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US Made Arms Deals With Balkan Jihad Forces
US accused of weapons deals with jihad forces
By Richard Norton-Taylor in London
April 23 2002
United States intelligence agencies secretly broke a United Nations arms
embargo during the 1991-95 war in Croatia by channelling arms through
Islamic jihad groups that Washington is now hunting across Europe and Asia,
according to evidence from The Netherlands.
The evidence surfaced in the official Dutch report into the 1995 Srebrenica
massacre that led to the fall of the Dutch Government and the resignation
last week of its army chief.
According to the report, the Pentagon formed a secret alliance with Islamic
groups in an Iran-Contra-style operation. US, Turkish and Iranian
intelligence groups worked with the Islamists in what the report calls the
"Croatian pipeline". Arms bought by Iran and Turkey and financed by Saudi
Arabia were flown into Croatia first by Iran Air, and later in a fleet of
C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The report says mujahideen fighters were also flown in, and that the US was
"very closely involved" in the operation, which was designed to help Bosnian
Muslims. British secret services obtained documents proving that Iran also
arranged deliveries of arms directly to Bosnia, it says.
The operation is said to have been promoted by the Pentagon, rather than the
CIA, which was cautious about using Islamic groups as a conduit for arms and
about breaching the embargo. When the CIA tried to place its own agents on
the ground in Bosnia they were threatened by the mujahideen fighters and the
Iranians training them, the report says.
The UN relied on US intelligence to monitor the embargo, a dependence that
would have allowed the US to manipulate it at will.
Last month the US seized a number of Muslims in Bosnia whom it says have
links with the al-Qaeda network. They were arrested in defiance of the
The contents of the section of the Dutch report titled "Intelligence and the
war in Bosnia, 1992-1995" was revealed by Richard Aldrich, professor of
politics at the university of Nottingham and an expert on intelligence
operations. He also said the secret services of Ukraine, Greece and Israel
were arming the Bosnian Serbs.
Israel's secret service, Mossad, was particularly active, concluding a
substantial arms deal with the Bosnian Serbs at Pale in return for the safe
passage of the Jewish population of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, he said.
"Subsequently, the remaining population who could not escape was perplexed
to find that unexploded mortar bombs landing in Sarajevo sometimes had
markings in Hebrew," Professor Aldrich said.
The UN and the Dutch Government had distanced themselves from the secret
services, thus depriving them of a crucial tool during the peacekeeping
operations in Bosnia. Professor Aldrich said the UN and the Dutch had "an
allergic reaction" to intelligence operations.
The affair also raises the increasingly urgent issue of how to monitor
intelligence agencies. "While oversight and accountability is developing on
a national basis, this is not remotely matched for international
co-operation [between the agencies]," Professor Aldrich said.