Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 we looked at what was essentially the rise of the Albanian mafia to become a major player on the world scene. Hostilities between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, a province of Serbia now recognized by the United States and many other countries to be an independent nation, caused the Albanian diaspora to support Albanian "freedom fighters" defending against Serb "aggressions". To be sure, there were many excesses committed by ethnic Serbs in the Balkans during the 1990's, and many of the Albanians fighting against the Serbs were simply defending their people. But, another, more sinister situation had been developing beneath the surface.

We now begin by examining events in the United States.

For decades in the last century, ethnic Sicilian organized crime controlled a criminal empire. By the late 1970's, the people working for them included many ethnic Albanians. Heroin and cocaine was distributed through a network of pizzerias, which also helped launder the money received from sale of the drugs. In the mid-1980's, the Pizza Connection broke: the longest criminal trials in US federal court history began, with 35 defendents named in charges presented in court.

Excerpts from Gaetano Badalamenti and the Pizza Connection from July, 2004, describes the operation:

"Boston, May 2, 2004. Gaetano Badalamenti, once described by federal authorities as the 'boss of bosses' of the Sicilian mafia and ring leader of a billion-dollar drug smuggling operation, has died, a Justice Department spokesman said Friday. He was eighty. Mr. Badalamenti was sentenced in 1987 to 45 years in federal prison for being one of the ring leaders of the so-called Pizza Connection, a $1.65 billion heroin and cocaine operation that used pizzerias as fronts to distribute the drugs from 1975 to 1984. The trial of Mr. Badalamenti and nearly two dozen conspirators took seventeen months." (The Associated Press)


"The nephews of Gaetano Badalamenti operated pizzerias — and distributed heroin — out of small mid-western towns. The Sicilians dominated the heroin trade, while the American mobsters received a cut for allowing the Sicilians to operate in their territory. Manufacturers of cheese, olive oil and tomatoes could also be useful export vehicles for smuggling drugs into the United States. Joe Pistone, an FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno family, quoted one Bonanno member: 'The zips are Sicilians brought into this country to distribute heroin. They set up pizza parlors, where they received and distributed heroin, laundered money. The zips were clannish and secretive... the meanest killers in the business.'" (A. Stille, 1995)

The trials resulted in four convictions in Italy, four convictions in Swizterland and twenty-one convictions in the US.

One Swiss prosecutor involved in the affair was Carla Del Ponte. She was working with Judge Giovanni Falcone; after discovering the link between the heroin trafficking and money laundering operations in Switzerland, Judge Falcone was killed by a bomb. Del Ponte herself was unsuccessfully targeted when a large amount of explosives was discovered under her home in Palermo. Remember her, because her name figures again in our story.

The extensive damage done to such a large criminal empire resulted in some repercussions. From Men of Purpose: The Growth of Albanian Criminal Activity by Gus Xhudo, Spring, 1996:

A not too well known consequence of the Pizza Connection Case, however, was that following the investigation and break-up of the pizzerias in New York many of them were sold to ethnic Albanians who continue to run them as pizzerias. Others have been converted to social clubs and cafes where organised elements meet to discuss operations. This is especially true in the Fordham section of the Bronx in New York (as it is in the Kosovor Albanian cafes in Brussels and Paris).

Back in the Balkans, trouble was brewing. By the early 1990's, the trouble was spreading to Kosovo. Many ethnic Albanian professionals were fired, police presence in Kosovo was increased, and Kosovo's status as an autonomous province was revoked; Kosovar authorities declared independence as the province came to be ruled by martial law directly from Belgrade. The result was active hostilities between Serb-dominated government forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents. As discussed previously in this series, ethnic Albanian organized crime cartels fielded some of the best-equipped forces to fight the Serbs. A dynamic synergy resulted in the Albanian cartels consolidating their military power on the ground in the Balkans, and their political power with the help of the Albanian diaspora in Europe in and North America.

But, why did the United States support the ethnic Albanians? To be sure, plenty of evidence was available indicating that Serb leaders were guilty of atrocious conduct, but the leaders of the Albanian insurgency, as we have seen, were also known to have been linked to extensive criminal activities.

It should be noted that the Albanians are generally Muslim.

Keeping that in mind, let us back up a few years to the Clinton Administration's activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. From Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base, January 16, 1997:

In late 1995, President Bill Clinton dispatched some 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of a NATO-led "implementation force" (IFOR) to ensure that the warring Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian factions complied with provisions of the Dayton peace plan.


Through statements by Administration spokesmen, notably Defense Secretary Perry and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Shalikashvili, the president firmly assured Congress and the American people that U.S. personnel would be out of Bosnia at the end of one year. Predictably, as soon as the November 1996 election was safely behind him, President Clinton announced that approximately 8,500 U.S. troops would be remaining for another 18 months as part of a restructured and scaled down contingent, the "stabilization force" (SFOR), officially established on December 20, 1996.

SFOR begins its mission in Bosnia under a serious cloud both as to the nature of its mission and the dangers it will face.


The Iranian Connection

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission -- and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia -- is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), "played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia."


1. The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments (page 3): In April 1994, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a "green light" for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

2. The Militant Islamic Network (page 5): Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, along with thousands of mujahedin ("holy warriors") from across the Muslim world. Also engaged in the effort were several other Muslim countries (including Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkey) and a number of radical Muslim organizations. For example, the role of one Sudan-based "humanitarian organization," called the Third World Relief Agency, has been well-documented. The Clinton Administration's "hands-on" involvement with the Islamic network's arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

3. The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime (page 8): Underlying the Clinton Administration's misguided green light policy is a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, there is clear evidence that the ruling circle of Izetbegovic's party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has long been guided by the principles of radical Islam. This Islamist orientation is illustrated by profiles of three important officials, including President Izetbegovic himself; the progressive Islamization of the Bosnian army, including creation of native Bosnian mujahedin units; credible claims that major atrocities against civilians in Sarajevo were staged for propaganda purposes by operatives of the Izetbegovic government; and suppression of enemies, both non-Muslim and Muslim.


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])

Bill Clinton was a "de facto partner" of the Iranians and of Osama bin Laden!

Skipping down:

Stepping-Stone to Europe

The intended targets of the mujahedin network in Bosnia are not limited to that country but extend to Western Europe. For example, in August 1995, the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro reported that French security services believe that "Islamic fundamentalists from Algeria have set up a security network across Europe with fighters trained in Afghan guerrilla camps and [in] southern France while some have been tested in Bosnia." [(London) Daily Telegraph, 8/17/95] Also, in April 1996, Belgian security arrested a number of Islamic militants, including two native Bosnians, smuggling weapons to Algerian guerrillas active in France. [Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, 5/9/96 (No. 287)] Finally, also in April 1996, a meeting of radicals aligned with HizbAllah ("Party of God"), a pro-Iran group based in Lebanon, set plans for stepping up attacks on U.S. assets on all continents; among those participating was an Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who "runs the Islamist terrorist operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from a special headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria. His forces are already deployed throughout Bosnia, ready to attack US and other I-FOR (NATO Implementation Force) targets." ["State-Sponsored Terrorism and The Rise of the HizbAllah International," Defense and Foreign Affairs and Strategic Policy, London, 8/31/96] Finally, in December 1996, French and Belgian security arrested several would-be terrorists trained at Iranian-run camps in Bosnia. ["Terrorism: The Bosnian Connection," (Paris) L'Express, 12/26/96]

All the major enemy players in the post-9/11 world had their fingers in the Bosnian pie. But, while the Repubicans warned of the threat to Western Europe, it appears the main goal was to consolidate power somewhere in the Balkans.

And it is worth keeping in mind that the Republicans in the Senate, whose policy committee authored this report, had access to classified briefings and information on these matters. They could not put classified information into their public report, but the classified information to which they had access helped cue their researchers what to look for when selecting background information for the content of the report.

But, in case you don't believe the Senate Republicans from the 1990's, let's check another source. United Nations Arms Embargoes: Their Impact on Arms Flows and Target Behaviour; Case study: Former Yugoslavia, 1991–96, by Mark Bromley, pgs 10-12 (superscripts are footnotes - see original):

Bosnian forces were disadvantaged by the physical location of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was bordered by Croatia and the FRY. To obtain certain key armaments, including most types of heavy weaponry, Bosnian forces were largely dependent on shipments from two sources—via the smuggling network created by the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) or large-scale shipments from Iran.

The TWRA was founded in 1987 in Vienna as a humanitarian agency for Muslims. In 1992 it opened offices in Sarajevo and began to cooperate with the Bosnian Government, quickly becoming the main organizer of arms shipments to Bosnian forces. Between 1992 and 1995 around $350 million was deposited in a Viennese TWRA bank account, of which around half was used to purchase arms for Bosnian forces. Benefactors included Brunei, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.63 The majority of weapons bound for Bosnian forces were sourced from former Soviet and Warsaw Pact states and were transported by air to Slovenia for onward shipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina, via Croatia. During August and September 1992 more than 120 tonnes of weapons were shipped along this route, including rifles, mortars, mines, and ammunition.64 By late 1992 Croatian forces controlling the transport routes began to demand 50 to 70 per cent of the arms shipments that they permitted to transit Croatian territory.65 Following the outbreak of fighting between Bosnian Croat and Bosnian forces in late 1992, arms had to be shipped by more dangerous air routes directly into Bosnia and Herzegovina. The TWRA is also reported to have purchased $15 million of light weapons with the involvement of Turkish and Malaysian peacekeeping troops; it is even claimed that they facilitated the purchase of arms and ammunition in Serbia.66

TWRA activities began to decline in 1994, at which time Iran emerged as the main supplier of arms to Bosnian forces.67 According to media reports, between 1994 and 1996 Iran shipped between $150 and $200 million worth of arms and ammunition into Bosnia and Herzegovina.68 These shipments included large quantities of TNT, C4 plastic explosives along with fuses, 122-mm shell propellant and 120-mm and 130-mm shell cases.69 Following the signing of the Washington Agreement in March 1994, Bosnian and Croat forces began to again cooperate against the Serbs and the supply of weapons improved.70 Plane loads of Iranian arms began arriving at Zagreb airport, for onward shipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina.71 The number of flights ferrying arms and ammunition quickly reached an average of eight per month, with 30 per cent of the arms handed over to Croatia as payment for facilitating the deliveries.72 Iran also played a role in training Bosnian forces, with the CIA estimating that as many as 400 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were dispatched to Bosnia and Herzegovina.73

The role played by the USA in the shipment of arms to Bosnian forces has long been hotly debated. The US ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, is widely credited with playing a key role in forging the Bosnian–Croat Federation, partly as a means of reopening supply routes into Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the signing of the deal, Croatian President Tudjman asked Ambassador Galbraith for the US position on Croatia acting as a conduit for arms shipments. Under instruction from Washington, Galbraith told Tudjman that the USA took no position, thereby signalling US approval.74 The US Government later acknowledged that it had allowed deliveries to Bosnian and Croatian forces to take place, even though it knew that these violated the UN arms embargo.75

More contentious is the allegation that the USA participated directly in the shipping of arms to Bosnia forces. Newspaper reports to this effect began to emerge in 1994,quoting UNPROFOR troops as well as French, British and other European officials.76 The most detailed allegations relate to a series of arms deliveries during February and March 1995 involving C-130 cargo planes flying night-time air drops to Tuzla air base in East Bosnia, the so-called ‘Black flights to Tuzla’. Many eyewitnesses described the drops, with numerous sources claiming they were US arms deliveries, possibly made with the involvement of private US companies. Other sources claimed that the C-130 planes were Turkish but that the deliveries were made with an element of ‘logistical patronage’ by the USA. The US Government has always denied that it was directly engaged in arming Bosnian forces until after the UN arms embargo was lifted. 77

Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran... the list of countries who shipped weapons to the Bosnian Muslims reads like a "who's who" of states that sponsor jihad and terrorism. And then, on top of that, the United States allegedly started supplying arms directly, no longer even needing the charade of looking the other way while somebody else did it.

Like the Kosovo War a few years later, the Bosnian War was a dirty war. The Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims fought; generally, the Croats and Muslims were on the same side against the Serbs, but at time, the Croats fought against the Muslims. Publicly, the allegations of atrocities painted the Serbs - allies of our recent Cold War enemy in Moscow - as the bad guys, but privately, everybody knew the Bosnian Muslims had help from international jihadists, and that these jihadists were committing some of the worst atrocities ever - just like they had when allied with Hitler in World War II.

Why did the Clinton Administration go to such lengths to ensure the Bosnian Muslims and their jihadist allies were painted as the victims and the good guys, and were equipped to come out on top in the war?

The Albanian mafia gained market share in US heroin distribution as a result of the take-down of key elements of the Sicilian mafia. A base for Muslim jihad in the Balkans would result in the Albanian mafia controlling the Balkan Route for heroin trafficking in Europe, as well. This would leave heroin production and trafficking - from the growing of poppies in South Asia, to the transit across Iran into Turkey, to the refining of heroin in Turkey, to the movement through the Balkans and the distribution in Western Europe and North America by the Albanian mafia - all under the control of Islamic organized crime cartels.

Since that time, this is exactly what has happened, except for one further development: heroin is now refined in Afghanistan, rather than having to move the raw material to Turkey for refining.

President Clinton received money into Democrat campaign coffers from the Communist Chinese for letting critical military technology be exported for them, and this helped him win re-election in 1996. Earlier, Clinton was heavily implicated in trafficking of cocaine through Arkansas by clandestine government operations that were funding the Contras in Nicaragua. Why not use his political power to help establish Islamic cartels as the premier heroin-traffickers in the world?

But, what impact does this all have on politics in the US during 2012?

Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment