Press Release from NEAL
Boston, Massachusetts – March 31, 2003

Smuggling Yugoslav Weapons to Iraq - The Syrian Link

On its 60-Minutes television program aired last night, CBS reports information from reliable sources indicating that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) has been providing military support to Iraq's Saddam Hussein, even after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic and his replacement by a more democratic government. This aid, valued at between US$1.5 and 3.0 Billion, includes upgrades of MIG jet fighter engines, missile technology, explosives, and chemical- and nuclear-related technologies, among others. All technology and arms smuggling from FRY to Iraq has been confirmed to have taken place through Syrian-occupied Lebanon and/or directly through Syria.

The reliable sources on which the CBS news piece is based include US, Yugoslav, and Croat officials and experts, as well as a published report by the International Crisis Group (ICG). ICG is a multi-national, non-profit, independent, non-governmental organization headquartered in Brussels, and with liaison offices in Washington DC, New York, Paris, and London, as well as field offices in several countries around the world. ICG conducts fact-finding analyses with the goal of preventing and resolving conflicts.

The ICG report dated 03 December 2002 is entitled "ARMING SADDAM: THE YUGOSLAV CONNECTION". Specific details on the Syrian link includes reference to a Sept 25, 2002 letter uncovered by a SFOR (NATO) raid on October 12, 2002 on an aircraft factory in the Bosnian Serb Republic, and which was leaked and widely distributed to the media. The following are three direct quotes from the ICG report:

1. "It (the letter) also indicated that current weapons purchases from the FRY were being routed through Syria and that a cargo for Iraq was in the Montenegrin port of Bar awaiting Syrian permission before it set sail".

2. "On 22 October 2002, Croatian authorities seized a Montenegrin-registered freighter - the Boka Star - that had sailed from the Montenegrin port of Bar to the Croatian port of Rijeka. The Boka Star carried a cargo of 208 tons of nitrocellulose propellant and nitroglycerin, the base for solid propellant rocket fuel, falsely labeled as active coal. The coal allegedly belonged to Jugoimport-SDPR and was destined for Iraq via Syria. The US government requested the Croatian government to seize the ship…”

3. "Jugoimport-SDPR weapons shipments passed through the Montenegrin port of Bar under the supervision of Montenegrin State Security forces. They typically went to Iraq through the Syrian ports of Tartous or through Lebanon".

A full PDF copy of the report may be downloaded from ICG's web site at:

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