Washington’s Blog — June 22, 2016
By Michael Springmann, former diplomat in the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service, with postings to Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in Washington, D.C. Springmann was the head of the U.S. consular official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia . The published author of several articles on national security themes, Mr. Springmann is now an attorney in private practice in the Washington, D.C. area.
The following is an excerpt from Springmann’s book, Visas for Al Qaeda, sent to us by the author.
Throughout Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World, we’ve seen how the US government, which increasingly resembles a terrorist organization, worked with extremists, including its then–asset Osama bin Laden, to destabilize and then destroy Serbia. According to John Schindler, professor of strategy at the US Naval War College, the American Department of State and President Clinton sought to bomb the Serbs to help the Muslims, “following the lead of progressive opinion on Bosnia.” Thousands of Arab-Afghans (Saudis, Yemenis, Algerians, Egyptians, Tunisians, Iraqis, Libyans, Jordanians, and others), with extensive combat experience gained fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan on behalf of the Americans, opened a new front in the Balkans. They had weapons procured with help from the US government, as well as money from the Saudis and Americans, including that passed through the al-Farooq mosque in Brooklyn. They had the assistance of the Maktab al-Khidamat (Services Office), set up to recruit, train, and aid fighters for the Afghan war. Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, wanted a repeat of the Afghanistan model in the Balkans, using Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Pakistan to send arms to the combatants. Front companies, secret arms drops, and Clinton’s National Security Council all played a role.
The result was the creation of a larger and more capable cadre of murderers, war criminals, and human rights violators. They enabled the United States to topple a socialist opponent of its policies in Yugoslavia, tap the natural resources of the region, and control the routes from and access to oil and natural gas in Central Asia.
American propaganda that flooded the media about Serbian murderers, war criminals, and human rights violators (but not its own recruits) was particularly effective in gaining support in the United States and abroad.
Like actions against the USSR, the United States trained fighters, supplied arms, and provided financial aid to rebels seeking to overthrow their government. Washington and NATO applied economic sanctions to Yugoslavia, hastening the country’s collapse. The KLA, directly supported and politically empowered by NATO in 1998, had been listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organization supported in part by loans from Islamic individuals, among them allegedly Osama bin Laden.
According to Yossef Bodansky, an Israeli American, “Bin Laden’s ‘Arab-Afghans’ also assumed a dominant role in training the Kosovo Liberation Army.” The former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett once stated: “Many members of the Kosovo Liberation Army were sent for training in terrorist camps in Afghanistan. There is no question of their [Al Qaeda’s] participation in conflicts in the Balkans…” John R. Schindler, professor of strategy at the US Naval War College, asserted that the United States backed Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda members in the Bosnia conflict, 1992–1995.
Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (1994–1996), believed that secret American support for the Afghans was an ideal pattern for sending arms to Bosnia through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Pakistan. The American Ambassador to Croatia, Peter W. Galbraith, contacted leaders in Croatia and Bosnia about supplying them with arms, with the help of Iranian Boeing 747s as transport. President Clinton’s National Security Council oversaw this operation, without informing Congress, not unlike what Ronald Reagan had done during the Iran-Contra operation.
Yet, years later, no one in official Washington acknowledged that it had been US policy to allow al-Qaeda into the Balkans and to provide unofficial American diplomatic and military support. How Osama bin Laden’s boys got to the region “were questions no one in Washington seemed eager to ask or have answered.”
The US Army helped provide fighters to destroy Washington’s “enemies” in the Balkans. Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, (roughly 20 miles from D.C. and headquarters for the United States Army’s Intelligence and Security Command), supplied a list of soldiers who were ending their tours of duty and who would be suitable for recruitment as fighters in the Balkans.
The Americans and their Bosnian operation were linked to the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in that some of the same players appeared in both places. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, alleged mastermind behind those events, had fought in Afghanistan (after studying in the United States) and then went on to the Bosnian war in 1992. In addition, two more of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, both Saudis, had gained combat experience in Bosnia. Still more connections came from Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who supposedly helped Mohammed Atta with planning the attacks. He had served with Bosnian army mujahideen units. Ramzi Binalshibh, friends with Atta and Zammar, had also fought in Bosnia.