Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dennis Blair: Corporatist Candidate for Director of National Intelligence

The Wall Street Journal reported in its December 19 edition, that President-elect Barack Obama is slated to choose retired Vice Admiral Dennis Blair as his Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Blair's choice as DNI would further cement Pentagon control over America's intelligence apparatus. Currently, Air Force Lt. General Michael V. Hayden, a former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) is CIA Director while retired Vice Admiral and former chief at NSA, Mike McConnell is the current Director of the Office of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the chief of America's 16 spy agencies.

The DNI position was established after Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458), one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that "investigated" the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Agencies overseen by the ODNI include: the Central Intelligence Agency; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency; Army Military Intelligence; Defense Intelligence Agency; Marine Corps Intelligence Activity; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; National Reconnaissance Office; National Security Agency; Office of Naval Intelligence; the Department of Energy's Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and Coast Guard Intelligence; the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration; the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Half of the agencies comprising the "Intelligence Community" over which the ODNI has statutory authority are embedded within the Pentagon. But this doesn't quite tell the tale. ODNI is headquartered in McClean, Virginia, the capitol of militarist corporate grift. It employs some 1,500 people, largely drawn from the world of private intelligence contractors where top secret and above security clearances are marketable commodities. As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock wrote in his essential study, Spies for Hire:

The bulk of this $50 billion [intelligence budget] is serviced by one hundred companies... The analogy between the intelligence industry and the military-industrial complex famously described by President Eisenhower in 1961 is fitting. By 2006, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 70 percent, or almost three-quarters, of the intelligence budget was spent on contracts. That astounding figure...means that the vast majority of the money spent by the Intelligence Community is not going into building an expert cadre within government but to creating a secret army of analysts and action officers inside the private sector. (Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008, pp. 12-13)

Among the firms embedded at ODNI are corporate heavy-hitters such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC. A glance at the Project on Government Oversight's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD) find all four firms prominently on display.

Like McConnell, a ten-year veteran of the spooky Booz Allen Hamilton corporation where he served as a senior vice president overseeing the firm's extensive contracts in the intelligence and national security areas, Blair currently sits on the boards of Tyco International, Iridium Satellite and the Center for New American Security, "a Washington think tank from which several Obama advisers hail," according to the Journal.

Obama's choice for ODNI is well-placed to continue the mercenary "tradition" of intelligence outsourcing and what one can only describe as the corporatization of government. According to the Journal, some of the "tougher intelligence issues" the incoming Obama administration seeks to resolve "is weighing whether to propose the creation of a domestic intelligence agency," modeled after Britain's MI5.

That's worked out well in the UK, just ask the Irish! As investigative journalist Neil Mackay has documented in Glasgow's Sunday Herald, both MI5 and the British Army's Force Research Unit (FRU) ran Ulster's neofascist hit-squads during the dirty war period in Northern Ireland,

Our investigations show that far from merely "turning" terrorists to work for the state, British military intelligence actually created loyalist murder gangs to operate as proxy assassins. They even cleared areas in which the gangs were operating of police and army, to allow them to carry out their hits and escape. ("How Britain created Ulster's murder gangs," Sunday Herald, 28 January 2007)

Among the more stellar accomplishments of FRU and MI5 were the assassinations of civil rights attorneys Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. Both were killed under "suspicious" circumstances. Finucane was shot and killed in front of his children in 1989, Nelson was the victim of a brutal car bomb attack a decade later. Responsibility for the murders were claimed respectively, by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVA). Both groups were under the operational control of FRU/MI5 handlers.

More recently, members of the special police unit (SO19) which murdered Brazilian immigrant Jean Charles de Menezes in the aftermath of al-Qaeda's July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London, were trained by the British Army's Special Reconnaissance Regiment, comprised of veterans who worked closely with SAS, MI5, FRU and Special Branch hit squads in Northern Ireland.

Like his British counterparts, Admiral Blair had more than a passing acquaintance with brutal counterinsurgency operations. Until his 2002 retirement from the Navy, Blair was the Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC). His tenure in that post however, was not without controversy.

During the 1999 East Timorese scorched-earth campaign by the Indonesian military (TNI) and rightist militias controlled by the Army, Blair was instructed by President Clinton to demand that Indonesian Armed Forces Commander General Wiranto, shut down the death-squad operation. According to investigative journalist Allan Nairn, "the US military has, behind the scenes and contrary to Congressional intent, been backing the TNI." Nairn reported that according to a leaked top secret cable, Blair continued the Pentagon's policy of "constructive engagement" with the murderous Indonesian military.

According to the cable, which was drafted by Col. Joseph Daves, US military attaché in Jakarta, Admiral Blair "told the armed forces chief that he looks forward to the time when [the army will] resume its proper role as a leader in the region. He invited General Wiranto to come to Hawaii as his guest in conjunction with the next round of bilateral defense discussions in the July-August '99 time frame. He said Pacific command is prepared to support a subject matter expert exchange for doctrinal development. He expects that approval will be granted to send a small team to provide technical assistance to police and...selected TNI personnel on crowd control measures."

Admiral Blair at no point told Wiranto to stop the militia operation, going the other way by inviting him to be his personal guest in Hawaii. Blair told Wiranto that the United States would initiate this new riot-control training for the Indonesian armed forces. ("US complicity in Timor," The Nation, September 9, 1999)

None of this is surprising, however. When the TNI seized power in 1965 in a violent takeover that murdered some 500,000-1,000,000 Indonesians accused of being "communists," a monstrous purge repeated in 1975 when the TNI invaded East Timor with blessings from Washington, the CIA and the Pentagon were in the thick of it. As national security analyst William Blum documented in Killing Hope,

Twenty-five years later, American diplomats disclosed that they had systematically compiled comprehensive lists of "Communist" operatives, from top echelons down to village cadres, and turned over more than 5,000 names to the Indonesian army, which hunted those persons down and killed them. The Americans would then check off the names of those who had been killed or captured. Robert Martens, a former member of the US Embassy's political section in Jakarta, stated in 1990: "It was really a big help to the army. They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad. There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment."

"No one cared, as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered, said Howard Federspiel, who in 1965 was the Indonesian expert at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. "No one was getting very worked up about it." (Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995, p. 194)

Nor does it appear anyone is "getting very worked up about it" today.

Blair's cosy relationship with Indonesia's murderous generals is referred to delicately in a Washington Post puff piece that claims the retired Admiral "is likely to face Senate questions about his role in maintaining U.S. military ties with Indonesia's military during a period in which it engaged in human rights violations."

In the Pacific, he butted heads with the State Department and Congress over his desire to maintain ties with the Indonesian military despite its human rights record and its involvement in East Timor atrocities. "Militaries that are doing something bad at times go into their shell," he said at the time. "It's them against the world." A more fruitful strategy, he insisted, is to make them feel a kinship with professional militaries. (Dana Priest, "Blair Is Steeped in the Ways Intelligence Works," The Washington Post, December 20, 2008, A04)

Nairn, the only Western journalist remaining in East Timor during the period, described how the TNI was "doing something bad at the time," and why Blair was instructed to drop a dime on the generals:

The gravity of the meeting was heightened by the fact that two days before, the militias had committed a horrific machete massacre at the Catholic church in Liquiça, Timor. YAYASAN HAK, a Timorese human rights group, estimated that many dozens of civilians were murdered. Some of the victims' flesh was reportedly stuck to the walls of the church and a pastor's house. But Admiral Blair, fully briefed on Liquiça, quickly made clear at the meeting with Wiranto that he was there to reassure the TNI chief. According to a classified cable on the meeting, circulating at Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii, Blair, rather than telling Wiranto to shut the militias down, instead offered him a series of promises of new US assistance. (Nairn, op. cit.)

Given the U.S. military's atrocious record in Afghanistan and Iraq, one can appreciate how Admiral Blair would have wished that the TNI "feel a kinship with professional militaries."

Business as Usual

If there's one inescapable conclusion that can be drawn from the dodgy culture of cronyism and corruption that pervades Washington, journalist Daniel Hopsicker hits the nail on its proverbial head: "Being connected means never having to say your sorry." Where does Admiral Blair fit in to the mix?

Blair served as the President of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which describes itself as "a non-profit corporation that administers three federally funded research and development centers to provide objective analyses of national security issues." However, according to the Journal,

he didn't recuse himself from involvement in a study of a contract for the F-22 fighter jet. At the time, he was sitting on the board of a subcontractor on that program, EDO Corp. The inspector general found in a 2006 report that Mr. Blair violated the institute's conflict-of-interest standards but didn't influence the outcome for the study. Mr. Blair resigned from IDA over the matter, and he also stepped down from the EDO board. (Siobhan Gorman, "Obama Picks Military Man, Blair, as Top Spymaster," The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2008)

Sounds like more "change" from the "change president" to me! But other conflicts of interest are more troubling.

Iridium Satellite LLC, is a privately held firm based in Bethesda, Maryland and is one of a nexus of companies that have extensive contracts with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the ultra-spooky outfit that designs and flies America's fleet of military spy satellites. As ODNI, Blair would oversee NRO operations. As Tim Shorrock reported,

With an estimated $8 billion annual budget, the largest in the IC, contractors control about $7 billion worth of business at NRO, giving the spy satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of the Intelligence Community (Spies for Hire, op. cit., p. 16)

Iridium, according to its website, maintains a "constellation" of "66 low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites operating as a fully meshed network and supported by multiple in-orbit spares. It is the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world."

According to the firm, "through its own gateway in Hawaii, the U.S. DoD relies on Iridium for global communications capabilities." Additionally, its Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) "is a DoD enhancement" that provides "end-to-end encryption" through DoD's EMSS gateway for improved communications through the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN).

When the company was sold by Motorola after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000, current CEO Dan Colussy stepped in and rescued the firm from oblivion. Iridium went for a bargain price. Colussy's group of investors, according to USA Today paid $25 million for a company that cost Motorola some $5 billion to create. Talk about a fire sale!

But what Admiral Blair and other Iridium board members are not likely to trumpet during Senate hearings, USA Today reported in 2003,

In an odd twist, the new Iridium is 24% owned by an investment firm controlled by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman of Saudi Arabia.

The prince used to own a minority chunk of the old Iridium in partnership with the Saudi Binladen Group, the company run by Osama bin Laden's family. So in a way, some of the money that gave a start to the world's most notorious terrorist partly funded a communications system helping the U.S. military blast Saddam's army. Now that's globalization. (Kevin Maney, "Remember those 'Iridium's going to fail' jokes? Prepare to eat your hat," USA Today, April 9, 2003)

Depending on one's point of view there's nothing odd at all, just business as usual!

The company's board of directors include, among others, Chairman of Iridium Holdings LLC, Dan Colussy, former CEO of United Nuclear Corporation and Chairman and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the defunct Pan American World Airlines. According to William Blum's definitive account, "Pan Am has a long history of collaboration with the CIA." Dennis Blair. Alvin B. "Buzzy" Krongard, the former Chairman of the Board of the investment banking firm Alex Brown Incorporated and Executive Director of the CIA. Steven Pfeiffer, a senior partner and Chair of the Executive Committee of the high-powered law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. Tom Ridge, the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and two-term Governor of Pennsylvania. Lest we forget, amongst Ridge's other "accomplishments" was his 1999 signing of a death warrant for framed-up journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, while Jamal's case was on appeal.

Pretty "smart" company Blair keeps! Which just goes to prove, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wikileaks Threatened with Criminal Prosecution by the BND

The global whistleblowing website Wikileaks has been threatened with criminal prosecution by the head of Germany's spy agency Ernst Uhrlau, President of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), if they do not remove all "files or reports related to the BND".

According to a Wikileaks press release, "the spy chief claims to have already engaged the BND's legal machinery."

Threats against the journalists were triggered according to Wikileaks, by the publication of my article, "The End of the Affair? The BND, CIA and Kosovo's Deep State," (Antifascist Calling, December 7, 2008) on their website.

I did not seek to become part of the story, nevertheless Uhrlau's threats cannot go unchallenged. The censorship and prior restraint he demands are toxic to a free society.

In addition to my piece, the "files or reports" which the German spook insists they remove is a 2005, 25-page BND dossier on corrupt senior Kosovo politicians as well as unredacted pages from the Bundestag's 2006 Schaefer Report pertaining to illegal BND domestic operations targeting journalists and left-wing political organizations in Germany.

In denouncing this unwarranted provocation Wikileaks said: "The BND, like the CIA, is forbidden by law to engage in domestic activities. Yet the threats, which were made in German as well as in English, hold no legal power outside of Germany. They must be assumed to be an attempt to engage Wikileaks via its German component--or does Mr. Uhrlau suggest it is now BND policy to kidnap foreign journalists and try them before German courts?"

My article explored the parapolitical connections to a recent scandal in which three BND officers working under deep cover, were arrested and deported from Kosovo. What sparked the scandal was the arrest of one of the operatives when he was caught photographing the headquarters of the European Union Special Representative in Pristina, bombed under mysterious circumstances November 14.

The affair exposed the agency's extensive covert operations in Kosovo through a cut-out, the "private security firm" Logistics-Coordination & Assessment Services (LCAS). Information on LCAS was in the public domain after exposure by German investigative reporters writing in Spiegel International. Compromising notebooks and electronic files were subsequently seized by Kosovan authorities.

While the "evidence" presented linking the agents to the blast was slim at best, one cannot rule out that Thaci's intelligence service, with prompting by some "other government agency (OGA)," a foreign service with close ties to the corrupt statelet perhaps, exploited the agents' poor tradecraft to roll-up their operation because of fears of what they might have discovered.

I speculated whether the operatives were convenient foils of a plot hatched by the Kosovan government in cahoots with the CIA over BND disclosure of extensive links amongst Thaci and his henchmen to international criminal syndicates involved in the global drugs, arms and sordid trade in human beings. Revelations which Thaci and the CIA would prefer never come to light. I speculated that one motive for rolling-up the BND's operation may have been that the seized operative's notebook contained information that Camp Bondsteel continues to serve as a CIA "black site" where prisoners are illegally detained and tortured.

Additionally, I cited Wikileaks documents that revealed the BND's illegal manipulation of the media to influence domestic coverage of the spy agency through the infiltration of Focus Magazine as well as intelligence operations that sought to gain knowledge of journalists' confidential sources.

Wikileaks German correspondent Daniel Schmitt and Investigative Editor Julian Assange, said that the Schaefer Report, "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."

Following Schmitt and Assange's reporting, one must now add the criminal lengths that unaccountable spy agencies will go to prevent journalists from exposing their dirty and illegal operations.

Wikileaks also disclosed and posted a document that revealed the IP addresses "of an internally distributed mail from German telecommunications company T-Systems (Deutsche Telekom)" containing over two dozen IP "address ranges" used by the BND.

I cited this document in relation to a Berlin internet prostitution service ("") and said the following: "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."

That question, as well as many others, is still unanswered.

My article cited open-source media reports from Spiegel International, the World Socialist Website, Mother Jones Magazine, as well as the work of scholars and investigative journalists Misha Glenny, Christopher Deliso, Michel Chossudovsky and Peter Dale Scott. Are journalists and researchers now expected to submit copy to spooky censors for appropriate redactions before publishing their findings? I think not.

I stand by my conclusions and denounce Uhrlau's threats as an attack on the rights of investigative- and citizen journalists to reveal information that agencies such as the BND would rather never see the light of day.

Wikileaks should be commended, not attacked, for their brave documentary project and supported by everyone who upholds the rule of law, a free press and an open, democratic society.

As the heroic Israeli journalist Amira Hass told The Independent's Robert Fisk "our job is to monitor the centers of power," not shill for them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unconventional Warfare in the 21st Century: U.S. Surrogates, Terrorists and Narcotraffickers

On December 13, the whistleblowing website Wikileaks did investigative- and citizen journalists a great service by publishing the Army Special Operations Forces FM 3-05.130, titled Unconventional Warfare.

Published in September 2008, the 248-page document though unclassified, is restricted "to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means." The Department of the Army urges recipients to "destroy by any method that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document." Wikileaks has guaranteed that the disappearance of this critical primary source into the bowels of the Pentagon will not occur.

Special Warfare's Nazi Provenance

Since the end of World War II, the United States has acted through proxies either to defeat leftist insurgencies or to subvert "hostile" governments, e.g. those states viewed by Washington and the multinational corporations they serve as ideological competitors.

Historically, U.S. unconventional warfare (UW) doctrine was derived from Nazi experiences in countering "partisan warfare" across Europe during World War II. As analyst and scholar Michael McClintock detailed in his essential study on the topic,

American special warfare doctrine would draw considerably on Wehrmacht and SS methods of terrorizing civilian populations and, perhaps more importantly, of co-opting local factions to combat partisan resistance. The Department of the Army's A Study of Special and Subversive Operations (November 1947) was an early assessment of the lessons learned from World War II in the context of Cold War imperatives. (Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, 1940-1990, New York: Pantheon Books, 1992, p. 59)

But the United States did more than translate captured Wehrmacht and SS documents: they recruited many Waffen SS veterans, often with an assist from high Vatican officials. Tens of thousands of war criminals were spirited out of Europe along "ratlines" into U.S. hands for clandestine war against the new enemy: the Soviet Union and the international left.

Pathological killers such as SS veteran Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyons, was instrumental when the CIA and the Argentine death-squad generals launched their 1980 "cocaine coup" in Bolivia. Barbie, along with operatives linked to the CIA, Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and preexisting Nazi networks, "reorganized" Bolivia's intelligence services to reflect the Southern Cone's "changing realities." (For background, see Robert Parry's excellent series, Dark Side of Rev. Moon, The Consortium for Independent Journalism)

Even when the "competition" was peaceful and confined to the political-economic spheres, once the U.S. intervened, violence, civil war and chaos followed. This scenario was played out in Chile during the 1970s, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua and El Salvador throughout the 1980s, in Yugoslavia and the Balkans generally during the 1990s, today in Bolivia and Venezuela and on a planetary scale under the rubric of the "global war on terrorism" (GWOT). The lesson for those who buck the global hegemon? U.S. political subversion and state terror will wreck havoc and halt independent development in its tracks.

And when the global Godfather's military forces directly intervene? Although the U.S. was defeated in Southeast Asia, target countries such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were destroyed by the United States in the process. Devastated economically and socially, decades later these nations have yet to fully recover from the depredations wrought by their American "liberators." However, the U.S. military did learn certain unique skills, not least of which was the application of selective violence against the communist National Liberation Front's civilian infrastructure.

The Phoenix Program, meticulously analyzed in researcher Douglas Valentine's definitive account, was launched in 1967 by the CIA and U.S. Special Forces as a means to win "hearts and minds." But from its inception, Phoenix operators worked in tandem with drug-linked South Vietnamese and Laotian "allies" and morphed into an assassination and torture program that killed thousands. Long after the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia, lessons learned through Phoenix and related programs such as Condor and Gladio, were "refined" during the 1970s-1980s in Afghanistan, Italy, Turkey and Central America, and now constitute the bedrock on which the Pentagon's unconventional warfare doctrine operates today.

Throughout the Cold War, U.S. power in proxy states was exercised through repressive police, intelligence agencies and by far-right civilian allies (referred to as "foreign internal defense," FID). Such forces, trained and funded by the U.S., combined a neofascist political outlook with organized criminal activities generally, though certainly not limited to, the international narcotics trade.

NATO's infamous "stay-behind" Operation Gladio networks in Italy and Turkey for example, worked directly with international narcotics syndicates and pro-fascist political parties such as the Italian Avanguardia Nazionale (National Vanguard) founded by the terrorist drug trafficker Stefano delle Chiaie and the Turkish Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (National Action Party, MHP) and the drug-linked terror gang, the Grey Wolves, founded by Alparslan Türkeş, a German sympathizer during World War II.

With links to those nations' intelligence services, the CIA and the Pentagon, these organizations waged a relentless war against the left through terrorist bombings, murders and assassinations in a bid to destabilize their governments and spark a full-fledged military takeover. Along with the CIA, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) have been instrumental in organizing and waging unconventional warfare with the express purpose of maintaining the economic-political status quo in target countries.

As long-time readers of Antifascist Calling are aware, among the more critical issues explored here are those relating to the intersection of corporate and military power and how those interactions play out on the contemporary political plane to subvert democracy and movements for social justice.

Indeed, reference is frequently made to what I have identified, following Peter Dale Scott and other analysts, as the corporatist deep state: that is, the objective interface amongst political elites, multinational corporations, the military, intelligence agencies and organized crime. Unlike Scott however, I contend these linkages do not "transcend" the left-right continuum, but rather are part and parcel of Washington's decades-long war against the left, social justice movements generally and in particular, democratic socialist movements from below.

As we will see in my analysis of FM 3-05.130, USSOCOM make these links explicit, arguing that "UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces."

As I averred, proxy forces, often aligned with far-right groups and organized crime-linked assets (for the most part interchangeable players) are the preferred "irregular forces" employed by Washington. USSOCOM states that this definition "is consistent with the historical reasons that the United States has conducted UW" and goes on to cite its "support of both an insurgency, such as the Contras in 1980s Nicaragua, and resistance movements to defeat an occupying power, such as the Mujahideen in 1980s Afghanistan." It doesn't get any more explicit than this!

Ideologically Coherent

The authors of FM 3-05.130, far from being militarist troglodytes are knowledgeable and erudite, presenting a broad and ideologically coherent narrative that is both informative and historically intriguing in its transparency and methodological purpose. In other words, unlike their political masters, they don't pull any punches.

Right up front they inform the reader that UW establishes a "litmus test" which is warfare conducted "by, with or through surrogates" and that their preferred assets are irregular forces:

Irregulars, or irregular forces, are individuals or groups of individuals who are not members of a regular armed force, police, or other internal security force. They are usually nonstate-sponsored and unconstrained by sovereign nation legalities and boundaries. These forces may include, but are not limited to, specific paramilitary forces, contractors, individuals, businesses, foreign political organizations, resistance or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketers, and other social or political "undesirables." (Unconventional Warfare, p. 1-3)

While "conventional warfare" is viewed as a conflict between states, Irregular Warfare (IW) and UW according to FM 3-05.130 is "about people not platforms." Irregular and unconventional warfare "does not depend on military prowess alone."

It also relies on the understanding of such social dynamics as tribal politics, social networks, religious influences, and cultural mores. Although IW is a violent struggle, not all participating irregulars or irregular forces are necessarily armed. People, more so than weaponry, platforms, and advanced technology, will be the key to success in IW. Successful IW relies on building relationships and partnerships at the local level. It takes patient, persistent, and culturally savvy people within the joint force to execute IW. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 1-5)

Indeed, FM 3-05.130 explicitly states that its "strategic purpose [is] to gain or maintain control or influence over the population and to support that population through political, psychological, and economic methods." While both IW and UW seek to influence "relevant populations," UW in contrast to IW, "is always conducted by, with, or through irregular forces." In other words, local surrogates drawn from relevant far-right and/or organized crime-linked assets are the means of eliciting "influence" over "relevant populations."

In Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, "irregular forces" deployed during U.S./NATO destabilization operations in the former Yugoslavia included elements of the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets, e.g. al-Qaeda, which have been linked to the CIA, Britain's MI6, Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI), as well as long-established drug, arms and human trafficking networks aligned with the Albanian and Turkish Mafias. Indeed, "irregular forces" such as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) demonstrated all of these relationships in spades.

According to FM 3-05.130, the constituent elements of contemporary IW theory include: Insurgency; COIN (counterinsurgency); UW; Terrorism; CT (counterterrorism); FID (foreign internal defense); Stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) operations; Strategic communication (SC); PSYOP; Civil-military operations (CMO); Information operations (IO); Intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) activities; Transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms dealing, and illegal financial transactions that support or sustain IW; and Law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 1-5)

Its but a short step as far as it goes, from citing the elements of UW to deploying the most dubious players as strategic assets in planetary-wide U.S. destabilization operations.

The Media's Role

Explicitly stated is the media's role in advancing the goals of United States national power. As recent exposés in The New York Times and elsewhere have documented, "message force multipliers" such as retired Pentagon officials and former high-ranking officers, often linked to corporate defense firms that rely heavily on Pentagon largesse, have leveraged their expertise and conducted illegal domestic psychological operations (PSYOPS) and information warfare, with the complicity and full knowledge of the giant media firms.

It is important for the official agencies of government, including the armed forces, to recognize the fundamental role of the media as a conduit of information. The USG uses SC to provide top-down guidance for using the informational instrument of national power through coordinated information, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the other instruments of national power. The armed forces support SC themes and messages through IO, public affairs (PA), and defense support to public diplomacy (DSPD). The armed forces must assure media access consistent with classification requirements, operations security, legal restrictions, and individual privacy. The armed forces must also provide timely and accurate information to the public. Success in military operations depends on acquiring and integrating essential information and denying it to the adversary. The armed forces are responsible for conducting IO, protecting what should not be disclosed, and aggressively attacking adversary information systems. IO may involve complex legal and policy issues that require approval, review, and coordination at the national level. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-2)

Indeed, as the authors aver, since UW consists of operations conducted "by, with or through irregular forces," engagement with the "human terrain" is "fundamentally a conflict of ideas"! In a nutshell, the "human terrain" explicitly includes the American public who are also the targets of Pentagon propagandistic "information operations." This is stated explicitly:

By contrast, USG-controlled specific instruments of informational power, while narrower in scope, can achieve specific and measurable results useful to prosecuting UW. ARSOF [Army Special Operations Forces] can work with DOS [Department of State] counterparts to identify and engage select TAs [target audiences] that are able to influence behavior within a UWOA [unconventional warfare operating area]. Such TAs may be inside the UWOA itself or outside but able to influence the UWOA. The USG can then subject these TAs, directly or indirectly, to a DOS public diplomacy (PD) campaign coordinated to support the UW effort. Similarly, since UW may be a long-duration or politically sensitive effort, ARSOF and its DOS partner, the Bureau of Public Affairs, can craft a PA campaign intended to keep the U.S. domestic audience informed of the truth in a manner supportive of USG goals and the effective prosecution of UW. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-3)

Economic Subversion

For the authors of FM 3-05.130, "properly integrated manipulation of economic power can and should be a component of UW." Never mind that such "manipulation" can and did result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings in Iraq prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation as well as in a score of other nations that have defied the U.S.

The cases of Chile and Nicaragua are instructive in this regard, where the disgraced president, Richard Nixon, vowed to "make the economy scream," prior to the 1973 coup, or the crippling sanctions and economic embargo imposed on Nicaragua's Sandinista government. Various sanctions regimes unambiguously "can build and sustain international coalitions waging or supporting U.S. UW campaigns." A similar methodology is being applied today against Iran as "punishment" for its legal development of civilian nuclear power.

Like all other instruments of U.S. national power, the use and effects of economic "weapons" are interrelated and they must be coordinated carefully. Once again, ARSOF must work carefully with the DOS and intelligence community (IC) to determine which elements of the human terrain in the UWOA are most susceptible to economic engagement and what second- and third-order effects are likely from such engagement. The United States Agency for International Development's (USAID's) placement abroad and its mission to engage human groups provide one channel for leveraging economic incentives. The DOC's can similarly leverage its routine influence with U.S. corporations active abroad. Moreover, the IO effects of economic promises kept (or ignored) can prove critical to the legitimacy of U.S. UW efforts. UW practitioners must plan for these effects. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-7)

Indeed, ARSOF plans for waging UW take an integrated approach and assert that they "can and should exploit the active and analytical capabilities existing in the financial instruments of U.S. power." The application of financial warfare however, including the "persuasive influence" of state and nonstate "actors" regarding the availability and terms "of loans, grants, or other financial assistance" is predicated on towing the U.S. line. The authors aver that "such application of financial power must be part of a circumspect, integrated, and consistent UW plan." In other words, threats, bribery and economic subversion generally can work wonders in getting the attention of recalcitrant states not "on board" with the U.S.

Narcotrafficking Networks and the "Global War on Terror"

For decades, investigative journalists, researchers and analysts have noted the symbiotic relationship amongst international narcotrafficking syndicates, neofascist political groups, U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. Special Forces in the war against leftist adversaries.

Dozens of books and hundreds of articles by journalists and writers such as Alfred W. McCoy, Peter Dale Scott, Henrik Krüger, Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Jonathan Marshall, Douglas Valentine, Daniel Hopsicker, Bill Conroy as well as exposés by former DEA investigators such as Michael Levine and Celerino Castillo III, have documented the long and bloody history of U.S. complicity in the global drugs trade.

While the United States has pumped billions of dollars into so-called drug eradication programs in target countries such as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Afghanistan and Mexico through ill-conceived projects such as Plan Colombia and the Mérida Initiative, also know as Plan Mexico, recent reports, most notably by The Narco News Bulletin, have documented the close interrelationships amongst narcotraffickers, rightist extremists, political elites and U.S. intelligence agencies.

Indeed, investigative journalist Bill Conroy recently documented how a U.S. trained and equipped special operations group within the Mexican army (the Zetas) "is now assisting the Mexican military in its narco-trafficking operations along the border."

None of this however, phases the authors of Unconventional Warfare. And why should it. As they themselves describe the doctrine, unconventional warfare is "conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces," the next logical step in the equation is the utilization of transnational criminal networks to advance U.S. national power. The section, "Law Enforcement Instrument of United States National Power and Unconventional Warfare," states this explicitly: no tinfoil hat needed here!

Actors engaged in supporting elements in the UWOA may rely on criminal activities, such as smuggling, narcotics, or human trafficking. Political and military adversaries in the UWOA will exhibit the same sensitivity to official exposure and engagement because criminal entities routinely seek to avoid law enforcement. Sometimes, political and military adversaries are simultaneously criminal adversaries, which ARSOF UW planners must consider a threat. At other times, the methods and networks of real or perceived criminal entities can be useful as supporting elements of a U.S.-sponsored UW effort. In either case, ARSOF understand the importance of coordinating military intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) for specific UW campaigns with the routine intelligence activities conducted by U.S. law enforcement agencies. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-7)

During subversive operations by U.S. ARSOF soldiers in target areas, indigenous networks, many of whom are linked to far-right and narcotrafficking groups (Nicaragua, Bosnia, Kosovo), including "former" allies such as al-Qaeda, are referred to as "The Underground" and "The Auxiliary" in FM 3-05.130. Details however, are few and far between and the authors state unambiguously:

There is more SF participation in developing and advising underground [and auxiliary] elements than is widely understood or acknowledged. Most such participation is classified and inappropriate for inclusion in this manual. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 5-5)

Preparing the ground for U.S. attacks and/or subversive operations by proxy forces aligned with American goals are a key component of UW theory. Whether a population is "on-board" with U.S. geostrategic goals or the tactical modalities employed in such campaigns is irrelevant to the new cold warriors of the GWOT. When "persuasion" fails the muscle moves in to get the attention on the "natives."

Organization of the larger indigenous population from which the irregular forces are drawn--the mass base--must likewise be conducted primarily by the irregular organization itself under indirect guidance of SF. The primary value of the mass base to UW operations is less a matter of formal organization than of marshaling population groups to act in specific ways that support the overall UW campaign. The mass base, or general population and society at large, is recognized as an operational rather than a structural effort for ARSOF in UW. Elements of the mass base are divided into three distinct groups in relation to the cause or movement--pro, anti/con, and those who are uncommitted, undecided, or ambivalent. ARSOF, the underground, and the auxiliary then conduct irregular activities to influence or leverage these groups. These groups may be witting or unwitting of the UW nature of the operations or activities in which they are utilized. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 5-5)

In Colombia for example, U.S. "counterdrug" assistance to the corrupt Uribe government flowed directly to the narcotrafficking far-right death squad, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or AUC. Though designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, the Uribe government's military high command, directly advised by the Pentagon, funneled weapons and intelligence that was used by the narcofascists to murder union organizers, often after payment by U.S. multinational corporations such as Chiquita Brands International, of anyone the group identified as a "guerrilla."

In ARSOF parlance, AUC "influence"--dragging unsuspecting citizens off a bus and beheading them in front of their children, for example--is what is meant when corporate- or drug-linked death squads "conduct irregular activities" to "leverage these groups." But the international community has another term to describe these activities: state terrorism.

In 2004, as part of broad U.S. efforts to unseat Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan authorities arrested some 100 AUC fighters who were planning to attack specially-selected targets in Caracas. According to published reports, several high-ranking American and Colombian military officers were implicated in the operation.

The parapolitical scandal which continues to rock Bogotá, revealed high-level involvement by Colombia's political and military elite with the narcofascist AUC. But the scandal also revealed the involvement of the U.S. 7th Special Forces Group and the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion in directly training and advising Colombian military units responsible for the worst human rights abuses.

Numerous reports have emerged that detail these linkages, including the 2007 disclosure by the National Security Archive that Colombian Army commander General Mario Montoya "engaged in a joint operation with a Medellín-based paramilitary group. 'Operation Orion' was part of a larger military offensive in the city during 2002-03 to attack urban guerrilla networks. The sweep resulted in at least 14 deaths and dozens of disappearances. The classified intelligence report confirmed 'information provided by a proven source,' according to comments from the U.S. defense attaché included in the document."

This is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg, however.

In Afghanistan, the world's number one producer and processor of opium and its finished "product" heroin, bound for European and U.S. markets, drug trafficking according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) in their 2008 World Drug Report, is "out of control." According to UNDOC, drug money is used as "a lubricant for corruption, and a source of terrorist financing: in turn, corrupt officials and terrorists make drug production and trafficking easier."

Indeed, since the 2001 U.S. invasion and occupation, opium production has skyrocketed some 1,000% and accounts for a large percentage of the country's gross domestic product. Tellingly, some of the staunchest U.S. allies in the area are directly tied to international narcotics organizations. According to UNDOC, the global increase in opium production "was almost entirely due to the 17% expansion of cultivation in Afghanistan, which is now 193,000 ha [hectares]" reaching 8,700 metric tons in 2007, accounting for a staggering 92% of global opium production!

Despite these horrendous statistics, the authors of FM 3-05.130 can asset that "the methods and networks of real or perceived criminal entities can be useful"! Indeed they can, as a seemingly limitless source of black funds earmarked for U.S. planetary subversion in the interest of expanding American corporate power.

According to a June 2008 report by The Times, after last year's bumper crop sent the price of opium spiraling downwards, the Taliban and U.S.-connected drug lords linked to Hamid Karzai's government, are stockpiling vast quantities of opium in order to induce a rise in world prices. And Time Magazine reported in October that the value of hoarded opium may be as much as $3.2 billion.

Celebrated by the Pentagon and the U.S. media as a "splendid victory," the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan quickly spiraled out of control and the country now faces a resurgent Taliban, a new base of operations for al-Qaeda in the tribal areas of Pakistan and evidence of Pakistani ISI involvement in aiding the fundamentalist insurgents and the global drugs trade. But for American unconventional warriors, a full accounting of war crimes that ARSOF supervised and their Northern Alliance "allies" carried out have yet to be answered.

As Peter Dale Scott noted in 2002,

It's a bitter irony: The largely successful U.S. campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan is resulting in an increase of funds for terrorists around the globe.

It is true, as President Bush has insisted, that global terrorism is financed by the flow of illicit drugs. Yet by installing and rewarding a coalition of drug-financed warlords in Kabul, the United States has itself helped restore the flow of Afghan heroin to terrorist groups, from the Balkans and Chechnya to Tajikistan, Pakistan and Kashmir. ("Poppy Paradox: U.S. War in Afghanistan Boosts Terror Funds," Dissident Voice, August 3, 2002)

Indeed, among the staunchest U.S. allies in the region, characters such as Hazrat Ali and Gul Agha, "have been 'bought off' with millions in deals brokered by U.S. and British intelligence." But while America was happy to endorse a drug-linked status quo that relied on its so-called "warlord strategy" to "stabilize" Afghanistan, part of the blowback from these dubious alliances included allowing bin Laden to escape into Pakistan in 2001 after the "battle" of Tora Bora.

But for Pentagon proponents of unconventional warfare, the "price is always right" when it comes to strategic and tactical alliances with narcotraffickers and international terrorists. After all, since "UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces," everything is permitted.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Organized Crime, Intelligence and Terror: The D-Company's Role in the Mumbai Attacks

What do you call a "devout Muslim" who exerts considerable control over South Asia's heroin, gambling, prostitution and smuggling rackets? Why an intelligence asset, of course!

When Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure"--LET) militants slaughtered nearly 200 people in Mumbai during the November 26 siege in India's financial capital, one name stood out among a list of 20 fugitives the Indian government has demanded Pakistan extradite as a key suspect responsible for providing funds and logistical support to the Kashmir-based terrorist outfit.

Enter Dawood Ibrahim, the enigmatic Mafia don of Mumbai's D-Company whose far-flung organized crime empire stretches from Dubai through Pakistan to India and beyond. If anyone knows where the proverbial "bodies are buried," that man may very well be Ibrahim. Wanted by Interpol and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Ibrahim commutes between palatial homes in Dubai and Karachi where he enjoys the protection afforded by "friends in high places."

According to a report in Asia Times Online, "Ibrahim is...suspected of orchestrating the November 26 Mumbai terrorist strikes through a businessman in Saudi Arabia said to be his frontman." The Indian-born drug kingpin has been identified by journalists and investigators as a long-time asset of both the CIA and Pakistan's notorious Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

Asia Times Online investigative journalist Raja Murthy was told by Lahore-based journalist Amir Mir that "Dawood's underworld connects and business ventures are extensive. And he sublets his name in Pakistan, Thailand, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries, to franchises in the fields of drug trafficking and gambling dens."

Karachi-based reporter Ghulam Hasnain described to Murthy why Ibrahim was amongst ISI's most valued assets: "Dawood is Pakistan's number one espionage operative. His men in Mumbai help him get whatever information he needs for Pakistan. Rumor has it that sometimes his men in Karachi accompany Pakistani intelligence agents to the airports to scan arriving passengers and identify RAW [Indian Research and Analysis Wing] agents."

And what does this "number one espionage operative" get in return? According to Hasnain, "His home is a palatial house spread over 6,000 square yards, boasting a pool, tennis courts, snooker room and a private, hi-tech gym. He wears designer clothes, drives top-of-the-line Mercedes and luxurious four-wheel drives, sports a half-a-million rupee Patek Phillipe wristwatch, and showers money on starlets and prostitutes."

Pakistan's shadowy military intelligence bureau, with organizational and operational linkages to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the CIA and Britain's MI6 has long been suspected of funding planetary-wide terrorist operations and nuclear smuggling in part, through "black money" derived from the drugs trade and other rackets. Despite this sordid history, the ISI and their organized crime-linked assets have long been viewed by Washington as allies in America's so-called "war on terror."

While American "counterterrorism officials" are now calling for the heads of Ibrahim, his associate Tiger Memon and former ISI Director, retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, described by the usual unnamed sources as--what else!--"rogue elements," the United States and their NATO partners have made liberal use of these jokers in a score of destabilization ops that span continents.

Indeed, after the Afghanistan operation during the 1980s, the CIA and ISI worked together in a score of global hot spots. From Bosnia to Chechnya and beyond, wherever the dirty work needed doing, a wide pool of disposable intelligence assets under cover of "Islamic fundamentalism" were ready, willing an able to fill the breech.

It should be noted that characters such as Dawood Ibrahim and others of his ilk have as much in common with Islam as former New York crime boss, the late, though unlamented, John Gotti did with Christianity.

Destabilization and Covert Ops in South Asia

Before his execution at the hands of the Taliban, Najibullah, Afghanistan's last socialist president told an American reporter:

We have a common task--Afghanistan, the USA and the civilised world--to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism. If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years. Afghanistan will turn into a centre of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a centre for terrorism. (Michael Griffin, Reaping the Whirlwind: Afghanistan, Al Qa'ida and the Holy War, London: Pluto Press, 2003, p. 4)

Little did the former president know, this was precisely the fate chosen for his country by the ISI and their American partners in crime over at Langley.

Though now on the outs with Washington, Hamid Gul was a staunch U.S. ally during the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad when the CIA made liberal use of billions of taxpayer dollars to fund the so-called mujahedin or "holy warriors" in a successful bid to bring down Kabul's socialist government.

During the war, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence assets linked to organized crime gangs and various smuggling rackets quickly learned the value of Afghanistan's number one cash crop, poppy. By the time the first phase of the war ended in 1989 with the withdrawal of Soviet combat troops, heroin production had morphed into a multibillion dollar industry along Asia's Golden Crescent, one that provided a limitless source of black funds--and hardened combat veterans--to enterprising intelligence agencies.

Occupying a prominent place in the spider's web, the D-Company certainly fit the bill. India's 1990s economic "reforms" bit hard into Ibrahim's former "cash crop"--gold smuggling. As the globalized market, rather than bureaucratic Indian regulations gobbled-up D-Company profits, Ibrahim's gang turned to another profitable source of income: the global drugs trade. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny points out, Ibrahim,

took the obvious plunge and started trafficking in drugs, chiefly in heroin bound for the European market and mandrax for South Africa. And in Dawood's part of the world, if you want to guarantee the success of a narcotics business, there is only one organization you need to cozy up to--the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Pakistan's secret service. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 135)

Ibrahim followed in the footsteps of a long line of CIA-ISI "best friends forever." As Alfred W. McCoy documented in his landmark study, The Politics of Heroin, another darling of dodgy intelligence agencies, the pathological killer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who made his mark in the 1970s by throwing acid into the faces of Afghan university women, became the chief beneficiary of CIA largesse. McCoy writes,

...over the next decade, [the CIA] gave more than half its covert aid to Hekmatyar's guerrillas. It was, as the U.S. Congress would find a decade later, a dismal decision. Unlike the later resistance leaders who commanded strong popular followings inside Afghanistan, Hekmatyar led a guerrilla force that was a creature of the Pakistan military. After the CIA built his Hezbi-i Islami into the largest guerrilla force, Hekmatyar would prove himself brutal and corrupt. Not only did he command the largest guerrilla army, but Hekmatyar would use it--with the full support of ISI and the tacit tolerance of the CIA--to become Afghanistan's leading drug lord. (The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991, pp. 449-450)

It would be a travesty however, to claim that Pakistan alone was responsible for launching Ibrahim along the path of international terrorism. India's own neofascist movement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers Organization--RSS), aligned with the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are intent on constructing a "pure" Hindu state purged of "alien" Muslims. As Indian socialist analysts point out,

It is no coincidence that the flourishing of fascism has accompanied the establishment of the neoliberal regime at the centre. The India to which neoliberalism has given birth, with one-fifth engaged in consumer excess as never before and four-fifths in deep misery, can only with difficulty persist alongside the maintenance of civil rights, democracy and periodic elections. If the fundamental social question, imperialist capitalism vs. socialism, were ever to be put at the centre of things, the continued existence of the landlord-big business regime that has ruled since independence would be in danger, and a truly explosive situation result. ("The Christian Pogrom in Orissa and the Growing Threat of Hindutva Fascism," Analytical Monthly Review, February 22, 2008)

This was tragically driven-home with a vengeance in the early 1990s. Indeed, the rise of Indian fascism coincides precisely with the rise of neoliberal globalization. As "market reforms" plunged tens of millions into abject poverty, the ruling elite cast about for scapegoats and, like European Jews in prewar Germany, the Muslim community became targets of religious intolerance and communalist fanaticism.

In 1992, during a 150,000 strong demonstration organized by Indian fascists, rampaging gangs destroyed the Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya. In the rioting that followed in a score of cities some 2,000 largely Muslim Indian citizens were murdered by Hindu supremacist mobs. Ibrahim, though nominally a Muslim, was greatly angered by the Mumbai pogrom and vowed revenge. It wasn't long in coming.

On March 12, 1993, a series of explosions wracked Mumbai in coordinated attacks believed to have been organized by the D-Company working in tandem with ISI who, like their nominal enemies in New Delhi, had their own communalist agenda. The largest blast occurred at the Mumbai Stock Exchange when a half-ton of military grade RDX was detonated in the underground parking garage and killed more than 50 people. By the time the smoke cleared, nearly 300 people lay dead and hundreds more wounded.

According to a 2002 report in India Abroad, Ibrahim organized the blasts "under pressure from the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan."

The ISI, which controlled the shipping routes from the Gulf to India's west coast, demanded that the mafia transport weapons and explosives into India in return for the use of Pakistani waters, the sources said quoting official information.

The Mumbai underworld's financial interests were under pressure as gold prices had crashed and the smuggling routes between the Gulf nations and the western coast of India had come under ISI control. ("ISI pressured Dawood to carry out Mumbai blasts," India Abroad, December 22, 2002)

It wouldn't be the first time nor the last that the dapper Mafia don would do ISI's bidding.

ISI: the Enforcement Arm of Pakistan's "Military Inc."

Hamid Gul's history as a beneficiary of state largesse in the form of plum contracts and other dodgy schemes that benefitted his family goes back decades. Nor is his hostility to civilian rule. As Pakistani scholar and investigative journalist Ayesha Siddiqa writes, Gul's maneuvering against Benazir Bhutto's first government, led to her ouster in 1990 through a "soft coup" engineered by the general and other top army officials.

Benazir Bhutto...replaced the head of the ISI, Lt. General Hameed Gul, with a general of her choice, Major-General Shamsul Rehman Kallu. This did not make her popular with the army, and hence the organization retaliated. Reportedly, the higher echelons of the army, who were extremely unhappy with her attempts to curb their power by interfering in internal matters, used the ISI to remove her from power. The army chief, General Aslam Beg, and the head of the ISI, Lt. General Asad Durrani, obtained a slush fund of approximately Rs 60 million (US$1.03 million) from a private bank, and used to execute the plan for Bhutto's removal. The money was given to the ISI to destabilize the civilian government. (Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy, Ann Arbor: Pluto Press, 2007, p. 91)

And what "private bank" pray tell, did the coup plotters reach out to in order to remove Bhutto from power? Why none other than Agha Hasan Abedi's Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) of course! BCCI, a corrupt financial institution that stole billions from their depositors was a long time "friend" of both ISI and CIA in their dirty dealings--from drug money laundering to arms trafficking--that spanned continents, from the covert war in Afghanistan to the Iran-Contra affair.

Days after the 2007 Karachi bombings that greeted her return to Pakistan, and just two months before her assassination in Rawalpindi, Benazir Bhutto accused Gul and Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief Ijaz Shah, among others, as the masterminds behind the savage attacks that left more than 140 people dead and 450 injured. After her assassination, although al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility for her murder, reportedly on orders from al-Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bhutto's followers believe the plans for her assassination came from senior ISI officials formerly in the retinue of America's "friend," the dictator General Zia ul-Haq.

Since his 1989 "retirement" from ISI, Gul has been an outspoken proponent of utilizing proxies such as LET as witting or unwitting assets in Pakistan's conflict with India over Kashmir--and as a supporter of the Taliban and another "former" group of U.S. intelligence assets, al-Qaeda. According to The Washington Post,

Gul, 71, has acknowledged that he once was a member of a group of retired ISI officers, Pakistani scientists and others that was suspected by the United States of giving material support to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Gul said the organization, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, was formed by a group of Pakistani businessmen to aid war-ravaged industries in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Treasury Department declared Ummah Tameer-e-Nau a terrorist group after a search of the group's offices in the Afghan capital, Kabul, unearthed documents referencing plans to kidnap a U.S. diplomat and outlining basic physics related to nuclear weapons. (Candace Rondeaux, "Former Pakistani Official Denies Links to Lashkar," The Washington Post, December 9, 2008, A12)

But what Gul (and The Washington Post) will not, cannot, reveal is that Ummah Tameer-e-Nau was also intimately connected--as was Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company--to the illicit nuclear smuggling ring of Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan. Allegedly run to ground after overwhelming evidence surfaced linking Khan and Pakistan's military government to the underground trade in nuclear technology and know-how, nuclear smuggling is the proverbial third rail of the Pakistani--and American--defense establishments.

Operating for decades with a wink and a nod from Washington and London, Khan was quietly released from house arrest in April according to a report by the McClatchy Washington Bureau. This despite the fact that international investigators found electronic blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon on computers belonging to Khan's smuggling network. According to The New York Times,

the latest design found on Khan network computers in Switzerland, Bangkok and several other cities around the world is half the size and twice the power of the Chinese weapon, with far more modern electronics, the investigators say. The design is in electronic form, they said, making it easy to copy--and they have no idea how many copies of it are now in circulation. (David E. Sanger, "Nuclear Ring Reportedly Had Advanced Weapon Design," The New York Times, June 15, 2008)

This closely tracks allegations made by whistleblower Sibel Edmonds earlier this year to The Sunday Times that a U.S. government official "warned a Turkish member of the [Khan] network that they should not deal with a company called Brewster Jennings because it was a CIA front company investigating the nuclear black market. The official's warning came two years before Brewster Jennings was publicly outed when one of its staff, Valerie Plame, was revealed to be a CIA agent in a case that became a cause celebre in the US."

Gul however, has a different take on Washington's newly-minted animus towards him and told the press on Monday, "I was quite a darling of theirs at the time. I don't know what this is about. It looks like they have a habit of betraying their friends."

While true as far it goes, Gul's disingenuousness is a cynical façade meant to conceal ISI's murderous policies. In an obvious appeal to dubious Western constituencies Gul declared, "I simply fail to understand what all the hullabaloo is about. It's simply because I speak loudly about the fact that 9/11 was a bloody hoax," he told the Post. "It was an inside job."

Mumbai: "Round Up the Usual Suspects!"

Though there is convincing evidence linking the D-Company to the Mumbai attacks, each new "revelation" by Indian and American authorities tend to erase Ibrahim from the picture. This subtle though noticeable reframing of the equation follows a predictable and well-known pattern. Independent press outlets such as Asia Times Online however, apparently haven't gotten the memo. According to investigative journalist Raja Murthy:

The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists set sail from Karachi to Mumbai in the ship MV Alpha, allegedly an Ibrahim-owned vessel. After being warned of Indian navy patrols along the Indian coast, the LET terrorists hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, Kuber, and murdered its crew except for the navigator, Amarsinh Solanki.

The terrorists slit Solanki's throat five nautical miles off the Indian coast--the Indian Navy found his body aboard the abandoned trawler with his hands tied behind his back. Later, they linked up with an Ibrahim gang member in Mumbai who provided them motorized inflatable rubber dinghies in which they landed ashore after 9pm on November 26. Within 30 minutes, they struck pre-determined targets in South Mumbai starting with the Leopold Cafe in Colaba. ("India Wants its 'Osama' Back," Asia Times Online, December 9, 2008)

These attacks however, didn't come out of the blue. According to numerous reports, Mumbai police were given "solid information" from India's Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) that Mumbai was on a list of cities to be targeted by terrorists. India Abroad reports that

The first alert was sounded in February 2008 following the interrogation of a terrorist arrested in connection with the fidayeen (suicide) attack at the Central Reserve Police Force camp at Rampur, Uttar Pradesh. During the interrogation, the arrested terrorist had confessed that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had planned on attacking Mumbai. He had specifically mentioned the Taj Mahal hotel during his interrogation.

Then came the various intercepts by both the IB and RAW, which both agencies claim had passed on to the Mumbai police. The first intercept of a satellite phone conversation was three months before the Mumbai attack. The conversation suggested that the next attack would be a hotel at Mumbai. The conversation also suggested that it would be better to take the sea route as it was safer. The final intercept was made on November 18, which was eight days before the attack. (Vicky Nanjappa, "Time & again, Mumbai cops had been warned: IB," India Abroad, December 4, 2008)

This report was echoed by The New York Times, which claimed,

Two senior American officials said Tuesday that the United States had warned India in mid-October of possible terrorist attacks against "touristy areas frequented by Westerners" in Mumbai, but that the information was not specific. Nonetheless, the officials said, the warning echoed other general alerts this year by India's intelligence agency, raising questions about the adequacy of India's counterterrorism measures. (Eric Schmitt, Somini Sengupta and Jane Perlez, "U.S. and India See Link to Militants in Pakistan, The New York Times, December 3, 2008)

Despite these suspicions, Indian authorities insist that the terrorists had no "local support" in carrying out the attacks. According to a report in the Economic Times however, "the don is ensconced safely in his plush bungalow in Karachi. Sources in security agencies told TOI [Times of India] on Wednesday that it is business as usual for Dawood. ... Mohammed Ali, who is the king of the docks and a key person of the Dawood gang, is continuing his operations with impunity. Even after the November 26 terror attacks his smuggling racket remains unchecked."

And Express India reported November 29 that "Ajmal Amin, the only militant arrested during the operation, told interrogators that the dozen ultras who sailed from Karachi had come to Sasool dock from where they were taken first to Cuff Parade and later to Gateway of India in boats arranged by a front man of Dawood, who runs several custom clearing houses in Mumbai, the sources claimed."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported December 9, that the head of Russia's federal anti-narcotics agency, Viktor Ivanov, said that Ibrahim had helped the gunmen. "The information that has been received indicates that the well-known drug trafficker Dawood Ibrahim provided his logistics network for the preparation and implementation of the attacks."

But Ibrahim wasn't always the bête noire of U.S. intelligence agencies. According to Yoichi Shimatsu, a former editor of The Japan Times, during the CIA's Afghan campaign of the 1980s, Ibrahim "personally assisted" U.S. deep cover operations by diverting money from U.S.-owned gambling casinos operating in Kathmandu, Nepal. Shimatsu, commenting on India's demand for Ibrahim's extradition for his role in the Mumbai attacks wrote,

Washington and London both agreed with India's legal claim and removed the longstanding "official protection" accorded for his past services to Western intelligence agencies. U.S. diplomats, however, could never allow Dawood's return. He simply knows too much about America's darker secrets in South Asia and the Gulf, disclosure of which could scuttle U.S.-India relations. Dawood was whisked away in late June to a safe house in Quetta, near the tribal area of Waziristan, and then he disappeared, probably back to the Middle East. ("Did a Criminal Mastermind Stage the Mumbai Nightmare?," AlterNet, November 28, 2008)

But as time passes both India and the United States are downplaying Ibrahim's role while elevating that of alleged LET commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, reportedly captured by Pakistani authorities during a raid on a training camp and now in custody. Allegations of an international whitewash of the affair are now being leveled by journalists. Jeffrey R. Hammond comments, "The recent promotion of Lakhvi to 'mastermind' of the attacks while Ibrahim's name disappears from media reports would seem to lend credence to Shimatsu's assertion."

On Friday, according to a New York Times report, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of LET, was detained in Lahore on Thursday by "Pakistani authorities."

Despite the appearance of Pakistani resolve, the detention of Mr. Saeed was orchestrated by the government in a way to minimize what many here expect to be an angry reaction from the public, and from a broad spectrum of Islamic militant groups sympathetic to Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Jane Perlez and Salman Masood, "Pakistan Detains Founder of Group Suspected in Mumbai Attacks," The New York Times, December 11, 2008)

Saeed, briefly detained in 2002 after an earlier "crackdown" on militant outfits, became the leader of the Islamic charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is a recruiting arm for the LET.

Meanwhile, according to the Times, "There was still uncertainty on Thursday about whether Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad, another militant group, had been placed under house arrest, and whether the Lashkar commander suspected of running the Mumbai operation, Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, had been arrested."

So much for arresting Mumbai's alleged "masterminds." Sounds more like Captain Renaud's quip in Casablanca: "Round up the usual suspects!"

Indeed, a deal earlier this year to have Pakistan hand Ibrahim over to Indian authorities was scotched by the CIA. The Agency, fearful that too many dirty little secrets would come to light, including the criminal activities of high-level CIA personnel, nixed the proposal. According to this reading, the Mumbai attacks were a backlash for the proposed double-cross of Ibrahim and that any future arrangements along these lines would have serious consequences.

Why would India seek to downgrade Ibrahim's role? Hammond comments,

But while Lakhvi, Muzammil, and Hafiz Saeed have continued to be named in connection with last month's attacks in Mumbai, the name of Dawood Ibrahim seems to be either disappearing altogether or his originally designated role as the accused mastermind of the attacks being credited now instead to Lakhvi in media accounts.

Whether this is a deliberate effort to downplay Ibrahim's role in the attacks so as not to have to force Pakistan to turn him over because of embarrassing revelations pertaining to the CIA's involvement with known terrorists and drug traffickers that development could possibly produce isn't certain. But what is certain is that the CIA has had a long history of involvement with such characters and that the US has a track record of attempting to keep information about the nature of such involvement in the dark or to cover it up once it reaches the light of public scrutiny. (Jeffrey R. Hammond, "Role of Alleged CIA Asset in Mumbai Attacks Being Downplayed," Foreign Policy Journal, December 10, 2008)

And so it goes, on and on... Meanwhile, business as usual will continue and the bodies pile up. Which just goes to show, as investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker has reminded us on more than one occasion: "Being connected means never having to say your sorry."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The End of the Affair? The BND, CIA and Kosovo's Deep State

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 clichés 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 €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 façade 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 Spezialkräfte 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 protégé, 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!