Thursday, June 17, 2010

Syrian Intelligence Involvement in the “Gaza Flotilla” Incident

From Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, Volume XXVIII, No. 35 Tuesday, June 15, 2010, by Jason Fuchs, UN Correspondent, and Gregory Copley, Editor:

New Evidence Points to Syrian Intelligence Involvement in the “Gaza Flotilla” Incident; Links to Bosnian/Viennese Jihadi Networks Emerging

...sources in Croatia confirmed on June 14, 2010, that a key Syrian intelligence officer had been onboard the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, during its attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010. The agent, named Jaser Mohamed Sabag, was a Syrian native and naturalized Bosnian citizen.

...Sabag works directly for the Syrian Military Intelligence Service, Shu'bat al-Mukhabarat al-'Askariyya.

...Sabag had worked in the Balkans liaising with regional Iranian intelligence (Vezarat-e Ettela'at va Amniat-e Keshvar: VEVAK) networks to coordinate support for Balkan jihadist networks, including the Turkish IHH (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı), which purchased the Marmara for $800,000 in April 2010 and — ostensibly — spearheaded the so-called Gaza flotilla.

...This ...confirmed the Turkish Government’s linkage to the terrorist support work of IHH in the Balkans, during which time the jihadist terrorist groups there, using the IHH links, had been used against Western targets. But more importantly, it highlighted the links between the Turkish Government — via the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı: MİT) — with the Syrian Mukhabarat for many years in jihadist support operations, pre-dating the break-up in Turkish-Israeli relations.

The presence of Sabag onboard the Marmara raised a number of questions about the true nature of how the flotilla had been organized, funded and directed. It indicated, at a minimum, Syrian Government involvement, and, at most, that unwittingly many of the flotilla’s passengers had been used as cover in the intelligence gambit by Damascus and Ankara.

...The daily newspaper, Fokus, published in Banja Luka, Republica Srpska, Bosnia & Herzegovina, further reported that before working with jihadist networks in the Balkans, Sabag had been in charge of “intelligence affairs” for the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) where he established an effective working relationship with Halil Badia, the daughter of Abu Nidal (born Sabri Khalil al-Banna). Halil Badia, the report continues, assumed control of the ANO following her father’s death in Baghdad on August 16, 2002, and has since become “a main financier of the Wahabbist movement in ...(Bosnia & Herzegovina)”.

...The still emerging evidence of connections between Syrian intelligence operations in the Balkans, Bosnian jihadists, and the voyage of the Marmara raised serious questions for the West and particularly for NATO of which Turkey is a member about the extent to which the Turkish Erdogan Administration had been aware of these linkages when it gave permission for the Gaza flotilla to set sail.

If, in fact, Prime Minister Reçep Tayyip Erdogan had known about the presence on the Marmara of a Syrian intelligence agent with deep, long-standing ties to the global jihad movement, further questions would be raised about the extent to which Istanbul has chosen to reorient its strategic posture...
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