The Independent’s Robert Fisk wrote in a report that Bosnia had been sending weaponry to Saudi Arabia, which was used in the Syrian unrest to support al-Qaeda groups.
According to the report, Fisk said he had found a weapons log book from a mortar factory in Bosnia — with the handwritten name of one of their senior officials, Ifet Krnjic, on each page in the basement of a bombed-out Al Qaeda arms storage building in eastern Aleppo last year.
He explained that it was dispatched from the Balkans with a cargo of 500 120mm mortars in January 2016. But now, in the forested heart of central Bosnia, I have found Mr. Krnjic, who says his company sent the arms to Saudi Arabia.
Fisk, visiting Krnjic at his home said [the shipment] went to Saudi Arabia. “It was part of a supply of 500 mortars. I remember the Saudi shipment well. They [the Saudis] came to our factory to inspect the weapons at the beginning of 2016.”
When The Independent asked the Saudi authorities to respond to the documents in its possession and their discovery in eastern Aleppo, the Saudi embassy in London replied that the Kingdom did not give “practical or other support to any terrorist organization [including Nusrah and IS] in Syria or any other country” and described the allegations as “vague and unfounded”.
Saudi Arabia has often been accused of arming the rebels in Syria, and religious publications from Riyadh have been found in towns formerly held by the Islamist groups. Besides, Saudi Arabia has demanded the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and his government in Damascus.
Fisk said he entered three former military barracks of the Islamist groups in February 2017, noting that inside one of these, lying half-concealed amid iron fragments and field dressings, he found piles of discarded documents containing firing instructions for machine guns and mortars, all of them in English.
“They also included weapons shipment papers and arms instruction booklets from Bosnia and Serbia, the pages still damp from winter rains and some stained by footprints.”
He also noted that in a deep basement of a third building in the Ansari district, with the words Jaish al-Mujaheddin crudely painted were dozens of empty boxes for anti-armor weapons, all marked with their maker’s name — the Hughes Aircraft Company, of California. The boxes were labeled “Guided Missile Surface Attack” with stock numbers starting with the computer code “1410-01-300-0254”.
Fisk also said that Adis Ikanovic, the managing director of the Novi Travnik factory, acknowledged in his head office that most of his company’s exports went to “Saudi Arabia, probably”.
According to the journalist, Ifet Krnjic’s account of the mortar shipment from BNT-TMiH in Bosnia is both precise and detailed. “When the Saudis came to our factory to inspect at the beginning of 2016, there was a Saudi ‘minister’... and some Saudi officers who also came to inspect the weapons before receiving them. The officers wore civilian clothes. The minister was in a robe. All our production after the [Bosnian] war is under the control of the Americans and Nato who are always coming here… and they know each and every piece of our weapons which go outside our factory.”
Fisk quoted Krnjic as saying that “The Saudis were never complaining because we have had a very good reputation for a long time, not only for our weapons but for who can give the shortest delivery date… I know I should not say all of this, but Nato and the EU have given us the green light to do this. Ours is the only mortar that can shoot from asphalt.”