Afghanistan’s border, Moscow is simultaneously shilling for the Taliban and urging others to acquiesce and treat them as legitimate partners instead of the terrorists they are. . . .
“Lenin famously said that the best way to handle opposition was to control it. This is just another example of this tactic in action. They cause chaos, play both sides, provoke one side to fight against the other, blame others (particularly the United States) for the problems, and then jump in to mediate and “save the day.” As repulsive as it is, Putin plays the game well and has set Russia up as the dominate power in Central Asia.
“Don’t be surprised if you see Russia launch military actions in Afghanistan like they did in Syria. Of course, these actions will be taken in the name of “fighting terrorism” or of “liberating” the poor people of the area. In the communist mind, they never launch a war of aggression. All wars are defensive. All wars are wars of “liberation.” And, as a final psy-op, they’ll convince everyone that it’s all America’s fault and we’ll receive the black eye while they take the glory. This is how communists operate.”
One week before I wrote that piece of prophetic penmanship, I observed in Red Alert No. 25:
“The New World Order uses the United States like a battering ram. The U.S. military is used to bust up a place and, then, when our boys withdraw and create a vacuum, overtly hostile entities or nations are brought in to reshape it in the Marxist image. Such a power vacuum has been left in Afghanistan and the 21st-Century communist bloc has decided to step in and fill the void.
“The five nations in particular that will hold sway in Afghanistan, alongside their Taliban puppets, are Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan. Turkey – a formal ally of Russia and Iran – has said it will keep its troops in Afghanistan even after NATO withdraws. China is openly talking about developing and using Afghanistan for economic purposes. And Russia, as always, seems to be in the background pulling strings. Meetings and conferences between Taliban leaders and Russian authorities have become increasingly frequent over the past several years with Moscow usually hosting or initiating them.
“Russia has been the string-puller throughout the Middle East for a very long time. The War on Terror – which was emphatically supported and urged on by Vladimir Putin, the first head of state to call George W. and pledge support – has been a massive windfall for Russia. Russia has benefited, picking up the pieces of the nations smashed by the U.S. military, while America has achieved nothing whatsoever except a bad rep, a Mt. Everest of war debt, and internal division. . . .
“There’s nothing “natural” about Russia’s intervention in the Middle East and Central Asia. Russia is very successfully following the same “roadmap” drawn up by the Soviet Union. As the United States withdraws, Russia is rushing in to fill the power vacuum while posing as the white knight of salvation. With it, Russia is bringing China, Iran, and Turkey. Hostile forces such as Assad in Syria, the PLO in Palestine, and the Taliban in Afghanistan, are being propped up and bolstered by Putin. Judging by the company it keeps and the strategic moves it’s making, it’s almost as if Russia is deliberately trying to fulfill Biblical end times prophecy.”
I don’t mean to occupy your time reading what you may have already read before, but I do so because what I predicted is already being fulfilled – and faster than I expected. Russia is unquestionably moving into Afghanistan. Russian military aircraft have been at the Kabul airport evacuating people. Putin vetoed Biden’s request to place U.S. forces in Central Asian nations. That’s an intriguing tidbit since it was Putin who practically begged Skull and Bonesman George W. Bush to use those same nations to launch a war in Afghanistan. It seems that now the United States has wasted billions of dollars, lost thousands of lives, and made fools of themselves in the eyes of the world, it’s “mission accomplished” and they can now leave and make room for Russia to exert its power.
Along with telling the United States to leave the region, Russia is not only mobilizing its military forces there, but pushing for stronger ties among Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) states. These states are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia. Afghanistan and Serbia are Observer States. Even though it recently held military drills in nearby Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, just 12 miles from the Afghan border in fact, Russia plans to hold additional war drills in Kyrgyzstan soon. And all of it is being done in the context of the “threat of terrorism” that Russia itself is supporting.
I now quote from the Institute on the Study of War. They wrote of Russia’s angle on Afghanistan:
“Kremlin messaging on Afghanistan since August 15 has praised the Taliban’s claimed “peaceful” takeover of Kabul, while Russian forces in Central Asia have responded with military exercises. Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin’s special representative on Afghanistan, stated on August 16 that the Kremlin “prepared the ground ahead of time” to work with “the new government of Afghanistan” and claimed the Taliban seized Kabul “peacefully.” The Kremlin is officially predicating official recognition of the Taliban on the Taliban’s ability to prevent jihadist attacks in Central Asia and meet unstated good governance requirements. The Kremlin has previously called on the Taliban to “prevent the spread of tensions” beyond Afghanistan’s borders during meetings in Moscow in early July. Kabulov stated that Russia does not see “a single direct threat to our allies in Central Asia” from the Taliban itself, but noted that regime change can create “a niche for other international terrorist organizations” on August 16. Russian and partner forces are additionally increasing the frequency of joint military exercises and are preparing for a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) exercise in the coming months. Approximately 1,000 troops at Russia’s 201st Military Base in Tajikistan began snap exercises on August 17 that are ongoing as of publication. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) announced on August 16 that it will hold an exercise designated “Cobalt-2021” in Tajikistan “in the coming months” but did not specify a date or participants.
“The Kremlin will likely officially recognize the Taliban and will expand Russian basing and military operations in Central Asia to combat potential jihadist forces. The Taliban is unlikely to completely control Afghanistan’s borders to meet Russia’s demand, and jihadist groups and criminal networks are highly likely to proliferate in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian states. The Kremlin will likely accept a level of insecurity in the region above what the United States and its allies would accept and recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The Kremlin may additionally seek to secure economic concessions such as access to mineral resources from the Taliban in exchange for recognition. The Kremlin will additionally prioritize preventing potentially destabilizing refugee flows from Afghanistan. The Russian military has prepared for several years for the potential of a renewed jihadist threat to Central Asia following a US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Russian military deployments in Central Asia are in large part responses to this legitimate threat. However, additional Russian basing and further military cooperation with Central Asian states will support the Kremlin’s campaign to integrate the militaries of the former Soviet Union under Russian structures and improve Russian force projection capabilities in the region.”
In other words, despite the fact that the Taliban is outlawed in Russia, Russia has been working with the Taliban. Yet, it knows that the Taliban won’t be able to sufficiently keep control of Afghanistan and welcomes the “threat” because it provides a pretext for boosting its presence and military involvement in the area.
Russia is currently refusing Afghan refugees because, as KGB dictator Vladimir Putin said, Russia doesn’t “want militants appearing again under the guise of refugees.” He then noted: “We don’t want to repeat, even in part, something what we had in the 90s and in the mid-2000s, when there were hostilities in the North Caucasus.” If you recall from history, “Islamic militants” committed a host of terrorist attacks in Russia during the 90s and early 2000s. Or did they?
Putin is keen on concealing the fact that his own intelligence services orchestrated a host of false-flag bombings in Russia that killed hundreds of Russians and then blamed it on Islamic and Chechen “terrorists.” Mike Eckel, writing for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, explained how these bombings – much like our own 9/11 false flag – gave Russia a pretext to launch their own “War on Terror” that continues to this day:
“The predawn blast on September 9, 1999, reduced the building to a smoking pile of rubble, killing more than 100. A second building, less than 6 kilometers away, was rocked by an explosion on September 13, killing 119.
“Days earlier, a car bomb exploded in a small town bordering the war-ravaged region of Chechnya, where reignited fighting was already spilling into neighboring regions. That blast, outside the apartment building in the town of Buynaksk, killed dozens.
“It was followed seven days later by a truck bomb that destroyed a nine-story building in another southern city, Volgodonsk, killing 17.
“On September 23, Putin asserted terrorists in Chechnya were to blame and ordered a massive air campaign within the North Caucasus region. When asked a day later about the campaign targeting what he called terrorists, Putin responded with the phrase that inaugurated his rise to preeminence.
““We will pursue them everywhere,” he said, using a crude slang expression. “Excuse me for saying so: We’ll catch them in the toilet. We’ll wipe them out in the outhouse.”
“The statement became a Putin catchphrase, and set the tone for the 20 years of rule that followed.”
September seems to be the month of false-flag attacks by “Islamic terrorists.” You’ll notice the sarcastic quotation marks around the words “Islamic terrorists.” Do we all have collective amnesia? Have we all forgotten what was common knowledge during the Cold War; namely, that the international communist cabal was behind most terrorism in the world? This was and is established fact. Soviet Russia even trained some of the leaders that are today leading terror groups and terrorist states, from Mahmoud Abbas of the KGB-created Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme Maitreya-worshipping fanatic in charge of Iran. In fact, when you examine the worldwide terror network, you find that all roads lead to Moscow (to be honest, some lead to Tel Aviv, Washington, Tehran, and Beijing, too).
The Soviet Union mastered false-flag attacks. In fact, Russia has been faking things dating back to at least the Potemkin villages under Tsaritsina Catherine II. The liars that they are, the communists knew how to manufacture crises to justify violence, revolution, or military action. In fact, Soviet intelligence had an entire unit devoted to producing forgeries that they distributed throughout the world to poison public opinion against the United States and her allies and to sow division and mistrust everywhere.
Putin, a career KGB agent, is well-versed in the art of deception. As the newly-appointed head of Russia in September 1999, Putin was in the perfect position to benefit from a “terrorist” attack in Russia. But before I briefly talk about the 1999 bombings, let’s talk about the 1994 bombings. You probably aren’t aware of those false-flags in Russia, but they were used to justify a renewed cycle of military oppression against the Chechens the same as in 1999.
In his landmark book Blowing Up Russia, which was the “crime” that got him censored in Russia and most likely led to his gruesome assassination via poison, former Russian intelligence operative Alexander Litvinenko wrote:
“Knowing that Russian troops and the forces of the anti-Dudaev opposition might begin their storm of Grozny at any moment, on November 18, 1994, the FSK made its first recorded attempt to stir up anti-Chechen feeling by committing an act of terrorism and laying the blame on Chechen separatists: if the chauvinist sentiments of Muscovites could be inflamed, it would be easy to continue the repression of the independence movement in Chechnya.
“It should be noted that on November 1 8 and in later instances, the supposed “Chechen terrorists” set off their explosions at the most inopportune times, and then never actually claimed responsibility (rendering the terrorist attack itself meaningless). In any case, in November 1994, public opinion in Russia and around the world was on the side of the Chechen people, so why would the Chechens have committed an act of terrorism in Moscow? It would have made far more sense to attempt to sabotage the stationing of Russian troops on Chechen territory. Russian supporters of war with Chechnya were, however, only too willing to see the hand of Chechnya in any terrorist attack, and their response on every occasion was to strike a rapid and quite disproportionately massive blow against Chechen sovereignty. The impression was naturally created that the Russian military and law enforcement agencies, while quite unprepared for the terrorist attacks, were incredibly well prepared to launch counter-measures.
“The explosion of November 18, 1994, took place on a railroad track crossing the river Yauza in Moscow. According to experts, it was caused by two powerful charges of approximately 1 .5 kilograms of TNT. About twenty meters of the railroad bed were ripped up, and the bridge almost collapsed. It was quite clear, however, that the explosion had occurred prematurely, before the next train was due to cross the bridge. The shattered fragments of the bomber’s body were discovered about one hundred meters from the site of the explosion. He was Captain Andrei Schelenkov, an employee of the oil company Lanako. His own bomb had blown him up as he was planting it on the bridge.
“It was only thanks to this blunder by the operative carrying out the bombing that the immediate organizers of the terrorist attack became known. Lanako’s boss, who had given his firm a name beginning with the first two letters of his own last name, was thirty-five-year-old Maxim Lazovsky, a highly valued agent of the Moscow and Moscow Region Department of the FSB, who was known in criminal circles by the nicknames of “Max” and “Cripple.” At the risk of anticipating events, we can also point out the significant fact that every single one of Lanako’s employees was a full-time or free-lance agent of the Russian counterespionage agencies.
“On the day of the explosion on the river Yauza, November 18, 1994, an anonymous phone call to the police claimed that a truck full of explosives was standing outside the Lanako offices. As a result, the FSB department actually discovered a truck close to the firm’s offices containing three MON-50 mines, fifty charges for grenade launchers, fourteen RGD-5 grenades, ten F-I grenades, and four packs of plastic explosives, with a total weight of six kilograms. The FSB claimed, however, that it had been unable to determine who owned the truck, even though a Lanako identity card was found on Schelenkov’s remains, and the explosives used in the Yauza bombing were of the same kind as that on the truck” (Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky, Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, 4-6).
Imagine that, Muslims being blamed for “terror attacks” which justify war. It’s almost as if the world Elites use the same script to push their agenda. . . .
In 1999, a similar pattern to the 1994 false-flag attacks was used. In my article “How Russia Benefited from 9/11,” I summarized the situation thus:
“At the beginning of September, 1999, a series of apartment bombs rocked Russia, killing several hundred. These were naturally blamed on Islamic Chechen terrorists. Alexander Litvinenko, and other researchers, however, have pinned the blame directly on the Moscow FSB which had so recently been headed by Vladimir Putin. In Ryazan, on September 22, light was shed on who was perpetrating the bombings.
“On that day, a man spotted suspicious individuals carrying what appeared to be sacks of sugar or flour into the basement of a building. He called the police who arrived and found these sacks rigged with timed explosives and set near the main support columns of the building. The sacks contained hexogen, a military-grade explosive substance. Had the men not been spotted and the police not called, the bomb would have later gone off and demolished the old building. Like the other bombings, this would have been blamed on “Islamic terrorists” as part of the pretext for launching the Second Chechen War.
“In the immediate aftermath of the foiled bombing, Putin congratulated the public for its vigilance and the FSB feigned no knowledge of the event. Yet, two days later, after several “terrorists” had been apprehended in Ryazan by the local authorities, the Moscow FSB claimed the entire thing has been a training exercise and ordered the suspects released. Litvinenko raised obvious questions about this odd version of events. He wrote:
““Could we possibly expect the FSB to say nothing all day long on September 23, while the whole world was buzzing with news of a failed terrorist attack? It’s impossible to imagine. Is it possible to imagine that the Prime Minister of Russia [Putin] and former director of the FSB, who, moreover, has personal links with Patrushev [then head of the FSB], was not informed about the “exercises?” . . . The fact that at seven o’clock in the evening, on September 23, 1999, Putin did not make any statement about training exercises taking place in Ryazan was the weightiest possible argument in favor of interpreting events as a failed attempt by the FSB to blow up an apartment building in Ryazan” (Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky, Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, 63).”
I’m sure it was just an “exercise,” much the same way NORAD was holding “exercises” simulating an attack on the nation on 9/11 and just as London was undergoing bombing “exercises” when the London subway was bombed on 7/7. You have to be a firm believer in coincidence and cosmic irony to believe these flimsy narratives.
I quote again from Mike Eckel’s previously-cited article:
“On September 4, with fighting escalating in Daghestan and along the border with Chechnya, the first of four explosions targeting apartment buildings went off: a car bomb outside a five-story building housing relatives of Russian military personnel in Buynaksk, Daghestan. Sixty-two people died. . . .
“Five days later, just after midnight, an explosion rocked a nine-story building located along a leafy bend in the Moscow River just a 30-minute drive from the Kremlin. More than 100 apartments were destroyed. In all, 106 people were killed.
“Russians were stunned. Yeltsin ordered a search of thousands of apartments buildings in the city for other possible explosive devices.
“Putin declared September 13 a day of national mourning. At around 5 a.m. that same day, another explosion went off in the basement of a brick, eight-story apartment building on Moscow’s Kashirskoye Highway, about 6 kilometers south of the previous blast. A total of 119 people were killed.
“Three days later, a fourth apartment building was flattened when a truck bomb exploded before dawn in the southern city of Volodonsk. Seventeen people died.
“Together, the bombings panicked the country, and added to further doubts about Yeltsin’s leadership. A growing number of Russian security officials publicly accused Chechen terrorists.
“On September 23, during a trip to the Kazakh capital of Astana, Putin vowed to take an unflinching line against what he called “bandits” — even when they were in the toilet.
“The day before Putin’s “outhouse” comment, on September 22, another incident occurred at an apartment building in the western city of Ryazan.
“Putin that evening praised the work of investigators for thwarting what appeared to be another bombing attempt.
“Two men driving a car with Moscow license plates were spotted carrying sacks into the basement of the building. Police and bomb-disposal experts swarmed the area, discovering they contained a military-grade explosive, and had a detonator and a timer set for 5:30 a.m.
“The next day, three FSB officers were arrested by police in Ryazan and held on suspicion of planting the sacks. But Putin’s successor at the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, declared that the Ryazan incident had, in fact, been a training exercise, and he apologized for scaring an already edgy populace.
““It was not an explosion somebody foiled; it was a security training exercise. The sacks contained only sugar. There were no explosives inside,” Patrushev said.
“A week later, Putin announced plans for a land invasion of Chechnya using Russian Army units.”
As you can guess, it wasn’t really “sugar” in the bags. Patrushev and Putin were lying. Communists can’t help but lie; it’s what they do. Litvinenko shined light on the “sugar” narrative in his book:
“The information about the explosives discovered after the terrorist attacks and the quantity discovered was not consistent. In Moscow, they found thirteen tons of explosives. There were three or four tons in the house on Borisovskie Prudy Street, even more at a cache in the district of Liublino, and four tons in a car shelter in Kapotnya. Some time later, it was discovered that six tons of heptyl (a rocket fuel of which hexogen is one of the components) had been taken from the Nevinnomyssk Chemical Combine in the Stavropol Region. Six tons of heptyl could have been used to produce ten tons of explosives. But there’s no way to process six tons of heptyl into ten tons of explosives in a kitchen, a garage or an underground laboratory. The heptyl was evidently processed at an army depot. Then the sacks had to be loaded into a vehicle and driven out under the eyes of the guards, with some kind of documents being presented. So transporting the material required drivers and trucks. Overall, an entire group of people must have been involved in the operation, and if that’s the case, information must have been received through the FSB’s secret agents and the agents of military counterintelligence.
“The explosives were packed in sugar sacks bearing the words “Cherkessk Sugar Plant,” but no such plant exists. If “sugar” had been carried throughout the whole of Russia in sacks like that, especially with counterfeit documentation, the chances of discovery would have been too great. It would have been simpler to draw up documentation for the “sugar” from a plant that actually exists. Several conclusions can immediately be drawn from this fact, for instance, that the terrorists wanted to point the investigation in the direction of the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, since it was obvious that sooner or later, at least one sack from the “Cherkessk Sugar Plant” would fall into the hands of the investigators; also that the terrorists were not afraid of transporting sacks with a false name and documents into Moscow, since they were clearly quite certain, both they themselves and their goods were safe. Finally, it is reasonable to assume that the explosives were packed in the sacks in Moscow.
“It would have been hard to finance the terrorist attacks without leaving any tracks. The intelligence services must have heard something, at least about a large sale of heptyl or hexogen from the depots, since no one would have given terrorists explosives for free. Only the agencies of state security or military officers could have gotten hexogen from a factory or a store without paying for it.
“Such were precisely the conclusions reached by many reporters and specialists, trying to figure out the clever plan by which the hexogen could have been delivered to Moscow. The plan turned out to be exceedingly simple, since it had been worked out by the FSB itself.”
He went on to explain that the Roskonversvzryvtsenr research institute opened up in Moscow 1991 to ostensibly use explosives in agricultural pursuits. In reality, it was a “front” used to sell explosives, including hexogen. Litvinenko summed up how the hexogen “sugar” got to its intended residential target:
“Through the institute hexogen was purchased from the army and delivered to the terrorists for the bombing of buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities. These deliveries were possible only because Schukin’s scientific research institute “Roskonversvzryvtsenr” had been created by the secret services, and the terrorists who received the “TNT charges” were agents of the FSB” (Litvinenko, Blowing Up Russia, 125-126).
It’s easy for “terrorists” to “beat the system” when those terrorists work for the system and do its bidding! These and other damning facts point to deliberate conspiracy – false-flag attacks carried out against the Russian people by the KGB-in-disguise headed by Vladimir Putin in order to help Putin consolidate power and put Russia on a permanent war footing.
It’s my personal view that September 1994, September 1999, and September 2001 are linked. I’ve come to believe that the international cabal that runs world events carried out the 9/11 attacks, not merely dark forces within the U.S. intelligence community. Certainly, the so-called “Deep State” was involved. That’s beyond dispute. They were the ones who issued stand-down orders to our military and allowed the attacks to continue. They were the ones who cordoned off the WTC crater and hauled away, contrary to law, tons of evidence. They were the ones who “pulled” WTC 7. They were the ones, with their controlled media, who painted anyone asking questions as “unpatriotic” or “conspiracy wackos.” They were the ones who stripped Americans of many of their Liberties with the pre-written Patriot Act, introduced the TSA and Department of Homeland Security, and sent our boys to an Afghanistan war that was approved, “coincidentally,” one day before the 9/11 attacks.
Yet, there were also dancing Israelis (i.e. Mossad agents) and other Israeli organizations who were clearly in on the plan. There’s no question that Mossad had foreknowledge. But who does Mossad serve? They don’t serve Israel, but the international conspiracy. They do their dirty work – assassinations, blackmail, terrorist attacks – everywhere. The Mossad, and Israel in general, has also been heavily infiltrated by Russian/communist operatives. This is one of the reasons I believe that there were Russian elements involved. They were perhaps the very “Mossad” agents just mentioned who were arrested on 9/11 or among the sixty “Israelis” rounded up as part of a massive spy ring operating in the United States at the time. If these Israelis weren’t involved in blowing up the actual WTC, they absolutely did know of the plot ahead of time through their espionage efforts and did nothing.
All of this is just too convenient and too according to script. It’s a script used in Russia time and time again, including numerous times in the decade leading up to 9/11. It’s a script for chaos drawn up by Soviet special forces. Mossad has also used it. The CIA has used it, too. Truthfully, the CIA has been infiltrated from OSS times with communist agents, has been headed by communist sympathizers who have acknowledged they voted for Communist Party USA political candidates, and has ultimately served the purposes of the world conspiracy around the world – assassinations, drug-running, human trafficking, regime change, etc. The Mossad has done all of these things as well.
Using our hindsight of twenty years, which of these groups has truly benefited from 9/11, the War on Terror, and, now, the United States’ slapdash Afghanistan withdrawal? In my view, Russia and Israel have both benefited from the past twenty years, but Russia has benefited more – especially as concerns Afghanistan. Yes, Zionists in the United States dreamed of a terror attack – a new Pearl Harbor – that would bring America into a war that would serve Israel’s interests – specifically the Oded Yinon Plan, or Greater Israel project. We can’t deny that.
But America’s bull-in-a-China-shop approach serves equally Russia’s-China’s interests. It’s poisoned world opinion against the United States while Russia, swooping in to “save the day,” is now viewed by many as white knights. Israel’s already negative image has also been reduced greatly – again, while Russia’s has been boosted. Syria, instead of falling into Israeli or U.S. hands, is now more entrenched than ever in Russia’s camp and Russia has constructed permanent military bases mere miles from Israel. Russia has also concluded strategic pacts with Turkey and Iran.
A quick aside about ISIS. While some ISIS factions are definitely Western-backed as Brandon Martinez shows in The ISIS Conspiracy, most ISIS fighters speak Russian, come from Russia-dominated Central Asia, and were heavily influenced by Soviet-trained leaders like the Iraqi Republican Guard. Setting that information aside, ISIS has conveniently handed Russia the excuse it needed to move into the Middle East in a major way and, now, is handing it the excuse it needs to move into Afghanistan. I like Cliff Kincaid’s analysis of the origin of ISIS:
“Writer and researcher Christian Gomez traced the roots of ISIS to the Islamic Revival Party, created by the KGB during the final days of the old Soviet Union.
“More recently, a defector from the KGB’s successor, the FSB, confirmed Russia’s role in creating ISIS by recruiting former members of Saddam Hussein’s security services. The former FSB officer told Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko that “the Russian special services believed that if a terrorist organization was set up as an alternative to Al-Qaeda and it created problems for the United States as Donbas does for Ukraine now, it would be quite good.”. . . .
“The FSB defector said that in order to create ISIS, the Russians selected former officers of the Iraqi army and members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. All of them had graduated from Moscow-based “educational institutions”. . . .
“. . . ISIS is a Marxist-style organization that uses religious cover” (Cliff Kincaid, Red Jihad: Moscow’s Final Solution for America and Israel, 28-29).
Go ahead and let that sink in. I’ll wait. . . .
Furthermore, Putin was the first world leader to call Bush and encourage him in his “War on Terror.” That’s significant. Why was he so eager to get America into a war in his backyard? It was from Russian-allied Central Eurasian states that the U.S. launched the Afghanistan invasion. And now it’s Russia which is benefiting, yet again, from America’s strategic defeat in that God-forsaken land of desolation. In fact, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) is now staffed with KGB holdovers. A 2020 article reports:
“The Afghan intelligence community has undergone several phases of political transition as KhAD and NDS both fought complex wars with regional and international dimensions with two cultures of intelligence and gained significant experience. With the beginning of the global war on terrorism led by the US and its NATO allies in Afghanistan, the NDS was still learning operational tactics and intelligence collection mechanisms. A decade later, it had gained solid experience in intelligence collection, process, and countering terrorism on Afghan soil. However, it is inarguable that the intelligence agencies in Afghanistan consistently failed to obtain and gather information of significant worth that could otherwise prove to be in the best interest of its national security. The NDS’s lack of effectiveness and its poor information gathering is due to undertrained intelligence personnel with limited access to advanced technology, which led to incorrect and ill-informed conclusions by policy makers and military commanders. The NDS still lacks experienced officers, and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is unable to train sufficient personnel to correct this deficiency. This lack of untrained and inexperienced officers forced NDS to rely on old KGB-trained personnel.”
This brings us back to this week. On August 26, twin suicide bombings struck the Kabul airport. 13 U.S. soldiers and dozens of others were killed. The death toll is now approaching 200. This is the greatest single-day death tally of U.S. soldiers in a decade and one of the worst terrorist attacks in years. The Taliban also said that 28 of their own people were killed in the explosions. They blamed the United States, saying it was a controlled demolition of U.S. “belongings.” There was in fact a controlled demolition of a CIA outpost at the airport, Eagle Base, two days ago. The Islamic State, the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) specifically, has apparently claimed responsibility for the attacks. Interestingly, the Taliban has actually fought the Afghanistan-Pakistan-based ISKP since its inception.
Perhaps you can see why I spent so much time today talking about Russian false flags. My first thought about the Kabul bombings was how, as in 1994 and 1999, this gives Russia the excuse to charge in as the savior as the Americans flee in defeat. I immediately thought of Russia’s recent military exercises along the Afghanistan border. I also considered Russia’s courting of the Taliban in recent years, their heavy influence in the nation, and their proclivity to respond to anything terror-related in heavy-handed ways that ultimately benefit themselves.
We might ask, what do these Kabul bombings benefit the United States? Some of the darker forces in the CIA and other organizations revel in these types of events and would perhaps benefit from seeing U.S. forces go back into Afghanistan, though that seems unlikely to happen at this point barring some additional event of mammoth proportions. If U.S.-backed forces did carry out the attack, they didn’t do it to benefit the United States, but, rather, to benefit international forces.
To be clear, Russia’s TASS has been playing up the angle of U.S.-backed ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. On July 20, TASS released an article titled “Russia has evidence of foreign contingent’s cooperation with IS in Afghanistan — diplomat.” It noted:
“Russia has received information about cooperation between the US-led foreign contingent and the Islamic State (IS) terror group (outlawed in Russia) in Afghanistan, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Zamir Kabulov said. . . .
““I am sure that there was such interaction, we started talking about it for good reason. We began to receive very specific information about such facts of cooperation,” he said. “We received it from local Afghans, including leaders at the local level, who did not understand why helicopters were supplying weapons and ammunition to the areas captured by IS units.”
“According to Kabulov, this is not the only occurrence. He recalled a case when the Taliban group (outlawed in Russia) had blocked a large IS unit in northern Afghanistan. “Those IS fighters were transported by helicopters in an unknown direction, as it looked initially, but then to the area of Bagram Airbase, and then they disappeared somewhere. One can recall a lot of such incidents, and when you do that, the conclusion is unambiguous,” the diplomat added.”
There’s no doubt that the West backs some ISIS units, just as there’s no doubt that others have Russian backing. But I would ask, cui bono? Does the United States benefit from supporting the Islamic State in Afghanistan? Traitors in our military and intelligence services absolutely do use U.S. resources for nefarious purposes. This may be another such instance. But who benefits? Not the United States. Russia benefits. Pakistan benefits. Local radicals benefit.
The fact that some of the IS terrorists are backed by U.S. assets is subservient to the fact that these assets are not actually working for the United States, but instead are working as part of a worldwide network of deceit, terror, and death that involves not only the United States, but Israel, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, China, etc. This is the I’ve written about for years. And though it doesn’t work for the exclusive benefit of the United States or any one nation, its efforts are calculated to undermine the U.S. position while bolstering the communist world.
An Indian news piece gave some enlightening details about ISKP that are relevant:
“ISKP cadres have been carrying out attacks in Kabul with the Haqqani Network. Both outfits are closely linked with Pakistan’s notorious agency ISI. According to experts the ISI has been using the ISKP and the Haqqani network to keep a close watch on the activities of the Taliban leadership.
“Aslam Farooqui was arrested by the Afghan security forces in April last year but when the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, they released all the militants from Bagram prison including him.
“While in the custody of Afghan security forces, Aslam Farooqi had confessed his ties with the ISI and that is why Pakistan was desperate for his extradition which was refused by the then Afghan government.
“Now it is believed, the mastermind of the Kabul airport attack was Aslam Farooqi, the chief of ISKP. The Taliban claims that ISKP is its sworn enemy but interestingly the Taliban freed him from the Bagram prison.”
The Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is Pakistan’s intelligence network. According to this article, ISKP is working with Pakistan’s ISI. And the Taliban is assisting its operatives while also fighting them. The CIA has worked closely with the ISI in the past. So has China. So has Russia. Do you see the international nature of this terror network?
Since its creation, Pakistan has been a target of Soviet infiltration with communists from India setting up shop there in 1948. Soviet Russia backed India in the 1971 India-Pakistan war and has accused Pakistan of fomenting Islamic terror in Chechnya! The irony is that the Soviet Union was actively committing terrorist acts in Pakistan, as reported in an old Washington Post piece:
“Last July 14, a remote-control device triggered three car-bomb explosions in Karachi, killing 72 Pakistanis and injuring 260. Then, on September 19, a bomb exploded at a bus stop in Rawalpindi, killing five and injuring 19.
“These brutal bombings provide just two examples of Moscow’s secret war of terror against Pakistan. The Soviet-directed campaign began in the early 1980s, in an effort to pressure Pakistan to stop providing a base of operations for the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, and it has escalated sharply during the last two years. It is a dirty war — waged mostly against innocent civilians — that has passed almost unnoticed outside Pakistan. Yet Pakistan accounted for an astonishing 45 percent of all those killed or wounded in terrorist bombing incidents last year, according to State Department statistics.
“Why are the Soviets trying subvert Pakistan? “The Russians consider Pakistan responsible for their present predicament in Afghanistan,” explains one Pakistani intelligence official. Another official notes: “This terrorist onslaught is to agitate people that being friendly to the West is the danger.” . . . .
“Moscow hid its role in the terror war by using Afghan cut-outs. The Pakistani report explains that the bombing campaign was “primarily planned and directed by the KGB and implemented through its subservient organizations in Afghanistan, WAD, the Afghan version of the KGB, and the Afghan Ministry of Tribes and Nationalities.”
“The Afghan intelligence service WAD selected the individual agents for the unsavory task of planting bombs to kill Pakistani civilians, the report says. WAD (formerly known as KHAD) has about 27,000 employees and a budget of $160 million, according to the report. It also has about 1,500 Soviet advisors, according to Pakistani estimates, and it doesn’t launch any significant operations without Soviet permission.
“High-level KGB/WAD teams “monitor, control and conduct the terrorist campaign against selected targets in Pakistan,” according to the Pakistani intelligence report. Twenty such teams went into Pakistan between March 1986 and February 1987, the report says. WAD’s agents tended to be Pakistanis, rather than Afghans. These Pakistanis receive their terrorism training either in Afghanistan or the Soviet Union. WAD assigns the targets and provides the explosives.
“With over three million refugees in Pakistan, it is easy for the KGB or WAD to smuggle in agents and hard for the Pakistanis to detect them. “Trained agents are regularly infiltrated into the Afghan refugee camps to carry out subversive activities,” says the report. . . .
“The Soviets have also used political subversion as part of their invisible war. Pakistan is a nation of tribes and the Soviets concentrated on two ethnic groups, the Pashtoons of the Northwest Frontier Province and the Baluchis, who inhabit an area called Baluchistan. The Soviets have attempted to revive the latent separatist feeling among these two groups. . . .
“Meanwhile, as Gorbachev talks of peace in Afghanistan, pictures of mangled bodies from random bomb blasts in Karachi and Rawalpindi are a reminder of Moscow’s efforts to force Pakistan into submission. For any Pakistanis who didn’t understand Soviet intentions, the KGB served notice on Dec. 26, 1987 — the anniversary date of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — when a bomb exploded in the heart of Islamabad. One senior Pakistani intelligence official explains the message: “If we don’t behave, this is what’s going to happen.””
This is why history is so important. It teaches us patterns of conduct that we can use to analyze current events. The same tactics and events we see playing out today in Afghanistan have happened before. The Soviet script was being used then and, I believe, it’s being used now by Russia and her allies – only with a different target.
Russia and Pakistan are much closer today than in the 1980s. But it was only partially because of Soviet-inspired bombings. Perhaps through China’s instrumentality, Pakistan has been finally swayed into the communist camp. I haven’t focused much on China today, but communist China should always be in your mind. China has an important naval base in Pakistan and has invested billions in the country. Young Pakistanis are learning Mandarin. Pakistan is a key player in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. An Atlantic article reports:
“As part of an infrastructure development plan inked with Pakistan in 2013, China has pledged $60 billion to build what’s known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a network of roads, pipelines, power plants, industrial parks, and a port along the Arabian sea. Intended to increase regional connectivity and trade between the two countries, CPEC is part of Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). BRI aims to create land and maritime trade routes integrating 70-odd countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe, including politically turbulent states like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. . . .
“In Pakistan, CPEC has been built upon historically high levels of partnership between the two nations. Both Pakistani and Chinese officials have characterized Sino-Pakistan ties as an “all-weather friendship” that’s “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the ocean, and sweeter than honey.” In 2014, a Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 80 percent of Pakistani respondents had a favorable view of China—the highest public opinion rating of China in the world. While cultural and linguistic exchange have not traditionally been a centerpiece of the relationship, many young Pakistanis are now increasingly looking toward China for education and employment, necessitating learning Mandarin.”
Pakistan receives weapons, money, and infrastructure from China. China is solving the major unemployment problem in the country. Pakistan is riding China’s coattails to prominence. Of course Pakistan is in love with China! Birds of a feather, after all. And, let’s be honest, does it really matter which communist regime pulls Pakistan into its orbit? No. The point is that Pakistan is not on the U.S. team and Pakistan is a major supporter of both the Taliban and Islamist jihadis in Afghanistan, such as ISKP which just committed acts of terror in Kabul. It’s amazing how interconnected these third-world terror groups really are – and how they all have ties to communist nations.
It’s massively convenient that a supposedly avowed enemy of the “peaceful” and “sane” Taliban committed a horrific terrorist attack when the United States was days away from departure. Russia is ramping up its war drills in the region, is warning of “Islamic extremism,” has a military presence in Kabul that is now conducting “humanitarian” work, and is shielding the Taliban from Western criticism. We will see what happens as more information rolls in, but from where I sit, I suspect the Kabul bombings were not organic ISIS bombings, but part of the larger proxy war in Central Asia that likely has Russian or Russian allies’ fingerprints all over it.
As I finish writing this on Sunday morning, August 29, more attacks are rocking Kabul. Do you recognize in these attacks a similar pattern to the 1994 and 1999 attacks in Russia? I do. It’s just too convenient and coincidental. At any rate, Russia will be there to “mediate” with the Taliban and make sure things go the way it wants them to and the United States will retreat home with its tail between its legs. And if Russia’s power isn’t strong enough, for whatever reason, to reach its strategic objectives, it has communist China and Pakistan to back up its efforts. As we acknowledge that Afghanistan is formally a lost cause for the West, we’re forced to ask ourselves: Cui bono?
August 30, 2021