October 30, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 30-10-03b
Special Edition

Al Quaeda's European Route is the Balkans?

CONTENTS:

Al Quaeda's European Attack Route is the Balkans, New Evidence Claims
A provocative report from the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare claims that the Balkans is about to heat up again as an Islamic terrorist base. This surpasses traditional nationalist rifts, claims author Yossef Bodansky, and is intended to increase al Qaeda infiltration. Thus the Balkan operations would be ultimately controlled by the Evil One, OBL.

The Coming New Surge in European Islamist Terrorims - The Momemtum has Begun
INTELLIGENCE SOURCES IN THE Balkans and Middle East indicate that the Iranian and Osama bin Laden terrorist networks, assets and alliances built up in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Southern Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans are preparing for a significant new slate of operations. Initial operations in this "new slate" have already begun in Kosovo, and are expected to expand in southern Serbia in late October and into November 2003.

SPECTATOR (UK) How We Trained Al Qaeda
Brendan O'Neill** says the Bosnian war taught Islamic terrorists to operate abroad For all the millions of words written about al-Qa'eda since the 9/11 attacks two years ago, one phenomenon is consistently overlooked - the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the mujahedin of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today.

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Al Quaeda's European attack route is the Balkans, new evidence claims

A provocative report from the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare claims that the Balkans is about to heat up again as an Islamic terrorist base. This surpasses traditional nationalist rifts, claims author Yossef Bodansky, and is intended to increase al Qaeda infiltration. Thus the Balkan operations would be ultimately controlled by the Evil One, OBL.

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http://www.balkanalysis.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=172

BALKANALYSIS
Posted on Thursday, October 30 @ 00:00:00 EST by CDeliso

A provocative report from the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare claims that the Balkans is about to heat up again as an Islamic terrorist base. This surpasses traditional nationalist rifts, claims author Yossef Bodansky, and is intended to increase al Qaeda infiltration. Thus the Balkan operations would be ultimately controlled by the Evil One, OBL.

However, it remains to be seen to what extent this is true. Bodansky does not cite sources, and his assessment for Bosnia is more likely to be accurate than his view on Macedonia, for example.

The report, dated 19 September 2003, states that ".starting in mid-August 2003, radical Islamist leaders elevated the role of the terrorism infrastructure in the Balkans as a key facilitator of a proposed escalation of conflict into the heart of Europe, Israel and the United States."

Apparently, the elevation of one Shahid Emir Mussa Ayzi- a veteran of Afghanistan with close al Qaeda and Taliban ties- to coordinate and run special recruitment operations is the ominous development here.

In what can't be a compliment to anyone, Bodansky states the new goal as making jihadis of the "Slavs" or as jihad leaders call them, "white devils." He can't be talking about Serbs or Macedonians here. Indeed, just a little later he describes the "main recruitment pool" as consisting of Bosnian Muslims, as well as some "Russian converts"
(Chechens?) recruited in the Caucasus.

The report states that in August Ayzi took over this Balkan brigade, and reported his success with the "Slavs" to Mullah Qudratullah, a "senior Taliban official." Another key leader is said to be Muhammad al-Zawahiri, the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Apparently,

".the senior Islamist commanders now consider what they call "the Albanian land"- Albania, Serbia's Kosovo province and parts of Macedonia - to be safe for use as a springboard for the insertion of a new wave of expert terrorists, including the Slavs, into Western Europe and onward throughout the West."

Bodansky claims that at the same time, ".there was a discernible increase in the number of foreigners in the Islamist mosques throughout Albania."

"'.They [originally] come from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran. They come from many countries,' noted an eyewitness in Tirana. 'They arrive [in Tirana] from Afghanistan,' he added. These expert terrorists are being prepared in Albania for their specific missions in the West."

Here is where things get interesting. The Albanian lobbyists in American are now doubt enflamed by the next charge- that the Albanian National Army (ANA or AKSH) is now training these dubious imports, with most of the senior trainers being "mujahedin who retreated from Bosnia."

In return for Albanian support, Bodansky claims, "the Islamists assist the local terrorists in preparing for launching spectacular terrorism into the major cities of Serbia and Montenegro, with Belgrade and Nis believed to be the top targets."

This is certainly a different picture than we get from the AKSH leaders themselves. Idajet Beqiri, the fugitive political leader with the group, was recently recorded as saying the AKSH has no contact with
mujahedin- but rather exists only to fight for the Greater Albania. He vehemently assured that the group does not work with Islamists.

However, we know that in the past, even as recently as 2001 in Macedonia, this was not the case. Mujahedin from al Qaeda did train the KLA in 1999 in northern Albania's remote mountains, and documentary, photographic and verbal evidence exists to indicate a presence among NLA ranks in Macedonia in 2001. Occasional "sightings"- like the dark-skinned, bearded man who allegedly loads down an enormous shopping cart weekly in Skopje's Vero while wearing a bullet-proof vest under his shirt- are evidence of a continued presence. The enormous, Saudi-built medresah in the nearby village of Kondovo may be another site fostering unrest. Israeli sources have also claimed that a certain number of Albanians were being trained in Hamas camps in Lebanon- but that the Macedonian government showed no interest in following this up.

Indeed, Bodansky claims that the Islamists are active in Albania, western Macedonia, and Kosovo (the last is most likely of the three). Balkanalysis.com has independent information attesting to recent upsurges in Islamic recruiting activity in the Prizren area (near the border with all three), as well as cross-border arrests in weapons and drugs smuggling in recent weeks, that can be linked with terrorist or at least militant funding.

Still, care should be taken to separate the Islamist movement from the Albanian one. The latter is predominantly secular. We believe that the AKSH split earlier this year over just such a divergence in objectives. If tensions do increase in Kosovo, it will be due to Albanian impatience with the UNMIK provisional government and a latent fear that the US is becoming too Serb-friendly. Could lurking Islamists attempt to ride the coattails of their discontent, in order to make mischief of their own?

A major aspect of both secular and religious terrorism is symbolism. The Islamists want their acts to be seen as representative of something, as do the Albanian separatists. Neither wants the other to take the credit for their own work, and the latter are especially fearful that an Islamic attack on the wrong target could be blamed on them. Indeed, it seems unlikely that the AKSH wishes to perform a "spectacular" terrorist attack in either Nis or Belgrade (Beqiri restricted their operations to strictly "Albanian" lands). After all, there would be no way to bring Serbian tanks back to Kosovo faster than a firebombing of Belgrade.

When it comes to Bosnia, however, Bodansky might have a more realistic point to make. He reminds that Islamists have a grudge over Srebrenica (while, remarkable for an American, admits that the Muslim death count was bloated for propaganda purposes). According to the London-based extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, the failure of UN peacekeepers to protect the Bosnian Muslims made them legitimate targets in Iraq.

On 18 October, Serbian authorities also sounded the alarm. Darko Trifunovic, a Serbian expert on terrorism, visited Washington then and announced that:

".a group of ten mujahedin who were trained in Afghanistan have managed to enter BiH. They are currently in al-Qaeda camps in the vicinity of Zenica and Tuzla. A plan of this group to blow up a tunnel through which a row of US vehicles was supposed to pass was prevented at the last moment."

Once, such warnings would have been cast aside as yet more Serb propaganda. Now, however, they are being listened to. According to Trifunovic, a group of 3000 young Kosovo Albanians (who had been trained in northern Albania), were also sent into Kosovo and Macedonia along with mujahedin from Middle Eastern and North African countries. Trifunovic further states that some of them went on to stir up trouble in Sandzak, while others were arrested in other parts of Serbia. Citing numerous similar actions in Bosnia, Trifunovic also pointed out that two banks there (Vakufska Banka and Islamska Banka) continue to work with impunity despite being suspected of having terrorist ties.

Independent of this, Balkanalysis.com has been informed that a group of 1,000 Iranian students were allowed to attend Serbian universities, a couple of years ago, on student visas. When a similar request was lodged in Skopje, the Serbian authorities informed them that of the original 1,000 students, only "about 30" could be found after one year. Macedonia wisely ignored the Iranian request.

According to Brendan O'Neill of Spiked! The US adventure in training foreign mujahedin in Bosnia was "very important" to the rise of a globalized jihad, in which terrorists ".think nothing of moving from state to state in the search of outlets for their jihadist mission."

The US should surely know some of the routes through which arms are smuggled into Bosnia from neighboring states. After all, it created them in the 1990's arming of the Bosnians. Weapons were taken through Croatia or airlifted from as far afield as Saudi Arabia, something about which the US had "very close" knowledge and cooperation. Today, American diplomats regret this complicity, but doggedly stick to its necessity for helping the defenseless Muslims of Bosnia:

".Richard Holbrooke, America's former chief Balkans peace negotiator, has said that the Bosnian Muslims 'wouldn't have survived' without the help of the mujahedin, though he later admitted that the arrival of the mujahedin was a 'pact with the devil' from which Bosnia is still recovering."

Of course, the interventionists then were paid to get a job done, not think of long-term dangers. This was obfuscated by the continuing "moral blind spot" that the West has regarding Bosnia, O'Neill contends. That said, from their enthusiasm with using imported Islamic fighters in not only Bosnia but Kosovo, one would suspect that the policy makers had forgotten about the Afghan experience of the 1980's; lamentably, they would only remember it after September 11th, 2001. Hopefully they won't suffer more persistent and vivid reminders than that of this bad decision in the years to come.
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THE COMING NEW SURGE in European Islamist Terrorism: The Momementum has Begun

INTELLIGENCE SOURCES IN THE Balkans and Middle East indicate that the Iranian and Osama bin Laden terrorist networks, assets and alliances built up in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Southern Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans are preparing for a significant new slate of operations. Initial operations in this "new slate" have already begun in Kosovo, and are expected to expand in southern Serbia in late October and into November 2003.

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Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, September 2003, pp. 9,12-13
Terrorism


By Gregory R. Copley, Editor

INTELLIGENCE SOURCES IN THE Balkans and Middle East indicate that the Iranian and Osama bin Laden terrorist networks, assets and alliances built up in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Southern Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans are preparing for a significant new slate of operations. Initial operations in this "new slate" have already begun in Kosovo, and are expected to expand in southern Serbia in late October and into November 2003.

The intelligence, from a variety of primary sources within the Islamist movements, points to:

1. Escalation of Islamist terrorist attacks on Serb civilians within the predominantly Muslim region of Kosovo and Metohija, which is in the Serbian province of Kosovo;

2. Commencement during October-November 2003 of seemingly-random bombings of public places, including schools, in Muslim-dominated cities in the southern Serbian/northern Montenegrin Raska Oblast (this oblast, or region - not a formal sub-state as in the Russian use of the word "oblast" - is referred to by Islamists by its Turkish name, Sandzak) as a prelude to wider violence in this area, and eastern Montenegro, adjacent to the Albanian border and reaching down to the Adriatic;

3. Coordination of incidents by the so-called "Albanian National Army" - a current iteration of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, or UCK: Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves, in Albanian; OVK in Serbo-Croat) - in Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with activities in Raska, led by the Bosnian radical Islamist party, SDA (Party of Democratic Action) of Alija Izetbegovic, and all supported by Albanian Government-approved/backed training facilities inside Albania, close to the border with Serbian Kosovo;

4. Escalation of incidents - including threats, political action, terrorist action - within Bosnia-Herzegovina, designed to further polarize the Serbian and Croat population away from the Muslim population;

5. Eventual escalation of "incidents" to create a "no-go" area for Serbian, Montenegrin, Republica Srpska security forces and international peacekeepers in a swathe of contiguous territory from the Adriatic through Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Southern Serbia and Macedonia into Bosnia-Herzegovina, effectively dissecting the Republica Srpska state (which is within Bosnia-Herzegovina) at the Gorazde Corridor and isolating Montenegro;

6. Using the extensive safe-haven areas and "no-go" zones created by the actions, undertake a range of terrorist actions against targets in Greece - which is contiguous with Albania and (FYR) Macedonia - during (and possibly before) the August 2004 Olympic Games. Specific intelligence points to the fact that the Islamist groups have already predetermined target opportunities during the Games.

The new intelligence contradicts the public positions of both the Government of Serbia and the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina that terrorist threats in their two states were now not evident. The Serbian Ministry of Interior did, however, acknowledge increased activities by Wahabbists (such as the bin Ladenists) and intelligence on planned Islamist bombings in southern Serbia in the coming months. Significantly, however, Bosnia-Herzegovina High Representative Paddy Ashdown published, in The Washington Times of October 6, 2003, a letter to the editor in which he said:

"After September 11 [2001], the Sarajevo authorities took important steps to ensure that Bosnia-Herzegovina could not in any way be used as a platform for terrorist attacks of any sort, in Europe or elsewhere. This country is not a terrorist base, nor will it become one."

Mr Ashdown's statement, in which he actually attempted to predict the future, is not borne out by the evidence of radical Islamist activities inside Bosnia.

There were several significant motivations behind the new wave of coordinated actions, according to our sources and analysis by Defense & Foreign Affairs.

(i) Iran and al-Qaida Breakout: The Iranian Government, as well as the Osama bin Laden organization (now being referred to as al-Qaida), have been working since at least the breakup of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991-92 to build a strong base of Islamism and terrorist capability in the heart of Europe, and relying on the entree to the area given by Alija Izetbegovic's SDA party in Bosnia. Neither Iran nor bin Laden undertook this extensive work for nothing and, despite the very large Iranian Embassy presence in Sarajevo, Iran's Shi'a clerics have been happy to provide training, logistics and intelligence while allowing the Wahhabist/Salafist bin Laden organizers to work more openly with the Sunni Bosnian Muslims. The Bosnian structures were used to support and actively participate in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

Now that both Iran and al-Qaida are under pressure from the US, their networks in Bosnia - now far stronger than in 2001, and with virtually all international and Serbian capabilities to stop them suppressed for fear of political outcries in the event of again attacking the "Muslim victims" - are preparing to launch their new break-out attacks against the US and the West, both in order to polarize the Muslim world from the West at the Olympics [see below] and to build a stridently Islamist state (or network of states: Bosnia, "Sandzak" [Raska], Kosovo, Albania, parts of Macedonia, etc.) within Western Europe [see below].

(ii) Olympics: The August 2004 Athens Olympics, with large crowds present and an estimated four-billion television viewers worldwide, has been identified as the most obvious symbolic point to force, using terrorist "spectaculars," the schism between the West and the Muslim ummah, with the objective of polarizing the Muslim world around a "new caliphate" of radicalism, forcing the West to further react against the Muslim world, thereby reinforcing the tendency to drive Muslims toward the radical leaders. This interpretation is not based on speculation, but on known plans for the Olympics within terrorist groups related to al-Qaida and Iran. The Athens Olympics provides the perfect selection of terrorist targets, especially given the thus-far poor performance of Greek security services in preparing for the Games, as well as because of the proximity of Athens to major terrorist operating areas and support lines (through the Eastern Mediterranean, Albania, etc.).

(iii) Islamist-Controlled Territory in Europe: The prospect of creating an Islamist territory, comprising Bosnia, Kosovo, and adjacent areas, reaching from the Adriatic into the heart of Europe, is the most significant strategic gain foreseen by the Islamists since Muslim fortunes in Europe waned when the siege of Vienna was raised by the King of Poland in 1683. Numerous Islamist sources have indicated that they believe that this "return to Europe" is now within their grasp, offering enormous political symbolism of the success and power of the radical Islamists to the Muslim world, particularly if such an achievement is made as a result of great loss by the West.

Iran, Iranian surrogate forces and al-Qaida are under increasing pressure to begin the escalation of operations in the Balkans, not just because of the imminence of the Olympic Games, but also to help deflect US-led pressure against, and preoccupation with, Iran and counter-terror operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Revived US pressures on Syria - a major strategic ally and conduit for Iran - is seen as escalating the urgency of the "break-out" operations in the Balkans. The Balkans, however, also remain a strategic goal in their own right, quite apart from their value in relieving pressure on Iran and the damaged prestige of the terrorists and Islamists as a result of the current "war on terror."

During the first half of August 2003, 300 Albanian-trained guerrillas - including appr. 10 mujahedin (non-Balkan Muslims) - were infiltrated across the Albanian border into Kosovo, where many have subsequently been seen in the company (and homes) of members of the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps which was created out of Kosovo Albanian elements originally part of the KLA. In fact, the Kosovo Protection Corps seems almost synonymous with the Albanian National Army (ANA), the new designation for the KLA. The guerrillas were trained in three camps inside the Albanian border at the towns of Bajram Curi, Tropoja and Kuks, where the camps have been in operation since 1997.

The US Government, during the Clinton Administration, supported these camps, and some sources have said that US and German nationals were still involved in training guerrillas in the camps. Their existence is known to the Albanian Government, which reportedly also provides both protection and support for the facilities. They brought with them from Albania a variety of light weapons, including mortars and landmines.

Some elements of the 300 in the August 2003 group - believed to be the mujahedin element - went into action almost immediately, in the Serbian-occupied Kosovo town of Gorazdevac, near the city of Pec (in the West, close to Montenegro), on four occasions and on one occasion killing some children. Significantly, the Albanian doctor who examined two of the children injured in one of the attacks, Dragana Srbljaka and Djordje Ugrinovic, was accused by Serbian Government authorities and by other local medical authorities of having "purposefully making a wrong diagnosis of fractures, instead of gunshot wounds." He put plaster over the gunshot wounds and discharged the children, rather than hospitalizing them.

After these attacks, some of the mujahedin involved moved immediately Westward, going through Islamist safe-havens in Raska to Bosnia. Many of the remainder went to areas on the Kosovo border with central Serbia and/or across into central Serbia. They also engaged in mining in areas used by Serbia-Montenegro Army vehicles using claymore-style roadside charges.

It was understood from the Defense & Foreign Affairs sources that US and NATO intelligence officers operating with UNMIK peacekeeping forces in Kosovo were aware - or appeared to be aware - of the incursion of the 300 new Islamist fighters and were also aware, at least to some extent, of the mingling of the guerrilla fighters with the Kosovo Protection Corps officials.

Significantly, the transit of weapons and fighters to and from Bosnia to the Kosovo and Albanian areas has been underway for more than a decade. In testimony to the State Security service of (then) Yugoslavia in September 1991, Bosnian Islamist Memic Senad (born 1953) acknowledged that Sarajevo Muslims, under Izetbegovic's SDA, pushed arms and ammunition into Raska (Sandzak), and that this was done with the knowledge of Izetbegovic. The arms had earlier been smuggled into Bosnia via Croatia, with the help of Croatian police, before going on to Raska. These shipments consisted of, among other things, Romanian-made assault rifles and M56 machineguns. The weapons themselves were acquired in Slovenia, and one shipment noted by Senad included 1,240 AK-47 assault rifles.

SDA official Hasan Cengic was in charge of buying the weapons, according to Senad. Hasan Cengic, an Islamist theologian, has been linked with Iranian-sponsored terrorism since 1983. He is a veteran of the 13th Waffen SS division of the German Army from World War II, and later a general in the Bosnian (Islamist) Army as well as former Deputy Bosnian Defense Minister. He organized much of the influx of foreign mujahedin fighters into Bosnia during the 1990s and was a member of the governing board of TWRA (Third World Relief Agency), founded in Vienna in 1987 and linked with a range of al-Qaida-related and other terrorist groups. The particular shipment cited in Senad's testimony was escorted from Bosnia and into Raska by a Libyan consular vehicle, with diplomatic plates. An Islamist organization, Active Islamic Youth, actually handled the delivery. Amer Musurati, a Libyan diplomat based at the Libyan mission in Belgrade, Serbia, paid for the weapons, despite a long history of cooperation between Qadhafi's Libya and the old Yugoslavia of Pres. Tito.

At the same time, the Libyan consulate in Sarajevo backed the People's Democratic Movement of Rasim Kadic. Kadic was also involved in the distribution of weapons into areas of Bosnia, Raska and Kosovo. Zelic Cefedin and Kadic were known to have been in Czechoslovakia where they tried to buy weapons from Australian citizen Hans Herdla.

What assists in diffusing the whole pattern of Islamist activities is the seeming lack of coordination and formal organization. The links, however, become evident in the pattern of cooperation, common targets and accommodations between groups of apparently different ideologies - such as the Libyans, the Syrian and Iranian-backed HizbAllah Shi'as, the Wahabbi and Salafi extremist Sunnis, and so on - which is also evident in terrorist operations around the world. Indeed, cooperation between Christian (Catholic) Irish Republican Army (IRA) officials with Libyan and Islamist backers and colleagues, is a case in point. As well, the issues of a common enemy and, often, a common financing means (usually narcotics trafficking), brings disparate groups together.

Much of the new round of Islamist activity is centering on the southern Serbian (Raska) city of Novi Pazar (literally "New Bazaar"). This city of some 30,000 people is approximately 80 percent Muslim. It has one of the most radical Islamist bookstores in the world, and the store is doing brisk business. Here, the principal business of the city is crime: illegal smuggling of consumer goods, heroin and weapons. And with its street bazaars and coffee houses, it appears as a Middle Eastern city within a countryside populated by Orthodox Christian Serbian farmers. [During Turkish occupation, it was necessary for inhabitants to adopt Islam in order to gain work in the cities; thus the farmers remained Orthodox, the city-dwellers became Muslim.]

Novi Pazar is the focus of the Islamist attempt to build a landbridge from Albania and Kosovo to Bosnia. Further to the East, in southern Serbia's Raska Oblast, are three other concentrations of Muslims: Sjenica and Pester area (lightly populated but mostly Muslim), Prijepolje (some 50 percent Muslim) and - very close to the Bosnia border where Republica Srpska controls the slender Gorazde corridor - Priboj (also some 50 percent Muslim). The land between is Serbian farmland, but the Islamist goal is to link the cities as "evidence" that the entire region is, or should be, Muslim territory. The same strategy worked successfully in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Serbian farmers were driven off their lands during the civil war.

Just south of the Serbian area of Raska Oblast is the Montenegrin part of Raska region, where, for example, Bijeljo Polje is some 60 to 80 percent Muslim, and Pijevlja, close to the Bosnian border, is about 40 percent Muslim. These Montenegrin towns, like those of the Western Serbian Raska region, are the key to the illicit arms and narcotrafficking across the Gorazde Corridor to Bosnia.

Further southeast in Montenegro, Albanian Muslims now make up some 95 percent of the Adriatic town of Ulcinj, only a few kilometers from Albania itself.

But it is Novi Pazar which is the focus of the Islamist activity and ideology. It is, in essence, the equivalent of Pristina in Kosovo, or Sarajevo, in Bosnia, as far as the Islamists are concerned. A new Islamist university has opened in Novi Pazar, ostensibly a normal college, but led by an Islamist mufti of little formal education. And, as in Pakistan, the divide between "14th Century Islamists" and "21st Century Islamists" is apparent. This modern institution - whose officials proclaim it a normal educational institution - reveals its character in its symbol: the Wahabbi/Salafi dawa symbol, an open Q'uran surmounted with a rising sun. The university, in a renovated former textile factory, is a known center of radical Islamist thinking. A book fair held there in early October 2003 distributed very radical Islamist literature, specifically advocating conflict with the West.

The dawa sign indicates that the university is predominantly Saudi-funded, although some Western funding is known to have been pumped into the institution, reportedly largely to undermine Serb interests in the region.

It is also significant that the graffiti which dominates Novi Pazar supports Alija Izetbegovic's SDA party, despite the fact that the SDA is a Bosnian party and Novi Pazar is in Serbia. But many of the residents call themselves "Bosniaks," as do the Islamists of Bosnia. The process by which the Izetbegovic followers are attempting to "legitimize" their claims to southern Serbia is apparent. [Other parties, such as Stranka za Sandzak, are evident in Novi Pazar, but they do not match the SDA's control of the streets.]

And if the escalation of violence erupts on the scale anticipated, the Serbian Government would be forced to attempt to suppress it. This is the deliberate intention of the Islamists, to force intervention so that the Serbs could be, again, blamed for suppressing the "Muslim victims." [Italic: my emphasis] Effectively, the "no-go" status of Raska (Sandzak) would create not only a corridor for weapons, combatant, narcotics and other trafficking, but it would also cut off Serbia from Montenegro, and deny Serbia its access to the sea. And although some Montenegrin politicians, supported by some 2.5 percent of the population of Serbia and Montenegro, have advocated secession from the Union with Serbia, this de facto separation of the two states by Islamist militant action would - along with Islamist action in Montenegro's eastern towns, such as Ulcinj - spell the end of Montenegro as a self-governing state.

The patterns of recent ANA activities in Kosovo and FYR Macedonia already shows an upsurge of violence, just as the Kosovo-Serbia talks began in Vienna in October 2003. The injection of Albanian-trained guerrillas, linked with ANA and the Kosovo Protection Corps, is also significant. These indicators, plus other intelligence obtained by Defense & Foreign Affairs, highlight the broader trend which relates directly to the need by al-Qaida and Iran's clerics to regain their initiative and to keep the US strategically at arm's-length.

The Olympics, coupled with the forced deterioration of the security situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina - and the strong likelihood that the Dayton Accords in Bosnia will be rendered ineffective within, perhaps, a year - all point to a significant strategic threat emerging to the West in the Balkans.

Defense & Foreign Affairs analysts believe that the collapse of the clerical leadership in Iran is the only thing which could remove the core backing for the al-Qaida groups operating in the Balkans, although narcotrafficking, supported by criminal elements in Turkey, Albania and elsewhere and other criminal activities would still sustain some of the radical activities, as would ongoing funding from some Saudi sources. But the removal of Iranian support would (and associated Syrian fronts) significantly reduce the instability in the Balkans.


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SPECTATOR (UK) How We Trained Al-Qa'aeda

Brendan O'Neill** says the Bosnian war taught Islamic terrorists to operate abroad For all the millions of words written about al-Qa'eda since the 9/11 attacks two years ago, one phenomenon is consistently overlooked - the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the mujahedin of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today.

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Spectator (UK), September 15th 2003

Brendan O'Neill** says the Bosnian war taught Islamic terrorists to operate abroad For all the millions of words written about al-Qa'eda since the 9/11 attacks two years ago, one phenomenon is consistently overlooked - the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the mujahedin of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today.

Many writers and reporters have traced al-Qa'eda and other terror groups' origins back to the Afghan war of 1979-1992, that last gasp of the Cold War when US-backed mujahedin forces fought against the invading Soviet army. It is well documented that America played a major role in creating and sustaining the mujahedin, which included Osama bin Laden's Office of Services set up to recruit volunteers from overseas. Between 1985 and 1992, US officials estimate that 12,500 foreign fighters were trained in bomb-making, sabotage and guerrilla warfare tactics in Afghan camps that the CIA helped to set up.

Yet America's role in backing the mujahedin a second time in the early and mid-1990s is seldom mentioned - largely because very few people know about it, and those who do find it prudent to pretend that it never happened. Following the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of their puppet regime in 1992, the Afghan mujahedin became less important to the United States; many Arabs, in the words of the journalist James Buchan, were left stranded in Afghanistan 'with a taste for fighting but no cause'. It was not long before some were provided with a new cause. From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of mujahedin and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs.

The Bosnia venture appears to have been very important to the rise of mujahedin forces, to the emergence of today's cross-border Islamic terrorists who think nothing of moving from state to state in the search of outlets for their jihadist mission. In moving to Bosnia, Islamic fighters were transported from the ghettos of Afghanistan and the Middle East into Europe; from an outdated battleground of the Cold War to the major world conflict of the day; from being yesterday's men to fighting alongside the West's favoured side in the clash of the Balkans. If Western intervention in Afghanistan created the mujahedin, Western intervention in Bosnia appears to have globalised it.

As part of the Dutch government's inquiry into the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, Professor Cees Wiebes of Amsterdam University compiled a report entitled 'Intelligence and the War in Bosnia', published in April 2002. In it he details the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamic groups from the Middle East, and their efforts to assist Bosnia's Muslims. By 1993, there was a vast amount of weapons- smuggling through Croatia to the Muslims, organised by 'clandestine agencies' of the USA, Turkey and Iran, in association with a range of Islamic groups that included Afghan mujahedin and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah. Arms bought by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia were airlifted from the Middle East to Bosnia - airlifts with which, Wiebes points out, the USA was 'very closely involved'.

The Pentagon's secret alliance with Islamic elements allowed mujahedin fighters to be 'flown in', though they were initially reserved as shock troops for particularly hazardous operations against Serb forces. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times in October 2001, from 1992 as many as 4,000 volunteers from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, 'known as the mujahedin', arrived in Bosnia to fight with the Muslims. Richard Holbrooke, America's former chief Balkans peace negotiator, has said that the Bosnian Muslims 'wouldn't have survived' without the help of the mujahedin, though he later admitted that the arrival of the mujahedin was a 'pact with the devil' from which Bosnia is still recovering.

By the end of the 1990s State Department officials were increasingly worried about the consequences of this pact. Under the terms of the 1995 Dayton peace accord, the foreign mujahedin units were required to disband and leave the Balkans. Yet in 2000, the State Department raised concerns about the 'hundreds of foreign Islamic extremists' who became Bosnian citizens after fighting against the Serbs, and who pose a potential terror threat to Europe and the United States. US officials claimed that one of bin Laden's top lieutenants had sent operatives to Bosnia, and that during the 1990s Bosnia had served as a 'staging area and safe haven' for al-Qa'eda and others. The Clinton administration had discovered that it is one thing to permit the movement of Islamic groups across territories; it is quite another to rein them back in again.

Indeed, for all the Clinton officials' concern about Islamic extremists in the Balkans, they continued to allow the growth and movement of mujahedin forces in Europe through the 1990s. In the late 1990s, in the run-up to Clinton's and Blair's Kosovo war of 1999, the USA backed the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbia. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post in 1998, KLA members, like the Bosnian Muslims before them, had been 'provided with financial and military support from Islamic countries', and had been 'bolstered by hundreds of Iranian fighters or mujahedin ...[some of whom] were trained in Osama bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan'. It seems that, for all its handwringing, the USA just couldn't break the pact with the devil.

Why is this aspect of the mujahedin's development so often overlooked? Some sensible stuff has been written about al-Qa'eda and its connections in recent months, but the Bosnia connection has been left largely unexplored. In Jason Burke's excellent Al-Qa'eda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, Bosnia is mentioned only in passing. Kimberley McCloud and Adam Dolnik of the Monterey Institute of International Studies have written some incisive commentary calling for rational thinking when assessing al-Qa'eda's origins and threat - but again, investigation of the Bosnia link is notable by its absence.

It would appear that when it comes to Bosnia, many in the West have a moral blind spot. For some commentators, particularly liberal ones, Western intervention in Bosnia was a Good Thing - except that, apparently, there was too little of it, offered too late in the conflict. Many journalists and writers demanded intervention in Bosnia and Western support for the Muslims. In many ways, this was their war, where they played an active role in encouraging further intervention to enforce 'peace' among the former Yugoslavia's warring factions. Consequently, they often overlook the downside to this intervention and its divisive impact on the Balkans. Western intervention in Bosnia, it would appear, has become an unquestionably positive thing, something that is beyond interrogation and debate.

Yet a cool analysis of today's disparate Islamic terror groups, created in Afghanistan and emboldened by the Bosnian experience, would do much to shed some light on precisely the dangers of such intervention.

**Brendan O'Neill is assistant editor of spiked-online.

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Related text:
JIHAD the Holy War - Lashva valley:
http://public.srce.hr/zatocenici/jihad.htm

Video fragments showing Alija Izetbegovic's links with Moujaheddin units:

http://public.srce.hr/zatocenici/video_en.htm


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