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October 7, 2003

Interview Highlights Changing Situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Terrorist Escalation

A Serbo-Croat language news magazine on October 6, 2003, published details of an interview in Belgrade with GIS Editor Gregory Copley regarding the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the links to terrorism. Key elements of this interview are published below:

In one of your latest reports you accused Amb. Donald Hays, of the US, the Deputy High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), of putting pressure on the Government of Republic a Srpska — a constituent state within the BiH Federation — to sign a report which was not true about Srebrenica. You said the same things about Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative. Can you explain that?

It was not an accusation, it was merely a statement of fact. We know that Ambassador Hays presented a two-page document to the Government of Republica Srpska regarding the 1995 fighting in Srebrenica. The document essentially said that the Government of Republica Srpska accepted the opinion of the Islamists – essentially the SDA position – as to what happened at Srebrenica.

The Government was “strongly advised” to sign this document. Given the fact that the Office of the High Representative can remove elected government officials in BiH summarily, without due process, the threat to the Government of Republica Srpska was clear: either sign or face removal.

Mr Hays has said that we have no proof that he coerced the Government officials to sign, but in that regard he skirts the truth. We know what he presented to the Government, and the Government issued a statement which complied with that document his office had drafted; it was cause and effect, and the coercion was quite clear.

It is equally clear that Ambassador Hays would not have done this on his own; such a step was clearly authorized, if not initiated, by High Representative Ashdown.

What is significant in this matter is not merely the coercion, but the fact that the Office of High Representative (OHR) took the position of one community in BiH – in fact not one community, but essentially one party, the Islamist SDA (Party of Democratic Action) of Alija Izetbegovic – and forced it on another BiH community in an arbitrary way, which, in fact, did not help the healing and unification process in BiH as a whole, but, rather, made communal differences worse.

The OHR also did not take into account the fact that the governments of France and the Netherlands , and NATO, had made their own studies, which differed substantially from the SDA position on the Srebrenica affair of 1995. Instead, he chose the opinions of the SDA, which have not been verified by proper forensic evidence.

As well, the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) had not itself completed its investigation on Srebrenica, and the OHR pressure was clearly designed to forestall any proper and conclusive studies. The Government of Republica Srpska itself, which has been working very closely with the ICTY to be able to put this whole matter behind it, has not completed its studies on Srebrenica.

So all of this raises a serious question as to why the OHR insisted on the RS Government statement at this time.

What concerns a growing number of people internationally – not just in our own organization, but in the US Congress and other circles – is why the OHR should take such a position which favors only one political party in BiH, and why the entire context of the Srebrenica affair is not discussed. Many thousands of innocent people and combatants of both Serb and Muslim backgrounds were killed over a period of several year, and there were clearly deliberate provocations, planned by the SDA leadership as far back as 1991-92 to attempt to force a Serbian response to Muslim provocations.

The SDA’s provocations were clearly genocidal war crimes themselves, and they did, indeed lead to a Serbian response which was, although completely unacceptable, largely prompted by the massacre of Serbian families by Muslim units. It is impossible to explain the tragedy of Srebrenica without looking at the context and the planned manipulations by Alijia Izetbegovic to create an affair which was designed to provoke sympathy for his cause. Not the cause of Bosnia ’s Muslim peoples, but Izetbegovic’s radical Islamist cause.

Again, I would ask: why did the OHR insist on bringing the matter to a head at this time?

High Representative Ashdown had taken the leadership of the Islamists’ Srebrenica monument for reasons known only to himself. He had received a donation of $1-million from the US Embassy for this monument which had been portrayed as a monument to the suffering of innocents at Srebrenica. He required an additional 4-million marks to complete the project.

A small number of families of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica fighting sued the Government of Republica Srpska for compensation. Was it coincidence that the court’s judgment on this came just before the monument was due to be opened? Was it coincidence that the judgment was for 4-million marks? Was it coincidence that the payment was ordered to be paid by the Government of Republica Srpska not to the plaintiffs, the families of the victims, but to the monument project which was headed by Mr Ashdown?

I would suggest that there are too many coincidences in all of this.

Then we move on to the fact that the timetable for the opening of the monument was determined, in fact, by the schedule of the former US President, William Clinton, who was to be available in the area – while he was on his way to fundraising functions in the Middle East – so that Clinton could compound the political message of the monument. So we have a case where Mr Ashdown promoted a schedule based on the political availability of Mr Clinton. And, not surprisingly, we then see that Mr Clinton was paid $250,000 for his participation in the unveiling of the monument by Mr Izetbegovic’s SDA party, and that Mr Clinton visited Mr Izetbegovic in hospital in Sarajevo .

All of this despite mounting evidence that Mr Izetbegovic and his SDA colleagues have actively supported terrorism and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and that there are profound links between terrorists related to the September 11, 2001 , attacks on the US and Mr Izetbegovic.

We can take this further. Because of Mr Clinton’s schedule and involvement with SDA – not just now, but through historic links and meetings between Clinton and Izetbegovic and the like – Mr Ashdown undertook a number of actions. Firstly, he used his power as High Representative to force the Government of Republica Srpska to accept a “verdict” on Srebrenica which it would never have done voluntarily. Secondly, he gives every appearance of having influenced the courts to ensure that Republica Srpska would have to pay for the monument which essentially was designed to tell the world that there were only Serb aggressors and only Muslim victims.

The whole point was to distort the truth in two ways: firstly, by only telling part of the story; secondly, by taking a number of Muslim victims which was plucked out of the air and not substantiated by forensic evidence. Indeed, Mr Ashdown’s efforts were all geared to both suppressing independent investigations and forestalling any further discussion of the actual facts of the issue.

In this regard, by attempting to “put the affair behind us”, Mr Ashdown did exactly what Tito did with regard to the concentration camp in which 700,000 people – mostly Serbs, Jews and Gypsies – were killed at Jasenovac: he drove the truth underground, where simmering divisions and injustices merely bubble away for generations. He was not resolving the issue by shining the light of truth on it, but rather raising doubts for generations to come.

Then Mr Ashdown, again using his powers as High Representative to serve his position as head of the monument, in a clear conflict of interests, expropriated the battery factory at Srebrenica, for use by the monument. In this regard, he also forced the Republica Srpska Government to pay compensation to the shareholders of the factory, buying out their shares. But in so doing, he caused loss of future profits to the shareholders, and loss of future earnings to the workers.

In this regard, Mr Ashdown used his power as High Representative to further his essentially private commitment as head of the monument. This gives the workers and shareholders who were injured in this action the legal right to sue Mr Ashdown personally in civil court in the United Kingdom , his domicile. As well, as Mr Clinton determined the schedule of the events, he too, as a private US citizen, is open to civil legal proceedings in the US . In both these instances, the injured workers and shareholders can seek financial relief in the UK and US respectively.

Mr Ashdown is clearly counting on the fact that these people have no access to legal aid in Britain or the US . But in this regard he is mistaken. We already know of public legal charities who are prepared to provide legal services to these victims. But very sadly, all of this is a distraction from providing some kind of emotional settlement to the Muslim and Serb victims of the years of fighting at Srebrenica.

On several occasion you expressed doubt about the number of people alleged to have been killed in Srebrenica in 1995. Why you think that figures are not true?

I believe that the figures are not yet all available. All of the forensic work has not yet been done. Even the ICTY, which has no love for the Serbs, has made it clear that all the evidence is not yet available.

Clearly, however, the numbers which are available through independently-verifiable forensic research are nothing like as high as the Islamists are claiming. One unnecessary death is one too many, and there is no case to minimize the importance of the loss of even a single innocent life. Equally, however, justice is not served if the truth is distorted and the numbers are exaggerated to punish one particular group.

As well, when the issue of the broader expanse of killing is raised, to take account of the initial, planned offensives of the Izetbegovic forces in the years before 1995, designed to trigger a retaliatory action by the Serbs, the supporters of Izetbegovic claim that this is “holocaust denial”. In fact, the Izetbegovic supporters are holocaust distorters, as well as, themselves, “holocaust deniers” because they refuse to acknowledge the whole truth and the full extent of the blame.

In one of your reports you claim that memorial center in Srebrenica, according to your Islamic sources, will become some kind of sanctuary for radical islamists in Europe . What kind of sanctuary?

Not a sanctuary, but a shrine around which Islamists have said they wish Muslims to rally. This would be the first Muslim "holy site" in Europe , and this is part of the Islamists’ stated view of bringing Islam into the heart of Europe , not as a part of a modern, multi-cultural Europe , but in a conquering sense.

Many Europeans would regard this as infeasible, but we have already seen the development of radical Islamic government – under Izetbegovic – literally initiating terrorism and terrorist bases and training within Europe . Now we see attempts, led in large part by Izetbegovic’s SDA, to transform southern Serbia ’s Raška region – which they call Sandzak – into a geographic link between BiH at the area of the Goražde Corridor with the Serbian province of Kosovo , which has largely been “cleansed” of Serbs, to Albania and the Adriatic .

This is a coherent geopolitical strategy. If it works, there would be no need for Montenegro to seek independence from the Serbia & Montenegro union; it would have already occurred, de facto. At that point, I would not give great odds for the future independence of Montenegro as a sovereign state.

Former US president Bill Clinton was present in Srebrenica at opening ceremony. What feedback had that back in US?

The impact of former Pres. Clinton’s visit to Srebrenica is only just beginning to be felt in the US . At first it was thought that it was merely a visit to express his fondness for the Bosnian Muslims, but now that knowledge of his links with Izetbegovic and the payment of $250,000 for the visit by the SDA is becoming known, more questions are being raised.

The impression in the Balkans is that impressions in the US — which haad pictured the Serbs in BiH as a nation which is guilty of all the bad things which happened here — are changing, or on the verge of changing. Is that a fact and how would you explain that phenomenon?

There are now more balanced perspectives beginning to emerge in the US and around the world about the wars of the 1990s in the Balkans and about the rôles of the respective combatants. Clearly, the action of the Islamists and their links with modern terrorism have made many people rethink their support for the Bosnian Muslims, so the radical Islamists have done no favors for the moderate Muslims of Bosnia and Serbia-Montenegro.

However, it is very important to stress that the Izetbegovic Administration, which clung to power illegally for some years, and the former Croatian Administration of Franjo Tudjman spent between them hundreds of millions of dollars on publicity, lobbying and political influence operations in the United States and Western Europe . The Serbs – both from Serbia and from Republica Srpska – probably did not spend a half a million dollars during the 1990s to get their case across to the world community.

This was a mistake. As a result, the world only knows what Islamist and what was then radical Croatian money bought. 

According to one theory, the changing of opinion in the US merely reflects a pre-election conflict between Democrats and Republicans?

Changing opinions on the Balkans is not in itself about pre-election maneuvering in the US between Democrats and Republicans. I know that many people in the Balkans want to see a conspiracy which blames everything on some external dark force. However, the US elections will have a vital impact on the Balkans as a whole, and on BiH in particular.

The slowly-emerging Congressional and US Defense Department interest in Balkan stability will ultimately mean an end to the former Clinton Administration policies – which are still being carried out by many in the US State Department simply because the Bush Administration has been preoccupied elsewhere with the wars on terrorism and against Saddam Hussein – which are no longer helpful, if they ever were. However, if Pres. George W. Bush is not re-elected as President and if the Republicans lose their grip on Congress, then it is entirely feasible that a Clinton-type Democratic President would once again take a one-sided view of the region and resume support for the Bosnian Muslims at the expense of other groups.

Are there any terrorists in BiH? What I meant is, the fact is that we had some number of Islamic militants who are being member of "El mujaheed" brigade. Is it true that some of them are involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US? Who are they and how many of them?

This is a long and complex subject. However, let me say that it is absolutely clear that there are Islamist terrorists in Bosnia – I mean terrorists who were not born in Bosnia although many of them now hold Bosnian passports – and they have been training a new generation of “European Islamists”. The links of these terrorists with the September 11, 2001 , attacks are now becoming more and more clear, and we have highlighted the facts on some of these connections in our reporting.

In one of your reports you describe relationship between high Islamic officials in Sarajevo and New York with radical Islamists. That link is still existing?

There is no evidence to suggest that the links between the “high Islamic officials” you mention and radical Islamists has been severed in any way.

It has been reported recently that Alija Izetbegovic actually met several times with Osama bin Laden and spoke with him. Do you know anything about those meetings?

Yes, we know absolutely that Alija Izetbegovic met on several known occasions with Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden visited Izetbegovic in his office more than once, and they met elsewhere on other occasions.

Mr Izetbegovic’s record speaks for itself. He has publicly over decades made his links with radical Islamism very, very clear. He not only met with bin Laden, but actually hired the key al-Qaida official, Muhammed al-Zawahiri – the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two man in al-Qaida – to run special forces functions during the war in Bosnia .

In your reports you actually prove a link between BiH officials and terrorists. What feedback has this reporting had in the US?

There is growing concern in the US about these links, as there should be. Until now, the matter has not been in the front of the minds of people in the US Government. That is changing substantially as the September 11 links become apparent and there is growing evidence of planned terrorist attacks in Europe up to and during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

In a recent report, you said that GIS/ISSA discovered huge number of documents which provided new evidence about links between BiH and terrorists. Can you say anything more about those documents?

We do have substantial documentation which we are working on, from a variety of sources. That is all I can say at this time.

How do you explain the indifferent attitude of officials from EU and US to the fact that in once pure Serbian village Bocinja, eight years after war, is now a pure mujahedin community? Regarding that, a statement from Jacques Paul Klein, former chief of IPTF said that is "better that the mujahedin are in Bocinja because if they are in one place we can control them". Was that statement just a joke or serious strategy?

I think that Mr Klein’s comments were only half-serious, and clearly not meant to imply a strategy. However, the indifference of EU and US officials to the Bocinja situation, among others, stems directly from the fact that the Serbs have absolutely and totally failed to get their message across to the media and policy audiences of the outside world for the past 13 years.

It is a tragic joke for Serbs to keep saying that history will vindicate them. History is written by victors, and until now, in Bosnia , the history has been written by terrorists. This will dictate the fate of all of the moderate Muslims, Croats and Serbs of the region unless that history is rewritten to reflect the truths of all sides.

As I said earlier, the radicals — both Izetbegovic’s Islamists, coupled with Albanian groups and the Tudjman camp in Croatia — spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy international opinion. Why do honest men think that the truth will work for nothing? The truth, too, needs help in reaching the ears of the world community, and if honest men and women sit by and do nothing to help it reach the sunlight then they have allowed their fate to be dictated by others.