Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, October  2004 [Terrorism – Staff report]

Saudis and Iranians Work Together Through a Bosnian Terrorist Group to Support the Conflict in Chechnya

INFORMATION OBTAINED BY Defense & Foreign Affairs from a secret Wahabbi terrorist organization based in Bosnia shows how the Saudi and Iranian governments are working together to support combat operations against the Russian Government in Chechnya, and are building a base of future operations in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. Moreover, during 2004 the organization they support has expanded dramatically in terms of operations and funding, and has opened a string of new offices and facilities around Bosnia and into Southern Serbia’s Raška (Sandzhak) Muslim area.

The organization, Kvadrat (Quadrant), a nominally Sunni Wahabbi order, whose members practice “Islam from the roots,” was founded in Sarajevo in 1995 and uses as its cadres children orphaned during the Bosnia-Herzegovina civil war, indoctrinating and training them in the Wahabbist ideology and in terrorist and guerilla warfare tactics.

Kvadrat sends its trained personnel through the “green transversal”- the Islamist and narco-trafficking safe-haven line - from Bosnia and, through Turkey and Georgia, to Chechnya, where they join al-Qaida-supported Chechen Islamist terrorist and guerilla operations against the Russian Government and the local population.

Significantly, the Iranian Government has denied that it supports the Chechen Islamist separatists, a public stance which has enabled Iran to trade with Russia, and, particularly, to acquire Russian advanced military systems. Faced with virtual isolation from sources of supply of main weapons systems - it can still obtain some missile and rocket systems from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and North Korea (DPRK) - and essential political isolation, the clerical Iranian leadership publicly abandoned the Chechen cause, which they had ignited following the end of the Cold War, and proclaimed support for the Russian Government position on Chechnya.

In fact, support for the Chechen Islamists has continued to flow unabated from Afghanistan, through Iran and (with bribery) Azerbaijan, into Chechnya.

However, the now-clear involvement of Iranian VEVAK (Ministry of Intelligence and Security [MOIS] Vezarat-e Ettela’at va Amniat-e Keshvar) intelligence officers in training the youth of Kvadrat, supported by Saudi Government funding and officials, shows how both the Iranian clerics and Saudi Arabia have been working together on the common Islamist mission, despite Iranian claims of friendship with Russia, and despite Saudi Government claims that it is combating Islamist terrorism and, in particular, al-Qaida. Bosnian sources told Defense & Foreign Affairs that Kvadrat was, to all intents, an al-Qaida-linked organization, given that its members use the al-Qaida “pipeline” and fight with al-Qaida forces in Chechnya.

Sources close to Kvadrat indicate that the group’s members frequently engage in verbal fights with other Muslim religious leaders and are highly critical of other Islamic leaders for not going down the right path. One source noted: “The young Kvadrat members have been brainwashed for a decade; since they were little children in most cases. They have been taught to believe that only their zealous approach to Islam is correct; they are fanatical.”

Kvadrat now operates mainly in the triangle area between Zenica, Tuzla and Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Pezo Adnan is believed still to be the operational leader of the group, although he “takes his orders” from a leader in Vienna, Austria. Adnan lives in Zenica. and his bodyguard and driver is a known mujahedin, referred to by his nom de guerre, “A?it,” who came to Bosnia through Zagreb in 1993. “A?it” was a member of the el-Mujahid terrorist unit in Bosnia from October 20, 1993. El-Mujahid, during Operation Hurricane 95 in 1995, operated as part of the structure of the Bosnian Muslim Army and, as a unit, participated in major war crimes - including beheadings and mass murders of prisoners - against Serb civilians and military personnel in Ozren and Vozuca.[Rasim Deli?, wartime commander of the Republic of Bosnia Herzegovina (RBiH) Army, essentially the Bosnian Muslim force, ordered the formation of the el-Mujahid unit, made up of foreign citizens, on August 13, 1993, in the area of responsibility of the RBiH Army Third Corps. The order was based on a decision by the RBiH Presidency, led by Alija Izetbegovi?, which confirms that the BiH leadership was behind the formation of el-Mujahid. “A?it” was one of the foreign recruits who came into the organization at the beginning; his national origin is not known at this time.]

“A?it” has been known, from surveillance, to be in permanent contact with Abu el-Mali, one of the el-Mujahid leaders, often referred to as the “emir,” a title usually given only to core Islamist leaders, such as Hasan Cengic.

Kvadrat has since 2001 been training orphan boys on Jablanickom Lake in the small village of Podi, in Bosnia. The main trainer for indoctrination is ?engi? Faruku from Sarajevo, but VEVAK officers conduct the training in terrorism and guerilla warfare. Indeed, one of the main activities of the organization in 2004, together with Iranian VEVAK instructors, has been to provide military support and Islamic fighters from Bosnia for operations in Chechnya. Žulum Almir, a Kvadrat member, was killed in Chechnya. Some members of Kvadrat were arrested in Turkey, en route to Chechnya; one such example was Bijedi? Kenan, who was arrested in Turkey in 2001.

Kvadrat gets funding from the seemingly-innocent High Saudi Committee for Children Without Parental Care (VSK) based in the King Fahd Cultural Center, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and led by Sheikh Nasser al-Saeed (whose deputy is Abdul-Rahman al-Rashed, supported by Khalid al-Aqueli, who also has a Bosnian passport). VSK’s offices in Bosnia have, in the past, been raided by NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) personnel over issues related to the support of terrorism. VSK cars are often identified at Kvadrat establishments, particularly at the facility at Jablanickom Lake (but also near other Kvadrat training facilities), and VSK officials and offices have repeatedly hosted known radical Islamists. VSK employee Saber Lahmer was, in fact, arrested by Bosnian Federal authorities for connections to terrorism.

Kvadrat also receives support from Al-Haramain charities - the Al-Haramain & Al-Masjed A1-Aqsa Charity Foundation - a Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based organization which was declared on September 9, 2004, by the US Treasury Department to be a terrorist-related organization. (1) Significantly, Al-Haramain was specifically linked by the US Government to the support of terrorist operations in Chechnya, as well as al-Qaida operations against the two US embassies bombed in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam in 1998.

Kvadrat officials have also been in close touch with Sheikh Imad, who was arrested by local authorities in Bosnia for links to al-Qaida.

Significantly, however, the main control or direction of Kvadrat comes from Vienna, Austria: businessman Mohammed Por?a, a Bosnian Muslim, appears to be providing strategic guidance and orders to Kvadrat. Por?a apparently also has links with other Islamist organizations in Austria and Germany, and is also involved in fundraising for Kvadrat. Clearly, following its formation in 1995, Kvadrat has had a number of financing sources, including fundraising in the international Muslim community. This has been conducted in part through Al-Haramain, but also through other channels open to Mr Por?a.Kvadrat in 2004 has been opening offices around Bosnia and in the southern Serbian region of Raška, which is adjacent to Bosnia’s Gorazde Corridor, which links the Muslim area of Bosnia with Serbia. Kvadrat’s involvement in extending its offices down into the Raška area indicates that it may now be officially linked into funding from narco-trafficking, the logistical lines for which, in Europe, include movement of narcotics from the East (ie: Afghanistan through Iran, Azerbaijan into Russia, or through Iran and Turkey) eventually into Albania and then through Kosovo and Raška areas of Serbia, into Bosnia and thence into Western Europe.

The main activist radicals in Kvadrat were identified by Defense & Foreign Affairs sources as: Softi? Samir, Suša Samir, Kolši? Nisvet, and Dzafi? Emir (born 1975; considered President of Kvadrat in Visoko city).

Defense & Foreign Affairs sources said that some Kvadrat fighters have been moving to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus after Chechen actions. Essentially, the sources report, Kvadrat has used Northern Cyprus as a safe-haven for some of its more active fighters, allowing them a discreet place to blend back into civil society before returning to Bosnia. However, it was understood that Kvadrat was also building a base in Northern Cyprus, to proselytize the Muslim community there with a view to longer-term domination of Cypriot society.

The Steering Committee of Kvadrat, has, since 1999, included:
Mezit Nermin (“Nerko”), from Sarajevo;
Seknic Sendad, from Mostar;
Sinanovic… Kermal, from Sarajevo;
Tahic… Berin, from Sarajevo;
Alic Galib, from Sarajevo;
Motoruga Elvir from Sarajevo;
Hodzic… Emir, from Sarajevo;
Cukic… Sabahudin, from Sarajevo;
Cengic… Faruk, from Sarajevo;
Hasanovic… Aliya, from Sarajevo;
Ahmetovic… Amir, from Kaknja;
Nuhanovid… Sanel, from Biha…
Ortas Emire, from the Pale suburb of Sarajevo.

But in 2004 it was noted that membership of Kvadrat was dramatically enlarged, and the Steering Committee was also enlarged by additional members:
[surnames first]
Cardakovic Seco, Dedovic Edin, Gusic Elmedin (“Medo”), Skrijelj Admir.

What is significant is that the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the internationally-appointed governor of Bosnia-Herzegovina, has continued to maintain that terrorist organizations, or terrorist support organizations, did not exist in Bosnia. The OHR, former British politician Paddy Ashdown, a former British Intelligence (M16) official, has, instead, focused on supporting Islamist agendas in Bosnia and has - by attempting to only pursue alleged war criminals from the Serbian side of the Bosnian civil war - actively facilitated the activities of such organizations as Kvadrat.

Footnote: Al Haramain
1. On September 9, 2004, the US Treasury Department issued a statement (JS-1895), entitled US-Based Branch of Al Haramain Foundation Linked to Terror; Treasury Designates US Branch, Director. That statement noted:

The Treasury Department announced today the designation [as a terrorist-linked organization] of the US branch of the Saudi Arabia-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHF), along with one of its directors, Suliman Al-Buthe [an Egyptian by birth]. In addition, the AHF branch located in the Union of the Comoros was also designated today.

“We continue to use all relevant powers of the US Government to pursue and identify the channels of terrorist financing, such as corrupted charities, at home and abroad. Al-Haramain has been used around the world to underwrite terror, therefore we have taken this action to excommunicate these two branches and Suliman Al-Buthe from the worldwide financial community,” said Stuart Levey, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

The assets of the US AHF branch, which is headquartered in Oregon, were blocked pending investigation on February 19, 2004. On the previous day, a Federal search warrant was executed against all property purchased on behalf of the US AHF branch. The investigation involved agents from the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The US-based branch of AHF was formally established in 1997. Documents naming Al-Buthe as the organization’s attorney and providing him with broad legal authority were signed by Aqeel Abdul Aziz Al-Aqil, the former director of AHF. Aqil has been designated by the US and the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee because of AHF’s support for al-Qaida while under his oversight.

The investigation shows direct links between the US branch and Osama bin Laden. In addition, the affidavit alleges the US branch of AHF criminally violated tax laws and engaged in other money laundering offenses. … [I]ndividuals associated with the branch tried to conceal the movement of funds intended for Chechnya by omitting them from tax returns and mischaracterizing their use, which they claimed was for the purchase of a prayer house in Springfield, Missouri.

Other information available to the US shows that funds that were donated to AHF with the intention of supporting Chechen refugees were diverted to support mujahedin, as well as Chechen leaders affiliated with al-Qaida.

AHF has operations throughout the Union of the Comoros, and information shows that two associates of AHF Comoros are linked to al-Qaida. According to the transcript from US v. Bin Laden, the Union of the Comoros was used as a staging area and exfiltration route for the perpetrators of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The AHF branches in Kenya and Tanzania have been previously designated for providing financial and other operational support to these terrorist attacks.

Since March 2002, the United States and Saudi Arabia have jointly designated eleven branches of AHF based on evidence of financial, material and/or logistical support to the al-Qaida network and affiliated organizations. These branches, Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Somalia, and Tanzania, along with the former director of AHF, Aqeel Abdul Aziz Al-Aqil, are named on the UN’s 1267 Committee’s consolidated list of terrorists associated with al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and are subject to international sanctions.

In June of 2004, the Saudi Government announced that it was dissolving AHF and other Saudi charities and committees operating abroad and folding their assets into a newly created entity, the Saudi National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad. According to the Saudi Embassy, the Commission, a non-governmental body, will take over all aspects of private overseas aid operations and assume responsibility for the distribution of private charitable donations from Saudi Arabia.

The US State Dept. on June 2, 2004, noted:
The United States is designating today, June 2 [2004], five branches of the Al-Haramain Foundation as well as the organization’s former leader, Aqeel Abdul Aziz Al-Aqil, as terrorist financers, based on evidence of their links to al-Qaida. These designations are part of our ongoing effort to cut off terrorist funding and to ensure that charitable funds are not diverted to individuals or organizations involved in terrorism. The United States and Saudi Arabia will also be submitting the names of the branches to the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee for inclusion on the committee’s list. Once the names are included on the list, all UN member states will be obliged to freeze their assets and implement other sanctions.

Efforts to deprive terrorists of the funds they need to operate and recruit can only be effective with strong international cooperation. Today’s actions, undertaken jointly with the Government of Saudi Arabia, are an example of the important steps we must continue to take if we are to be successful in our efforts. We have previously submitted for UN designation six branches of Al-Haramain with Saudi Arabia (Bosnia, Somalia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania), as well as Vazir, the successor to the Bosnian branch:

Designation of Bosnian and Somali branches on March 11, 2002;
Designation of Vazir, alias/successor to the Bosnia Al-Haramain office on December 22, 2003;
Designation of Indonesian, Pakistani, Tanzanian and Kenyan branches on January 22, 2004.

The US and Saudi Arabia last year [2003] formed a Joint Task Force on Terrorism Finance to identify and act against terrorist financing. … Saudi Arabia has undertaken additional meaningful steps to combat terrorist financing: Saudi banks are implementing strict “know your customer” rules and the Saudis have taken steps to prevent the misuse of charities. Saudi Arabia’s creation of a Charity Commission that will assume oversight responsibility for Saudi-based charities marks a clear step toward increasing transparency and accountability in a sector that has unfortunately been exploited by terrorists to the detriment of both well-intentioned donors and needy recipients.

The US website FrontPage Magazine on September 16, 2003, noted: “In September 2002, Indonesian al-Qaida informant Omar al-Faruq told the CIA that Al-Haramain was used to remit funds to him from bin Laden. Al Haramain’s website used to have a direct link to, which is a website that is part of the al-Qaida propaganda network. The website is owned by Azzam Publications, bin Laden’s propaganda vehicle, and operated from Houston Texas. Al-Haramain is also involved with the Al Baraka banking empire, which was also named in the 9/11 lawsuit. Al-Baraka finances the activities of bin Laden and al-Qaida. In his Senate testimony in July 2003, terrorism expert Steve Emerson said that although initially Saudi Arabia denied allegations that Al-Haramain were involved in terrorist activities, in June (2003) they stated that Al-Haramain was not acting according to its charter and announced that all foreign offices were to be closed. Emerson did remark that the Ashland [Oregon] office was still in operation. Al-Haramain has another location in the United States.

According to the 9/11 complaint, Al-Haramain owns a building in Springfield, Missouri that is home of the Islamic Center of Springfield, which is a mosque.”

In June 2004, after Saudi Arabia officially dissolved Al-Haramain, the organization said that its works, henceforth, would only be inside Saudi Arabia.

Copyright 2004 Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy
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