If you had long suspected that under the Bush administration the CIA was running secret prisons around the world, now you know. It wasn’t just the one in Thailand, which was closed in 2003, and the annex at the tip of Cuba, closed last year.
The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.
Very hard to interpret the information we are receiving right now. Much of it may well be aimed at the terrorists themselves so it is also perhaps better not to dig too deeply.
There are, however, a number of rival (but possibly) compatible theories. One of these, and it is the one I am following most closely (possibly for obvious reasons) is that of the Spanish connection. Now following this along the road a little (and just in a kind of ‘what if’ sense) it may not be entirely without relevance that raids were carried out in Italy on Saturday. (The FT today also also has a piece on the Italian raids. What stands out is the ‘cover’ provided by mass illegal immigration for such groups. I am in favour of increasing economic migration to meet demographic needs, but this process needs to be regulated and orderly, here we can see one more reason why). It is just me speculating, but the rapidity of the raids in Italy may relate more to the fact that there are ties between the Spain-based Jihadists and the Italian-based ones than to the immediate threat of an attack in Italy. This article contains the following information sourced from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra:
“In 2003, the Italian Police and the carabinieri from the Special Operations Unit uncovered a link between the alleged Italian cell and its extremist associates in a number of European countries, primarily Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. The Milan probe revealed that “young North Africans were ?trawled for’ in the European mosques, given money, and supplied with a visa?” to travel to Iraq to conduct suicide operations.”
This connection is loose, but is one possible route. Those who feel there might be an Iraq connection (and the lack of any explicit information about the explosives might point to this: this origin would be politically sensitive) would do well to note that the Italian net appears to have close links with Ansar Al-Islam which is based in the Kurdish zone, and was once host to none other than Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. As I say, I wouldn’t even call this a conjecture, just some isolated pieces of information which are worth keeping track on, irrespective of whether or not the people mentioned were implicated last Thursday.