US lawmaker, Afghan mujahideen financer, dies

Former U.S. Representative worked helping secure billions of dollars to fund Afghan insurgents against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

US lawmaker, Afghan mujahideen financer, dies

Former U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson, worked helping secure billions of dollars to fund Afghan insurgents against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan in the 1980s, died on Wednesday of cardiac arrest. He was 76.

Wilson, a Democrat, served 12 consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, and was known as the "Liberal from Lufkin," the town in mostly conservative east Texas where he lived.

He had complained of chest pains on Wednesday and was pronounced dead when he arrived at Memorial Health System of East Texas in Lufkin, the hospital said in a statement.

In the 2007 movie "Charlie Wilson's War," actor Tom Hanks portrayed Wilson as a boozy womanizer who found his life's cause in helping mujahideen in Afghanistan fight and eventually repel occupying Soviet forces.

As a long-time member of the House Appropriations Committee, Wilson quietly helped steer billions of dollars to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which distributed the funds to buy Afghan fighters high-tech weapons like Stinger missiles used to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships.

"I just saw the opportunity to grab the sons o'bitches by the throat," the fiercely anti-communist Wilson told the Dallas Morning News in a 2007 interview.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was at the CIA during the covert campaign, said Wilson's life showed how "one brave and determined person can alter the course of history."

"His efforts and exploits helped repel an invader, liberate a people, and bring the Cold War to a close," Gates said.

Irony of fate is that now US and West, with nearly 120,000 foreign troops occupy Afghanistan, a number that will grow sharply in the coming months as new U.S. and NATO contingents arrive.


Agencies

Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2010, 15:15
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