Silvia Cattori / Voltairenet.org – 2006-08-31 23:37:54
How the CIA Recruited and Trained the Jihadists — Part 1
Silvia Cattori / Voltairenet.org
In his latest book, How the Jihad Came to Europe, German journalist Jürgen Elsässer unravels the Jihadist thread. Muslim fighters recruited by the CIA to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan were used successively in Yugoslavia and Chechnya, still supported by the CIA, but perhaps sometimes out of its control. Drawing on diverse sources — mainly Yugoslavian, Dutch, and German — he has reconstructed the development of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants at the side of NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovinia. He is interviewed by Silvia Cattori, a Swiss journalist.
Silvia Cattori:Your investigation into the actions of the secret services makes a frightening report. We discover that since the 80’s the United States has invested billions of dollars to finance criminal activities and that by means of the CIA they are directly implicated in the attacks attributed to the Moslems. What is the contribution of your book?
Jurgen Elsässer: It is the only work that establishes the tie between wars in the Balkan of the 90’s and the attack of September 11, 2001. All the large attacks, in New York, in London, in Madrid, would never have taken place without the recruitment by the American and British secret services of these jihadists who have been blamed for the attacks. I bring a new light on the manipulations of the intelligence agencies. Other books than mine have noted the presence of Ossama Ben Laden in the Balkans. But their authors presented the Moslem fighters in the Balkan as enemies of the west. The information that I collected from multiple sources, demonstrate that these jihadists are puppets in the hands of the west and are not, as one pretends, enemies.
Silvia Cattori:In the case of the war in the Balkan, the manipulations of various States are clearly designated in your book. The United States supported Ben Laden whose work was to form the Mujahidines. How can anyone continue to ignore that these attempts that horrify public opinion would never have existed if these «terrorists» had not been driven and financed by the western intelligence services?
Jürgen Elsässer: Yes, indeed, it is the result of facts that one can observe. But one cannot say that the western intervention in ex – Yugoslavia had for objective to prepare attack of September 11. To be precise: these attacks are a consequence of western politics of the 90’s because NATO put these jihadists in place in the Balkans and collaborated with them. The Moslem militants who have been designated the persons responsible for the attacks of September 11 were part of this network.
Silvia Cattori:According to you, what was the interest of the United States and Germany to set the people of the Balkans one against the other?
Jürgen Elsässer: The west had a common interest to destroy Yugoslavia, to dismember it, because, after the end of the soviet bloc, it would have been a model of the intelligent combination of capitalist and socialist elements. But the west wanted to impose the neoliberal model on all countries.
Silvia Cattori:Is not Europe itself imprudently committed to a war manipulated by the neoconservatives?
Jürgen Elsässer: It is difficult to say. I believe that in the 90’s, the politics of the United States was inspired by their victory against Soviets in Afghanistan. It was the model that they wanted to apply in Balkans. If, during those years, the economy of the United States had not fallen into depression, maybe the more realistic politicians, such as Kissinger, could have kept control of American politics. I think that the coincidence between the economic depression and the aggressiveness of the neoconservative school determined what happened.
Silvia Cattori:Do you think that a leader like Blair, for example, once embarked in the neoconservative project, has become a hostage to a certain point?
Jürgen Elsässer: I don’t know the position of Blair enough well. It is easier to see what goes on in the United States. One can see that Bush is the hostage of those around him. And, as he is not very intelligent, he is not able to take decisions and must follow ideas of his entourage. It is clear that his father was against the attack on Iraq in 2003.
Silvia Cattori:Wasn’t the first Gulf war part of a plan aiming to trigger other wars thereafter?
Jürgen Elsässer: No, there was no tie with the war in Iraq in 1991. There were two phases. Until the end of the Clinton period, the politics of the United States were imperialistic, but at the same time, pragmatic. They chased the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They defeated Iraq in 1991. Their war stopped once Kuwait was free. Then they attacked Bosnia and Yugoslavia; but it occurred stage by stage. Everything went out of control after September 11.
Silvia Cattori:The neoconservatives don’t count for anything?
Jürgen Elsässer: The neoconservatives, grouped around Pearl, had written a document one year before September 11, according to which America had need of a catalyzing event similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor. September 11 was this catalyzing event. I believe that people around Pearl wished for the attacks of September 11.
Silvia Cattori:What was the objective pursued by the United States in attacking Serbia? Was it merely about, as is indicated in your book, the US getting itself installed in a strategic region situated on a transit line for the oil and the gas of central Asia? Or did the alliance of the United States with the Moslem fighters directed by Izetbegovic have a second objective: to create a Moslem extremism at the doors of Europe in order to make use of it in the setting of terrorist manipulations? And, if yes, towards what goal?
Jürgen Elsässer: The United States wanted, as did Austria at the end of the 19th century in Bosnia, to create a “European” Islam to weaken the Islamic states in the Middle East, meaning, at that time, the Ottoman empire, and today, Iran and the Arab states. The neoconservatives had other plans again: to construct a clandestine network of “fundamentalist” puppets to do the dirty work against “old” Europe.
Silvia Cattori:The result, a terrifying civil war. How could Europe have participated in the destruction of Yugoslavia, which appeared as an example of the perfectly successful cohabitation between ethnic groups? By making the Serbians the guilty party, didn’t Europe destroy a country that was one of the major constructions of the postwar era? On what legitimacy did Europe base its intervention?
Jürgen Elsässer: First, in the beginning of the 90’s, Germany led the attack based upon the principles of the self-determination of ethnic groups: in other words, Hitler’s old ruse against Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1938/39. Then, the United States took the relay and praised “human rights”, an obvious swindle.
Silvia Cattori:In your investigation Israel is never mentioned. Have you not minimized the importance of pro-Israeli neoconservatives inside the Pentagon, who serve interests of Israel more that those of the United States?
Jürgen Elsässer: There are Israelis who collaborated with the neoconservatives; it is a fact. But I am not sure of the role played by Israel in this business. Sharon was against NATO support for the Albanians of Kosovo. And, in 1998, he expressed his worry over the idea that NATO support the setting up of pro-Islamic elements in the Balkan. I also believe that he was not favorable to this war the following year.
Silvia Cattori:Don’t you see ties between the Israeli secret services and the attacks of September 11, 2001?
Jürgen Elsässer: There are ties, but I didn’t analyze the character of these ties. For example, immediately after September 11, a certain number of Israeli agents were arrested in the United States. They were present in places where the attacks were prepared. There are analysts who say this is proof that Israel was directly implicated in these attacks. But it could also mean something else. It could be that these agents were watching what happened, that they were aware that the American secret services supported these “terrorists” in the preparation of these attacks, but that they kept their knowledge to use it at the appropriate moment, and to be able to use it as blackmail when the moment came: “If you don’t increase your support for Israel, we are going to hand over this information to the media”. There is even a third possibility: that these Israeli spies wanted to warn about the attacks but failed. At the moment, we only know that these types were there and that they were arrested. Supplementary investigations are necessary.
Silvia Cattori:Do these ties put in evidence that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were part of a plan conceived a long time before?
Jürgen Elsässer: I am not certain that a plan had been established for a long time. It could be that people such as Richard Perle improvise a lot and use criminal elements that they put in place but that they don’t permanently control. As, at the time of Kennedy’s murder, it is clear that the CIA was implicated, but one doesn’t know if it had been planned at the top, at Langley [the headquarters of the CIA], or if it was conceived among the most violent Cuban exiles working for the CIA, the headquarters of the CIA limiting themselves to tolerating it.
Silvia Cattori:If tomorrow these characters grouped around Pearl were removed, would that stop the anti-Muslim war strategy of the United States and the manipulations that justify it?
Jürgen Elsässer: It stops when they lose a war.
Silvia Cattori:The war, didn’t they lose it in Iraq?
Jürgen Elsässer: The war will only be lost when they leave the country, as in Vietnam.
Silvia Cattori:These Moslems who, like Mohammed Atta, were just ordinary citizens before being enlisted by the CIA, how could they be driven to such terrifying actions, without knowing that they were being manipulated by intelligence agents of the opposite camp?
Jürgen Elsässer: There are some youth that can be turned into fanatics and manipulated very easily by intelligence services. High-placed characters are not unaware of what happens and know by who they are hired.
Silvia Cattori:Ben Laden, for example, did he know that he served the interests of the United States?
Jürgen Elsässer: I didn’t study his case. I studied the case of Al Zawahiri, Ben Laden’s right arm, who was the chief of operations in the Balkans. In the beginning of the 90’s, he traveled all through the United States with an agent of the US Special Command to collect money for the Jihad; this man knew that he participated in this collection of money as an activity that was supported by the United States.
Silvia Cattori:All of this is very troubling. You bring the proof that that attacks that have occurred since 1996 (attacks in the subway of Paris), would never have been possible if the war in the Balkan had not taken place. And you impute these attacks, that left thousands of victims, to western intelligence services. Has opinion in West therefore been deceived by governments that have embarked on terrorist actions?
Jürgen Elsässer: The terrorist network that the American and British secret services formed during the civil war in Bosnia and later in Kosovo provided a reservoir of militants that we find implicated later in the attacks in New York, Madrid, London.
Silvia Cattori:How did this happen concretely?
Jürgen Elsässer: Once the war was finished in Afghanistan, Osama Ben Laden recruited these jihadist militants. It was his work. It was he that trained them, partially with the support of the CIA, and put them in place in Bosnia. The Americans tolerated the connection between the President Izetbegovic and Ben Laden. Two years later, in 1994, the Americans began to send weapons, in a common clandestine operation with Iran. After the treaty of Dayton, in November 1995, the CIA and the Pentagon recruited best of the jihadists that had fought in Bosnia.
Silvia Cattori:How does it happen that these Moslems got into the hands of services that served ideological interests opposed to theirs?
Jürgen Elsässer: I analyzed testimonies given by some jihadists interrogated by the German judges. They said that after the treaty of Dayton, which stipulated that all foreign ex-fighters had to leave the country, they didn’t have any more money and had nowhere to go. As for those that could remain in Bosnia, because they had been provided with Bosnian passports, they were without work and without money. The day when the recruiters came and rang at their doors and proposed to pay them 3000 dollars a month to serve in the Bosnian army, they didn’t know that they were recruited and paid by emissaries of the CIA to serve the United States.
Silvia Cattori:After, when they were sent to prepare the attacks in London in July 2005, for example, did they not become aware that they were in the hands of western intelligence agents who manipulated them?
Jürgen Elsässer: It is not clear that it was really the young Moslems from the suburbs of London that committed the attacks, as the police claim. There are other indications according to which the bombs were fixed under the trains. It is possible the bombs were attached under the trains without these young men knowing about it. In that case it is not sure that the young Moslems, incriminated by the investigation, committed these attempts.
• Continued in Part 2