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Bin Laden's Terror Networks in Europe (Long but informative)
The Mackenzie Institute ^ | May 26, 2002 | Emerson Vermaat

Posted on 03/17/2003 10:45:39 PM PST by John Lenin

Bin Laden's Terror Networks in Europe

[INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

Editor's Introduction

In her last book Thieves' World, the late Claire Sterling described the failing efforts of the Western democracies in addressing organized crime thusly:

"...sovereign states cannot do anything simply. If they go down to dismal defeat in the war against crime, it will be largely because they are hampered by all the baggage of statehood -- patriotism, politics, accountable governments, human rights, legal strictures, international conventions, bureaucracy, diplomacy -- where the big criminal syndicates have no national allegiences, no laws but their own, no frontiers."

Her words are just as applicable to the Western World today and to the similar threat that confronts it.

The attacks of September 11th killed over 3,000 innocent ordinary people, mostly but certainly not exclusively American, in four connected attacks over a period of three hours. The direct damage in terms of lost lives, businesses, aircraft and buildings is probably around $90 Billion and the indirect economic losses will be many times that.

The Americans lost a similar number of people on December 7th, 1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy pushed the United States into the centre of the Second World War. The psychological impact of these two attacks was similar, but the response was not. The attacks of sixty years ago were undertaken by a clearly identifiable military force, acting under the directions of the Japanese government. When President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress "What kind of people do they think we are?" it was already clear that the US was going to commit itself to war with all the power and fury it could muster.

Things are not so easy with the September 11th attacks. The enemy that killed so many people and caused so much destruction is nowhere near as tanglible as a nation state. Hidden away among a mass of people in the Muslim World the Islamicist Fundamentalists are difficult to detect and -- except in their Afghan sanctuaries -- are almost impossible to attack.

Worse still are the networks of al-Qaeda terrorists working inside the Western World. They are a poisonous threat both to the greater majority of ordinary Muslim immigrants and to the innocent trust extended to these immigrants by the other citizens of the West. Nor is the ability of al-Qaeda to recruit disaffected Westerners a danger to be lightly dismissed.

The global networks of Islamic Fundamentalists are a threat that must be defeated, but without destroying our own freedoms, the 'baggage of statehood' and our sense of community in the process. One of the foundations of security is intelligence; understanding how al-Qaeda and other Fundadamentalists are organized, how they recruit new members and how they operate is vital.

Emerson Vermaat was born in 1947 and studied law at the State University of Leyden, the Netherlands. He is a senior television reporter who specializes in reporting on terrorism, transnational organized crime and war. He has published a number of books and essays on Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism and the globalization of crime.

Emerson Vermaat's exploration of al-Qaeda's networks in Europe is both timely and important on both sides of the Atlantic.

[INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

1. The Killing of Massoud - Preparations Began in Europe

They carried Belgian passports, but "Karim Souzani" and "Kassim Bocouli" were of North African origin. Their French was fluent and they behaved and dressed like westerners. There was nothing suspicious about them. The two "journalists" wanted a TV interview with Ahmed Shah Massoud, the legendary commander of the Afghan resistance in northern Afghanistan, and a former Minister of Defense in the Mujahedeen government. They carried a film camera with them -- not a big television camera but a small one such as a tourist might use. Massoud, a Tadjik who since the days of his courageous resistance to the Soviet occupation was known as "the Lion of Panshir," did not object to the interview. He liked to be in the center of media attention and, so far, few journalists had ventured into the remote area of northern Afghanistan.

One of the two North African "journalists" placed the camera on a table in front of Massoud. A few seconds later, it exploded and instantly killed Masoud's press spokesman Asim Soheil as well as one of the assassins. Commander Massoud died within a few hours. To avoid panic, his death was announced six days later. The other assassin tried to escape but was shot dead by one of Massoud's aides.

It was no coincidence that this happened on the Sunday morning of September 9, two days before the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by suicide terrorists. Those who benefitted most from killing Massoud, a key ally of the United States, were Osama Bin Laden and his Taliban friends. The whole operation had all the hallmarks of Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. As Mastan Mehraboni, the anti-Taliban Afghan charge d'affaires in Paris put it: "Such well planned operations are rare in Afghanistan and in our country there is no tradition of suicide bombings." [ 1 ] Like the attacks in the US, Massoud's assassination was prepared in Europe.

Souzani's and Bocouli's Belgian passports had been stolen in The Hague, Holland, and Strasbourg, France in 1999. In July 2001 they were presented at the Pakistani high commission in London to obtain journalist visas for Pakistan.[ 2 ]

The two fake journalists probably got their passports from an Algerian man in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. [ 3 ] He in turn may have received them from a terrorist cell in Rotterdam led by Jerome Courtailler, a native Frenchman. [ 4 ] Courtailler and his brother David had received training in a Bin Laden camp in Afghanistan. [ 5 ] David was detained for about half a year after French authorities arrested him in 1999. Jerome had been very close to Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Moroccan, while the latter was in London. [ 6 ] Moussaoui was arrested in Minneapolis on 16 August 2001 after a tip by a flying school that a foreign gentleman attended lessons without showing the slightest interest in landing and taking off techniques -- all he wanted to know was how to keep a plane horizontal and to make a turn. The FBI believes that Massaoui was the twentieth hijacker. His timely arrest prevented him from being on board the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania. The four hijackings in America were an al-Qaeda operation.

In London, Massoud's killers had received assistance from an Egyptian dissident by the name of Yasser al-Sirri. This helpful man arranged for their accreditation as journalists working for his "Islamic Observation Center." An accreditation letter with questions for Massoud had previously been drafted in Kabul. It was later signed by al-Sirri in London. [ 7 ] After the fall of the Taliban, two reporters from the Wall Street Journal purchased an al-Qaeda computer for $1,100. They found many interesting documents; one of which was the draft letter for Massoud to be signed later by al-Sirri. Al-Sirri was arrested at the end of October 2001, two months before the al-Qaeda computer from Kabul revealed its secrets. There was already sufficient information on him from other sources. Egypt seeks his extradition but, since he may face the death penalty there, this is unlikely to happen. Al-Sirri has been accused of attempting to assassinate Egyptian prime minister Sedki in 1993. [ 8 ] The British granted the alleged plotter asylum, and this has certainly not been the only case where religious extremists misused their asylum status to support terrorist causes elsewhere.

The physical elimination of Massoud was an ardent wish of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, and particularly of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The Lion of Panshir was their main enemy inside Afghanistan and his military skills were feared long before the Soviets left the country. If Bin Laden was indeed involved, he would have further indebted the Taliban to his cause. Moreover, the Taliban could not expel their "guest" to a country which wanted his arrest. Bin Laden knew well in advance what was to come on or around September 11. [ 9 ] The timing of Massoud's elimination could not have been better.

After the fall of the Taliban, al-Qaeda took revenge against the Wall Street Journal. Two of the Journal's reporters had revealed secrets from an al-Qaeda computer on how al-Qaeda had planned to kill Massoud. In January, a Pakistani Islamic group linked to al-Qaeda kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was doing research in Pakistan on the connections between "shoebomber" Richard Reid and Pakistani militants. One of Pearl's articles appeared on the same page as the article on the secrets from the al-Qaeda computer. A few days after his abduction, Pearl was killed by his kidnappers. In March 2002, the United States indicted Sheik Ahmed Omar Saeed , the likely mastermind of Pearl's kidnapping as well as a suspected al-Qaeda operative. Saeed was born and educated in London - his parents were well-to-do Pakistani immigrants - and later moved to Pakistan. There he became the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, an extremist movement seeking independence for Kashmir. He received his training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

[INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

2. The Netherlands and Belgium

For more than two decades, continental Europe and Britain have been subjected to a massive flow of immigrants from Islamic countries. In the Netherlands and Belgium the bulk of these migrants initially came from Turkey and Morocco. Contrary to what was initally expected, these male guestworkers decided to stay indefinitely and became real immigrants. Family reunion rights allowed their wives and children to join them later. In the nineties, there was another flow of migrants from Islamic and poor African and Asian countries. This was largely due to the successful activities of migrant traffickers whose sole interest was money. International organized crime played a key role in enabling the new arrivals - real or fake asylum seekers, economic migrants and illegal workers - to cross the badly guarded Schengen borders and enter the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and France.

The Dutch Security Service BVD (Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst) is not opposed to migration or asylum seekers, but it has given a clear warning about the security risks associated with current immigration practices. According to the BVD, migration poses a security risk because terrorists and members of intelligence services of countries like Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan seek to enter Dutch territory under the pretext of political asylum. Then there are those who use Dutch territory to prepare terrorist attacks against their home countries, and there are those who reject Western values and integration into Western society. Thus, they import their homeland conflicts to the new societies to which they migrated, and play a disruptive role instead of settling peacefully.

Belgian and German security services have issued similar warnings. [ 10 ] In a recent report, the BVD noted that the Netherlands enjoys the reputation of having a mild punishment regime as well as a tolerant attitude towards the political and religious views of migrants. This generally relaxed attitude in the Netherlands "appeals to persons whose antecedents are terrorist. In a number of cases it is likely that these persons deliberately selected the Netherlands as a country they wanted to enter -- either illegally or through the asylum channel -- in order to hide themselves here or to use Dutch territory to support the struggle of their organization in their home country. Beforehand and in these circumstances it cannot be ruled out that they will also aim at targets in their host country, that is to say the Netherlands." [ 11 ]

The flow of Afghans and Iraqis to the Netherlands is proportionally high. Among them are a few hundred terrorists and war criminals. [ 12 ] It is standard Dutch policy not to send back Iraqis, Afghans and Algerians to their home countries.

Belgium faces the problem of an increasing number of illegals involved in organized crime and passport forging. [ 13 ] Belgium is a very tolerant country where Islamic radicals enjoy much freedom of movement. Many have received Belgian citizenship, like Tarek Maaroufi whose extradition is sought by Italy where he has been linked to a terrorist cell in Milan. As Maaroufi, previously linked to a terrorist action by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA), has a Belgian passport, Belgium refuses to comply with the request. European Union countries are reluctant to extradite their own citizens. [ 14 ] Maaroufi paid many visits to London. During a visit in 1994 he met the deputy chief of the European network of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Later, he frequently visited the mosque of Abu Qatada, a muslim cleric in London suspected of playing a leading role in al-Qaeda

After 1995, the BVD began to pay closer attention to Islamic extremists. In its annual report over 1996, the BVD noted that the Netherlands had turned into a safe haven for more and more Islamist radicals who were on the run in other European countries. [ 15 ] The Dutch closely cooperate with their partners from the security services of Germany and Belgium. For example, in October 1996, the Netherlands expelled Kamel Nourredine, a member of Algeria's terrorist GIA. Nourredine had taken refuge in nearby Holland after he had participated in a grenade attack on two Belgian policemen. He was also suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack on the Paris metro station Saint Michel in July 1995. [ 16 ] Earlier that year, police in the Dutch port of Rotterdam arrested seven GIA-members. This happened just after the arrest of three extremist Muslims by Belgian police in Brussels. More and more, Dutch and Belgian security services began to see an Afghan link as networks of so-called "Arab Afghans," partly linked to Bin Laden's al-Qaeda, sought to penetrate Muslim communities in both countries. [ 17 ]

Networks and Sympathizers

These Islamic extremists usually operated through mosques, Islamic information centers, Islamic fund raising organizations and so-called Islamic schools. They gave open and covert support to the struggle in Chechnya, and to the struggle in Afghanistan. For example, the website of the Funds Beyond Frontiers Foundation in The Hague called upon Muslims in the Netherlands to support the jihad in Chechnya. They were advised to learn firearms skills at shooting clubs and to join karate clubs. They were also advised to join the Dutch army in order to receive proper training. The same website openly expressed support for "brother Osama Bin Laden." [ 18 ]

A number of Islamic relief funds and Islamic schools in the Netherlands have been linked to extremist causes. The Saudi al-Haramain Foundation is represented in Amsterdam by another foundation called El-Tawheed. The Kenyan branch of al-Haramain has been linked to the terrorist attacks on the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. They also supported the Chechen struggle. [ 19 ] Al-Haramain's director in Riad, Aqeel Abdelaziz al-Aqeel, is a member of the board of the Amsterdam based El-Tawheed Foundation. Another instrument of radical Muslims who support armed Islamic causes is the Saudi-funded al-Muwaffaq Foundation in the southern Dutch city of Breda. [ 20 ] Prominent members of the board are Yassin al-Kadi (Saudi Arabia) and Shafiq Ayadi (Tunisia) both of whom are on the US Department of the Treasury list of "Specially designated nationals and blocked persons." Al-Muwaffaq is seen as a Bin Laden front organization. [ 21 ]

Taliban and Bin Laden followers set up their own networks in the Netherlands. They concentrated on cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. Marwan al-Shehhi, one of the September 11 suicide pilots, visited Amsterdam in April 2001, five months before the September 11th attacks.

The "Shoe-bomber" Richard Reid attempted to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 en route from Paris to Miami on December 22nd, 2001; he failed thanks to a timely intervention by flight attendants and some passengers. Before December 22, Reid paid several visits to Amsterdam. It was here that he purchased his black trainers which an al-Qaeda specialist would pack with plastic explosives before the flight. [ 22 ] Reid "accidently" put his passport into the washing machine of his Amsterdam Hotel to remove a Pakistani visa sticker. American judicial authorities see Reid as an al-Qaeda operative who was trained in Afghanistan. The British Consulate in Amsterdam gave him a new passport. In December, Reid again claimed that he "lost" his passport, and the British Embassy in Brussels readily supplied him with a new one with no questions asked.

For a man without an official salary, Reid's travels were extensive. Before he boarded the plane for Miami in Paris, Reid had been to Holland, Belgium, France, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the files of a recovered al-Qaeda computer, two reporters from the Wall Street Journal made a startling discovery: Reid's travel routes and experiences matched those of an al-Qaeda scout code-named Abdul Ra'uff. It is believed that Reid and Ra'uff are the same person. [ 23 ]

Among al-Qaeda operatives the asylum channel is very popular, as are forged passports of Britain and the Schengen countries. According to unconfirmed reports, even Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian co-founder of al-Qaeda, spent some time in Holland in 1998. He presumably possessed a forged Dutch passport. [ 24 ]

About one thousand Taliban sympathizers are estimated to be in the Netherlands. Some of them are members of schoolboards of Islamic Schools. [ 25 ] According to the BVD the Taliban drew up a blacklist of 106 Afghan refugees living abroad whom they wanted to trace, possibly with a view to eliminating them. At least one of the Afghans on the Taliban blacklist was living in Holland. He received special protection. [ 26 ]

The reaction of the Dutch Muslim community to the September 11 attacks was varied. In the cities of Rotterdam and Ede groups of Moroccan youths applauded to what the terrorists had done and carried Bin Laden posters. [ 27 ] A few days after the attacks the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (NMO) showed the following text from the Koran on TV: "The Unbelievers will burn in Hell." [ 28 ] The NMO Board later apologized saying "a mistake" had been made.

Public opinion polls showed that the majority of Dutch Muslims condemned the attacks. However, a substantial number of Muslims (close to 50 percent) showed understanding for the motives of the terrorists. 8 to 10 percent even approved of their actions. 11 percent of the Muslims in Holland supported a jihad against America, 72 percent of them were against it. Muslims of Moroccan origin showed much more support for the jihad: 21 percent. A quarter (26 percent) approved of the attacks. [ 29 ] In a secret conversation recorded on video and later confiscated and released by the Americans, Bin Laden specially selected the Netherlands as a country where reactions to the September 11 attacks had been quite favorable. "At one of the centers (in Holland), the number of people who accepted Islam during the days that followed the operations were more than the people who accepted Islam in the last eleven years," he said. [ 30 ] Islamic leaders in the Netherlands immediately pointed out that Bin Laden was exaggerating.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the September 11 attacks led to a process of radicalization, especially among young Dutch Moroccans. Some Moroccan youths in Amsterdam displayed strong anti-Jewish sentiments and even mocked at Jews and rabbis visiting synagogues.

Others take a deep interest in the jihad in Palestine, Chechnya, and Kashmir. They are now openly advocating martyrdom on websites and are easy targets for recruitments by extremists visiting local mosques.

Ahmed el Bakiouli and Khalil el Hassnaoui, two young Moroccan men from the Dutch city of Eindhoven went to Kashmir in December 2001. Early in the morning of January 13, Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) shot them dead. The BSF claimed that the two Dutch Moroccans attacked them first with knives. Sympathizers and friends of the two pointed out on websites that they died as "courageous Mujahedeen." They claimed that the two initially planned to go to Afghanistan. When they failed to cross the Afghan border they decided to go to Kashmir. [ 31 ]

Before he left the Netherlands, Ahmed el Bakiouli chatted on a popular Moroccan website about "Allah's revenge for those who refuse to go to Afghanistan to support their brothers." [ 32 ] Ahmed and Khalil regularly prayed in a local mosque with a "fundamentalist" reputation. Ahmed's father had previously been involved in the al-Waqf al-Islami Foundation, which was also based in Eindhoven. The Dutch BVD links this foundation to extremist Islamicist causes. [ 33 ] Yet Ahmed's and Khalil's parents were unaware of their sons' trip to Kashmir and reported them missing. There is no evidence that the two young Moroccans were linked to al-Qaeda.

In April 2002, Dutch police arrested ten Algerians suspected of belonging to a network affiliated with al-Qaeda. Five were later released. One of the arrested men came from Eindhoven. Dutch judicial authorities claim that they played a logistical role, providing passports and money and safehouses.

Two Terrorist Cells in Brussels and Rotterdam

On 13 September 2001, Dutch and Belgian police simultaneously arrested members of two Islamic terrorist cells in Rotterdam and Brussels. Weapons, forged passports and other terrorist items were confiscated. The key members of the Brussels cell were Abdelcrim el Hadouti and Nizar Trabelsi. The cell was preparing an attack on the American Embassy in Paris. In Trabelsi's apartment the Brussels police discovered documents containing chemical formulas for making a bomb. The chemicals for the bomb were later found in a snack bar belonging to a relative of one of the suspects. Trabelsi originally came from Tunisia and joined the German football team Fortuna in Dusseldorf in 1988. [ 34 ] A few years later he became an alcoholic and a drug addict. He went to Belgium and then, in 1997, to London. Once there, he came under the influence of the Palestinian born cleric Sheik Omar Abu Omar, also known as Abu Qatada or Abu Umr al-Taqfiri.

Abu Qatada's (al-Taqfiri's) name is among many on the US Treasury Department's list of suspected terrorists. [ 35 ] Jordan seeks his extradition for his alleged involvement in a number of bombings in 1998. The London sheik is known for his utter devotion to the cause of Osama Bin Laden and he is seen as an inspiration to those who wanted to visit training camps in Afghanistan. [ 36 ] His other name, al-Taqfiri, suggests that Abu Qatada is close to a terrorist group called al-Taqfir wal Hijra (Anathema and Exile) which had developed close links with Arab Afghans and al-Qaeda. [ 37 ] Trabelsi himself reportedly also joined this group and later visited training camps in Afghanistan before he returned to Belgium.

The other arrested cell member in Brussels, Abdelcrim el Hadouti, did the organizational work. His brother Fouzi el Hadouti ran the snackbar where the police found the chemicals for making a bomb. A third Hadouti brother managed to escape to Morocco after a previous terrorist incident in which he had been involved. [ 38 ]

In Rotterdam, four persons were arrested on September 13. A native Frenchman called Jerome Courtailler was the leader of the Rotterdam cell. The police found 28 forged passports in his apartment in De Kempenaerstraat. In addition they found video cassettes on the struggle in Chechnya, the attack on the American Embassy in Kenya, on Osama Bin Laden and instructions on how to make a bomb. [ 39 ] The other arrested men were French-Algerian Mohammed Berkous, Saad I., a Dutch citizen born in Eritrea, and an Algerian called Rachid Z., whose stay in the Netherlands was illegal. Due to legal technicalities Rachid had to be released later. He immediately disappeared without a trace. [ 40 ] Saad I., who claimed he had only provided accomodation to fellow Muslims he met in the mosque, was released in January 2002. There were not sufficient grounds for holding him any longer.

Jerome's brother David Courtailler was equally involved in terrorist causes. Like Trabelsi, the two French brothers became addicted to drugs. They, too, went to London in 1997 and found solace in radical Islamist causes. They met Trabelsi and Sheik Abu Qatada. David moved into the Brixton apartment of Zacarias Moussaoui, whose arrest in the Summer of 2001 probably prevented him from being "the twentieth hijacker." David and Jerome were persuaded to go to a Bin Laden camp in Afghanistan. After his return to France early 1999, David was arrested and detained for half a year. French authorities were investigating his possible involvement in the attacks on the American embassies in Kenia and Tanzania in 1998.

To avoid arrest, Jerome Courtailler fled to the Netherlands and settled in Rotterdam where he became the leader of a terrorist cell. His brother David had also been publicly associated with Islamist terrorist causes in France. This was also known to the Dutch BVD when Jerome arrived in Holland and his telephone was tapped. Once he made a crucial call to Nizar Trabelsi in Brussels by satellite telephone to discuss future terrorist operations. Trabelski could then be located through the Global Positioning System. The BVD subsequently informed Belgian State Security, which later spotted Jerome Courtailler and Nizar Trabelsi in a house belonging to two Moroccan criminals. [ 41 ] From that moment on both terrorist cells were closely monitored. Trabelsi was also anything but cautious. Italian investigators claim that Trabelsi discussed attacks on American targets over the phone with members of a terrorist cell in Milan. [ 42 ]

Jerome Courtailler's name surfaces in a number of investigations into the Bin Laden terror network. He was probably the one who gave forged Belgian passports to an Algerian man in the Dutch city of Eindhoven who in turn may have given them to the killers of Massoud. [ 43 ] This man was arrested in December 2001 and later extradited to Belgium. Courtailler also supplied Trabelsi with forged passports. The key project of the Rotterdam cell was the plan to bomb the American Embassy and the US Cultural Center in Paris. This was closely coordinated with French Algerian Djamel Beghal, whose role will be discussed later.

According to French judicial sources, Trabelsi was destined to be the suicide bomber who would enter the embassy with explosives strapped to his body. A van packed with explosives was to be parked near the American Cultural Center. French investigators claim there was a clear link to Bin Laden. Abu Zubaydah, one of Bin Laden's top aides, had given the go-ahead when Beghal was in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in March 2001. Zubaydah had three presents for Beghal which he said came from Bin Laden himself. [ 44 ] The French assume that Beghal was Bin Laden's ringleader in France. [ 45 ]

French judicial authorities and police investigators were not happy with the arrests in Rotterdam and Brussels on September 13. They viewed these as premature and they felt that the Dutch and Belgians had failed to coordinate their actions with French anti-terrorist police who were still looking for more clues. [ 46 ] Friction between France and Holland over how to deal with terrorist cases was not new. The French claim that the Dutch ignored an important request for legal assistance made in 1998. Two terrorists were using Dutch territory to plan attacks in France. They belonged to Taqfir wal Hijra and were closely in touch with North African terrorists and suicide bombers in France. A spokesman for the office of the Public Prosecutor in The Hague lamely claimed that France had not provided additional information, and the French request could therefore not be honored. [ 47 ] The French, however, view the Dutch reaction as bureaucratic bungling. They see the Netherlands as a country especially preferred by Islamist terrorists as it is easy to hide there.

In connection with the murder of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, Belgian police made a number of arrests in November 2001. Houses were also searched and documents, computers and video cassettes were confiscated. Belgian state security believes that the network which previously stole Belgian passports in The Hague and Strasbourg was linked to Osama Bin Laden. The passports were later doctored by al-Qaeda specialists and two of these passports were handed out to the killers of Massoud. The real identity of one these killers was revealed in December 2001: Dahmane Abd al-Sattar, a Tunisian whose stay in Belgium between 1987 and 1999 had been perfectly legal. His enrollment at two Belgian universities was used as a cover to camouflage his activities as leader of a terrorist cell which recruited young Muslims for training camps in Afghanistan. When his residence permit expired in 1999, he was asked to leave Belgium but he stayed as an illegal alien. [ 48 ] [INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

3. France

Many people from Islamic countries have settled in France in the past twenty-five years. Most of them are North Africans from the former French colonies, but there is also a high proportion of Middle Eastern Arabs. Compared to other European countries, French relations with the Islamic world were usually excellent and this contributed to the increasing flow of migrants from these countries. After the mid-1980s, the second generation of migrants began to increasingly assert themselves, especially in cities like Paris, Marseilles and Lyon.

The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Algeria led by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had a profound impact on young Algerian Muslims both in Algeria and France. Many of them began to position themselves against Western values. [ 49 ] After the Algerian military suppressed the election victory of the FIS early 1992, the Islamists resorted to a campaign of terror which prompted the military to adopt a strategy of counter-terror. Many FIS members then fled to France. Radical FIS breakaways such as the GIA were soon active in the country and sought to import their homeland conflict to France through the use of terrorism. A French Airbus on its way from Algiers to Marseilles was hijacked by Algerian terrorists in December 1994. French elite forces stormed the plane in Marseilles and all the hijackers and a number of passengers were killed. Later, it turned out that the hijackers planned to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower. [ 50 ]

Another Algerian terrorist network was the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). Both the GIA and GSPC developed early ties with al-Qaeda. [ 51 ] The Salafist movement had its origins in 19th century Egypt; while not rejecting scientific and technical progress, it advocates a return to the values and principles of the earliest Muslims. [ 52 ] The movement later spread to Saudi Arabia and the Maghreb countries, especially to Algeria, and it played an important role in the Afghan Jihad and Afghan training camps.

A fourth radical Islamist movement in Algeria, Taqfir wal Hijra (Anathema and Exile), also originated in Egypt where it was heavily repressed. It then created a strong base in Algeria and many of its members joined the Afghan Jihad. Taqfir wal Hijra also became an integral part of al-Qaeda. These movements have their own networks in France and other European countries. Operating in highly secret cells, the terrorists are very independent and disciplined. The above mentioned London Sheik Abu Qatada is close to the Taqfirist and Salafist networks. A number of his adepts, including Jerome Courtailler and Nizar Trabelsi, joined Taqfir wal-Hijra.

The al-Qaeda network in France largely consists of first or second generation North African emigrants from working class or middle class families. Like Bin Laden himself, many of them did not show much interest in religion until they were about twenty. Then they met somebody who told them about a radical preacher and a mosque or showed a propaganda video cassette, or they went to England where they found new inspiration. Many of them forged enduring friendships in Afghanistan.

It is not only migrants from North Africa who convert to Islamist beliefs. The cases of Jerome and David Courtailler show that some converts are native French. Another example is Lionel Dumont from Roubaix, a gloomy industrial town in northern France. He converted to Islam at a young age, and then spent his military service with the French army in Somalia where he witnessed the suffering of the local Muslim population. During the war in the former Yugoslavia he went to Bosnia and joined the Taqfir wal Hijra faction of the mujahedeen. After the war he returned to France, where he formed the notorious "Gang of Roubaix" which largely consisted of French North Africans. They staged a number of terrorist attacks. The police tried to arrest him but he escaped to Bosnia where he also staged a number of violent attacks. He was put in prison but escaped in 1999. [ 53 ] His whereabouts are unknown. He may have visited an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

The French security service DST keeps close track of French North Africans who travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan. They repeatedly warned their British counterparts that Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Moroccan living in London, had been to Afghanistan and that he had been associated with terrorism. As early as 1994, French magistrates began to be suspicious of Moussaoui. They traced his name in an address book seized as part of an investigation into the murder of three French consular officials in Algeria. [ 54 ] Much to the dismay of France, Britain ignored all information and warnings about Moussaoui and a number of other suspected terrorists.

They issued a similar warning to the FBI early September 2001 after Moussaoui had been arrested on the strictly formal grounds of an immigration irregularity a few weeks earlier. The French told the FBI that Moussaoui was linked to Bin Laden's al-Qaeda, but nobody took heed at the time. Moussaoui's computer was investigated after September 11, not before. [ 55 ]

The case of Zacarias Moussaoui illustrates how al-Qaeda recruits its terrorists. Zacarias was a second generation Moroccan born in France whose mother, a divorced woman, was not religious at all. As a boy, he was good at school and kind to other people. According to his brother Abd Samad, Zacarias never went to the mosque and was not serious about observing Ramadan either. Then he went to London in 1992 to study for his Master's Decree (which he received in 1995). By that time he had come under the spell of the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada. He also befriended Jerome and David Courtailler, two native French brothers with terrorist connections. He even shared David's apartment in London.

Moussaoui went to Afghanistan several times; he also prayed in the same Brixton mosque as the future "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid (another convert to radical Islam). The British Security Service M15 monitored phone calls between Moussaoui and Reid in late 2000. [ 56 ] The Brixton mosque was moderate in its interpretation of Islam and did not approve of the radicals. Mosque chairman Abdul Haqq Baker informed the police that extremists were targetting mosques and recruiting more and more younger Muslims for the jihad. [ 57 ] Police chose not to get involved with what they considered to be an internal dispute within an ethnic community. This is a standard policy for British police, who are over-sensitive to accusations of bias or "racism".

Zacarias is a totally different man now. Abd Samat Moussaoui did not hear from his brother any more after 1996, and now blames sectarian Islamic clerics for what happened to Zacarias. [ 58 ]

In April 2000, Moussaoui's closest friend, Masood al-Benin, was killed while fighting in Chechnya. He was in London with Moussaoui in the mid-nineties and had travelled with him to Chechnya. At the end of 2000, Moussaoui made another trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. In February 2001 he flew to the US to take flying lessons. He received funds from the same al-Qaeda sources in Germany and the Middle East that paid the other hijackers. He also purchased the same kind of knives that the September 11 hijackers purchased and developed a similar interest in crop dusting. When he was arrested on August 16, police found his two knives as well as fighting gloves, flight manuals for the Boeing 747 Model 400, a flight simulator computer program, and a computer disk containing information related to aerial application of pesticides. Moussaoui denies any involvement in terrorism.

Djamel Beghal and the Paris Embassy plot

An Algerian born Frenchman, Djamel Beghal married a French woman 1990 and became a French national in 1993. One year later, he came under the influence of an Egyptian Islamic teacher belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. [ 59 ] In 1997, he moved with his family to Leicester and London, England, but kept his apartment in Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris. During his absence, his Algerian friend Kamel Daoudi would live in his apartment and visit him in England whenever he wanted. Beghal joined Taqfir wal Hijra and became an ardent follower of Sheik Abu Qatada. Yet, possibly for tactical reasons, Qatada told Beghal to leave the Taqfir movement. It is not clear whether he heeded this advice. [ 60 ] In Leicester he listened to the teachings of a Salafist cleric from Libya. He began to grow a beard and wear traditional dress.

Leicester in the English Midlands is a favorable meeting place for al-Qaeda operatives: they can easily blend in amid this tolerant and multicultural town, as one third of its population consists of visible minorities. In January 2002, police rounded up a secretive network of 17 Algerian extremists. At about the same time, two Algerian asylum-seekers who were living in Leicester, Baghdad Meziane and Brahim Benmerzouga, were formally charged in court with directing and financing al-Qaeda, and with plotting terrorist attacks in Europe. [ 61 ] In general, Britain is a haven of refuge for Islamist terrorists who recruited many local Muslims, especially in London, Leicester and Birmingham. London is sometimes referred to as "Londonistan". Al-Qaeda uses London based Arab newspapers like al-Hayat and al-Quds al-Arabi (which are not part of the al-Qaeda network) to send messages to Muslims in Britain and elsewhere. For example, an editor of al-Quds al-Arabi claimed on 27 March 2002 that his paper had received an e-mail which most likely came from Osama Bin Laden himself. In it, Bin Laden attacked the Saudi peace plan and referred to the September 11 events as "the battle of New York."

Beghal left England in the Autumn of 2000. He first went to Paris and from there to Pakistan. His wife and two children were with him all the time. In November, Beghal showed up in an Afghan training camp supervised by Bin Laden's deputy Abu Zubaydah. In March 2001, Zubaydah ordered him to Kandahar and informed him of Bin Laden's wish that the US Embassy and the US Cultural Center in Paris be blown up. Money for the operation was deposited in a Moroccan bank account. [ 62 ]

On returning to Europe via the United Arab Emirates on 28 July, Beghal was arrested at Dubai Airport while carrying a forged passport. His wife and children were still in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Beghal's subsequent questioning by UAE intelligence officers revealed astonishing information. Initially Beghal refused to cooperate but UAE authorities sent expert Islamic theologians into his cell to persuade him that terrorism was against the Quran. Beghal, it seemed, was not very stable. He told his interrogators about his meeting with Abu Zubaydah and the Paris Embassy plot; mentioned the names of his accomplices in Holland, Belgium, France and Spain; and stated that former soccer player Nizar Trabelsi would act as a suicide bomber and enter the Embassy strapped with explosives. Almost simultaneously, a van would explode in front of the American Cultural Center. This information was shared with France. After September 11, most key al-Qaeda members linked to the plot were arrested. [ 63 ]

The French badly wanted Beghal, and considered him the ring leader of a wider network. He was extradited to France on September 30. Initially he told Investigating Judge Jean-Louis Brugière the same story but later, aware of his rights under Western legal systems, he partially recanted his confessions. He and his lawyer maintained that the statements in Dubai were made under physical and psychological pressure. [ 64 ]

After the arrest of Beghal's accomplices in Rotterdam and Brussels, the French were forced to move against the terrorist cell in their own country. It still took them more than a week before the DST arrested seven suspected Islamist terrorists in the Paris area. The DST had preferred to wait to investigate further leads.

Beghal's deputy Kamel Daoudi managed to escape to Leicester, England, until the British returned him to France at the end of September. Daoudi, a typical second generation immigrant of North African origin, had also joined the Abu Qatada fan club after which he felt a suden urge to go to Afghanistan. While Beghal was the ring leader, Daoudi was the logistics man and an internet enthusiast. He kept the members of the different al-Qaeda cells informed of what they ought to know. Among his special skills was the encryption of e-mail messages. After his arrest in Leicester, police found a book of Daoudi's codes and encrypted messages that may have been used to prepare the September 11 attacks. Seemingly innocent messages may have contained "trigger" phrases that helped coordinate the attacks. The terrorists may have received their final instructions for the plot hidden in e-mail messages or pictures placed on the net. While in a motel in Florida Mohammed Atta demanded 24-hour internet access. When staff could not comply with his request Atta left in a very angry mood. [ 65 ]

[INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans

The closeness of Spain and Portugal to North Africa make them important targets for illegal migrants seeking entry into the European Union. Spain accuses the Moroccan police of cooperating with migrant traffickers who pay corrupt officials to turn a blind eye. Spanish authorities now speak of an invasion. [ 66 ] Moroccan criminal networks in Spain are involved in money-laundering, and trafficking in drugs and human beings.

Increasingly, Spain faces the problem of young North African and Arab immigrants using its territory as a meeting place for staging terrorist attacks elsewhere. Spain is considered a safe haven for terrorists where the risks of police interference are minimal. Spanish police estimate that about two hundred Islamic extremists with ties to eighteen terrorist groups entered Spain in 2000. [ 67 ] While French security and intelligence services have gathered detailed information on Islamist terrorist networks for more than two decades, the Spanish services are still poorly equipped to face a problem that is relatively new to them. For years, their focus has been on the homegrown terrorism of the Basque separatist movement ETA.

Spanish authorities now fear that the Islamist and Basque radicals have formed an alliance of sorts. Some ETA terrorists visited the same Middle Eastern training camps as a number of Islamic extremists. Representatives from ETA and Osama Bin Laden reportedly met in Brussels, but there were frictions after the Islamic fundamentalists refused to continue the meeting in the presence of a Basque woman who preferred to stay. Spanish sources claim that Mohammed Atta, the suicide pilot from Hamburg who was the first to fly into the World Trade Center in New York, also tried to forge links between al-Qaeda and ETA terrorists. [ 68 ] Just before Christmas 1999, ETA planned an attack on the Picasso Tower in Madrid. The American architect of the Picasso Tower was Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan; but it is not clear whether ETA got the idea from Muslim extremists. [ 69 ] What is known is that al-Qaeda cells in Europe, the United States and Canada planned terrorist attacks around Christmas 1999 and the subsequent Millennium celebrations.

Atta in Spain

Atta paid at least two visits to Spain. The first was on July 8, 2001 when he went to Madrid to secretly meet members of Islamicist cells. The second visit began later when he flew from Miami to Madrid via Zürich. He rented a car in Madrid and disappeared for a week. Spanish investigators believe he drove to Barcelona under a false name. According to Juan Cotino of the Spanish National Police, no terrorist moves by chance. "In our experience terrorists use postmen to deliver messages personally. I believe Atta came to deliver a message." [ 70 ]

On July 14, Atta was seen in the eastern Spanish town of Tarragona, not far from Barcelona. He unsuccessfully tried to visit an Algerian prisoner with a history of forging documents, but who was jailed after participating in a fight. [ 71 ] On July 16, he went to the nearby beach resort of Salou and spent two nights in two different hotels. He resembled any of thousands of tourists visiting Salou that summer, except for the people he secretly met or wanted to meet. Summer beach resorts like Salou are highly popular among both European and Arab tourists. In addition the eastern Spanish coast abounds with legal and illegal immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. For Islamist terrorists it is quite easy to blend in.

It is not quite clear why Atta drove all the way to Salou and how he knew the Algerian man jailed in Tarragona. According to police investigators, Atta's primary aim was to see some of the men who planned the attack on the US Embassy in Paris. One of them was probably Nizar Trabelsi - who conveniently happened to be in the Spanish village of Cascante, just a three hour drive from Salou. If Atta and Trabelsi did actually meet, a link between the attacks planned in Europe and those planned in the United States would be established. [ 72 ] In December 2001 Trabelsi confessed that it had indeed been his plan to attack the American Embassy in Paris.

Trabelsi, the former Tunisian soccer player, was staying in the house of Algerian national Mohammed Belaziz. Belaziz and five other Salafist Algerians were arrested in different regions of Spain on 25 September 2001. There were suspicions of their involvement in the Paris Embassy plot. [ 73 ]

At about the same time that Atta was in Spain, a Hamburg businessman called Mamoun Darkazanli also happened to be in Spain. Darkazanli is suspected by German and Spanish judicial authorities of links to al-Qaeda. [ 74 ]

On July 18, Atta drove back to the airport of Madrid and returned to the United States to finish the final preparations for the September 11 attacks.

Atta was not the only al-Qaeda terrorist who visited Spain in preparation for a terrorist mission in the United States. Ahmed Ressam, who planned to blow up the Los Angeles International airport, also found it necessary first to go to Alicante and Castellon, two Spanish provinces with a large Algerian migrant colony. Spanish police believe that Ressam met two other Salafist Algerians, namely Boualen Jouni ("Abdallah") and his brother Hocine, both from Valencia, and both arrested later on terrorist charges. [ 75 ]

Al-Qaeda cells rounded up

The arrests of Mohammed Belaziz and his Algerian friends were part of an effort coordinated with other European police forces. The Spanish police found forged passports and sophisticated computer equipment used to produce false documents. Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy stated that the six were involved in producing fake documents to help other Islamic radicals travel undetected, and were financing their activities with bogus credit cards. [ 76 ] They were also interested in obtaining night vision goggles. All of them belonged to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) which is an integral part of al-Qaeda. [ 77 ]

The leader of the six, Mohammed Boualem Khnouni, had arrived in Spain in 1999. He lived in the coastal town of Almeira.

In June 2001 the police in Alicante arrested Algerian fugitive Mohammed Bensakhria, leader of the so-called "Meliani Commando" in Frankfurt. He had sought refuge in Spain after a terrorist plot had been thwarted by the Germans. The Meliani cell was equally part of the al-Qaeda structure and received their training in Afghanistan. [ 78 ] In Spain, Bensakhria posed as a poor immigrant under the alias of Mohammed Ben Aissa. [ 79 ]

More arrests followed in November when Spanish police took eleven suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, mostly Algerians and Tunisians, into custody. Three were released later. This terrorist cell recruited volunteers for training camps in Afghanistan and provided terrorists who were passing through Spain with forged documents and paid for their travels with bogus credit cards. Some of these Islamicist fanatics went to Bosnia, Chechnya and Indonesia.

The leader of the cell was Imaz Eddin Barakat Yarbas, alias Abu Dahdah, an unemployed bricklayer who managed to have plenty of funds. He originally came from Syria, married a Spanish woman and had children with her. On the surface he looked like a responsible family man. Spanish investigators, however, claim that Abu Dahdah was Bin Laden's most important representative in Spain. He had numerous highly suspect contacts in Europe. One was Abu Qatada in London, another was Mamoun Darkazanli, alias Abu Ilyas, also a native Syrian. Abu Dahdah reportedly met Osama Bin Laden on two occasions. He also presumably knew Mohammed Atef, Bin Laden's chief military strategist who was killed in November 2001 in an American air raid. [ 80 ]

According to Spanish press reports, Abu Dahdah paid twenty visits to Britain after 1996 to meet radical Islamicist leaders there. [ 81 ] He also made numerous phone calls to al-Qaeda contacts in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Indonesia. Abu Dahdah's network took a special interest in Indonesia where they set up terrorist training camps.

Abu Dahdah made several monitored phone calls to a mysterious North African man called "Shakur." In one of these (at the end of August 2001), Shakur told Abu Dahdah that he had "cut off all his communications. ... At this moment I am teaching classes. In the classes we are now touching on the subject of aviation, and we have also cut the bird's throat." Shakur then declined to be more specific, indicating that all of this was highly confidential: "My objective is the objective and I don't want to go into details." [ 82 ]

From these cryptic statements, investigative judge Baltasar Garzon deduced that both Shakur and Abu Dabdah may have had foreknowledge of what was to happen on September 11. Judge Garzon further believes that Abu Dahdah was in touch with the suicide commando in the US, and was probably among the select few who knew that four members of it had taken flying lessons in Florida. Cutting the bird's throat may be a reference to killing the proud American eagle by the attacks in New York and Washington.

Police in Germany found a diary belonging to Said Bahaji, a German of Moroccan origin in Hamburg. German judicial authorities suspect that Behaji, who disappeared about one week before September 11, was the logistics officer for the terrorist cell led by Mohammed Atta. Abu Dahdah's telephone number appeared in Bahaji's diary. [ 83 ] Mr. Bahaji's role will be discussed later.

In January 2002, Spanish police arrested two Arabs in Barcelona who were suspected of belonging to Abu Dahdah's terrorist network. [ 84 ] They lived perfectly normal and inconspicuous lives, but police suspect that Atta may have met the two in Barcelona, or that they drove the 30 km or so to Salou where Atta stayed for a few days in July 2001.

Italy: The Milan cell

Like Spain, Italy faces an increasing number of migrants from Islamic countries whose integration into Western culture is often problematic. Due to the proximity of Albania, many ethnic Albanians from Albania and Kosovo have also settled in Italy. A disproportionally high number of them are involved in organized crime, especially migrant trafficking and prostitution. The Italians consider this is a security threat. They are also highly concerned about the rising number of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East, most of whom enter the country illegally. The rich cities of Northern Italy provided a sanctuary to several hundreds of al-Qaeda extremists. Many arrived illegally by boat, then went to safehouses in the university towns of the north, got new documents and then travelled to Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Chechnya or wherever the Jihad demanded their presence. One particular airline transported so many Islamist fighters that it became known to Italian intelligence officers as "Jihad Air." [ 85 ]

The US Treasury Department put the Islamic Cultural Center and the mosque in Milan's Eduardo Jenner Street on its list of organizations suspected of terrorist links. Both the center and the mosque have long been associated with radical Islamicist causes. The mosque came first under suspicion in 1993 after a man calling himself Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center. US investigators reportedly uncovered heavy phone traffic between the Milan mosque and the Jersey City mosque of Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman - who knew of the plot. Italian police claim that Ramzi Yousef had an Italian alias and used the Milan mosque as a logistics base. [ 86 ]

The mosque and its cultural center became a hiding place for members of the Egyptian Gama'a al Islamiya; whose spiritual leader was Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman. The mosque's Egyptian imam, Anwar Shaaban, also supported this terrorist group. When the police raided the mosque in 1995, Shaaban escaped to Bosnia where bullets made an abrupt end to his jihad against the infidels. [ 87 ] Radical elements from Tunisia and Algeria began to play a dominant role in the mosque after Shaaban's violent death.

Tunisian citizen Essid Sami Ben Khemais entered Italy in 1994 as an illegal migrant. He had no radical Islamicist background. In 1997, someone took him to Milan's Jennerstreet mosque where he was probably recruited into al-Qaeda. He went to an Afghan training camp and returned to Northern Italy in 1998 to set up a local branch of al-Qaeda. He operated from the mosque and from his apartment in Gallarate (Varese Province), half and hour's drive from Milan. His neighbours described him to me as a quiet and inconspicuous man In Gallarate and Milan, Khemais sent a substantial number of recruits to Afghanistan. Using false identity papers they travelled via Switzerland to Pakistan and from there to the city of Khost just across the Afghan border. Khemais created a small office cleaning business as a cover for his manifold activities. The office cleaning business revenues amounted to virtually nothing, the only real business presumably was money-laundering. Huge amounts of money were transferred from a bank account in London to the account of the front company run by the terrorist cell. [ 88 ] According to a BBC report, members of the Milan-Gallarate cell have been in regular contact with al-Qaeda supporters in London, including an Algerian man called Abu Doha, who was indicted for the Los Angeles airport bomb plot. [ 89 ]

Khemais' terrorist ring in Milan and Gallarate (the "Varese network") was highly efficient. The Gallarate apartment was frequently visited by illegal immigrants from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. The Italian police discovered that the apartment "was being used for illegal immigration and the recruitment of people for combat training." [ 90 ] Khemais had a special liking for his Tunisian countrymen, many of whom secretly admired Bin Laden. [ 91 ] His key contact in Belgium was Tarek Maaroufi, a Tunisian enjoying Belgian citizenship.

Milan Prosecutor Dr. Stefano Dambruoso would like to have Maaroufi behind Italian bars along with six other Tunisians and one Iraqi - all of whom he officially connects to terrorist activities in and around Milan. [ 92 ] Belgian authorities refused to extradite Maaroufi to Italy on the formal grounds that Belgium does not extradite its own citizens; but they arrested him on December 19, 2001 in connection with a larger investigation into passport forgery by suspected al-Qaeda terrorists. He may also have been in touch with those who plotted to kill Ahmed Shah Massoud. In May 2002, Dambruoso described Maaroufi to me as a leading figure in al-Qaeda's Tunesian network in Europe..

The Milan cell and a similar cell in Frankfurt were implicated in planning a terrorist attack in Strasbourg. The plan was foiled at the last moment due to arrests of most of the plotters on December 26, 2000. Investigators claim that Maaroufi called Khemais weeks after the arrests and gave him a clear warning: "You need to cover yourself, you know how!" [ 93 ]

The same Maaroufi had visited Ben Khemais in September 2000 when Khemais, using the alias of Umar al-Muhajar was planning attacks on US interests in Italy. On that occasion, too, phones were used and tapped by the police. The police became suspicious of Khemais who obviously had lots of money to spend and travelled rather widely. Initially, the police assumed that Khemais was just another criminal, but after listening in to his phone conversations they realized that he was the leader of a terrorist ring planning real attacks in Europe. The matter was handed over to DIGOS, Italy's anti-terrorist police. They decided to bug his apartment as well. "Operation Al Muhajirun" (Immigrant) had started.

Poison gas

Just before his arrest early April 2001, Khemais went to Spain, presumably for meetings with local al-Qaeda operatives. Meanwhile, Public Prosecutor Dambruoso had a large file on Khemais and his network. This file was largely based on bugged or tapped conversations. Khemais was in frequent touch with Lased ben Heni, a Tunisian carrying a Libyan passport. Like other al-Qaeda operatives Ben Heni received his training in Afghanistan. He lived in southern Germany and supplied the Italian cell with forged documents and was their contact in Germany.

"God loves us because Europe is in our hand," Heni told Khemais in one of their conversations. Khemais added: "Al-Qaeda exists from Algeria to the Philippines. They're everywhere." [ 94 ]

In another conversation bugged in March 2001, Khemais and Heni were discussing a terrorist attack using "an extremely efficient liquid that suffocates people ... It is difficult to transport but we want to transport it in tomato cans which can withstand pressure," Khemais said. "As soon as you open this liquid, it suffocates people."

"You want to try it?" asked Heni. "Where? In France?"

"Yes," replied Khemais. [ 95 ]

The members of the Frankfurt ring arrested in December were also preparing poison gas attacks in France, possibly with Sarin nerve gas. Some of the terrorists in the al-Qaeda network even considered contacting the Russian Mafiya to obtain biological and chemical weapons.

In some of their conversations Khemais and Heni openly referred to al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden who is known among al-Qaeda brothers as 'the Sheik.' "Believe me: The Sheik is not a mere spectator," Heni said in a conversation. "He is brooding on something. And what he is up to is not something small." [ 96 ]

It was only after September 11 that investigators realized that Heni might have had advance knowledge of a major terrorist operation against the United States. While living inconspicuously on social welfare in Munich, Lased ben Heni seemed extremely well informed about what was going on in al-Qaeda's inner circle. He was arrested on 10 October 2001, months after the Frankfurt and Milan cells had been exposed. One and a half months later, he was finally extradited to Italy. The Italians had been rather slow passing their information on their Libyan suspect to their German colleagues.

In February 2002 an Italian court convicted Khemais to a five year prison sentence.

In November 2001 Italian police in Milan arrested another al-Qaeda operative, an Algerian man who had used a satellite telephone to reach a high level al-Qaeda member. Two terrorists could have been arrested later, but one Egyptian managed to escape. [ 97 ]

In February 2002 anti-terrorist police in Rome took nine Moroccans into custody who planned an attack on the American Embassy. They intended to poison the Embassy's drinking water with cyanide and were also involved in a bomb attack near the Interior Ministry. This was most likely an al-Qaeda operation. Those involved belonged to al Qaeda's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GPSC). One of the arrested Moroccans had previously been in touch with the Ben Khemais cell in Milan before it was dismantled.

The Balkans: Bosnia-Hercegovina

After the war broke out in Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1992, Islamic veterans from the Afghan war saw fresh opportunities for a jihad and joined the Muslim government forces. The Iranians also showed an interest. Relations between Sarajevo and Tehran were very good. These Mujahedeen forces were known for their ferocity. Some of them were trained by Bin Laden. By their manners, language, culture and faces they were easy to distinguish from the government forces which sometimes heavily relied on these experienced and hardened fighters. Many of them regarded acts that Westerners consider war crimes as holy duty. The Mujahedeen units around Zenica were especially notorious and operated jointly with the Bosnian Third Army Corps. These Islamic warriors were a source of friction between the Americans and the British on the one hand and Alija Izetbegovic's Bosnian government on the other. The Mujahedeen, among other things, were held responsible for killing a British aid worker in 1994; but President Izetbegovic wanted them to stay. However, these foreign fanatics were also hated by the local Bosnian population; most of whom preferred a more secular lifestyle, did not like growing beards, and would eat pork and drink alcohol. [ 98 ]

At Dayton, the Americans insisted on the complete withdrawal of all Iranian and Mujahedeen forces within thirty days. These forces numbered more than 2000. As Richard Holbrooke, the chief American negotiator at Dayton, pointed out: "We could not tolerate the continued presence of these people in Bosnia, especially since some had ties to groups in the Middle East that had committed terrorist acts against American troops." [ 99 ]

It took a great deal of American pressure before the bulk of the Mujahedeen actually left Bosnia, and some 400 remained, received Bosnian citizenship and continued to cause problems. Many of them were linked to al-Qaeda.

In September 2001, Bosnian authorities arrested an Egyptian and a Jordanian whose names appeared on an Interpol list. One month later, the Bosnian government arrested Bensayah Belkacem, who had phone conversations with Abu Zubaydah, a Bin Laden top aide in charge of coordinating Mujahedeen recruitment from Afghanistan for the Bosnian war. He was also responsible for the training camps. Zubaydah and Belkacem discussed how to obtain passports from different countries. Belkacem himself had presented false documents to the Bosnian police when he applied for Bosnian citizenship. Apart from his Bosnian passport, Belkacem also possessed an Algerian and a Yemeni passport. [ 100 ] Zubaydah had also obtained a Bosnian passport, a very popular item in al-Qaeda circles. In October 2001, five "Bosnian" Algerians were arrested who were planning attacks against American SFOR-troops and the US Embassy in Bosnia. These attacks, no doubt, were part of an al-Qaeda operation.

Belkacem and the other five arrested Algerians were acquitted for lack of evidence by the Bosnian Supreme Court in January 2002. For security reasons, the Americans had failed to produce the tapes of the defendants' monitored telephone conversations (and phone tapping by a foreign power is forbidden by Bosnian Law). Nevertheless, the Bosnian government ignored the ruling and turned the six men over to the Americans who wanted to interrogate them in Guantanamo Bay. There was a large demonstration in Sarajevo to protest the deportation as the six Arabs had some popularity; all had obtained Bosnian citizenship and had participated in the Bosnian war as Mujahedeen. [ 101 ]

Al-Qaeda took an active part in the recruitment of jihad fighters - virtually all Arabs - for the war in Bosnia. Charities controlled by Bin Laden funnelled millions of dollars to the Bosnians. [ 102 ] The networks survived for years after the Bosnian war. The arrests in 2001 were certainly not sufficient in breaking up the local al-Qaeda structure. In March 2002, the US Embassy in Sarajevo was shut down for a few days. There was reason to believe that al-Qaeda was targetting the Embassy again. Even today Bosnia remains an excellent hiding place.

The Balkans: Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia

Bin Laden was looking for causes to fight the infidel in other places, too. Almost simultaneously with the war in Bosnia, the war in Chechnya provided an equally good opportunity. Bin Laden also took an interest in Albania where chaos and anarchy prevailed, making it a paradise for arms traffickers and other unruly elements. Islamicist groups saw Albania as fertile recruiting ground. The war in Kosovo gave them an additional opportunity to win young unemployed Albanians over to their cause. There was no lack of money for the Islamicists. They first provided humanitarian aid and later operated more openly. Al-Qaeda's presence was strongest in the rough Northern part of Albania and they were particularly active in the time of the corrupt Berisha government. Former president Sari Berisha himself came from the North. Bin Laden visited Albania in 1994 as part of a Saudi delegation -- shortly before he was deprived of his Saudi citizenship.

After the 1997 elections, a Albanian new government took over. They discovered a plot by a mainly Egyptian band of terrorists to destroy the American Embassy in Tirana just in time to prevent it. No doubt this was an al-Qaeda operation. [ 103 ]

Albania was also used as springboard to neighboring Kosovo. In April 1999, some 500 Arab Mujahedeen were smuggled into the capital of Tirana. Their mission was to conduct special operations against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. They entered Kosovo from Northern Albania. The whole operation was led by Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. [ 104 ]

Kosovo was later used as a springboard to Macedonia. Al-Qaeda operatives made some recruits among the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) and later among radical Albanians in Macedonia. [ 105 ] They provided training, and possibly money. Some Macedonian UCK members probably went to Afghanistan where they may have met their Chechen colleagues. [ 106 ] In those parts of Macedonia where the Albanian rebels took control in the Spring of 2001, special committees were formed in villages and neighborhoods. At least one of them displayed what can best be described as a green Arab jihad flag on their table. [ 107 ]

Thanks to effective NATO intervention in the region, the influence of al-Qaeda operatives in the Balkans has been undercut. The Muslims of Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia realized that the United States and the West were not their enemies but their most needed friends.

[INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

5. Germany

In the past twenty years, Germany took in a great number of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Among them were Islamic fundamentalists from Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt. They saw German territory as a logistical base and did not always shun violence in Germany itself. Moreover, relatively large numbers of young Muslims began to advocate violence as a solution to political or religious problems. A study conducted by the University of Bielefeld in 1997 showed that about one quarter to one third of young Turkish Muslims in Germany were prepared to use violence in the name of Islam. Their integration into German society had largely failed. [ 108 ]

Things probably have not improved since the September 11 attacks. German Crime Police reported in October 2001 that fundamentalist Imans in many cities were calling for a jihad against the United States. They were also involved in recruiting believers for the war in Afghanistan. [ 109 ]

The number of Algerian extremists in Germany is estimated to be around 400. Most belong to the FIS, the GIA or the GSPC. In June 2001, a GIA extremist got a 14 year prison sentence for firing at policemen who wanted to check his car. [ 110 ] The Iranian secret service killed a Kurdish opposition leader in September 1992 while he and eight of his friends were having dinner in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. Iranian complicity was established at the subsequent "Mykonos Trial." There was sufficient local assistance to execute this action. [ 111 ]

As in Spain, Italy and France, Islamic extremists in Germany are actively engaged in forging identity papers and smuggling members of their networks into the European Union. Germany, however, is also as a springboard to the United States and Canada. Al-Qaeda networks in Germany largely consist of Arab Mujahedeen and so-called "sleepers," most of whom received their training in Afghanistan. [ 112 ] They show a preference for university towns like Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Duisburg and Munich.

The Hamburg ring: Mohammed Atta

Mohammed al-Amir Awad al-Sayed Atta used the name of al-Amir when he wrote a letter to the Hamburg College of Further Education asking to be enrolled as a student of architecture. It was June 1992 and the young Atta was still in the Cairo suburb of Giza. His request was turned down on the grounds that no more students could be admitted.

In Cairo, Atta and his father, a lawyer by profession, succesfully appealed the "discriminatory and racist" decision. Young Atta got his student visa and travelled to Germany. Two months later he left the college to enroll at the more prestigious Technical University in the Hamburg suburb of Harburg. [ 113 ] He became a student of architecture and urban planning. His name in the records was now "Mohammed Atta." It would take him seven years to finish a course of study which normally took five, but Atta travelled a lot, sometimes staying away for extended periods. Some of his travelling was related to his studies. He liked to go to the Syrian town of Aleppo where he met a girl who fancied him. Atta liked her too, but resisted her advances because she was too Western-minded for him and did not always stick to his idea of Islamic rules. [ 114 ] In August 1999, Atta finished his university thesis on "Khareg Bab-en-Nasr: An Endangered Ancient Urban District of Aleppo (Syria); Urban District Development in an Islamic Oriental Town." He received the highest possible mark. [ 115 ] At the last moment Atta added a page quoting a verse from the Quran: "Say, my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds." [ 116 ] "Very prophetic, very prophetic," said Dittmar Machule, his university supervisor in a German television interview. [ 117 ]

Though serious about his religious convictions, Atta perfectly blended into the university community. Those who knew him found him polite and forthcoming, sometimes even a little shy. But the seemingly shy Atta was anything but shy among his closest friends. On the contrary, he dominated them with his decisiveness and outspoken ways. His friend Marwan al-Shehhi, for example, was always in Atta's shadow. Atta was his mentor. Atta was the leader of the Hamburg cell and possibly even of the whole hijacking operation. In December 2001, the US Department of Defense released a confiscated videotape in which Bin Laden was informing his inner circle about the background of the September 11 events. He referred to Mohammed Atta as being "in charge of the group." [ 118 ]

As a leader, Atta could be rude to his friends if he felt it was necessary. He could also be rude to outsiders, especially when things did not happen the way he liked, even more so when the final preparations for his suicidal mission were made. His American flight instructors did not like him. [ 119 ]

At the university Atta was regarded as a brilliant and serious student. How serious he was about his religion was apparent from his founding of "Islam AG," a special room in the university where Muslim students could meet and pray. It was here and in the al-Quds mosque that Atta and other al-Qaeda extremists frequently prayed and discussed their topics.

The seeds of hatred were probably already sown in Egypt when the young Atta felt attracted to Muslim Brotherhood circles. They may have suggested that he enroll at a college or university in Germany where he could be more helpful to the Islamic cause. [ 120 ]

In August 1995, Atta went to Egypt with Ralph Bodenstein, a fellow student. Both had to write a university paper on architecture in Cairo. Bodenstein later told a German television team that he had tough political discussions with Atta while they were in Cairo. These concerned the Palestinians, Iraq and the war in former Yugoslavia. Atta believed in a conspiracy of Christians against the Muslims and Islam. At night he sought the company of radical Muslims. The Egyptian secret service had a tap on his father's telephone, who shared his son's strong anti-Western views. [ 121 ] Atta also went to Istanbul and Mecca.

After 1996 the other university students in Hamburg saw less and less of Atta. Things began to change in his life. In April 1996 he decided to write his Will. The text clearly showed how much Atta was moving to extremist positions. The first thing he stressed was that he wanted "to die as a good Muslim." Was he already thinking about martyrdom? He further stipulated that "pregnant and unclean women" should not be present at his grave. He should be buried only with other good Muslims, his face should be in the direction of Mecca. [ 122 ]

Later in 1996, Atta went to Afghanistan where he probably stayed for more than a year. He may have met al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, top level al-Qaeda members who were also from Egypt. He may even have met Osama Bin Laden. In 1997, Atta spent some time in Egypt where his stay coincided with attacks on foreign tourists by the Egyptian terrorist movement Gama'a al-Islamiya. In September 1997, nine Germans and their Egyptian busdriver were killed in an attack outside the National Museum in Cairo. In November, fifty-eight tourists and four Egyptians were killed in an attack at a pharaonic temple site in Luxor. [ 123 ]

Atta was probably a high level member of Gama'a al-Islamiya, which was led by Bin Laden's deputy al-Zawahiri. In the US-released videotaped conversation Bin Laden said that Atta was "from the Egyptian family," meaning the al-Qaeda Egyptian group. [ 124 ]

When Atta returned to Hamburg in August 1998, his fellow students and university professors noticed a profound change. They knew him as a student who behaved and dressed like western men - except that he avoided women, alcohol and pork. His Professor Dittmar Machule said in an interview: "Atta returned in the course of 1998 as a different man. He had a beard, not the typical Afghan type of beard though but a normal one. There was another big difference: he did not smile anymore. Instead he was very very serious, his eyes were even glowing a little bit." [ 125 ]

Atta now had other things on his mind, although he still managed to finish his final university thesis. His new mentors in Afghanistan were planning something and needed him. Atta's friend and fellow-student Marwan al-Shehhi would be the second suicide pilot and Ziad Jarrah would be the third. In 1999 they already knew that they would go on a special mission in the United States. By the end of 1999 and early 2000, all three of them reported that their passports had been stolen and they applied for new ones. Their old passports presumably contained stamps which would be suspect in the eyes of United States visa issuing authorities. [ 126 ] What would a Hamburg student in architecture be looking for in countries like Pakistan or Afghanistan or possibly Iraq?

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight Number 011 came to an abrupt end after Mohammed Atta piloted the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Atta in Prague

According to initial press reports, Mohammed Atta paid at least two visits to the Czech capital of Prague. It was in this beautiful Central European city that he reportedly met Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Saddam's spy chief in the Czech Republic. Formally Mr. al-Ani was the chief of consular affairs at the Iraqi Embassy. For many years, however, Prague has been very important to Iraqi intelligence operations. During the Cold War Iraq had excellent relations with Czechoslovakia's Communist rulers. Saddam always sent his best spy chief to Prague, a center of weapon sales, military technology transfers and all kinds of murky deals. The routes of Iraqi weapon procurement often passed through Prague.

Top Iraqi spies continued to be stationed in Prague after the Communists were toppled. Mr. Ahmed al-Ani was not a mere secret agent, he was in fact a case officer who served as the intermediary between an agent and the Iraqi intelligence agency controlling that agent. [ 127 ]

Atta's first meeting with Saddam's station chief in Prague reportedly took place on June 2, 2000. Atta arrived from Germany by bus. According to a BBC report Czech counterintelligence photographed the two on the day Atta flew to the United States. [ 128 ] The Iraqi consul was under constant surveillance. It was indeed strange that Atta did not take the shorter route by taking a plane from Germany to the US. Instead, he drove quite a long distance to Prague where he spent one night before rushing to the airport - allegedly having a chat with an Iraqi diplomat somewhere in between. It was also rather strange that Atta supposedly met the Iraqi diplomat on the day he flew to the US to follow a flight training course. Why did Iraq attach so much importance to what Atta was doing? And did the Iraqis know about the secret operations of the Hamburg cell? Were they involved?

Atta had obtained his visa for the Czech Republic in May. According to what the Czech Interior Minister initially stated, Atta had another meeting with Mr. al-Ani in April 2001. A famous U.S. columnist wrote that Atta flew in directly from Florida, discussed whatever he had to discuss with his Iraqi friend and returned to Florida the next day. [ 129 ]

Meanwhile Atta had developed a rather unusual interest for an urban planning graduate from Hamburg. He twice visited an airfield to inquire after crop dusting techniques. It is likely that Atta at this stage wanted to know how these planes could be used to transport lethal sprays of anthrax or some other terrible bioweapon.

Former CIA-director James Woolsey described Atta's visits to Prague as looking "extremely suspicious. ... I doubt very seriously that Mr. Atta was in the lovely city of Prague as a tourist and just happened to chance upon an Iraqi intelligence officer as his tour guide on two occasions. And I doubt that his interest in cropdusting was at that point because he was interested in a second career. He knew he had no second career. These are both extremely suspicious acts on his part." [ 130 ]

Atta was not the only hijacker who supposedly had a meeting with Saddam's most important man in Prague. Khalid al-Midhar reportedly also enjoyed this privilege. On that fatal day of September 11, al-Midhar was aboard the hijacked American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon after Atta's plane hit the WTC's North Tower. [ 131 ]

Soon after his last supposed meeting with Atta, the Czechs expelled al-Ani. They suspected him of planning an attack on the Headquarters of Radio Free Europe (RFE) in Prague. This pro- American radio station was beaming hostile broadcasts to Iraq at the time, and Saddam was determined to stop this. Czech intelligence officers spotted al-Ani in the vicinity of the RFE-building while he was taking pictures of it. This certainly had little to do with his consular duties. The Iraqi consul was loathed by the Czechs for his undiplomatic behavior. He used to intimidate Iraqi dissidents and had a habit of providing Muslim extremists with cash and forged travel documents. [ 132 ]

At the end of April 2002, an unidentified U.S. intelligence official expressed doubts as to whether the meetings between Atta and Saddam's topspy in Prague had ever taken place. He claimed that there was no evidence that Atta left the U.S. at the time of his supposed second meeting with Mr. al-Ani. Czech authorities also began to retract their statements on this matter. Yet, a few questions remain unanswered. Why had the Czechs been so explicit in their previous claims? And why had Atta applied for a Czech visa in May 2000 to travel to the U.S. via Prague instead of taking a more direct route?

The Hamburg ring: Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah

Marwan al-Shehhi, the second suicide pilot from Hamburg, arrived in Germany in April 1996. He came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where his father was a successful businessman. He first went to the Goethe Institute in Bonn to study German. Later he enrolled at Bonn University using the name of Marwan Lekrab. [ 133 ] Neither Bonn or its university appealed to the young Arab student and he had few friends there. So, in 1998 he moved to Hamburg to study electronics at the Technical University where Mohammed Atta was also studying. Atta and al-Shehhi became close friends. They probably met in the same mosque or at the university. Later al-Shehhi moved into Atta's apartment at 54, Marienstrasse.

Al-Shehhi was much younger than Atta and would do anything that Atta would ask him. It may even have been Atta who advised him to go back to Bonn in 1999. Again, al-Shehhi changed his name into Marwan Lekrab. This time he showed a sudden interest in flying. He went to Albatross Air, a flight school in the Bonn suburb of Sankt Augustin, and asked his instructor to fly over chemical plants and the Defense Ministry. At that time Bonn was still the seat of the German government. [ 134 ]

Al-Shehhi's stay in Germany was perfectly legal, as was Atta's. Atta's command of German was much better than al-Shehhi's. Police records showed no irregularities. Neighbors in Hamburg described al-Shehhi as a decent and correct man adhering to the Muslim custom of putting his shoes outside of the front door. [ 135 ] The fact that he and Atta regularly received young Arab visitors who often stayed overnight was not seen as something unusual. Sometimes a neighbor complained about their loud prayers.

Unlike Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi was less interested in study. By the end of 1999 he knew that his stay in Germany would soon end, so why make a serious effort at studying except for the purpose of the mission to come. Flight training and martial arts lessons in America, of course, were essential. Al-Shehhi's personality was very different from Atta's. Flight instructors in Florida described Atta as unpleasant and rude, never smiling while al-Shehhi made a friendly and sympathetic impression on them.

On September 11, 2001 United Airlines Flight Number 175 came to an abrupt end after Marwan al-Shehhi piloted the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Ziad Zamir Jarrah, the third Hamburg suicide pilot, came from Lebanon. His wealthy father was proud of Ziad when he arrived in Germany in April 1996. He first went to Greifswald to study German and met his Turkish girlfriend Aysel there.

The Jarrah family came from the Lebanese village of Al-Marj in the Bekaa Valley. The valley was a notorious stronghold of Hezbollah extremists, but in Al-Marj, the Jarrah family did not have the slightest connection with Muslim extremists. On the contrary, their attitude was remarkably pro-Western. As a boy Ziad was very good at school. His father, a liberal Muslim, sent him to a Christian high school in Beirut, where the family also had a house. [ 136 ] Young Ziad was rather popular with women as he was attractive, friendly and spontaneous.

"When he went to Germany it was his ambition to finish his study and then go back to his family in Lebanon and get married," his uncle said in an interview. And he added: "Ziad was never involved in anything connected to terrorism. No one in his family is religious. His sisters got their university degrees and are leading decent lives." [ 137 ] Ziad's family simply could not imagine that he was part of a terrorist plot aimed at unprecedented destruction in the United States. "My son was a good and friendly boy. He would never have done a thing like that," was all that Ziad's shocked father could say after he learned that the FBI suspected his son of being one of the four suicide pilots. [ 138 ]

While studying in Germany, Ziad received an ample monthly allowance from his father. But he did not like it in Greifswald, so he moved to Aachen where he may have befriended local radical Muslims from the pro-Hamas organization "Aqsa e.V." They collect money for Palestinian suicide bombers and dominated a number of mosques. [ 139 ]

In September 1998, Jarrah moved to Hamburg to enroll at the College of Further Education (Fachhochschule) as a student of aircraft construction (Flugzeugbau) and aeronautics. Although he lived in the house of an older German couple near Hamburg, he often went to Atta's apartment in the Marienstrasse. People who met him described him as "kind, correct and never angry." [ 140 ] In the company of Atta, who had just returned from Afghanistan, Ziad began to change. Sometimes he even wore traditional Arab garb and was no longer as jovial as he used to be. In 1999, he moved to the apartment of his Turkish girlfriend Aysel, a medical student in Bochum who knew nothing about his secret terrorist agenda. She also noticed changes in Ziad's behavior. More and more he demanded that she wear gloves and a veil. He also prayed very often, which she did not like. In November 1999, Aysel reported that Ziad was missing. He returned in January 2000, but he refused to tell her where he had been or what he had done. [ 141 ] It is assumed he was in Afghanistan. In February 2000, he reported his passport missing. In June he travelled to the U.S. to follow a flight training course.

In February 2001, Ziad was present at a family party in Lebanon. Nothing betrayed what was really going on inside of him. He danced like all the others and seemed to have a lot of fun. No wonder his family could not imagine that some day their promising student in Hamburg would be part of a kamikaze mission. His flight instructors in the US noted nothing unusual either. Ziad blended in perfectly with the other students - in accordance with what the al-Qaeda terror handbook prescribed. Ziad's determination to carry out this mission was best illustrated in a farewell letter that he sent to Aysel on the day before the September 11 attacks. The letter, which German authorities intercepted, read like a love letter and was full of sentiments for her. He wrote her that she would not see him again. He was now on a mission from which he would not return alive. [ 142 ]

On September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight Number 093 came to an abrupt end. The doomed plane piloted by Ziad Jarrah crashed near Pittsburgh. The original target had probably been the White House. Some even claim that the hijackers originally planned to crash their plane into a nuclear plant near New York. [ 143 ]

The three suicide pilots from Hamburg: Sleepers or converts?

Were the three suicide pilots Atta, al-Shehhi and Jarrah, deliberately sent to Hamburg by some master planner who knew years ago that some day these "sleepers" would come into action? It is possible but not likely. It is more likely that they radicalized during their stay in Hamburg. It was probably in Germany that they met people who were directly connected to Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. When they first arrived in Germany on their student visas, there were no indications that they were anything but serious students who planned a career in the West or in their home countries. In the course of their stay, their behavior began to change. They became more strict about what they perceived as Islamic rules. All three of them were probably recruited by al-Qaeda after their arrival into Germany. A very important role was played by the al-Quds Mosque in Hamburg where all key members of the terrorist cell regularly came together and listened to anti-Western rhetoric. There may have been an Islamic mentor, though not necessarily from the mosque, who talked them into their final and suicidal mission. This mentor could have been in Hamburg or even in Afghanistan. Maybe there was more than one mentor; we do not know.

Late 1998, and certainly early 1999, the Hamburg cell was fully operative. Its operational center was Atta's apartment in the Marienstrasse. It was a highly secret and conspirational group of insiders, all of whom knew what the future mission was about. The FBI believes Atta and al-Shehhi were in a Bin Laden training camp near Kandahar. [ 144 ] Jarrah had probably been to Afghanistan, too. This would explain why all three of them reported their passports missing after they returned to Germany.

The Hamburg ring: Said Bahaji, Abdullah Binalshibh

German General Prosecutor Kay Nehm believes that Said Bahaji, a German of Moroccan origin who served in the Bundeswehr, and Ramzi Mohammed Abdullah Binalshibh, an asylum seeker from Yemen, started to be involved in the planning of the September 11 attacks as early as 1999. Since they are fugitives now, Kay Nehm issued two arrest warrants. Both of them were close friends of the three Hamburg suicide pilots. They were also frequently seen in the al-Quds Mosque. In the same mosque Said Bahaji sometimes openly aired his views. One of his friends heard him say: "The Jews will burn, and we will dance on their graves." [ 145 ] In November 1998 Binalshibh and Bahaji moved into Atta's new apartment in the Marienstrasse.

Bahaji married in the summer of 1999 and subsequently moved to another address not far from Atta's. Bahaji is believed to have been the logistics man of the Hamburg cell. He saw to it that everyone was accomodated and that rents were duly paid. He also organized American entry visas for the future hijackers. He subscribed to a jihad newsletter distributed by Azzam Publications whose website "Qoqaz" was linked to Bin Laden. [ 146 ]

One week before the September 11 attacks Said Bahaji left Germany for Pakistan. He told his Turkish wife Nese (with whom he had a six month old baby) that he had to finish a special study project in Pakistan. A few days after his arrival there, he travelled to another country, possibly Afghanistan. He had assumed a new identity and was using another passport. His family in Germany does not know his current whereabouts. [ 147 ]

Between May and August 2000, Binalshibh applied four times for a US visa and each time his request was denied. He wanted to take flying lessons at the Florida Flight Training Center (FFTC), the same flying school where Ziad Jarrah took his lessons. [ 148 ] He left Hamburg early in 2001.

Like Bahaji, Binalshihb played a logistical role. According to the US Indictment against Moussaoui, Binalshibh wired money to Marwan al-Shehhi in Florida in June and September 2000. In August 2001, he also wired money to Zacarias Moussaoui in the US -- money which he had previously received from a possible al-Qaeda source in the United Arab Emirates.

The Hamburg ring: Salim, Darkazanli, Essabar and al-Motassadeq

The Sudanese Mamdouh Mahmud Salim (or Saleem) - alias Abu Hajer al-Iraqi - knows Osama Bin Laden quite well. They first met during the Afghan war when Salim operated some sort of guesthouse for Afghan warriors. Salim later went to one of Bin Laden's training camps. [ 149 ] They seemed to like each other for when Bin Laden moved to Sudan, Salim became his financial manager. By then, Bin Laden had created the al-Qaeda network of Arab Afghan veterans. Salim was one of Bin Laden's personal confidants early on. He also sat on the consultation council of al-Qaeda. In addition, he is said to have made efforts to obtain the components of nuclear weapons. [ 150 ] In short, Salim is a key fugure in the network.

Salim denies he was ever in charge of al-Qaeda's finances. Yet he admitted that he was Bin Laden's financial manager in two of his companies based in Sudan, at least until 1994. [ 151 ]

Between March 1995 and October 1997, Salim paid five visits to Germany. His first visit was to Hamburg where he claimed to be "a merchant from Sudan." He further claimed that he had been invited to Hamburg by a local businessman called Mamoun Darkazanli, owner of an import-export firm in electronics. [ 152 ] Darkanzali was born in the Syrian town of Aleppo, the same town suicide pilot Mohammed Atta liked so much. He is married to a German woman and looks like a responsible and happy family man enjoying full German citizenship. Accusing his critics of conducting a witch-hunt against Muslims, he denies all past and present terrorist connections; yet it seems he was rather uncritical in choosing his friends and business partners. [ 153 ]

On 6 March 1995, the Sudanese merchant Mandouh Salim opened a bank account at the Deutsche Bank in Hamburg. He was accompanied by Mamoun Darkazanli, to whom power of attorney was given for Salim's account. Investigators believe the account was used to strengthen the financial structure of Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. [ 154 ] Darkazanli denies this. In fact a judge ruled in his favor when the government sought to prosecute him for money laundering. Darkazanli also denies that one of his aliases is "Abu Ilyaf." He is under investigation again, but was not yet arrested as of April 2002.

Salim was arrested near Munich in 1998 and later extradited to the United States to face trial. The FBI linked him to the US Embassy bombings in Africa earlier that year. Before Salim's arrest, his friend Aldy Attar, an Egyptian born surgeon in the Bavarian town of Neu-Ulm, had him as a house guest. After Salim's arrest, Attar paid his lawyer and visited him in prison. German law enforcement sources claim that Attar knew Mohammed Atta. Soon after the September 11 attacks, Attar travelled to Sudan. [ 155 ]

The Syrian businessman in Hamburg was moving in very suspect circles indeed. He knew Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi quite well. [ 156 ] All of them visited the same mosque. He was also present at the wedding party of Said Bahaji, the logistics manager of the Hamburg cell. And he knew Abu Dahdah, a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist arrested in Spain. [ 157 ] Like Darkazanli, Abu Dahdah is a Syrian who received Spanish citizenship after marrying a local woman. Darkazanli went to Spain in the Summer of 2001 where he may have met Abu Dahdah and other al-Qaeda operatives.

Finally, Darkazanli knew a third important al-Qaeda operative: Wadih El-Hage, a US citizen with a Lebanese background. Mr. El-Hage was the Director of "Anhar Trading," and his businesscard showed two addresses: one in Arlington Texas, the other in Hamburg's fashionable Uhlenhorster Weg Number 34, which happened to be Darkazanli's own address. [ 158 ] This would be perfectly ordinary were it not for the fact that Mr. El-Wage was condemned by a New York court in May 2001 for his role in the bombing of the American Embassies in Kenia and Nairobi (1998) - an operation personally sanctioned by Bin Laden. [ 159 ] Like Salim, Wadih El-Hage was close to Bin Laden early on, serving even as his personal secretary and passing his instructions to others. [ 160 ]

For these reasons, Darkazanli's name appears in the US Treasury Department's list of "specially designated nationals and blocked persons." [ 161 ] In other words, the US government views Mr. Darkazanli as a person who is linked to terrorist causes and whose accounts must therefore be frozen.

Moroccan citizen Zakariya Essabar was the fourth Hamburg student suspected of being involved in the September 11 tragedy. On October 19, 2001 German Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm issued an arrest warrant against Essabar whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Essabar arrived in Germany in February 1997. Eight months later, he enrolled at the College for Further Education in Hamburg. Between September 1999 and September 2001, Essabar lived in Atta's Marienstrasse apartment together with his other Arab friends Marwan al-Shehhi (until the end of May 2000) and Abdullah Binalshibh (until early 2001). In December 2000, Essabar transferred the amount of 1200 German Marks to Benalshibh, possibly his contribution to the apartment's rent. [ 162 ] In September or October he temporarily moved into another student apartment.

Essabar studied medical technology at the same College for Further Education as the suicide pilot Ziad Jarrah. His fellow students found Essabar arrogant and unpleasant, but he was close to Ziad Jarrah. In the Summer of 1998 Essabar and Jarrah had a temporary job in the Volkswagen car factory in Wolfsburg. Essabar was also present at Said Bahaji's wedding party. A picture taken at the time showed Essabar, Jarrah, al-Shehhi and Binanshibh.

Investigators believe that Essabar's involvement in the preparations of the September 11 attacks began in 1999. [ 163 ] In December 2000 and January 2001 Essabar applied for a US visa. His plan was to join Atta and al-Shehhi who were taking a pilot training course in Florida. Essabar was probably also destined for the same suicide mission. However, his visa requests were denied. Essabar left Hamburg in February 2001. He was last seen there in August 2001. Binalshibh also tried to get a US visa, and his request was also denied. Jarrah wanted Binalshibh to join him in flight training in the US. [ 164 ]

Mounir al-Motassadeq is - like Essabar - a Moroccan student living in Hamburg who has been equally linked to the Hamburg plotters. His alleged role in the cell was to provide logistical and financial assistance. He arrived in Germany in 1991/92. In 1995 he enrolled as a student of electronics at the Technical University where Atta was already studying and al-Shehhi would later enroll . He was so close to Atta that he was one of the two witnesses who signed Atta's Will in 1996. [ 165 ] He also joined the group "Islam AG" founded by Atta and located on the university's premises. The terrorists used this room as a safe meeting and recruiting place.

Motassadeq was known as a fanatic Muslim who hated the West, and fellow students did not like him. Yet he found a fellow student from Belorussia who was willing to marry the young Moroccan and become a Muslim herself. She may have shared his anti-Western sentiments. At the time of Mounir's arrest the couple had a one year old baby.

Motassadeq managed al-Shehhi's bank account at the Dresdner Bank. Between May and November 2000, large sums of money flew into this bank account, possibly from al-Qaeda sources. The money was used to pay for al-Shehhi's flying lessons. The same account was used to transfer 2100 German Marks to Mohammed Atta in May 2000. Motassadeq also worked closely with Said Bahaji and Ramzi Binalshibh. Early September 2001 he transferred 5000 German Marks to Binalshibh. [ 166 ]

Duisburg: Mouhamedou Ould Slahi

Hamburg was by not the only major German city where universities welcomed an increasing number of young ambitious Muslim students. Many of them stayed in Germany after graduation, others returned to their home countries. A tiny minority of them turned into committed terrorists. One of them came from Africa.

In Mauritania, Mouhamedou Ould Slahi did not have much of a future. So in 1988 he decided to go to Germany to enroll as a student of electronics at the university of Duisburg in the industrial Ruhr area. Like Atta, he had strong religious convictions early on, but was able to hide them if necessary. Surfing on the internet in his small student dormitory he soon found websites which called for support for the jihad in Chechnya. He ordered videos and enjoyed seeing them. It did not take long for Ould Slahi to be fully committed to the struggle against the infidels. One of the websites was linked to Osama Bin Laden. And there was a nice offer for a free ticket to Afghanistan, so why not go? [ 167 ] What a thrill for a young man like Ould Slahi! It would not be his only visit.

He joined the Mujahedeen in Bosnia and gave money to the Chechen cause. Like Essid Sami Ben Khemais in Milan, he founded a small business in Duisburg which would serve as a cover for his real activities. Big sums of money passed through the account of his import and export firm, much more than could be explained from his business.

Meanwhile, Ould Slahi had become an electrical engineer whose future could have been quite different had he not taken the course of jihad. He also cheated the German welfare system by claiming he was unemployed and received 7500 German Marks, but his officially stated annual income from his company was 40,000 German Marks. This was a matter for the public prosecutor, but Ould Slahi had already left for Canada. [ 168 ] Even al-Qaeda operatives make mistakes like this. Ould Slahi was not the only al Qaeda man on welfare who simultaneously handled huge sums of money. These fundamentalists wrongly assume that western countries are as corrupt as their home countries.

Mouhamedou Ould Slahi married Sina Bint Seif al-Din, a Mauritanean woman who was the sister of Khalid al-Shanqiti - also known as Mahfouz Ould Walid or "Abu Hafs, the Mauritanian." Abu Hafs was a confidant of Osama Bin Laden. He was directly involved in the planning of the attacks on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. [ 169 ] His assets have been ordered frozen by the US goverment. [ 170 ] It was Bin Laden who asked Ould Slahi in 1999 to go to Montreal to meet an Algerian man named Ahmed Ressam and pass on personal instructions from Bin Laden, forged documents and cash. Ressam was ordered to blow up Los Angeles Airport at the end of 1999. The mission failed after American authorities found explosives and detonating devices in Ressam's car as he tried to cross the Canadian-US border. Ressam then talked to the FBI and mentioned Ould Slahi's name (among many others).

Meanwhile, Ould Slahi was wanted in Germany for claiming unemployment money to which he was not entitled. When he returned to Germany he was prosecuted and sentenced in May 2000. He appealed and disappeared to Mauritania where he opened an internet cafe. At the end of September 2001 Mauritanian authorities arrested him, only to release him two weeks later. It was felt that there were not sufficient grounds to hold him any longer, so Bin Laden's man in Duisburg was free again.

Frankfurt: The Meliani Ring

Like Hamburg, Frankfurt is an important operational center for Islamic extremists. It was here that the so-called Meliani commando was active: a terrorist cell linked to al-Qaeda. The cell was largely rounded up when GSG-9, the German antiterrorist police, raided its hiding place in the night of 25 to 26 December 2001. Four men were arrested: two Iraqis, one Algerian and a French Muslim. The suspected leader of the cell, Algerian extremist Mohammed Bensakhria ("Meliani") escaped to Spain where the Spanish police arrested him. He was subsequently extradited to France. Bensakhria and the other cell members received their terrorist training in Afghanistan in 1998/99. [ 171 ] One of them entered Germany as an asylum seeker in 1992, subsequently became a drug dealer who converted to political Islam in 1999. Others were closely linked to a terrorist cell in London which had been their previous operational base. [ 172 ]

The Frankfurt arrests were made just in time. In cooperation with members of the al-Qaeda network in Italy, Britain and France, the Meliani commando was just about to launch terrorist attacks in Strasbourg, France. The main targets were the Cathedral, the Synagogue and the Christmas market. Police found weapons, but also a handwritten instruction booklet on making explosives and lethal toxic substances. The Frankfurt arrests led to arrests in Britain and confirmed the suspicions Italian police harbored against the Milan cell. The Frankfurt, Milan and British cells were planning poison gas attacks in Europe. The most spectacular plan was revealed in the London Sunday Telegraph. The target was the European Parliament, also in Strasbourg. While the parliament was in session in February 2002, terrorists would slip in and kill all those present with sarin nerve gas. The six arrested Algerians belonging to the London cell were linked to Bin Laden. [ 173 ]

Al-Qaeda Cells in the Ghrirba Synagogue Attack

On April 11 2002, a truck transporting natural gas exploded near the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba. Damage to the building was substantial and fifteen people died -- including twelve Germans. It soon turned out that this was a terrorist attack committed by a Tunisian man called Nizar Ben Mohammed Nawar. Shortly before he parked his truck adjacent to the wall of the synagogue (which was also a historic monument and tourist attraction), Nawar made a highly suspicious phone call to a German named Michael Christian 'G'. Nawar asked whether he could procede with his attack: "I only need a blessing, please pray for me."

German investigators believe that G, a native German of Polish origin living in the town of Duisburg, is linked to al-Qaeda. He converted to Islam and visited a training camp in Afghanistan. G. Is also believed to have associated with Mouhamedou Ould Slahi in Duisberg. [ 174 ] After the attack on the synagogue, the London Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi received a statement from a group calling itself the "Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places," a name which is one of the many ways al-Qaeda operatives claim credit for their activities. According to the statement, the Djerba synagogue attack was an act of revenge for "Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people." [ 175 ]

It is now assumed that this attack was partly prepared by al-Qaeda operatives in Europe, especially in Germany. There is also a link to a wider Tunisian terrorist network operating in at least three European nations. Nawar, the Tunisian who carried out the attack, had relatives in the French city of Lyon -- a centre of Islamic radicalism. His relatives, however, expressed surprise when they were informed of Nawar's action. Nawar had also received training in Afghanistan. G. told police interrogators that he had first met Nawar in a mosque in Pakistan, but it is more likely that they know each other from an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. The German Interior Minister Otto Schily made a visit after the attack to confer with Tunisian authorities.

[INTRODUCTION] [1. The Killing of Massoud] [2. The Netherlands & Belgium] [3. France] [4. Spain, Italy and the Balkans] [5. Germany] [6. Concluding Observations] [TOP of PAGE]

6. Concluding observations

The September 11 attacks could have been prevented if American and European security services had been more alert. There were serious security lapses. Essential information was sometimes held back or passed on too late. The German Security Service (BfV) had no idea about the existence of a terrorist cell in the city of Hamburg, and universities were often off limits to government agents. Local officials with politically correct attitudes reasoned that most, if not all, migrants from non-Western societies could only have the best intentions. Spying on them would leave the smell of "discrimination" -- a very sensitive issue in Germany.

Some of the foreign terrorists in Hamburg and other European cities did look like responsible family men or hard studying young students who wanted to make a career in the West. Some married women from their new countries. It was all part of a game to blend in. Others were very strict about their religion, but not in such a way as to arouse suspicion. Yet, European based al-Qaeda terrorists were not perfect - they did make mistakes.

The Atta cell operated more or less on its own and rather cautiously. The Frankfurt cell coordinated its actions with cells elsewhere in Europe and essential information was betrayed by talkative Arabs in telephone conversations, yet Atta and the other suicide pilots managed to keep their mission perfectly secret. Even Atta's trips to Prague and Spain did not arouse suspicion. Before September 11, hardly anyone knew who Atta was. In addition, the Hamburg terrorists had no terrorist record in their home countries, so there was no reason for the Germans to be alarmed when these young men entered Germany on their student visas.

The same applies to many other al-Qaeda terrorists in continental Europe most of whom were in their twenties or thirties. They did not arrive as known terrorists. These young men had often tasted and enjoyed Western decadence before they joined al-Qaeda. They blended into our tolerant multicultural societies, were generally accepted and learned quickly how to exploit our credulity. What is even more alarming is the fact that some of the terrorists had grown up in European societies. They were not street kids or poor migrants, but well educated young men who fell for the call of some radical Islamist preacher inside - not outside - Europe.

There were others who had come to Europe to study at respected universities. They simply wanted a better future, until the fatal moment when they met a radical cleric in a mosque or read some sort of radical pamphlet. Again, it was in Europe, and not in their home countries, that these men (and no women) began to espouse radical Islamist ideas. This should be a matter of great concern.

The terrorists are not always imported. All too often they are a homegrown product of European societies, but their religious instructors often came to Europe intending to sow hatred and conflict. These men were given protection from persecution in their homelands and then turned against the very societies that sheltered them. Some arrived in Europe as asylum-seekers, others were permitted as officially recognized Islamic clerics enjoying all the benefits that other clergy receive. It should be asked whether or not we have tolerated such men for too long in our midst.

The seeds of blind hatred and terrorism that led to the September 11 tragedy were sown in mosques in Germany, France and England. It was in Europe that most of the candidate terrorists were approached by Bin Laden's men, who asked them to go to the Afghan training camps. Some of them came from families which had no sympathy at all for radical political Islam: the cases of Zararias Massaoui, Ziad Jarrah and Richard Reid clearly illustrate this. Family members are still confused over how things could take such a dramatic course - it defies their imagination and they never sent their sons to Europe to become terrorists. There are also more and more dramatic stories of first generation immigrants whose European-born children unexpectedly took part in terrorist operations.

Sometimes al-Qaeda did send its own men to Europe to set up a network. Things in the world of terrorism are not as uniform as we would like. On balance, most terrorists were recruited in European cities where traditional Christian beliefs had given way to secularism and liberal lifestyles. While Christianity is on the decline, Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The vast majority of Europe's Muslims are respectable citizens. They are honest and hard working people. It can only be regretted that the extremists present a picture of Islam that is not true to its nature and tradition.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Free Republic; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: balkans; campaignfinance; europe
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Excellent article.
1 posted on 03/17/2003 10:45:39 PM PST by John Lenin
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To: John Lenin
You might also be interested in these:

International Terrorism - Attack Search and Lists & Databases

The sociology and psychology of terrorism: Who becomes a terrorist and why? (A must read)

The Gathering Biological Warfare Storm - Online book from US Military (TOC w/links)

2 posted on 03/17/2003 10:50:04 PM PST by chance33_98 (God gave man freedom, government took it away)
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To: John Lenin
one more:

Alternative Resources on the U.S.- Iraq Conflict (keep and eye on these ones....)

Thought I would post that one after checking out the bookmarks on your profile ;)

3 posted on 03/17/2003 10:55:22 PM PST by chance33_98 (God gave man freedom, government took it away)
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To: John Lenin
PS - the footnotes did not translate well, they used ../ on the webpage and so it thinks they are linked to fr. Happens to me all the time :) Now I pull the source into notepad and do a search/replace - seems to work well.
4 posted on 03/17/2003 10:57:28 PM PST by chance33_98 (God gave man freedom, government took it away)
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To: John Lenin
read later
5 posted on 03/17/2003 10:58:55 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: chance33_98
I noticed but the article was so long I did not bother to translate them. Best to go to the site if you want to follow the links.
6 posted on 03/17/2003 11:02:23 PM PST by John Lenin
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To: John Lenin
In another conversation bugged in March 2001, Khemais and Heni were discussing a terrorist attack using "an extremely efficient liquid that suffocates people ... It is difficult to transport but we want to transport it in tomato cans which can withstand pressure," Khemais said. "As soon as you open this liquid, it suffocates people." I wonder, the UN Inspector killed in the head-on car crash with an Iraqi truck recently was returning from a 'tomato canning factory' near Baghdad!
7 posted on 03/17/2003 11:04:44 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: John Lenin
This speaks volumes as for the current situation with the Krauters, Frenchies, and Wafflers! They are scared that their liberal and irresponsible policies regarding the security of their nations will be exposed by the extremists in their midst! Someone should have taught these people the concept of chickens coming home to roost!
8 posted on 03/17/2003 11:13:15 PM PST by gr8eman
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To: John Lenin
Bump to read with morning coffee. Looks very intersting, well researched.
9 posted on 03/17/2003 11:45:53 PM PST by PoisedWoman (Fed up with the liberal media)
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To: PoisedWoman
The article is fantastic, you would have to read hundreds of articles to get all the information in this piece.
10 posted on 03/17/2003 11:53:26 PM PST by John Lenin
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To: John Lenin
Bump for great info.
11 posted on 03/18/2003 12:02:55 AM PST by EternalHope (France and Germany are with Sauron. But they are so insignificant he didn't notice.)
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To: John Lenin; kdf1; AMERIKA; Lancey Howard; MudPuppy; SMEDLEYBUTLER; opbuzz; Snow Bunny; ...
must read bump
12 posted on 03/18/2003 5:13:43 AM PST by RaceBannon
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To: Destro; vooch
Check out the text starting at footnote 98.
13 posted on 03/18/2003 6:35:58 AM PST by Gael
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To: Gael; Torie; ABrit; Fusion; *balkans
Albania was also used as springboard to neighboring Kosovo. In April 1999, some 500 Arab Mujahedeen were smuggled into the capital of Tirana. Their mission was to conduct special operations against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. They entered Kosovo from Northern Albania. The whole operation was led by Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. [ 104 ]

more proof that the KLA and Al-Queeda are in bed together. Also note that KLA only had some 2,000 active fighters. 500 Al-Queeda in a force of 2,000 is quite a large influence.

14 posted on 03/18/2003 7:30:31 AM PST by vooch
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To: Gael; John Lenin; chance33_98; LiteKeeper; MHGinTN; gr8eman; PoisedWoman; EternalHope; ...
Thanks to effective NATO intervention in the region, the influence of al-Qaeda operatives in the Balkans has been undercut. The Muslims of Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia realized that the United States and the West were not their enemies but their most needed friends.

The spin--al-Qaeda was "The West's" (whoever the policy makers were) partner.

There you have it America, if your a terrorist you can be forgiven as long as you fight for American interests.

We Freepers who man the ramparts of the Balkan fort have been souding the call since Kosovo. WE WILL NOT FORGET OR FORGIVE.

15 posted on 03/18/2003 7:43:00 AM PST by Destro (Fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: vooch
16 posted on 03/18/2003 7:43:23 AM PST by Destro (Fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Straight Vermonter
Ping for later

Check the scorecard

17 posted on 03/18/2003 7:45:50 AM PST by Straight Vermonter (
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To: RaceBannon
18 posted on 03/18/2003 7:53:46 AM PST by tall_tex
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To: Gael; John Lenin; chance33_98; LiteKeeper; MHGinTN; gr8eman; PoisedWoman; EternalHope; ...
Our shame was covered long ago @ BIN LADEN GATE by Accuracy In Media.
19 posted on 03/18/2003 7:57:00 AM PST by Destro (Fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: John Lenin
Bump for later reference
20 posted on 03/18/2003 8:02:19 AM PST by Former Proud Canadian
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