October 29, 2001

Our old ally is now our enemy

It was left to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to comment on the bitter irony of the US "war on terrorism" from his own particular vantage point as the leader of a nation that was the recent victim of a US-sponsored Muslim terrorist campaign. Asking the US leaders to examine "the true deep roots and the true reasons that triggered the birth of [Bin Laden's] terrorism and its development," Kostunica characterized the US as "a world policeman who can function quite easily when he needs to bomb a country, such as Yugoslavia, for 78 days," but "when this country is also faced with terrorism in its most fanatical form, as happened on September 11, then things look rather different." Yugoslavia, under assault from Islamic terrorists of the Kosovo "Liberation" Army, was deemed an international pariah and "ethnic cleanser" for defending itself. Now, when this same terror network has turned on its American sponsors, the shoe is on the other foot – and the US finds that it is a tight and painful fit.


Kostunica's point was underscored rather dramatically, not long afterward, when Bosnian Muslim terrorists associated with Bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization targeted US military and diplomatic facilities in that American protectorate. Although the US is claiming that it has effectively dealt a "crippling blow" to the terrorist Al Qaeda organization in Bosnia with the arrest of three and the detaining of dozens – mostly Egyptians and Algerians – this is no doubt only a single tentacle of the subterranean monster. The Serbs claim that thousands of Muslim "internationalists" from Northern Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan were recruited to the Bosnian Muslim-KLA insurgency, and it is well-known that hundreds, perhaps more, were granted Bosnian citizenship, and others given asylum in Kosovo.


Perhaps the facility with which Bin Laden's terrorist operatives were granted access to the Balkans had something to do with the theft of some 100,000 blank Albanian passports during the 1997 anarchy that enveloped that nation. In any case, the complicity of America's Bosnian Muslim protιgιs in making the Balkans accessible to Bin Laden's terrorist network was underscored by the arrest, in Turkey, of a Bin Ladenite agent, one Mehrez Audonija, who held a Bosnian passport. Audonija is said to be a top leader in Bin Laden's cabal.

Several of the 9/11 hijackers are said to have held Bosnian passports. The New York Times [June 26, 1997] reported that one of the terrorists arrested in connection with the bombing of US installation at Al Khobar, in Saudi Arabia, had been a top commander of the Bosnian Mujahadeen, and had admitted to having ties to Bin Laden. Bosnia has long been a terrorist base. Long ignored by the US in the interests of its pro-Muslim Balkan policy, the threat is now so great that the American architects of Europe's first Islamic state have been forced to acknowledge the consequences of their own folly in a classified State Department report, which was fortunately leaked to the Los Angeles Times.


Detailing the extensive financial, ideological, and military ties that linked Osama to the Bosnian government, the Times, citing a former senior State Department official, also noted that

"The secret report, prepared late last year for the Clinton administration, warned of problem passport-holders in Bosnia in numbers that 'shocked everyone,' he said. The White House leaned on Bosnia and its then-president, Alija Izetbegovic, to do something about the matter, 'but nothing happened,' the former official said."

For an international terrorist organization such as Al Qaeda, passports are the coin of the realm, and Bosnia was apparently quite generous with Bin Laden personally, issuing him a special passport via the Bosnian embassy in Vienna, in 1993. There is even a report that President Izetbegovic personally met with Bin Laden when the latter made a secret trip to Sarajevo in that same year. No doubt the Assassin-in-chief of Al Qaeda was so grateful for the Bosnian government's beneficence – and vice versa – that he wanted to seal the alliance in person. Serbian sources were reporting Bin Laden's presence in the Balkans in 1999, where he came in the guise of a "Saudi businessman" eager to do "charitable work" in the area. Perhaps alone of all the Western media, the Canberra Times [April 28, 2000] cited Tanjug, the Yugoslavian government news agency, in reporting the following item:

"Islamic Saudi millionaire Osama Bin Laden, wanted for terrorism by the United States, is in Kosovo. The official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said Bin Laden, whom it described as a 'terrorist and Islamic fanatic,' arrived from Albania after having formed a group of 500 Islamic fighters in the eastern region around Korce and Pogradec to carry out 'terrorist acts' in Kosovo.

"He planned similar acts in the southern region of Serbia bordering on Kosovo, including Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, the agency said."


But since that source was deemed politically incorrect, and therefore unreliable, the evidence was dismissed as Serbian "propaganda." The extensive role of the "internationalist" Islamic network presided over by Bin Laden and associates in dozens of countries was extensively documented by Antiwar.com during the Kosovo war, and not just from Serbian sources. No one listened, then – but now they are forced to listen, even as the US official offices in Bosnia and Kosovo go on high alert. Thanks to American policymakers, our soldiers in Bosnia and throughout the region are sitting ducks for Bin Ladenite sympathizers, who plastered the walls of Bosnian and Croatian cities with posters hailing Bin Laden in the wake of 9/11.


The idea that it is not permissible to talk about the absurdities of US foreign policy in the context of the 9/11 atrocity, and that this amounts to some sort of "moral equivalence," is refuted by the revelation of the Bosnian-Bin Laden connection. For here is evidence of US government complicity in the attacks insofar as the US and its Bosnian ally shielded and nurtured Bin Laden in the Balkans. The US is claiming to have "disrupted" the Bin Laden network in Bosnia, but what about Macedonia? The Washington Times [October 3, 2001] reports that Bin Laden's personal representative in Macedonia has so far contributed as much as $7 million to the "National Liberation Army" of Albanian Islamofascists. Yet the US backs the NLA to the hilt, diplomatically, as Washington continues to exert pressure on the Macedonian government to cave in to terrorism. So much for the "war on terrorism."


There were plenty of early warnings of the Bin Ladenite threat we were nurturing in the heart of Europe, and a full catalogue would prove endless and rather dreary, so I'll just point out a few highlights (and thanks to Jared Israel for compiling and posting a file of old press clippings that neatly illustrate my point). The Charleston Gazette [November 30, 1998 – Page 2A] notes that "the man accused of orchestrating the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa operates a terrorist network out of Albania." Fatos Klosi, the head of the Albanian intelligence service, was cited as saying Bin Laden sent units to fight at NATO's side in Kosovo.

"Bin Laden," reports the Gazette, "is believed to have established an Albanian operation in 1994 after telling the government he headed a wealthy Saudi humanitarian agency wanting to help Albania." Even if the CIA is reduced to an army of researchers, endlessly compiling, filing, and presumably reading available press clippings, certainly the Bin Laden connection to their own Balkan adventure could not have escaped them. That the Clinton administration turned a blind eye to this connection is among its greatest crimes, in retrospect, far more serious than presidential perjury and Oval Office trysts.


As newspaper editorialists from coast to coast rail against Bin Laden, the "evildoer," remember it wasn't always so. On May 28, 1999, when the Daily Oklahoman published a remarkably prescient editorial, it was far from fashionable to bring up the matter of Islamic radicalism, much less Osama Bin Laden's links to our Balkan "allies" in Bosnia, Albania, and the KLA. "As US Sen. Jim Inhofe long has predicted," the Oklahoma paper averred,

"When American troops go into Kosovo against the Serbs, they'll be fighting alongside a terrorist organization known to finance its operations with drug sales – including some to the United States.

"By joining hands with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which intelligence sources say bankrolls itself by selling heroin and cocaine, the United States also would become partners of a sort with Osama Bin Laden, the international terrorist behind last year's bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Washington Times reports. . . . Such an ally is the result of Bill Clinton choosing sides in a centuries-old civil war."


Citing the testimony of a top law enforcement official – "They were terrorists in 1998 and now, because of politics, they're freedom fighters" – the editorial went on to declare that "in Bill Clinton's war, where bombing has been turned into a humanitarian application, such a paradox fits right in." This paradox is central to understanding what happened on 9/11. It is the paradox of an American foreign policy that dictated a de facto alliance with Bin Laden at one point – and not just in Afghanistan in the war against the Russians, but as recently as 1999. This is "blowback," as the brilliant Chalmers Johnson put it in his excellent book of that name, with a vengeance.


If it is "blame America first" thinking to point out that the US government has been stung by its own nettle, then so be it. Until the US government demands the extradition of the 300-plus "Mujahadeen" organized and funded by Bin Laden, and granted Bosnian citizenship, I'll continue to take the "war on terrorism" less seriously than my warmongering friends.

Why is the US threatening to bomb Iraq, fer chrissakes, when the real target of their ire should properly be Bosnia? It was the government in Sarajevo, after all, not the one in Baghdad, which handed out passports to terrorists like party favors. Bosnia harbors more known Islamic terrorists than any other country outside of Afghanistan – and that in a region guarded and "protected" by US soldiers, thousands of them, dug in since the early nineties. When somebody explains how and why this is possible, I'll take seriously George W. Bush's declaration of war on terrorism. They're bombing Kabul, but what about Sarajevo? Of course, they don't want to hit their own soldiers – and doesn't this dramatize the paradox of American policy and the prelude to 9/11 in all its tragic absurdity?


We create our own monsters. The US is confronted, here, with Franken-terrorism, and not just in the sense that our foreign policy had certain inadvertent consequences. The history of how the Clintonian foreign policy of intervention in the Balkans intersected with Al Qaeda needs to be thoroughly investigated by Congress. But that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The extensive international support system for the Kosovo Liberation Army, and the Macedonian "National Liberation Army," has raised millions, much of it in this country. The KLA, in addition, is financed by the European heroin trade – and no doubt supplied by Bin Laden, and the Taliban, who rely on opium, Afghanistan's chief export, for a good chunk of their income.


In following up the KLA connection, law enforcement will discover a network that reaches throughout Europe and into the US, particularly on the East coast, and New York. Bin Ladenite operatives in the US would, no doubt, be in touch with their Bosnian Muslim and Kosovar brothers and allies. This in one connection that the FBI would do well to follow up on. As hard as it was for me to believe that the Pentagon had actually issued a call to citizens to submit their own ideas on how to fight terrorism – are they really that clueless and bewildered? – I thought I might as well have a stab at it. Since they asked, I would say: look, you guys, check into the Bin Laden-Albanian-KLA connection, and the pro-KLA network in the US – you might find more than even I imagine.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.


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