Skip to comments.Al Qaeda Bogeyman at Work as U.S. Rethinks Balkans
Posted on 10/09/2003 9:58:55 AM PDT by mark502inf
SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Serb and Croat nationalists are warning Washington that Bosnia's Muslims will let Al Qaeda infest the soft underbelly of Europe, unless they are called in to guarantee security should the U.S. military quit the Balkans.
Western diplomats in the region discount the threat. They believe the nationalists' real goal, as ever, is to isolate the Muslims and split Bosnia on ethnic lines, while winning kudos as America's staunch ally in some "clash of civilizations."
But they worry that scare-mongering may sway Congress.
An October article in the Washington Times says Bosnia "now serves as a base" for Al Qaeda. Croats are the best U.S. ally on the "front-lines in the war against Islamic terrorism in the Balkans" and can be its "eyes and ears," the Times says.
A new paper by U.S. think tank Strategic Forecasting also calls the Balkans a "frontier conflict...in the U.S. war against the Islamist world," but proposes that Serbs handle security.
This is news to Westerners who live in the Balkans, where ethnic rather than religious friction is the real concern. A senior diplomat notes that the September 11 hijackers planted cells in the cities of Western Europe and the United States.
MORE BARS THAN MOSQUES
Since the September 2001 attacks, Washington has mostly ignored the Balkans. The influential, neo-conservative Project for the American Century and the American Enterprise Institute have both said little about it on their Web Sites since 2000.
The idea of extracting 4,000 U.S. troops from NATO peace missions in Bosnia and Kosovo was raised in September by visiting General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as a means of partially relieving U.S. overstretch in Iraq.
(Excerpt) Read more at reuters.com ...
It only makes sense that they would use this area as a gateway into Europe. We know the Albanians have killed and captured terrorists from Islamic Jihad, which is closely linked to Al Qaeda. Islamic "charities" associated with channeling money to Al Qaeda have been shut down in the region. And there have been the well known incidents in Sarajevo.
However, if Al Qaeda & the various Mid-East terrorist groups never existed, the fighting in the Balkans would have happened anyway with the same results as we see today. Balkans conflicts are based on Balkans problems, not Al Qaeda. And Al Qaeda has very limited involvement now; mostly based on extracting charity donations from the gullible & exploiting the chaos to move people and money--and its getting harder and harder to do that. We're getting good cooperation now even from Belgrade and adopting a much more comprehensive approach to tracking funds and sharing information--multi-national & multi-agency intelligence fusion centers in the region, multi-national law enforcement liaison teams in Balkans capitals, and so on.
So is there Al Qaeda in the Balkans? Sure, but not nearly as much as many here say. Especially those who conflate Al Qaeda & Islamist ideology with such organizations as the UCK or Bosnian Muslim military.
You're implying that fanatical Islamic nutcases won't have much common cause with "ex"-Communist factions in Bosnia and Kosovo. But look at the Palestinians. There, you have Hezbollah at one end of the spectrum, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the other, and everything else in between; and they're all part of the same terror network. Religion and ideology are mere facades for their real objective - power, plain and simple.
I disagree. Al Qaeda really wants to establish Islamic rule. They do not want power just for its own sake--its what makes them so dangerous & fanatical. Their religious based objective is fundamentally different than, say, the Albanians in either Kosovo or Macedonia who are fighting for nationalist type causes--independence or a Greater Albania or some greater measure of rights or autonomy; depending on the faction.
You ever notice the lack of suicide bombers in the Balkans? Different ideology, motivations, and objectives than the Al Qaeda guys who do that as a normal tactic.
But yes, we did get an earful about Serb atrocities, perhaps because those were the most visible and obvious ones.
A whole different question is, what is in the national security interest of the United States, and what promotes the stability of Europe?
An appropriate question. Less conflict and more stability might be good place to start (sorry for stating the obvious). Letting Croatian or Serbian nationalists handle security is not in anybody's interest except those two groups.
As an aside, was it in Europe's and America's best interests when the Croatians ethnically cleansed the Krajina Serbs? I think we all know who aided and abetted that one.
The Yugos never supported the USA militarily during the communist period. They, along with Cuba, were active in the so-called "non-aligned" movement; a pseudonym for anti-western movement.
Later, under Milosevic, Yugoslavia had great relationships with such wonderful leaders as Qadaffi & Saddam Hussein. Sold weapons to Iraq; awarded Qaddafi Yugoslavia's highest medal. They were NOT our friends.
Except for many, it does not seem to be so obvious. The argument that what happens elsewhere is none of our business has lost a lot with the proliferation of WMD technology & globalization of communications & travel. Condi Rice & Colin Powell have both addressed this--we cannot afford to have places where terrorists or others who seek to do us harm can hang out & get organized, equipped, & trained to attack us.
For one thing, suicide bombing is not merely a religious wacko phenomenon. The Palestinian bombers as a whole (particularly the ones with two X chromosomes apiece) I would wager are motivated less by their love of Islam than by their hatred of Jews - hatred that runs far deeper than what you see in the Balkans.
I also notice the lack of suicide bombers in Syria and Saudi Arabia, but it doesn't mean that there isn't any al-Qaeda in those places. They may be willing to die, but they're not infinitely expendible. Takes time to train (brainwash) a terrorist, so they should only be used on targets that they can get a lot of mileage out of.
And finally, your observation applies only to the footsoldiers. The ones pulling the strings I can guarantee you have a far different motivation. And the fact that the Balkans aren't as of yet fertile breeding ground for these footsoldier types, doesn't mean that it doesn't function as an asset for al-Qaeda.
The information presented in the WTimes article would seem to contradict that. Mosques preaching "jihad". Croats afraid to display crosses. A father and daughter slain for celebrating Christmas. And of course, the fact that this is happening to Croats, who were aligned with the Bosniacs during the war. All this points to Islamofascism, not mere revenge-seeking.
It is obvious that some factions wish to tar their opposition by associating them with Al Qaeda as well as using the Al Qaeda bogey-man in order to distract from or somehow excuse their own actions.
The course of events in Nicaragua and El Salvador were based on the people and issues of Central America, going back to the Spanish conquest of the region. Doesn't change the fact that the Soviets were able to take advantage of the situation and set up shop there.
Exactly--it was a load of B.S. Notice I used "so called" prior to "non-aligned". Its what they called themselves, its not what they were.
That's a false parallel. As I said before, Al Qaeda may indeed be exploiting the chaos & criminal activity in portions of the Balkans. But the Central America situation was based on ideology and the Soviet Union was the leader of that ideology. The Balkans conflicts are nationalistic in nature and Al Qaeda is not.