Skip to comments.Al Qaeda men have been transiting Balkans for years
Posted on 04/18/2006 7:46:03 AM PDT by montyspython
Al Qaeda men have been transiting Balkans for years
* Report claims militants took advantage of Balkans porous borders to meet, train and possibly plot attacks in Europe
SARAJEVO: Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations have been crisscrossing the Balkans for more than 15 years, according to an intelligence report focusing on their activities in Bosnia.
The 252-page analysis, compiled jointly by US and Croatian intelligence and obtained by The Associated Press, said extremists financed in part with cash from narcotics smuggling operations were trying to infiltrate Western Europe from Afghanistan and points further east via a corridor running through Turkey, Kosovo and Albania.
The report offers new evidence to support what authorities long have suspected: that terrorists have taken advantage of the Balkans porous borders and relatively lax security to meet, train and possibly plot attacks elsewhere in Europe.
Either they come here seeking logistical support, financial support or to contact certain individuals to get instructions, or to hide for a moment from those who are following them, Dragan Lukac, deputy director of SIPA - Bosnias equivalent to the FBI - told the AP in an interview.
Thousands of militants came to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim side during the countrys 1992-95 war. But militants - including some with suspected ties to Al Qaeda - were active in the region even before it dissolved into ethnic conflict, the intelligence report says.
They included Kamrud Din Khirbani, a member of Algerias Armed Islamic Group, or GIA, who moved to Zagreb, Croatia, in 1991 to set up a humanitarian aid organisation at the direct request of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the report says.
It says Khirbani used the organisation, Al-Kifah, to infiltrate GIA members into Bosnia, and contends that Iran and other unnamed Arab countries bankrolled the operation through cash transfers. The GIA was behind a series of terrorist bombings that targeted the Paris subway system in 1995, killing eight people and wounding hundreds of others.
The report made no connection between those attacks and Khirbani, although it said he was sought by the CIA.
The Algerian connection is well-known to Bosnian authorities: Bensayah Belkacem, one of six Algerian-born Bosnians detained by the US military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, allegedly made several telephone calls to Abu Zubaydah, believed to be the operations chief of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and an aide to bin Laden.
But Bosnian and international officials stressed that the Balkan country should not be considered a hotbed of terrorist activity.
What were concerned about here are the same things wed be concerned about in the United States or Western Europe or anywhere else where terror has raised its head, NATOs top commander in Bosnia, US Brig Gen Louis Weber, said in an interview.
Weber, noting that the vast majority of Bosnian Muslims are moderate and secular, said the countrys terror threat was fairly low because there isnt a large community that would support that kind of activity here. AP
That's not the important metric. The important metric is if there is a large community that would take up arms to fight it. Indifference to terrorists is de facto support.
This is news??? The people in the know have known about it for 15 years.
Muslims transiting the Balkans to attack Europe?
Who could ever have predicted such a kooky, amazing, far-out scenario...after about 1529?
The question is, why are we sitting around idle allowing it to happen? Better yet, why did we ENABLE them to be able to do it in the first place?
That is the million dollar question.
My from-the-hip, immediate response? We had little real influence over the AO, and/or they were fighting people we didn't mind them fighting.
I recall reading a WSJ article a couple years ago that stated terrorists were transiting the Balkans, including routes to the UK. Included also drug and gun runners and other commercial activity.