Skip to comments.Jihadists Change Terror Stereotype
Posted on 12/03/2002 6:52:57 AM PST by Gael
Insight on the News - World Issue: 12/10/02
Jihadists Change Terror Stereotype
By Scott Wheeler
On Oct. 24, police arrested two men they believe to be the Beltway snipers of Washington. At least one of them, John Allen Muhammad, is a Muslim. For now, authorities are not commenting on published reports that Muhammad and his juvenile accomplice, John Lee Malvo, were connected to jihadist terrorist organizations. But before anything was known about Muhammad and Malvo, federal investigators had been on the alert for another potential suspect -- a Bosnian deserter from the French military. During the Beltway-sniper investigation, terrorism experts told Insight about the missing soldier and his potential expertise as an assassin. For police investigators desperate for clues that might lead to the perpetrators, it may have seemed like a long shot. But to counterterrorism experts concerned about homeland defense, it was part of an expected new face of terrorism.
To most Americans these days the label "terrorist" conjures up images of swarthy men of Middle Eastern descent. But experts tell Insight that, with help from Iran, their enablers Osama bin Laden and his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri have recruited and trained brigades of blond, blue-eyed Bosnians and indoctrinated them for martyrdom. Both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have in recent days been heard on tape recordings threatening more terrorist attacks against the United States.
"It's the Joseph coat of terrorism," one former terrorism investigator tells Insight, referring to the Old Testament account of Joseph's coat of many colors. "The next wave of terrorism could be carried out by people with fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes."
More than 10 years ago, Iran and the al-Qaeda terrorist network began recruiting and training Bosnian Muslims for war against Orthodox Christian Serbs and Catholic Croats in order to expand the Muslim base in Eastern Europe. After an international peace agreement left a Muslim leader in a power-sharing role, mujahideen fighters no longer had a cause for martyrdom in the former Yugoslavia. But experts tell Insight that the sponsors of the Muslim campaigns in the Balkans have not decommissioned their jihadist forces in Bosnia, Albania and elsewhere in the region. Efforts by U.S. policymakers to save Muslim lives and autonomy in the Balkans by imposing peace plans that included Muslim power-sharing apparently were unappreciated, and dismantling the jihadists' training camps there was not a priority of the U.S. government.
But the U.S. House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare (TFTUW) kept track of the Muslim extremist movement in the region and sounded early warnings. Insight has obtained copies of TFTUW reports that reveal a pattern of activities involving Islamists in the Balkans and around the world, and which point to potential threats to U.S. national security.
A TFTUW report from 1992 explains that in the mid-1970s Islam experienced an "unexpected renaissance in communist Yugoslavia. This was a direct outcome of Belgrade's close relations with the Arab world and involvement in Arab radical politics." A vigorous "revival of Islamic life," according to the report, increased the number of mosques throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina and led to a growing number of local youths being sent for "higher Islamic studies in the Middle East, especially Iran, where the classes in schools for radical mullahs included some 250 Bosnians a year," says the report. A former government terrorism expert who spoke to Insight on the condition of anonymity, explained that "Iran is at the core" of recruiting and mobilizing terrorist-training efforts, with "Iraq, Pakistan and Syria" playing key support roles.
According to the TFTUW report, the Yugoslav government in Belgrade was concerned about what it saw as evidence that within its 40 percent Muslim population there were "Muslim terrorists operating against the West" and that "Yugoslav Muslim youths were drawn into cooperation with and emulation of Arab terrorists." As the Yugoslav government became concerned about extremists within its borders, the mullahs of Iran saw the Balkans as a prize to be won for the glory of Allah. According to TFTUW reports, "Iran has markedly intensified its political involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina. ... From the very beginning, Tehran argued that the plight of the Muslims was an issue directly affecting the entire Muslim world."
In 1992 the TFTUW documented this escalation by Iran and al-Qaeda, which included funding the training of Bosnian Muslims and importing weapons. The report says Iran proclaimed the battleground of Bosnia-Herzegovina a microcosm for resisting the West's war on Islam, and called in reinforcements. "They arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina in answer to Tehran's call to fight the jihad and eager to commit martyrdom in the name of Islam. They included highly trained and combat-proven volunteers from Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon and several other Arab countries."
Yossef Bodansky, director of the TFTUW, says that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri also played a significant role in deploying and concealing "Islamist elite" terrorist forces brought in from around the Middle East, inculcating them into the Bosnian army and setting up humanitarian front organizations to explain their presence. According to Bodansky, Iran considered the outside aid to Bosnia as central to securing for Muslims a role in the leadership of a "multinational state" based on the imposition of the U.S.-led Dayton Accords of 1995 to keep peace in the region by deploying a NATO force.
The accords called for foreign Muslim fighters to leave Bosnia but, according to an April 1996 TFTUW report, "the majority of mujahideen scheduled to have left Bosnia ... still serve in the ranks of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The mujahideen are divided among three clusters of operational units and a fourth cluster of units directly engaged in terrorism and other covert special operations." The report says that the special military units are "built around a hard core of foreign mujahideen while the rest of the troops are Bosnian Islamist."
According to Bodansky, there are many blond, blue-eyed Slavs among these Bosnian Islamists, and there were "thousands trained by the mujahideen and a lot of them eventually joined the international brigades." Bodansky tells Insight that it is important to remember, "We are not just dealing with Arabs." So far, he says, the Bosnian Islamists have been in support positions such as couriers, but "it's only a matter of time" before they show up in other areas of the terrorist web: "They have been training in suicide missions."
Ongoing training is provided by mujahideen fighters who were obligated to leave Bosnia under the Dayton Accords and who, according to Bodansky, are activating the Bosnian Islamists by reminding them that without jihadist support, "There would not have been a Muslim Bosnia. ... We helped you, you come and fight for us." According to terrorism experts with whom Insight spoke, the mujahideen fighters who went to Bosnia to help the Muslims already have been linked to attempted terrorist attacks in the United States. The Washington Post reported March 11, 2000, that the Bosnian village of Bocinja Donja, which has "60 to 100 former mujahideen Islamic guerrillas from the Middle East," came under scrutiny when "U.S. law-enforcement authorities discovered that a handful of the men who have visited or lived in this area were associated with a suspected terrorist plot to bomb targets in the United States on New Year's Day" of that year.
Bodansky says that U.S. policy has lacked forcefulness in dealing with the mujahideen problem in Bosnia by not forcing them out of the country as called for by the Dayton Accords. That allowed the Islamist military brigades to maintain bases in Bosnia and continue to recruit and train Muslim forces for terrorist attacks. Bodansky's most recent book, The High Cost of Peace, is a stinging criticism of what he describes as failed U.S. policy in the Middle East. In the past, some in the intelligence community have been critical of the TFTUW because of its methods and analysis. Now, according to one senior government intelligence analyst, "The task-force reports have been vindicated over and over again."
Scott L. Wheeler is a writer for Insight. email the author
It is now clear that, thanks to Clinton, we backed the wrong side in that dirty little war.
"The West will not remain proud of what it has done to the Serbs. Certainly now that you are heading for serious problems with Islamic terrorists. We will no longer protect Europe against Islamic terrorism. Let them go, to Europe [the Bosnian Muslims]. They look like Europeans. And they take pride in the fact that with their European appearance they are exceptionally efficient terrorists. Europe wanted an Islamic country here. Let them have it!"
And "let them have it," we did! Bosnia has become al-Qaeda's and Bin Laden's corridor into Europe."
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.