The "dirty bomb" that disappeared
March 8, 2009
The curious tale of an Obama hating, cashed up, nuclear Timothy McVeigh from Maine.
By Julian Assange (investigations editor)
It has all the makings of a great story. But outside of the US state of Maine and select counter-terrorism circles, you won't have heard about it. For this is a story with all the right ingredients but one wrong ingredient.
On the right side is a leaked FBI intelligence report, Obama's inauguration, a multi-million dollar trust fund, a woman, uranium, thorium, the first attempt to build a "dirty bomb" on US soil, and, of course, murder.
On the wrong is the body of James G. Cummings, white supremacist millionaire, found in his Belfast home on December 9, 2008, shot to death.
After local police attended the scene, the FBI moved in and sealed off the building. Men in protective suits descended on the home but police refused to comment about what they found. Mrs. Cummings was taken into custody.
Then on January 12, 2009, Wikileaks revealed a confidential FBI field intelligence report on the incident as part of a Presidential inauguration threat analysis.
According to the FBI report, Cummings had four lots of one gallon containers of bomb-grade hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium (also radioactive), lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium (radiation booster), boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon.
While the radiation levels from Cummings initial device would have not have been physically significant compared to its explosive and toxic effects, had Cummings set off the device in Washington DC, during Obama's Presidential inauguration, its psychogenic effect may have hospitalized thousands.
The FBI states it also seized literature on how to build “dirty bombs” and information about cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60 and other radioactive materials.
There was also evidence linking Cummings to white supremacist groups, including Cummings' membership application to the US National Socialist (Nazi) party.
Local tradesmen who worked at the Cummings home told Maine reporters that Cummings was an ardent admirer of Adolf Hitler and had a collection of Nazi memorabilia around the house, including a prominently displayed flag with a swastika. Cummings claimed to have pieces of Hitler’s personal silverware and place settings.
Though the Associated Press independently confirmed the Wikileaks FBI report, no-one outside of the Maine press (and Wikileaks) wanted to tell their readers about the first credible "dirty bomb" plot on US soil.
Why hasn't the story been picked up by the national press?
Perhaps the media has simply tired of "dirty bombs"? Not at all!
There have been at least 1,264 media references to "dirty bomb" in the past month. A mere 23, or 1.8%, relate to the Cummings case--despite it being the only real plot among them.
Of the 23 Cummings references 21 are local Maine media and two are from security industry magazines.
The same time period saw 409 blog references, Some 76, or 19%, relate to the Cummings case--ten times the ratio of organized media.
However, 78 out of 79 bloggers simply copied text from Maine's paper of record, the Bangor Daily News (BDN) which followed up the Wikileaks document with a strong traditional press investigation. The 79th also wondered about the media silence outside of Maine.
Conservatives apparently didn't want to draw attention to a radioactive, wealthy version of Timothy McVeigh coming from their own sphere, although nearly every day during Bush's reign saw "dirty bombs" hyped as the ultimate threat.
The left didn't want to repeat another "dirty bomb" story, the likes of which Republicans had used to drive hundreds of billions of dollars into Republican dominated military and security contractors.
Those same contractors normally would have comprised a lobby to get the story out--and counter-terrorism dollars in--but their message lines were finely honed to hype threats posed by militant Islam and radical anti-capitalist greens.
Libertarians all over had conditioned themselves to oppose reportage that might lead to reactionary state controls.
The FBI wasn't talking and the Maine government tried to play incident down, under the rubric that they had protected Maine citizens at all times, despite apparently having had no conception of the Cummings plot.
Journalists of various hues at influential east coast outlets could have pushed the story had there been enough prestige incentive to overcome other allegiances, but because Wikileaks and BDN were "first" there was no such incentive. If there were journalism awards to be had, they'd be going to Maine journalists and Wikileaks.
And there you have it. The first "dirty bomb" plot on US soil, cut short only by a Shakespearean murder. But until now, you probably never heard about it, because only a few had incentives to tell you.
But the Belfast dirty bomber is just one drop from an ocean of truth that is unreported, not repeated, and does not enter into civil discourse, because it is not perceived to be profitable to talk about, regardless of how profitable it may be to hear.
Yet it is from these shared perceptions that we form the structure of civilization itself. Every government, every law, every regulation and every constitution is its product. Hence the quality of civilization is predicated on the degree to which civil discourse is a fair representation of the world we live in.
That is why the revelation of primary source knowledge, from which everything else follows, is so important. Its limits are the limits of civilization itself.
- ↑ [[Washington DC Regional Threat and Analysis Center report re Inauguration, 16 Jan 2009]]
- ↑ Parts for 'dirty bomb' found in slain US man's home
- ↑ According to Google News: http://news.google.com/
- ↑ According to the most comprehensive blog search engine, Icerocket: http://icerocket.com/
Surging Towards Disaster in the "Afpak Theatre"
February 22, 2009
By Tom Burghardt
On February 18, President Barack Obama ordered 17,000 additional U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan. Obama's announcement will result in a major escalation of America's bloody occupation of that war-ravaged country.
Currently, some 36,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, including some 6,000 sent in early January under orders by the outgoing Bush regime. In addition to U.S. forces, 32,000 troops from other NATO countries and a mix of "private military contractors" (armed mercenaries) occupy the Central Asian nation.
When coupled with increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the Pentagon and military strikes inside Pakistan, the prospects for regional war--with incalculable risks for the people of Central- and South Asia--have put paid Obama's electoral hyperbole that his would be a "change" administration.
In a brief written statement issued Tuesday by the White House, Obama declared that "the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border."
Responding to "a months old" request by "General McKiernan and supported by Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander of Central Command," Obama will soon dispatch a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (8,000 troops), an Army Stryker Brigade (4,000 soldiers) and 5,000 support troops.
Claiming that increased troop levels "will contribute to the security of the Afghan people," the White House studiously ignores reports from the United Nations, international human rights organizations--and from NATO itself--that the number of civilians killed by all armed actors increased dramatically over the previous year.
A confidential report titled "Metrics Brief, 2007-2008," was published by Wikileaks. Prepared by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, the 12 page dossier "reveals that civilian deaths from the war in Afghanistan have increased by 46% over the past year." According to the global whistleblowers,
- The report shows a dramatic escalation of the war and civil disorder. Coalition deaths increased by 35%, assassinations and kidnappings by 50% and attacks on the Kabul based Government of Hamid Karzai also more than doubled, rising a massive 119%.
- The report highlights huge increases on attacks aimed at Coalition forces, including a 27% increase in IED attacks, a 40% rise in rifle and rocket fire and an increase in surface to air fire of 67%.
- According to the report, outside of the capital Kabul only one in two families had access to even the most basic health care, and only one in two children had access to a school. ("Wikileaks releases NATO report on civilian deaths," Wikileaks, Press Release, February 16, 2009)
While the majority of civilian deaths were attributed by the United Nations to the criminal actions of the Taliban and the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda, some 828 of 2,118 civilians killed in 2008 were the result of indiscriminate attacks by the Afghan military, U.S. Air Force bombing and berserker American Special Forces units engaged in "counterterrorism" and "counternarcotics" operations. According to The New York Times,
- The report singled out special forces and other military units operating outside the normal chains of command. That means their presence and movements are not always known by regular field commanders.
- Special forces groups like Navy Seals and paramilitary units operated by the CIA often conduct raids in Afghanistan, and often at night.
- The report also said that airstrikes that went awry were often those that were called in by troops under attack.
- The United Nations report helps shed light on one of the most divisive issues between the American-led coalition and the Afghan government of Mr. Karzai. (Dexter Filkins, "Afghan Civilian Deaths Rose 40 Percent in 2008," The New York Times, February 18, 2009)
The growing carnage on the ground reflects the political crisis facing the new administration as capitalism's economic meltdown compel our corporatist masters to grab as much of the world's resources as possible to stanch the economic bleed out.
But as in Iraq and the Middle East generally however, the Obama administration's "surge" across Central Asian will prove quixotic--and deadly.
Kyrgyzstan Gives America the Boot
As the politico-military situation rapidly deteriorates, how the Pentagon will keep "surged" troops resupplied is fast becoming a looming nightmare.
With critical supply routes from Pakistan cut by Afghan Talibs and Pakistani Taliban fighters, who have launched coordinated attacks with Central Asian and Arab al-Qaeda guerrillas, the virtual closure of the Khyber Pass in the North-West Frontier Province has fueled a growing logistical crisis. Prior to last December's offensive by insurgents, some 75% of supplies for NATO forces flowed into Afghanistan along this route.
Adding to NATO's headaches, on February 18 Kyrgyzstan's rubber-stamp parliament voted to close the Manas Airbase near the capital Bishkek. According to The Guardian, Wednesday's vote followed "a backroom deal two weeks ago between the country's president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev."
The Americans have six months to pack up and vacate the premises.
The kleptocratic Bakiyev regime has been promised a $2.15 billion loan and a debt write-off by Moscow in a move intended to wrest concessions from the United States to keep the military hardware flowing. Asia Times reported February 20,
- In the end, transit salvation for the US and NATO is indeed coming from no one else but Russia--but on Moscow's terms: this means Russia possibly using its own military planes to airlift the supplies. A deceptively charming Medvedev has been on the record identifying "very positive signs" in the new US-Russia chess match. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been on the record saying transit of US and NATO non-military supplies through Russia begins in effect only a few days after the 20th anniversary of the Soviets leaving Kabul. (Pepe Escobar, "Obama, Osama and Medvedev," Asia Times Online, February 20, 2009)
As investigative journalist Pepe Escobar points out, "the price" that the United States and NATO will pay to have their supplies arrive from Russia is being made painfully clear to Washington: "no more encirclement, no more NATO extension, no more anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland for protection against non-existent Iranian missiles. All this has to be negotiated in detail."
But in a potential move seen as a maneuver to bypass Moscow, The Independent reported that "the new US administration had indicated that it was prepared to talk to Iran about the Afghan situation."
No friend of the Sunni-based insurgency next door, nor of U.S.-backed jihadi groups such as Jundullah attacking from Pakistan, Tehran may be willing to cut a deal with Washington. Independent journalist Kim Sengupta writes that "Italy, which assumes the presidency of the G8 this year, said that Tehran would be invited to participate in a summit on Afghanistan. The Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: 'We want to consider how to involve Iran, not whether to involve Iran'."
But how this will play out may be determined by America's stationary aircraft carrier in the Middle East, Israel, and that country's "naval task force" in Washington, the powerful Israel lobby. And with Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right Likud party given the nod by Israeli President Shimon Peres "to take the lead" in forming the next government, it's an even bet that Bibi may cut a deal with Avigdor Lieberman's neofascist Yisrael Beiteinu party. Netanyahu and Lieberman have both threatened to bomb Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, and have called that nation Israel's number one "national security threat."
While Washington's chattering classes prattle on about the need to "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here," the sad reality for the Afghan people is that the Obama administration and their corporatist masters don't give a hoot about their suffering, the unprecedented "surge" in heroin production, the rise and rise of organized crime-linked "Islamic fundamentalists," or for that matter, bringing al-Qaeda to ground. It's all hot air designed to get the American people on-board as imperialism escalates the "right war" in Central- and South Asia.
With the 9/11 attacks as a backdrop--and pretext--for carrying out a long-planned military intervention to conqueror Afghanistan, either through proxies (remember the enthusiasm in petroleum board rooms when the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996!) or now, by installing a narco regime amenable to American demands, the unspoken project remains what it has always been: the "sole superpower's" hegemonic control over the vast oil and gas reserves of Central Asia.
Pakistan, Jihadis and America's Killer Drones
Meanwhile, on the "Pak" side of the "Afpak theatre" America's former "best friends forever," the Pakistani Taliban grouped under the banner of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, TNSM) have been doing some "surging" of their own.
Having successfully concluded a "truce" with the government of President Asif Ali Zardari in the North-West Frontier Province's Malakand District, the nominally secular Pakistan Peoples Party has ceded the political ground to Army and Inter Services Intelligence agency-linked militants with long-standing ties to international terrorist outfits and drug trafficking cartels. In other words, American allies.
But before the ink on the agreement had even dried, a television journalist with Pakistan's Geo network, Musa Khan Khel, covering TNSM head honcho Maulana Sufi Mohammed's triumphant entry into Mingora February 17, was brutally murdered. Riddled with bullets, his nearly decapitated body was found on the side of a road shortly after the TNSM leader announced that "peace" had come to the Swat Valley. Khel, according to reports, had been seeking an interview with TTP "emir" Maulana Fazlullah.
The News reported February 20 that TNSM leaders are meeting with their TTP counterparts to seal the deal to lay down their arms in lieu of the imposition of Sharia law in Malakand.
In 2001, the "peacemaker" and self-proclaimed "Sharia-lover" had led some 10,000 untrained volunteers across the border into Afghanistan to fight the American-led narcotrafficking Northern Alliance during the initial stages of the U.S. invasion. Drawn from madrassas across Pakistan as disposable cannon-fodder for the ISI, thousands were killed.
In the aftermath of the TTP and the Army's bloody operations Swat lay in ruins, its people terrorized and its infrastructure all but destroyed. Describing the region as a "hell-hole of bodies and ruin," The Sunday Times reports that
- In the former mountain resort of Malam Jabba, where skiing thrived when the surrounding Swat Valley was an international attraction, one can still see the remnants of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation's flagship hotel. The building was blown up by the Taliban because it was being used for "un-Islamic activities".
- Hundreds of other hotels in the valley have been destroyed or forced to close after threats from the militants. (Daud Khattakis, "Into a Taliban wasteland of blood and fear," The Sunday Times, February 22, 2009)
But the destruction of critical infrastructure that fueled the region's economy is but the visible manifestation of a virtual reign of terror that grips Swat Valley. Khattakis writes:
- What I found in Swat was a hell-hole. Suicide bombings, car bombs and artillery have scarred the valley's roads and buildings. The charred remains of hospitals and even a madrasah (seminary) litter the landscape.
- Nearly 200 schools have been destroyed, all girls over the age of eight are banned from lessons and, in a symbol of the Taliban's hatred of learning, the public library in Mingora has been wrecked.
- The Taliban have banned music and dancing, television and internet cafes. Women cannot leave home without wearing a burqa, the all-encompassing robe. Justice has been enforced with floggings and public executions. (The Sunday Times, ibid.)
In the heart of Mingora's bazaar, Green Square is now known as Khooni Chowk, or bloody square "because of the public executions carried out there by Taliban who leave the bullet-riddled bodies of police and soldiers for all to see."
One wonders what justification "Sharia-lover" Sufi Mohammed and his sociopathic son-in-law Fazlullah have for butchering whole families, including children, who simply wish to be left in peace?
According to multiple reports in the Pakistani media, since the TTP's violent take over of the region, organized crime gangs have flourished and car-jackings, armed robberies, kidnappings, rapes and murders as well as an explosive increase in the drug trade have turned Swat into an post-apocalyptic landscape. Like their American counterparts in crime, the message of TTP "emirs" seems to be: "Kill 'em all, and let God sort them out."
But here as elsewhere, the rise of reactionary fundamentalism has far more to do with failing state structures than with religious enthusiasm. Incapable of providing food, employment, housing and health care to its citizens, Pakistani elites, like corporate grifters everywhere, undermine their position by selling-off economic assets to well-connected cronies and ceding educational and social welfare services to "faith-based" groups, as in the U.S.
In this context, The Nation reported February 18 that the Cabinet Committee on Privatization approved the (fire) sale sell-off of some 21 state-owned enterprises, including "four power companies and other state-owned entities including SME Bank, National Power Construction Company, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Post."
Utterly bankrupt and bereft of imagination when its comes to ameliorating the horrendous economic and social hardships faced by Pakistani workers and farmers, the bourgeois PPP government following "advice" from their mentors in Washington, will instead line the pockets of their "constituents," the multinational corporations and the comprador elites who do their bidding.
The Swat truce follows revelations by The Times that the "CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan."
While the Pakistani government has demanded that the U.S. halt drone attacks in the area, The Times discovered "that the CIA has been using the Shamsi airfield--originally built by Arab sheikhs for falconry expeditions in the southwestern province of Baluchistan--for at least a year."
The New York-based whistleblowing intelligence and security website Cryptome published a series of satellite images as part of their "Eyeball" series on February 18. One image, captured in 2006 before construction of a huge hangar meant to conceal America's robot killing machines was completed, show Predator drones on the Shamsi air strip.
According to Cryptome's anonymous correspondent, "This is a very capable base facility with a large hangar in addition to the two Predator support hangars. Nearby is a large secured compound (appears empty) which could support up to a battalion of special ops and associated command and control. The large parking area inside the compound is perfect to land choppers and leave with relative security. All security measures seem fresh."
As I reported February 16, "U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, dropped a bombshell when she revealed that CIA Predator drones are flown from an airbase in Pakistan." Feinstein's disclosure came during hearings February 12 before the Senate Intelligence Committee. While the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have refused to comment, unnamed "U.S. intelligence officials" described the senator's statement as "accurate."
Despite these revelations, Pakistan's Defense Minister Chaudry Ahmad Mukhtar continues to deny "that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is controlling drone attacks from the Shamsi base in Balochistan, and said Pakistan had no secret understanding with the US to use bases in Pakistan to carry out attacks in the Tribal Areas, according to a February 20 report in Daily Times.
Mukhtar said: "Certain news reports claiming that the CIA runs predator flights from the Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan are baseless ... Pakistan has no such understanding with the US to allow it to use its bases for predator attacks."
How the Defense Minister squares his denial with inescapable facts on the ground is another matter entirely. But revelations over the CIA's use of Shamsi Airbase may be the least of the Defense Ministry's problems.
"In a dramatic development," according to The News, "three prominent Pakistani militant commanders--Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazeer--on Friday set aside their differences and promised to jointly fight their enemy in future."
Two of the three Pakistani Taliban leaders were considered "pro-government" and had been recruited to fight Mehsud's TTP and their al-Qaeda allies but have since been alienated from the state due to persistent Predator attacks by the CIA from bases provided by Pakistan. The News reports,
- If the three men, who now rule South and North Waziristan tribal region in true sense, got united, they could give a tough time to the government in future.
- The militants from Wana said now they had understood Pakistan's divide and rule policy, and decided to get united and fight together against it in future. "Pakistan caused more losses to the Mujahideen than the US. It handed over 700 Arab Mujahideen to the US and jailed our people," the commander alleged. (Mushtaq Yusufzai, "Top militant commanders resolve rift," The News, February 21, 2009)
Islamabad's double-game with the imperialist Dracula on the one hand and the jihadi Frankenstein on the other demonstrates, if nothing else, the impervious nature of the existing political system to "change" on all sides of the "Afpak problem."
Barring a dramatic transformation of the political state of affairs, the bill for American and Pakistani duplicity is coming due, and it will be the people of South Asia who will pay a heavy price.
Thanks to Tom Burghardt for covering this issue. Copyright remains the aforementioned.
The End of the Affair? The BND, CIA and Kosovo's Deep State
By Tom Burghardt (Antifascist Calling)
When three officers of Germany's foreign intelligence service the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), were arrested in Pristina November 19, it exposed that country's extensive covert operations in the heart of the Balkans.
On November 14, a bomb planted at the office of the European Union Special Representative was detonated in downtown Pristina. While damage was light and there were no injuries, U.N. "peacekeepers" detained one of the BND officers hours after the blast when he was observed taking photos of the damaged building. Two of his colleagues waited in a car and acted as lookouts. The officer named these two colleagues as witnesses that he was in his office at the time of the attack.
That office, identified by the press as the "private security firm" Logistics-Coordination & Assessment Service or LCAS, in reality was a front company for BND operations. Its premises were searched three days later and the trio were subsequently arrested and accused by Kosovan authorities of responsibility for bombing the EU building. As a result of the arrests, the BND was forced to admit the real identities of their agents and the true nature of LCAS.
A scandal erupted leading to a diplomatic row between Berlin and Pristina. The German government labeled the accusations "absurd" and threatened a cut-off of funds to the Kosovo government. A circus atmosphere prevailed as photos of the trio were shown on Kosovan TV and splashed across the front pages of the press. Rumors and dark tales abounded, based on leaks believed by observers to have emanated from the office of Kosovo's Prime Minister, the "former" warlord Hashim Thaci, nominal leader of the statelet's organized crime-tainted government.
When seized by authorities one of the BND officers, Andreas J., demonstrated very poor tradecraft indeed. Among the items recovered by police, the operative's passport along with a notebook containing confidential and highly incriminating information on the situation in Kosovo were examined. According to media reports, the notebook contained the names of well-placed BND informants in the Prime Minister's entourage. According to this reading, the arrests were an act of revenge by Thaci meant to embarrass the German government.
But things aren't always as they seem.
On November 29, the trio--Robert Z., Andreas J. and Andreas D.--departed Kosovo on a special flight bound for Berlin where they "will face a committee of German parliamentarians who have taken an interest in their case," according to an account in Spiegel Online.
More curious than a violent attack on the streets of Pristina, a city wracked by gangland killings, car hijackings, kidnappings and assaults is the provenance of the bomb itself. In other words, why would German intelligence agents attack their own? But before attempting to answer this question, a grim backstory to the affair rears its ugly head.
An Agency Mired in Scandal
This latest scandal comes as yet another blow to the BND considering August's revelations by the whistleblowing website Wikileaks that Germany's external intelligence agency had extensively spied on journalists. Like their counterparts at the CIA, the BND is forbidden by law from carrying out domestic operations.
According to Wikileaks documents, journalists working for Focus Magazine and Der Spiegel were collaborators in a scheme by the agency to learn their sources as well as obtaining information on left-wing politicians, including Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) leaders Gregor Gysi and Andreas Lederer.
Indeed Focus Magazine journalist Josef Hufelschulte, code name 'Jerez, wrote articles based on reports provided by the BND "intended to produce favorable coverage." Wikileaks correspondent Daniel Schmitt and investigations editor Julian Assange comment that, "The document in general shows the extent to which the collaboration of journalists with intelligence agencies has become common and to what dimensions consent is manufactured in the interests of those involved."
In November, Wikileaks published a subsequent document obtained from the telecommunications giant T-Systems. In addition to revealing two dozen secret IP addresses used by the BND for surveillance operations, the document provides "Evidence of a secret out of control BND robot scanning selected web-sites. In 2006 system administrators had to ban the "BVOE" IP addresses to prevent servers from being destroyed." Additionally, Wikileaks revealed the "activity on a Berlin prostitution service website--evidence that intelligence seductions, the famed cold-war 'honeytrap', is alive and well?"
While the document does not spell out who was running the sex-for-hire website, one can't help but wonder whether Balkan-linked organized crime syndicates, including Kosovan and Albanian sex traffickers are working in tandem with the BND in return for that agency turning a blind eye to the sordid trade in kidnapped women.
Kosovo: A European Narco State
When Kosovo proclaimed its "independence" in February, the Western media hailed the provocative dismemberment of Serbia, a move that completed the destruction of Yugoslavia by the United States, the European Union and NATO, as an exemplary means to bring "peace and stability" to the region.
If by "peace" one means impunity for rampaging crime syndicates or by "stability," the freedom of action with no questions asked by U.S. and NATO military and intelligence agencies, not to mention economic looting on a grand scale by freewheeling multinational corporations, then Kosovo has it all!
From its inception, the breakaway Serb province has served as a militarized outpost for Western capitalist powers intent on spreading their tentacles East, encircling Russia and penetrating the former spheres of influence of the ex-Soviet Union. As a template for contemporary CIA destabilization operations in Georgia and Ukraine, prospective EU members and NATO "partners," Kosovo should serve as a warning for those foolish enough to believe American clichs about "freedom" or the dubious benefits of "globalization."
Camp Bondsteel, located on rolling hills and farmland near the city of Ferizaj/Urosevac,is the largest U.S. military installation on the European continent. Visible from space, in addition to serving as an NSA listening post pointed at Russia and as the CIA's operational hub in the Balkans and beyond, some observers believe that Andreas J.'s notebook may have contained information that Camp Bondsteel continues to serve as a CIA "black site." One motive for rolling up the BND intelligence operation may have been U.S. fears that this toxic information would become public, putting paid U.S. claims that it no longer kidnaps and tortures suspected "terrorists."
When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia's heart in the early 1990s during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved "success" without the connivance, indeed active partnership amongst Yugoslavia's nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny documented,
- Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by "a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web...Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27)
Glenny's description of the 1990s convergence of political, economic and security elites with organized crime syndicates in Western intelligence operations is the quintessential definition of the capitalist deep state.
In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott describes how the deep state can be characterized by "the symbiosis between governments (and in particular their intelligence agencies) and criminal associations, particularly drug traffickers, in the stabilization of right-wing terror in Vietnam, Italy, Bolivia, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and other parts of the world." Indeed, "revelations in the 1970s and 1980s about the 'strategy of tension,' whereby government intelligence agencies, working in international conjunction, strengthened the case for their survival by actually fomenting violence, recurringly in alliance with drug-trafficking elements."
Scott's analysis is perhaps even more relevant today as "failed states" such as Kosovo, characterized by economic looting on an industrial scale, the absence of the rule of law, reliance on far-right terrorists (of both the "religious" and "secular" varieties) to achieve policy goals, organized crime syndicates, as both assets and executors of Western policy, and comprador elites are Washington's preferred international partners.
For the ruling elites of the former Yugoslavia and their Western allies, Kosovo is a veritable goldmine. Situated in the heart of the Balkans, Kosovo's government is deeply tied to organized crime structures: narcotrafficking, arms smuggling, car theft rings and human trafficking that feeds the sex slave "industry." These operations are intimately linked to American destabilization campaigns and their cosy ties to on-again, off-again intelligence assets that include al-Qaeda and other far-right terror gangs. As investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov documented in 2000,
- The Kosovar traffickers ship heroin exclusively from Asia's Golden Crescent. It's an apparently inexhaustible source. At one end of the crescent lies Afghanistan, which in 1999 surpassed Burma as the world's largest producer of opium poppies. From there, the heroin base passes through Iran to Turkey, where it is refined, and then into the hands of the 15 Families, which operate out of the lawless border towns linking Macedonia, Albania, and Serbia. Not surprisingly, the KLA has also flourished there. According to the State Department, four to six tons of heroin move through Turkey every month. "Not very much is stopped," says one official. "We get just a fraction of the total." ("Heroin Heroes," Mother Jones, January-February 2000)
Not much has changed since then. Indeed, the CIA's intelligence model for covert destabilization operations is a continuing formula for "success." Beginning in the 1940s, when the Corsican Mafia was pegged by the Agency to smash the French Communist Party, down to today's bloody headlines coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, global drug lords and intelligence operators go hand in hand. It is hardly surprising then, that according to a report by the Berlin Institute for European Policy, organized crime is the only profitable sector of the Kosovan economy. Nearly a quarter of the country's economic output, some <82>550 million, is derived from criminal activities.
Though the role of the United States and their NATO partners are central to the drama unfolding today, the BND affair also reveals that beneath the carefully-constructed faade of Western "unity" in "Freedom Land," deep inter-imperialist rivalries simmer. As the socialist journalist Peter Schwarz reports,
- Speculation has since been rife about the background to the case, but it is doubtful whether it will ever be clarified. Kosovo is a jungle of rival secret services. In this regard, it resembles Berlin before the fall of the Wall. The US, Germany, Britain, Italy and France all have considerable intelligence operations in the country, which work both with and against one another. Moreover, in this country of just 2.1 million inhabitants, some 15,000 NATO soldiers and 1,500 UN police officers are stationed, as well as 400 judges, police officers and security officers belonging to the UN's EULEX mission. (Peter Schwarz, "Kosovo's Dirty Secret: The Background to Germany's Secret Service Affair," World Socialist Web Site, December 1, 2008)
Into this jungle of conflicting loyalties and interests, international crime syndicates in close proximity--and fleeting alliance--with this or that security service rule the roost. It is all the more ironic that the Thaci government has targeted the BND considering, as Balkan analyst Christopher Deliso revealed:
- In 1996, Germany's BND established a major station in Tirana...and another in Rome to select and train future KLA fighters. According to Le Monde Diplomatique, "special forces in Berlin provided the operational training and supplied arms and transmission equipment from ex-East German Stasi stocks as well as Black uniforms." The Italian headquarters recruited Albanian immigrants passing through ports such as Brindisi and Trieste, while German military intelligence, the Militaramschirmdienst, and the Kommando Spezialkrfte Special Forces (KSK), offered military training and provisions to the KLA in the remote Mirdita Mountains of northern Albania controlled by the deposed president, Sali Berisha. (The Coming Balkan Caliphate, Westport: Praeger Security International, 2007, p. 37)
But as Schwarz observed, why would the Thaci government risk alienating the German state, given the fact that after the U.S., Germany "is the second largest financial backer of Kosovo and ranks among the most important advocates of its independence." Why indeed?
According to Balkan Analysis, the International Crisis Group (ICG) funded by billionaire George Soros' Open Society Institute (OSI) and closely aligned with "liberal interventionists" in the United States, were instrumental in arguing that the United States and Germany, should guarantee "future stability," by building up the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK), the KLA's successor organization, into a well-equipped army. Towards this end, the U.S. and Germany, in addition to arming the organized crime-linked statelet, have provided funds and equipment for a sophisticated military communications center in the capital.
Speculation is rife and conflicting accounts proliferate like mushrooms after a warm rain. One theory has it that senior Kosovan politicians were angered by BND criticisms linking KLA functionaries, including personal associates of Thaci and the Prime Minister himself, with organized crime. Tellingly, Schwarz reports, this "is contrary to the position taken by the CIA."
Is the affair then, merely a falling-out among thieves on how the spoils will be divided?
The CIA: Drugs & Thugs International
As noted above, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-flung networks of far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work for U.S. policy elites and American multinational corporations. Throughout its Balkan adventure the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and provide them with targets. In their public pronouncements and analyses however, nary a harsh word is spoken.
According to the CIA, by any standard Kosovo's economy is a disaster, but that doesn't prevent the Agency from seeing "significant progress"!
- Over the past few years Kosovo's economy has shown significant progress in transitioning to a market-based system, but it is still highly dependent on the international community and the diaspora for financial and technical assistance. Remittances from the diaspora--located mainly in Germany and Switzerland--account for about 30% of GDP. Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with an average annual per capita income of only $1800--about one-third the level of neighboring Albania. Unemployment--at more than 40% of the population--is a severe problem that encourages outward migration. (Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, November 20, 2008)
Needless to say, one unmentionable "fact" disappeared from the CIA's country profile is the statelet's overwhelming dependence on the black economy. I suppose this is what the Agency means when it lauds Kosovo's transition to a "market-based system"!But as former DEA investigator and whistleblower Michael Levine, author of The Big White Lie, told B92, one of the wings of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was "linked with every known narco-cartel in the Middle East and the Far East", and that almost every European intelligence service and police has files on "connections between ethnic Albanian rebels and drug trafficking". And dare I say by extension, the CIA itself.
One bone of contention which could have led Thaci and his henchmen to seek revenge against his erstwhile German allies was a 67-page BND analysis about organized crime in Kosovo. As Schwarz noted the dossier, produced in February 2005 and subsequently leaked to the press, "accuses Ramush Haradinaj (head of government from December 2004 to March 2005), Hashim Thaci (prime minister since January 2008) and Xhavit Haliti, who sits in the parliament presidium, of being deeply implicated in the drugs trade."
- According to the BND report, "Regarding the key players (e.g., Haliti, Thaci, Haradinaj), there exists the closest ties between politics, business and internationally operating OC [organized crime] structures in Kosovo. The criminal networks behind this are encouraging political instability. They have no interest in building a functioning state, which could impair their flourishing trade." (WSWS, op. cit.)
Haradinaj, an American protegee, became Prime Minister in 2004. However, he was forced to resign his post in March 2005 when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted him for crimes against humanity. Among other things, Haradinaj was accused of abducting civilians, unlawful detention, torture, murder and rape. Schwarz notes he was acquitted in April 2008 "for lack of evidence, after nine out of ten prosecution witnesses died violently and the tenth withdrew his statement after narrowly escaping an assassination attempt." Talk about friends in high places!
Mirroring evidence uncovered by journalists and investigators regarding the control of the drugs trade by 15 Albanian crime families, the Berlin Institute for European Policy laid similar charges against Thaci, stating that real power in Kosovo is wielded by 15 to 20 family clans who control "almost all substantial key social positions" and are "closely linked to prominent political decision makers."
According to Spiegel, when the BND operation was run to ground with the possible connivance of the CIA, its secret network of informants, instrumental to gaining insight into the interconnections amongst state actors and organized crime were compromised. The BND's Department Five, responsible for organized crime wrote a confidential report linking Thaci as "a key figure in a Kosovar-Albanian mafia network."
Department Two, according to Spiegel, was responsible for telecommunications surveillance. In 1999, the BND launched operation "Mofa99," a wiretap intercept program that targeted high-ranking members of the KLA--and exposed their links to dodgy criminal syndicates and Islamist allies, al-Qaeda. The program was so successful according to Spiegel that since then, "the BND has maintained an extensive network of informants among high-ranking functionaries of the KLA and the Kosovar administration."
Functionaries in possession of many dangerous secrets and inconvenient truths!
As researcher and analyst Michel Chossudovsky wrote back in 2001, among the "inconvenient truths" unexplored by Western media is the close proximity of far-right Islamist terror gangs and planetary U.S. destabilization operations.
Since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahedin ("holy warriors") to fight covert wars on Washington's behest has become an integral part of US foreign policy. A report of the US Congress has revealed how the US administration--under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake--had "helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base" leading to the recruitment through the so-called "Militant Islamic Network," of thousands of Mujahedin from the Muslim world.
The "Bosnian pattern" has since been replicated in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Among the foreign mercenaries now fighting with the KLA-NLA are Mujahedin from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union as well as "soldiers of fortune" from several NATO countries including Britain, Holland and Germany. Some of these Western mercenaries had previously fought with the KLA and the Bosnian Muslim Army. (Michel Chossudovsky, "Washington Behind Terrorist Assaults in Macedonia," Global Research, September 10, 2001)
Fast forward seven years and one can hypothesize that the BND, stepping on the CIA's toes and that agency's cosy intelligence "understanding" with Mafia-linked KLA fighters and al-Qaeda assets, would have every reason to sabotage the BND's organized crime operations--not that the German military intelligence service's hands are any cleaner!
While we may never know all the facts surrounding this curious affair, one thing is certain: the role played by powerful Mafia gangs as a source for black funds, intelligence assets and CIA "agents of influence" will continue. Administrations come and go, but like motherhood and apple pie the shadowy workings of America's deep state is an eternal verity you can count on!
First appeared in Antifascist Calling. Thanks to Tom Burghardt and Antifascist Calling for covering this document. Copyright remains with the aforementioned. Contact antifascist-calling.blogspot.com for reprint rights.
- T-Systems BND network assignments, 13 Nov 2008
- How German intelligence infiltrated Focus magazine
- BND Kosovo intelligence report, 22 Feb 2005
- Institute for European Politics: Kosovo security and intelligence report, 9 January 2007
now for some humour..
Secret Ritual of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a collegiate Jewish fraternity.
reading of 23rd Psalm (Greek numbering: Psalm 22) The Lord is my Shepherd...
blindfold, dark room,
"big brother .. will become your lifetime friend.."