19 January 2008

The new fronts in the Global War on Terrorism - Part II

The following post is made with Windows Live Writer, which may or may not be a help but it looks to be worth a try. (The x64 installs are here via the .msi files, which are necessary for folks using WinXP Pro x64 as the Mothership's Live Team has been remiss in actually working with their own supported operating systems). As Jerry Pournelle says: "I do these things so you won't have to."

This is picking up after the hasty post of Part I, as I was unsure of the availability of my offline material. To pick up that thread of looking at the other and new fronts on the GWOT, I examined the Philippines, Somalia, and gave short shrift to Kosovo as I had recently posted on that.

The Balkans - Albania

I will expand a bit on The Balkans, however, from that previous post on Kosovo as it demonstrates a prime mover of the Islamic form of terrorism outside of religion and oil money. That mover is the transport of illegal drugs that have mostly been done by organized crime, but is now being aided and abetted by (and often taken over by) terrorist organizations. Most people discount this trade as a funding source, but the scope of it is not addressed, so that a proper examination of its impact can be measured. For this I will utilize the testimony of Frank J. Cilluffo, Deputy Director, Global Organized Crime Program, Director, Counterterrorism Task Force, Center for Strategic & International Studies given before Congress on 13 DEC 2000. In his testimony he offers a brief snapshot of the world affairs of terrorism circa 2000 concentrating on terrorism and 'narco-states', and things have not changed much since then, even with the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. He gives us this look at the Balkans:

During the NATO campaign against the former Yugoslavia in the Spring of 1999, the Allies looked to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to assist in efforts to eject the Serbian army from Kosovo. What was largely hidden from public view was the fact that the KLA raise part of their funds from the sale of narcotics. Albania and Kosovo lie at the heart of the "Balkan Route" that links the "Golden Crescent" of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the drug markets of Europe. This route is worth an estimated $400 billion a year and handles 80 percent of heroin destined for Europe.
That is quite a bit of funds to pass through the region and the other man to give testimony that day would add into that with a more particular view. That was Ralf Mutschke, Interpol's Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime on 13 DEC 2000, and the excerpt is lengthy due to the nature of the complexity involved:
Albanian Organized Crime Groups.

Albanian organized crime groups are hybrid organizations, often involved both in criminal activity of an organized nature and in political activities, mainly relating to Kosovo. There is certain evidence that the political and criminal activities are deeply intertwined. Also, it has become increasingly clear that Albanian crime groups have engaged in significant cooperation with other transnational crime groups.

Several extraneous factors explain the current, relatively strong, position of Albanian organized crime:

1. Concerning Albanian organized crime in the United States, the 1986 break-up of the "Pizza connection" made it possible for other ethnic crime groups to "occupy" the terrain which had until then been dominated by the Italians. For Albanians this was especially easy since they had already been working with, or mainly for, Italian organized crime.

2. Due to a highly developed ethnic conscience - fortified by a Serb anti- Albanian politics in the 80’s and 90’s, Albanians, particularly Kosovars, have developed a sense of collective identity necessary to engage in organized crime. It is this element, based on the affiliation to a certain group, which links organized Albanian crime to Panalbanian ideals, politics, military activities and terrorism. Albanian drug lords established elsewhere in Europe began contributing funds to the "national cause" in the 80’s. From 1993 on, these funds were to a large extent invested in arms and military equipment for the KLA (UÇK) which made its first appearance in 1993.

3. From 1990 on, the process of democratization in Albania has resulted in a loss of state control in a country that had been totally dominated by the communist party and a system of repression. Many Albanians lacked respect for the law since, to them, they represented the tools of repression during the old regime. Loss of state structures resulted in the birth of criminal activities, which further contributed to the loss of state structures and control.

4. Alternative routing for about 60% of European heroin became necessary in 1991 with the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia and the blocking of the traditional Balkan route. Heroin was thus to a large extent smuggled through Albania, over the Adriatic into Italy and from there on to Northern and Western Europe. The war also enabled organized criminal elements to start dealing arms on a large scale.

5. Another factor which contributed to the development of criminal activities, is the embargos imposed on Yugoslavia by the international community and on the F.Y.RO.M. by Greece (1993-1994) in the early 90’s. Very quickly, an illegal triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics developed in the region with Albania being the only state not hit by international sanctions.

6. In 1997, the so-called pyramid savings schemes in the Albanian republic collapsed. This caused nation-wide unrest between January and March 1997, during which incredible amounts of military equipment disappeared (and partly reappeared during the Kosovo conflict): 38,000 hand-guns, 226,000 Kalashnikovs, 25,000 machine-guns, 2,400 anti-tank rocket launchers, 3,500,000 hand grenades, 3,600 tons of explosives. Even though organized crime groups were probably unable to "control" the situation, it seems clear that they did profit from the chaos by acquiring a great number of weapons. Albanian organized crime also profited from the financial pyramids which they seem to have used to launder money on a large scale. Before the crash, an estimated 500 to 800 million USD seem to have been transferred to accounts of Italian criminal organizations and Albanian partners. This money was then reinvested in Western countries.

7. The Kosovo conflict and the refugee problem in Albania resulted in a remarkable influx of financial aid. Albanian organized crime with links to Albanian state authorities seems to have highly profited from these funds. The financial volume of this aid was an estimated $163 million. The financial assets of Albanian organized crime were definitely augmented due to this situation.

8. When considering the presence of Albanians in Europe, one has to keep in mind the massive emigration of Albanians to Western European countries in the 90’s. In 2000, estimations concerning the Albanian diaspora are as follows:
United States and Canada: 500,000
Greece: 500,000
Germany: 400,000
Switzerland: 200,000
Turkey: 65,000
Sweden: 40,000
Great Britain: 30,000
Belgium: 25,000
France: 20,000
For those emigrants to EU countries or Switzerland, the temptation to engage in criminal activities is very high as most of them are young Albanian males, in their twenties and thirties, who are unskilled workers and who have difficulties finding a job. For Italian organized crime, these Albanians were ideal couriers in the drug trafficking business running through Albania as they were able to circumvent the area border patrols after the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia. Many of them came into contact with Albanian organized crime through Albanian émigré communities located throughout Western Europe. This gave an impetus to the dispersion and internationalization of Albanian criminal groups.

The typical structure of the Albanian Mafia is hierarchical. Concerning "loyalty", "honor" and clan traditions, (blood relations and marriage being very important) most of the Albanian networks seem to be "old-fashioned" and comparable to the Italian Mafia networks of thirty or forty years ago. Infiltration into these groups is thus very difficult. Heroin networks are usually made up of groups of fewer than 100 members, constituting an extended family residing all along the Balkan route from Eastern Turkey to Western Europe. The Northern Albanian Mafia which runs the drug wholesale business is also known by the name of "The Fifteen Families."

Regarding cooperation with other transnational criminal groups, the Albanian Mafia seems to have established good working relationships with the Italian Mafia. On the 27th of July 1999 police in Durrës (Albania), with Italian assistance arrested one of the godfathers of the "Sacra Corona Unita", Puglia’s Italian Mafia. This Albanian link seems to confirm that the Sacra Corona Unita have "officially" accepted Albanian organized crime as a "partner" in Puglia/Italy and delegated several criminal activities. This might be due to the fact that the Sacra Corona Unita is a rather recent phenomenon, not being as stable nor as strong as other Mafias in Italy. Their leaders might have decided to join forces rather than run the risk of a conflict with Albanian groups known to be extremely violent. Thus in certain areas of Italy, the market for cannabis, prostitution and smuggling of illegal immigrants is run mainly by Albanians. Links to Calabria’s Mafia, the "Ndrangheta", exist in Northern Italy. Several key figures of the Albanian Mafia seem to reside frequently in the Calabrian towns of Africo, Plati and Bovalino (Italy), fiefs of the Ndrangheta. Southern Albanian groups also seem to have good relationships with Sicily’s "Cosa Nostra", which seems to be moving steadily into finance and money laundering, leaving other typical illegal activities to other groups. Close relationships also exist with other criminal groups active along the Balkan route, where Turkish wholesalers, Bulgarian and Romanian traffickers are frequent business partners. There are also indications that a South American cartel has become active in Albania through Albanian middlemen, in order to place more cocaine on the European market.

The heavy involvement of Albanian criminal groups in drugs trafficking, mainly heroin is proven. Currently, more than 80% of the heroin on the European market has been smuggled through the Balkans, having mainly been produced in Afghanistan and traveled through Iran and Turkey or Central Asia. In the Balkan region, two routes seem to have replaced the former traditional route, disrupted by the Yugoslavian conflict: one Northern route running mainly through Bulgaria, then Romania and Hungary and one Southern route running from Bulgaria through F.Y.R.O.M., the Kosovo region and Albania. An average of more than a ton of heroin and more than 10 tons of hashish are seized along those Balkan routes each year. According to DEA estimations, between 4 and 6 tons of heroin leave Turkey each month bound for Western Europe, traveling along the Balkan routes.

Albanian trafficking networks are becoming more and more powerful, partly replacing Turkish networks. This is especially the case in several German speaking countries, Sweden and Norway. According to some estimations, Albanian networks control about 70% of the heroin market today in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Scandinavian countries. According to analyses of the Swedish and Norwegian police, 80% of the heroin smuggled into the countries can be linked to Albanian networks. In 1998, Swiss police even estimated that 90% of the narco-business in the country was dominated by Albanians. Throughout Europe, around 40% of the heroin trade seems to be controlled by Albanians. Recent refugees from the Kosovo region are involved in street sales. Tensions between the established ethnic Albanians and newcomers seem to exist, heroin prices having dropped due to their arrival and due to growing competition in the market.

Albanian networks are not only linked to heroin. In the Macedonian border region, production laboratories for amphetamine and methamphetamine drugs seem to have been set up. Currently, these pills are destined for the local market. Cannabis is grown in Albania and cultivation seems to have become more and more popular, especially in the South. Annual Albanian marijuana revenue is estimated at $40 million. In 1999, cannabis plantations existed in the regions of Kalarat (about 80 kilometers from Vlorë/Albania) and close to Girokastër in the regions of Sarandë, Delvina and Permetti. Albanian cannabis is mainly sold on the Greek market. In order to transport the drugs to Greece, Albanian crime groups work together with Greek criminals.

Albanian criminals are also involved in the traffic of illegal immigrants to Western European countries. It is part of international trafficking networks, which not only transport Albanians, but also Kurds, Chinese and people from the Indian subcontinent. The Albanian groups are mainly responsible for the crossing of the Adriatic Sea from the Albanian coast to Italy. Departures mainly take place from Vlorë, some of them from Durrës or even from Ulcinj in the South of Montenegro. By the end of 1999, the crossing costs about $1,000 USD for an adult and $500 USD for a child. It is interesting to notice that some illegal immigrants had to pay for their journey only once in their home country (e.g. $6,000 in Pakistan), but that the nationality of the trafficking groups changed as they moved along. This implies that Albanian groups are only a part of international distribution networks. In 1999, approximately 10,000 people were smuggled into EU countries via Albania every month. The Italian border patrol intercepted 13,118 illegal immigrants close to the Puglian coast from January until July 1999. It estimated arrivals only in this coastal region at 56,000 in 1999. For the Albanian crime groups, illegal immigration - even though it can not be compared to the narco-business - is an important source of income, bringing in an estimated fifty million USD in 1999.
Immigration is not only a source of income, it is also very important in order to create networks in foreign countries and thus create bridgeheads for the Albanian Mafia abroad. Reports indicate that of the people admitted into Western European or North America as refugees during the Kosovo conflict, at least several had been carefully chosen by the Albanian Mafia to stay in the host country and act as a future liaison for the criminal networks.

Trafficking in women and forced prostitution seem to have become much more important for Albanian organized crime in 1999, with thousands of women from Kosovo having fled to Albania during the armed conflict in the region. About 300,000 women from Eastern European countries work as prostitutes in Europe. More and more seem to be "organized" in Albanian networks that are not only limited to ethnic Albanian prostitutes, but also comprise women from Romania, Bosnia, Moldova, Russia, etc. The pimps often pretend to be Kosovars in order to have the status of a political refugee, even though many of them come from Albania. Some seem to control the "business" from abroad. Belgium, in particular, seems to be the seat of several leaders of the trafficking networks. In 1999, ten people linked to Albanian crime were shot in Brussels.

Finally, Albanian criminal groups frequently engage in burglaries, armed robberies and car theft in Europe and the United States.

There might still be links between political/military Kosovar Albanian groups (especially the KLA) and Albanian organized crime. Of the almost 900 million DM which reached Kosovo between 1996 and 1999, half was thought to be illegal drug money. Legitimate fundraising activities for the Kosovo and the KLA could have been be used to launder drug money. In 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, indicating that it was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals, among them allegedly Usama bin Laden. Another link to bin Laden is the fact that the brother of a leader in an Egyptian Djihad organization and also a military commander of Usama bin Laden, was leading an elite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict. In 1998, the KLA was described as a key player in the drugs for arms business in 1998, "helping to transport 2 billion USD worth of drugs annually into Western Europe". The KLA and other Albanian groups seem to utilize a sophisticated network of accounts and companies to process funds. In 1998, Germany froze two bank accounts belonging to the "United Kosova" organization after it had been discovered that several hundred thousand dollars had been deposited into those accounts by a convicted Kosovar Albanian drug trafficker.

The possibility of an Albanian/Kosovar drugs for arms connection is confirmed by at least two affairs in 1999:

-an Italian court in Brindisi (Italy) convicted an Albanian heroin trafficker who admitted obtaining weapons for the KLA from the Mafia in exchange for drugs.

-An Albanian individual placed orders in the Czech Republic for light infantry weapons and rocket systems. According to Czech police sources, the arms were bound for the KLA.

-Each KLA commander seems to have had funds at his disposal in order to be able to pay directly for weapons and ammunition for his local units’ need.

It is difficult to predict the further development of Albanian organized crime. Being a recent phenomenon, its stability is difficult to estimate. Nevertheless, future threats are realistic given the ruthlessness and lack of scruples displayed by Albanian crime groups, the international links which already exist, the professionalism which characterizes most of their activities and the strong ties created by ethnic Albanian origins. Moreover, the strong position of Albanian crime groups in Kosovo, F.Y.R.O.M. and the Albanian republic itself, is definitely a cause of concern to the international community, especially when one takes into account the geo-political instability in the region and the presence of a UN peacekeeping force.
The Albanian organized crime families, "The 15 Families" are not only tightly bound by ethnicity and family, but are an inherent trust network that stretches across the SE European Nations and serve as a conduit for drugs, illegal immigration, weapons and money laundering. Their contacts sweep through all the way to Russia and outwards to South America, Africa and even North America. As he had previously cited the connections between Algeria and Albania, a prime figure in transnational terrorism also showed up. Again, from Mr. Mutschke:
The events in Canada and the United States should be seen in a wider perspective. Indeed, intelligence shows that several Algerian terrorist leaders were present at a meeting in Albania, which could also have been attended by Usama bin Laden , who was believed to be in Albania at that time. It was during this meeting that many structures and networks were established for propaganda and fund raising activities, and for providing Algerian armed groups with logistical support. The arrest at the Canada-US border in December 1999 may indicate that the Algerian terrorists are prepared to take their terrorism campaign to North America.
This links the Afghanistan drug networks, al Qaeda and the European drug system together and provides a source of income for those operating that system. His presence there was known as seen in Expert Magazine, 30 AUG 1999, via Globalsecurity document cache:
In 1994 Saudi Arabia deprived bin Laden of his citizenship, compelling him to leave for Sudan together with his "Afghan veterans." In a bid to do the United States a favour, the government of Sudan ejected him in 1996. Bin Laden then returned to Afghanistan, dreaming to copy the Afghan model all over the Moslem world, first and foremost in the post-Soviet republics. A ramified war-veteran organisation, as well as prosperous enterprises, which provide jobs and money to such people, and which also effectively conceal their real-life activities, still operates in Sudan, constituting bin Laden's rearguard. Those undercover "veterans" have committed bloody outrages in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Israel, Germany, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

However, bin Laden's phone conversations on Afghan territory have been intercepted increasingly frequently over the last few months. Accordingly, bin Laden has begun to use couriers for communicating with his "veterans." Indeed, such couriers have handed over coded PC floppy disks in the course of some macabre death-relay race. But this practice has entailed less efficient management. Apart from that, bin Laden has become convinced that, given the current globalisation of NATO's police functions (he was particularly impressed with the war in Yugoslavia - Ed.), terrorist cells are unable to achieve any impressive successes in the Middle East, which is regarded as a strategic region by the West. In this situation, the seething Caucasus has become a rather attractive area for El Qaidah's militants.
You did know that Osama bin Laden used Kosovo and Albania as a centralized meeting point and a good area to set up training camps, right? Not just training camps, either, as the lucrative drug trade offers a funding source that is possibly third (behind oil funds from wealthy citizens or States) and donations for transnational terrorist groups. While getting 1% of the overall Balkans drug trade under the auspices of, say, al Qaeda, may seem meager that is a $4 billion/year proposition in transactional money. Add in a 'terrorist tax' of 10% and that is $400 million/year of ongoing and, indeed, increasing income as the use of narcotics increases annually.

This brings us to the next area of interest:

The Balkans - Bosnia

The influence of another State actor in Bosnia was first looked into during the 1990's as the UN arms embargo was not stopping the flow of arms into the region, which I covered in this post on Bosnia, previously. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) asked the State Dept. for its views and got them in a letter from Barbara Larkin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs dated 20 MAY 1996, which he had put into the Congressional Record: June 11, 1996 (Extensions), DOCID:cr11jn96-22, THIRD-COUNTRY ARMS DELIVERIES TO BOSNIA AND CROATIA, which gives that actor and the problems it would bring:
How did the Administration assess the implications of such a policy change on international adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 713 and U.S. efforts to get friends and allies to stop trade, economic dealings, and investment ties with Iran? Iran's entry into the Bosnian conflict occurred long before the April 1994 decision. Iranian efforts to gain influence in Bosnia date back to the 1980s. They gained momentum in 1991-92, in the early stages of the war, when the international community proved unable to confront Serb aggression. During this period, despite the UN arms embargo, Iran established itself as Bosnia's principal arms supplier and dispatched hundreds of Revolutionary Guard and other personnel to assist in training Bosnian Government forces. Iranian military aid was part of a multi-pronged campaign of support that also included intelligence cooperation along with economic and humanitarian assistance. We have no evidence that Iran's presence in Bosnia increased significantly after April 1994. It is also worth noting that, through the Dayton Accords and subsequent diplomacy, we have reduced Iranian military influence in Bosnia to its lowest levels in years. The April 1994 decision had no discernable impact on U.S. efforts to gain international support for the use of economic pressure to alter Iran's objectionable behavior, including its support for terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Prior to 1994, our Allies had generally been unresponsive to our requests that they not provide Iran with economic benefits such as new official credits and loan guarantees. In the past year, however, following the President's decision to impose a trade and investment embargo against Iran, most European countries have substantially reduced the pace and volume of economic activity with Iran. We continue to urge European governments to join our efforts to pressure Iran economically. Based on our ongoing consultations, including the April 19 meeting in Rome of the U.S.-EU-Canada Working Group on Iran, we have concluded that the April 1994 decision has not significantly affected our Iran diplomacy.
This view would prove to be overoptimistic and based on faulty Intel, however. From the Joint Committee on Special Operations at Globalsecurity.org on Iranian Intelligence Operations updated 2005:
Iranian intelligence agencies are also mounting extensive operations in Bosnia to gather information and counter Western influence. As of late 1997 more than 200 Iranian agents have insinuated themselves into Bosnian Muslim political and social circles, and infiltrated the US program to train the Bosnian army. Iranian is collaborating with a pro-Iranian faction in Bosnia's intelligence service, the Agency for Investigation and Documentation. But Iran's intelligence operations extend far beyond the training program, and are aimed at influencing a broad range of Bosnian institutions.
Thus, not only was Iran *not* reducing its numbers in Bosnia, it was actually infiltrating *more* people into Bosnia than before, so the Clinton Administration not only didn't know the base of the trendline, but did not know its direction either, which was UP not DOWN.

And just what were they doing? Well, the fine folks at Globalsecurity.org also provide this bit from their Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty library, which is part of a series aired in 2005 about Iran's extensive backing of terrorism abroad:
Outside of the Middle East, Iran also appears to have sought to use its aid to Bosnia's Muslims during the conflict there to secretly train fundamentalist groups.Analyst Nima Rashedan said much of the evidence of such activities comes from documents seized by NATO forces in Bosnia."This is a case that happened in a place in Bosnia. Before the Dayton Accords and the presence of the United States and NATO in Bosnia, the Islamic Republic had sent groups to Bosnia, including the Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force, led by Mohammad Reza Shams Naqdi, and his deputy, Hossein Allahkaram, based near Sarajevo -- another group from the Intelligence Ministry -- who had set up a camp, training fundamentalists close to [Alija] Izetbegovic's Democratic Action Party, to establish the intelligence apparatus of Bosnia. Later, NATO attacked the camp and arrested a number of people, including Iranian intelligence officials. The most interesting point was the discovery of documents that were part of the curriculum for the training of Bosnian intelligence recruits by Iranians. Among the instructions in the texts were methods for killing opposition figures and silencing journalists. That is, the Intelligence Ministry instructed a foreign organization's members how to intimidate, hunt, kidnap, eliminate, and threaten the families and the financial sources of journalists," Rashedan said.
Yes, journalists do pay attention to their trade, but note that opposition leaders can and did (and do) get the exact, same treatment.

The reason for that change in quantity of Intel operatives is not only the ability to insinuate agents from Hezbollah and the Qods Force there, but the lucrative drug trade going through the Balkans. The same logic that works for al Qaeda a few years later also works for Hezbollah then. In fact the entire region, even *with* UN troops in Kosovo and Bosnia, would not stop terrorists from congregating there.

This short article from Pravda on 09 OCT 2002 has this on goings-on in Bosnia:
Islamic Fundamentalists from al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad Meet in Bosnia. An illegal meeting of Islamic fundamentalists from over 50 countries took place yesterday in the Bosnian town of Travnik, which is under the control of the Muslim-Croatian Federation. According to the law-enforcement authorities of Bosnia's Serbian Republic, the meeting included representatives of Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Active Islamic Youth.According to representatives of the special forces of the Serbian Republic, al-Qaida radicals were in Travnik for two days, but neither the Bosnian police nor SFOR peacekeeping soldiers made any attempt to arrest them. In Travnik Islamic delegates reached an agreement on the 'full consolidation' of religious and political movements in the battle against 'American aggression'. According to Rosbalt's correspondent, over twenty Islamic radicals illegally entered Bosnia from Albania.
Quite the confab! Muslim Brotherhood (Islamic Jihad), Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad (most likely that of Imad Mugniyah's Hezbollah External Security Organization), and al Qaeda. And do note that they all entered from: Albania. This begins to tie the Balkans region together via these organizations from organized crime to Islamic terrorist groups. On 16 JAN 1997 the Republican Policy Committee in the US Senate would put out an editorial examining how the Clinton Administration allowed radical Islamic terrorism to move into the Balkans, particularly Bosnia. This from The Militant Islamic Network section:
The House Subcommittee report also concluded (page 2): "The Administration's Iranian green light policy gave Iran an unprecedented foothold in Europe and has recklessly endangered American lives and US strategic interests." Further -- " . . . The Iranian presence and influence [in Bosnia] jumped radically in the months following the green light. Iranian elements infiltrated the Bosnian government and established close ties with the current leadership in Bosnia and the next generation of leaders. Iranian Revolutionary Guards accompanied Iranian weapons into Bosnia and soon were integrated in the Bosnian military structure from top to bottom as well as operating in independent units throughout Bosnia. The Iranian intelligence service [VEVAK] ran wild through the area developing intelligence networks, setting up terrorist support systems, recruiting terrorist 'sleeper' agents and agents of influence, and insinuating itself with the Bosnian political leadership to a remarkable degree. The Iranians effectively annexed large portions of the Bosnian security apparatus [known as the Agency for Information and Documentation (AID)] to act as their intelligence and terrorist surrogates. This extended to the point of jointly planning terrorist activities. The Iranian embassy became the largest in Bosnia and its officers were given unparalleled privileges and access at every level of the Bosnian government." (page 201)

Not Just the Iranians

To understand how the Clinton green light would lead to this degree of Iranian influence, it is necessary to remember that the policy was adopted in the context of extensive and growing radical Islamic activity in Bosnia. That is, the Iranians and other Muslim militants had long been active in Bosnia; the American green light was an important political signal to both Sarajevo and the militants that the United States was unable or unwilling to present an obstacle to those activities -- and, to a certain extent, was willing to cooperate with them. In short, the Clinton Administration's policy of facilitating the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims made it the de facto partner of an ongoing international network of governments and organizations pursuing their own agenda in Bosnia: the promotion of Islamic revolution in Europe. That network involves not only Iran but Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (a key ally of Iran), and Turkey, together with front groups supposedly pursuing humanitarian and cultural activities. For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. ["How Bosnia's Muslims Dodged Arms Embargo: Relief Agency Brokered Aid From Nations, Radical Groups," Washington Post, 9/22/96; see also "Saudis Funded Weapons For Bosnia, Official Says: $300 Million Program Had U.S. 'Stealth Cooperation'," Washington Post, 2/2/96] TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Binladen, a wealthy Saudi emigre believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [WP, 9/22/96] (Sheik Rahman, a native of Egypt, is currently in prison in the United States; letter bombs addressed to targets in Washington and London, apparently from Alexandria, Egypt, are believed connected with his case. Binladen was a resident in Khartoum, Sudan, until last year; he is now believed to be in Afghanistan, "where he has issued statements calling for attacks on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf." [WP, 9/22/96])
These were and are relatively well known organizations and figures operating in that region for the express purpose of not only shifting to a new base of operations but to ensure that it had indigenous funding. This would be done through the radicalization of local politics, namely the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in the Bosnian government. Such figures as Alija Izetbegovic, Hasan Cengic, and Dzemal Merdan are cited in the report as being supporters of radical Islamic concepts for governing and the overthrow of non-Muslim governments. For that window of time, starting in the early 1990's and going on for nearly a decade, the leaders in Bosnia had ties to radical Islamic groups and sought the aid and arming by them. A Cybercast News Service report by Sherrie Gossett on 17 AUG 2005 would look at the problems of Bosnia and the groups it attracts:
Terrorists who previously targeted the U.S. are now in Bosnia, where they have access to a "one-stop shop" of jihad training camps, weapons and illegal Islamic "charities" -- all at the doorstep of Europe, terrorism experts said. "[Convicted terrorist] Karim Said Atmani recently returned to Bosnia after being released early from French prison for 'good behavior,'" terrorism expert and author Evan Kohlmann said.Atmani, a Moroccan, was linked to the "millennium bomb plot" and convicted by a French court of colluding with Osama bin Laden. He has been linked to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), an organization responsible for airplane hijackings and subway bombings in France.

[..]

Also finding haven in Bosnia is Abu el Maali, who like Atmani, was a foreign national who fought in the Bosnia war. El Maali was later accused by French authorities of attempting to smuggle explosives in 1998 to an Egyptian terrorist group plotting to destroy U.S. military installations in Germany. He was also accused of leading terrorist cells in Bosnia, Pakistan and Afghanistan."This activity is very significant," said Kohlmann. "Senior members of the former Muslim Brigade and their top commanders are still there, and they're still active."

The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHF), a charity that was later found by the U.S. Treasury to be underwriting terrorist operations including al Qaeda, shut its offices in Bosnia after the U.S. announcement but reopened under the name "Vazir." The new organization was registered as an "association for sport, culture and education."In 2002, the U.S. Treasury Department reported that the Bosnia office of Al-Haramain was linked to Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, an Egyptian terrorist group that was a signatory to bin Laden's Feb. 23, 1998, fatwa -- or religious edict -- against the United States.

[..]

Christopher Brown, research associate with the Transitions to Democracy Project at the Hudson Institute, echoed the report. "A lot of these camps are very mobile," he said. "Bosnia has a lot of rugged territory where such camps can be set up temporarily."

The idea that there are no jihadist camps in Bosnia and radical Islam has not gained any foothold there, as some analysts suggest, is "ridiculous," according to Brown. He points to the raising of two Waffen-SS divisions under the encouragement of the mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, up to the spread of Wahhabism by the Saudis beginning in the 1960s and 1970s."Al Qaeda cells were set up in Bosnia in the early 1990s by Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, and bin Laden was said to visit the area twice in the mid-1990s," Brown added. "Iran was very involved in supporting the Islamist separatist movement in Bosnia, and Hezbollah was doing training there in the 1990s."Training also takes place inside youth centers and school gyms, according to Trifunovic.

[..]

"Only a very small minority of Bosnians are attracted to this," said Kohlmann. "This is primarily a foreign phenomenon -- mostly consisting of Syrians, Egyptians and Algerians."
Although later in the article views that the attempt to graft jihad onto politics has been seen as a failure in Bosnia, the ability to train small cadres of men, particularly young men, on a mobile base concept is one that cannot be discounted.

The connection between terrorism and narcotics is examined by Ioannis Michaletos on his Serbianna blog, giving a reprint from a 2001 article by Marcia Christoff Kurop in the WSJ:
The overnight rise of heroin trafficking through Kosovo — now the most important Balkan route between Southeast Asia and Europe after Turkey — helped also to fund terrorist activity directly associated with al Qaeda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Opium poppies, which barely existed in the Balkans before 1995, have become the No. 1 drug cultivated in the Balkans after marijuana. Operatives of two al Qaeda-sponsored Islamist cells who were arrested in Bosnia on Oct. 23 were linked to the heroin trade, underscoring the narco-jihad culture of today’s post-war Balkans.

These drug rings in turn form part of an estimated $8 billion a year Taliban annual income from global drug trafficking, predominantly in heroin. According to Mr. Bodansky, the terrorism expert, bin Laden administers much of that trade through Russian mafia groups for a commission of 10% to 15% — or around $1 billion annually.

The settling of Afghan-trained mujahideen in the Balkans began around 1992, when recruits were brought into Bosnia by the ruling Islamic party of Bosnia, the Party of Democratic Action, from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, as well as Italy, Germany and Turkey. They were all given journalists’ credentials to avoid explicit detection by the West. Others were married immediately to Bosnian Muslim women and incorporated into regular army ranks.

Intelligence services of the Nordic-Polish SFOR (previously IFOR) sector alerted the U.S. of their presence in 1992 while the number of mujahideen operating in Bosnia alone continued to grow from a few hundred to around 6,000 in 1995. Though the Clinton administration had been briefed extensively by the State Department in 1993 on the growing Islamist threat in former Yugoslavia, little was done to follow through.

The Bosnian Embassy in Vienna issued a passport to bin Laden in 1993, according to various reports in the Yugoslav press at the time. The reports add that bin Laden then visited a terrorist camp in Zenica, Bosnia in 1994. The Bosnian government denies all of this, but admits that some passport records have been lost. Around that time, bin Laden directed al Qaeda “senior commanders” to incorporate the Balkans into an complete southeastern approach to Europe, an area stretching from the Caucasus to Italy. Al Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon reputed to be the second in command of the entire al Qaeda network, headed up this southeastern frontline.

By 1994, major Balkan terrorist training camps included Zenica, and Malisevo and Mitrovica in Kosovo. Elaborate command-and-control centers were further established in Croatia, and Tetovo, Macedonia as well as around Sofia, Bulgaria, according to the U.S. Congress’s task force on terrorism. In Albania, the main training camp included even the property of former Albanian premier Sali Berisha in Tropje, Albania, who was then very close to the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Not even stalwart NATO ally Turkey escaped the network. Areas beyond government control were also visited by bin Laden in 1996 according to London-based Jane’s Intelligence Review. The government has been battling two terrorist groups: Jund al Islam, whose assassinated Syrian leader was one of bin Laden’s closets confidantes, and the Kurdish PKK, whose leader, Abdullah Ocalan, merged his group’s activities with those of Iran’s Hezbollah in 1998.

Furthermore, as revealed in the February 2001 East Africa bombing trial testimony of Jamal al Fadl — an al Qaeda operative in charge of weapons development in Sudan — uranium used in “dirty bombs” that release lethal radioactive material, had been tested in 1994 by members of the Sudan-based Islamic National Front in the town of Hilat Koko, in Turkish-held northern Cyprus. Cyprus, both its north and southern sides, has also become a center for offshore money laundering by Arab banks fronting al Qaeda funds into the Balkans. The CIA puts al Qaeda’s specific Balkan-directed funds — those tied to the “humanitarian” agencies and local banks and not explicitly counting the significant drug profits added to that — at around $500 million to $700 million between 1992 and 1998.

So where was the U.S. in all this? It was not until 1995 that the Clinton administration was forced to start pursuing the Islamist network in the Balkans. Not quite a month after the Dayton accords had been signed in November 1995, an influx of Iranian arms came into Bosnia with the apparent tacit approval of the administration, in violation of U.N. sanctions. While publicly pressing Bosnian President Alia Izebegovic to purge remaining Islamist elements, the administration was loath to confront Sarajevo and Tehran over their presence.

Instead, Islamist groups went quietly underground as the windfall of weapons landed in their hands. They later joined up with a new Islamist center in Sofia established as a kind of rear guard by the al Zawahiri. Following the Zagreb arrest and extradition of renowned Egyptian militant Faud Qassim, an al Zawahiri favorite, the Sofia-based militants planned the deployment in Bosnia of terrorists capable of planning and leading possible major terrorist strikes against U.S. and SFOR facilities, according to al Fadl’s testimony to the House Task Force on Terrorism.

Islamist infiltration of the Kosovo Liberation Army advanced, meanwhile. Bin Laden is said to have visited Albania in 1996 and 1997, according to the murder-trial testimony of an Algerian-born French national, Claude Kader, himself an Afghanistan-trained mujahideen fronting at the Albanian-Arab Islamic Bank. He recruited some Albanians to fight with the KLA in Kosovo, according to the Paris-based Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues.
This is, obviously, not the sort of concept one wants to start in the Balkans: the growing of the opium crop introduced by Afghan Islamic jihadist veterans so as to further fund and grow networks in the region. To understand how Islamic radicals got into this business, we can turn to an article by Darko Trifunovic at International Analyst Network from 20 JAN 2007 -Terrorism and Organized Crime in South-eastern Europe:
Heroin and other substances are abundant in BH – in restaurants, cafees, schools, universities – and general dissatisfaction with quality of life has enabled the crime syndicates to recruit users and pushers among the youth.

This recent situation is being exploited by various Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations in BH. During the civil war, some of the Muslim military commanders were petty criminals such as Ramiz Delalic – CELO1 (deputy commander, 9th Motorised Brig.), Ismet Bajramovic – CELO (Military police commander2), Musan Topalovic – CACO3 and Jusuf -Juka Prazina4. Also, members of the mentioned group are: Sead Becirevic-Sejo, Zulfikar Alic-Zuka (Military commander of the terrorist unit call Black Swans) and Bojadzic Nihat, former officer of the R BiH Army. Political support to this group secure on of the prominent Muslim politician in Sarajevo Mr.Ejup Ganic and Mr.Haris Silajdzic. Haris Silajdzic are the actual member of the B-H Presidency. His sister Salidza Silajdzic is married in Iran, presumably to a high rank officer of the VEVAK, and his brother Husref Silajdzic is thought to be a secret agent of the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI). New information speak about the fact that Haris Silajdzic is trying to restart the work of “Patriot League”.5 The center of “Patriot League” is to be in Sarajevo with General Vahid Karavelic as its head. They used patriotism as a cover for their criminal activities during the war.
Afterwards, however, a portion of the Muslim population in BH replaced nationalism with a new ideology of Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic fundamentalists with a criminal background have substantial advantages in BH:1. fast and easy access to weapons and explosives; 2. in-depth knowledge of smuggling routes; 3. connections with corrupt officials and politicians; 4. influence in local media and NGOs; 5. connections with a large diaspora in the US and western Europe
Terrorist networks have seized upon these advantages of local criminals-turned-Islamic fundamentalists, creating a new model of terrorist funding.
Yes, they killed their way into the business or used 'converts' to supply them with credentials to get into it. Those initial connections dating back to the early 1990's for Iran and al Qaeda (or what was to become al Qaeda) allowed for the seeding of a much larger problem of 'separate' Islamic communities now festering in Bosnia. And because the war there destroyed so many records, these 'imports' can claim any number of things to stay there and claim 'citizenship', even if they do not deserve it.

The type of terrorism that represents this is two-fold:

A) Local - Use of threats, intimidation and bribery to gain power over local communities or subvert law enforcement.

B) Regional/Global - The use of overseas emigres to establish narcotics, theft, radical and terror cells and continue the supply chain of those things outwards.

Thus, from the UN Mission in Kosovo, seeing news round-ups that mention local terrorist cells or narcotics busts, like this one from 06 JAN 2003, is not surprising:
Police try to find killers of three Rugova's party officials

PRISTINA, Jan 5 (Tanjug) - Police in Pristina said on Sunday that the killers of three ethnic Albanians, who had formerly been KLA members and were Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) officials until their death, had not been arrested yet.

One of the KLA commanders, Tahir Zemaj, his son Emif and their relative Hasan Zemaj were killed near the Druri complex in Pec late on Saturday. Police said that the victims' car had been ambushed and that the identity of the killer(s) was unknown, despite the fact that several witnesses had been taken in.


Yugoslav police seize 44 kilos of heroin at Bulgarian border

BELGRADE, Jan 5 (AFP) - Yugoslav police on Sunday seized 44 kilograms of heroin, hidden in a car, at the Bulgarian border, the Beta news agency reported.

Two Bulgarian nationals were arrested when customs officials found the drugs, worth more than two million euros (dollars), hidden in a fake seat of the vehicle, the agency quoted local customs chief Ivan Dencev as saying.

The two Bulgarians said they had been en route to Germany, the agency said. The border between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria is on the main Balkans drug smuggling route from central Asia to western Europe.


Bosnia presents report on arms factory's illegal trade with Iraq

Sarajevo/Banja Luka (dpa) - Bosnian Serb President Dragan Cavic on Saturday presented a report on the illegal export of military components to Iraq by a Bosnian Serb factory.

Speaking at a press conference in the Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka, Cavic said that the 1,614 page report confirmed that the Bosnian Serb Orao factory was in severe breach of the United Nations arms embargo against Iraq.The Orao affair started in October 2002 after the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia, following U.S. intelligence reports, conducted an unannounced search of Orao premises in the northern Bosnian Serb town of Bijeljina, finding evidence of the company's illegal trade with Iraq.

The evidence showed that the Orao factory was providing Iraq with spare parts needed to refurbish Soviet-era MiG 21 combat aircraft.

According to Cavic, an investigation launched last year discovered that the cooperation between Orao and Iraq started in 1997.

He said the Bosnian Serb civil authorities had not known about the illegal trade, but some high-positioned Bosnian Serb Army officers were directly involved in it.

The main organiser of the trade between Bosnian Serbs and Iraq was Yugoslav company Jugoimport.

Cavic said there were indications that companies from the Bosnian Moslem-Croat Federation, Yugoslavia and Croatia were also involved in illegal weapon trade with Iraq.
From low level terrorist 'hits' to narcotics busts to illegal arms supplies going to Saddam in Iraq, the entire gamut of terrorism melding with organized crime is seen in a single week's report from the region. This sort of thing continues on with $3.5 million in heroin stopped in Croatia on 16 JAN 2008 (UPI via NewsDaily) and the general feeling is summed up in this working paper on Human Security in Europe by Bojan Dobovsek:
Everything mentioned above lead us to the conclusion that in Bosnia and Herzegovina there is a lack of official data on organised crime. Meanwhile, established new state institutions and an increasing number of young criminologists are guarantee that in Bosnia the similar researches will be provided and its number will increase. Many Bosnia and Herzegovina’s journals have been saying there is nothing organized in Bosnia (not even one citizen’s element including nature, industry, sport, culture etc.) and it is nothing functioning as good as organised crime”. Every citizen who just one time a day watch TV news or read first page in newspaper or listen radio will notice how important and actual is the organized crime’s phenomenon. Many citizens are asking them selves why such big actuality of these phenomenon. The answer is coming out from rumours that: Bosnia is an after-war transit country, its politic power is present in the field of sport, culture and in the police, the country is divided into many cantons, smaller provinces, has not unique police who is working together over the whole country` s territory. It is not possible to precisely affirm what is the main reason for increasing development of organized crime but it seems to be rumour that police is not unique and it is not working like one, together over the whole territory. Beside that, powerful thesis is also the one, which has been written in the political magazine “Dani”, nb. 407, 11.4.2005 where president of court Branko Peric said: Every country has own its own mafia, but our mafia has its country.”15
And that is a problem as that organized crime also has an Islamic radical tinge to it that continues to work its way outwards, like with the trial of 15 Wahabi terrorist suspects in Serbia that came into Bosnia during the civil war and then continued to train there afterwards (AKI 14 JAN 2008). And from a HUMSEC working paper by Dejan Anastasijevic, we can see the outlines of terrorism, narcotics, arms production/supply and money transfers between the Balkans, Libya, Argentina, South Africa and further outwards.

That should round out part II for now, more to follow as I am able to compile it, but the overall concept of the GWOT involves much more than just terrorism and is linked to some of the most intractable problems of humankind that have plagued Nations for centuries.

2 comments:

Richard said...

Truth about DARKO TRIFUNOVIC - Serbian Self-Proclaimed "Terrorism Expert", Identity Thief, and Srebrenica Genocide Denier

On March 12 2002, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia & Herzegovina (comprised of Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) fired Darko Trifunovic from B&H diplomatic services due to his involvement in document forgery.

Only after expulsion from the diplomatic service of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Darko Trifunovic became self proclaimed "expert on terrorism" writing mostly against Bosnia and Herzegovina and labeling anybody who criticized him as "Al Qaeda terrorist."

As an experienced document forgerer and identity thief, he offered his services to defense teams of various indicted Serb war criminals at the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY).

In 2001, he stated for B92 he even had evidence that indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic (who on numerous occasions threatened the total destruction of Bosniak Muslim population of Bosnia-Herzegovina) obeyed Geneva Convention. It would not be surprising to learn that Darko Trifunovic forged and submitted those kinds of documents for defense teams of many indicted Serb war criminals.

Here is an archived press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quote:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the decision on suspension of Darko Trifunović, who has worked at the MFA BiH since 2 April 2001, performing diplomatic function - the First Secretary at BiH Mission to UN. In accordance with the rules of service, Trifunović will be deprived from BiH diplomatic passport and he will be unable to obtain a travel document for his return to BiH, since it is about the man who falsified BiH

citizenship.

Following the conclusion of BiH Council of Ministers to review citizenship of all employees in state service bodies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH asked from the Ministry of Civil

Affairs and Communications of BiH to review the way in which Trifunović gained BiH citizenship in 1996.

By the review, it was established that Trifunović cancelled his registration on 27 March 1996 from the register of residence in Belgrade, where he was born, and on the same date he registered in Brčko. According to the fictive residence, he obtained ID card of BiH on the same date.

Since the procedure of the issuance of ID card was illegal, Police Service in Brčko District cancelled residence and BiH ID card, Decision dated 25 February 2002.

On the basis of these facts, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Communications of BiH, in accordance with legal procedure deprived Trifunović from BiH citizenship. Results of several months' investigation as well as documentation that prove the conclusions will be submitted to the competent prosecutor's office that will adopt decision on possible criminal charge and judicial prosecution against Darko Trifunović.

After a multi-ethnic and multi-religious group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish journalists from Bosnjaci.net Magazine criticized Darko Trifunovic for Srebrenica Genocide denial, he sent them threatening messages and labeled them as terrorists. For Srebrenica genocide victims, he stated: "I wish Mladic killed them all." Soon after, Bosnjaci.net was brought down due to hack attack (known as Denial of Service attack) from sympathizers of Darko Trifunovic's extremist ideology. Darko Trifunovic blamed Muslim, Christian and Jewish reporters for fabricating E-mail against him, however, as influential Srebrenica Genocide Blog reported, quote:

Contrary to Darko Trifunovic's claims published at "Serbian Unity Congress" website in which he alleges that information against him was "fabricated," the fact of the matter is that he was the author of an E-mail in which he stated: "I wish Mladic killed them all." We got in touch with contributing authors Haris Djapic and Alan Jusufovic and asked them to provide "Full Header" copy of Darko Trifunovic's E-mail. Then we compared IP# of that E-mail with IP# of several other E-mails in which Darko Trifunovic threatened to the New York based magazine. The IP# was the same. Due to confidentiality reasons, we will not release IP#; however, we have forwarded this information to Bosnjaci.net and requested inclusion of this information into FBI investigation of recent threatening E-mails coming from Darko Trifunovic (his E-mail is publicly listed at the Serbian Unity Congress web site).

The public should exercise caution in dealing with Darko Trifunovic, his extremist supporters and his published writings. Darko Trifunovic has been discredited by respected journalistic agencies in the past. According to the "Freedom of Speech in South East Europe:

Media Independence and Self-Regulation" (ISBN 978-954-9396-05-8) published by the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media, quote:

An exemplary manipulation article can also be found on p. 2 on March 9 entitled ‘Abuse of religion and faith’ by D. Majstorovic. It reports that Darko Trifunovic, portrayed as “leading Serb expert for international terrorism” from the Belgrade Security Faculty, in one of his recent “lectures beforemembers of the US Congress” stated that radical Islamists from all over the world, who have been assigned in all almost all European states upon order of the terrorist network Al Q’Aida, abuse religious facilities and use them for spreading their fundamentalist-like ideas.

Reportedly, Trifunovic also “warned that Kosovo and Metohija and BiH are unfortunately brimming with persons likeTalovic (Sulejman, 19-year old from BiH who killed 5 people at Salt Lake City recently) and Bektasevic (Mirsad, sentenced to 20 years prison term for planning terrorist attacks in BiH), mostly thanks to people from the top authority, who at some point inthe past brought the most brutal terrorists of the present time to these regions. Hereby he refers to “Haris Silajdzic”, aprominent Bosniak politician.
Although attributed to an “expert” thus fulfilling the formal requirements of the Press

Code, these absolutely wild speculations presented as “serious” information are an insult to logic first, Bosniaks second. (Sulejman Talovic was Bosnian American, but his crime was much the same as earlier Columbine crimes, or a subsequent massacre by a Korean American – work of teen angst. Confounding him, a wannabe terrorist Bektasevic, and bringing them in context with a legaland legitimate political representative is a sign of uttermalevolence and lack of elementary ethics).

For more, visit Darko Trifunovic Blog @ http://darko-trifunovic.blogspot.com

A Jacksonian said...

Richard - I do try to use each analysis and analyst sparingly so as to try and build up a larger view of the region. I was not aware of the specifics being brought against Trifunovic, and his analysis is often partisan. In this instance I used him for a bit of social background rather than such things as UK military reports on border smuggling of heroin for that societal context. That view, while possibly slanted, is not out of line with the same given by Interpol in 2000 and other resources since the early 1990's that range across the spectrum of European, US, South American and Middle Eastern news sources and analysts. Just as I examine the works of Dick Morris in context, so I do that with any analyst to see what their context is both from personal and wider analytical sources. So, while I may not (and do not) have much in common with conspiracy theorists, they do uncover interesting events: the events are interesting outside of the context in which they are given.

So a reader can get some context of what I look at I try to give quotes that are representative, informative and allow an individual to see if the source is relatively reliable and giving something backed by other sources. That can often be difficult to do in areas under authoritarian or totalitarian rule (China, say) and yet the activities that are seen, when taken in context, can often be telling.

In this instance I have little doubt that organized crime in Bosnia exists: the amount being trafficked points out to not only a regional drug trade but gives support for localized drug trade. I could, just as easily, used the meth labs in Bosnia, the heroin smuggling, or cocaine interaction from S. America (and increasingly locally and from Africa) to support the overall thesis.

Again, my thanks for the warning, but no single analyst, news source nor individual forms my views. And even disreputable ones can, and often do, give pertinent information... sometimes in spite of the line they are pushing as events are rarely, if ever, driven by one thing.