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JIHADIST HOTBED IN THE BALKANS: THE TRUTH IS OUT
January 10, 2004 | Srdja Trifkovic

Posted on 01/13/2004 12:23:37 PM PST by philosofy123

For years we have been warning that flawed pro-Muslim Western policies would turn the Balkans from a “protectorate of the New World Order into an Islamic threat to Western interests” (Chronicles, December 2001). This has already happened, according to a spate of media reports and statements by Western governments and top diplomats over the past few weeks.

“US to build Balkan anti-terrorism center in Bulgaria,” news agencies reported on January 6, to monitor and detect terrorist threats to the United States and Balkan countries. In addition to the CIA-staffed center, Bulgarian media reported that the FBI also plans to set up an office in Sofia working with the center. US intelligence experts are quoted as saying that al-Qaida has a training base in the Balkans and uses the region as a terror route to West

Two days earlier, on January 4, Associated Press warned that efforts to tighten security for seaborne containers won’t lessen the risk that terrorists could sneak a nuclear weapon into Europe by land through the Balkans. Tom Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Chris Wright of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London were quoted as saying that smuggling routes through southeastern Europe were well established and said there was “a lot of scope” for collusion between terrorist groups and criminal gangs.

Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel reported a month earlier (December 8, 2003) that the “monstrous” King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo—the largest in Europe, on which the desert kingdom spent a total of $20 million—is a terrorist threat. “Western security experts” are quoted as saying that Bosnia could become “a hotbed of extremists ready to use force—and would thus carry the fight of the Islamic terror syndicates against the ‘godless West’ to the southeast of Europe.” This creeping infiltration is increasingly suspect to Western observers, the magazine says: “We are extremely concerned,” it quotes a German intelligence chief, August Hanning, as saying; in some mosques preachers are already openly inciting against the West, against Israel and the godless United States. During the war Bosnia become a training camp for Islamist activists from all over the world, the magazine quotes a French expert as saying, with up to 5,000 foreign volunteers fighting with Izetbegovic’s troops. Many remained behind, “too many to be safe,” according to George Friedman, director of Stratfor. The Balkans are “of strategic importance” to Al-Qa’ida, he says; the organization can use the region for its objectives at any time.

Such concerns are now reflected in statements by some U.S. diplomats and Western governments. A remarkable example was provided by the U.S. Ambassador in Sarajevo, Clifford Bond, who declared on December 17 that there is a terrorist threat in Bosnia because of foreigners who arrived there during the war and stayed on. In the same week Greece announced that its national security interests were threatened by Al Qaida-aligned agents in Bosnia. The Cabinet of Prime Minister Costas Simitis is concerned by the threat from Bosnia to the Olympic Games in August 2004.

"UN Adds Bosnian Charity Director to Al Qaeda List,” Reuters reported ten days later (December 29). The name of Safet Durguti, an Albanian born in Kosovo, was added to the list of 300 individuals whose assets should be frozen due to suspected ties to Osama bin Laden or his al Qaeda network. Durguti—apparently the key link between Islamic fundamentalists in Kosovo and Bosnia—is the director of a charity called Vazir, based in the Bosnian city of Travnik. According to the U.S. Treasury Department Vazir was simply another name for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi charity that was placed on the U.N. list in March 2002. It was formed in May 2003 as an association for sports, culture and education but was based in the same premises as Al-Haramain.

Dozens of similar statements and articles can be quoted from different Western sources over the past month alone. In short, the problem exists, it is freely admitted that it exists by policy analysts and government officials alike, it has acquired massive proportions, and may not be easily resolved any longer. As far back as 2000 a highly classified State Department report—released in the aftermath of 9-11—warned that the Muslim-controlled portions of Bosnia had become a safe haven for Islamic terrorists who present a major threat to Europe and the United States, and who were protected by the Muslim government in Sarajevo. The findings were summarized in the words of a former State Department official: Bosnia-Herzegovina is “a staging area” for Islamic terrorists.

The threat is not limited to a few elusive extremists: the ruling establishment in Sarajevo has had a symbiotic relationship with the sources of Islamic radicalism for over a decade. “Iran, Bosnia to Exapnd Ties,” reported IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) on December 21 on a meeting of the Bosnian ambassador to Tehran Ibrahim Efendic and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The latter said that “the Jihad (holy war) of the the Bosnian and Palestinian nations is praiseworthy and a source of honor for Muslims”: The resistance and faith of these nations will be registered in the history of Islam, he added… Highlighting the geographical status of the Balkans, Rafsanjani said Iran attaches great importance to Bosnia and Herzegovina and expressed the hope to witness further expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries. The outgoing Bosnian ambassador lauded the humanitarian aid rendered by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The meaning of this unjustly overlooked news item is (1) that the “Bosnian nation” is equated with its Muslim component only, all others being by implication enemy aliens; (2) that Bosnian Muslim government officials are received and treated in Teheran as allies in a jihad; (3) that Islamists see Bosnia as no less important than Palestine to their strategic design (“geographic status”); and (4) that Iran’s “humanitarian aid”—the label used during the war as a cover for illegal arms shipments is still appreciated in Sarajevo. Iran had already obtained a foothold in Bosnia, when the Clinton Administration asked for—and obtained—Teheran’s help in supplying the Muslim army with weapons (“Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base,” U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, January 16, 1997. This was done in violation of the arms embargo initially demanded by the U.S. and behind the back of its European allies (See “Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story,” The New Republic, October 28, 1996). The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made (“U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran,” The Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1996). Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence agents entered Bosnia in large numbers.

The problem of collusion between American governments and Islamic radicals antedates the wars of Yugoslav succession. Its roots hark back to the support Bin Laden and other fundamentalist Muslims received from the United States following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. According to former CIA director Robert Gates, the U.S. intelligence services began to arm the mujahideen even before the Soviet intervention. Mistaken and shortsighted as this strategy turned out to be, it was conceivably justified by the dictates of the Cold War: one’s enemy’s enemy is one’s de facto ally, if not a trusted friend. Blowback was a risk, but one at least arguably worth taking. A quarter of a century later, it is necessary to rectify more recent mistakes of a similar nature. If the War Against Terror is to be meaningful, the Bush administration should investigate the biggest unknown scandal of the Clinton years: that throughout the 1990's, the U.S. government aided and abetted al-Qa’eda operations in the Balkans, long after he was recognized as a major security threat to the United States.

There are foreign policy strategists in Washington who have sought for decades to turn militant Islam into a tool of policy. This is not a flight of critical fancy: it is a well documented fact; it is not challenged as an accusation, but it is not unduly admitted either. In the beginning those strategists, or their predecessors, may have underestimated the danger of “blowback,” but over the years they have bound good men to bad policy, and they have reinforced failure with gold. “Blowback” is the apt metaphor: poison gas blowing back from its intended victims to choke one’s own soldiers in their trenches. The strategy of effective support for Islamic ambitions in pursuit of short-term political or military objectives has helped turn Islamic radicalism into a truly global phenomenon.

The underlying assumption was that militant Muslims could be used and eventually discarded—like Diem, Noriega, the Shah, and the Contras: CIA’s “Operation Cyclone” poured over $4 billion into setting up training centers where young fanatics were sent to learn terrorist skills. The assumption all along has been that the Islamic genie could be controlled. For the ensuing two decades, in the conflicts that inevitably define the line between Islam and its neighbors, Washington almost invariably supported the Muslims—most notably in Bosnia and Kosovo. By January 1996, Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind of The New Republic approvingly wrote of the U.S. role as the leader of Muslim nations from the Persian Gulf to the Balkans, with the Ottoman lands becoming “the heart of a third American empire” (Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind, “The Third American Empire,” The New York Times, January 2, 1996).

The Bosnian crisis started when Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader, reneged on an agreement brokered by the European Union that provided for continued power-sharing in Sarajevo. He opted for an unilateral declaration of independence; in making this decision, he was supported by the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade, Warren Zimmerman. He was acting in line with the Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who made it clear that a goal was to mollify the Muslim world and to counter any perception of an anti-Muslim bias regarding American policies in Iraq (Eagleburger’s MacNeil/Lehrer PBS NewsHour interview on October 6, 1992). The subsequent portrayal in the media of the Muslims as innocent martyrs in the cause of multicultural tolerance concealed the fact that the war was primarily religious in nature. Before the first shots were fired, Alija Izetbegovic, proudly proclaimed in his “Islamic Declaration” (1974; republished 1990) that “there can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions”: “The Islamic movement should and must start taking power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough not only to overthrow the existing non-Islamic power structure, but also to build a great Islamic federation spreading from Morocco to Indonesia, from tropical Africa to Central Asia.”

This is hardly an unusual viewpoint for a sincere and dedicated Islamist, and Izetbegovic should have been commended for his frankness. Nevertheless, it should have been obvious in the West that the Bosnian-Muslims did not want to establish a multiethnic liberal democratic society. The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office saw the situation more clearly than the politicians: “President Izethbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals” (“Selling the Bosnia Myth to America: Buyer Beware,” Lieutenant Colonel John E. Sray, USA, U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS, October 1995). Now that Bosnia is a terrorist hotbed we know that this assessment was entirely correct. The core of Bin Laden’s Balkan network are the veterans of El Moujahed brigade of the Bosnian-Muslim army. It was established in 1992 and included volunteers from all over the Islamic world whose passage to Bosnia was facilitated by Al-Qaeda. The unit was distinguished by its spectacular cruelty to Christians, including decapitation of prisoners to the chants of Allahu-akbar. El Moujahed was the nursery from which an international terrorist network spread to Europe and North America. After the end of the Bosnian war, many Muslim volunteers remained (“Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered ‘Threat’ to U.S. Troops,” The Washington Post, November 30, 1995). The potential threat persuaded the U.S. and other Western nations to oppose the presence of foreign mujahedeen in Bosnia as part of the November 1995 Dayton peace agreements, which specifically called for the expulsion of all foreign fighters. But the Muslim-controlled Bosnian government circumvented the rule by granting Bosnian citizenship to several hundred Arab and other Islamist volunteers—eliminating their “foreign” status before the accord took effect. Many of them had taken over the former Serbian village of Bocinja Donja, near the city of Zenica in central Bosnia; elsewhere they took over properties and married local women, sometimes by force ( “Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan,” The Washington Post, July 8, 1996). The results followed swiftly, in the form of a dozen executed or planned attacks—from a shootout Lille in France to a terrorist cell Montreal, from the Y2K LAX conspiracy to a wave of recent bombings in Istanbul—that can be traced to the Bosnian Connection.

While an intricate Islamic terror network was maturing in Bosnia, Osama bin Laden was busy looking for fresh opportunities in the Balkans. He found it in Kosovo. European and Israeli sources warned that after Bosnia, Kosovo promised to be the second Islamic bastion. The Clinton Administration ignored the warnings (The Jerusalem Post, September 14, 1998). The KLA earned its spurs in the eyes of its Islamist partners by blowing up Christian Orthodox churches. The relationship was cemented by the zeal of some KLA veterans who joined Bin Laden’s network in Afghanistan: Perhaps most telling about the minds of those who trained here is a document found at the [Al-Qaeda] camp. “I am interested in suicide operations,”' wrote Damir Bajrami, 24, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, on his entry application in April. “'I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb and American forces. I need no further training. I recommend (suicide) operations against (amusement) parks like Disney” (USA Today, November 26, 2001, on documents found at an Al-Qaeda training camp). Iranian Revolutionary Guards had joined forces with Osama bin Laden to support the Albanian insurgency in Kosovo, hoping “to turn the region into their main base for Islamic armed activity in Europe” (The Sunday Times of London March 22, 1998). By the end of 1998, when Bin Laden’s terrorist network in Albania started sending units to fight the Serbs in Kosovo, the U.S. drug officials complained that the transformation of the KLA from terrorists into freedom fighters hampered their ability to stem the flow of Albanian-peddled heroin into America (The Washington Times, May 4, 1999). By that time the NATO bombing of Serbia was in full swing, however, and the mujaheddin were once again American allies: “Al-Qaeda has both trained and financially supported the KLA. Many border crossings into Kosovo by ‘foreign fighters’ also have been documented and include veterans of the militant group Islamic Jihad from Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan” (Ibid.).

All along, the Clinton Administration was positively elated about the shift in alliances and attitudes displayed by the Kosovo intervention: Insofar as Kosovo emerged as a unique case of U.S. support for a Muslim population against an avowed Christian state and led to an alliance with a Muslim guerilla army, it is something of a watershed event. The breakthrough in Kosovo also came about at the tail end of major changes in the international and domestic politics of Muslim societies over the course of the preceding decade. Policymakers are challenged to respond to those changes in order to bring American foreign policy in line with the reality of Islam’s place in domestic, regional, and international politics. Given the importance of Islam to international affairs and the sheer number of Muslims who live in areas that affect Western and U.S. interests, rethinking America’s foreign policy on Islam may be a welcome development (Georgetown Journal of International Affairs). Where does more than a decade of U.S. involvement leave the Balkans? “The small jihad is now finished and we have—some of us—survived the war. The Bosnian state is intact. But now we have to fight a bigger, second jihad,” says Mustafa Ceric, the Reis-ul-Ulema in Bosnia-Herzegovina—educated, incidentally, at Al-Azhar in Cairo and the University of Chicago. Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans had for its end result the strengthening of an already aggressive Islamic base in the heart of Europe that will not go away. The unspoken assumption of the architects of such policies, that generosity would be rewarded by loyalty, is mistaken: loyalty to unbelievers is not a Muslim trait; pragmatism is—and, as Yohanan Ramati has remarked, “pragmatism prescribes that when dealing with fools, one milks them for all one can get, demoralizes them until they are incapable of protecting their interests, and then deprives them of any influence they have left.”

A generation ago it was understandable, even excusable, for bone-headed CIA bosses to work up a hatred of atheism and enjoy dealing with believers. They used Muslims in just the way they used the Church of Rome in the early 1950s in their fight against the Communists. But appeasement by their feeble successors in our own time only breeds the contempt and arrogance of the radicals and fuels their ambition. Changing the self-defeating trend demands recognition that the West is in a war of religion, whether it wants that or not, and however much it hates the fact.

On the Islamic side this war is being fought with the deep and unshakeable belief that the West is on its last legs. The success of the demographic deluge is reinforced by the evidence from history that a civilization that loses the urge for biological self-perpetuation is indeed finished. Falling birthrates in Europe and the need to support European welfare entitlements with a host of “guest-workers” and immigrants seem to make it inevitable that the colonization of Europe by Islamic peoples will continue. Some leaders such as President Bush may have been hoping to domesticate Islam under the aegis of the nondenominational deism that is professed in their rhetoric. The attempt will continue to fail. So far this failure has not been admitted. Hence the enduring fantasy of an American-Islamic alliance against extremism.

Of course, it would be preferable to have a reformed Islam as our global neighbor, rather than the grim variations on the same theme that currently prevail in Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, but Islam’s ability to reform itself is undermined by the appeasement of Islamism that continues in the Balkans. Such appeasement will only enhance a downward spiral of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, poverty and oppression that may culminate sooner or later in yet another bout of alien domination.

Muslims, as Christians once did, tend to sympathize with each other in a familiar and more or less nationalist fashion. If this tendency goes unchecked it produces a lunatic account of world affairs in which Muslim societies are always victims of the West and always innocent. It is not just the extremists who believe that in Palestine, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kashmir, the Muslims are entirely in the right: at present, almost every Muslim thinks so. The “politically correct” Westerners accept the Muslim judgment. But this is extremely dangerous, as the West cannot afford to concede such a large measure of moral approval to so self-conscious and agitated a force in world affairs.

Western policy in the Balkans should be reappraised because to continue encouraging the Muslim sense of pure victimhood—notably with the myth of the “genocide” in Srebrenica, and the accompanying US-financed Muslim shrine—is to feed the minds of would-be suicide bombers in Sarajevo and Pristina with a political pap that nourishes their hate. The obstacle to doing so is often the apologetics and the tradition of pro-Muslim appeasement of the Clinton decade; but that appeasement must stop. Pandering to Islam’s geopolitical designs—in the Balkans, or anywhere else—and sacrificing smaller Christian nations in the process, is counterproductive: the morsels will only whet the Islamic appetite, paving the way to a major confrontation some time in this century.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government; Philosophy; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alqaedabalkans; balkans; iran; jihadineurope
Iran had already obtained a foothold in Bosnia, when the Clinton Administration asked for—and obtained—Teheran’s help in supplying the Muslim army with weapons (“Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base,” Clinton should be ashamed of himself. The media needs to bring this up all the times

Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who made it clear that a goal was to mollify the Muslim world and to counter any perception of an anti-Muslim bias regarding American policies in Iraq (Eagleburger’s MacNeil/Lehrer PBS NewsHour interview on October 6, 1992). The subsequent portrayal in the media of the Muslims as innocent martyrs in the cause of multicultural tolerance concealed the fact that the war was primarily religious in nature. Before the first shots were fired, Alija Izetbegovic, proudly proclaimed in his “Islamic Declaration” (1974; republished 1990) that “there can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions”: “The Islamic movement should and must start taking power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough not only to overthrow the existing non-Islamic power structure, but also to build a great Islamic federation spreading from Morocco to Indonesia, from tropical Africa to Central Asia.”

The Bosnian leader that Eagelburger love wanted to destroy the West and establish Islamic hagemony. Does that make you proud that this loser Eagelburger is collecting pention from our government for creating and supporting our enemies.

1 posted on 01/13/2004 12:23:40 PM PST by philosofy123
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