New Evidence Highlights Albanian Link to Explosives Used in London, Madrid Bombings

Published on October 25, 2005, Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily

Category: Islamic Terror in Kosovo

Exclusive. From GIS Station Priština. Deeply-placed sources within the Islamist community in Kosovo have identified the source and type of the explosives used in the jihadist terrorist bombings in London on July 7, 2005, and the Madrid commuter railway bombings of March 11, 2004.

The man at the center of the provision of the explosives in both instances was an Albanian, operating mostly out of Kosovo (with links into Bosnia), who is a second-ranking leader in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK: Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosove), Niam Behzloulzi (phonetic spelling), also known as “Houlzi”. He carries ID under the name of Niam Behzloulzi.

The principal explosive used in the London and Madrid bombs was CK123 plastic explosive which is similar to, but slightly more powerful than, Semtex.

“Houlzi” provided the Madrid explosives in December 2003. It is known that the CK123 provided for the London attacks, and probably the Madrid attacks, was supplied in Kosovo and then carried to Western Sahara, before being routed to the target cities. The London explosives were routed via Madrid. Significantly, CK123 cannot be detected by most — perhaps all — airport explosives detection equipment operating at that time. It is not at this time known whether the Saharan link was via Algeria or Morocco, but both Moroccan and Algerian Islamists have been extremely active in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Separate GIS intelligence sources, outside the region, noted that there was still debate as to how the CK123 reached London. Earlier in 2005 there were one or more shipment(s) by truck directly from Bosnia-Herzegovina to several destinations in Western Europe. These shipments were stopped when a truck was captured on the French-Belgian border. At that point, given the imperatives of the “Great Ramadan Offensive” planned for the Muslim month of Ramadan in 2005, back-up High-Explosives (HE) shipments were rushed via north Africa into France and Spain. It is not clear from which shipment the London explosives were drawn. Fuses were smuggled directly to London and Madrid from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Madrid bombings reportedly used a mixture of CK123 and C4 explosive, the July 7, 2005, London bombings used the CK123 and some other additives, according to GIS sources.

Some of the CK123 was from Albanian Government stocks, originally provided by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Albanian sources told GIS that they believed that the CK123 had originally been for the warheads of torpedoes supplied during the Cold War by the PRC for Albania’s Chinese-supplied submarines (no longer in service). Significantly, intelligence operatives, or possibly former intelligence operatives, of the PRC — now functioning in a very significant “Chinese mafia” now operating in Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) — in the past two years told Kosovo Albanians about the stockpiles of CK123 which remained in Albania.

At that point, according to the sources, some of the material was moved from one of many Albanian military caches into Kosovo by people described by the Albanians as “Chinese mafia”, clearly acting with knowledge of the explosives and their whereabouts from the Cold War period of close Albanian-PRC ties. [What is significant is that PRC intelligence and diplomatic officials in FYROM have, during the past three to four months, been paying substantial amounts — $3,000 to $4,000 — of money to journalists and others deemed as credible sources for written reports on Kosovo.]

Meanwhile, “Houlzi” is described by GIS sources who have met with him as “the number two man” in the KLA, reporting directly to Hashim Thaci. “Houlzi” is reportedly in charge of a many of the KLA’s secret operations, including narco-trafficking and narcotics production, and controls Islamist cells. He is, however, not related to the “political wings” of the KLA. He is described by those who know him as a “fanatical Islamist”, who was trained in Afghanistan, and there was some suggestion that he may have taken his present name after his experience in Afghanistan.

He has operated in the town of Visoko [Lat. 43°59'N, Long. 18°10'E], near Sarajevo, in Bosnia, but moves frequently throughout Kosovo. Associates say that he has taken “lots of money from Arabs”, and is regarded as a key link between the al-Qaida networks and the KLA. As well, “Houlzi” had a reportedly strong working relationship with an Albanian in the US, Florin Krazniki (Krasniqi), who is now known to have been engaged in the purchase of weapons in the US and their shipment to the KLA. Since publicity emerged during 2004 on Krazniki’s activities, “Houlzi” has reportedly ceased communications with him. But before the publicity, Krazniki was known to have shipped to the KLA 12.7mm sniper rifles, M82A1 Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles: in all, some 280 to 300 weapons in 1999 alone.

The GIS sources said that “Houlzi” had sold some 25 of the Barretts to Islamists around Europe. Significantly, the sources reported, since the extensive worldwide crackdown on the use of banking systems to move terrorist funds, the exchange of goods and services between Islamist groups is undertaken more on a barter basis, often involving the exchange of narcotics (usually heroin) for weapons, but sometimes including food or other commodities. The sources said that “Houlzi” also sold at least one SA-7 Grail/Strela manpad SAM to an Islamist in Europe.

The sources said that the curbing of the use of banks for terrorist purposes had meant that the al-Qaida-linked services were now turning more directly to the use of heroin and opium as currency, whereas in the past the narco-trafficking operations had been conducted as parallel, but separate, operations to achieve cash funding.

The sources also said that the KLA often also sets up phony weapon trades, and then tips off either British or US intelligence officials so that it appears as though there is cooperation between the Kosovo Albanian leadership and the Western intelligence services.

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