Bildts,Wikileaks un neitrālā Zviedrija

Posted on January 19, 2011


Mainstream media outlets are generally making no connection between the terrorist attack in central Stockholm  and current attempts by the Swedish authorities to extradite Wikileaks director Julian Assange.
The consensus view on the pre-Christmas bombings is that they were carried out by Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab, apparently a British-based self-radicalised jihadist acting on his own initiative, though possibly with some logistical support from persons currently unknown.
There is, of course, an alternative and more disturbing view.
Respected Swedish academic Professor Ola Tunander is currently based at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO), an independent peace studies institution which publishes numerous peer-reviewed articles on international relations, conflict resolution, foreign policy and peace studies.
Professor Tunander’s 2004 book, The Secret War Against Sweden: US and British Submarine Deception Against Sweden in the 1980s makes the well-documented case that during the Cold War, British and American forces operated major submarine incursions into Swedish waters with the aim of creating the belief that these were Soviet ships acting aggressively.
From the book’s forward:

“Following the stranding of a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine in 1981 on the Swedish archipelago, a series of massive submarine intrusions took place within Swedish waters. However, the evidence for these appears to have been manipulated or simply invented. Classified documents and interviews point to covert Western, rather than Soviet activity…..

Ola Tunander’s revelations make it clear that the United States and Britain ran a ‘secret war’ in Swedish waters. The number of Swedes perceiving the Soviet Union as a direct threat increased from 5-10 per cent in 1980 to 45 per cent in 1983. This Anglo-American ‘secret war’ was aimed at exerting political influence over Sweden. It was a risky enterprise, but perhaps the most successful covert operation of the entire Cold War.”

Former US Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger was also interviewed on Swedish television around the time of the publication of The Secret War and confirmed that American and British submarines had indeed been conducting operations against Swedish installations during the 1980s as a way of ensuring military (and civilian) “readiness” to counter the threat of Soviet expansion into the Baltic. The interview took place on  TV2 on 7 March 2000.
In an earlier article in the journal Cooperation and Conflict, Professor Tunander quotes former CIA Director James Schlesinger on the existence of a Swedish “dual state” in which the official “Political Sweden” is matched by the “Military Sweden” which is portrayed as seeking ever closer ties to the United States. The article reflects on the “supranational” structure which, despite the country’s official policy of non-membership, ties Sweden inexorably into the NATO orbit and policy objectives.
State Department cable 07STOCKHOLM506 on Wikileaks bluntly reveals this current political reality:

“While Sweden’s official foreign policy doctrine emphasizes non-alignment, in practice Sweden is a pragmatic and strong partner with NATO”

and, in the same cable,

“Sweden’s official security policy is non-participation in military alliances during peacetime and neutrality during wartime.  Its active participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace and its role in leading the European Union’s 1,500 troops-strong Nordic Battle Group give the lie to the official policy.”

At the 2004 Pan-European International Relations Conference held in the Netherlands, Professor Tunander presented a paper with the working title of  “The Use of Terrorism to Construct World Order” . Building on the pioneering work of Hans Morgenthau from the 1950s, Tunander outlines the history since 1945 of CIA-backed terrorist incidents in mainland Europe. The aim of these actions was the fueling of anti-communist sentiment among European citizens, in order to strengthen US/NATO-lead attempts to contain and oppose communism on the continent and elsewhere:

“The Strategy of Tension, as we know it from Cold War Europe, has received a global dimension. During the Cold War, the US ‘dual security structure’ – with its specifically tasked units masquerading as ‘enemy forces’ – was developed by the US ‘security state’ in order to keep the political strength and the readiness and capability of the Western defences. Now, this structure has seemingly been made into a self-propelled mechanism that is able to transform the world order into a Pax Americana.”

Swiss academic Dr Daniele Ganser has also written extensively about the existence of secret armies operating in Europe under American control during the early 1990s. His book NATO’s Secret Armiesoutlines their history and deployment as agents of terror.
After outlining how this policy was applied in Italy and elsewhere in Europe from  the 1960s to 80s, Professer Trunandar then argues that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US-NATO elites required a “new enemy” in order to justify ongoing American hegemony. That enemy was radical Islam.
CIA support for Osama bin Laden and his mujaheddin in the 1980s is a matter of public record. Later contact with the group took place in the Balkans in the 1990s and, according to several sources, as late as 2001. Trunandar provides details:

“The Saudi military intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal had several meetings with bin Laden and supported the Taliban economically. Bin Laden allegedly had a meeting with the CIA station chief in Dubai, Larry Mitchell, as late as on July 12, 2001, as well as with the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal, while bin Laden was treated for his kidney problems at the American Hospital in Dubai (Von Bülow, 2003, p. 228. See also Richard Labeviere, 2001. ‘La CIA aurait recontré Ben Laden en juillet’, Le Figaro, November 1; Anthony Sampson, 2001. ‘CIA agent allegedly to have met Bin Laden in July’, Guardian, November 1; Elisabeth Bryant, 2001. ‘Report: bin Laden treated at US hospital’, United Press International, October 31) “

Fascinating though all of this is, none of it proves even a remote link between Taimour Abdulwahab, the CIA and the Pentagon’s current crusade against Wikileaks.
Nonetheless, the history of CIA operations in Sweden does prove that
(a) American and British military forces have used “false wars” in Sweden as a way of manipulating popular opinion against America’s enemies
(b) CIA strategic involvement with radical Islamic groups has been a proven reality until at least the start of this decade.
Beyond these facts, we are left only able to ask questions:
1. Why did Abdulwahab choose to commit his attack in Sweden rather than the UK? Although his parents apparently lived there, the practical challenges of carrying out a “lone” terror attack across international boarders must have been considerable. Why not target the Swedish embassy in London? Or IKEA?
2. What is the significance (if any) of the release of an official report on the Islamic terror threat in Sweden – three days after the Stockholm bombing?  The report was originally commissioned by the government in February. Was its release this week pure coincidence? Or was it timed to create maximum impact in the media in the week of Scandinavia’s first suicide bombing, with the report’s claims that up to 200 Swedish Muslims are currently advocating violent jihad ?
3. Why was the Stockholm attack such a failure? Reports that the attacker’s car – allegedly full of gas canisters – failed to blow up are attributed in many publications to the “amateurish” nature of his tactics. Considering what we know about the role of previous CIA covert operations in Sweden, is it not also plausible that those handling the attacker may have not wanted the car to blow up? This would make sense if their aim was not to kill but to create fear. Similar questions should be asked about the location of the car. It was not parked in the most obvious place to cause major casualties – with the heart of the shopping district being several hundred metres away.
4. Why did Abdulwahab’s device detonate when it did? If the aim was to create terror (with the minimum loss of Swedish lives), then the detonation of his belt bomb down a side street with no casualties could be seen as achieving this result. If Abdulwahab’s claim that he had been training as a jihadist for four years are true (as relayed on theaudio message he is alleged to have sent to the authorities minutes before the first blast), then it might appear surprising that such a lengthy training period resulted in the perpetrator being unable to create a device that could even blow himself up properly, let alone kill others. Eye witness reports claim that the bomber was still alive for a short while after his device exploded.
5. How are we to account for reports on Sweden’s The Local news site of alleged military knowledge of the attack in advance? The claim is made that a Swedish armed forces member was warned by a colleague two hours before the bomb blast, “If you can, avoid Drottninggatan today. A lot can happen there…just so you know.”
6. Who was behind the fake bomb left at Kungstraedsgaarden metro station in Stockholm, on Christmas eve, two weeks after the suicide attack? A police officer is quoted by AFP as saying:  “It looked like a real bomb. Someone made it to frighten people.”
As for the connections with the Wikileaks saga, the following video reveals Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt claiming in a recent interview with Sir David Frost that he knows very little about the Assange case as it is not handled by his particular government department. This modest denial is strange considering the Minister’s recent political history. Bildt has been heavily criticised in recent years for his membership of The Committee to Liberate Iraq, which was an American political lobby group aimed at the “replacement of the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government” in the years leading up to the US-lead invasion in 2003.

Other members of the Committee included Newt Gingrich, John McCain,  Richard Pearle (founder of the right-wing Project for a New American Century), and R James Woolsey, former director of the CIA. Bildt’s participation is remarkable as, apart from one Iraqi, he  was virtually the only non-American of the 35-member Committee. Clearly, he was closely associated with many of the prime movers at the heart of efforts to ensure a US-lead invasion of Iraq, whose project has come under such fierce criticism, in part as a result of revelations from the Wikileaks site.

It is inconceivable that Bildt is not actively concerned about the Wikileaks phenomenon and, presumably, receiving the perspective of the United States government on the matter via their man in Stockholm, Matthew Barzun or indeed, from more senior American political figures.
Specific US Embassy cables released through the Wikileaks site that relate to Sweden have not portrayed the inner workings of the country’s Foreign Ministry in a particularly positive light.
Cable 09STOCKHOLM194, for instance, notes that “the current Swedish political climate makes any formal terrorist screening agreement highly difficult” and notes that “existing informal arrangements are working well.”
In other words, Mr Bildt’s department (he became Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2006 after serving as Prime Minister from 1991-94 ) wished in the words of the Daily Telegraph to “avoid parliamentary scrutiny” of its discussions with the US over terrorism-related matters. The cable goes on to reveal that Sweden’s continuing US visa-waiver entitlement was being officially linked to its co-operation on allowing access to information on Swedish nationals that might be of interest to American authorities in their counter-terrorism strategy, in line with Homeland Security Presidential Directive Hspd-6.
The cable reveals that the Swedish representative at an October 2008 meeting noted that it was “a particularly sensitive time politically in Sweden for issues involving government surveillance and personal privacy.”
In a final, rather chilling conclusion in light of recent events, the leaked cable notes that,

In the longer term, while a changed political environment in Sweden might be more conducive to a formal agreement with the U.S., there is a very clear GOS [Government of Sweden?] belief that Sweden is not likely to be a direct target for terrorists and therefore has little to gain from an HSPD-6 agreement.

One could logically conclude from this statement, therefore, that  a terrorist attack in Sweden might help to move public and political opinion towards embracing a more formal information-sharing arrangement, which the cable reveals as being beneficial to the United States.
In conclusion, we have at this time no concrete evidence that the terror attack in Stockholm was supported or directed by the CIA. What we do have, however, is a political motive for such an event, a previous history of such events and a number of practical questions about the attack itself that warrant further investigation.