Accusations fly over Balkan explosives

In the wake of the reports naming the Balkans as the source of the explosives used in the London bombings, Serb authorities are pointing the finger at Islamic fundamentalist networks in the region. 

Several hundreds of former mujahedin, Muslim volunteers who fought on the side of Bosnian Muslims in the civil war remained in the country and acquired Bosnian nationality. According to intelligence reports, they operated training camps and recruited local Muslims in what is called “white Al-Qaeda” for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks in Europe.

Several Greek newspapers this week reported that a team of British experts had arrived to Belgrade to check the origin of the explosive used in London, but a high placed police source, which asked not to be named, told Adnkronos International that it was “absolutely not true”. (AKI)

The latter claim was also made in the early Debka report which blamed Belgrade-based arms dealers with access to Yugoslav military stocks.

The range of possibilities was illustrated in 2003, when Donal McIntrye and the Sunday Mirror managed to buy 13.5 kg of Semtex in Albania by posing as the Real IRA.

But the KLA were not the only group interested in selling terrorist weapons. While we were in the Balkans word had quickly spread that the Real IRA wanted to buy weapons. In neighbouring Croatia we bought a machine gun and a Walther PPK pistol.

In Belgrade, the capital of nearby Serbia, the local Mafia emailed us to offer a cache of anti-tank missiles, Kalashnikovs, a mortar and illegal landmines for £50,000.

And in neighbouring Montenegro, on the Adriatic coast’s version of the Costa Del Crime, another war criminal was selling death on an industrial scale.

The man, known as Vesko – a former bodyguard of Serbian warlord Arkan – offered to supply us with 20 rocket-propelled grenades, 20 shoulder-fired missiles and 20 Spider machine guns used by the SAS. (Sunday Mirror).

It ought to be reassuring that the UN is today discussing an agreement to track arms deals. However, as Richard Norton-Taylor reports, the agreement specifically excludes explosives.

Spent ammunition and traces of explosives are often the only clue investigators have at the scene of an atrocity, Oxfam, Amnesty, and the International Action Network on Small Arms say in a joint statement released today.

It is vital that ammunition shipments are also marked so they can be traced. Excluding it from the agreement will help traffickers and killers evade justice, they say.

They add that failure to agree a legally binding system to track weapons means unscrupulous arms dealers will continue to get away with selling weapons to serious human rights abusers and war criminals without being traced.

The agreement was negotiated behind closed doors and will be publicly debated for the first time today. A legally binding agreement was blocked by just a few countries, notably the US, Iran, and Egypt. (Guardian)

The joint statement has a particular resonance in London in the wake of the attacks:

It’s ludicrous to exclude bullets and explosives from such a global agreement on tracing when these are being used everyday to indiscriminately kill, displace, suppress and intimidate people. This narrow and essentially voluntary agreement is barely worth the paper it is written on, said Denise Searle, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigns Director. 



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