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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

CIA Chief Hayden Turned Blind Eye To Arms For Al Qaeda In 1990s

Hayden's European Command Failed To Interdict Military Supplies To Bin Laden Terror Network, Didn't Share Bosnia Intel With Allies

By J.M. Berger


Al Qaeda-linked militant with shoulder-mounted missile in Bosnia, circa 1994-1995. Source: Jihadist video propaganda, The Martyrs of Bosnia

From 1993 to 1995, money, arms and expertise flooded from the United States to al Qaeda military networks in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- all under the watchful eye of Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then chief of U.S. military intelligence in the region, today named by President Bush as his nominee to take over the CIA.

Hayden served as director of the U.S. European Command Intelligence Directorate, based in Stuttgart, Germany, from May 1993 to October 1995. He subsequently went on to lead the secretive National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005.

Hayden's role in Bosnia is far from clear. His name has been linked repeatedly to allegations the American government supported al Qaeda-linked militants inside Bosnia – support which continued even after the Bosnian network was openly tied to terrorist attacks on American soil.

  • Hayden accompanied U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke on a trip to Croatia in November 1994, during which Holbrooke told the Bosnian government that the U.S. would encourage third-party countries to make covert shipments of arms and supplies for the use of al Qaeda's Bosnian network, in violation of a U.N. embargo.
  • Three months after the meeting, mysterious nighttime airlifts of arms and supplies to Bosnian Muslims began to pass through Hayden's intelligence apparatus unhindered, prompting U.N. observers to accuse the U.S. of deliberately allowing the so-called "black flights" to pass.
  • The official representing Bosnia at the November 1994 meeting (in which Holbrooke gave explicit approval to violations of the embargo) also sat on the board of a Vienna charity funded by Osama bin Laden. That charity – the Third World Relief Agency – directly shipped arms from the Sudan to Bosnian militants and also sent more than $40,000 in cash to the New York terrorist cell responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.


    Related Story: U.S Intel And Srebrenica Massacre

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    INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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