Build-Up of Bosnian-Albanian Terrorist Activity in US Follows Extensive, But Ignored, Warnings
The arraignment on May 8, 2007, in the US District Court in New Jersey, of six men on terrorism-related charges relates directly to a pattern of Islamist terrorist support operations by Bosnian and Albanian radicals in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area which had been extensively document by number of services in recent years. Initial US Government statements on the matter, including the initial statement by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, attempted to obfuscate the origins, nature, and links of the alleged plot by the six defendants arrested in connection with a planned attack on the US Army facility at Ft. Dix, New Jersey.
And while documented linkages of a legal evidentiary nature between the six arrested men and the known al-Qaida-linked Bosnian/Albanian figures may be difficult to obtain, the circumstantial linkages, and the climate of preparation for such an event, are clear from an intelligence assessment standpoint.
Firstly, all the men charged with conspiring to conduct the attack were within the area where Bosnian Islamists worked with "Islamic charities" to develop terrorist training operations before and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Secondly, four of the six men charged are ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, and three of those Albanians charged are members of the Duka family, who operated a roofing business, which is also the area of business in Brooklyn, New York — very close to Cherry Hill, NJ, the home of the Dukas’ — of Florin Krasniqi, an Albanian from the Serbian province of Kosovo. Krasniqi was a major supplier of weapons from the US to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a declared terrorist organization, and a man who had known links with a major KLA figure linked to al-Qaida, Niam Behzloulzi, also known as "Houlzi".
"Houlzi" is a second-ranking leader in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK: Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosove), who provided the explosives for the terrorist attacks on London (July 7, 2005) and Madrid (March 11, 2004). [The Madrid bombings reportedly used a mixture of CK123 — a Chinese [PRC] plastic explosive — and C4 explosive; the London bombings used the CK123 and some other additives, according to XXX sources.]
See Special Analysis, October 25, 2005, entitled New Evidence Highlights Albanian Link to Explosives Used in London, Madrid Bombings.
It is not possible that the Dukas and Florin Krasniqi were not known to each other. Krasniqi, however, had powerful US political allies, having engaged in fundraising activities which gave money to then-US Presidential candidate and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR), Gen. Wesley Clark, with Krasniqi working both with Clark and former US (Clinton Administration) Ambassador to the UN Richard C. Holbrooke.
The six men charged in connection with the alleged plan to attack Ft. Dix are:
Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; born in Jordan; currently a US citizen who drives a taxi in Philadelphia;
Eljvir Duka, 23, of Cherry Hill, NJ. He also goes by the names Elvis Duka and Sulayman; born in the former Yugoslavia. Illegally residing in the US; operates businesses known as Qadr. Inc., Colonial Roofing, and National Roofing;
Dritan Duka, 28, of Cherry Hill, NJ. Also goes by the names Distan Duka, Anthony Duka, and Tony Duka. Born in the former Yugoslavia. Illegally residing in the US; operates, with his brother, businesses known as Colonial Roofing, and National Roofing.
Shain Duka, 26, of Cherry Hill, NJ. Also goes by the name Shaheen. Born in the former Yugoslavia and resides in the US legally. Operates businesses known as Colonial Roofing and National Roofing with his two brothers, named above;
Serdar Tatar, 23, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born in Turkey. Illegally residing in the US. Last known employment was with a 7-Eleven convenience store in Philadelphia;
Agron Abdullahu, 24, of Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, NJ. Born in the former Yugoslavia. Legally residing in the US; employed at a Shop Rite Supermarket.
The Duka family name is well-known in Albania, where Agron Duka was Minister of Agriculture and Food, but also — concurrently — a major figure in cocaine smuggling [see Special Analysis, July 17, 2006: Current Narco-trafficking Routes in Albania Linked with Former Prime Minister Fatos Nano]. However, there is no evidence at this stage of a connection between the Duka family in the current US terrorist case and the former Albanian minister. However, the known linkage of Minister Agron Duka with Albanian organized crime — and therefore, almost certainly, the KLA, which manages much of the international Albanian criminal activity — makes the prospect of connections with Albanian KLA-linked financial interests in the US, such as Florin Krasniqi, very likely.
Significantly, much of the "former Yugoslavia" jihadist terrorist network — including much of the activity linked with jihadist and KLA activities in Kosovo — still centers around Bosnia. It is believed that one of the key figures supporting terrorist training and operations in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania areas, a man known as Safet Catovic, may be Albanian. He was illegally given a Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) passport [Passport No. BH-46600] in Vienna, Australia, by an Islamist BiH official, Huso Zivalj, who later became BiH Ambassador (Permanent Representative) to the United Nations, in New York. There, he secretly, and illegally, brought "Catovic" into the diplomatic BiH structure just before and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York.
Zivalji’s and Catovic’s involvement in supporting terrorist operations in the US was detailed in Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily of September 17, 2003, in a report entitled Bosnian Official Links With Terrorism, Including 9/11, Become Increasingly Apparent as Clinton, Clark Attempt to Justify Support of Bosnian Militants, and in subsequent reports. A Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis report of May 2, 2005, entitled Bosnia-Herzegovina Proposes as New Ambassador to the US Woman With Strong Links to Islamist Terrorism, highlighted the links which Zivalj had with the woman, Dr Bisera Turkovic, a radical — but modern — Islamist supporter of the late Pres. Alija Izetbegovic, subsequently sent to the US as BiH Ambassador, where she currently still serves.
Significantly, Zivalj moved out of the US immediately after the 9/11 attacks, and before his normal tour of duty should have ended. The whereabouts of Catovic — who maintained the links to the regional terrorist training camps and "Islamic charities" — is now unconfirmed. However, a Saffet Catovic is now listed as a teacher of religion at Noor-ul Iman school in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. An Abir Catovic, presumably his wife, was also listed as a teacher of religion at that school. One student at Noor-ul Iman school in 2007 described Saffet Catovic as "usually scary and sometimes mean". Again, however, while it is presumed that Saffet Catovic, the Muslim religious teacher at the New Jersey school, is the same as the Safet Catovic who worked with improperly-secured UN credentials with Amb. Zivalj, this has not been verified.
Once again, however, the apparent linkages are too important to overlook. And even if no direct linkages can be ascertained, the reality nonetheless remains that people such as Krasniqi, Zivalj, and Catovic set a tone of jihadism — and, in fact, promoted or undertook physical actions in support of terrorism — which were alleged to have been taken up by the six defendants in the Ft. Dix affair. Moreover, there is rarely a neatly documented linkage between terrorist actors and their sponsors, but the current "soup" surrounding the Ft. Dix operation contains key US political figures — Gen. Clark and Amb. Holbrooke, two confidantes of Pres. and Sen. Clinton — and a serving Bosnian Ambassador to the US, and increasing evidence of the critical involvement of Bosnian and Kosovo Islamists in terrorist activities across Europe and the US.
What is significant is that the US Government has been careful to downplay the potential of any linkages into the Balkan terrorist hub, in large part because the US State Dept. and Intelligence Community backed both the Bosnian jihadist-oriented Government of Pres. Alija Izetbegovic and the KLA operations in Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). There is, as a result, a greater sense that US officials are more concerned with preserving their careers than admitting that they unwittingly supported groups who were, in the final analysis, actually opposed to the US itself.
Prof. Darko Trifunovic