In a speech dated 31 March 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell accused Iran of supporting terrorists. And, said Powell, “Tehran must stop pursuing weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.”
Do harsh words mean war?
Some critics of the US-British war in Iraq point to this exchange and to other statements, made by certain so-called neoconservatives, associated with the Pentagon. Based on the hostile statements made by the so-called neoconservatives and State Department people on the one side, and by Iranian leaders, on the other side, pundits of the left and right assure us that a) the war in Iraq is directed against Islam, and b) “Iran is next.”
But aside from that, the problem with the “Iran-is-next” argument is that harsh statements by top officials may be insincere. They may be intended to divert attention from the real situation, and/or to focus blame on a third party, a scapegoat (such as, for example, Israel).
It is even possible for intelligence officials from the US and Iran to meet for the purpose of planning public displays of mutual hostility aimed at diverting public awareness and scapegoating Israel.
Does that sound extreme? Read on…
Public enemies, private friends
Contrary to the mainstream media and supposed critics of US policy alike, Iran and the US have *not* had purely hostile relations since the overthrow of the Shah 24 years ago.
Rather, the US and Iran have had a complex relationship which includes attacking each other publicly even while they cooperate covertly to carry out sundry nefarious schemes.
That is precisely what happened in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Let us look at the facts.
First, what sorts of insults did the US and Iran trade in the early 1990s?
Second, how do those compare to the insults they are trading *now*?
And third, in the early 1990s, were the US and Iran friends or enemies on the ground in Bosnia?
Déjà vu all over again
On 31 March 1993, UPI published a dispatch, entitled, “Iran Strongly Rejects ‘International Outlaw’ Label.”
Some of it is quoted below. If you check back to what Powell and the Iranians said, you will see that the 1993. insults were almost identical.
[Start 1993 UPI dispatch]
Iran reacted sharply Wednesday to remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher describing the Islamic Republic as an international outlaw and a supporter of terrorism, the Iranian state news agency IRNA said.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran described Christopher’s remarks as ”unfounded, worthless and an indication of confusion in Washington’s foreign policy,” an IRNA dispatch monitored in Athens said.
…[Secretary of State Christopher] also accused Iran of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
The Iranian official said…Christopher’s statement was ”aimed at diverting world public opinion from Washington’s full-scale support for Israeli-sponsored state terrorism and for terrorist activities against those countries which oppose U.S. domination…”
[End 1993 UPI dispatch]
Replace ‘Warren Christopher’ with ‘Colin Powell’ and 1993 sounds eerily like 2003.
Same script, same villain
Note that in both cases, the Iranian fundamentalists shift the attack from the US to Israel. The intended message is that the US does bad things, but that that is *because of* Israel.
Please also note that the same thing is now being said by many right wing and left wing critics of US policy.
Christopher calls Iran a “supporter of terrorism,” and the unnamed Iranian official replies that Christopher is only trying to divert people from US support for Israeli actions. Thus the argument ends up focused on…Israel.
But in 1993 Iran was not sponsoring terrorism against Israel *only*. It was sponsoring terrorism against Bosnia too.
Dutch report: Pentagon secret service
directed Iran’s Bosnian terror.
Last year the Dutch government produced a report on Bosnia compiled based on an extensive study of intelligence documents.
[Start Guardian excerpt]
Now we have the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims…[Meaning, the Muslim faction led by Alija Izetbegovic, which attacked the Bosnian Serbs, unlike the faction led by the more popular Fikret Abdic, which allied with the Bosnian Serbs
In both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 1993 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation – in flagrant violation of the UN security council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia.
The result was a vast secret conduit of weapons smuggling though Croatia. This was arranged by the clandestine agencies of the US, Turkey and Iran, together with a range of radical Islamist groups, including Afghan mojahedin and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah…
Arms purchased by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia made their way by night from the Middle East…The report stresses that the US was “very closely involved” in the airlift. Mojahedin fighters were also flown in, but they were reserved as shock troops for especially hazardous operations….
Rather than the CIA, the Pentagon’s own secret service was the hidden force behind these operations…
When these [weapon] shipments were noticed, Americans pressured UNPROFOR to rewrite reports, and when Norwegian officials protested about the flights, they were reportedly threatened into silence.
Meanwhile, the secret services of Ukraine, Greece and Israel were busy arming the Bosnian Serbs. Mossad was especially active and concluded a deal with the Bosnian Serbs at Pale…
[End Guardian excerpt]
In the above text, author Richard Aldrich puts a remarkable spin on the Dutch report.
He argues that the US was pressured into supporting Islamist terror in Bosnia because it had to make good on debts to Islamic terrorists, linked to Iran and Saudi Arabia.
That is quite a statement.
Look what Aldrich is conceding: that US intelligence had been working closely with Saudi and Iranian-backed terrorists (e.g., the ‘Afghan Arabs’ and Hizballah) *prior to Bosnia* and that the US did not want to damage those relationships.
Aldrich claims that this is why the U.S. helped out in Bosnia – to keep those relationships alive.
But in the same article, Aldrich states that, according to the Dutch report, the US *controlled* the Bosnian terror operations:
“Rather than the CIA, the Pentagon’s own secret service was the hidden force behind these operations…”
This makes Aldrich’s argument preposterous. It would be one thing to say that the U.S. turned a blind eye to terrorist activities because it didn’t want to alienate these terrorists and their backers in Saudi Arabia and Iran. But it is quite a different thing to claim the US took the initiative in organizing and coordinating a massive terrorist assault just to keep terrorist organizations happy. The fact that the Pentagon was the “hidden force behind these operations” shows that the Islamist terrorist assault on Bosnia was important US Establishment *policy*, not some weird fence-mending diplomacy.
The kind of spin in the Guardian article is often put forward when U.S. intelligence is caught organizing horrific activities. It is the Bumbling Bear Argument – U.S. intelligence does not *mean* to do bad things – it is naive and clumsy and therefore miscalculates, or foolishly tries to repay old debts, or isn’t aware whom it is dealing with, or whatever.
(As discussed in “Worst kept secrets of the bumbling bear,” the same sort of argument was made when the news broke that the CIA had been created by recruiting *thousands* of war criminals from Nazi intelligence. We were told that CIA Director Allen Dulles was supposedly fooled…poor bear…)
[Article continues after the photos]
On the Pic: These soldiers are not Arabs. They are Bosnian Muslims, that is, Orthodox Slavs whose ancestors converted to Islam during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.
Before the 1990s, people in Bosnia would have laughed at this sight, thinking the men were going to a costume ball. But nobody was laughing in 1995. The caption reads, “One of the Bosnian Army’s Muslim brigades marches through Zenica in a demonstration of strength by 10,000 soldiers.” The (London) Times, 11 December 1995.
This photograph was published in some Western newspapers, but only once. Indeed, the Western media published very little about the fierce fundamentalism of the Bosnian ‘government’ or about the money, weapons and thousands of terrorists shipped into Bosnia by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Islamist states. And none mentioned that the Pentagon was coordinating this violent onslaught. Nor did the media tell people that Bosnian Muslims were divided, that a large number of them opposed the extremists or that many were allied with the Bosnian Serbs.
Deprived of this basic information, bombarded with media reports describing an imaginary secular government in Sarajevo, most people in the West had no understanding of what was happening in Bosnia. They had no basis on which to reject editorials like the one that appeared on 9 May 1993 in The Scotsman.
The Scotsman and other Western newspapers mocked the Bosnian Serbs, claiming they suffered from a supposed cultural paranoia concerning Muslims in general and Bosnian Muslim fundamentalist leader Alija Izetbegovic and his followers in particular.
The Scotsman wrote with heavy sarcasm: “The essentially secular Muslim credentials of President Alija Izetbegovic are seen as evidence of a plot to establish a fundamentalist Muslim state in Europe…an Islamic fundamentalist conspiracy which, in turn, no doubt, will be joined by Anglo American aggressors.”
But as the Dutch government report indicates, the Serbs were quite right about the Anglo-American aggressors. And as for Mr. Izetbegovic’s “secular credentials,” he was openly a passionate devotee of the Ayatollah Khomeini. He believed it was an act of virtue to establish Islamic rule by violence.
Were the Serbs paranoid? Keep in mind that the men in the picture above, dressed as holy warriors, were part of Alija Izetbegovic’s army…
This Reuters photo appeared in The Independent, 11 December 1995, and as far as we can determine, never again. The caption, reads, “Faith in action: A Muslim brigade of the Bosnian Army marching in a military parade in Zenica, central Bosnia.” Note that the headbands have Arabic writing. Bosnian Muslims speak Serbo-Croatian, as do Serbs and Croats, not Arabic. By 1995 the Bosnian army, so-called, was largely Islamized by the Mujahedeen brought in by Iran and Saudi Arabia in a program coordinated by the Pentagon.
The Guardian says the Mujahedeen shipped into Bosnia “were reserved as shock troops for especially hazardous operations.” This is an imprecise formulation. What was the practical function of these Mujahedeen?
A London Telegraph article reported on the takeover of the Bosnian town of Fojnica by the Mujahedeen. The Telegraph reports that the Mujahedeen trained and led the Bosnian ‘government’s’ infamous Handzar division. The rank and file consisted of Bosnian and Albanian Muslims who were following the tradition of local Muslims who joined the German Nazi Waffen SS during World War II. The Mujahedeen trained other Bosnian troops as well (see pictures above).
These are the men of the Handzar division. “We do everything with the knife, and we always fight on the frontline,” a Handzar told one UN officer.
Up to 6000-strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler… [That would be Haj Amin al-Husseini, who created and/or inspired today’s Palestinian Arab organizations. –
They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say UN sources. The strong presence of native Albanians is an ominous sign. It could mean the seeds of war are spreading south via Kosovo and into Albania, thence to the Albanians of FYR Macedonia.
Pakistani fundamentalists are known to have had a strong hand in providing arms and a small weapons industry for the Bosnian Muslims.
Hardline elements of the Bosnian army, like the Handzar, appear to have the backing of an increasingly extreme leadership in Sarajevo…
[End excerpt from Telegraph article]
The “hazardous operations” of the mujahideen leading these Handzar troops included terrorist attacks on the non-Muslim population of Bosnia. (And remember, it was *Pentagon intelligence* which, according to the Dutch government report, coordinated these “hazardous operations”! )
Describing the work of the mujahedeen who dominated the town of Fojnica, the Telegraph reports:
[Start excerpt from Telegraph article]
“The first political act in this new operation appears to have been the murder of the two monks in the monastery. Last month Brother Nikola Milicevic, 39, and Brother Mato Migic, 56, were surprised by a four-man squad.
[End excerpt from Telegraph article]
Terrorist attacks such as the execution of the two Christian monks were intended to
a) assert mujahedeen control and
b) exacerbate Christian-Muslim tensions, thus pushing rank-and-file Muslims into the Islamist camp. Thus, the presence of *thousands* of these terrorists had an immense impact on Bosnia, whose total population was at the time only about 4.3 million.
Text and analysis: http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/deja.htm