A Republican Senate candidate has compared Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, warning the terrorist was also once seen as a “hero”.
Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton, who joined the New Hampshire Republican primary four days ago, said WMUR that “there are so many parallels right now between Ukraine and the Taliban”.
“Remember, like Zelensky is a hero now, Osama bin Laden was once considered a hero,” he said.
He claimed the articles were about “leading his army to the path of peace” and that the James Bond film Living daylights was based on him. All of his claims are incorrect.
It appears that the article he is referring to was published by The Independent in 1993 under the title “Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the path to peace”, but the “path to peace” element was actually ironic. The content of the article shines a light on bin Laden‘s naked attempts to conceal his warmongering by cloaking it in a civic engineering project in Sudan.
The article notes that “outside Sudan, Mr bin Laden is not held in such high esteem.” Additionally, Bin Laden himself is quoted as saying that neither he nor his “brethren have seen the evidence of American aid”.
Mr Fenton was probably referring to Operation Cyclone, which was a covert CIA operation that funded Afghan mujahideen fighters against the Soviets between 1979 and 1992. Although this operation took place, it has never been proven that Bin Laden – a Saudi – was supported in these efforts.
As for the James Bond movie, the story pits Bond against the Soviets in Afghanistan, but the mujahideen fighters in the movie appear to be based on the actual mujahideen fighters the US supported and not bin Laden specifically.
Although the United States has a long and sordid history of supporting reprehensible groups – the Mujahideen, Nicaraguan Contras war criminals and Cuban exile terrorists aiming to end the Cuban Revolution – Mr. Zelensky is not a rebel that the United States hopes to use to destabilize a region. He is an elected leader of a sovereign state facing an illegal invasion of his country.
Mr. Fenton went on to compare the mujahideen’s support against the Soviets in the Reagan era to the United States’ support for Ukraine against Russia, and said that the United States should only deploy troops if ” it’s a real threat to the US Constitution.”
Joe Biden has repeatedly said that the United States will not deploy troops to directly fight Russia.
The self-proclaimed libertarian made similar claims in a lengthy Facebook post in 2015, claiming – again, incorrectly – that “our government once thought Osama bin Laden was a hero.”
He also claimed he supported defunding the police, but wanted to do so by having “less laws”. He also claimed that the US government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic should have been “nothing”.