Skip to comments.BOSNIA IS "SAFE HAVEN" FOR AL QAEDA
Posted on 11/01/2001 7:29:19 AM PST by Andy from Beaverton
By Daria Sito-Sucic
GORNJA MAOCA, Bosnia (Reuters) - This idyllic Bosnian village seems a world away from the rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But Muslims here say outsiders treat them with increased suspicion after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
``I have never fired a bullet, and they call me a terrorist,'' said Abdulah, a bearded 27-year-old who last year moved to the northern village of Gornja Maoca with his wife and three children for a life devoted to their religion.
But some local people regard him and the others in the small community as mujahideen, Islamic holy warriors, suspecting them of plotting against the West in the guise of farmers.
Journalists in the nearby town of Brcko in early October pressed a U.N. spokeswoman on what security steps had been taken concerning ``the mujahideen group'' in the village.
Abdulah rejected allegations the community was mujahideen, saying he was not in Bosnia at all during the 1992-95 war and that those who were fought for the country and not for Islam.
``I have a feeling that all those who practice proper Islam are now called terrorists,'' said Austrian-born Abdulah, wearing a small white cap.
Stickers on an old Mercedes parked behind him read: ``I love Islam,'' ``You are looking for the truth: All answers are in Koran.'' Next to the car, two men chopped firewood. An old shepherd passed by followed by a flock of sheep.
Abdulah's bitter words show how the events of September 11 have affected Bosnia, with media reviving allegations the Muslim-led wartime government had links to Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, named by the U.S. as the main suspect in the attacks.
ARRESTS FUEL FEARS
Fears have been fueled by the arrests of several people suspected of having links to terrorism -- some from Middle Eastern countries -- and by a Bosnian minister's comment that supporters of bin Laden saw the country as a potential ``safe haven.''
NATO-led peacekeepers said this week they had ``disrupted'' links in Bosnia to bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Spokesmen said the investigation into the network was continuing but refused to go into details of the alleged al Qaeda activities inside Bosnia.
Britain and the United States closed their Sarajevo embassies for five days in mid-October citing a credible security threat which an official at the British embassy said appeared to be linked to the U.S.-led bombing of Afghanistan.
Local media later reported that police had arrested five Algerians in connection with the case.
The U.N.'s chief war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, said this month she had handed the United States information from her Bosnia files for its investigation into al Qaeda.
The talk of terrorism has sent accusations flying back and forth across the ethnic divides which remain more than five years after the end of Bosnia's war.
Some Serb politicians have accused Muslim former president Alija Izetbegovic of wartime contacts with bin Laden associates.
Izetbegovic has hit back, accusing Serb and Croat hard-liners of trying to exploit world anger over the attacks to destroy Bosnia, having failed to do so during the war.
``Thousands of murderers walk freely in Bosnia today and it is in their interest to point the finger at other people here...as terrorists,'' Izetbegovic said.
Serb and Croat nationalists were using the fact that Islamic mujahideen fought alongside government forces in the conflict in order to link the country with terrorism, he said.
SOME FIGHTERS STAYED
The mujahideen came to Bosnia to help the heavily outgunned Muslim-led forces against separatist Serb and Croat fighters in a war that killed more than 200,000 people.
Bosnian wartime authorities are believed to have issued passports to some 400 of those fighters as a reward. Police say about 200 Arabs holding Bosnian citizenship are still in the country and it has stepped up checks on them.
Some ex-fighters settled after the war in the central village of Donja Bocinja, which had been abandoned by its Serb prewar residents. It became known as a ``mujahideen'' community and the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia kept a close eye on it.
But the new residents were forced to evacuate the village last year to make space for returning Serbs.
Many of them left Bosnia altogether but Abdulah's family and five others moved to Gornja Maoca -- joining about 15 other Muslim refugee families to keep sheep, goats and bees in what resembles a 1970s-style hippie community.
Enes, leader of the Gornja Maoca group, lashed out at the authorities for arresting people who had defended Bosnia while wartime Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic remained at large.
``Our brothers who came to help us in the war...now they are terrorists,'' said the bearded man, giving only his first name.
He also said he was convinced bin Laden was not behind the attacks in New York and Washington.
``Osama is our brother,'' Enes said. ``If he says he did not do it, we trust him more than anyone else.''
Many local and international officials have been trying to maintain a sense of calm despite the recent arrests and NATO's claim to have disrupted a terrorist structure.
A growing number of Bosnian Muslims turned to religion during and after the war, but the West's peace overseer in Bosnia described the country's variant of Islam as ``European.''
``I do not see a great danger of Islamic fundamentalism,'' High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch said.
Enes should change his handle to Anus.
I have quite a few friends out there, and as far as the majority is concerned life is getting back to normal.
Its a lot better than when I was out there in 1993.
ps Welcome to the freerepublic Balkan Front
Can you imagine the mixed feelings here is an American soldier got killed or wounded in Bosnia, sadness for the loss of a life, anger for the loss of an American, and a big wet sticky patch at the front of everyones trousers at the excitement of a good old fashion Bosnian bashing orgy.
Cheers laddies, see you on the front line again.
Al Qaeda's Balkan Links
Source: Wall Street Journal Europe; Published: November 1, 2001
Author: Marcia Christoff Kurop
The Bosnian chapter of the Balkan crisis is slowly coming to a close, there are a few more chapters to write about Kosovo and Macedonia.
Interesting choice of words. The Serbs simply up and abandoned their homes - no mention that they were the victims of ethnic cleansing.
"But the new residents were forced to evacuate the village last year to make space for returning Serbs."
Again, the choice of words almost implies that the mujahadeen were the victims here.
Sadly, this subtle choice of wording which minimizes Serb suffering and exagerates their offenses happens far too often to be merely coincidence, in my opinion.
Several families from the Arab world, as well as from Turkey and Bosnia, lived in a three-storey complex in the Shahr-e Now district of the Afghan capital.
One apartment was marked in Arabic as the home of "Abu Osama the Bosnian" - a name that means he called his first-born son after bin Laden. Left inside were extensive notes on the making of explosives, detonators and timers."
the only problem with your POV (ie just a few Mujhadeen in BiH ) is that there was a moderate Muslim leader who Clinton refused to support. This Muslim leader also happened to be the legally elected President of Bosnia, Fikret Abdic.
Instead of supporting the moderate Abdic, Clinton funded, trained, supplied, and promoted the radical Islamic fanatics of Iztbegovic.
As for a 'small' number of Mujhadeen, the Iztebgovic forces had many Mujhadeen units.....among which were the 5th Mujhadeen brigade, the 7th, most of the V corps was pretty seriously Muslim religious fanatics, and of course the infamous 28th Division responsible for the slaughter of some 3,100 innocent villagers (Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox)
It is really a bit surprising that you were in BiH and failed to see the many obvious signs of Mujhadeen all over. The green flags, the guys with white head scarfs, the graffiti..........it was all there for anyone who had eyes to see.
Of course, the political officers in the English dominated British Army were good at spinning the reality.
Yeah, I got that same feeling.
Bosnia AQ ping