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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Declassified Cable From INTELWIRE Expands Wikileaks Revelation Of Iranian Arms Smuggling

One of the State Department cables released by Wikileaks this week claimed that the Iranian government has used the Red Crescent charity to smuggle arms to Hezbollah and the Balkans.

If you were wondering exactly what that means, you'll have to go beyond Wikileaks. A State Department cable obtained by INTELWIRE using the Freedom of Information Act describes an intercepted 1992 arms shipment from Iran to Bosnia in eye-popping detail.

According to the cable, the Croatian government intercepted a plane from Iran which was bound for Bosnia and inspected its contents. Croat President Franjo Tudjman called in his local U.S. consul for advice about what to do. The U.S. eventually advised him to send the flight back to Iran.

The plane was "fully loaded with arms," including a number of barrels believed to contain chemical or biological weapons. It was not the first Iranian shipment of arms to Bosnian Muslims either.

The Iranian and Bosnian governments had previously asked permission from Tudjman to ship arms through Zagreb. The last time, Tudjman had said no, so this time all the supplies in the plane was labeled as humanitarian aid from the Red Crescent.

The 20 to 40 mujahideen fighters on the plane were more difficult to conceal. It's important to note that these were probably not all (or even mostly) Iranians. Iranian nationals in Bosnia functioned more as trainers and intelligence agents, but Iran helped smuggle in fighters from around the Muslim world.

American military veterans were also flying into Bosnia to serve as trainers to the Bosnian mujahideen during the same period. Never-before-reported details of this program will be revealed in my forthcoming book on American jihadists, scheduled for release in spring 2011.

Read the whole cable

For thousands of pages of additional State Department cables, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, click here.

This document was obtained during the course of reporting Sarajevo Ricochet, a documentary about the Bosnia war, including new information about Srebrenica and about the activities of Islamic extremist networks in Bosnia during the war. For an excerpt from the documentary focused on illegal arms shipments from Iran to Bosnia, click here.

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Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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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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