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Monday, August 24, 1998

Clinton, bin Laden & Terrorism

Did Bill Clinton Smooth the Way for bin Laden
to Be World's Most Successful Terrorist?

By Mary Mostert, Analyst, Original Sources

We had hardly had a chance to figure all that out what it was that President Clinton actually said last Monday night about Monica Lewinsky when he approved a couple of missile attacks on people most Americans didn't even know existed, except perhaps in a vague sort of way. The immediate reaction to that was one of distrust and questions about whether the President was following the script of Wagging the Dog.

After several prominent Republicans had questioned the President's timing in the matter, Speaker Newt Gingrich gave a short statement announcing that foreign nations should not think our domestic problems would indicate any National weakness and that he supported the President in taking the action he had taken.

That put a damper on speculation that the missiles had been sent to enable Bill Clinton to look "Presidential." The New York Times had editorially wondered if he might not do something to look "presidential" the very day the missiles whizzed into Osama Bin Laden's "Terrorist University" camp in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

However, it did not put a damper on speculation in the foreign press. Almost to a man editors throughout the world brought up the Clinton sex scandals in the same sentence they announced the missile attack on a factory in Khartoum and the terrorist camp in Afghanistan. Whatever the moral view of the Americans who elected him, it appears that America's enemies are using his sexual morals, not merely his lying, as proof of American's lack of moral leadership in the world and Clinton's reliability.

Frankly, Osama Bin Laden appears, in the eyes of many of his followers, to be the moral leader, justified in whatever action he may take, because the President of the United States, as we were hearing on Sudan Radio, admits himself that he is a liar.

For the majority, it seems, all the sex stuff, including the fact that Bin Laden has the maximum number of wives permitted in the Koran, (four) is the most interesting part of the story. However, there really are some strange, and troubling aspects of the sudden bombing of Bin Laden's camp. Bin Laden's camp was a spot we really knew how to find, inasmuch as we, through the CIA, built it while helping the Afghans fight the Russians.

In December 1993, Independent News journalist Robert Fisk met and interviewed Osama bin Laden in Almatig, Sudan. Fisk mentioned that bin Laden "was greeting Sudanese villagers who were lined up to thank Bin Laden, a "Saudi businessman who is about to complete the highway linking their homes to Khartoum for the first time in history. With his high cheekbones, narrow eyes and long brown robe, Mr Bin Laden looks every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend. Chadored children danced in front of him, preachers acknowledged his wisdom. 'We have been waiting for this road through all the revolutions in Sudan,'' a sheikh said. ''We waited until we had given up on everybody - and then Osama Bin Laden came along.''

So, guess what they are saying in Sudan about the missile attack on a Pharmaceutical Company that apparently had a sideline in producing a deadly nerve gas? They are saying that El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries plant made half the country's drugs. They are saying that because the adulterer Bill Clinton bombed the Pharmaceutical Company, children in the Sudan would die.

In 1993, when Robert Fisk wrote his report, following a personal interview with Bin Laden, he was already known as one who was building his own army to fight a religious war against the evil Americans. Some of his activities have cross and criss-crossed Bill Clinton's path more than once - but nothing was done about it.

The last great proxy battle of the Cold War was between the invading Russians and the Afghans. Bin Laden , son of a wealthy Saudi road contractor, went to Afghanistan to fight the Russians. He was dubbed "an Arab fighter" or a "freedom fighter."

"The Egyptian press claims he brought hundreds of former Arab fighters back to Sudan from Afghanistan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the ''Afghans'' whom this Saudi entrepreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt." Robert Fisk wrote. Bin Laden's response to that charge was, "'The rubbish of the media and the embassies. 'I am a construction engineer and an agriculturist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn't possibly do this job.''

And ''this job" was a 745 mile highway "stretching all the way from Khartoum to Port Sudan, on the old road, now shortened to 800km by the new Bin Laden route that will turn the coastal run from the capital into a mere day's journey." Fisk wrote, "Into a country that is despised by Saudi Arabia for its support of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf war almost as much as it is condemned by the United States, Mr Bin Laden has brought the very construction equipment that he used only five years ago to build the guerrilla trails of Afghanistan."

Fisk believed that Bin Laden's "contribution to the mujahedin - and the indirect result of his training and assistance - may turn out to be a turning- point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism." Within months Bin Laden was sending Arab fighters - Egyptians, Algerians, Lebanese, Kuwaitis, Turks and Tunisians - into Afghanistan; ''not hundreds but thousands,'' he said. He supported them with weapons and his own construction equipment. Along with his Iraqi engineer, Mohamed Saad - who built the Port Sudan road. Bin Laden blasted massive tunnels into the
Zazi mountains of Bakhtiar province for guerrilla hospitals and arms dumps, then cut a mujahedin trail across the country to within 15 miles of Kabul.

"We beat the Soviet Union. The Russians fled.'' Bin Laden claimed. Fisk asked about the Arab mujahedin whom he took to Afghanistan - "members of a guerrilla army who were also encouraged and armed by the United States?" Bin Laden claimed in the interview that he had seen "no evidence of American help. When my mujahedin were victorious and the Russians were driven out, differences started between the guerrilla movements so I returned to road construction in Taif and Abha. I brought back the equipment I had used to build tunnels and roads for the mujahedin in Afghanistan. Yes, I helped some of my comrades to come here to Sudan after the war.''

How many? Osama Bin Laden shook his head. ''I don't want to say. But they are here now with me, they are working right here, building this road to Port Sudan.'' Fisk told him that Bosnian Muslim fighters in the Bosnian town of Travnik had mentioned his name. ''I feel the same about Bosnia,'' he said. ''But the situation there does not provide the same opportunities as Afghanistan. A small number of mujahedin have gone to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina but the Croats won't allow the mujahedin in through Croatia as the Pakistanis did with Afghanistan.''

That prompted me to look up a story I wrote on September 23, 1996 entitled "Clinton OK'ed Terrorist Financed Weapons to Bosnia Muslims Plus Free Weapons and 'Police Training' From US Taxpayers" in which I quoted a report to the Washington Post. The Post said, "According to a senior Western Diplomat in the area, the Clinton administration knew of the activities of a so-called Relief Agency which was, in fact, funneling weapons and money into Bosnia to prop up the Izetebegovic Muslim government in Sarajevo In effect Clinton lifted the Arms Embargo SOLELY for shipments of arms and personnel from Iran to the Bosnian Muslims. The Administration's action was 'in large part because of the administration's sympathy for the Muslim government' the Post said, 'and the Third World Relief Agency and ambivalence about maintaining the arms embargo." We were told [by Washington] to watch them but not interfere,' the diplomat said.

I pointed out in that article: "Throughout most of the Clinton Administration, beginning in 1993, Clinton not only knew of the arms smuggling scheme, he appears to have sanctioned it right up to the Dayton Peace Accord negotiations, in which he pretended a "neutral" role and promised additional weaponry free from America.

"Elfatih Hassanein organized the 'Third World Relief Agency' in 1987, evidently as a cover for his efforts to import Muslim fundamentalism into Yugoslavia. In a 1994 interview with Gazi Husrev Beg, a magazine focusing on Islamic affairs, Hassanein called for the creation of an Islamic state in Bosnia. 'Bosnia, at the end, must be Muslim Bosnia, otherwise, everything has lost its sense and this was for nothing.' When Bosnia broke away from Yugoslavia, the Muslims were not a majority in the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Hassanein and other Muslim fundamentalists worked to awaken a "religious sense among Bosnia's secular Muslims." In 1992 Muslims were the minority - Christians, either Catholic Croatians or Eastern Orthodox Serbs, were the majority in the Bosnia-Herzegovina. Muslim fundamentalism was not part of the scene in Bosnia until recently.

The Clinton Administration allowing the arming of the Muslims enabled them to drive out thousands of Serbs, insuring the election of Izetbegovic and a Muslim Bosnia. When war broke out in Bosnia, in 1992, Hassanein and his 'relief agency' received the official backing of the Bosnian officials, opening offices in Sarajevo, Budapest, Moscow and Istanbul -- all key locations for the smuggling and purchasing of arms. The money, an estimated $350 million, came mostly from fundamentalist Muslims in the Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia." In October 1992, Haris Silajdzic, then Bosnia's foreign minister, visited First Austrian Bank in Vienna and vouched for Hassanein's credibility as the financial representative of the beleaguered Bosnian state," the Washington Post reported. In 1993, Izetbegovic wrote a letter again assuring the bank that the Hassanein had the full confidence of the Bosnian authorities.
Hassanein acquired a diplomatic passport in March 1992 as a Sudanese cultural attaché. That allowed him to transport large amounts of cash through Austria and into Croatia and Slovenia without being subjected to police checks.

In September 1995, German investigators -- and agents from Austria's anti-terrorist task force -- raided the headquarters of Third World Relief Agency seizing enough documents to fill three minivans" according to the Post article. The records showed that over the years it had moved hundreds of millions of dollars through its account at First Austrian Bank. Bank officials noted that $80 million flowed into the agency's account in 1992; $231 million in 1993; and $39 million in 1994 and 1995. The chief of a Western intelligence agency estimated that more than half of the $350 million was used to buy weapons for the Bosnian Muslims, and to bribe Croatian officials to allow the weapons to cross their country. "Money was also smuggled into Sarajevo on flights of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; Bosnian government officials used the money to buy weapons from both Serb and Croat middlemen who operated inside Bosnia" one official said.

Apparently in 1995 the Relief Agency was able to "wind down" its work, because of the "direct weapons pipeline between Iran and Bosnia that passed through Croatia starting in May 1995. With the approval of the Clinton administration in April 1995, that pipeline opened directly through the UN Arms Embargo when the Croatian government asked the United States if it opposed such a link. The Clinton Administration declined to respond, later defending the action by saying that "the US Congress wanted to lift the Arms Embargo." However, none of this was known to Congressional leaders.

Evidently, it appears, the supplier of weapons to the Bosnia Muslims was none other than Osama Bin Laden. The result of arming the Muslims of Bosnia was the introduction into Europe of his brand of fundamentalism. Once before Bill Clinton basically sided with America's enemies in North Vietnam while other young men were risking their lives fighting North Vietnam. There is every reason to believe that Clinton, either through deliberate inaction in foreign affairs, or by looking the other way, enabled Bin Laden to build his army of terrorists.

So, now, according to the morning news, we are going to go after Osama Bin Laden and try to eliminate him after all these apparently cozy deals over the years with Bill Clinton? Why am I feeling like there is something in this story that hasn't surfaced yet?

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