Al-Qaeda laundered US $900mil. through Croatia
Nacional - September 21, 2005
Nacional reveals the contents of the testimony in New York by a protected witness, a Croatian citizen, in the case against Sheik al-Moayad: about transfers of suspicious money paid by the Zagreb branch of the High Saudi Committee into accounts in Zagrebačka and Ljubljanska Bank
By: Berislav Jelinić
Nacional has learned that several months ago, the Croatian citizen who secretly testified in the case against Yemen Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, the first Islam priest to be sentenced to 75 years in prison in the US for financing Al Qaeda, was actually an employee of the Zagreb branch of the High Saudi Committee (HSC) in the early 1990s. This was an organization founded by Saudi Prince Selman bin Abdul-Aziz to help the Bosnian Muslims during the war in BiH.
This Croatian citizens testified about the money transfers which came into the Croatian branch of the HSC in the early 1990s before being transferred to BiH, and perhaps elsewhere. Sources close to foreign intelligence circles have confirmed that this witness testified about who brought money into the HSC and how and what was later done with that money. They money almost always reached the Zagreb branch in cash and was then paid into accounts in Zagrebačka and Ljubljanska Banks. This money was primarily the result of the religious obligations of Muslims to assist ‘Islamic issues’ in cash.
In the early 1990s, the HSC was presented as a humanitarian organization which cared for Muslim refugees. However, there are estimates that only about 10% of this money went to caring for refugees, while the rest when to financing Muslim troops in the war in BiH. Allegedly, $800-900 million were paid into Zagrebačka Bank alone from the HSC in Zagreb to 1993.
The secret Croatian witness possesses precious information on how and where the money was technically transferred, in this manner laundered through Croatian and Slovenian banks for ‘Islamic issues’. When in the mid 1990s the US saw all that was going on under the auspices of this organization, it was virtually forced out of Croatia. The HSC in Croatia was initially in a private residential building on Pantovčak Street, and later was briefly in the Antunović Motel in Sesvete. Their departure from Croatia coincided with the beginning of the operative action “Network”, which for almost four years monitored the suspicious activities of what were thought to be radical Islamists working under the auspices of Muslim humanitarian organizations.
The Croatian witness told all in the case of the Yemen Sheik Al-Moayad, who was arrested in Germany in late 2004 and extradited to the US, where the Federal Court indicted him for collecting millions of dollars to support Al Qaeda and Hamas. The American prosecutors also had documents and audiotapes linking Al-Moayad to Islamic terrorists. He admitted to undercover FBI agents that Bin Laden had said he was his sheik. Those undercover agents secretly recorded a conversation in which they presented Al-Moayad as a possible financier of terrorist groups. They asked him directly whether his money was used to fund Hamas and Al Qaeda, and his response was that he saw this as a means to finance all those organizations.
One of the undercover agents was Mohamed Alanssi who, one month after testifying in the case, lit himself on fire in front of the White House in Washington due to the great pressure and subsequent personal dilemmas he faced. Fortunately, he survived.
FBI agents succeeded in proving that Al-Moayad had directly financed Bin Laden and Hamas. In reconstructing the money trail, the American investigators also used this witness from Croatia. He was particularly interesting for not long after the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001, NATO found maps of Washington with marked US government buildings and directions for using agricultural spraying planes in the HSC computers in Sarajevo.
There NATO members also reveals materials for making phony entrance passes for the State Department building, and children’s manuals with anti-Semitic and anti-American content. High ranking American officials and the BiH government then informally confirmed that a little over a million dollars had disappeared without a trace from that organizations accounts. In the same computers, they found photographs of the terrorist attack targets from September 11, 2001 as well as those attacks committed earlier on the American battleship ‘Cole’ and the Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Also, a member of the so-called Algiers group worked for the HSC in BiH, and the BiH authorities extradited him to the US several years ago.
Nacional learned about the cooperation of Croatian security services with American authorities on the Al-Moayad trial by accident last year. In early December, the author of this text made a telephone call to a colleague from BiH and they spoke about the movements of persons suspected by the US and Great Britain for international terrorist based on broad investigations and analysis of collected documents by foreign security agencies. They spoke about 10 minutes, the author on the Nacional fixed telephone line and the person in BiH on a mobile phone. They attempted to disguise the actual content of their conversation, though the words ‘Al Qaeda’ and ‘knowledge of concrete names’ which could soon be published in Nacional, were mentioned.
Fifteen minutes after the end of that conversation, Ivo Pukanić, president of the board of the NCL Media Group, received a telephone call from a high ranking government official who requested an urgent meeting. Soon afterwards, he arrived at the Nacional offices. In a confidential meeting, that official told Pukanić that they knew that Berislav Jelinić had learned that “our man was cooperating with the Americans on Al Qaeda”. This proved that someone was either wiretapping the Nacional phone lines, or the mobile phone of the person in BiH who answered the call from Nacional.
The high ranking government official then asked Pukanić not to release this information, as this would endanger the life of the witness and the national security of Croatia, as well as make its position in EU accession talks more difficult. These were perfectly legitimate and logical requests, though in great conflict with the nature of journalism.
As such, the first information on the secret cooperation between Croatian and American authorities on the Al-Moayad case was in fact revealed to Nacional unintentionally by a high ranking government source. After Globus last week revealed the circumstances of the event in question, and considering that any damage to national security had already been done, Nacional decided to further investigate the case which it had already known about for several months. And as such, Nacional learned about the contents of the testimony by the secret Croatian witness in US court.
20.09.2005. / Izdanje 514
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