Exclusive: Pattern of Bosnian and Other Links to Madrid Bombings Becoming Increasingly Clear
Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis - June 21, 2005 Tuesday

By Darko Trifunovic, GIS Station Belgrade. The pattern of linkages between the March 11, 2004, series of bombings in Madrid and the Bosnia-Herzegovina network of Islamist terrorist groups and individuals is becoming increasingly clear as more evidence comes to light.

Spain developed an Islamist group -- the "Soldiers of Allah" -- in Madrid in 1994. Its associated umbrella, the "Islamic Alliance", with its international branches, played a coordination role by co-opting leaders of other groups. Operating out of the Abu Baker mosque in Madrid, the group kept in contact with Armed Islamic Group (GIA) of Algeria, the Islamic Salvation Front of Algeria, Palestinian HAMAS, al-Qaida, and other violent and political Islamist organizations. In rural Spain, the group organized and financed medical treatment and caring for those wounded in the fighting in Bosnia. For instance, Khayata Kattan, who fought in Bosnia and Kurdistan, Mohomed Needl Acaid, who fought in the Balkans, and Mohamed Zaher, alias Abu Hmeid, received sanctuary. Similarly, Osama Darra, who fought in Bosnia, was helped to open a discount audio and video store in Spain. Likewise, Abdelkrim Hammad alias Aldelnassa, an Afghanistan-trained GIA member, wanted for murder, and arrested in Tudelilla in Spain in December 2002, had fought in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo. He had fled France for Spain in late 2001.

Abu Dahdah. Abu Dahdah recruited Abdairahman Alarnaot Abu Aljer, alias Abu Obed, from Syria, and dispatched him to Bosnia for training in Zenica, where an Arab battalion fought in support of the Bosnian Muslims. For the purpose of training new recruits, both Dahdah and Alarnaot worked with Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, alias Abu Musab, an important al-Qaida trainer and camp commander in Afghanistan. On Bassan Dalati Satut, alias Abu Abdo, the police found a diary containing the bank account number of Abu Musab. Among the others in the cell was Kamal Hadid Chaar, alias Abu Nour, also Syrian, and like most others formerly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.

Dahdah was trusted by the al-Qaid a core and penultimate leadership as well as the field commanders. Dahdah's work was appreciated by his masters, including Osama bin Laden. For instance, in one set of transactions, of 111-million pesetas (669,676 euros ) provided by al-Qaida for Islamist activity, Dahdah received 8-million pesetas (17,094 euros ), Abu Ilias in Hamburg received 3-million pesetas (15,686 euros ), Abu Salah in Yemen received 15,686 euros, Abu Khaled in Turkey received 107,457 euros, and Abu Zeinab in Belgium received 231,664 euros . Similarly, Dahdah's Madrid telephone number appeared in an address book found in September 11, 2001, terrorist attacker Mohammed Atta's Hamburg apartment. On August 27, 2001, two weeks before the suicide hijackings in the US, Dahdah engaged in a conversation with Shakur, a UK-based al-Qaida member, referring to a possible airline hijacking. Shakur said: "In our lessons, we have entered the field of aviation and we have cut the bird's throat" a statement interpreted by the intelligence analysts as attacking the eagle, the US symbol.

Who ordered Madrid terrorist attack?

Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi -AMAZ

For references on Zarqawi, for example, see:

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, May 29, 2005: Zarqawi Smokescreen Hid Preparations for Launching of a New Caliphate .

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, June 20, 2005: Zarqawi Begins to Take His Jihad Into North Africa .

Who financed Madrid terrorist attack?

Although only a few charities were infiltrated by the Islamist groups, including by al-Qaida, the Spanish police identified 10 charities (which included organizations engaged in bona fide relief and rehabilitation activity) which had been penetrated and used for Islamist terrorist purposes. They were the International Islamic Relief Organization; Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation; Ittehad-e-Islami, based in Afghanistan, the most subsidized charity by the Saudi Government; Muslim Aid created in London by Cat Stevens (alias Yusuf Islam) and was involved in Bosnia; Afghan Support Committee that assisted Arabs expelled from Pakistan after a suicide attack on the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad in 1995; Al Kifah Refugee Center led by Afghan veteran Kamer Eddine Kherbane. Al-Kifah Refugee supported all Osama bin Laden action and true Imam Omar Behmen, political party of Bosnian Muslim SDA; Hizb-e-Islami led by Gubbudin Hekmatiyar in Afghanistan; Human Concern International, US based active in Pakistan in support of the Afghan mujahedin ; Global Relief Foundation (Foundation Secours Mondial ) led by Nabil Sayadi, of Belgium; and Maktab-ul-khedamat (Afghan Support Committee), a known al-Qaida front.

The widespread and well-connected nature of the Islamic terrorist network is illustrated by the fact that Saudi security agents killed Saudi Citizen Saud al-Otaibi and Moroccan Abdel Karim al Meyati, whom they considered to be the top organizers of the terrorist attack in Madrid. The two were part of a 15-man al-Qaida cell which tried to infiltrate Saudi Arabia, because they were all wanted men elsewhere in the world.

Both al-Otaibi and al-Meyati fought in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, and afterwards frequented the triangle between Zenica, Sarajevo and Tuzla, under false identities.

One of the planning centers for terrorist attacks in Western Europe is the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan. According to operational intelligence, Milan was the point of contact for:

1. Mohamed Ben Brahim Saidani, BH mujahedin, imam, Afghan veteran;

2. Rabei Osman Ahmed, Madrid terrorist;

3. Sheikh Abu Abdel Aziz, BH mujahedin;

4. Wahiudeen al-Masri, one of the commanders of el-Mujahid ;

5. Moataz al Billah, one of the commanders of el-Mujahid ;

6. Husaaumudeen al-Masri, mujahedin from Afghanistan and B-H.

All are members of, or are linked to, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most members of this group, as well as others who used the Milan center, are linked to the Bosnian war. Sheikh Anwar Shaban, who ran the center, was killed in 1995 in B-H, where he was a deputy commander of el-Mujahid for religious matters. The main contact for this group with Bosnia-Herzegovina was Awad Aiman, who ran the Comunita Islamica Internazionale branch of the Milan center in B-H, together with Sefik Obodasi . Better known as Ayman abu Abd'ul-Rahman, Awad Aiman was a high-ranking officer of the mujahedin in B-H. He is presumed to currently reside somewhere in Western Europe.

Also connected to this groups is Sheikh Salman al al-Awdah, a Saudi professor. Closely cooperating with the group was the dangerous terrorist Abu Ayyub al Masri, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

Bosnia is mentioned 300 times in the indictment issued by the Spanish investigators. Basically, the prosecutors claim that the indicted were part of a Spanish cell of the global Islamic terrorist network, which raised funds and recruited fighters for radical Islamic purposes in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Indonesia. One of the key "humanitarian organizations" listed in the indictment is Global Relief Foundation. GRF had its offices in Europe and the US (as Foundation Secours Mondial: FSM). The key person in the GRF is the secret (ie: officially non-declared) Minister-counselor at the B-H Mission to the UN, Saffet Ibid Catovic.

The Case of Saffet Catovic

Saffet Catovic held the rank of Minister-Counselor at the UN Mission until June 2001, until this writer, then a member of the B-H Diplomatic Service, cancelled his credentials, along with eight others. There are questions as to who those eight were, when (if at all) they worked at the UN Mission, and under whose authority. However, there is no question that Saffet Catovic, as a Muslim, could never be a Minister-Counselor, because the two posts were reserved for Serbs and Croats, under Foreign Ministry's staffing guidelines. Although his credentials were revoked, he never returned his UN identification; to the best of my knowledge, he can enter the UN complex freely even today. Catovic continued to receive salary and insurance benefits until December 2001, with full knowledge and support of Ambassador Ivica Misic.

Why is Saffet Catovic important? In August 2001, Catovic organized a "Summer Jihad camp" in Pennsylvania, in the area where one of the hijacked September 11, 2001, aircraft would go down (see attached evidence, below). Also, he was detained by the FBI on suspicion of involvement in "humanitarian organizations" propagating and supporting terrorism, namely the Global Relief Foundation and Benevolence International.

For additional material on Catevic, see:

Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, September 17, 2003: Bosnian Official Links With Terrorism, Including 9/11, Become Increasingly Apparent as Clinton, Clark Attempt to Justify Support of Bosnian Militants .

Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, March 12, 2004: Madrid Bombings Highlight Extent and Capability of Islamist Networks; Reactivation of Bosnian Support Net for New US Attacks?

Additional data from the Madrid File

A three-person group trained in the "Zenica triangle" of Bosnia-Herzegovina departs for Switzerland one year prior to the terrorist attack in Madrid;

References to the "Zenica group" mean that these persons are connected to a chain of command centered in Zenica;

This group is one of several that have departed B-H at approximately the same time for Western Europe and Northern Africa;

The group was carrying tools and ordnance (explosives), so it is assumed they arrived to Switzerland by car;

Upon arrival to Switzerland, they were met by a certain Ms Aida, originally from Konjevic Polje, who lives in a small town near which there is a camp for B-H refugees;

Members of the group belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. They came to Switzerland to await orders as to where and when to perform their mission;

US FBI liaison Brian Finnegan has been informed of the details and targets of the group.

Since the Swiss police had issued visas to many refugees, including persons suspected of committing war crimes or involvement in the global terrorist network, upon receiving operational intelligence members of the Swiss police began frequenting the refugee camp where the group was staying;

The refugees and residents organized a "small incident" that enabled the trio to escape, similar to the way Abu Ma'ali, the "emir" of el-Mujahid, escaped from Bosnia in the Summer of 1999. At that time, he was wanted by several Western security services;

Further operational intelligence indicates that one of the group members went to Morocco to meet with the Moroccan Islamist Combatant Group (MICG), which are believed to have executed the terrorist attack in Madrid. He brought fuses for the subsequent terrorist bombings in that country;

The other two went to Spain, it is assumed by car, where they were supposed to meet with members of the Muslim Brotherhood; their connection was supposed to be the Brotherhood's Egyptian line.

The following persons are suspected of having provided the blasting caps for the Madrid bombing. They are part of a large group operating in Bosnia. Members of the group belong to Wahabbi sect of Sunni Islam, and they are involved in terrorist training of youth, religious indoctrination, and weapons smuggling operations across the Balkans.

Alibaba Selimbasi ; real name Sead Kahriman. He is the man with the best connections. We have indications that he is currently in the vicinity of Tesanj, promoting militant Islam. He pays young Bosniaks to attend "military training" and Islamic lessons. Has links to the Wahabbis. On his instructions, Zehrudin Omerovi "Beli" (Whitey) and Osman Selimbasi purchased weapons and material needed for Wahabbi terrorism. There are indications that Selimbasi is currently seeking SAMs, from Stingers to Russian Strela-2s produced in Pakistan, in the Balkan black markets. The name Kahriman is linked to another active Wahabbi, one Ferid Tatarevi , whose parents are Muhamed and Rasema Kahriman. Ferid was born March 20, 1956, in Zenica, and lives at Ulica Armije BiH 4, Zenica.

Nisvet Durgutovi (061/100-873) belongs to the extremist criminal gang "Riblje glave" (Fish heads) in Cazin. Traffics in illegal weapons and narcotics. He has an associate nicknamed "Lopov" (Thief) who is also engaged in weapons trafficking for the needs of Islamic fundamentalists (and others as well).

Nedim Alagi lives and works in Gora de, meeting frequently with the Wahabbis at the nearby Kriva Draga hill, at the old headquarters of the Bosnian Army's Rogatica Brigade. Wahabbis gather at the Muslim Youth center in Gora de (Marsalina 4, Mahala quarter) and the internet-club "Uldiz," where they train on computers.

During and after the Bosnian civil war, with the help and under instructions of government officials from the SDA party, many persons directly or indirectly associated with terrorist organizations of Islamic fundamentalists received Bosnian citizenships and passports, were issued new identities (names, registry numbers, etc.). As a result, it would be realistic to expect that any future investigation should not rely exclusively on names and information contained in the citizenship registry.

The close cooperation between the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and the highest-ranking Muslim members of the B-H Government has made it difficult to undertake detailed investigations of many of the groups, or to curtail their terrorist-related activities. Most of the instructors and commanders in the Federation part (ie: the Muslim-Croat Federation) of B-H and the current security services (SIPA) were trained by officials of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (VEVAK), which the German courts have judged to be terrorist persons of security interest which the operational intelligence indicates are in Western Europe under the listed or other names, and are considered linked to the preparation and organization of terrorist attacks in Western Europe:

Some of these individuals are listed below:

1. Abd el Gafare Hassan Rodjen

DOB Apr. 5, 1968


2. Abas Al Taifi

Sept. 22, 1975

Saudi Arabia

3. Abd Al Rahman

May 2, 1966


4. Abd Allh Ali

Sep. 8, 1976


5. Abd El Hakim Goda

Jul. 17, 1963


6. Abdel Koati Mustafa

May 30, 1962


7. Abdela Masry

Aug. 22, 1952


8. Abdelaziz Ben Khadra

Jan. 1, 1968


9. Abrahem Al Omar

Sep. 22, 1963


10. (first name unknown) Karrache

Jan. 27, 1966


11. Abu Ejub Said

Apr. 2, 1967


12. Abu El Derda Hayala

Mar. 13, 1969


13. Abu Halid Abdulrezak

Jun. 13, 1968


14. Abd Zeid I. Saad

Jan. 15, 1951


15. Abu Hamza Ahmed

Apr. 8, 1970


16. Abu Jusuf Harun

Dec. 1, 1966


17. Abu Kermam Nesim

Jan. 6, 1967


18. Abu Lejs Imad

Feb. 10, 1969


19. Abu Lukman Hakim

Aug. 17, 1970


20. Abu Malik Defer

Feb. 21, 1968


21. Abu Malik Habib

May 13, 1977


22. Abu Mihna Salahuddin

May 30, 1964


23. Anna Mostafa

Sep. 4, 1967


24. Bashir Al Safi

Nov. 14, 1959


25. Obadh Al Tursl

Sep. 18, 1965


2005 International Strategic Studies Association.
Reprinted with permission.