Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Bosnia, 1 degree of separation from Al-Qaeda ^ | July 2003 | The Centre for Peace in the Balkans

Posted on 07/21/2003 6:29:15 PM PDT by Destro

The Centre for Peace in the Balkans

Toronto, Canada

Analysis, July 2003

Bosnia, 1 degree of separation from Al-Qaeda

Acta est fabula

Al-Qaeda ("The Foundation") is a conglomerate of groups spread throughout the world operating as a network. It has a global reach, with a presence both on its own and through some of the terrorist organizations that operated under its umbrella, including: Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, and at times, the Islamic Group (also known as "el Gamaa Islamia" or simply "Gamaa't"), and a number of Jihad (a Jihad- "Muslim Holy War") groups in other countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Kosovo region of Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kashmiri region of India and the Chechnyan region of Russia.

Al Qaeda also maintained cells and personnel in a number of countries to facilitate its activities, including in Kenya, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Malaysia, and the United States.

Since September 11, U.S. peacekeepers in Bosnia have been watching radical Islamic Mujahadeens (Mujahadeen - holy warrior) who came to fight the Balkan wars - and then stayed on. Several people in Bosnia have been questioned for links to international terrorism. Six of them "all Algerians" were arrested and handed over to the U.S. Government. They still are reported to be in Guantanamo Bay.

The United States has long been alarmed by the presence in Bosnia of hundreds of Arab-born Muslim fundamentalists who first traveled there in the 1990´s to fight for the nation’s predominantly Muslim population during the civil war. Many went there at the direction of Osama bin Laden, who apparently saw the opportunity for a Jihad defending Muslims against Serb and Croat Christians.

Osama Bin Laden directly aided the Bosnian Muslims, both financially (weapons procurement) and with training. In addition, that same "aid" was extended to the separatist Albanians of Kosovo and Macedonia. Ironically, the US found Bin Laden and his supporters "convenient" allies when dealing with Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians, again in another so-called struggle for "freedom".

The following text will be a brief outline of the major Al-Qaeda terrorist activities that one way or another link Bosnia to the Global terrorism.

Osama bin Laden links

On June 06 2003, French authorities arrested Christian Ganczarski, a Muslim convert born in Germany, at a Paris airport. Ganczarski made several visits to Qaeda training camps, and he was phoned by Al Qaeda suicide bomber moments before the suspect blew himself up at a Tunisian synagogue in April 2002.

"(Intelligence) services know that he is a top leader of Al Qaeda, in contact with Osama bin Laden himself, and has been in Afghanistan and Bosnia,- French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told France’s Parliament.

Also, a Moroccan detained in France on suspicion of having links to the group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States was planning a new attack on a tourist complex in the French Indian Ocean territory of Reunion.

Karim Mehdi (34) was arrested by the DST intelligence services at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport while in transit on a flight from Germany to Reunion. The sources said he had had training in Afghanistan and Bosnia and was said to be close to Ziad Jarrah, a member of the Hamburg cell who died on board the aircraft that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Bosnian Muslim weekly "Dani" reported on September 24, 1999, that Osama Bin Laden, the most wanted terrorist in the world, was issued a Bosnia-Herzegovina passport. Bin Laden was issued the Bosnian passport by the Bosnian embassy in Vienna in 1993. However, Bin Laden was not the only one. A number of suspected terrorists have traveled the globe utilizing "legally issued" Bosnia-Herzegovina documents.

According to ‘Dani’, the Bosnian Foreign Ministry was seized by panic when Mehrez Aodouni, another Bosnian passport bearer, was arrested in Istanbul on September 09, 1999. Aodouni was believed to have close ties with Bin Laden. The Party of Democratic Action (SDA) [Bosnia´s main Muslim party led by Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic] issued a statement that on September 23, 1999, Audouni obtained the Bosnia-Herzegovina citizenship and a passport because he was a member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army.

One of the first links to Osama bin Laden appeared in 1992 arms smuggling debacle. That September, four aircraft from Khartoum, Sudan, landed at Maribor (Slovenia) airport. Security checks revealed the planes' cargo was not, as claimed, humanitarian aid, but 130 tons of weapons destined for Bosnia, then under an arms embargo.

Investigations revealed that the arms were ordered by Elfatih Hassanein, a Sudanese citizen and head of the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Vienna-based humanitarian organization. Alija Izetbegovic, the President of Bosnia, provided a guarantee for Elfatih Hassanein (a personal friend of Izetbegovic) to open an account for the TWRA in Die Erste Osterreich Bank in Vienna, Austria in 1993.

In a 1994 interview with Gazi Husrev Beg, a magazine focusing on Islamic affairs, Hassanein called for the creation of an Islamic state in Bosnia. 'Bosnia, at the end, must be Muslim Bosnia, otherwise, everything has lost its sense and this was for nothing.'

The Washington Post wrote on 22 September 1996: "TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi émigré believed to bankroll numerous militant groups".

Bosnia Charities and Al-Qaeda

There have been longstanding concerns in the European and U.S. intelligence services that several charities that operated in Bosnia during and after that country's civil war were being used as a cover for Al-Qaeda activities.

In the spring of 2002, under the US supervision, Bosnian authorities raided several Islamic operating in Bosnia and were forced to closed three of them: the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (which was banned in Kenya after the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi), the Global Relief Foundation and Bosanska Idealna Futura (BIF) - a branch of the Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation.

As a reminder, Enaam M. Arnaout, 40, head of the Benevolence International Foundation, has been in US custody. The indictment said a criminal enterprise that existed for at least a decade used charitable contributions from innocent Muslims, non-Muslims and corporations to support bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, Chechen rebels fighting the Russian army and armed violence in Bosnia. The Syrian-born Arnaout, who became a U.S. citizen nearly a decade ago, received his Bosnian passport in the mid-1990s.

The Bosnian raid uncovered a handwritten list of twenty wealthy donors sympathetic to Al-Qaeda. The list, referred to as "The Golden Chain," reveals both the names of the donors, and the names of the recipients. Seven of the payments were made to Osama bin Laden and "Hezb e Islami" (a militant group run by an Afghan warlord), while at least one donation to him was made by the "bin Laden brothers."

Intelligence investigators also want to know why some of the charity's money was transferred to a Bosnian company called "Ljiljan Commerce Group".

US Attorney General John Ashcroft said documents found in the Bosanska Idealna Futura (BIF) office in Bosnia have provided "chilling" evidence tying Enaam Arnaout directly to bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. He said the papers summarize the 1988 meeting at which the terror network was founded, and include a text of the network's oath of allegiance.

BIF had links to people involved in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, a plot to bomb US airlines, and a plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to the Philippines in 1995.

Also found in BIF's Bosnia offices were military manuals providing instruction on small arms and explosives, photographs of bin Laden and Arnaout and photos of Arnaout handling several weapons, including a shoulder-fired rocket launcher.

Also, joint US-Bosnian government probe connected the Saudi charity Talibah International Aid Association to terrorist funding and an Al-Qaeda front group. Taliban has been under investigation since shortly after 9/11 due to a foiled terror attack in Bosnia that has been connected to Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

This "charity group" was embedded with World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] - a suspected terrorist organization, led by Osama bin Laden relatives, brothers Abdullah and Omar bin Laden. The Bosnian Government later said that a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas. The investigation into WAMY restarted two days after 9/11, and after the bin Laden brothers have left the US.

Philippines authorities believed that the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), whose Philippines branch was run by bin Laden's brother-in-law, was funneling funds to the Abu Sayyaf organization. The brother of bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was employed by IIRO in Albania, where he assisted Al-Qaeda's efforts in the Balkans. Reportedly, detailed minutes of a meeting between bin Laden associates on the stationery of these Saudi welfare agencies, captured in Bosnia, clarifies how organizations like IIRO were to be used by Al-Qaeda.

Israel found an IIRO payment schedule detailing how $280,000 USD was to be distributed to 14 different Hamas charities, thereby documenting, for the first time, the pattern of Saudi backing of terrorism. The head of the Canadian branch of IIRO admitted in court that "The Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO, is a fully government funded organization. In other words, I work for the government of Saudi Arabia."

Attack on USS Cole and French Supertanker Limburg

American investigators intercepted telephone calls and other evidence showed that Bensayah Belkacem, who was believed to be a native of Algeria or Yemen with Bosnian citizenship, had numerous conversations on cellular telephones last fall with leaders of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. He has been identified as a European lieutenant in Al-Qaeda who was ordered to carry out attacks on American targets in the Balkans after Sept. 11.

The officials said FBI and military investigators were particularly eager to question Mr. Belkacem about the personal background and possible hiding places of Mr. Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian in his early 30´s who is believed to have coordinated the terrorist attacks ordered by bin Laden.

Mr. Zubaydah has been linked to the bombing of the destroyer Cole in October 2000 in Yemen, in which 17 Americans were killed. Nicknamed "the Mailman" by terrorist colleagues because of his role in relaying orders from bin Laden and making sure they were carried out, Mr. Zubaydah was singled out by President Bush, when the president listed leaders of Al-Qaeda being hunted by the United States.

Abu Asim Al-Makki (a.k.a. Muhammad Hamdi Al-Ahdal, Muhammad al-Hamati), is figuring prominently in the investigations of multiple terrorist attacks attributed to Al-Qaeda, including both the suicide-bombing of the USS Cole and the copycat terror attack on the French supertanker Limburg.

Abu Asim aided in the formation of a Al-Qaeda battalion in central Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the fall of 1992, he helped lead a group of 43 primarily Saudi mujahadeen in initial combat operations against Bosnian Serb troops.

Embassy Bombings

Intelligence authorities believe that Enaam Arnaout and the Benevolence International Foundation may have arranged visas and organized other logistics for foreign Muslim fighters to enter Bosnia for terrorism training.

An FBI affidavit, filed the day Arnaout was arrested, said his Benevolence International Foundation financed a trip to Bosnia for Mamdouh Salim.

Salim is charged with conspiracy to kill Americans in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and wounded more than 4,000.

Salim, Bin Laden's alleged finance chief, went to Bosnia with papers describing him as a Benevolence director. Arnaout helped with his visa and provided housing in Sarajevo.

Salim, the affidavit says, had at one time attempted to get nuclear and chemical weapons for the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

Millennium Plot

The December 14, 1999, arrest of Algerian national Ahmet Ressemi at a U.S.-Canada border crossing in British Columbia – he was in a car full of nitroglycerin and bomb-making materials –-was headline news in North America. Many theorized that Ressemi planned to blow up a major structure in the U.S. to start the new millennium.

The theorists could have saved themselves some time by taking a closer look at Ressemi’s past ties, especially those with terrorists trained in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Ressemi fought as a Mujahadeen.

It has been confirmed that Ahmet Ressemi had ties with Said Atmani, another terrorist who fought in the "El Mujahadeen" unit in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Canadian authorities believe Atmani and Ressam were roommates in Montreal and that Ressam sold stolen laptop computers and cellular phones to raise money for terrorist attacks. "The group in Montreal was in contact with individuals involved in terrorist support activity in France, and with several Mujahadeen groups who are active in Bosnia," Ralf Mutschke, a criminal intelligence chief with Interpol was quoted.

The Canadian authorities deported Atmani back to Bosnia-Herzegovina on October 18, 1998, supposedly without knowing of his alleged participation in terrorist activities through Europe.

Under interrogation by U.S. authorities, failed millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam stated that, in Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, he had met several members of a North African terror cell (consisting mainly of Bosnian war veterans) based in Europe, headed by, among others, "Abu Zubair" and a mysterious unnamed militant living in Yemen.

September 11

Another senior commander of Mujahedeen battalion in central Bosnia-Herzegovina was Abu Zubair al-Haili (a.k.a. Mohammed Haydar Zammar, "the Bear"), German citizen of Syrian descent. He was the chief handler of the Hamburg Al-Qaeda cell responsible for September 11 suicide hijackings. He received military training in Pakistan in 1991 plied his deadly skills in what militant Islamic fundamentalists refer to as the " Jihad - holy war" which raged in ethnically strife-torn Bosnia in the 1990s.

Zammar was travelling under the cover of "Tabligh", a missionary sect of Muslims, that he conveniently used for fundamentalist recruiting purposes.

German investigators have learned that one of the individuals whom Zammar tied into the Al-Qaida network was Mohammed Atta, the pilot of one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Zammar also brought two of Atta's lieutenants into the al-Qaida network, Ramzi Bin al-Shaibah and Said Bahaji. Indonesian citizen Agus Budiman, who spend more than nine months in a US prison as a terrorist suspect, met Bin al-Shaibah, a Muslim cleric from Hamburg.

Ramzi Bin al-Shaibah told Budiman that he wanted to take part in the Jihad, or holy war, in Bosnia. Bin al-Shaibah is the 20th hijacker who was supposed to be aboard the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field.

Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar (American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon) were not like the other hijackers. The two Saudis militant backgrounds is more comprehensive than the others, despite their young ages. In the mid-1990s both apparently were in the Bosnia conflict, and then fought in Chechnya at various times between 1996 and 1998. This was confirmed by the Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet during the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings.

American investigators intercepted telephone calls and other evidence showed that Bensayah Belkacem, who was believed to be a native of Algeria or Yemen with Bosnian citizenship, had numerous conversations on cellular telephones last fall with leaders of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. He has been identified as a European lieutenant in Al-Qaeda who was ordered to carry out attacks on American targets in the Balkans after Sept. 11.

The officials said FBI and military investigators were particularly eager to question Mr. Belkacem about the personal background and possible hiding places of Mr. Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian in his early 30´s who is believed to have coordinated the terrorist attacks ordered by bin Laden.

Jamaah Islamiah links and Bali bombing

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the leader of Indonesia's most prominent radical Islamic group, Jamaah Islamiah. Admited in his interview for Australian ABC news that while in exile, he taught many of "Muslim extremists" in Islamic studies including the concepts of Jihad - or Holy War.

Abu Bakar encouraged Muslims to fight Christians on the battlefield in places where Muslims were under attack, adding it was possible some of those, whom he called his "listeners", had done so in places such as Bosnia.

Indonesia television reported the man, known as Amrozios, had allegedly confessed to being part of the bombing conspiracy and to owning the minivan that exploded outside the Sari Club (Bali bombing) on October 12 killing almost 200 people.

Amrozios, 30, allegedly admitted to knowing JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir and the group's chief of operations Riduan Isamudidin, alias Hambali, the most wanted terrorist in South East Asia.

Police sources said a raid of Amrozios' house had turned up two books about Jihad in Bosnia and the Philippines.

A former lieutenant colonel in the Malaysian Army, Abdul Manaf Kamsuri, was arrested on suspicion of having ties to JI. Abdul Manaf, a high-flying officer who won three merit awards when he graduated from Britain's Sandhurst Military Academy, served nine months in Bosnia as part of Malaysia's U.N. peacekeeping force from 1993 to 1994. Malaysian officials say that while there he befriended Al-Qaeda members fighting in support of the Bosnians.

The alleged chief of the Bali bombers who trained for jihad under Osama bin Laden Muklas, or Ali Ghufron, one of the most senior members of the secretive South-East Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Muklas learned his fighting skills in Afghanistan, and apparently used conflicts within his native Indonesia as well as in Bosnia to recruit fellow countrymen to his cause.

The "shoe-bomber", Richard C. Reid and Jamaat ul-Fuqra

U.S. officials believed Reid to be a follower of Sheikh Mubarak Ali Shah Gilalni, a leader of an obscure Muslim militant group named Jamaat ul-Fuqra ("The Impoverished"). Described by the State Department's 1995 report on terrorism as dedicated "to purifying Islam through violence," ul-Fuqra recruited devotees from as far away as the Netherlands and had sent Jihadis into battle in Kashmir, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Israel.

Sheikh, himself, visited Bosnia at least once, when he joined a "Caravan of Mercy," taking "relief supplies" to Bosnia.


Although well known, these facts about Al-Qaeda links to Bosnia were not given due attention in the media and as a result public perception diverged from reality. Terrorist network took advantage of it and devastating consequences followed.

The war against terror can not be won if parts of terrorist network are allowed to slip by.

Paying due attention where attention is long due is the first step to prevent it.


Balkan wars and terrorist ties

Director of the U.S. Congress' Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional warfare: "Some Call It Peace"

NATO Probes Claims that Bin Laden is in Kosovo

Persecution Watch : Kosovo

Defang the KLA

Destabilizing the Balkans: US & Albanian Defense Cooperation in the 1990s

Bin Laden in Kosovo

Bosnia Arrests Three Suspected Bin Laden´s Associates

A Bosnian Village's Terrorist Ties; Links to U.S. Bomb Plot Arouse Concern About Enclave of Islamic Guerrillas

Bin Laden opens European terror base in Albania

US tackles Islamic militancy in Kosovo

US alarmed as Mujahidin join Kosovo rebels

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: balkans; bosnia; campaignfinance; goldenchain
One Degree of Separation - Al Qaeda Links to Bosnia Revealed
1 posted on 07/21/2003 6:29:15 PM PDT by Destro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Destro
Ramallah" added to the Sarajevo city sign

On April 10, 2002, representatives of Bosnian Liberal-Democratic party added "Ramallah" to the Sarajevo city sign, thus expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian people in Israel.

This act has drawn significant protest from the president of Jewish Community in Bosnia, Mr. Jakov Finci as well as Rabin Josef Atijas.


FOr those who don't know their history, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (and relative or Arafat) during WW2 organized Bosnians and Albanians into SS formations on behalf of the Nazis.

The Bosnian and Palestinian Muslims are old allies.

2 posted on 07/21/2003 6:33:49 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: *balkans
3 posted on 07/21/2003 6:34:11 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Destro
There's a notable omission in this article. Not one mention of bill clinton, who ignored his own embargo and looked the other way while armed Muslim terrorists poured into Bosnia. Without his help, these terrorists never could have entered the country.
4 posted on 07/21/2003 6:44:19 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Destro
It's sad. We've helped radical Islam do something that even the mighty Ottoman Empire couldn't do: Position themselves at the backdoor to Europe for further incursions. Even more sad is that Europe can't see the dangererous position they have put themselves in.
5 posted on 07/21/2003 7:54:01 PM PDT by cwb
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cwboelter
Even more sad is that Europe can't see the dangererous position they have put themselves in.

I think they actually do. The United States of America was the greatest supporter of a Radical Muslim State of Bosnia while most Americans still don't even know the difference between a Serbian or a Bosnian Muslim. Ask a 14 year old kid from ANY European country what the difference is, and they'll give you five paragraphs of information. Most American kids have never heard of Serbs because there aren't any Serbian rock or rap bands on MTV.

It's us Micky Mousers that don't have a clue what's going on in the world.

It really is amazing. Over the last 13 years, SO many people have asked me my ethnic background and when I make them guess they at first say, "Italian" and then I tell them that they're close... it's right across the Adriatic Sea from the Italians. Then they guess, "Greek" and I tell them that they're close again and they have me surrounded. Then they guess that I'm "Turkish". "Now you've got me COMPLETELY surrounded", is what I tell them... and then they give up. They give up even after I tell them that America was at war with the country in 1999. They shrug and say that they don't watch the news.

Oh well. I suppose I shouldn't get too discouraged. At least they understand that the 2nd Amendment protects their right to own guns and a couple have actually heard rumours that we once had a 4th Amendment.

6 posted on 07/22/2003 4:44:22 AM PDT by getoffmylawn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: getoffmylawn
"I think they actually do."

Well, if they do, they have poor understanding of the danger. Between Muslim immigration and the disparity between birth/death ratios to that of Europeans, Islam is becoming a major driving force in European politics. While the US may have led the war against Serbia, many of the European politicos fully supported the war. The Balkans once provided a buffer-zone between Europe and Islam (even under Soviet control)...much like the Byzantine Empire did pre-Ottoman. But now with the geographical/ideological redrawing of this region, Islam is building a bridge that'll lead right into the heart of Europe. It's the rise of the Ottoman Empire all over again.
7 posted on 07/22/2003 8:29:34 AM PDT by cwb
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Destro
Bosnia, 1 degree of separation from Al-Qaeda

Thanks to The Marxist, Hillbilly, Rapist, Felon, William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, ex-governor of Arkancide and disgraced ex-president of the USSA and his nominal wife-thingy Empress Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, in addition to adding the above descriptions to her name is also known as The Bitch of Kosovo!

8 posted on 07/22/2003 8:38:17 AM PDT by JesseHousman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson