Last Updated Nov 30, -0001
AL-QAEDA’S GLOBAL NETWORK AND ITS INFLUENCE ON WESTERN BALKANS NATIONS Darko Trifunovic
AL-QAEDA’S GLOBAL NETWORK AND ITS INFLUENCE ON WESTERN BALKANS NATIONS
Resumen-Palabras clave / Abstract-Keywords
It is of vital importance not to examine only at the contemporary world for the roots of terrorism as a method of fighting by the Islamic extremists. Though it can be said that contributing causes of Islamic terrorism are social and economic circumstances and the ideological replacement of Communism by Islamic fanaticism, the main cause motivating Islamic fanatics for centuries has been the establishment of a global Islamic state - the Ummah.
Thus, Islam itself has been abused as an excuse for the fanatics’ ambitions. There is also the issue of misinterpreting the Koran, mostly by those Muslims who publicly declare Islam a religion of peace while in private dedicate themselves to the pan-Islamic cause that simply excludes the existence of others. Among those who engage in religious manipulation without hindrance – indeed, with approval of the highest religious authorities – are terrorists of the Al-Qaeda and the associate terrorist network.
Bosnian Muslims’ religious authorities and the international community ought to be very concerned that Al-Hussein Hilmi Arman Ahmad, a.k.a. Eslam Durmo, was at the head of 16 madrassahs during the Bosnian civil war, and six afterwards. He was identified as the ideological leader of the radical Islamic Wahabbi movement in Islamic terrorist circles. According to the official Egyptian sources, Eslam Durmo is actually Al-Hussein Hilmi Arman Ahmad, born 14 January 1960 in Cannae. Egyptian authorities suspect him of felonies such as document forgery and the 1997 terrorist attack in Luxor. Durmo is also indicated as an associate of Osama bin Laden. As a member of “El-mujahid” unit of the “Bosnian Army,” which was connected to heinous war crimes and atrocities against civilians and POWs, Durmo published a religious instruction book, titled “Ideas that need to be corrected” (Shvatanja koja treba ispraviti). This pamphlet was printed by the Kuwaiti so-called humanitarian NGO “Islamic Thought Revival.” What could this man, with a criminal past and terrorist ties, teach Bosnian Muslim youth about religion? Who allowed him to engage in religious instruction at all? The answers are not so elusive when one considers that many governments – Iran most of all – share Eslam Durmo’s opinions and beliefs.
Former Iranian leader and president Ayatollah Khomeini publicly advocated Iranian leadership of a global Islamic revolution. In Qom, on 14 January 1980, reviewing a company of 120 Pakistani officers training for terrorism and sabotage operations, he said: “We are in a war against infidels. Take this message with you – I ask all Islamic nations, all Muslims, all Islamic armies and all presidents of Muslim nations to join the Holy War. There are many enemies that need to be killed or destroyed.Jihad must triumph.” Was he religious leader, a terrorist, or both? Long before anyone else, Khomeini began to attack Western targets with suicide bombers. He trained extremists to practice suicide attacks in Lebanon . Thousands of young Muslims from around the world were trained for suicide attacks at the Besheshita camp near Karay, west of Tehran. In addition to men, some 300 women were trained at this camp, under the instruction of Zahra Rahneward. There were many other camps for military and theological instructions, all in the function of pan-Islamic revolution. Khomeini is also the originator of the idea of using airplanes for suicide attacks. In the early 1980s, Iran had ordered a number of PC-7 airplanes for just this purpose. Pilots were sent to North Korea for suicidal training, and sent upon their return ton the newly established Shahid Chamran Airbase near Busheher. Members of these suicide squadrons were called the “Pasdaran pilots.”
Other nations besides Iran have accepted the ideas of Islamic revolution.
Initially, the fledgling terrorist network of Islamic extremists operated on two tracks. The first, and legal, relied on Islamic organizations such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the World Islamic League (RABITA) and “Islamic Committee for Palestine,” who practiced influence through mutual solidarity, financial aid and a network of connections in Western Europe and the US .
Other organizations focused on achieving the fundamental ideas of the Ummah through extremist groups practicing violence and terror, with the help of terrorism-sponsoring governments and the aforementioned legal fronts. Such groups were, for example, the “Muslim brotherhood” and “Gama’a al – Islamiyya” of Egypt , and the “Armed Islamic Group” (GIA) of Algeria . These and other terrorist groups of Islamic extremists assist Muslims anywhere in the world who fight for Islamic extremist causes, offering them ideological and military assistance.
Some of today’s most notorious terrorists took part in the civil wars of the former Yugoslavia – especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo-Metohia. This casts a new light on the nature of these conflicts and the true aims of Islamic extremists in the Western Balkans. More alarmingly, these extremists have found military and political support from the West. For example, Issa Abdullah (a.k.a. Abu Abdullah), a naturalized US citizen of Palestinian origin and a “Hamas” member, who came to B-H to train mujahidin with other US Special Forces instructors, proceeded to conduct terrorist activities unhindered, with the full knowledge of the Clinton Administration. Other members of Abdullah’s group were assembled at a New Jersey mosque, and trained on a private property nearby. Officials who had a key role in bringing in the mujahidin from North America to Bosnia and the Balkans are: Safet Catovic, Ivica Misic and Muhamed Sacirbey former Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy to the UN (accused for large amount of money missing from Bosnian Mission and Consulate account at UN).
Links between 9/11 and the Al-Qaeda network in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Officials of the Muslim-Croat Federation in B-H never released any information to the US investigators or lawyers representing the families of 9/11 victims, because such information would provide fresh revealing evidence on the entire B-H conflict. They would have made it obvious that the war was a jihad, a religious war waged against Bosnia ’s Christians by the Islamic extremists.
The Interpol office in Wiesbaden, Germany sent a request to the Bosnian authorities on 18 September 2001 to verify the identity of a certain Mr. Atta, who according to their information used to reside in the hamlet of Bakotić, 8 km outside Maglaj, in 1999. Attached to the request was the photo of Mohamed Atta, and a note to verify it through a certain Mehmed Hasanić, a resident of Bakotić. This means Mohamed Atta was trained in B-H; it is known that he left B-H for Hamburg, from where he proceeded to the United States and his ultimate mission – to destroy the Twin Towers.
SEVEN KEY AL-QAEDA MEMBERS WHO DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TOOK PART IN 9/11 AND ARE LINKED TO BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Al-Qaeda’s role in radical Islamic activities and events in Bosnia has been frequently mentioned in US media and official government reports since the 9/11 tragedy.
REPORT OF THE JOINT INQUIRY INTO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 –BY THE HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE AND THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE
…..Al-Hazmi first traveled to Afghanistan in 1993 as a teenager and came into contact with a key al-Qa’ida facilitator in Saudi Arabia in 1994. In 1995, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar traveled to Bosnia to fight with other Muslims against the Serbs. Al-Hazmi probably came into contact with al-Qa’ida leader Abu Zubaydah when Zubaydah visited Saudi Arabia in 1996 to convince young Saudis to attend al-Qa’ida camps in Afghanistan . Sometime before 1998, al-Hazmi returned to Afghanistan and swore loyalty to Bin Laden. He fought against the Northern Alliance, possibly with his brother Salem, another of the hijackers, and returned to Saudi Arabia in early 1999, [page 138] where, [ ], he disclosed information about the East Africa embassy bombings.
Mohamed Atta lived at Marienstrasse 54 in Hamburg with Bin al-Shibh, Essabar, and Bahaji. Director Tenet testified that, after Bin al-Shibh failed to obtain a U.S. visa, “another cell member,” Essabar, “tried [on two occasions in December 2000] and failed to obtain a visa in January 2001” to travel to Florida while Atta and al-Shehhi were there. Uncorroborated sources report that Essabar was in Afghanistan in late September 2001. Bahaji left Germany on September 3, 2001 for Pakistan . Uncorroborated sources also placed him in Afghanistan in late September 2001.
DCI Tenet testified that Muhammad Heydar Zammar was an acquaintance of members of Atta’s circle in Hamburg, where Zammar lived. Zammar, a German citizen born in Syria in 1961, was described by DCI Tenet as “a known al-Qa’ida associate,” active in Islamic extremist circles since the 1980s, who trained and fought in Afghanistan in 1991 and in Bosnia in 1995 and returned to Afghanistan a number of times between 1995 and 2000.
It has been reported that U.S. and German officials believe that Zammar is a pivotal figure in understanding the genesis of the September 11 attacks. DCI Tenet told the Joint [page 141] Inquiry that Zammar “was taken into custody by the Moroccans [ ]” when he traveled to Morocco to divorce his wife and that he was “moved from Morocco into Syrian custody, where he has remained.” It has also been reported that Zammar has provided details about the September 11 attacks to U.S. investigators. According to the DCI, Zammar has said that he met Atta, al-Shehhi, and Jarrah in the late 1990s in Hamburg’s al-Qods mosque and he “persuaded them to travel to Afghanistan to join the jihad.”
The NSA Director also cautioned in his testimony, “If these hearings were about the war that had broken out in Korea or the crisis in the Taiwan Straits that had taken us by surprise or if we had been surprised by a conflict in South Asia or if we had lost an aircraft over Iraq or if American forces had suffered casualties in Bosnia or Kosovo, in any of these cases I would be here telling you that I had not put enough analysts or linguists against the problem. We needed more analysts and linguists across the agency, period.”
Link between Bosnian terror network and Madrid terrorist attack
An Islamist group — the “Soldiers of Allah” was established in Madrid in 1994. Its associated umbrella, the “Islamic Alliance” with overseas branches, played a coordination role by co-opting leaders of other groups. Operating out of the Abu Baker mosque in Madrid, they kept in contact with Armed Islamic Group of Algeria , Islamic Salvation Front of Algeria, Palestinian Hamas, Al Qaeda and other violent and political Islamist organizations. In rural Spain , the group organized and financed medical treatment and caring for those wounded in the fighting in Bosnia. For instance, Khayata Kattan, who fought in Bosnia and Kurdistan,Mohomed Needl Acaid, who fought in the Balkans, and Mohamed Zaher, alias Abu Hmeid, received sanctuary. Similarly, Osama Darra who fought in Bosnia opened a discount audio and video store in Spain . Abdelkrim Hammad, alias Aldelnassa, an Afghanistan-trained GIA member wanted for murder (arrested in Tudelilla in Spain in December 2002) had fought in Afghanistan , Bosnia and Kosovo. He had fled France for Spain in late 2001.
Dahdah recruited Abdairahman Alarnaot Abu Aljer, alias Abu Obed, from Syria , and dispatched him to Bosnia for training in Zenica, where an Arab battalion fought in support of the Bosnian Muslims Army. For the purpose of training new recruits, both Dahdah and Alarnaot worked with Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, alias Abu Musab, an important Al Qaeda trainer and camp commander in Afghanistan . In Bassan Dalati Satut, alias Abu Abdo, the police found a diary containing the bank account number of Abu Musab. Amongst the others in the cell was Kamal Hadid Chaar alias Abu Nour, also Syrian, and like most others, he was a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria .
Dahdah was trusted by the Al Qaeda core and penultimate leadership as well as the field commanders. Dahdah’s work was appreciated by his masters, including Osama bin Laden. For instance, of 111 million pesetas (669,676 euros) provided by Al Qaeda for Islamist activity, Dahdah received 8 million pesetas (17,094 euros), Abu Ilias in Hamburg received 3 million pesetas (15,686 euros), Abu Salah in Yemen received 15,686 euros, Abu Khaled in Turkey received 107,457 euros, and Abu Zeinab in Belgium received 231,664 euros. Similarly, Dahdah’s Madrid phone number appeared in an address book found in Atta’s Hamburg apartment. On August 27, two weeks before the suicide hijackings, Dahdah engaged in a conversation with Shakur, a UK based Al Qaeda member, referring to a possible airline hijackings. Shakur said, “In our lessons, we have entered the field of aviation and we have cut the bird’s throat” a statement interpreted by the intelligence analysts as attacking the Eagle, the US landmark.
Although only a few charities were infiltrated by the Islamist groups including by Al Qaeda, the Spanish police identified 10 charities that included organizations engaged in bona fide relief and rehabilitation activity. They were the International Islamic Relief Organization; Al Haramain Islamic Foundation; Ittehad-e-Islami, based in Afghanistan, the most subsidized charity by the Saudi government; Muslim Aid created in London by Cat Stevens, alias Yusuf Islam, and was involved in Bosnia; Afghan Support Committee that assisted Arabs expelled from Pakistan after a suicide attack on the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad in 1995; Al Kifah Refugee Center led by Afghan veteran Kamer Eddine Kherbane. Al Kifah Refugee supported all Usama bin Laden action and true Imam Omar Behmen, political party of Bosnian Muslim SDA; Hizb-e-Islami led by Gubbudin Hekmatiyar in Afghanistan; Human Concern International, US based active in Pakistan in support of the Afghan mujahidn; Global Relief Foundation (Foundation Secours Mondial) led by Nabil Sayadi of Belgium; and Maktab-ul-khedamat (Afghan Support Committee), a known Al Qaeda front.
The widespread and well-connected nature of the Islamic terrorist network is illustrated by the fact that Saudi security agents killed Saudi Citizen Saud al Otaibi and Moroccan Abdel Karim al Meyati, whom they considered to be the top organizers of the terrorist attack in Madrid. The two were part of a 15-man Al-Qaeda cell that tried to infiltrate Saudi Arabia , because they were all wanted men elsewhere throughout the world.
Both al-Otaibi and al-Meyati fought in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, and afterwards frequented the triangle between Zenica, Sarajevo and Tuzla, under false identities.
One of the planning centers for terrorist attacks in Western Europe is the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan. According to operational intelligence, Milan was the point of contact for:
All are members or linked to “Muslim brotherhood”.
Most members of the aforementioned group, as well as others, who used the Milan cell, are linked to the Bosnian war. Shaykh Anwar Shaban, who ran the cell, was killed in 1995 in B-H, where he was a deputy commander of “El Mujahid” for religious matters. The main contact for this group with Bosnia-Herzegovina was Awad Aiman who ran the “Comunita Islamica Internazionale” branch of the Milan center in B-H, together with Šefik Obodašić. Better known as Ayman abu Abd’ul-Rahman, Awad Aiman was a high-ranking officer of the mujahedin in B-H. Currently he is presumed to reside somewhere in Western Europe. Also connected to this groups, is Sheikh Salman al Al Awdah, a Saudi professor. Closely cooperating with the group was the dangerous terrorist Abu Ayyub al Masri, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.
Bosnia is mentioned 300 times in the indictment issued by the Spanish investigators. Basically, the prosecutors claim that the indicted were part of a Spanish cell of the global Islamic terrorist network, which raised funds and recruited fighters for radical Islamic purposes in Bosnia , Afghanistan and Indonesia . One of the key “humanitarian organizations” listed in the indictment is the Global Relief Foundation. GRF had its offices in Europe and America (as Foundation Secours Mondial –FSM). The key person in the GRF is the secret Minister-counselor at the BH Mission to the UN, Safet Ibid Catovic.
The Case of Safet Catovic
This man held the rank of Minister-Counselor at the UN Mission until June 2001, until I cancelled his credentials, along with 8 others. There are questions as to who those eight were, when (if at all) the worked at the Mission, and under whose authority. However, there is no question that Safet Catovic, as a Muslim, could never be a Minister-Counselor, because the two posts were reserved for Serbs and Croats, under Foreign Ministry’s staffing guidelines. Although his credentials were revoked, he never returned his UN identification; to the best of my knowledge, he can enter the UN complex freely even today. Catovic continued to receive salary and insurance benefits until December 2001, with full knowledge and support of Ambassador Ivica Misic.
Why is this man important? In August 2001, Catovic organized a “Summer Jihad camp” in Pennsylvania, in the area where one of the 9/11 planes would crash (see attached evidence). Also, he was detained by the FBI on suspicion of involvement in “humanitarian organizations” propagating and supporting terrorism, namely the Global Relief Foundation and Benevolence International.
Al-Qaeda’s modern organization based on the “ Bosnia model”
The Western Balkans has been a region of interest to Islamic extremists for decades. Numerous Muslims living in the so-called “Green Traverse” represent both a recruitment pool and a springboard for attacks in Western Europe. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and the Raska region (a.k.a. Sanjak) are frequently used as Jihad’s gateway into the European heartland. The notion is not new, only more visible today than ever before.
One of the tactics the Islamic fanatics implemented in the Western Balkans is the so-called “Demographic warfare”. When Muslims are a minority, they seek to increase their numbers through high birthrates – sometimes ten times of those of the non-Muslim populace. Once they attain a majority in a desired territory, they invoke the popular claim of Islamic fanatics: “Allah’s law on Allah’s land”. Thus in mid-1994, the top Bosnian Muslim cleric (Reis-ul-ulema) Mustafa Ceric issued a decree ordering Bosnian Muslim women to bear at least five children.
Studies of Islamic extremists’ activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Balkans in general, their international connections, and the consequences of their political, propaganda and terrorist activities (including war crimes) have provided valuable insights into the global Islamic terror network. According to the available information, the Al-Qaeda network seems to consist of several committees. Every committee is an important link in the chain, engaged at the local, national and international level. International activity includes the recruitment of individuals with substantial political power, which can be used to further Islamic fundamentalist objectives.
The Financial Committee has the task to provide the Network’s funding. Fundraising methods differ from place to place, but rely mainly on accounts directly or indirectly available to Osama Bin Laden and the funds provided through the wide network of “humanitarian organizations” which use their charity as a cover for fundraising and recruitment of future terrorists. This committee is also in charge of money transfers. One of its methods is the “hawala” system, where money and other commodities are transferred directly, without the involvement of banks. Such transactions are virtually impossible to trace. Basic funding derives primarily from the production and distribution of narcotics – specifically heroin, which is produced in Afghanistan , then distributed to Western European and US markets through a sophisticated network. One Kosovo Albanian was recently arrested (and it is more of less common that from time to time Albanian’s are arrested with large quantity of heroin) at the Bajakovo border crossing between Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro, in possession of 48 kg of heroin. By and large, Kosovo Albanians are not Islamic fanatics, but as heroin smugglers, they are an important link in Al-Qaeda’s chain. Profits from the heroin trade are also very difficult to trace.
Funds thus obtained are put to use in pursuit of Islamic fanatics’ darkest aims. Al-Qaeda and other organizations act locally, but think globally. For example, the newly established Islamic terrorist organization, LIVO, whose striking fist is the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, is pursuing the plan for establishing Islamic states – and eventually, the Caliphate – in Central Asia, funded and aided by the Financial and the Military committees of Al-Qaeda.
The Law and Religion committee focuses on justifying terrorist activities. In conjunction with the Media committee, it promotes the view that everywhere in the world, Muslims are constantly victims, and even when they do commit atrocities, those are fully justified as self-defense and righteous Jihad. The ultimate aim is to foment conflict between all Muslims and the rest of the civilized world.
The Media Committee coordinates with the owners of pro-fundamentalist media and activists inside major media outlets to spread Islamic fundamentalist propaganda. The basic function of this Committee is to justify the activities of Islamic fundamentalists. The main weapon is to claim that Muslims are always and everywhere the exclusive victims of violence. Of course, truth is completely different, because the Islamic fundamentalists initiate violence for the purpose of establishing the pan-Islamic Ummah, a theocracy that excludes the existence of other religions. For example, in Kosovo-Metohia Islamic extremists among the Kosovo Albanians, with Al-Qaeda’s help, have managed to create a perception that the Albanian majority was endangered by the Serb minority. Thanks to the work of the Media Committee, the secession and terrorism of Islamic fundamentalists among the Kosovo Albanians were presented as a “struggle for freedom.” One of the main objectives of the Islamic fundamentalists’ global network is to create a perception in the world public opinion that Muslims are always the victims, in order to justify conflict and conquest. Victim status is thus claimed for Kosovo Albanians, their co-religionists in Kashmir, Palestine, Russia ( Chechnya ), Sudan , Tanzania , Bosnia , Macedonia , Malaysia , East Timor, etc.
In addition to recruiting and training the Jihadi suicide bombers, theMilitary Committee also coordinates, plans, and commands terrorist activities throughout the world. It organizes logistical support for the attacks, sets the objectives and maintains communication with terrorist cells, all for the purpose of accomplishing the ultimate objective – a global Islamic state, Ummah, built by jihad and atrocities in the name of Allah. One of the first camps training the members of the global Islamic terror network was based in Iran , established by Imam Khomeini personally. The first commander of the camp was Sheik Abbas Golru, a prominent member of the Syrian-run Palestinian terrorist organization al-Saiqa.
The NGO Committee coordinates an entire network of NGOs connected by the shared ideals of Islamic fundamentalism and common funding. These organizations often have names that lack any Islamic identification. The goal of these organizations is to infiltrate the civil society of countries such as the US , UK , France and Italy , but also countries such as Tanzania and Nigeria . These NGOs have many purposes, but the main one is to raise funds for Islamic fundamentalists and influence the public opinion of the host countries. Many of these NGOs are cover for Islamic countries’ intelligence operations. Islamic countries used to have rudimentary intelligence operations, but that situation has changed. They have a defined goal – the creation of the Ummah. They have a defined enemy – all those who do not follow the Koran, non-Muslims, “infidels.” They have a defined method of struggle – terrorism. This is truly a frightening danger to modern civilization, one the entire world should be concerned about.
The Government Committee recruits government officials of target nations, contributes financially and otherwise to the campaigns of recruited elected officials, and coordinates with intelligence services of terrorism-sponsoring nations. This Committee pursues the goal of establishing the Ummah by working through government institutions both nationally and internationally. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is a typical example of how the Islamic fundamentalist network is protected internationally. The organization has over 60 members, and is currently the strongest international voting bloc in the United Nations
It is extremely important to note that every committee can function autonomously.
The model depicted above is a basic scheme of Al-Qaeda, which is defined as all organizations serving the cause of Islamic extremists. Al-Qaeda does not have a supreme command, but a supreme objective. Its instructions are what the Islamic extremists believe is contained in the Koran. All this makes Al-Qaeda unpredictable. Only observation and analysis of the committees’ actions at all levels can explain the consequences of their activities. After several decades of activity worldwide, it is becoming increasingly clear who finances the terrorists, what sort of global propaganda they employ and with whose assistance, and how entire nations are being demonized at Al-Qaeda’s behest. [Wartime Bosnian Muslim officials] Haris Silajdzic and Muhamed Sacirbey used to pay large sums of money to public relations firms, such as Ruder Finn LLC, to demonize Serbs. It is entirely clear today where this money came from.
The “White Al-Qaeda” in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Information available to experts on international terrorism indicate that B-H presently is one of the most dangerous countries in Europe, as it represents a nursery for potential Islamic terrorists – the so called “white” or “European” Al-Qaeda. Money from Islamic countries that is laundered through “humanitarian” organizations finances the religious education of at least 100,000 young Bosnian Muslims. In addition to such education, which follows the interpretations of Wahabby Islam, there is another type of “training” in various officially registered camps throughout the B-H Federation. There, the young and carefully selected Wahabby attend “additional courses” in marksmanship, explosives and martial arts. Organizations such as “Furqan,” the “Active Islamic Youth,” the “Muslim Youth Council” and others – differing only in name and primary donors, but otherwise interchangeable – teach young Muslims computer and Internet skills, so they could establish contacts with their coreligionists worldwide. Knowing all this, the former head of UN Mission in Bosnia Jacques Paul Klein openly said that some 200 mujahidin in Bosnia did not represent a danger, because they can be easily controlled. Klein knew it would be a lot more difficult to stop the spread of young Bosnian Wahabbi throughout Europe, youths who consider Osama Bin Laden and the mujahidin as role models.
Al-Qaeda’s Network: Iran to the Balkans, via Turkey
Investigation of the suicide attacks on British and Jewish targets in Istanbul has shown that some of the terrorists involved had been trained in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the other hand, Iran has given a new identity to the spiritual leader of Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar. A few months ago, Iran released from prison several high-ranking Al-Qaeda members, and there are indications they were behind the terrorist attacks in Istanbul. The Iranian regime has long been known as a financier and sponsor of terrorists exported all over the world, especially in the Balkans. It is well known that Iran had sent a Republican Guard unit to B-H, and their secret service (VEVAK) has established and helped train the Bosnian Muslim secret service (AID). One of the key assets of the Iranian intelligence in B-H is Dzemal Merdan, who had undergone military and religious training and become loyal to the ideas of Ayatollah Khomeini. His loyalty was rewarded by appointing him a liaison to foreign mujahidin. This man is responsible for hundreds of murders of ethnic Croats. Early in the B-H civil war, several dozen Islamic extremists came to B-H with the help of Iran and Merdan’s coordination. Together with the Cengic clan, Merdan controlled Central Bosnia.
Iranian authorities and radical Turkish groups have worked on two fronts. The first was establishing a “green traverse” in the Balkans, and the second a similar corridor in central Asia, through Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Uzbekistan , Tajikistan , and – very importantly – the Chinese province of Xinyang. Cells of Al-Qaeda were established in all those countries and regions. Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden were involved in setting up the network in the Balkans, along with terrorists from Saudi Arabia . Even the Saudi government funded terrorism, notably through the High Saudi Committee for Aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose representatives were granted the extraordinary privilege of diplomatic license plates (and the resulting immunity) for their vehicles, in clear violation of existing law. It is assumed that Bosnian authorities had also issued diplomatic passports to the same representatives, but such a contention is almost impossible to verify.
One notable link in that chain is Jusuf Halilagić, former Minister of Civil Affairs and Communications for B-H, and a former high-ranking officer of the 3rd Bosnian Army Corps, home of the notorious “El-Mujahid” unit. Halilagić was the one who drove Abu Hamza, one of the most wanted Islamic terrorists in the world, from Rijeka ( Croatia ) into Bosnia in 1992, in his private "Zastava 101" vehicle. Halilagic and other Islamic extremists in B-H had long prepared for the arrival of Islamic volunteers from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, even Western countries, known as the “Afghans.” After fighting in Bosnia , certain Arab intelligence agencies started calling these people “Bosnians,” claiming they were far more dangerous than mere “Afghans.” Muslim intelligence agencies in Bosnia , such as AID, usually refer to these men as the “AA factor,” noting their African and Asian origin.
Since the beginning of their involvement in Bosnia , Abu Ma'ali (originally from Algeria ) was one of the leaders of Islamic extremists, and the first commanders of the “El-Mujahid” unit. After the Dayton Peace Accords, it was demanded by Muslim authorities in Sarajevo that Abu Ma’ ali should leave B-H, because of his connections to Al-Qaeda. According to the Croatian weekly “Globus,” the celebratory farewell to Abu Ma’ali as he departed for Chechnya was attended by Bakir Izetbegovic, the son of former Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic. However, there are also indications that Ma’ali has simply assumed a new identity, with the help of high-ranking Bosnian Muslim officials, and continues to live in the B-H Federation. Abu Ma’ali is considered one of the closest associates of the notorious terrorist Abu Tala’t  .
The fact that Halilagic was a member of the Coordinating Task Force for combating terrorism in B-H speaks volumes about the involvement of the Bosnian Muslim leadership with Al-Qaeda. Halilagic was delegated to that post by the Party of Democratic Action, whose founder is the Islamic extremist and war criminal Alija Izetbegovic. Immediately after his death in October 2003, ICTY prosecutor’s spokesperson Florence Hartmann said that it had been a matter of days before an indictment was issued against Izetbegovic. It remains a mystery why the ICTY had not indicted Izetbegovic in his lifetime, as they had not lacked evidence. There is also a suspicion that this institution is under a strong influence of Islamic nations and interest groups. Nonetheless, Izetbegovic directly participated in the cover-up and reorganization of Al-Qaeda in Bosnia . In the Dayton agreement there was a provision that all mujahidin would leave Bosnia . That never happened, thanks to the ties between the Islamic terrorist networks and the top leadership of the Bosnian Muslims.
Turkish authorities have established the link between the suspects in the Istanbul bombings and the global network of Islamic terrorists. A year before the attacks, the ICNA (Islamic Council of North America) website stated that the greatest enemies of Islam were “Jews, Crusaders” [i.e. Christians], and especially among those, “Russians and Serbs.” Consider now the sequence of the attacks – first the synagogues (Jews), then the British consulate and bank (“Crusaders”), followed soon thereafter by a train in Russia . This has all the makings of a clash of civilizations, one that Islamic extremists are trying to impose on the world’s Muslims.
The Al-Qaeda terrorist network in Bosnia-Herzegovina
It is little known that Islamic fanatics trained to fight against the Serbs in B-H in camps near Istanbul and Hamburg, Germany , particularly between 1993 and 1995. Notable Al-Qaeda members involved in this operation were: Čupić Murić, Abu el Mani, Ahmed bin Muhamed, Harmas Sami, Abdulah Hadi, Imam Zilfili, Abu Hamza, Mustafa Kamel, Karim Atmani, Faruk Besić, and Abdul Hamid. Osama bin laden’s main Balkans liaison, closely connected to the Greek terrorist organization 17 November, is Omar Alawadi. According to some sources, Alawadi was in B-H, preparing for action with local extremists and fresh arrivals from Islamic countries. This is information that ought to alarm the Greek government, especially before Olympics.
The principle along which the terror network is established is very simple. Consider the example of Central Asia, where recently a terrorist organization “LIVO” was established with the help of Iranian and Turkish extremist groups. From Uzbekistan , young men were sent for training to Al-Qaeda camps in northern Afghanistan . After returning to their villages, in each one they formed a guerrilla unit. These groups were then sent to Afghanistan or Iraq to gain the necessary combat experience, so they would some day hopefully initiate an Islamic revolution at home.
The same exact pattern occurred in the Balkans. Young men from Kosovo went to Al-Qaeda camps in northern Albania , which were visited by Bin Laden himself (according to reliable information). They returned to Kosovo and organized guerrilla bands in their villages. The same happened in Raska (Sanjak), where Muslim youths went to war in B-H, then returned home, and now present a threat to regional security. Given their international connections, that regional threat can easily become global.
The alarming fact is that a complete terrorist network exists in the territory of Serbia and Montenegro , ready to execute any order by the centers of Islamic extremism, whilst the disinterested Serbia-Montenegro authorities have behaved as if the problem did not exist.
An Islamic university was established recently. Some Serbian politicians who applauded that development obviously do not know what lies at the root of the Wahabby teachings: extremism, spreading of Islam by force. Will Serbia allow its children, Orthodox or Muslim, be taught the language of hate, no matter how attractively packaged?
Not so long ago, an association of citizens “Furqan” was registered in Sarajevo as a “non-governmental, non-political organization.” Yet one of its goals, as the organization’s charter says, is the “establishment of B-H as a state ordered under the Shari’a and true Islamic values.” Headed by Nermin Karačić, “Furqan” has offices in Zenica, Zavidovići, Konjic, Visoko and Ilijaš, where the strictest religious (and political) indoctrination of the members takes place. Instructors are lecturers from Islamic universities in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Among the domestic instructors, one name stands out Nezim-effendi Halilović Muderis, imam of the “King Fahd” mosque and Islamic center in Sarajevo, and one of the Wahabby leaders in the B-H Federation. Halilović is considered responsible for war crimes his unit had committed against the Serb civilians in the municipality of Konjic. Interesting as well are the topics of the “lectures,” or at least their titles: “The path of struggle for Islam”; “Obstacles on the road to Islamic revival”; “The Islamic state”; and “Allah’s will be done, whatever the infidels do.” The paths of “Islamic struggle” for Furqan’s students often lead to a camp on Lake Jablanica. As the organization’s document indicate, the camp attendees “as some of the best, should be proud they were chosen to attend the camp, and they need to justify that honor.” Similar camps have been organized in the summer at Crni Vrh and Cerovac hill in Tešanj municipality, and on the Bosnia river island near the village of Nemila near Zenica. The same sources indicate that young Islamists have organized several “camping trips” near Sarajevo, Travnik, Konjic, Jablanica, Bugojno, Bihać, Cazin and Velika Kladuša. The “campers” occasionally become members of the “Active Islamic Youth (AIO), another NGO on the American blacklist.
The AIO was established in Zenica in October 1995 by the veterans of the notorious unit “El-Mujahid.” The first president of the organization, which has offices in every Muslim-majority municipality in the B- Federation, was Nedim Haračić. Later that office was held by Ismet Fazlić, Adnan Pezo and Almin Fočo. Activists of AIO can be found among the returning refugees in the Serb Republic’s border areas, especially in Kotorsko near Doboj, where the AIO is headed by Tahir Halilović, Emir Lišinović, Muris Sivčević and Džemal Bečić. A strong AIO presence was also noted in the village of Kamenica in Teslić municipality (RS), where the organization is headed by Mithad Topovčić, Esad Stenaklić and Mehmed Cerovac. The current seat of this radical Islamic organization is in the Sarajevo quarter of Bistrik, which explains why the focus of the AIO’s efforts has been on the Bosnian capital.
In 2000, AIO activists sent anonymous threat letters to representatives of the international community – demanding they leave B-H – and political opponents of the SDA. Because of the Russian Army’s activities against the Chechen separatists and terrorists, AIO also threatened to attack the Russian Embassy in Sarajevo. AIO was one of the organizers of the mass Islamic protests in Sarajevo in May 2002. AIO was also behind the notorious protests against the New Year, and against the arrest of Imad al-Misri, who was extradited to Egypt along with El Sharif Hassan Mahmoud Sad in October 2001 by the FB-H authorities, on charges of terrorism.
The “High Saudi Committee”, “Al-Haramein” and other Islamic “charities” operating in B-H are the main source of funding for AIO and “Furqan.” Most of these organizations are both donors and a cover for the international terrorists connected to Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden. One example is “Benevolence International Foundation” (BIF), an organization whose founder and director, Enam Arnaut, is on trial in the US for direct links Osama bin Laden. Proof of those links was found in 2003 in B-H, during a search of the “Bosnian Ideal Future” – the legal successor of the blacklisted BIF which even kept the same initials. BIF was led by former AID agent, diplomat and Alije Izetbegović’s personal chauffeur, Munib Zahiragić. He is also on trial in Sarajevo, for espionage and illegal possession of AID documents.
BIF had offices in Sarajevo and Zenica till the end of 2001, when Arnaut managed to bail out worth $1 million (of approximately $5 million that was laundered by the organization), with the help of his representative Mohammed Anas Talawi. During the war, Arnaut used the money to organize mujahidin arrivals, their training in camps around Zenica and Tešanj, and their eventual transfer to other countries. It is believed that this channel was used for the escape of Abu Mali , a close associate of Bin Laden. Arnaut also helped an Al-Qaeda terrorist Mahmud Salim Mamdouh, a.k.a. Abu Hajr, to escape to Germany . Western sources indicagte Mamdouh was in charge of procuring uranium for nuclear weapons. Abu Hajr was arrested in Germany in 1998, and extradited to the US . Arnaut also collaborated with Muhammad Halifa, a cousin of Osama bin Laden, as well as Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, leader of the terrorist group “Hizbi al islami,” which took part in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, organized by Sheikh Omar abd-al-Rahman.
Two members of the “Algerian Group” also worked at BIF: Budellah Hajj, a.k.a. Abu Omar, and Mustafa Ait Idir. They were extradited to the US in January 2003. Hajj had arrived to B-H from Pakistan , and also worked for the Egyptian charity “Human appeal.” Another BIF “activist” was Hamami Muwafaq, a Syrian convicted in his homeland of membership in the terrorist group “Muslim Brotherhood.”
The “High Saudi Committee” (HSC) may be difficult to shut down, despite the explicit demands from the US . That organization is under direct patronage of the Saudi royal family, and its activists use the previously mentioned diplomatic privileges, including the 24 vehicles with diplomatic license plates. Furthermore, this is the organization that has channeled the most money into B-H, as the Saudis did not spare the expense of establishing a Shari’a state on European soil. In Saudi Arabia , the Committee is officially run by Naser el Saed. His student, Elfatih Hassanein, was a personal friend of Izetbegović and founder of the banned Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) in Vienna. The Bosnian Muslim leadership used the TWRA to “import” most of the mujahidin into Bosnia and fund their travel and stay. One of the directors of the HSC Zenica office was Abdul Hadiyu al-Gahtani, who was arrested in 1994 for the abduction of three and murder of one British citizen, employees of the ODA. Mujahidin, however, organized Gahtani’s jailbreak and escape from Bosnia . He was later convicted, in absentia, to 10 years of imprisonment.
Ahmed Zuhayr, a.k.a. Handala, is another terrorist who worked for the HSC and managed to “escape” from the Bosnian Muslim authorities. Thus the Sudanese, who was mentioned previously, is considered responsible for the murder of UN mission worker William Jefferson in Tuzla.
The HSC employed two members of the “Algerian Group,” Saber Lahmar and Mustafa Abdul Kadr. Lahmar was sentenced to five years for assault on Western aid workers near Zenica, but was pardoned in 1998 by a special decree signed by the Federation president Ejup Ganić. It is believed that Lahmar and Kadr, who later worked at the “King Fahd” Islamic center in Sarajevo and the “Taibah International” foundation, were part of the terrorist GIA’s European network. In late 2001, a joint operation of SFOR and local authorities resulted in the arrest of Majed Karoub, another employee of the HSC, believed to have worked closely with Lahmar and Kadr.
The “Global Relief Foundation” (GRF), accused in the US of financing terrorist activities, was also active in B-H. The GRF in B-H had relatively modest funds, which did not stop the organization to spend $100,000 for the camp at Lake Jablanica.
Among the organizations of interest in the struggle against terrorism are also the Saudi charity “Igassa,” which smuggled weapons and ammunition into B-H during the war, as well as “Al-Muwfaq,” whose member Safiq Iyadi (of Tunisia) had made a $.5 million transfer to an account at the SAB Bank in Sarajevo in 1996. Iyadi is on the American blacklist, and his accounts in the US and UK have been frozen. It is believed the money was approved by Salem bin Makhfouz, a relative of Osama bin Laden. Another suspicious organization is the “Charity of the Iranian People,” which is under control of the VEVAK secret service, and had helped train Islamic terrorists and militants during the war and immediately after Dayton.
The aforementioned organizations are just the tip of the iceberg. The phony Islamic “charities” in Bosnia-Herzegovina, along with the extremists and terrorists, have started to return into B-H after the victory of the SDA in the October 2002 general election.
Other forms of terrorist organization in B-H
NGOs that have been clearly identified as conduits for terrorism have begun to reappear in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sometimes they change their names. Some of the most extremists NGOs are the already mentioned Saudi Relief Committee, then Global Islamic Relief, International Aid Organization, Egyptian National Aid, Saudi Islamic Committee and the Islamic Institute. All of these organizations are known to anti-terrorism experts.
An additional issue is with the orphans taken to Al-Qaeda’s terrorist camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are videotapes, testimonies and documentary evidence for this. One example is the case of Ahmed Zuharir, a.k.a. Handala, whose main contacts in B-H are Omer Stambolic of the Federal police and Haris Silajdzic. This terrorist had the official ID card of the organization called “Charitable Community for Orphans”.
Zuharir, a Sudanese citizen, is a member of the terrorist group “Gaama’a al Islamyya,” and a former member of the “El Mujahid” unit of the “Bosnian Army.” He was convicted in absentia by the B-H Federation authorities for a car bombing in western Mostar in September 1997. Other participants in this terrorist attack were Ali Ahmadom al-Hamadom, a.k.a. Ubayda, of Bahrein; naturalized B-H citizen Saleh Negil Ali El-Hil, a.k.a. Abu Yemen; Abdullah ba’Awr, a.k.a. Husayfa; and Kal-al-Sheif, a.k.a. Suleyman.All are suspected associates of Osama bin Laden. Handala was never caught, because of the Bosnian Muslim authorities’ connections to the global Islamic terror network. So, the Bosnian Muslim authorities – headed by the late Alija Izetbegovic – entrusted this notorious terrorist with the care of war orphans. Another issue altogether are mujahidin wives, trained for years in various terrorist camps.
Citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina need assistance, because they cannot fight against these networks on their own. One should be careful to differentiate the extremists from the Muslim population in general; one of the extremists’ goals is to foment conflict between all Muslims and modern civilization.
This is what the leaders of Al-Qaeda in Kosovo are doing. According to expert information, the top extremists in the area are: Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Taqi, Ilaz Selimi, Ahmed Krasniqi (Haradinaj’s enemy), Setmir Krasniqi (organized crime) Muxhar Basha, Snu Lumaj, Ismet Bexhet, Remi Mustafa, Nazmi Bekteshi, Xhimshit Osmani, Ramadan Dermaku, Luzim Aliju i Baylush Rustemi. All are connected to the Imam Omar Behmen. Their funding comes from various sources, but all have in common the Swiss enterprise called “ Phoenix,” owned by Qazim Osmonaj. Another man worth mentioning is Abdullah Duhayman, a Saudi citizen, the founder of the “Islamic Balkan Center” Zenica, Bosnia . Duhayman is one of the main contacts and financiers of Ekrem Avdiu of Kosovska Mitrovica, a veteran of the Bosnian war and the founder of UCK’s mujahidin unit “Abu Bakr Sadeq.”
The Turks for instance -who are regarded as secular Muslims- were capable of mounting suicidal terrorist attacks on Turkish soil, and
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