Skip to comments.The Balkan Branches of the Terror Network "in search of blond Moslems"
Posted on 10/14/2001 2:51:28 PM PDT by Pericles
The Balkan Branches of the Terror Network
By Dr. Nikolaos A. Stavrou
Special to the National Herald
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on America numerous incidents of alleged in "ethnic profiling" and intense scrutiny of "Middle East-looking persons" have been reported published. They should not be a surprise to anyone, given the fact that the 19 terrorist who cause havoc in the lives of thousands fit a particular ethnic mold. However, Bin Laden's terror network has Balkan branches that could render ethnic profiling irrelevant. Evidence in the public domain suggests that his organization appeared in the Balkans as early as 1993 in search of blond Moslems.
Warnings about the appearance of a fundamentalist strain of Islam this volatile region went unheaded by Bill Clinton's simplistic policy of "one victim one aggressor." Prominent U.S. legislators, among them Senators Larry E. Craig and James M. Inhofe, repeatedly warned about the existence of Bin Laden operatives in Bosnia and Kosovo. Moreover, major news organizations (among them the Los Angeles Times, Corriere Della Serra of Milon and New York Times) reported on the influx of Iranian arms, Bin Laden operatives and assorted terrorists in Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo. Concerns about the implications over this brand of Islam for European security were also expressed by Archbishop Anastasios of Albania in April 1994 to no avail. "I ring the bell of alarm; religious fundamentalism has made its appearance in Albania," said his Eminence. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, Bosnia and Kosovo should acquire new relevance; they are reminders of well-intentioned schemes that produce monsters in Afghanistan and gangsters in the Balkans.
Saudi and Egyptian " Islamic clergymen" appeared in Albania in 1993 at the invitation of then President Sali Berisha. They broke along thousands of Korans printed in Arabic, even though few Albanians could read them. Berisha, who had a keen nose for Arab money, seemed eager to please the Islamic missionaries and shared their zeal in Islamizing his multi-religious country. He introduced a thought in Parliament that required ahead of the autocephalus Orthodox Church of Albania to be an " Albanian citizen for 20 years," but the hordes Islamic clergymen of dubious religiosity were exempted for this law under the pretext of " separation of church and state"! Under pretenses of philanthropy, Saudi and Egyptian clerics were granted permission to manage orphanages that were literally the left "orphan" when the communist regime collapsed. Like Pakistan, orphanages become ideal recruitment fronts.
So for the public debate about a proper response against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 tragedy has hardly focused on the Balkan version of fundamentalism or Bin Laden's role fostering it. However, European news organizations have been more attentive to this branch than their U.S. counterparts.
Six years ago ANTENNA TV (Athens) aired a series of documentaries that confirmed the appearance of fundamentalism in the region and at least two visits by Bin Laden to Tirana. This series were augmented and we re-aired in the week of Sept. 17. The ANTENNA revelations or hardly news; they reported ignored facts.
In 1997 Yossef Bodansky (author of Osama Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America) had documented the presence of fundamentalists in the Bosnian military and their links to the Albanian mafia that bankrolled the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The latter is an organization that Robert Gelbard (Clinton's Balkan envoy) called " terrorists" in February 1998 and the President declared "allies" only a few months later. Ironically, the architects of the Balkan wars still don't get it; they persist in touting our Balkan follies as" successes" when debacle would have been a better term.
Richard Holbrooke and Wesley Clark, if in pious pontifications via CNN, interpret their Balkan wars as evidence of U.S. willingness to defend Muslim " victims." Predictably, Bush spokesman also point to the Balkans as evidence of Western benevolence toward Islam. But the unintended consequences of U.S. policies conceived in a historical vacuum are obvious in the Balkans as they were in Afghanistan. In the Balkans these policies made gangsters and terrorists our bed fellows and in Afghanistan paved the way for misogynists, to parade as government.
Under the Albright-Clark-Holbrooke watch thousands of Mujaheddins flocked to the Balkans in support of Alija Izetbegovic's dream of a "fundamentalist Islamic Republic." At the same time, half a millions a dollars worth of Iranian arms entered Bosnia through Croatian ports even though a U.N. weapons embargo was in effect, supposedly enforced by the Sixth Fleet. Warnings by the US Senate Republican Policy Committee and Senator Craig that "Iranian arms transfer and would help turn the Bosnian military into a militant Islamic base" went unheeded. Indeed an unknown number of "Afghan Islamic Fighters" joined the Bosnian military and many would eventually blend into the Bosnian society under NATO's nose. In due course, they could provide blond looking recruits and sleeper agents. In a brazen display of things to come, Mujaheddins with local wives have even attempted to create a version of a mini-theocracy in Bosnia. At the outskirts of Bocinja Donja a sign warns all infidels to be "afraid of Allah." In pre-war times this village was Serbian-inhabited, but its new owners prudently cleansed it of its rightful owners, according to the Toronto based Center for Peace in the Balkans.
In the threat from the Balkan branches of Bin Laden's sinister enterprise have been exacerbated by the casual granting a Bosnian passports to "Mujaheddin Fighters" and the theft of Albanian passports during the 1997 pyramid-caused meltdown of the Berisha regime. The evidence is disturbing.
On 24 September 1999, the Bosnian Muslim weekly Dani reported that Bin Laden, himself was issued a Bosnian passport in Vienna in 1993. This publication also revealed that the Bosnian Foreign Ministry was "seized by panic" when a Bosnian passport surfaced in the hands of Meherez Aodouni, and Arab terrorist arrested in Istanbul. Aodouni had obtained Bosnian citizenship and a passport "because he was a member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina army", the ministry explained.
But the question is how many more "members of the Bosnian army" crisscross the world with similar documents. Further south, Albanian authorities have yet to account for 100,000 blank passports that vanished, along with thousands of weapons, in the 1997 implosion of the country.
Any errors and typos found from my transcribing of this article are my own.
FILE--Unidentified Muslims march in Sarajevo in this March 2000 file photo during a protest organized by local Islamic youth organizations to demand the world community put a stop to Russia's offensive in Chechnya. The banner reads "Allah is the only one, and Muhammad is his envoy on earth." As the United States widens its war against Osama bin Laden, signs that a radical fringe is trying to stir up Bosnia, one of the largest Muslim areas in Europe, are being taken seriously. (AP Photo/Hidajet Delic)
Saturday October 13 1:28 PM ET
Former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic speaks at a press conference in Sarajevo, Friday, Oct. 12, 2001. Izetbegovic urged U.S. President George W. Bush and other world leaders on Friday to address the motives for terrorism even as the United States leads a campaign against it.(AP Photo/Sava Radovanovic)
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) -- Posters exhorting Bosnia's Muslims to rise in holy war against America were printed and ready for pasting about the time the first U.S. cruise missile slammed into Afghanistan. "We want a third and a fourth world war for Islam -- long live bin Laden," reads one of several posters recently confiscated by police. "Afghanistan, Bosnia -- why wouldn't you fight for oppressed men, women and children?" asks another.
Mostly secular or religious moderates, the overwhelming majority of Bosnia's more than 1 million Muslims poses no terrorist threat. Most remain thankful to the United States for its support in their 1990s war against Serbs and Croats and condemn the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It's always the innocent who die," said Lejla Hamic, 20, a deeply observant Muslim covered head to toe in traditional garb. "I feel sorry for the people of America."
Still, as the United States widens its war against Osama bin Laden, signs that a radical fringe is trying to stir up Bosnia, one the largest Muslim areas in Europe, are being taken seriously. Besides the posters, radical Muslim clerics have occasionally called for jihad.
Chief U.N. war crimes tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said this week she had turned over information to the United States on "people who were staying in Bosnia in connection with terrorist groups."
And Muhamed Besic, interior minister of the Muslim-Croat half of Bosnia, acknowledged that "terrorism is a danger" as he announced the arrest of Bensayah Belkacem, who was carrying Yemeni and Algerian passports and is accused of discussing -- on the phone with a key bin Laden aide -- how to procure foreign passports.
Twenty other suspects are currently being screened on U.S. request, he said.
Bosnia is home for up to 200 Islamic fighters, or mujahedeen, who came to the country mostly from the Middle East to fight on the Muslim side in the 1990s war against Serbs and Croats, then stayed and married local women. Some of those who fought in Bosnia have been linked to terrorist acts, including three Saudi nationals who confessed to the 1995 bombing of a U.S. base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to a report compiled for the U.S. Congress. It says the three also fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
Bosnia's mujahedeen lead secretive, separate lives. Before dropping out of sight, their Palestinian leader, Imad al Hussein Abu Hamza, last month distanced himself from the "killing of children, women, innocent people and civilians."
But alluding to the still-to-come U.S. strikes on Afghanistan, he said "the entire Islamic world" has an obligation to defend Muslims there, should they need help. Since Sept. 11, potential radicals, including the Islamic fighters, have been under increased surveillance by police working with the FBI and NATO intelligence, international officials say.
Most of Bosnia's terror-related problems have roots in the past. Years of lax border controls allowed thousands of immigrants from the Middle East to enter. Most were economic migrants, but some were likely radicals who have now gone underground either in Bosnia or elsewhere in Europe, international officials say.
The new government in the Muslim-Croat federation appears to have been goaded into action by the attacks and Western pressure to get tough or lose crucial financial and political support.
"The messages from the mosques deserve our full attention," said Deputy Foreign Minister Ivica Misic of the "expressions of sympathy for jihad" being uttered by some religious leaders.
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There are also blue eyed fair haired Tuareg in North Africa. While they are secretive as a rule, I wouldn't be surprised if Al-Quaeda hadn't recruited a few.