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(E) Croatia and USA on terror
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/23/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Croatia and USA on terror
From the NY Times (January 23) - notes how Croatia is working with USintelligence in war on terrorismA U.S. Prisoner From Bosnia Is Labeled a Top Qaeda AideBy PHILIP SHENONASHINGTON, Jan. 22 - A terrorism suspect handed over to Americans lastweek by Bosnia and Herzegovina has been identified as a Europeanlieutenant in Al Qaeda who was ordered to carry out attacks on Americantargets in the Balkans after Sept. 11, law enforcement and militaryofficials said today.American investigators said intercepted telephone calls and otherevidence showed that the suspect, Bensayah Belkacem, who was believed tobe a native of Algeria or Yemen with Bosnian citizenship, had numerousconversations on cellular telephones last fall with leaders of Al Qaedain Afghanistan.Among them, the officials said, was Abu Zubaydah, the operations chieffor Al Qaeda, who was believed to be one of a handful of men entrustedwith running the terrorism network in the event of Osama bin Laden'sdeath or capture.American officials said Mr. Belkacem, 41, and five other suspects - allof them from Algeria, and all but one naturalized citizens of Bosnia -were handed over Friday to American soldiers in Bosnia and flown to theAmerican naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.The Bosnian government, which arrested the six men in October, agreed toturn them over after Bosnia's supreme court ruled Thursday that notenough evidence existed to hold them there.Suspects: 6 Tied to Terror Are Given to U.S. by Bosnia, Despite CourtRuling (January 19, 2002)The handover has been denounced as illegal by human rights groups and byUnited Nations officials. Bosnian officials have defended theirdecision, noting that the five suspects with Bosnian passports werestripped of their citizenship before they were turned over to the UnitedStates and were not entitled to the due-process rights of citizens.Asked at a Pentagon news conference today about the legality of thehandover, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had no immediatecomment, though he defended the treatment of the 158 Qaeda and Talibancaptives at Guantánamo.The United States has long been alarmed by the presence in Bosnia ofhundreds of Arab-born Muslim fundamentalists who first traveled there inthe 1990's to help defend the nation's predominantly Muslim populationduring the civil war. Many went there at the direction of Mr. bin Laden,who apparently saw the opportunity for a holy war defending Muslimsagainst from Serbian and Croatian nationalists.About 3,100 American soldiers are now assigned to Bosnia as part of aNATO-led peacekeeping force, and American officials fear that thosetroops are a prime target for the Qaeda cells that are believed to existthere and elsewhere in the Balkans.The officials said F.B.I. and military investigators were particularlyeager to question Mr. Belkacem about the personal background andpossible hiding places of Mr. Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian in hisearly 30's who is believed to have coordinated the terrorist attacksordered by Mr. bin Laden.Mr. Zubaydah has been linked to the bombing of the destroyer Cole inOctober 2000 in Yemen, in which 17 Americans were killed. Nicknamed "theMailman" by terrorist colleagues because of his role in relaying ordersfrom Mr. bin Laden and making sure they were carried out, Mr. Zubaydahwas singled out by President Bush last month when the president listedleaders of Al Qaeda being hunted by the United States.American officials said the six men were arrested in Bosnia on the basisof telephone calls intercepted by American agencies showing that theywere plotting terattacks in Bosnia and elsewhere.Among the targets, the officials said, were the United States Embassy inSarajevo, the Bosnian capital, and the large American militaryencampment outside Tuzla known as Eagle Base. At the time of theirarrest, both the American and British embassies in Sarajevo were closedfor fear that they were targets of imminent attacks.An American military official said Mr. Belkacem had gone to Bosnia inthe 1990's to fight in the civil war. He obtained Bosnian citizenshipafter the war and married a Bosnian woman, settling in Zenica, home tolarge numbers of former foreign Muslim fighters. He worked for anIslamic relief organization.The officials said that shortly after Sept. 11, American intelligenceagencies, working closely with the government of neighboring Croatia,listened in as Mr. Belkacem and others discussed plans for attacks. TheBosnian police were alerted and quickly arrested Mr. Belkacem and theothers.An American official said a search of Mr. Belkacem's home turned up acopy of Mr. Zubaydah's cellphone number in Afghanistan, where he wasthen believed to be hiding with Mr. bin Laden, and several blankpassports."He was apparently on the phone constantly to Afghanistan, with Zubaydahand others," this official said. "There were dozens of calls toAfghanistan."The transfer of Mr. Belkacem and the other prisoners to American custodyprompted street protests in Sarajavo last week by hundreds of supportersof the six captives, including several family members who tried to blockAmerican military vehicles transporting the men from jail.A senior United Nations official in Sarajevo said today that the UnitedStates and Bosnia had both acted illegally."The rule of law was clearly circumvented in this process," theofficial, Madeleine Rees, the representative in Bosnia of the UnitedNations high commissioner for human rights, said at a news conference.There was "no legal basis" for the Bosnian government's decision to handover the men, she said, calling it an "extrajudicial removal fromsovereign territory."Asked whether the United States had pressured the Bosnian government tohand over the six, she said, "The simple answer is, Yes."distributed by CROWN - - CroWorldNet@aol.comNotice: This e-mail and the attachments are confidential information.If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail and the attachments is strictly prohibited and violators will be held to the fullest possible extent of any applicable laws governing electronic Privacy. 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