Belgrade, 9 May (AKI) - The arrest of four ethnic Albanians, a Jordanian and a Turk in the United States on Tuesday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack on the United States army base in Fort Dix, New Jersey, confirms the existence of a "white Al-Qaeda", Balkan terrorism expert Darko Trifunovic told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Wednesday. Trifunovic said the arrests showed "white Al-Qaeda at work." He compared the Fort Dix plot to a February attack in Salt Lake City when a Bosnian Muslim youth, Sulejman Talovic went on a shopping mall shooting rampage. Six people including Talovic were killed another four were injured in the attack.
Trifunovic, a professor at Belgrade University's Faculty of Security Studies, was the first to develop a theory of “white Al-Qaeda”, which he said was introduced to the Balkans during 1992-1995 civil war in Bosnia when thousands of 'mujahadeen' from Islamic countries came to fight on the side of local Muslims. Many mujahadeen have remained in the country, and are believed to been indoctrinating local youths with radical Islam and even operating terrorist training camps, Trifunovic said, quoting western and Balkans intelligence sources.
Al-Qaeda has adopted a new tactics of using white European youths for terrorist attacks, “because of their non-Arabic appearance,” Trifunovic told AKI. "The strategy is to indoctrinate or poison the hearts and minds of youngsters to psyche them up for the future terror operations," Trifunovic said.
"And that is exactly what is now happening in the United States,” he added. The US authorities arrested three ethnic Albanian brothers from Serbia’s breakaway Kosovo province, Sain, Elvir and Dritan Duka, another ethnic Albanian, Agron Abdulahu, a Jordanian, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, and Serdar Tatar, a Turk.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, New Jersey, said the suspects "were planning an attack on Fort Dix in which they would kill as many soldiers as possible". Drewniak described the group as “Islamist militants from the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East,” who apparently had no ties to international terrorist organisations, but were organised on a local level.
Several of the suspects said they were ready to kill and die ''in the name of Allah,'' according to court papers. The defendants, all men in their 20s, reportedly include a pizza deliveryman suspected of using his job to scout out Fort Dix, three builders and taxi-driver. They were arrested while trying to buy AK-47 assault weapons and M-16s from an informant, authorities said.
Many Balkan terrorism experts have been warning for years that Al-Qaeda had active cells in Muslim-majority Kosovo and a training camp in the village of Ropotovo. Kosovo has been under United Nations control 1999, when NATO airstrikes drove Serbian forces out of the province amid ethnic fighting and allegations of gross human rights abuses.
International officials have ignored the warnings and minimised the danger Al-Qaeda poses, according to Balkan analysts.
In a joint NATO-Bulgarian report in March 2005, the head of Bulgarian state security Kirco Kirov cited Kosovo as a "direct source of regional instability and a hub for international terrorism." The report called for joint action by all European countries.
The US authorities said that Abdulahu was a sharp shooter in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) before fleeing to the US. Fort Dix is a training ground for American soldiers and reservists before they are sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in 1999 it served as a shelter for thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo.
Serb immigrants’ web sites noted that US officials carefully avoided identifying the four ethnic Albanians as such, calling them only "Islamic militants from former Yugoslavia." A commentator on the SerbBlog said that Washington, which backs independence for Kosovo, is embarrassed by the discovery of the Fort Dix plot, "because the truth might mess up the PR for Kosovo Albanians getting to rip off a piece of Serbia to create their own country - a move that has the full support of the US State Department."
Belgrade military analyst Zoran Dragisic said the Fort Dix plot “once again shows that Islamist terrorism is highly organised - from Kosovo to America - and the US intelligence services know this very well." Dragsic expressed doubt, however, that the latest incident would change the American stance on Kosovo, “because Washington doesn’t change its positions easily."