!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News
Events: (Note that this is not the preferable method of finding events because not all events have been assigned topics yet)
Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure builds the world’s first solar collector. It is later used by Sir John Herschel to cook food during his South Africa expedition in the 1830s. [US Department of Energy, 2002 ]
A bomb planted by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad goes off outside the home of Eduard German in Berne, Switzerland. German is the managing director of CORA engineering, which had exported a gasification and solidification unit to Pakistan in 1979 to help A. Q. Khan’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, and is soon planning to supply another such unit. The bombing is one of a series by Mossad against Khan’s suppliers in Europe (see Early 1981). The company also receives an anonymous call saying it should stop trading with Pakistan, and this threat is followed by a similar one two months later. At this point the company realizes US intelligence knows everything about its operations (see April 1981), and so halts its dealings with Pakistan. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 87]
The Swiss firm CORA engineering finds that US intelligence has a comprehensive file on its shipments to Pakistan to aid A. Q. Khan’s nuclear weapons program. The discovery is made after the company is bombed by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad (see February 20, 1981). CORA official Rudolf Walti will comment, “When the company was cited to the Swiss government [for supplying technology to manufacture nuclear weapons to Pakistan] we discovered that the Americans had such good records of what we were doing that if we ever lost our own files we could always go and ask them to use theirs.” Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will comment, “However, this information had been kept highly classified [in the US] lest it undermine the aid train that had started to leave for Pakistan.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 87, 476]
The Party of Labor of Albania’s newspaper, Zeri i Popullit, prints an article on April 8, condemning Yugoslavia’s police actions and the treatment of Yugoslav Albanians, and supporting the protest demands. It also says, “The London and Versailles Treaties, which settled the frontiers between Yugoslavia and Albania, can no longer be imposed to the detriment of the Albanian people.” PLA First Secretary Enver Hoxha may be the anonymous author of the article. A Zeri i Popullit article two weeks later says hundreds were killed, wounded, missing, or arrested, and that it is Albania’s right to condemn Yugoslavia’s repeated actions, which it has not done officially. Zeri i Popullit points to Yugoslavia’s charges about the treatment of Croats and Slovenes across its border in Carinthia, which the article compares to Albanian concerns about Kosovar Albanians. Albania denies seeking to annex Kosova. The Yugoslav government sees these articles as evidence that Albania is behind the demonstrations, after initially blaming domestic and Western sources. As a result, previously increasing economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries will be reduced. On April 29, Lazar Kolisevski, a member of the Yugoslav Presidency, presents a report to a meeting of the Presidency and the Federal Council for the Protection of the Constitutional Order, charging that the PLA caused the demonstrations, which were “hostile and counter-revolutionary,” and sought unification with Albania. Kolisevski calls nationalism the greatest threat to Yugoslavia and says “economic nationalism,” economic divisions between groups in Yugoslavia, is the main cause of friction, which a Zeri i Popullit article also pointed out.
Allegedly PLA-Linked Kosovar Groups - Several allegedly PLA-linked organizations will be blamed for the protests: the Revolutionary Movement of Albanian Unification (whose leader, Adam Demaci, has been in jail since 1975), the Red Popular Front (considered closer to the PLA), eight “irredentist” groups arrested before the events, and the Albanian Communist Marxist-Leninist Party in Yugoslavia (represented at the 8th Congress of the PLA, in September 1981, and having almost the same program as the PLA). Besides these “extremists,” Kosovo President Xhavid Nimami blames “Ballists” led by Abaz Ermeni and “Zogists” led by Leka Zog, Zog I’s son, and equates calls for “united Albanians” to “United Serbs,” etc., saying they would destroy Yugoslavia. In 1997 an anonymous high-ranking official will allege that a meeting of officials and professors was held in Tirana to propose inciting Kosovars to seek more rights. Albanian anti-communist scholar Paulin Kola will suggest that this was done to distract Albanians from economic problems caused by the break in relations with China in the late ‘70s. Others will allege that Albania’s Sigurimi security agency organized the demonstrations, through ties with Albanians in Western Europe, especially Switzerland. Some Kosovars will say they received support from Albanians, but not from the Albanian government. Kola will point to the alleged role of the ex-communist Socialist Party of Albania in the formation of the KLA in the ‘90s as evidence that Albania was behind the 1981 events. In 1992-1993 and 2001 interviews, Xhafer Shatri will tell Kola that he thought the March 1981 demonstrations were unplanned. On the other hand, Albania benefits from trade with Yugoslavia and Yugoslavia acts as a buffer against the USSR. Albania will repatriate 249 Kosovar Albanian asylum seekers back to Yugoslavia from 1981 to 1983.
Alleged Soviet Involvement - In late April, Yugoslavia’s Fadil Hoxha says “Greater Albanian nationalism” would destabilize the Balkans as much as other nationalisms, and implies that the USSR wants to destabilize the Balkans to undermine the Non-Aligned Movement. In June, Zeri i Popullit will accuse the USSR of trying to use Serbia’s crackdown to cause problems in the Balkans and NATO. [Vickers, 1998, pp. 202-207, 211-212; Kola, 2003, pp. 158-160, 163]
Entity Tags: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Non-Aligned Movement, Leka Zog, League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Lazar Kolisevski, Kosovo Liberation Army, Adem Demaci, Enver Hoxha, Fadil Hoxha, Party of Labor of Albania, Red Popular Front, Revolutionary Movement of Albanian Unification, Yugoslavia, Zeri i Popullit, Abaz Ermeni, Albania, Xhavid Nimami, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Xhafer Shatri, Sigurimi, Socialist Party of Albania, Ahmet Zog I
Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle
Youssef Nada. [Source: Zuma Press/ NewsCom]In November 2001, Swiss investigators will search the home of Youssef Nada, the leader of Al Taqwa Bank, a Swiss bank that had just been shut down by the US and the UN for alleged ties to al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other radical militant groups (see November 7, 2001). Nada and other Al Taqwa directors are prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Newsweek will say, “The Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928 as a religious and quasi-political counterweight to the corrupt and increasingly decadent royalist and colonial governments dominating the Islamic world, always has had two faces: one a peaceful public, proselytizing and social-welfare oriented wing; the other a clandestine, paramilitary wing.… Intelligence and law-enforcement officials say that while some branches and elements of the Brotherhood, such as the offshoots now operating in Egypt and Syria, have pledged to work for their goal of a worldwide Islamic caliphate using peaceful means and electoral politics, the Brotherhood has also spun off many—if not most—of the more violent local and international groups devoted to the cause of Islamic holy war.” Such offshoots will include al-Qaeda and Hamas. [Newsweek, 12/24/2004] Swiss investigators discover a 14-page document from December 1982 entitled “The Project.” Nada claims not to know who wrote the document or how he came to have it, and he says he disagrees with most of the contents. The document details a strategic plan whose ultimate goal is “the establishment of the reign of God over the entire world.” The document begins, “This report presents a global vision of an international strategy of Islamic policy.” It recommends to “study of the centers of power locally and worldwide, and the possibilities of placing them under influence,” to contact and support new holy war movements anywhere in the world, to support holy war in Palestine, and “nurtur[e] the sentiment of rancor with regard to Jews.” Swiss investigators who analyze the document will later write that the strategy aims to achieve “a growing influence over the Muslim world. It is pointed out that the [Muslim Brotherhood] doesn’t have to act in the name of the Brotherhood, but can infiltrate existing entities. They can thus avoid being located and neutralized.” The document also advocates creating a network of religious, educational, and charitable institutions in Europe and the US to increase influence there. [Unknown, 12/1982; Le Temps (Geneva), 10/6/2005]
The exile group publishing the Voice of Kosova moves from Germany to Switzerland and the editorship passes to Xhafer Shatri, who previously led the group’s student organization and recently escaped from a Yugoslav prison in Pristina. Shatri will be editor until 1985. [Kola, 2003, pp. 317-318; LPK, 11/9/2009]
Xhafer Shatri continues as editor of the Voice of Kosova, but is joined by Fazli Veliu, Xhemajli Mustafa, Sami Isufi, Emrush Xhemajli, Agim Hasani, Muharem Shaqiri, and Hasan Mala. [LPK, 11/9/2009]
After commodities trader Marc Rich leaves the US over charges that he has evaded $48 million in tax in 1983, US authorities consider rendering him back to the US to face trial. [Grey, 2007, pp. 133] Howard Safir, head of the US Marshals Service, will later say that in 1985 he monitored Rich at his home in Switzerland in an attempt to serve an arrest warrant on him, so rendition may have been considered at this point. However, Rich will remain a fugitive until 2001, when he is pardoned by Bill Clinton. [Washington Post, 3/13/2001] Whenever rendition is considered, according to Safir, the plan is abandoned when the Swiss warn US agents they will be arrested if they try anything. [Grey, 2007, pp. 133]
Voice of Kosova editorial collegium (see May 1984) member Mustafa Xhemajli is elected to the position of editor, replacing Zhafer Shatri. Xhemajli will hold the position until 1991. [LPK, 11/9/2009]
Ahmed Ben Bella, a former president of Algeria, reportedly holds a secret meeting at his Switzerland home attended by “major figures in some of the world’s most violent groups.” People attending the meeting include the Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (known as the “Blind Sheikh”); Youssef Nada, head of the Al Taqwa Bank and a major Muslim Brotherhood figure; and Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, a leading Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim scholar. US government sources believe Ben Bella, who is allegedly linked to violent Sudanese and Libyan groups, called the meeting to discuss ways to spread Muslim fundamentalism into the West. [Buffalo News, 7/6/1993] Shortly after 9/11, a document called “The Project” written in 1982 will be found in Nada’s house. It outlines a secret Muslim Brotherhood plan to infiltrate and defeat Western countries (see December 1982).
Francois Genoud (left) and Ahmad Huber, a.k.a. Albert Huber (right). [Source: Seuil, AIJAC]Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood found the Al Taqwa Bank. This bank will later be accused of being the largest financial supporter of al-Qaeda, Hamas, the GIA in Algeria, and other organizations officially designated by the US as groups that sponsor terrorism. For instance, the Treasury Department will later claim that $60 million in funding for Hamas will pass through Al Taqwa in 1997. The bank is mostly based on both sides of the border between Swizterland and Italy, but important branches are established in Liechtenstein and the Bahamas as offshore tax havens. [US Department of the Treasury, 8/29/2002] Newsweek will explain, “Al Taqwa, which means ‘Fear of God,’ was launched… by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, a secret society devoted to the creation of a worldwide Islamic government. The Brotherhood wanted to create a financial institution in which devout Muslims could invest their money. It would operate under strict Islamic law, which prohibits banks from charging interest. But investigators believe the convoluted structure of Al Taqwa made it easy to use as a money-laundering mechanism.… The [central] operation consisted of four men working at computers in a small apartment in Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano, which sits near the Italian border, is a kind of Alpine Tijuana, well known as a haven for tax evaders and money launderers.” [Newsweek, 3/18/2002] Reportedly, in 1995, Italian investigators will tell a Swiss prosecutor that Al Taqwa and related entities comprise “the most important financial structure of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terrorist organizations.” [Salon, 3/15/2002] Six members of the bin Laden family are among the original contributors to the Bahamas branch. [Wall Street Journal, 12/17/2001] A number of the bank’s leaders have ties to Nazism or fascism. For instance, when board chairman Youssef Nada was a young man, he allegedly worked with both the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and Nazi Germany military intelligence. Ahmad Huber, a Swiss convert to Islam previously known as Albert Huber, is both a director of the bank and an open neo-Nazi. He proudly displays portraits of Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden next to each other in his house. [Washington Post, 4/29/2002; Asia Times, 11/8/2002] According to a reporter who will interview him in 1995, Huber’s office is adorned with portraits of Hitler, Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, and Islamic militants. [Boston Herald, 11/8/2001] Huber will spend decades attempting to forge links between the neo-Nazi movement and the radical Muslim movement, speaking to and networking with both groups. He will be quoted around 2001 saying that the al-Qaeda leaders he met in January 2001 are “very discreet, well-educated, and very intelligent people.”(see Late January 2001). [Financial Times, 11/8/2001; Playboy, 2/1/2002] The founder of Al Taqwa appears to be Francois Genoud, who will die in 1996. Genoud is a Swiss lawyer who funded the Nazis and served as a Nazi agent during World War II. After the war, he funded the secret Odessa organization, which enabled many notorious Nazi fugitives to escape to safe havens in South America and elsewhere. Authorities believe that Genoud uses Al Taqwa to fund international militants like Carlos the Jackal and bin Laden. He also paid for the legal expenses of ex-Nazis such as Klaus Barbie and Adolf Eichmann. Many Muslim radicals and neo-Nazis share a strong hatred for Jews and the United States. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/12/2002] Al Taqwa will be shut down shortly after 9/11 for its support of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other groups officially designated as terrorist organizations (see November 7, 2001).
Artist’s sketch of Said Ramadan. [Source: Wall Street Journal]In 1988, the Al Taqwa Bank is founded in Switzerland, and it quickly becomes one of the major funders for radical Islamic groups, including al-Qaeda (see 1988). The Al Taqwa Bank is closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and one of its key founders, Said Ramadan, is one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leaders, and also the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan helped Saudi Arabia found the Muslim World League in 1962; the charity will go on to fund al-Qaeda and many other radical groups. But there is strong evidence that Ramadan also was a long-time CIA asset. [Dreyfuss, 2005, pp. 136] Declassified Swiss documents reveal that in the 1960s, the Swiss government considered him to be, “among other things, an intelligence agent of the British and the Americans.” The Wall Street Journal will report in 2005, “Historical evidence suggests Mr. Ramadan worked with the CIA.” For instance, he traveled on a Jordanian diplomatic passport given to him by the CIA, “his expenditures are financed by the American side,” and he worked closely with CIA supported propaganda fronts. [Mother Jones, 1/1/2006] The Egyptian government apparently also believed Ramadan worked with the US, and that he may have had a role in a plot against Egyptian President Abddul Nasser in the 1960s. Ramadan even met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Oval Office in 1953. [Dreyfuss, 2005, pp. 135-138] Ramadan will die in 1995 at the age of 69. It is not known how long his ties to the CIA and possibly other intelligence agencies lasted. Journalist Robert Dreyfuss will later comment: “It’s no exaggeration to say that Ramadan is the ideological grandfather of Osama bin Laden. But Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood, and their Islamist allies might never have been able to plant the seeds that sprouted into al-Qaeda had they not been treated as US allies during the Cold War and had they not received both overt and covert support from Washington.” [Mother Jones, 1/1/2006]
In July 1991, the criminal BCCI bank is shut down (see July 5, 1991), and Osama bin Laden apparently loses some of his fortune held in BCCI accounts as a result (see July 1991). But while bin Laden loses money, he and his future second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri gain influence. Other Islamist militants have been heavily relying on BCCI for their finances, and in the wake of BCCI’s collapse they are forced to bank elsewhere. Author Roland Jacquard will later claim that “following [the bank’s closure], funds [are] transferred from BCCI to banks in Dubai, Jordan, and Sudan controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of the money [is] handed back to organizations such as the FIS [a political party in Algeria]. Another portion [is] transferred by Ayman al-Zawahiri to Switzerland, the Netherlands, London, Antwerp, and Malaysia.” [Jacquard, 2002, pp. 129] Author Adam Robinson will come to similar conclusions, noting that when BCCI collapses bin Laden has just moved to Sudan, which is ruled by Hassan al-Turabi, who has similar Islamist views to bin Laden. Robinson writes, “Without a system by which money could be transferred around the world invisibly, it would be relatively simple for terrorist funds to be traced. Dealing with this crisis fell to al-Turabi. In desperation he turned to Osama.… The future of the struggle could come to rest on Osama’s shoulders.” Over the next several months, bin Laden and a small team of financial experts work on a plan to replace the functions of BCCI. Bin Laden already knows many of the main Islamist backers from his experience in the Afghan war. “During the summer of 1991 he discreetly made contact with many of the wealthiest of these individuals, especially those with an international network of companies.… Within months, Osama unveiled before an astonished al-Turabi what he called ‘the Brotherhood Group.’” This is apparently a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Robinson says this group is made up of 134 Arab businessmen with a collective wealth of many billions of dollars. The network will effectively replace BCCI for Islamist militants. [Robinson, 2001, pp. 138-139] A French report shortly after 9/11 will confirm that bin Laden’s network largely replaces BCCI (see October 10, 2001). Right around this time, bin Laden is seen at the London estate of Khalid bin Mahfouz, one of the major investors in BCCI (see (1991)).
Ahmed Idris Nasreddin. [Source: NBC News]A 1995 Italian intelligence report alleges the Switzerland-based Al Taqwa Bank is funding radical groups in Algeria, Tunisia, and Sudan, and is a major backer of Hamas, but Swiss authorities are slow to investigate. [Salon, 3/15/2002; Forward, 10/17/2003] The Italians are interested in Al Taqwa because of its connection to a radical Italian mosque, the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, which Al Taqwa founder and director Ahmed Idris Nasreddin helped create and finance in the early 1990s. The mosque is close to Al Taqwa’s headquarters in Lugano, a town on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It is also connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and extremists fighting in Bosnia (see Late 1993-1994) and European investigators increasingly suspect that the Milan mosque is an important general recruiting and supply center for al-Qaeda and other radical militant groups. [Newsweek, 3/18/2002] Reportedly, the Italians tell a Swiss prosecutor that Al Taqwa “comprises the most important financial structure of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terrorist organizations.” Italian intelligence also finds links between Al Taqwa and the Milan mosque through Nasreddin. Additionally, two other top officials in the mosque are Al Taqwa shareholders. [Salon, 3/15/2002; Forward, 10/17/2003] Italian officials get the impression that Swiss officials are loathe to look into Al Taqwa. In 1997, the Italians convince a Swiss prosecutor to start questioning Al Taqwa officials. But reportedly, an Al Taqwa lawyer is able to make phone calls to influential people and have the investigation stopped. [Salon, 3/15/2002]
Egyptian diplomat Alaa al-Din Nazmi is shot and killed as he is returning to his house in Geneva, Switzerland. While he is officially said to be negotiating with the World Trade Organization on economic matters, the Independent will later report, “Political sources suggested that Nazmi was working under diplomatic cover, and that his real job was to track down members of Egyptian Islamist armed groups in Europe who have sworn to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Nazmi’s murderers [say] as much two days later,” when they take credit for the killing, using an alias for Islamic Jihad. [Independent, 12/6/1995] Swiss authorities seem uninterested in vigorously pursuing political connections to the murder, which is never solved. However, it will later be reported, “According to various sources close to the investigation, the Egyptian diplomat had been handling several sensitive files relating precisely to the financial resources of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which $200 to $500 was managed by various financial organizations” in Switzerland. The diplomat had played a major part in an attempt to recover these funds. He was focusing on the Al Taqwa Bank on the Swiss-Italian border, known to be a major bank for the Muslim Brotherhood. [Labeviere, 1999, pp. 63-68] A few months earlier, Nazmi apparently had been in secret discussions with the Egyptian militant Talaat Fouad Qassem, who was then abducted by the CIA and executed in Egypt (see September 13, 1995). So Nazmi’s assassination is seen as revenge for the death of Qassem. [Labeviere, 1999, pp. 70-71]
The Al Taqwa Bank had offices in this building in Lugano, Italy, on the border with Switzerland. [Source: Keystone]Newsweek will later claim that US investigators “on bin Laden’s trail” had known about the Al Taqwa Bank in Switzerland and its support for al-Qaeda “for years. But the group’s mazelike structure made it hard to track, and the Feds considered it a low priority.” A senior Treasury official later will tell Congress that US investigators learned in 1997 that Hamas had transferred $60 million into accounts at the Al Taqwa Bank. Also in 1997, US investigators learn the names of many Al Taqwa shareholders. Many of them turn out to be rich and powerful Arabs, including members of the bin Laden family and members of the Kuwaiti royal family (see 1997-December 1999). Newsweek later will claim that, “The US took a harder look at Al Taqwa after the [1998 US] embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). Sources say US intelligence tracked telephone contacts between Al Taqwa and members of bin Laden’s inner circle. Al-Qaeda operatives would call Al Taqwa representatives in the Bahamas as they moved around the world. Still, the network’s complex structure made it difficult to prove how money changed hands, and the investigation stalled. Under US pressure, the Bahamian government revoked Al Taqwa’s license [in the spring of 2001]. Treasury officials say the network continued to do business anyway.” [Newsweek, 3/18/2002] The US will declare Al Taqwa a terrorist financier two months after 9/11 (see November 7, 2001).
Yousuf Abdullah Al-Qaradawi. [Source: Zuma Press/ Newscom]In December 1999, the FBI apparently discovers a list of shareholders in the Al Taqwa Bank that reflects holdings in the bank at that time. The list is later confirmed as authentic by both US and Al Taqwa officials. It contains over 700 names. Youssef Nada, the president of Al Taqwa, will claim that the FBI knew the essential contents of the list in 1997, the same year they learned of other ties between the bank and officially designated terrorist groups (see 1997-September 11, 2001). [Salon, 3/15/2002] Names on the list include:
Yousuf Abdullah Al-Qaradawi, the grand mufti of the United Arab Emirates, and five members of his family. Qaradawi is said to be a high-ranking member of the Muslim Brotherhood and has made statements supporting suicide bombings against Israel (see 1986-October 1999).
Huta and Iman bin Laden, sisters of Osama bin Laden. Salon notes that the presence of their names on the list “undermin[es] the bin Laden family’s claim that it separated itself from [Osama’s] terrorist pursuits after he was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1994.”
Other bin Laden family members. For instance, Ghalib Mohammad Binladin, a brother of Osama, sues Al Taqwa in 1999 for failing to pay him a claim (the suit is thrown out of court.) [Newsweek, 11/7/2001]
Unnamed members of Hamas, which the US declared a terrorist group in 1995.
Members of Kuwait’s royal family.
Hassan el-Banna, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. (A man with this name founded the Muslim Brotherhood but died in 1949; this may be one of his descendants.) Other names on the list are said to be connected to organizations linked to al-Qaeda. Swiss officials later will admit that they were aware of reports connecting Al Taqwa to terrorist groups, but will claim they never had enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. However, no effective action is taken against the bank or anyone on the list. [Salon, 3/15/2002] The Al Taqwa Bank is said to have amassed $229 million in capital by 1997. In 1995, one of the bank’s directors said that oil-rich Saudi families “are very active” in using the bank. The bank will be shut down after 9/11, when US officials will charge it with funding al-Qaeda and other US-designated terrorist groups (see November 7, 2001). [Boston Herald, 11/8/2001]
A list of Al Taqwa Bank shareholders as of December 1999 includes Khaldoun Dia Eddine, who is also president of the Committee to Aid Refugees of Bosnia-Herzegovina. [Salon, 3/15/2002] He is said to work closely with Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, one of the top Al Taqwa figures. In 1999, it is alleged that Eddine was also the head of the Gulf Office, an Al Taqwa subsidiary that the Italian government investigated in 1994 for its ties with the GIA, an Algerian militant group connected to al-Qaeda. Eddine also works for Mercy International, a Muslim charity with numerous ties to al-Qaeda and also alleged ties to the CIA (see 1989 and After). By 1999, Eddine is managing the Mercy International office in Tirana, Albania, and is said to be managing “one of the principal channels for weapons delivery for the Kosovo Liberation Army, with the financial and logistic support of the Muslim World League.” [Labeviere, 1999] There is no indication that Eddine is ever later arrested or charged with any crime.
Sami Ben Khemais. [Source: Agence France-Presse]Telephone wiretaps and listening devices used against a Milan-based Tunisian operative named Sami Ben Khemais provide investigators with “a trove of fresh information” and help them uncover a European network of Islamist radicals. Ben Khemais fell under surveillance some time after arriving in Italy from Afghan training camps in 1998 and has dealings with other radicals in Germany, Spain, Britain, France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Shortly after 9/11, a German official will say the network of interlocking cells uncovered changes counterterrorist thinking in Europe: “In the past, we had seen some links to Afghanistan, but we saw them as more or less acting here without close connections to al-Qaeda. Now we are seeing more and more links between cells and to al-Qaeda. We are rethinking everything.” The European cells are organized under two umbrellas, Takfir wal Hijra and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), and its three leaders are Abu Doha, who will be arrested in London (see February 2001); Mohamed Bensakhria, based in Frankfurt, but arrested in Spain; and Tarek Maaroufi, who is arrested in Belgium. The Milan cell of which Ben Khemais is part and which he finances by drug-trafficking, counterfeiting money and documents, and money laundering, is connected to the “Hamburg cell” that provides three 9/11 hijackers in various ways (see December 1997-November 1998, October 2, 1998, and 2000). [Boston Globe, 10/23/2001]
A Tunisian militant based in Italy named Sekseka Habib Waddani confesses to Italian police that he has helped run an elaborate arms smuggling ring, but it is unclear whether Italy or the US does anything to stop him. Waddani will be placed on the US Treasury Department’s list of most-wanted militants on August 29, 2002, but this “prompts questions about when the United States learned of Waddani, and whether any action was taken by Italian or US officials after Waddani’s claim that large amounts of weapons were being sold to Islamic terrorists.” When the CIA is asked in 2002 whether it did anything about Waddani, the agency will decline to comment.
Walk In - Waddani just walks in to a police station in Milan in 2000 and discloses the information, which he learned because he was involved when the weapons transited Italy and Switzerland. He approaches the police because he is being blackmailed and needs protection. The weapons smuggling scheme Waddani reports to the Italians initially involved smuggling the arms from Russia to Italy by sea, then to Croatia and on to Bosnia during the war there from 1992 to 1995. Weapons were also supplied to Albanian fighters in Kosovo in 1998. The deals were brokered by Italian and Muslim lawyers in Switzerland, who found buyers there. However, this system is abandoned as too difficult and the weapons—pistols, machine guns, missiles, and grenades—are then shipped through Uzbekistan to Pakistan for use at terrorist training camps in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Companies Involved - Several European companies are involved in moving the arms, including one that handled transactions in Switzerland and is owned by a Pakistani named Haji Agka and two Swiss-based Tunisians, Ahmed and Shoyab Sharifi, and a front named the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center of Lucerne. The two Tunisians are friends of Ahmad Huber, who reportedly facilitates “periodic and regular” weapons shipments and is accused of moving money for Osama bin Laden through the suspect Al Taqwa bank (see November 7, 2001). Huber denies the charges and, although the Italians passed the information on to Switzerland, says neither he nor any of his associates were ever even questioned about it. Waddani will be indicted in October 2001 in Italy, for trafficking in arms, explosives, chemical weapons, identity papers, receiving stolen goods, and illegal immigration. The Treasury Department will also say he is a member of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). [MSNBC, 9/16/2002]
In a January 2002 letter to Swiss authorities, a senior Treasury Department official will claim that the Al Taqwa Bank in Switzerland had set up a highly secretive line of credit for al-Qaeda, and that it is still in use in October 2000. (Apparently its status is unknown after this time.) It states that Al Taqwa “appeared to be providing a clandestine line of credit for a close associate of bin Laden.… This bin Laden lieutenant had a line of credit with a Middle East financial institution that drew on an identical account number at Bank Al Taqwa. Unlike other accounts—even accounts of private banking customers—this account was blocked by the computer system and special privileges were required to access it.” The letter calls the circumstances surrounding the account “highly unusual” and suggests that they were created “to conceal the association of the bin Laden organization with Bank Al Taqwa.” Another document reveals that the account was originally set up for Mamdouh Mahmoud Salim, an al-Qaeda leader who was arrested in Germany in late 1998 (see September 16, 1998). It is believed that other al-Qaeda figures continued to access the account after Salim’s arrest. [US Department of the Treasury, 8/29/2002; Newsweek, 4/12/2004] The US will declare Al Taqwa Bank a terrorist financier in November 2001 (see November 7, 2001).
The charters of the Bahamas branch of the Al Taqwa Bank and the related Akida Bank are revoked. Al Taqwa’s headquarters in Switzerland will be shut down after 9/11 following accusations that it helped fund al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups (see November 7, 2001). [Randal, 2005, pp. 225] The US Treasury Department will later state that the Bahamas branch of “Al Taqwa and Akida Bank are not functional banking institutions in the conventional sense. They are shell companies lacking a physical presence and sharing the same address in the Bahamas where they were licensed.” [US Department of the Treasury, 8/29/2002] Press reports at the time say the closure is the result of Jordanian, French, and US intelligence reports indicating al-Qaeda money coming from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had been channeled through Al Taqwa. [Forward, 10/17/2003] Journalist Jonathan Randal will later note that US intelligence on Al Taqwa was solid enough before 9/11 to lead to this closure. “Egyptian, US, and other Western specialists had long suspected this well-known Muslim Brotherhood bank had ties to al-Qaeda as well as to radical Algerian, Egyptian, and Palestinian Islamist groups. One persistent rumor suggested Osama had been bugged telephoning the bank in Nassau, [Bahamas,] in 1996 to discuss rearranging his finances at the time of his departure from Khartoum, [Sudan.]” [Randal, 2005, pp. 225]
It will later be speculated that, around this time, people with foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks short sell reinsurance company stocks that are insuring either or both the airplanes and the buildings involved in the attacks. Munich Re, the largest European reinsurance company, loses 22 percent of its value in the two month before 9/11, with about half of that taking place in the week before the attacks. German authorities will later alert the Securities and Exchange Commission of “suspect movements” with Munich Re. [Agence France-Presse, 9/17/2001] Suspicious inquiries into the short selling of millions of company shares are made in France days before the attacks. [Reuters, 9/20/2001; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22/2001] Munich Re stock will plummet after the attacks, as they claim the attacks will cost them $2 billion. [Dow Jones Business News, 9/20/2001] There is also suspicious trading activity involving reinsurers Swiss Reinsurance and AXA. These trades are especially curious because the insurance sector “is one of the brightest spots in a very difficult market” at this time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/2001] A source within AXA will later say, “There are indications that the shorting has been going on for some time. People inside the company could not understand why” there had been so much shorting of the stock in recent weeks. “This could give some explanation why the stocks were going down so much when there seemed to be no apparent reason.” AXA shares drop almost 10 percent in the week before 9/11, and will plummet afterwards. The attacks will cost the company up to $400 million because of its coverage of both airplanes and buildings. [Los Angeles Times, 9/18/2001]
Italian police raid Youssef Nada’s villa in Lugano, Italy. [Source: Keystone]The US and other countries announce the closure of the Al Taqwa Bank and the Al Barakaat financial network. President Bush says, “Al Taqwa and Al Barakaat raise funds for al-Qaeda. They manage, invest and distribute those funds.” US officials claim that both entities skimmed a part of the fees charged on each financial transaction it conducted and paid it to al-Qaeda. This would provide al-Qaeda with tens of millions of dollars annually. Additionally, Al Taqwa would provide investment advice and transfer cash for al-Qaeda. Al Taqwa is based in Switzerland while Al Barakaat is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Over 100 nations are said to be cooperating with efforts to block the funds of these two groups. [New York Times, 11/8/2001] Swiss authorities raid Al Taqwa-related businesses and the homes of bank leaders Youssef Nada, Ali Himmat, and Ahmad Huber, but no arrests are made. In January 2002, Nada will announce that the Al Taqwa Bank is shutting down, due to bad publicity after the raids. He will maintain that he and his organization are completely innocent. [Newsweek, 11/7/2001; Reuters, 1/10/2002] Days after 9/11, Huber called the 9/11 attacks “counterterror against American-Israeli terror,” the World Trade Center a “the Twin Towers of the godless,” and the Pentagon “a symbol of Satan,” yet he will claim to have no ties to the attackers. [Playboy, 2/1/2002; Newsweek, 3/18/2002] In searching Nada’s house, Swiss authorities discover a document entitled “The Project,” which is a strategic plan for the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate and defeat Western countries (see December 1982). By late 2002, both the US and UN will declare Al Taqwa Bank, Nada, and Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, another founder and director of the bank, supporters of terrorism. All of their accounts will be declared frozen worldwide. [US Department of the Treasury, 8/29/2002] However, while Al Taqwa itself will be shut down, later reports will indicate that other financial entities operated by the directors will continue to operate freely (see June-October 2005).
Dr. Antonio Banfi. [Source: Public domain]A letter containing anthrax is mailed to Dr. Antonio Banfi, a pediatrician in Santiago, Chile. Although the return address is Orlando, Florida, the postmark is Zurich, Switzerland. The letter is sent via DHL, which uses a Swiss bulk mail shipper in New York and a Swiss postmark. Unlike the anthrax letters with US addressees, the letter to Chile is mailed in a business envelope and has a typewritten return address, a business in Florida. Dr. Banfi receives the letter, but finds it suspicious and gives it to the Chilean authorities. No one is known to have been infected with the material contained in the letter. The letter baffles American and Chilean officials because, according to the New York Times, “as they dig deeper, nothing quite adds up.” The New York Times article states, without direct evidence and with ambiguous citation of unnamed “officials” from either Chile or the US, that the anthrax strain most likely originated in Chile, despite the Swiss origin of the letter. The strain is reported to be a different one than used in the US attacks, and is said to be similar to a strain in Turkey. Dr. Banfi says he has no strong political views or known enemies. [New York Times, 11/29/2001]
Ahmad Huber (left) with Jean Marie Le Pen (right), at Christian CambuzatÃ¢Â€Â™s spa in Switzerland. [Source: Blick]According to an article in a German newspaper, Ahmad Huber, one of the directors of the Al Taqwa Bank, regularly meets with important far right wing figures. The Al Taqwa Bank was banned after 9/11 for allegedly financing al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other Islamic militant groups (see November 7, 2001). Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of a far right wing political party in France that has at times received around 10% of the popular vote, frequently attends a very exclusive spa in Switzerland to improve his health. This spa is run by Christian Cambuzat, a supporter of Le Pen and other far right figures. Huber confirms that he has met Le Pen at this spa, and a picture of Huber and Le Pen together accompany the article. Other politicians who meet at the spa include Franz Schanhuber, founder of an extreme right wing party in Germany and former SS member, and Gianfrano Fini, an Italian neo-fascist known for his admiration of Benito Mussolini. An unnamed extreme right wing politician from the US is also said to attend meetings at this spa. [Blick (Zurich), 4/26/2002]
The authenticity of a new audio tape purportedly made by bin Laden, in which he praises recent attacks in Bali, Kuwait, Yemen and Moscow (see November 12, 2002), is disputed by Swiss voice analysts. US officials believe the voice is “almost certainly” bin Laden, but the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland, one of the world’s leading voice-recognition institutes, is 95 percent certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/13/2002; BBC, 11/18/2002; BBC, 11/29/2002; Toronto Star, 12/16/2002] Two weeks after it was broadcast, a British newspaper publishes the complete text of a “letter to the American people,” purportedly written by bin Laden. [Observer, 11/25/2002] However, “diplomats [are] skeptical about the authenticity of the document.” [Guardian, 10/15/2002] The institute will not continue to analyse bin Laden’s speeches (see February 12, 2003).
Iraq submits its declaration of military and civilian chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities to the UN one day early. It consists of 12 CD-ROMs and 43 spiral-bound volumes containing a total of 11,807 pages. General Hussam Amin, the officer in charge of Iraq’s National Monitoring Directorate, tells reporters a few hours before the declaration is formally submitted: “We declared that Iraq is empty of weapons of mass destruction. I reiterate Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. This declaration has some activities that are dual-use.” Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, says the next day that Iraq’s pre-1991 nuclear program may have been close to developing a nuclear bomb, but denies that Baghdad continued the program. Meanwhile, the Bush administration remains furious over the Security Council’s previous day ruling that no member state—including the US—will be permitted access to the report until after “sensitive information about weapons manufacture had been removed.” White House officials say they were “blind-sided” by the decision. [Daily Telegraph, 12/8/2002; Observer, 12/8/2002; New York Times, 12/8/2002; Associated Press, 12/9/2002]
Iraq's nuclear program - Roughly 2,100 pages of the declaration include information on Iraq’s former nuclear programs, including details on the sites and companies that were involved. [Associated Press, 12/9/2002; BBC, 12/10/2002]
Iraq's chemical programs - It contains “several thousand pages,” beginning with a summary of Iraq’s former chemical weapons program, specifically “research and development activities, the production of chemical agents, relations with companies and a terminated radiation bomb project.” [Associated Press, 12/9/2002]
The biological declaration - This section is much shorter than the sections dealing with Iraq’s nuclear and chemical programs. It includes “information on military institutions connected with the former biological weapons program, activities at the foot-and-mouth facility and a list of supporting documents.” [Associated Press, 12/9/2002]
The ballistic missile declaration - This is the shortest section of Iraq’s declaration totaling about 1,200 pages. It consists of a chronological summary of the country’s ballistic missile program. [Associated Press, 12/9/2002]
Iraq's suppliers of chemical and biological agent precursors - Iraq’s declaration includes the names of 150 foreign companies, several of which are from the US, Britain, Germany and France. Germany allowed eighty companies to supply Iraq with materials that could be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction since 1975, while the US allowed 24 of its own businesses. Also included in the list are ten French businesses and several Swiss and Chinese companies. “From about 1975 onwards, these companies are shown to have supplied entire complexes, building elements, basic materials and technical know-how for Saddam Hussein’s program to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction,” the Independent explains. “They also supplied rockets and complete conventional weapons systems.” [BBC, 12/10/2002; Reuters, 12/10/2002; Washington Post, 12/11/2002; New York Times, 12/12/2002; Newsday, 12/13/2002; Los Angeles Times, 12/15/2002; Independent, 12/18/2002]
Swiss voice analysts at the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence decline to examine a new recording issued by a man thought to be Osama bin Laden (see February 11 or 12, 2003 and February 12, 2003). The institute previously analyzed a speech made by a man thought to be bin Laden and concluded that the speaker was not actually him (see November 29, 2002). The institute says that the previous analysis was done at the request of a French TV channel and was “mainly motivated by pure scientific curiosity.” It also says that the poor quality of that recording coupled with the limited number of voice examples meant that it was unlikely the recording could ever be properly authenticated. [Swissinfo (.org), 2/12/2003] However, US officials tell CNN that “this tape was of much better quality than the previous one presumed to be from bin Laden, which Al Jazeera broadcast in November.” [CNN, 2/12/2003] The institute does not analyze any later tapes thought to be released by bin Laden.
A United Nations report criticizes Switzerland for failing to prevent support from reaching al-Qaeda and the Taliban. UN observers claim there is weapons smuggling passing through Switzerland to Afghanistan. The report further claims that the leaders of the banned Al Taqwa Bank (see November 7, 2001) are continuing to do business with new and renamed financial entities. They continue to maintain commercial interests and properties in Italy and Switzerland, despite being on US and UN blacklists. Switzerland is also failing to enforce travel bans. For instance, Al Taqwa leader Youssef Nada was able to travel through Switzerland to Liechtenstein and back in January 2003. [Swissinfo, 12/16/2003] Salon noted in 2002 that, for many years, Al Taqwa has benefited from political connections in Switzerland. Al Taqwa directors have ties to some European far right wing politicians such as French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, and even neo-Nazi groups (see 1988). [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/12/2002; Salon, 3/15/2002] Newsweek will later report that in 2004, the UN will not convince its members to plug loopholes in the sanctions against Al Taqwa related entities. Instead, the UN Security Council will abolish its own monitoring group. [Newsweek, 3/3/2004; Newsweek, 12/24/2004] In late 2004, the Washington Post will report that although Al Taqwa “was supposedly shut down, US and European officials say they still find Nada moving funds under new corporate names.” [Washington Post, 9/11/2004] Additional reports of entities connected to Al Taqwa directors continuing to do business will appear in 2005 (see June-October 2005).
It is reported that the Swiss government is investigate an unnamed Saudi businessman who is the former president of the Muwafaq Foundation, which is now defunct. Swiss investigators will say he is suspected of transferring tens of millions of dollars to “close al-Qaeda associates” from Swiss bank accounts. The Swiss will freeze $20 million of his bank accounts. This businessman denies any connection with terrorism (see September 19, 2005). [New York Times, 6/25/2004] The have been repeated allegations that Muwafaq funded radical militants in the Bosnian war (see 1991-1995) and had ties to bin Laden (see 1995-1998).
The headquarters of Nasco, the Nigerian company owned by Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, are actually located on Ahmed Nasreddin Road. [Source: NBC News]News reports indicate Al Taqwa bankers are able to conduct business globally with few restrictions, despite being on global terrorist financier lists (see November 7, 2001). For instance, Al Taqwa director Ahmed Idris Nasreddin is running a conglomerate in Nigeria that makes a range of goods such as breakfast cereal and beauty products. An MSNBC investigation shows a clear and easily discovered paper trail connecting Nasreddin to the Nigeria companies, and a Nigerian government spokesman says, “He is well known. He is actually the major shareholder” in the conglomerate. But Nigerian officials claim the US has never raised objections or asked Nigeria to take action. In 2003, news reports tied Nasreddin to a prominent hotel in Milan, Italy. Financial records indicate he still owns the hotel. [MSNBC, 6/30/2005] Author Douglas Farah notes that the Geneva, Switzerland, branch of the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) has two Al Taqwa figures as directors. Youssef al Qardawi was a major Al Taqwa investor, and Ghaleb Himmat was a director in the bank. Both are officially designated terrorist financiers. The IICO also operated as part of the SAAR network, which was raided in March 2002 (see March 20, 2002). The IICO’s vice president is Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, who was a SAAR network official and also stayed in the same hotel as three of the 9/11 hijackers the night before the attacks (see September 10, 2001). Farah comments that these examples show “how ineffective and toothless the international sanctions regime has become. Those on the UN [terrorist financier] list continue to operate freely, presiding over businesses and charities that give them continued access to millions of dollars. The organizations that hire them are not penalized and, in the end, neither are the individuals.” [Farah, 11/7/2005]
Youssef Nada’s office in Lugano, Italy. [Source: Keystone]It is announced that Swiss prosecutors have suspended a three-year investigation into Al Taqwa Bank. The US and UN formally designated Al Taqwa and its founder Youssef Nada as terrorist financiers in November 2001 (see November 7, 2001). The suspension of the Swiss probe has no effect on those designations. Nada is self-acknowledged leader of the militant Muslim Brotherhood movement, but claims no ties to terrorism. [Newsweek, 6/22/2005] Swiss investigators say that the Bahamas government failed to share information about the important Al Taqwa branch based in that country. They claim that was the decisive factor in not bringing a case. Additionally, Al Taqwa’s Swiss financial records were all shipped to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government has not been cooperative in getting them back. [Swissinfo, 6/2/2005]
In the years since the US declared Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi a terrorism financier (see October 12, 2001), no criminal charges have been brought against him anywhere in the world. But on June 22, 2005, it is announced that Swiss prosecutors are pursuing a formal criminal case against him. The case focuses on a series of transactions made between February and August 1998 that were sent from one of al-Qadi’s companies to a firm owned by Saudi businessman Wael Hamza Julaidan. Julaidan reputedly associated with bin Laden in the 1980s. He was placed on US and UN terrorism financier lists in 2002. Over $1 million of the money in these transactions was sent to a Yemeni charity, but allegedly wound up funding al-Qaeda instead. Al-Qadi denies knowing that the money would go to al-Qaeda. [Newsweek, 6/22/2005] It is claimed that some of this money goes to support the 9/11 attacks. However, in December 2005, the Swiss apparently close the case. The Swiss court issues a statement, “Nothing in the file allows one to conclude with sufficient likelihood that Yassin al-Qadi knew or was able to know that the payments he made and for which he is implicated in the Swiss proceedings, could serve to specifically finance the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” [Arab News, 12/25/2005]
The US freezes the assets of Abdul Latif Saleh, who is a citizen of both Jordan and Albania. Bin Laden allegedly gave Saleh $600,000 to create “extremist groups” in Albania, and Saleh is also said to be tied to the Islamic Jihad (which merged into al-Qaeda before 9/11). Saleh is also said to be associated with Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001). The Treasury Department claims, “Saleh and Qadi had entered into several business partnerships with one another, including a sugar importing business, a medical enterprise and a construction business. Saleh served as the general manager of all of Qadi’s businesses in Albania and reportedly holds 10 percent of the Qadi Group’s investments in Albania.” [Associated Press, 9/19/2005; US Department of the Treasury, 9/19/2005] In the middle of 2004, the Swiss government also froze bank accounts worth $20 million of an unnamed Saudi businessman who is the former president of the Muwafaq Foundation over alleged al-Qaeda ties (see June 25, 2004). Al-Qadi was the founder and main investor of Muwafaq (see 1995-1998). [New York Times, 6/25/2004]
FIFA’s newly established ethics committee holds its first meeting. [BBC, 1/10/2011]
The Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence. [Source: Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence]An analysis by Swiss researchers casts doubt on the authenticity of over a dozen of the more recent communications allegedly made by Osama bin Laden. According to a 2009 article in the American Spectator (see March 2009), the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Manno, Switzerland, which does computer voice recognition for bank security, compares the voices on 15 undisputedly authentic earlier recordings of bin Laden with the voices on 15 more recent recordings that have been attributed to the al-Qaeda leader. The researchers find that all of the more recent, alleged bin Laden recordings clearly differ from each other and from the genuine earlier recordings. This would therefore indicate that these more recent recordings have been faked. In contrast to the Dalle Molle Institute, the CIA found all of the recordings to be authentic. Angelo Codevilla, a professor of international relations at Boston University, will comment, “It is hard to imagine what methodology might support [the CIA’s] conclusion.” [American Spectator, 3/2009] The American Spectator will be the only publication to report this analysis. An analysis by the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence in November 2002, of an audio recording allegedly made by bin Laden around that time, concluded that the recording was likely a fake (see November 29, 2002). [Guardian, 11/30/2002]
Irbil’s Iranian Liaison Office. [Source: Yahya Ahmed / Associated Press]US forces carry out two raids inside Iraq, capturing five Iranians as well as a large amount of documentary and computer data. Both raids are inside the Kurdish city of Irbil. One raid is at the Iranian Liaison Office, which is used as a local headquarters by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards; according to Iranian sources, five US helicopters land on the roof of the office building around 4 a.m. local time, and US soldiers break down doors, snatch up the five Iranians, and take away boxes of documents and computer equipment. The second raid, at the Irbil airport, ends differently, with US troops finding themselves confronting unfriendly Kurdish troops. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says, “A massacre was avoided at the last minute.” No Iranians are detained as part of the airport raid. The two raids are part of a new US intelligence and military operation launched in December 2006 against Iranians allegedly providing assistance to Iraqi Shi’ite insurgents. Iran’s al-Quds Brigade, which provides funding and military training to other Shi’ite revolutionary groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, is the primary target of the US offensive. “Throughout Iraq, operations are currently ongoing against individuals suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraqi and Coalition forces,” the headquarters of the US-led Multi-National Force-Iraq says in a prepared statement. The month before, two senior Iranians of al-Quds, Brigadier General Mohsen Chirazi and Colonel Abu Amad Davari, were captured in similar raids (see December 21-29, 2006), and freed shortly thereafter. [Alalam News, 1/11/2007; Washington Post, 1/12/2007; Newswire, 1/12/2007] US officials dismiss the raids as “routine.” [Reuters, 1/11/2007] Months later, a Kurdish government official says that the real target of the raids was not the Iranian liaison officials, but commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who were openly visiting Kurdish government officials. The commanders were not captured (see Early April, 2007). [Associated Press, 4/6/2007]
Rhetorical Escalation - Bush says that he has ordered US forces to “seek out and destroy the networks” arming and training US enemies, an indirect reference to Iran (see January 10, 2007). Joining Bush in the rhetorical escalation is General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who charges that Iran is “complicit” in providing weapons designed to kill American troops: “We will do all we need to do to defend our troops in Iraq by going after the entire network regardless of where those people come from.” The Iranian Liaison Office was opened with the approval of the Iraqi Kurds, who maintain a near-autonomous region in northern Iraq with the support of the US. Iran wants to upgrade the office to a formal consulate. US forces did not inform their Iraqi allies of the raids on the office beforehand; the raids may well disrupt Kurdish and Iraqi government attempts to deepen ties with the Iranian government. “This is a very, very dangerous thing,” says Zebari. The Iranian government has protested the raids, and the capture of their five officials, through Iraqi and Swiss diplomats to the United Nations (Switzerland represents US interests in Iran). Tehran insists that all five captured Iranians are diplomats, a claim rejected by US and Iraqi officials. [Washington Post, 1/12/2007] The State Department will assert, without presenting proof, that the Iranians are part of a much larger effort by Iran to support the Iraqi Shi’ite militias and insurgents. Apparently the United States’ charges that the Iranians are not diplomats rest on a bureaucratic foible: the five Iranians had applied for diplomatic accreditation, but their paperwork had not been fully processed. The Kurdish government were treating them as if they were accredited. Iran insists that the five are legitimate diplomats regardless of paperwork, and that by capturing them, the US is violating the Vienna Conventions and other international diplomatic regulations. But the US routinely ignores such laws in both Iraq and Afghanistan, causing criticism from human rights organizations and legal experts around the globe. Human Rights Watch researcher John Sifton says, “The US hasn’t articulated the legal grounds under which it detains ‘combatants’. They regularly conflate criminal terrorism, innocent civilians, and real combatants on the ground, and throw them all into the same pot. The vagueness of the war on terror has supplied the soil under which all this has flourished.” [Agence France-Presse, 1/25/2007; Asia Times, 3/31/2007]
Eventual Release of Some Captives - Months later, the US will release some of the captured Iranians (see November 6-9, 2007).
Entity Tags: al-Quds Brigade, US Department of Defense, Peter Pace, US Department of State, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Mohsen Chirazi, Human Rights Watch, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Abu Amad Davari, Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Hezbollah, John Sifton, Iranian Liaison Office, Hoshyar Zebari, United Nations
Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran
Youssef Nada in 2007. [Source: PBS]Egypt freezes the assets of dozens of top Muslim Brotherhood figures and then announces that 40 of them will stand trial in Egypt’s military court. The Associated Press notes this court is “known for its swift trials and no right of appeal.” Figures targeted include most of the top leaders of the Al Taqwa Bank in Switzerland, the Muslim Brotherhood bank banned by the US for its alleged ties to al-Qaeda. About five of those to be tried in absentia are tied to the bank, including bank directors Youssef Nada and Ghaleb Himmat. [Agence France-Presse, 1/24/2007; Associated Press, 2/6/2007; Ikhwanweb, 2/8/2007] The Muslim Brotherhood has been officially banned in Egypt for decades but it has generally been tolerated by the government. Muslim Brotherhood members became the largest opposition bloc in the Egyptian parliament after winning 88 of the 454 seats in the 2005 legislative elections by running as independents. [Associated Press, 2/6/2007]
Ahmed Idris Nasreddin is quietly removed from the US and UN terrorist financier lists. Neither the US nor the UN publicly announces the decision or explains why his name is no longer on an updated list of financiers. Nasreddin, a 78-year old businessman based in Italy and Switzerland, was formally listed in 2002 due to his ties with the banned Al Taqwa Bank (see November 7, 2001). That bank was considered one of the top funders for al-Qaeda and other militant groups until it was banned in late 2001. When asked by the Los Angeles Times about the delisting, the Treasury Department says the original listing was appropriate but Nasreddin was delisted because he submitted signed statements certifying he had terminated all business relationships with Al Taqwa and related entities and individuals. Former State Department official Victor Comras complains: “They seem to be saying that he was a bad guy but that he has renounced being a bad guy. If that’s the criteria, wow, a lot of people will try to get off the list. All they have to do is say, We’re not doing it anymore.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/28/2007]
FIFA’s 58th Congress votes 155-5 to support the organization’s “6+5” proposal to limit the number of foreigners appearing for football clubs. In addition to supporting the proposal’s aims, the congress asks the presidents of FIFA and UEFA to continue to try to find ways of implementing the rule in Europe. A number of speakers at the congress also express support, although UEFA president Michel Platini points out that “6+5 is considered illegal within the European Union.” At this time the proposal is planned to be phased in, meaning a maximum of seven foreigners in club teams’ starting lineups in 2010-2011, six the next season, and five the season after that. [FIFA, 5/30/2008]
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) predicts “a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyzes the major central banks.” RBS credit strategist Bob Janjuah says, “A very nasty period is soon to be upon us—be prepared.” Bolstering Janjuah’s dire predictions, the RBS bank research team warns that the Wall Street equities index, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 index is likely to fall by more than 300 points to around 1050 by September as “all the chickens come home to roost” from what the Daily Telegraph describes as “the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets. Such a slide on world [markets] would amount to one of the worst bear markets over the last century.” Janjuah also warned of the credit crisis in 2007. RBS predicts that Wall Street would rally a little in early July before quickly fizzling out. “Globalization was always going to risk putting G7 bankers into a dangerous corner at some point. We have got to that point,” Janjuah says. RBS debt market chief Kit Jukes says Europe will not be immune from the problems: “Economic weakness is spreading and the latest data on consumer demand and confidence are dire.” [Daily Telegraph, 6/19/2008]
The Swiss government says it will consider allowing Guantanamo detainees to be repatriated to Switzerland if it will help shut down that detention facility. In a statement, the Swiss government says: “For Switzerland, the detention of people in Guantanamo is in conflict with international law. Switzerland is ready to consider how it can contribute to the solution of the Guantanamo problem.” The Swiss government says it welcomes the expressed intention of President Obama to close the prison, and says it will investigate the security and legal implications of possibly taking in detainees. After calling for years for the detention camp to be shut down, European governments are now under some pressure to help find a home for the approximately 245 detainees. Many of the detainees’ home countries are refusing to take them back, and the US under former President Bush says it will not allow them to remain in the US if released. Switzerland is a traditional supporter of refugees, and the home of international organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations’s refugee agencies. At least two other European nations, Portugal and France, have stated their willingness to accept detainees. [Reuters, 1/21/2009]
FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber hands down a ruling punishing the Swiss club FC Sion and its Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary over Al Hadary’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly in February 2008. The goalkeeper is banned for four months, starting from the next season, and Sion is ordered to pay Al Ahly a transfer fee of US$1.25 million and also prevented from registering new players for two transfer windows, i.e. more than a year. The move was illegal under FIFA regulations because El Hadary was under contract with Al Ahly and there was no agreement between the clubs. FC Sion says it will appeal the ruling. [BBC, 6/2/2009; Court of Arbitration for Sport, 6/1/2010 ]
The US spends more than any other nation in the world on health care, but ranks only 50th among 224 nations in life expectancy, according to the 2009 CIA World Factbook. Experts say that this fact could raise serious questions in the debate over health care reform. Americans have an average life span of 78.1 years; the populations of 49 other nations live longer, on average. Japan is first in life expectancy, at 83 years; Australia, Iceland, Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Andorra, Canada, and France round out the top 10 countries. Other countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Greece, Spain, and Portugal also do better than the US in life expectancy. The bottom 10 nations are, in reverse order, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Chad, Uganda, Swaziland, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau, with life spans ranging from averages of 41 to 48 years. Some experts note that the US is the only developed nation to have a virtually completely privatized health care system. “What we are able to find in the industrialized world is that life expectancy will be influenced in a beneficial manner to the extent that health care expenditure is publicly financed,” says public health professor Harvey Brenner. “The higher the government expenditure on health care, the lower will be the mortality rate.” A study from the University of Chicago shows that a single-payer system—government-run health care—may be associated with higher life expectancy. The governments of such nations as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Canada have government-run health care, and their citizens have some of the longest life spans in the world. The author of the study, Bianca Frogner, writes: “Inevitably the conversation about reforming our health care system focuses on the question of what are we getting for our money and how are others doing with their health care dollars. Life expectancy, along with mortality and morbidity rates, are fairly straightforward numbers to rely on.” Other comparisons show that Scandinavian and other European countries have lower birth mortality numbers than the US, though babies born with abnormally low birth weights tend to fare better in the US system than in the Scandinavian systems. [CNN, 6/11/2009]
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rules against the Swiss club FC Sion and its goalkeeper Essam El Hadary in a dispute over the player’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly two years ago. The decision confirms a ruling of FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (see April 16, 2009) that ordered compensation to be paid to Al Ahly for the transfer and banned Sion from signing new players for two transfer windows. Although the original ruling is altered in some minor ways, the transfer ban remains in force. [Court of Arbitration for Sport, 6/1/2010 ]
The Swiss club FC Sion signs a number of players in the summer transfer window. It does so before a ban on signing players it is soon to be under takes effect (see June 1, 2010). The players are Loïc Chatton (signed from Biel), Steven Deana (Vaduz), Michael Dingsdag (Heerenveen), Jonas Elmer (Aarau), Rodrigo Lacerda (Strasbourg), Branislav Micic (Le Mont), Dragan Mrdja (Vojvodina), and George Ogararu (Ajax Amsterdam). [Swiss Football League, 2010]
The Swiss club FC Sion, which has been prohibited by the game’s ruling bodies from signing new players (see June 1, 2010), buys no new players during the winter transfer window. The only change the club makes during this period is that the player Didier Crettenand is given a new contract. [Swiss Football League, 2011] However, the club will buy players during the next transfer window, breaching the transfer ban (see Summer 2011).
Guenter Hirsch, a member of FIFA’s ethics committee, resigns from his position on the body. In a letter to commission chairman Claudio Sulser, Hirsch comments, “The events of the past few weeks [the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar] have raised and strengthened the impression that responsible persons in FIFA have no real interest in playing an active role in resolving, punishing, and avoiding violations against ethic regulations of FIFA.” FIFA responds to the resignation with a statement saying that Hirsch has not attended a committee meeting for four years. [BBC, 1/10/2011]
A federal Swiss court rejects appeals lodged by the club FC Sion and goalkeeper Essam El Hadary against decisions of FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Both FIFA and CAS had ruled that Sion and El Hadary had broken the rules over the player’s transfer from the Egyptian club Al Ahly to Switzerland in 2008 (see April 16, 2009 and June 1, 2010). As a result of the two rulings, compensation was to be paid to Al Ahly and Sion was banned from transfer activity for two transfer windows. As the appeals are rejected, the CAS ruling remains in force. [FIFA, 1/19/2011] It is against FIFA’s statutes for a dispute to be brought before a civil court. [BBC Scotland, 8/16/2011]
FIFA reminds the Swiss club FC Sion that it will be under a transfer ban in the summer 2011 transfer window, according to a later interview with FIFA’s director of legal affairs Marco Villiger. [FIFA, 9/30/2011] However, Sion will sign players in the window (see Summer 2011), leading to a dispute (see September 2, 2011).
FIFA announces that its ethics committee will investigate two members of the organization’s executive committee, Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, as well as two Carribean Football Union officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester. The announcement follows allegations of vote-buying made by fellow executive committee member Chuck Blazer (see May 24, 2011). The officials are to attend an ethics committee meeting in four days’ time to discuss the allegations. Bin Hammam is currently running for FIFA president, with the election scheduled to take place next week. Bin Hammam’s rival is the Swiss Sepp Blatter, so the ethics committee hearing will not be attended by its chairman, Claudio Sulser, who is also Swiss. Instead the meeting will be chaired by Petrus Damaseb, a judge from Namibia and the committee’s deputy chairman. [Press Association (London), 5/25/2011]
Entity Tags: Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, Petrus Damaseb, Claudio Sulser, Jason Sylvester, Mohamed bin Hammam, Chuck Blazer, Debbie Minguell, Jack Warner, International Federation of Association Football, FIFA Ethics Committee
Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics
FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam refers his opponent, the incumbent Sepp Blatter, for an ethics invesigation. This follows the opening of an ethics investigation into bin Hammam, who offered bribes to 25 voters in the Caribbean (see May 10, 2011, May 24, 2011, and May 25, 2011). According to bin Hammam, the report into the matter that forms the basis of the charges against him contains “statements according to which Mr Blatter, the incumbent Fifa president, was informed of, but did not oppose, payments allegedly made to members of the Caribbean Football Union.” Reportedly, FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who is also under an ethics investigation, told Blatter of the payments. If this were true, it would be an ethics violation by Blatter, as FIFA officials are under a duty to disclose any evidence of improper conduct to the organization’s secretary general. Bin Hammam’s allegations are first made in a letter to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, but are then reported in the media. [Guardian, 5/26/2011] FIFA’s ethics committee will open an investigation of Blatter (see May 26, 2011).
FIFA’s ethics committee opens an investigation into the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter. The investigation was proposed by Blatter’s presidential rival in a forthcoming election, Mohamed bin Hammam (see May 26, 2011). According to bin Hammam, Blatter knew of but did not oppose bribes bin Hammam is said to have offered 25 presidential voters. Blatter did not report the bribes, although FIFA’s code of ethics apparently places a duty to report such conduct on all officials. [Daily Telegraph, 5/27/2011] The ethics committee will clear Blatter of the allegations, saying the bribes had not actually been paid when he learned of them, so there was no duty to report (see May 29, 2011).
At a hearing on bribery allegations, FIFA’s ethics committee clears the organization’s president Sepp Blatter of wrongdoing, but provisionally suspends his presidential rival Mohammed bin Hammam, FIFA vice president Jack Warner, and two other officials. The allegations stemmed from a meeting in early May, when bin Hammam, aided by Warner and the other two officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester of the Caribbean Football Union, paid voters to support bin Hammam (see May 10, 2011). The allegations were broken by FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, leading to ethics referrals for the five officials (see May 25, 2011 and May 26, 2011). According to Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb, who chairs the committee meeting, Blatter is not guitly of the charges against him—that he knew of the bribes, but failed to report them—because he only knew of them in advance. Damaseb says, “The committee took the view that the obligation to report did not arise because at that stage no wrongdoing had occurred.” [ESPN, 5/29/2011] The relevant section of FIFA’s ethics code states, “Officials shall report any evidence of violations of conduct to the FIFA secretary general, who shall report it to the competent body.” [FIFA, 2009 ] According to the ethics committee, there is therefore no duty under the code to report forthcoming violations of ethics. However, the committee decides that the other four officials have a case to answer and are provisionally suspended from all football-related activity. [ESPN, 5/29/2011]
FC Sion win the Swiss Cup, beating Neuchatel Xamax 2-0 in the final. The result means that Sion qualify for next year’s edition of the Europa League. [UEFA, 5/29/2011] Sion are currently operating under a transfer ban imposed due to a rule breach (see April 16, 2009). As a result they were unable to sign new players during the winter break of this season (see January 2011).
The Swiss club FC Sion signs several new players, despite an apparent transfer ban. The new players are Guilherme Afonso (from Lugano), Pascal Feindouno (Monaco), Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (aka “Gabri,” Umm-Salal), Stefan Glarner (Thun), José Gonçalves (St. Gallen), Billy Ketkeophomphone (Strasbourg), and Mario Mutsch (Metz). [Swiss Football League, 2011] The transfer ban was to last for two transfer windows (see April 16, 2009 and June 1, 2010). Sion signed several players the previous summer (see Summer 2010), but nobody arrived during the winter transfer window (see January 2011).
Instead of releasing €12 billion ($17.2 billion) to help the Greek government’s worsening economic and political crises, EU leaders assembling in Luxembourg for seven hours, from Sunday night into Monday morning, place more pressure on the Greek government after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) required Europe to guarantee Greece’s finances for the next 12 months. Rather than act with a sense of urgency, EU finance ministers expect the Greek Parliament and President George Papandreou to pass an austerity bill. Greece’s crises threaten to topple the euro and EU financial markets. [New York Times, 6/20/2011]
Eurozone policymakers fail to reach an agreement over the weekend on financial aid to bail out Greece, resulting in a sharp market drop on Monday morning as disappointed traders react to the leaders’ failure to guarantee the next €12 billion installment of Greece’s original bailout. Widespread speculation is that a disorganized Greek default will send Eurozone single-currency nations, as well as nations around the globe, into another panic. [Guardian, 6/20/2011]
The qualification committee of the Swiss Football League rejects requests by FC Sion for the registration of six newly-signed players: Stefan Glarner, Pascal Feindouno, José Gonçalves, Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (a.k.a. “Gabri”), Billy Ketkeophomphone, and Mario Mutsch (see Summer 2011). This is due to a transfer ban imposed on Sion for a rule breach by FIFA (see April 16, 2009). [Swiss Football League, 7/15/2011]
The appeal tribunal of the Swiss Football League rejects an appeal by FC Sion and six of its players against a decision of the league’s qualification committee, which refused to register the six (see July 15, 2011). The appeal tribunal finds that the qualification committee correctly decided to reject the applications to register the players because Sion was under a transfer ban. [Swiss Football League, 7/29/2011] Sion will apply for a court order allowing the six to play, and will initially be successful (see August 3, 2011).
The Civil Court of Martigny and St. Maurice orders FIFA, the FIFA subsidiary Transfer Matching System GmbH, and the Swiss Football League to allow six FC Sion players to play with immediate effect. The players were signed during a transfer ban (see Summer 2011), so FIFA claims they cannot be fielded, and the Swiss Football League had ruled to this effect (see July 15, 2011 and July 29, 2011). However, the league’s rulings are now overturned. [FIFA, 11/18/2011] Two days later, the Swiss Football League issues a statement saying that the players can be used until a further court ruling. [Swiss Football League, 8/5/2011] The same judge will later affirm his ruling (see September 27, 2011), but it will be overturned by a higher court (see November 16, 2011).
The Swiss club FC Sion defeats the Scottish team Celtic to win a place in the group stages of the Europa League. The first game of the two-legged playoff tie finished 0-0 in Glasgow, but the Swiss win the return leg 3-1. [Press Association (London), 8/26/2011] UEFA will overturn the result as Sion fielded a number of ineligible players (see September 2, 2011), leading to a drawn-out legal dispute.
Two UEFA officials, president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, say that the Swiss club FC Sion clearly breached a transfer ban imposed on it and that the club should not resort to civil courts. Sion used players signed while it was operating under the ban (see April 16, 2009) to win a Europa League playoff (see August 25, 2011). However, their opponents Celtic have now appealed to UEFA to overturn the result. Platini says that the players were fielded “in clear violation of the ban,” adding, “FC Sion has not respected the rules of the transfer ban—they signed players and then played those players.” Infantino says the case will be dealt with in house. “The civil court ruling does not affect UEFA,” he says. “We will look at our rules and the FIFA rules. There is a ruling by FIFA, [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] have ruled, it went to the Swiss supreme court, and everything was confirmed but it has been challenged again.” Infantino also sets out the key point of the dispute, saying, “It is an interpretation question which is complicated—whether a two transfer-window ban means two transfer windows or parts of several transfer windows.” [Press Association (London), 8/26/2011]
FIFA president Sepp Blatter says that civil courts should not be used in the dispute with the Swiss club FC Sion. Although operating under a transfer ban (see April 16, 2009), Sion signed several new players (see Summer 2011) and used them to secure a place in the Europa League (see August 25, 2011), which UEFA is now reviewing. “Tell me,” says Blatter, “on what grounds we should grant an exception to a club where millions of others follow the rules?” He adds: “I like the way [FC Sion owner Christian] Constantin makes things happen generally, but one of the fundamental principles of football is not using the civil courts with our internal regulations. FIFA judged the case and found Sion guilty.” [Daily Mail, 8/29/2011]
UEFA throws the Swiss Club FC Sion out of the Europa League for fielding ineligble players. The players were ineligible because they were signed during a transfer ban imposed on the club (see Summer 2011) as punishment for rule-breaking (see April 16, 2009). The players played in a two-legged playoff tie with Celtic, and UEFA now awards each leg to the Scottish club 3-0. [UEFA, 9/2/2011] Sion will appeal the ruling, but the decision will stand (see September 13, 2011).
The Qualification Committee of the Swiss Football League rejects a request from FC Sion for the registration of player Brian Amofa. The committee says that the request was rejected because of a transfer ban imposed on Sion in 2009 (see April 16, 2009). Such decisions on registration can be appealed to a higher body within the league. [Swiss Football League, 9/2011]
A Swiss court, the Tribunal Cantonal du Valais, rejects an action by the Swiss club FC Sion in the dispute over Sion’s ejection from European competition (see September 2, 2011) and refuses to issue an injunction. According to the court, the dispute between Sion, UEFA, and Celtic, which replaced Sion in the Europa League, does not have close enough links to Valais for it to adjudicate the matter. [Swiss Football League, 9/2011]
A Swiss court, the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud, orders that the club FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League. UEFA recently threw Sion out of the league in a dispute over player eligibility (see September 2, 2011). UEFA is not represented at the court hearing. [UEFA, 9/13/2011] Later the same day, UEFA’s appeal body confirms Sion’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), and UEFA’s emergency panel decides to ignore the court order (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).
UEFA rejects an appeal from FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011). The ruling means that Celtic, which Sion defeated in a playoff, goes forward to the group stage of the competition. Sion can file an appeal against the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [UEFA, 9/13/2011] Earlier in the day, a Swiss court had ruled that FC Sion should be readmitted to the competition (see Morning, September 13, 2011), although UEFA’s emergency panel soon decides to ignore the court order and keep Sion out of the competition (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).
Following a Swiss court order that FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League (see Morning, September 13, 2011) and a UEFA appeal body ruling that confirmed the club’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), UEFA’s five-member emergency panel, including president Michel Platini, meets to discuss what to do. It decides to ignore the court order and continue to include Celtic in the competition at Sion’s expense. UEFA issues a statement explaining its reasoning for ignoring the order: the court only heard Sion representatives, not UEFA, and one of the grounds for the court’s ruling was erroneous—UEFA’s appeal body reviewed the decision shortly after the court order was issued, whereas the court thought it would not do so until after the Europa League group stage started on 15 September. “I am a strong believer and deeply attached to the protection of football and fairness of the game,” says Platini after the meeting. “I am happy that football disciplinary bodies are sanctioning clubs who are using their influence and wealth to induce players to breach their contracts. This is against all rules of sporting fairness. This is ultimately about protecting clubs, the players and football itself.” He adds: “We have clear rules and regulations that all clubs know before they enter our competitions. We cannot accept that if one individual club does not get its own way then it goes through any possible system to force its will on the others. Two independent disciplinary bodies have ruled on this issue and we must abide by their decisions.” [UEFA, 9/13/2011]
UEFA’s 53 member associations issue a declaration of support on the way the body’s leaders have handled the FC Sion affair. According to a statement released by UEFA, the 53 associations declare “unanimous support” for both “the governing body’s determination to uphold the statutes and regulations of football in the case of FC Sion,” and also specific persons and bodies prominent in the dispute, “UEFA president Michel Platini, the UEFA executive committee, the UEFA general secretary [Gianni Infantino], the UEFA disciplinary bodies, and the UEFA administration.” In addition, the member associations urge UEFA to take “concrete steps to uphold the statutes and regulations of FIFA, as UEFA has done,” because an “independent sports justice system is the best guarantor of equality and fairness for all participants in sports.” [UEFA, 9/21/2011]
UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino are ordered to attend an interview with a Swiss prosecutor in UEFA’s home canton of Vaud over the FC Sion affair. The move comes after UEFA ignored a civil court ruling that the Swiss club should be reinstated in the Europa League, which led Sion to file a criminal complaint. UEFA issues a statement saying it is “happy that Michel Platini should go and meet the Vaud prosecutor and explain UEFA’s position.” [Associated Press, 9/23/2011] The interview will take place in the middle of October (see October 19, 2011).
A judge with the Swiss civil court of Martigny and St. Maurice reaffirms a ruling he issued the previous month in the dispute between FC Sion and the football authorities (see August 3, 2011). The decision ordered that Sion be allowed to field six players whose eligibility was disputed. [FIFA, 11/18/2011] However, a higher court will later overturn the ruling (see December 23, 2011).
Marco Villiger, FIFA’s director of legal affairs, gives an interview to the organization’s website on the dispute between FIFA and UEFA on the one hand and the Swiss club FC Sion on the other. Villiger says that by involving civil courts in the dispute, Sion is “irresponsible” and has done an “enormous amount of damage” to “the autonomy of the sport” and also to Swiss football. He adds that the civil actions have caused “chaos” and comments: “If every club went to a local court when they disagreed with something, international football would no longer be possible. Arguments over the games which involved ineligible players will continue long after this case is closed.” He also discusses FIFA’s communication policy on the case, saying, “Normally FIFA does not comment on ongoing cases, but we are being a little more open about this one because the other side have been so aggressive in the media.” Villiger also hints that FIFA is displeased with the Swiss FA’s handling of the matter, saying that member associations are responsible for enforcing FIFA’s decisions: “If an association chooses not to enforce it, it’s up to us to sanction them. Possible sanctions include suspensions, expulsion from competitions, and so forth. If we can no longer enforce decrees, the whole system is in danger.” [FIFA, 9/30/2011] FIFA will later make such a threat against the Swiss FA explicit (see December 17, 2011).
A Swiss court again finds in favour of FC Sion in its dispute with UEFA over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League. The Civil Court of the Canton of Vaud instructs UEFA to reinstate the club in the Europa League and orders that UEFA pay the maximum fine of 1,000 Swiss francs for each day of non-compliance. The judge says that UEFA’s actions are unfair and that it appears not to have followed its own rules in the case. [FC Sion, 10/5/2006]
UEFA’s executive committee unanimously decides to ignore a court order to reinstate the Swiss club FC Sion in the Europa League (see October 5, 2011). The decision is taken at an extraordinary meeting to discuss the case, although the meeting is not attended by UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, who are to appear before a prosecutor in the case (see September 23, 2011). Neither is it attended by Peter Gilliéron, a committee member and also president of the Swiss Football Association. Instead of complying with the ruling, the committee decides to wait for the outcome of another court hearing in the dispute, this time before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The committee justifies its refusal to comply by saying that it lacks the power to reinstate the club—Sion was ejected by UEFA’s disciplinary bodies and these are independent of the organization’s executive. UEFA issues a statement saying it is therefore “constitutionally unable to apply to the letter of the super provisional and provisional measures decided by the civil court.” [UEFA, 10/11/2011]
UEFA President Michel Platini gives a wide-ranging interview to the German publication Der Spiegel on a number of topics. On the FC Sion affair, in which UEFA has decided to deliberately ignore a court order reinstating Sion in the Europa League, Platini is asked, “How is it that you can simply ignore a court’s ruling?” He replies: “The prosecutor will pose that question to me on October 19 (see September 23, 2011 and October 19, 2011). I can’t talk about it now.” He also talks about how he sees the significance of the dispute: “It would be a catastrophe for the sport if everyone could go to court at any time. Imagine if a player got a red card and found a judge who said: ‘The referee and the football association are preventing him from performing his job.’ A ban on working! We could all just call it quits… If a court decision finds that the six ineligible players should have been allowed to play, it would be a disaster, the end of football.” On the topic of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules Platini says the aim is to “introduce some fairness,” but does not know whether it will benefit German clubs specifically. Asked about the absence of specific penalties in the regulations, Platini replies, “It’s not about killing the clubs; we want to help them. There is a range of possible sanctions, including monetary fines, a ban on signing new players and the exclusion from competitions.” Platini also says that he has been sure for the last two months that the 2012 European Championships will be in Poland and Ukraine, as planned. Previously, there was a risk part of the tournament would be taken away from Ukraine and played in Germany. Finally, he refuses to confirm he will succeed Joseph Blatter as FIFA president in 2015. [Der Spiegel (Hamburg), 10/14/2011]
The Court of Arbitration for Sport decides some procedural issues in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011 and September 26, 2011). The court confirms its competence to decide the merits of the case, dismisses a request by FC Sion for a stay of proceedings, and confirms the nomination of the arbitrator originally chosen by FC Sion. In addition, the court’s statement sent to the parties twice states that FC Sion is committing “clear abuse of [court] procedures” through its attempts at legal maneuvering. [UEFA, 10/15/2011]
UEFA explains the ways in which the Swiss club FC Sion could be reintegrated into the 2011-2012 Europa League to the Swiss court Tribunal Contonal de Vaud, following a court order it do so. Sion could be reintegrated into Group I as a fifth team and either eight additional fixtures would be played, or all previous results would be ignored and the group would start again with teams only playing each other once. Alternatively, Sion would simply join the competition in the next round. [UEFA, 10/17/2011] Sion will lose the legal battle and will not be reinstated (see December 15, 2011).
The Swiss judicial body Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud rejects an application by the Swiss club FC Sion that it order UEFA to immediately reinstate the club in the 2011-2012 Europa League. In particular, the court rejects the request that UEFA be ordered to enable Sion to play the French team Stade Rennais in the next round of fixtures instead of Celtic. Sion defeated Celtic in a playoff, but were then thrown out of the competition for fielding ineligible players and the Scottish team invited back in (see September 2, 2011). [UEFA, 10/18/2011]
A Swiss prosecutor interviews UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino over the FC Sion case. UEFA threw Sion out of the Europa League for breaching a transfer ban (see September 2, 2011), but this led to a legal dispute and Sion filed a criminal complaint against UEFA, which is the reason for the interview (see September 23, 2011). [UEFA, 10/19/2011; Agence France-Presse, 10/19/2011] Details of what is said in the interview are unknown.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport sets the date of the hearing in the Europa League dispute between UEFA and the Swiss Club FC Sion for November 24. UEFA ejected Sion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and since then there has been a series of legal disputes between the parties (see September 26, 2011 and October 14, 2011). The date is conditional on it being approved by the two parties. [UEFA, 10/25/2011] The court will rule in December, mostly in favour of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).
Six players from the Swiss club FC Sion appeal bans imposed on them by the disciplinary committee of the Swiss Football League. The five-match bans were imposed on the six, Pascal Feindouno, Gabriel Garcia De La Torre (a.k.a. “Gabri”), Stefan Glarner, José Gonçalves, Billy Ketkeophomphone, and Mario Mutsch, in a dispute over whether they were signed while Sion was under a transfer ban (see Summer 2011). The players and the club now appeal this decision to the league’s appeal tribunal. [Swiss Football League, 10/2011]
UEFA president Michel Platini criticizes the Swiss club FC Sion for involving civil courts in a dispute between it and the football authorities over a transfer ban (see August 3, 2011 and October 17, 2011). “If tomorrow you receive a red card on the pitch and you go to a judge because you cannot play in the next match, and the judge says you are right, what can we do?” Platini tells the French broadcaster RTL. “Everything must depend on the [Court of Arbitration for Sport]. Today, we have in principle an independent disciplinary process in the federations, in UEFA, in FIFA. If nobody respects its decisions and goes before civil courts, now that justice today moves slowly, I ask myself how this could happen. What do we do if a club relegated to the second division go to a court because they have a first division budget and want to stay there?” The Court of Arbitration for Sport has just set a date for a hearing in the case. [Press Association (London), 10/25/2011]
The Swiss club FC Sion complains to that country’s Competition Competition about the behavior of UEFA. Sion and UEFA are involved in a legal dispute over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and Sion now argues that UEFA is abusing a dominant position. [UEFA, 2/7/2011] The commission will take no action against UEFA (see February 7, 2012).
The Swiss club FC Sion and several of its players complain to the European Commission over its treatment by UEFA and FIFA. Sion was punished by the authorities for poaching another team’s player (see April 16, 2009), but has allegedly ignored punishment for this infringement (see September 2, 2011). Sion’s announcement of the complaint states its belief that that UEFA’s expulsion of the club from the Europa League is in conflict with European Union law. [Swissinfo, 10/31/2011]
A Swiss appelate court, the Tribunal Cantonal Valais, overturns lower court rulings favorable to the football club FC Sion in a dispute with FIFA and UEFA. A lower court had twice ruled (see August 3, 2011 and September 27, 2011) that players FIFA declared ineligible because of a transfer ban on the club (see Summer 2011) could actually play. FIFA welcomes the ruling, stating, “The Cantonal Court has thus indirectly taken the same view as FIFA and the [Swiss Football League] and its ruling has indirectly confirmed the legality of the transfer ban FIFA imposed on [FC Sion].” [FIFA, 11/18/2011]
The key hearing in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the latter’s ejection from the Europa League is held before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The hearing follows a long dispute between UEFA and the club (see September 2, 2011). [UEFA, 12/15/2011] The court will mostly rule in favor of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).
The Swiss Football League rejects appeals against the results of matches in which players signed by FC Sion during the summer transfer window played. The club was apparently operating under a transfer ban when it signed the players (see Summer 2011). The league’s disciplinary committee rejects appeals by Sion against the results of two games with BSC Young Boys on July 23 and December 4. Sion played these games without its six disputed signings. The protest is rejected because at the time of the first game none of the players was validly registered, and they were not allowed to play in the second game following a Swiss court decision adverse to Sion (see November 16, 2011). Protests by other Swiss clubs against the results of matches in which the six disputed players were involved are also rejected. A protest by Grasshopper Club of Zurich is dismsised for formal reasons. Protests by FC Lausanne-Sports, FC Thun, FC Basel, and FC Lucerne are dismissed because at the time of the games between FC Sion and these clubs the Swiss league was allowing the six to play because of orders from Swiss courts (see August 3, 2011 and September 27, 2011). These decisions can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [Swiss Football League, 12/12/2011] The committee will issue a similar ruling concerning another FC Sion match soon after (see December 23, 2011).
The Court of Arbitration for Sport issues a ruling in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion that is largely favorable to the Europan governing body. The court finds that UEFA is not under a duty to reintegrate Sion into the 2011-2012 Europa League, a competition from which it had been banned for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011). However, the court does not rule in favor of UEFA on some other matters. For example, it refuses to declare that UEFA regulations and disciplinary measures are not in conflict with Swiss law. Sion is ordered to pay two thirds of the costs of proceedings—with UEFA making up the other one third—and also to make a contribution to UEFA’s legal costs. [CAS 2011/O/2574 UEFA v. Olympique des Alpes SA/FC Sion: Arbitral Award, 12/15/2011 ]
FIFA threatens to suspend the Swiss FA in a long-running dispute over the transfer of an Egyptian goalkeeper to FC Sion in 2008 (see April 16, 2009). FIFA sets a deadline of January 13, by which time the Swiss FA must comply with its instructions. Otherwise, the Swiss national team will be unable to play matches and FC Basel will be unable to continue in the Champions League. FIFA demands that Sion be penalised by forfeting each game in which it fielded an ineligible player, in particular the six it signed in the summer when FIFA says the club was under a transfer ban due to improprieties during the goalkeeper’s transfer. “The executive committee decided to give a final deadline of January 13 to the Swiss FA to enforce the registration ban imposed on Sion… and to sanction the attitude of the club repeatedly trying to circumvent this decision in a legally abusive manner,” says a FIFA statement. However, Swiss FA spokesman Peter Gilleron tells a news conference FIFA’s demand is “impractical,” although he believes a points deduction is possible. [Reuters, 12/17/2011] In response, Sion files a criminal complaint against FIFA’s executive committee (see December 29, 2011).
The disciplinary committee of the Swiss Football League rejects another appeal by FC Sion over the result of a recently played game. Sion was unable to field six banned players in the game with FC Zurich on December 10 because of a long-running dispute. The committee, which rejected a similar appeal by Sion a few days previously (see December 12, 2011), says the player bans are appropriate because of a Swiss court ruling (see November 16, 2011). Sion may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [Swiss Football League, 12/23/2011]
The Swiss club FC Sion files a criminal complaint against FIFA’s executive committee in the long-running dispute over a player’s transfer (see April 16, 2009). FIFA had previously threatened to suspend Switzerland from international competition if the Swiss Football Association did not sanction Sion in accordance with FIFA’s instructions, and such suspension would mean that the Swiss national team could no longer play matches and that FC Basel could not continue in the Champions League (see December 17, 2011). Sion says on its website that the threat amounts to unacceptable blackmail and a breach of a basic legal rule. [Associated Press, 12/29/2011]
The Swiss FA deducts 36 points from FC Sion because the club fielded what it deems to be ineligible players in 12 matches. The move comes as a part of a long-running dispute between the club and various football authorities (see April 16, 2009), following a threat from FIFA that if the Swiss FA did not do so, all Swiss teams would be suspended from international competition (see December 17, 2011). The players are ineligible as they were signed during a transfer embargo imposed after Sion signed an Egyptian goalkeeper despite him being under contract to another club. Three points are deducted for each domestic league or cup game in which one of six ineligible players was fielded. The deduction leaves Sion bottom of the Swiss first division with a points total of minus five. According to the Swiss FA, Sion may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [BBC, 12/30/2011]
The Swiss Competition Commission decides to take no action against UEFA following a complaint made by the club FC Sion. UEFA and Sion have been in dispute for some time over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011), and the club filed a complaint with the commission in October (see October 27, 2011). UEFA now issues a statement saying the commission has said it will take no action on the complaint. According to UEFA, this decision confirms “that UEFA has not violated the rules of free competition and that the decisions of its disciplinary bodies represent neither an abuse of a dominant position nor an obstacle to free competition.” [UEFA, 2/7/2011]
Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database
Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.