The civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990’s was seen by radical Islamists as an opportunity – or, perhaps, it was offered and suggested to them as an opportunity by the Clinton Administration – to form a network linking all Islamic terrorist organizations into a single entity. Based on experiences gained in Afghanistan, the largest Islamist military formation of the time was created in Bosnia-Herzegovina (consisting primarily of the El Mujahedin Detachment, the Zujber, Algerian, Egyptian and Roubaix Groups).
This formation would serve as the nucleaus of a terrorist organization that was global in scope, multinational in structure (incorporating Islamists from the world over), economically self-sufficient, religiously and politically based (its goal being the spread and imposition of Islam, with the aim of making the world into a single Islamic state – the Ummah) and paramilitary in nature (using all forms of unconventional activity, including terrorism). It would promote itself as a protector of Islam and all Muslims, no matter where they lived. This was the basis of Al Qaeda, a global, multinational network linking various Islamic fundametalist-terrorist organizations from various countries into a single organization.
With the help of the CIA and other Western intelligence services, as organizers and sponsors of international terrorism, Al Qaeda's «Bosnian Network», under the auspices of a supposedly multiethnic government in Sarajevo that was recognized by Western governments as the sole legal one in Bosnia-Herzegovina following its secession from Yugoslavia, developed a specific methodology based on a superficial cohabitation with its European and Christian surroundings. As part of a broad specter of unconventional methods that were to be universally applied, numerous humanitarian, philanthropic, educational, financial and media organizations were formed, as instruments for securing funds, promoting religious indoctrination, infiltration and popularization within the local Muslim population, education of cadres, recruitment, import and training of terrorists, weapons smuggling, etc.
The scope and method of activities of such organizations in countries in which they were formed depended on the degree to which their specific Muslim communities were perceived to be under threat. In countries where there was no armed conflict between Islam and another religion, such organizations were in the function of gathering financial and other forms of aid, which were to be distributed to areas where, according to the evaluation of the top of the Al Qaeda hierarchy, Islam was threatened. In those countries, such organizations were used for the purposes of infiltration and as a cover for the formation of channels for the import of terrorists, weapons, money and to establish intelligence-operational networks. They were a vehicle for unconventional and coordinated political, economic, psychological-propagandistic, military and intelligence activities.
Covertly within that system, a branched out Islamic terrorist operational-intelligence infrastructure was formed, with ties to Arab financial institutions. It was through such an infrastructure that hard foreign currency began arriving to Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H) during the early 1990’s, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait playing an active role in the renewal and consolidation of Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovich’s financial institutions and system in Sarajevo after B-H’s secession from Yugoslavia in 1992, and placing loyal people in key places of its hierarchy. B-H’s reconsolidated banks then proceeded to establish formal ties with Saudi, Malaysian and Turkish banks.
The activity of these Islamic states and totalitarian regimes was legalized in all facets of finance and propaganda, which helped «normalize” their presence in B-H. By distributing humanitarian aid to the B-H Muslim populace, running social service programs, building mosques, schools, and mini factories, these Afro-Asian Islamist governments secured popularity with the increasingly impoverished B-H Muslim population.
In turn, this popularity served as a useful recruiting tool for terrorists, whose training took place under the guise of various rural development programs run in remote parts of this mountainous country. Parallel with that, the said states’ intelligence services forged ties with organized crime, both in B-H and elsewhere. The resulting terrorist network was used not just for organizing and executing terrorist acts but also for smuggling narcotics, weapons and people. This activity soon became a major source of terrorist funding.
Al Qaeda’s terror network efficiently permeated B-H. While fomenting a climate of political instability, portions of the Muslim-dominated government in Sarajevo, with the aid of US embassy officials, helped the terrorists strengthen in terms of organization, financing and operational capacities. Two banks, Vakufska Banka and Depozitna Banka, openly and aggressively financed terrorists on B-H territory. Majority capital was in the hands of two prominent global terrorists – Yassin Kadi and Chafiq Ayadi, together with Saudi-controlled offshore companies based on the Isle of Man, whose chief shareholder was Sultan bin Salman, son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulazzis Al Saud.
The two banks would merge in 2002, and then acquire UPI Bank. These banks provided financial support for several Al Qaeda front organizations in B-H: Muwafak Foundation, Al Haramein Islamic Foundation, Furqan, Benevolence International Foundation, Al Haramein Masjeed Al Aqsa, Taibah International Bosnian Office and Islamic Global Relief. This was supported by the Saudi High Commission, which was headed by the present Saudi king.
US agencies marked these organizations as terrorist, but without any consequences in the form of sanctions or at least rebukes of either Saudi Arabia or B-H.
Recently, B-H has seen the arrival of the most important commanders of Al Shariah Mujahideen, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. The first to arrive was Imad El Misri (a.k.a. Eslam Durmo), the «father of Bosnian Wahhabism», an organizer of the terrorist attack in Luxor, Egypt (with 62 Western tourists killed and 100 wounded), for which he was serving a 10-year prison sentence in Egypt. He was followed by five members of the so-called Algerian Group, released from Guantanamo: Mustafa Ait Idir, Mohamed Nechla, Hadj Boudella, Lakhdar Boumediene and Saber Lahmar, as well as Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al Sawah, Al Qaeda's leading special explosives expert and organizer of the Tarnak Farms in Afghanistan, which served as a training camp to Osama Bin Laden and his followers from 1998 to 2001 – released after 14 years in Guantanamo.
Another dangerous development was the February 2016 release of Imad al Hussein Abu Hamza, a Syrian who fought in the ranks of the Bosnian Muslim army during the 1990's, from the Immigration Center in Sarajevo, which was turned into a huge propagandistic media event by Qatar-based Al Jazeera and N-1 television, CNN's Balkan affiliate. Together, these measures can be seen in the context of a regrouping of Islamist forces in B-H and plans to conduct complex terrorist actions in Europe.
Most recently, in the latest Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List of terrorists and terrorists organizations, of January 19, 2017, B-H was once again spotlighted due to ISIS (Daesh) and Al Qaeda-linked organizations operating on its soil: 1. Al Furqan, 2. Al-Haramain & Al Masjed Al-Aqsa Charity Foundation, 3. Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, 4. Benevolence International Foundation, 5. Bosanska Idealna Futura, 6. Global Relief Foundation (Grf) and 7. Taibah International-Bosnia Offices.
In addition, many mujahideen of Afro-Asian or even European descent, who have gained B-H citizenship, also made the UNSC list: 1. Mehrez (Ben Mahmoud Ben Sassi) Al-Amdouni, 2. Shafiq (Ben Mohamed Ben Mohamed) Al-Ayadi, 3. Lionel Dumont, with a dozen different identities registered by the UNSC (Abu Hamza, Jacques Brouger, Di Karlo Antonio, Merlin Oliver Christian Rene, Arfauni Imad Ben Yousset Hamza, Imam Ben Yussuf Arfaj, Abou Hamza, Arfauni Imad, Bilal, Hamza, Kumkal, Merlin), 4. Khalil (Ben Ahmed Ben Mohamed) Jarraya, 5. Yasin (Abdullah Ezzedine) Qadi and 6. Nedal Mahmoud Saleh.
Page 65 of this Report lists a terrorist from B-H, Nusret Imamovic, with two B-H passports, whose ID numbers differ by a single zero: the number of the first passport is 349054, and the second 3490054. In the former, Imamovic is listed as Nusret Imamovic, born on September 26, 1971, while in the second he is listed as Nusret Sulejman Imamovic, born September 26, 1977. Imamovic is listed in the report as a leader of the al-Nusra Front terrorist organization in Syria. Obviously, the passports could not have been issued without approval from high government circles in Sarajevo. Not surprisingly, the B-H security agencies have not taken any action against any of the named persons or organizations, nor have they taken measures to stop money laundering operations that finance terrorists and their activities.
There is no European state or intelligence agency that would tolerate the existence of entire settlements that function outside the constitutional and legal order, in accordance with strict Islamic rules of living, and serve as classical military bases and camps for Al Qaeda and ISIS. Yet that is exactly the case in B-H: the settlements of Gornja Maoča and Donja Dubnica, parts of settlements near Sarajevo (Rajlovac, Zaklopača, Briješće), near Zenica (Podbrežje/Šerići, Tetovo, Orahovica-Gornja Mahala, Starina, Arnauti village, etc.), and many others thrive, as de facto para-jamaats (i.e. unofficial, unregistered or illegal mosques/congregations), without being investigated by the B-H security agencies.
Unfortunately, since the Dayton Peace Agreement of November 1995, the battle against terrorist organizations in B-H has always been dependent on American intelligence, diplomatic and related agencies in the country, their priorities, narratives, definitions and interpretations, in the context of American policy priorities and interests over the past two decades.
The FBI defines terrorism as «the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives».
The US State Department defines it as «premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience».
For its part, the US Department of Defense defines it as «the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological».
These varying definitions and approaches to terrorism have allowed the B-H Intelligence-Security Agency (OBA) to exploit the cracks and use terrorists for their own purposes, keeping the citizenry in fear and allowing the Bosnian Muslim leadership, headed by Bakir Izetbegovic, to engage in mass surveillance throughout B-H. At the same time, a complex operation of settling jihadists and their families from Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq in the vicinity of an increasingly Islamicized Sarajevo has been underway, in cooperation with the US embassy in Sarajevo.
In addition, residents of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Syria, Libya and the United Arab Emirates have been buying real estate in Muslim parts of B-H by the thousands, with the aid of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, and building so-called tourist settlements, closed, walled communities that can accommodate up to 5,000 people. The State Information and Protection Agency (SIPA) has discovered a number of fictitiously registered companies that appear as formal owners of this real estate. The shadowy owners themselves are out of view, and the «tourist settlements” are mostly inhabited by locals who maintain them. Inspections have determined that many of the offices stand empty, have never engaged in any business activity and have zero employees. Yet, some of the buildings or residencies registered to these phantom firms, which mostly stand empty, have been valued at up to 250,000 EUR.
Yet, «someone” has spent large amounts of money to build these settlements. At the same time, unofficial data that is occasionally published in the local media puts the newly arrived Arab population in B-H in the tens of thousands.
All this activity has been taking place with the blessing of the US embassy in B-H and Ambassador Maureen Cormack. American pro-Islamist policy in B-H is not surprising, given the Obama Administration’s support and sponsorship of global Islamic terrorism, specifically their de facto creation of ISIL/ISIS/Daesh and their preservation of Al Qaeda, which they reenergized through support for Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Syria.
The Obama Administration was the most important ally and protector of terrorists the world over. This support, which became evident before the eyes of the world in Syria, cast true light on the American policy of « spreading democracy» and its destructive goals and potential. Its legacy in B-H, a continuation of Clinton and Bush Jr. era policies, is equally destructive, and has permeated the state structures and intelligence and security agencies. The disintegration of Bosnia-Herzegovina's security system is the (mis)deed of the past three US administrations, especially that of Obama and Clinton.