Where Were You, Bin Laden?!
The most sought after terrorist of modern times has moved into the homes of the citizens of Macedonia. Not in the form of some far off Robin Hood wanted by the CIA, CNN and lord knows who else, but in the guise of their immediate neighbors - someone they may well run into in the very street they live in. This is what the local media have been telling the public here, adding confusion to the already confused state of mind of the people, using the story to push up profits
AIM Skopje, September 24, 2001
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington have been seized by the politicians in Macedonia as an ideal opportunity for linking the activities of the National Liberation Army (NLA), viewed as terrorist by the Macedonian public, to the acts of terrorism recently carried out on American soil. While expressing their heartfelt condolences, local officials also advised the Americans to deal with the issue of terrorism with much more deliberation from now on. No signs of gratitude for the advice given were to be detected in return....
This was followed by the realization of the Skopje daily Dnevnik that the tragic events in the USA could be put to use for domestic purposes. For starters, calling upon intelligence sources and Western press, Dnevnik proclaimed that NLA had direct links to Osama bin Laden. Irrefutable evidence, claimed Dnevnik in its first report, linked local NLA commanders, Teli and Hoxha, to the bin Laden terrorist organization. Reputedly, the NLA was the recipient of a six-to-seven million dollar worth financial aid from bin Ladenír world-wide terrorist web.
the potential for extra-profits, others were quick to follow in Dnevnikís
footsteps. Thus, a reporter of Nova Makedonija, informed his readers that a
certain khoja from the village of Slupcane close to the Kosovo-Macedonian border,
had called on his congregation to wage a holy war, jihad, against the West. In
order to keep up the pace, a few days later Dnevnik carried an article deepening
the insight of its readers concerning the issue. If the USA attacks Afghanistan,
the mujahedeen will attack USA army units stationed at the Skopje airport and
American bases in neighboring Kosovo! The retaliatory actions are to be carried
out, according to an anonymous source of Dnevnik, by groups stationed in the
vicinity of the Macedonian town of Debar and in Kosovo for a while now. The
threat, it was claimed, came from a commander known as Beard (Miekra, in
Albaninan), reputedly the main link between Osama and the NLA. Alleged ties
between the humanitarian organization Jeta and a certain bank in Jeddah owned by
bin Laden were also said to have been unearthed. Another local newspaper, Vest,
came up with the discovery that the bloody trail of the massacre of Macedonian
policemen which took place in the Sarplanina village of Vejce in April led
straight back to the "mujahedeen " Bin Laden. It also elaborated on a
story it had carried a couple of months earlier, according to which at the time
of the Kosovo crisis two years ago, police had arrested an emissary of the
notorious Osama and a few of his Albanian accomplices who failed in an attempt
to park a truck brimming with explosives at the doorstep of a police station in
Skopje. In a recent TV interview, somewhat reluctantly, the former Interior
Minister Pavle Trajanov, known for his knack for dazzling the populace with his
insights into covert intelligence information, validated the story. As in
numerous previous instances, a question remained unanswered: how come
ex-Interior Minister Trajanov said nothing of the dramatic events two years ago
when they took place, at the time he was in charge of law and order in the
country?! A few months ago when the story was first published, Vest claimed that
the apprehended mujahedeen mysteriously disappeared from his Skopje prison cell
and that the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) - at the time, a coalition
partner in the government of Ljubco Georgievski - played a crucial role in his
miraculous escape. Is that to say that Trajanov himself might perhaps knows
something the public would like to be aware of as well?
Just recently, readers of a local newspaper here were given the opportunity to acquaint themselves with a practical guide devised to arm them with the needed know-how in recognizing the terrorists lurking in their midst. Judging by what has been accomplished up to now, the mujahedeen had better watch themselves if in Macedonia! A number of first-hand eye-witness reports leave no room for speculation. Since the terrorist attacks on USA, Osama bin Laden has been spotted in a number of Skopje tearooms serving as the key meeting places of Albanian extremists. The exercise aimed at on-spot recognition of the deadly muhajedeen was first staged three months ago in the village of Aracinovo, on the outskirts of Skopje when, under circumstances incomprehensible to the Macedonian public, NATO carried out a withdrawal of NLA forces from the region, allegedly securing a safe way out for a number of mujahedeen holy wariors as well...In response to such allegations, the NATO spokesmen for Macedonia, Mark Laity, issued an ironic comment stating that, at the time, NATO soldiers in Aracinovo were merely in the position to note the presence of bearded men in the village, understandably lacking time to shave themselves.
Relying upon the limited span of public memory, in the course of just a few months, Macedonian journalists have managed to perform a "loop": from claims that the USA is pampering the NLA to the current, rather poorly substantiated stand that NLA is the protracted right hand of bin Laden. Or, to resort to a syllogism: USA is protecting the NLA, the NLA is carrying out the deadly designs of Osama, therefore America and bin Laden are acting in co-operation!!! And Macedonia is their main target! ...The American envoy to Macedonia James Pardew has accused the local political leaders of abusing the terrorist attacks on the USA in order to slow down and stall the peace talks. "It is completely wrong to equate the uprising of the armed guerilla in Macedonia with the events in the USA. I have presented the government with a rebuke for taking advantage of the tragedy in order to postpone or end the peace process", was Pardeís lapidary diplomatic comment. He also stressed that the resolution of the West to enact the Ohrid agreement was as firm as ever.
That the local sensation-hunters have fallen prey to their own provincial complex - a need that at least a few specks of the global "stardust" fall on them too - is best demonstrated by a number of questions they have left unanswered. Firstly: supposing that Osama has, in fact, managed to extend his "tentacles" to Macedonian soil, was it not the duty of the police to warn the public of the peril a few years ago? Secondarily: does that go to say that the state was not functioning at the time and that it is not functioning at present? Thirdly: if bin Ladenís men have infiltrated themselves into Macedonia, is the country to become one of the targets of the American retaliatory action? Or are the targets, perhaps, to be so "strictly selective" that only Skopje tearooms frequented by Osama will be struck?
more thing: what if someone was to dig up a story published six months ago by
Start, a local weekly priding itself with close ties to local intelligence
circles? At the time, the Skopje magazine carried a story on a certain Cvetko
Kabranov from Kavadarci who, it was said, managed to "laundry" 12
billion dollars (!) originating from shady business deals linked to bin Laden,
the Iraqi president Husein, the regime of the former Yugoslav president Slobodan
Milosevic, top officials of the Republic of Srpska and - carried out in
collusion with the ruling circles in Macedonia! And? Nothing ever came out it...
There seems to be no end to the amount of nonsense printed. In the meantime,
newspaper sales hit the ceiling and the public becomes more and more confused
and dazzled... If it were not for bin Laden, how on earth would the newspapers
manage?! They too need to survive!
# ZELJKO BAJIC (AIM)
P.O. Box, CH-8031