BBC Monitoring International Reports - December 9, 2007 Sunday

Text of report by Greek newspaper Ta Nea on 30 November

[Report by Vradhelis: "Greece Servers As Transit Country for Islamists"]

A warning from Serb intelligence about the mobilization of an extremist Islamic organization in Greece has put the Greek authorities on high alert. Several days ago, Serb intelligence briefed a Serb parliamentary Committee that a group of extremists Islamists who are part of the Islamist organization Salaf have become active near Serbia's southern border.

According to agents from the Serb intelligence agency VIA, members of Salaf have set up camps in Bulgaria, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Albania and Greece! "Salaf is the most extreme form of Islamic terrorism, but it is more than an organization. It is the most extreme expression of Islam, and it is indicative that Al-Qa'idah began as one of its offshoots. Today, Salaf attracts thousands of Muslim youths from across the globe who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for its purposes," reveals one Counter-Terror Squad official who specializes in global terrorism. The same source also points out that "the Greek authorities are aware that veteran Muslim warriors from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Algeria have taken refuge in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo and possibly Bulgaria, and have taken charge of training new recruits. Several weeks ago, 37 members of Salaf were arrested in Italy and Germany during a counter-terrorism operation."

Organized Camp

"There is no organized Salaf camp in Greece," claims an EIP [National Intelligence Service] official responsible for preventing the mobilization of Islamic organizations domestically. Greece, he reveals, "has been used as a crossing for terrorists headed either for the West for the former Eastern Bloc. We also have information that Greece has been used to support Islamic terrorist networks."

The Capture of Mazrar

The most important capture by the Greek authorities of an Islamic terrorist linked to Al-Qa'idah took place on 13 September 2005. Moroccan national Anwar Mazrar, wanted by the French and Moroccan authorities for involvement in an organization of fanatical Muslims that served as a branch of Al-Qa'idah in Morocco, was arrested at the Kipon Customs Office.

Hunted by the Moroccan police, Mazrar had escaped to France, where according to French intelligence he set up a network of Muslim extremists. Shortly before he was to be captured by the French authorities, he escaped to an Arab country using a forged French passport. French intelligence informed the Greek authorities that Mazrar would try to enter Greece from Turkey on a bus travelling from Istanbul to Thessaloniki. Immediately after his capture, the extradition process was put in motion and Mazrar was extradited to Morocco, where he was tried for membership in an extremist Islamic organization.

Dozens of Muslims in Greece Under Surveillance

In 2005, immediately after the capture of Anwar Mazrar, who was linked to Al-Qa'idah, Europol asked Greece to intensify its investigations into the potential activities of Muslim extremists. As a result, dozens of them, the majority from Pakistan and North African countries, were placed under continuous surveillance. Sources report the authorities are focusing on two North African imams suspected of membership in extremist Islamist organizations in Algeria. Furthermore, US, British, Italian and French intelligence have informed the Greek authorities that members of extremist Islamic terrorist organizations have used Greece as a "support country", citing the number of Arab Muslim fundamentalist who have been captured in Europe over the past five years carrying Greek identity cards or passports. Arabs with Greek passports have been captured in Britain, Portugal, France, Italy and The Netherlands, having, as it turned out, acquired the forged documents from Arab forgers.

Source: Ta Nea, Athens, in Greek 30 Nov 07
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