Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahideen (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest has become an integral part of US foreign policy.
A 1997 Congressional document by the Republican Party Committee (RPC), while intent upon smearing President Bill Clinton, nonetheless sheds light on the Clinton administration’s insidious role in recruiting and training jihadist mercenaries with a view to transforming Bosnia into a “Militant Islamic Base”.
In many regards, Bosnia and Kosovo (1998-1999) were “dress rehearsals” for the destabilization of the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen).
With regard to Syria, the recruitment of jihadists (according to Israeli intelligence sources) was launched prior to 2011 under the auspices of NATO and the Turkish High command in liaison with the Pentagon.
The RCP report reveals how the US administration – under advice from Clinton’s National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake – “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through the so-called “Militant Islamic Network,” of thousands of Mujahideen from the Muslim world:
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.
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… the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization … has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. … 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 Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi émigré believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [Washington Post, 9/22/96] emphasis added
The Republican Party Committee report quoting official documents as well as US media sources confirms unequivocally the complicity of the Clinton Administration with several Islamic fundamentalist organisations including Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.
What was the ultimate purpose of this report?
The Republicans wanted at the time to undermine the Clinton Administration. However, at a time when the entire country had its eyes riveted on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Republicans no doubt chose not to trigger an untimely “Iran-Bosniagate” affair, which might have unduly diverted public attention away from the Lewinsky scandal.
The Republicans wanted to impeach Bill Clinton “for having lied to the American People” regarding his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On the more substantive “foreign policy lies” regarding covert operations involving the recruitment of “Jihadists” in the Balkans, Democrats and Republicans agreed in unison, no doubt pressured by the Pentagon and the CIA not to “spill the beans”. Clinton’s support of “jihadist” terrorist organizations in Bosnia and Kosovo was a continuation of the CIA sponsored recruitment of Mujahideen implemented throughout the 1980s in Afghanistan, under the helm of the CIA.
The “Bosnian pattern” described in the 1997 Congressional RPC report was then replicated in Kosovo. Among the foreign mercenaries fighting in Kosovo (and Macedonia in 2001) were Mujahideen from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union as well as “soldiers of fortune” from several NATO countries including Britain, Holland and Germany.
Confirmed by British military sources, the task of arming and training of the KLA had been entrusted in 1998 to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services MI6, together with “former and serving members of 22 SAS [Britain’s 22nd Special Air Services Regiment], as well as three British and American private security companies”. (The Scotsman, Glasgow, 29 August 1999)
The US DIA approached MI6 to arrange a training programme for the KLA, said a senior British military source. `MI6 then sub-contracted the operation to two British security companies, who in turn approached a number of former members of the (22 SAS) regiment. Lists were then drawn up of weapons and equipment needed by the KLA.’ While these covert operations were continuing, serving members of 22 SAS Regiment, mostly from the unit’s D Squadron, were first deployed in Kosovo before the beginning of the bombing campaign in March. (ibid)
While British SAS Special Forces in bases in Northern Albania were training the KLA, military instructors from Turkey and Afghanistan financed by the “Islamic jihad” were collaborating in training the KLA in guerilla and diversion tactics. (Truth in Media, April 2, 1999)
Bin Laden had visited Albania himself. He was one of several fundamentalist groups that had sent units to fight in Kosovo, … Bin Laden is believed to have established an operation in Albania in 1994 … Albanian sources say Sali Berisha, who was then president, had links with some groups that later proved to be extreme fundamentalists. (Sunday Times, London, 29 November 1998, emphasis added).
Below is the complete text of the RPC congressional document, which confirms that the Clinton administration was collaborating with Al Qaeda. The actions taken by the Clinton administration were intended to create ethnic and factional divisions which eventually were conducive to the fracturing of the Yugoslav Federation.
In retrospect, the Obama Administration’s covert support of the ISIS in Syria and Iraq bears a canny resemblance to the Clinton administration’s support of the Militant Islamic Base in Bosnia and Kosovo. What this suggests is that US intelligence rather than the White House and the State Department determine the main thrust of US foreign policy, which consists in supporting and financing “Jihadist” terrorist organizations with a view to destabilizing sovereign countries.
Michel Chossudovsky, September 13, 2015
Note: the original Congressional document published by the office of Senator Larry Craig (ret) is no longer available
* * *
Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base
Republican Party Committee, US Congress, September 1997
“‘There is no question that the policy of getting arms into Bosnia was of great assistance in allowing the Iranians to dig in and create good relations with the Bosnian government,’ a senior CIA officer told Congress in a classified deposition. ‘And it is a thing we will live to regret because when they blow up some Americans, as they no doubt will before this … thing is over, it will be in part because the Iranians were able to have the time and contacts to establish themselves well in Bosnia.”‘
“Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ [“Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ 500,000, CIA Alleges: Classified Report Says Izetbegovic Has Been ‘Co-Opted,’ Contradicting U.S. Public Assertion of Rift,” Los Angeles Times, 12/31/96. Ellipses in original. Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim president of Bosnia.] “‘If you read President Izetbegovk’s writings, as I have, there is no doubt that he is an Islamic fundamentalist,’ said a senior Western diplomat with long experience in the region. ‘He is a very nice fundamentalist, but he is still a fundamentalist. This has not changed. His goal is to establish a Muslim state in Bosnia, and the Serbs and Croats understand this better than the rest of us.”‘ [“Bosnian Leader Hails Islam at Election Rallies,” New York Times, 9/2/96].
Introduction and Summary
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 warning Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian factions complied with provisions of the Dayton peace plan. [NOTE: This paper assumes the reader is acquainted with the basic facts of the Bosnian war leading to the IFOR deployment. For background, see RPC’s “Clinton Administration Ready to Send U.S. Troops to Bosnia, “9/28/95,” and Legislative Notice No. 60, “Senate to Consider Several Resolutions on Bosnia,” 12/12/95] 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 8,5 00 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. While IFOR had successfully accomplished its basic military task – separating the factions’ armed forces – there has been very little progress toward other stated goals of the Dayton agreement, including political and economic reintegration of Bosnia, return of refugees to their homes, and apprehension and prosecution of accused war criminals. It is far from certain that the cease-fire that has held through the past year will continue for much longer, in light of such unresolved issues as the status of the cities of Brcko (claimed by Muslims but held by the Serbs) and Mostar (divided between nominal Muslim and Croat allies, both of which are currently being armed by the Clinton Administration). Moreover, at a strength approximately one-third that of its predecessor, SFOR may not be in as strong a position to deter attacks by one or another of the Bosnian factions or to avoid attempts to involve it in renewed fighting: “IFOR forces, despite having suffered few casualties, have been vulnerable to attacks from all of the contending sides over the year of the Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [i.e., SFOR] evolves, presumably maintaining a smaller force on the ground, the deterrent effect which has existed may well become less compelling and vulnerabilities of the troops will increase.” [“Military Security in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Present and Future,” Bulletin of the Atlantic Council of the United States, 12/18/96].
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.”
Further, according to the Times, in September 1995 National Security Agency analysts contradicted Clinton Administration claims of declining Iranian influence, insisting instead that “Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel remain active throughout Bosnia.” Likewise, “CIA analysts noted that the Iranian presence was expanding last fall,” with some ostensible cultural and humanitarian activities “known to be fronts” for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s intelligence service, known as VEVAK, the Islamic revolutionary successor to the Shah’s SAVAK. [[LAT, 12/31/96] At a time when there is evidence of increased willingness by pro-Iranian Islamic militants to target American assets abroad – as illustrated by the June 1996 car-bombing at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 American airmen, in which the Iranian government or pro-Iranian terrorist organizations are suspected [“U.S. Focuses Bomb Probe on Iran, Saudi Dissident,” Chicago Tribune, 11/4/96] – it is irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent to which its policies have put American personnel in an increasingly vulnerable position while performing an increasingly questionable mission.
Three Key Issues for Examination
This paper will examine the Clinton policy of giving the green light to Iranian arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims, with serious implications for the safety of U.S. troops deployed there. (In addition, RPC will release a general analysis of the SFOR mission and the Clinton Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations to fund it in the near future.) Specifically, the balance of this paper will examine in detail the three issues summarized below:
The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments (page 3): In April 1995, 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.
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.
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.
The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments
Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia issued reports late last year. (The Senate report, dated November 1996, is unclassified. The House report is classified, with the exception of the final section of conclusions, which was released on October 8, 1996; a declassified version of the full report is expected to be released soon.) The reports, consistent with numerous press accounts, confirm that on April 27, 1994, President Clinton directed Ambassador Galbraith to inform the government of Croatia that he had “no instructions” regarding Croatia’s decision whether or not to permit weapons, primarily from Iran, to be transshipped to Bosnia through Croatia. (The purpose was to facilitate the acquisition of arms by the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo despite the arms embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the U.N. Security Council.) Clinton Administration officials took that course despite their awareness of the source of the weapons and despite the fact that the Croats (who were themselves divided on whether to permit arms deliveries to the Muslims) would take anything short of a U.S. statement that they should not facilitate the flow of Iranian arms to Bosnia as a “green light.”
The green light policy was decided upon and implemented with unusual secrecy, with the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense only informed after the fact. [“U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran,” Los Angeles Times, 7/14/96] Among the key conclusions of the House Subcommittee were the following (taken from the unclassified section released on October 8):
“The President and the American people were poorly served by the Administration officials who rushed the green light decision without due deliberation. full information and an adequate consideration of the consequences.” (page 202).
“The Administration’s efforts to keep even senior US officials from seeing its ‘fingerprints’ on the green light policy led to confusion and disarray within the government.” (page 203)
“The Administration repeatedly deceived the American people about its Iranian green light policy.” (page 204).
Clinton, Lake, and Galbraith Responsible
Who is ultimately accountable for the results of his decision – two Clinton Administration officials bear particular responsibility: Ambassador Galbraith and then-NSC Director Anthony Lake, against both of whom the House of Representatives has referred criminal charges to the Justice Department. Mr. Lake, who personally presented the proposal to Bill Clinton for approval, played a central role in preventing the responsible congressional committees from knowing about the Administration’s fateful decision to acquiesce in radical Islamic Iran’s effort to penetrate the European continent through arms shipments and military cooperation with the Bosnian government.” [“‘In Lake We Trust’? Confirmation Make-Over Exacerbates Senate Concerns About D.C.I.-Desipate’s Candor, Reliability,” Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C., 1/8/97].
His responsibility for the operation is certain to be a major hurdle in his effort to be confirmed as CIA Director: “The fact that Lake was one of the authors of the duplicitous policy in Bosnia, which is very controversial and which has probably helped strengthen the hand of the Iranians, doesn’t play well,” stated Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby. [“Lake to be asked about donation,” Washington Times, 1/2/97].
For his part, Ambassador Galbraith was the key person both in conceiving the policy and in serving as the link between the Clinton Administration and the Croatian government; he also met with Imam Sevko Omerbasic, the top Muslim cleric in Croatia, “who the CIA says was an intermediary for Iran.” [“Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story,” The New Republic, 10/28/96; see also LAT 12/23/96] As the House Subcommittee concluded (page 206): “There is evidence that Ambassador Galbraith may have engaged in activities that could be characterized as unauthorized covert action.” The Senate Committee (pages 19 and 20 of the report) was unable to agree on the specific legal issue of whether Galbraith’s actions constituted a “covert action” within the definition of section 503(e) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. Sec. 413(e)), as amended, defined as “an activity or activities … to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”
The Militant Islamic Network
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 [” … 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 [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] TWA 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.” [on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [WP, 9/22/96]).
The Clinton Administration ‘s “Hands-On ” Help
The extent to which Clinton Administration officials, notably Ambassador Galbraith, knowingly or negligently, cooperated with the efforts of such front organizations is unclear. For example, according to one intelligence account seen by an unnamed U.S. official in the Balkans, “Galbraith ‘talked with representatives of Muslim countries on payment for arms that would be sent to Bosnia,’ … [would be sent to Bosnia,’ … [T]he dollar amount mentioned in the report was $ 500 million-$ 800 million. The U.S. official said he also saw subsequent ‘operational reports’ in 1995 on almost weekly arms shipments of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-armor rockets and TOW missiles.” [TNR, 10/28/96] The United States played a disturbingly “hands-on” role, with, according to the Senate report (page 19), U.S. government personnel twice conducting inspections in Croatia of missiles en route to Bosnia.
“The U.S. decision to send personnel to Croatia to inspect rockets bound for Bosnia is … subject to varying interpretations. It may have been simply a straightforward effort to determine whether chemical weapons were being shipped into Bosnia. It was certainly, at least in part, an opportunity to examine a rocket in which the United States had some interest. But it may also have been designed to ensure that Croatia would not shut down the pipeline.” (page 21).
The account in The New Republic points sharply to the latter explanation: “Enraged at Iran’s apparent attempt to slip super weapons past Croat monitors, the Croatian defense minister nonetheless sent the missiles on to Bosnia ‘just as Peter [i.e., Ambassador Galbraith] told us to do,’ sources familiar with the episode said.” [episode said.” [TNR, 10/28/96] In short, the Clinton Administration’s connection with the various players that made up the arms network seems to have been direct and intimate.
The Mujahedin Threat
In addition to (and working closely with) the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence are members of numerous radical groups known for their anti-Western orientation, along with thousands of volunteer mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Islamic world. From the beginning of the NATO- led deployment, the Clinton Administration has given insufficient weight to military concerns regarding the mujahedin presence in Bosnia as well as the danger they pose to American personnel. Many of the fighters are concentrated in the so-called “green triangle” (the color green symbolizes Islam) centered on the town of Zenica in the American IFOR/SFOR zone but are also found throughout the country.
The Clinton Administration has been willing to accept Sarajevo’s transparently false assurances of the departure of the foreign fighters based on the contention that they have married Bosnian women and have acquired Bosnian citizenship — and thus are no longer “foreign”! or, having left overt military units to join “humanitarian,” “cultural,” or “charitable” organizations, are no longer “fighters.” [See “Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered ‘Threat’ to U.S. Troops,” Washington Post, 11/30/95; “Outsiders Bring Islamic Fervor To the Balkans,” New York Times, 9/23/96; “Islamic Alien Fighters Settle in Bosnia,” Pittsburgh PostGazette, 9/23/96; “Mujahideen rule Bosnian villages: Threaten NATO forces, non-Muslims,” Washington Times, 9/23/96; and Yossef Bodansky, Offensive in the Balkans (November 1995) and Some Call It Peace (August 1996), International Media Corporation, Ltd., London. Bodansky, an analyst with the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, is an internationally recognized authority on Islamic terrorism.] The methods employed to qualify for Bosnian citizenship are themselves problematic: “Islamic militants from Iran and other foreign countries are employing techniques such as forced marriages, kidnappings and the occupation of apartments and houses to remain in Bosnia in violation of the Dayton peace accord and may be a threat to U.S. forces.” [“Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan,” Washington Post, 7/8/96].
The threat presented by the mujahedin to I