Balkan Strategic Studies

October 27, 2003

Bosnian Terrorist Assets Moving to Iraq, Afghanistan to Resist “War on Terror” as Maneuvering Underway to Replace Izetbegovic

From GIS Station Sarajevo, and other sources. GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily sources in Bosnia reported on October 16, 2003, that a mujahedin training facility in Bosnia was now part of a process to send fighters into Iraq, through a network which involved transiting Turkey and Syria. The training was, according to the sources, taking place at a base near Tuzla, and some elements of a Turkish battalion based at Tuzla have reportedly played a significant rôle in the process of supporting the Islamist fighters.

If the sources are correct (and further investigation is now underway), then the movement of of Islamist fighters from Bosnia eastward would — apart from interaction between some mujahedin with Chechnya — be a significant milestone. It would also reflect that the al-Qaida and Iranian-backed Islamist infrastructure in the Balkans, built up since the beginning of the 1990s, was now being used as an integral part of the war against US forces in Iraq. 

As well, there were indications that the Bosnian-based Islamists had also been used to support military operations against the anti-terrorist Coalition in Afghanistan. 

NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) officials were apparently aware of the linkage, and, in the second half of September 2003, raided the Muslim military barracks in Tuzla, seizing all of the SA-7 Strela and SA-16 Igla man-portable surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the armory. [The Muslim forces are officially part of the Army — VF — of the Federation of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, but the Croat and Muslim elements of the VF are, in fact, kept separate.]

The Sarajevo-based Bosnian Islamist newspaper Dnevni avaz (Daily Voice) — which was founded in 1995 by a Serbian Islamist who was then close to the ruling Islamist SDA party, Fahrudin Radoncic, who came from the Raška area (known to Islamists as Sandzak) in southern Serbia — noted on September 25, 2003: 

“We cannot discuss specific details of the SFOR operation. However we can say that the SA-16 and SA-7 missiles seized from the VF military barracks in Tuzla several days ago are in SFOR’s possession, and SFOR is now to decide what to do with those weapons. However, the article [originally published in Sarajevo] in Slobodna Dalmacija [newspaper] does not link the missile that was allegedly used for shooting down an aircraft in Afghanistan to the military barracks in Tuzla, but the article reads that that the missile used for taking down the plane came ‘somewhere from Bosnia’, so it cannot be linked with this case,” an official of the MNB (N) Press Service told Dnevni avaz yesterday. Also, the Commander of the 2nd VF Corps, Brigadier-General Refik Lendo, told Dnevni avaz that he had had information that the weapons in question were still being kept at an SFOR storage site located in Dubrave. He added that the high level command of SFOR and the FBiH Government would, most likely, decide about the fate of those missiles.”

The growing intelligence about the activities of Islamist terrorists in Bosnia, and linked with Islamist terrorist activities in Kosovo, Albania and southern Serbia, is now also increasingly tied to the overall al-Qaida and Iranian conflict with the US and the anti-terror Coalition. The decade of building, by al-Qaida and Iran working with Alija Izetbegovic’s SDA party, of a terrorist infrastructure in the Balkans is now coming into strategic perspective. It is now being used to attack US and Coalition assets in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Significantly, the Turkish Islamist Government is itself in a difficult position. GIS sources indicate that some Turkish military and intelligence officials, which are part of SFOR, have been involved in aiding the Islamist forces in their training at Tuzla and elsewhere in Bosnia. Turkish Foreign Minister Gul represented the Turkish Government at the funeral on October 23, 2003, of Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo.

Alija Izetbegovic, whose linkage with the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, has now become clearly documented, was protected in his final retirement period from being arrested to face genocide and war crimes charges by Bosnia-Herzegovina High Representative Paddy Ashdown and Deputy High Representative Amb. Donald Hays. This was reportedly done to ensure that details of Izetbegovic’s linkage with the former US Clinton Administration did not emerge; this would have highlighted the culpability of Clinton Administration officials in failing to understand or prevent the Islamist terrorist attacks on the US in September 11, 2001.

Ashdown, however, was also stridently pro-Islamist in his views on the Balkans even before his appointment by the European Union to the post of High Representative, the guardian of the Dayton Accords of 1995. Amb. Hays had been a key aide to then-Clinton Administration Permanent Representative to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, who was linked directly to the support of Izetbegovic and the SDA in the Bosnian war which Izetbegovic began against the Serbs to build a new Islamist state.

Tens of thousands of Muslim mourners at the Izetbegovic funeral constantly changed “Tekhbir! Allahu akbar!” (God is Greatest) during and after the speech by Ashdown, who started his speech noting that “sky is crying today for Izetbegovic” (it was raining in Sarajevo). 

Acording to Slobodna Bosna, SDA leaders were now fighting to replace Alija Izetbegovic, and the newspaper listed four candidates: Haris Silajdzic (who had become Prime Minister under President Alija Izetbegovic in October 1993), Hasan Cengic, Bakir Izetbegovic (son of Alija Izetbegovic) and Mustafa Ceric, a religious hed of Islamic Community in BiH (who has the title reisu-l-ulema). Slobodna Bosna noted that Silajdzic was lately back on the political stage in B-H. Silajdzic, who was present at Izetbegovic’s funeral, was a chief of the cabinet of the former reisu-l-ulema of the Islamic Community in BiH, Jakub Selimoski , which was why Silajdzic and Ceric opposed each other. 

Haris Silajdzic maintains a very close friendship with Ashdown and, according to Slobodna Bosna, he has strong support from several Muslim countries, such as Kuwait, and from Dani, the second most important newspaper in Sarajevo, Walter (a less important newsmagazine in Sarajevo) and TV Hayat (a private channel which is very popular in Sarajevo and other regions in B-H, and financed by a number of Muslim countries). Siladjic is also supported by his Party for B-H, which is now in the Government with the SDA.

The second most important candidate, according to Slobodna Bosna, was Hasan Cengic, who is supported by radical part of SDA and key radicals such as: Omer Behmen (an important man in the shadows, Izetbegovic’s very close friend, he was a member of the organization “Young Muslims”), Dzemaludin Latic (radical Islamist publisher and writer), Seada Palavric (vice-president of SDA), Ahmed Hadzipasic (Prime Minister of the Government of Federation B-H, the Muslim and Croat federation), the SDA organization in Una-Sana Canton, in Zenica and in Gorazde. Cengic also has support from many Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, and the new Turkish Government, as well as from Malaysia. (Cengic founded a firm known as Bosmal, with money from Malaysia.) Acording to Slobodna Bosna, Cengic has a major problem: he is on the US State Department list of persons who are persona non grata in the US; and he has many enemies in the independent newspapers in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The third major candidate is Alija Izetbegovic’s son, Bakir Izetbegovic, who has the support of Sulejman Tihic (who is now leading the SDA and is the Muslim member of the Presidential Triumvirate of Bosnia-Herzegovina), as well as officers of the Muslim Army. Another key supporter is Senad Sahinpasic-Saja (one of the top leaders in the shadows, he is now financing SDA and terrorist activities in BiH, he is also on the list of US State Government as persona non grata), as well as Bakir Alispahic (ex Minister of Police, and former director of Muslim Secret Service, AID).

Bakir Izetbegovic also has the support of the SDA in Herzegovina and Dnevni Avaz (the famous Muslim daily newspaper which every Friday has a circulation of about 100,000 copies.

The final serious candidate to replace Alija Izetbegovic, according to Slobodna Bosna, was Mustafa Ceric, who is supported by the Islamic Religious Council (Ulema B-H), the religious part of SDA and some diplomats from Western countries. If he was to become the new leader of Bosnian Muslims, he would be replaced as reisu-l-ulema by Enes Karic, professor of Islamic College in Sarajevo.