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.