19 April, 2006

The Balkan crossroads

If anyone has an original of this report. I'd love to see it. From the Eurasian Services Daily Review:

Islamic militants with ties to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations 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, Bosnia's equivalent to the FBI, told the AP in an interview.
Thousands of Islamic fighters, or mujahedeen, came to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim side during the country's 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 Kamr Ad Din Khirbani, a member of Algeria's Armed Islamic Group, who moved to Zagreb, Croatia, in 1991 to set up a humanitarian aid organization at the direct request of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the report says. It says Khirbani used the organization, Al-Kifah, "to infiltrate Group's members into Bosnia", and contends that Iran and other unnamed Arab countries bankrolled the operation through cash transfers. The Group was behind a series of terrorist bombings that targeted the Paris subway system in 1995, killing eight people and wounding hundreds of others.

Nothing especially new, but the report seems to provide more recent evidence.


Luis Mora - former student said...

Yes the borders are porous in the Balkans. But do the large NATO bases and troops there have anything to do with the booming narcotics industry in Europe. Kosovo is especially implicated as being the straits into Euorpe for Afghan poppy. Interesting that the US/NATO control both sides of the trade but can't seem to control it. I wonder what you think

daniel mcintosh said...

>But do the large NATO bases and troops there have anything to do with the booming >narcotics industry in Europe.

Personally, I doubt it. The problem predates NATO's deployments by several years. As for controlling "both sides of the trade," I think there's a big difference between having people in the general area and exercising real control. If, on the other hand, you are referring to the expansion of Poppy production after the fall of the Taliban (and the ensuing loss of central control in Afghanistan), you could make a case for unintended consequences.

Luis Mora said...

For me it is not a point that since US/NATO troops are in the same vicinity of drug trafficing that they are therefore in control of the trade. I did not intend that meaning in my earlier post.

It seems that in many cases, and in a very ironic manner, that the more the US gets involved in the "War on Drugs", an increase in production, quality, and availablility follows. It is interesting to note that the Taliban which had only marginal control over Afghanistan, could force poppy production to fall; meanwhile, the most technologically advanced nation, with tens of thousands of troops, and endless billions to fund the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, could do less than the poorly equipped Taliban did. Similar examples besides the Balkans and Afghanistan, include present-day Colombia and Thailand, and not to mention much of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam Era. I could hardly imagine that the planners in the White House, Pentagon, and the CIA could not have taken into account what would occur to a multibillion dollar industry with the invasion of Afghanistan. I mean don't they have people dedicated to look into all potential consequences? And if they did take it into account, what was done specifically to mitigate it?