The vermin below is indeed the same ISIS man seen on video in June burning his U.S./UN/EU-issued Kosovo passport in, it seemed, Iraq, while exhorting others to jihad. (I’d compared faces before blogging about his apt ISIS-KLA comparison below, but they looked different, so I left out the possible connection.) In any case, he is now reported dead, and further, reported to have worked with our Serb-battering KFOR troops at Camp Bondsteel (like this Kosovo-Albanian suicide bomber in Iraq).
K. Albanian who committed gruesome crimes “is dead” (B92, Tanjug, Aug. 19)
Kurdish television KNNC has reported that Kosovo Albanian Lavdrim Muhaxheri, who joined the Islamic State fighters, has been killed.
His body was shown during the broadcast.
According to the Kurdish outlet, Muhaxheri died of the wounds sustained in clashes with Kurdish defense forces, Albanian language media in Priština have said.
The 24-year-old from the town of Kačanik in Kosovo first “joined Jihad” in Syria and committed brutal crimes there. In late July he posted photos on Facebook showing him holding a Syrian teenager, preparing to decapitate him with a knife, and then holding the severed head in his hands, posing in front of the camera.
In an interview published by the Tirana daily Dita on August 2, he stated that he “did nothing more than what members of the KLA did during the war (in Kosovo).”
Previously, Muhaxheri, described as the best-known Albanian member of the Islamic State organization, was in the media in June when he published a photograph of himself “burning the Kosovo passport.”
According to the media in Kosovo, Muhaxheri called himself the leader of Albanian fighters who joined the extremist group. Before joining Islamic extremists in the Middle East, he worked for American KFOR forces in Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and for NATO in Afghanistan.
During the Ramadan of 2013 he participated in the activities of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, which is “confirmed by several photos,” said the reports.
Last year he was allegedly elected commander of the Albanians belonging to “a breakaway wing of rebels against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad - but not the one that seeks democracy in Syria, but the one that sees Syria as a country to be ruled by the Sharia law and groups close to Al-Qaeda.”
However, a person who returned to Kosovo from the war in Syria told the Albanian language daily Express that Muhaxheri was not a commander, but “only provided guarantees for Albanians who joined the jihadists.”
The local media in Priština also said on August 15 that an international arrest warrant would be issued against him, and that Interpol “accepted the demand of Kosovo authorities to be involved in the search system.”
The Basic Court in the town of Uroševac in Kosovo had charged Muhaxheri on suspicion of that he committed terrorist activities and organized a group to wage war in Syria and Iraq.
According to the Priština media, in the last few years, more than 200 Kosovo Albanians “went to Jihad,” to fight on the side of radical Islamic groups.
******END UPDATE (BUT SEE APPENDIX AT BOTTOM)******
From the horse’s mouth. Just caught this August 2nd item from InSerbia.info, thanks to Danny:
Kosovo Albanian who beheaded a man says he is doing the same thing KLA did
Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a 25-year-old jihadist from Kosovo, who recently posted a photo on social networks where he is seen beheading a young Syrian, said that he did nothing more than what KLA did during the war, writes Pristina daily “Express”, Tanjug reports…
In an interview with the Albanian daily “Dita” … Muhaxheri, who fights on the side of the rebels in Syria, said the 19-year-old who was beheaded was “caught as a spy, and according to Quran, the one who betrays the Muslims” should be executed. “They accuse me of cutting the head of a man? I did not do anything less or more than what KLA soldiers did during the war. Photographs of these crimes committed by the KLA I posted on the Facebook, for the whole world to see,” he said, according to “Express”.
Meanwhile, no sooner did I post a year-in-review about Balkans jihadists in Syria than late Monday night the item below dropped into my inbox (and I found that Pamela Geller was already on the case):
Kosovo Police Arrest 40 Alleged Islamic Radicals (AP, Aug. 11)
Kosovo police on Monday arrested at least 40 people in a major operation targeting Islamic radicals suspected of fighting alongside extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Spokesman Baki Kelani said weapons, ammunition and explosives were seized as hundreds of police officers and special police units raided 60 locations across Kosovo, including makeshift mosques believed to have served as recruiting centers.
The police operation is the largest ever against suspected Islamic radicals in Kosovo. Authorities have been on alert [after our prodding and after years of trying to get them to police their own ‘country’] as a growing number of ethnic Albanians have joined militants in Syria and Iraq and appeared on social media in attempts to lure more followers.
The thorny issue of religion has often brought conservative Muslims at loggerheads with secular Kosovars as the two groups struggle to set up a functioning country in the aftermath of the 1998-99 separatist war against Serbia.
Police said the arrests Monday were the result of two years of surveillance and investigations and that some of the arrested are suspected of being involved in terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group, or Jabhat Al-Nusra.
They estimated at least 200 Kosovars have joined the ranks of Islamic militants as volunteers and at least 16 have been killed in battles with Syrian and Iraqi authorities.
Kosovo’s government welcomed Monday’s operation and warned it will fight religious extremists in Kosovo.
Most of the suspects come from central Kosovo’s Ferizaj municipality, which is also home to the U.S. military installation Camp Bondsteel, where some 700 American peacekeepers are stationed.
Maj. Mike Wallace, a spokesman for the U.S. peacekeepers, declined to give details about security arrangements in the U.S.-led command, but said troops remain alert.
In an attempt to distance itself from extremists, the country’s largest Muslim group, Kosovo’s Islamic Community, praised the arrests and urged young faithful to steer clear of “groups calling themselves upon a so-called jihad.”
Kosovo police officers guard the entrance of a makeshift mosque after raid in Kosovo capital Pristina on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014…hundreds of police officers and special police units raided 60 locations across Kosovo, including makeshift mosques believed to have served as recruiting centres. Sign in background “Xhamia” in Albanian is for mosque. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Police tape seal [incidentally in the language of their chief sponsor] is seen at the entrance of a makeshift mosque after raid in Kosovo capital Pristina on Monday, Aug. 11…
AFP also carried the item, complete with all the requisite disclaimers:
Kosovo police arrest 40 in action against Islamic militants
…The raid followed a months-long investigation and efforts by the authorities to root out suspected Islamist networks in Kosovo.
Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country, although religion plays only a minor part in public life and tends to take a very moderate form.
In June, three ethnic Albanians — who make up more than 90 percent of Kosovo’s 1.7 million population — were arrested on suspicion of setting up a “terrorist organization” as media alleged they were recruited by ISIS, which has since renamed itself Islamic State, while fighting in Syria.
The three were arrested upon their return to Kosovo where intelligence agents intercepted their communications and plans to carry out suicide attacks in public places…Police say at least 16 have been killed in Iraq and Syria so far.
And from Reuters:
40 Kosovans Arrested on Suspicion of Joining Insurgencies in Syria and Iraq (Reuters, Aug. 11)
…Kosovo is an overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian country where the main religion is Islam, although lifestyles are largely secular.
The 40 men were being questioned on suspicion of engaging in acts against Kosovo’s constitutional order and endangering the safety and security of the state, a police statement said.
Local media said an 18-year-old man from eastern Kosovo was killed in fighting in Syria last week, raising the total number of Kosovo Albanians killed in fighting in Iraq and Syria to 16.
“Those arrested are being questioned, and we are looking to arrest others not found at their homes,” Kosovo police spokesman Baki Kelani said. He could not say many were still at large.
Many in Kosovo were shocked [shocked!] when pictures circulated on social media last month of Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a self-styled leader of Kosovo Albanians fighting with Islamic State militants, apparently decapitating a teenager in Iraq. [Syria, I think.]
A Kosovo government statement on the arrests said: “(Our) state … will firmly defend civilized Euro-Atlantic values, individual freedom, secularism, constitutional and legal rights of all communities in Kosovo.” [After doing everything in contradiction to those when creating Kosovo in the first place, showing the more radical among this society of patchwork radicals how it’s done.]
President Atifete Jahjaga, who has helped coordinate security agencies in moves against militants heading to Iraq and Syria, said Kosovo would never be a “shelter for extremism”. […]
She should get to know her ‘country’ a little better. A related update came on Thursday:
Kosovo police arrest 2 suspected Islamic radicals (AP, Aug. 14)
Kosovo police say they have arrested two suspected Islamic radicals including a cleric considered by the authorities to be the main recruiter for Kosovo’s jihadi fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Police said the cleric is believed to be “one of the main sources of inspiration for jihad” among Kosovo’s faithful. He was identified by Kosovo media as Imam Zekerija Qerimi, the leader of prayers in city of Gnjilane, eastern Kosovo.
Both of those arrested are suspected of recruiting followers for terrorist activity and participating in terrorist organizations.
Gnjilane? You don’t say! First we had an Albanian saying the ISISniks are doing no different from the “secular/moderate/reasonable” U.S. partners, the KLA. Now, we have the main recruiter — a religious Muslim Albanian — having led prayers in Gnjilane, a 1990s KLA stronghold, hotbed of violent separatism, and Serb-torture Central.
KLA, 1999. So what’s different between ISIS and KLA other than their designated enemies?
KLA Cut Off People’s Heads (Vecernje Novosti, Nov. 2, 2003)
Members of the notorious so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who waged a campaign of terror in Kosovo and Metohija for many years, especially against the Serbian population (in 1999 the KLA had approximately 20,000 armed men) continue to roam the southern province today wearing different badges and under different names, doing everything possible to achieve their grand dream - an independent, Albanian Kosovo.
Exposing themselves to the possible risks that investigations of this sort entail, the journalists of “Novosti”, after some days of searching and cross-referencing facts from multiple sources, arrived at information that enabled them to “revisit” this case with relative reliability and “revive” this photograph of a horrible scene.
THE PLAYERS: The Albanian in the middle of the victory celebration is Sadik Cuflaj, KLA member from the Decani area.
The young man to his left is his son Valon Cuflaj, born in April 1981 in the village of Prilep, municipality of Decani. He has an UNMIK identity card and is now a member of the Kosovo Protection Corps with the rank of lieutenant. He works in the inspector’s office in Pec. UNMIK has taken disciplinary measures against him on two occasions.
It is assumed that these murderers belonged to one of the units commanded by Ramush and Daut Haradinaj, which operated in the zone of Decani - Pec.
With great caution and piety, after cross-checking, our reporters were led to the assumption that the visible human head on the right is the head of Bojan Cvetkovic, born in Nis in 1972. A comparison with a photograph published in the book “Junaci otadzbine” [Heroes of the Fatherland] also leads us to the same assumption.
His days as a soldier were few. On April 11  he was abducted by members of the vicious KLA on the Prizren - Pristina road near Suva Reka.
Four other soldiers were captured at the same time: Zarko Filipovic, Dragoljub Tanaskovic, Dragan Vucetic and Zivota Topalovic.
Another photograph reveals a horrific spectacle: Sadik Cuflaj is placing one of the severed heads in a large bag!
Is the bag full of the heads of young Serbian men?
This story and these photographs are just a small part of the crimes by ethnic Albanians committed by members of the so-called Liberation Army.
Today these same men wear the uniforms of the Protection Corps (approximately 5,000 members of the former KLA are in the Corps), establishing “multiethnic order” in devastated Kosovo.
Thus, they are protected by the international community. Thus, all their crimes have been forgiven. Thus, their wartime leaders and their commanders, now dressed in elegant uniforms, can travel to the capitals of the world and participate in roundtable discussions where they supposedly discuss peace. […]
Kosovo police detain 3 terrorism suspects (AP, June 26, 2014)
Kosovo police say they have detained three people for allegedly forming a terrorist group and recruiting followers.
In a statement Thursday police said they found military uniforms and propaganda material when they searched the suspects’ homes in southern Kosovo.
A police officer, who was speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing, said the three allegedly plotted to carry out an attack inspired by radical Islamist teachings.
Local media reported the suspects were ethnic Albanians with suspected links to radicals in Syria, where at least one of them allegedly fought alongside Sunni rebels.
Prompted by the surge of volunteers joining militants in Syria, Kosovo lawmakers recently passed legislation [after criticism for being silent on the issue] with prison sentences of up to 15 years for those joining armed groups abroad.
I guess they just didn’t see that trend coming when they tore away from the host society to be all on their Muslim own.
It seems it’s time for an update on Balkans jihadists in Syria, where as of January this year, 15 “Bosniaks” (11 from Bosnia and four from Serbia’s Sandzak) have been killed. In addition to Albania’s arrest of eight people in March for Syrian and other jihad recruitment, there was this from May:
Another Macedonian Albanian Reported Killed in Syria (Balkan Insight, May 14, 2014)
A 31-year-old man formerly convicted of planting a bomb in Kumanovo has reportedly been killed fighting in Syria, increasing the number of Macedonian citizens killed in the violence there to at least six.
Thirty-one-year-old Adnan Rexhepi from Kumanovo, northern Macedonia, died on Saturday while fighting with a rebel group against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Albanian-language media in Macedonia have reported.
“We have received the news that our brother Adnan died as a martyr in Sham, Allah have mercy on him, we feel proud that we had him,” friends were cited writing on Facebook by the Albanian-language INA news agency.
Rexhepi was a former insurgent of the now defunct National Liberation Army, NLA, which fought the Macedonian security forces during the conflict in the country in 2001. [NLA being as “defunct” as the KLA, wink-wink. Yet another example of Albanian terrorists who cut their teeth as our allies (NLA is an offshoot of our KLA buddies), predictably moving on to other jihads.]
In 2003, Rexhepi was arrested by Macedonian police and sentenced to four years in prison for placing a bomb in the centre of Kumanovo along with several other acomplices. The explosion caused by the bomb injured three people.
Rexhepi is the sixth Macedonian citizen who has reportedly been killed in Syria. Some unofficial reports say that more than 300 Albanians from Macedonia might have already joined Syrian rebels…Addressing this issue in January, the head of the Islamic Religious Community in Macedonia, IVZ, Sulejman Rexhepi, warned Muslims not to get involved in the sectarian conflict raging in Syria.
Macedonian law forbids citizens from taking part in foreign paramilitary groups…Local ethnic Albanian analysts say the Macedonian citizens fighting in Syria are not mercenaries…
(Unlike our own military which, as the dreaded Patrick Buchanan correctly pointed out in September, is doing the bidding of “sheiks, sultans and emirs” — and Turkey. A letter to the editor in New Hampshire’s Foster’s Daily Democrat echoed the sentiment: “Kerry now publicly says the Arab world will pay for the U.S. military excursion against Syria. I am a veteran, and to see the U.S. military reduced to being mercenaries for Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations…makes me angry…” Of course, the U.S. as Muslim mercenary is nothing new. Kuwait 1991. Bosnia 1995. Kosovo 1999. Iraq 2003. Libya 2011.)
This past March, meanwhile, we had some Syria-connected Albanians biting one of the countless hands that feed them, Turkey:
Third assailant captured after suspected Al-Qaeda attack on gendarmerie in central Turkey (Daily Hurriyet, March 21, 2014)
…Two of the assailants, 18-year-old E.S. and E.A, were Albanian citizens, while 23-year-old Ç.R was a citizen of Kosovo, although all were speaking Arabic…Police seized seven grenades, three kalashnikovs, two mufflers and three bayonets…A gendarmerie soldier, police officer and truck driver were killed in the attack, while five others were wounded.
‘I did a good deed by killing a Turkish gendarme,’ Niğde assailant says (Hurriyet Daily News, March 21, 2014)
… “I did a good deed by killing the Turkish gendarmerie soldier,” the perpetrator identified as Ç.R., a Swiss national who was first reported as being from Kosovo, told police…All of the assailants, captured within hours, are suspected of being members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is linked with al-Qaeda.
“I don’t render an account to anyone but Allah. I will not give any testimony. You are all pagans,” he was also quoted as saying. He also reportedly said Turkey was considered an “enemy” for being a NATO member.
A third assailant M.Z., a national of Macedonia, was also arrested by the court. Following the attack, Turkish officers said the information they received pointed to Syrian links…
ISIL CONNECTION IN ATTACK AGAINST TURKISH SECURITY FORCES (Daily Sabah, March 25, 2014)
…Çendrim Ramadani, Benjamin Xu…along with the third suspect, Macedonian national Muhammed Zakiri, who was captured one day after the attack at a mosque where he was hiding, were interrogated by prosecutors. They face charges of murdering public officials and smuggling firearms. The suspects of Albanian and Kosovar origin, entered Turkey through the Syrian border.
The suspects were travelling from Hatay, the Turkish province on the Syrian border, to Istanbul when they were stopped at a checkpoint. They fired shots at the officers at the checkpoint, killing military officer Adil Kozanoğlu and policeman Adem Çoban. They also killed a driver whose truck they hijacked to flee the scene.
In their initial interrogation, Benjamin Xu said he was a German citizen with a Chinese mother and resided in Berlin. Ramadani said he was a Swiss citizen.
Benjamin Xu told the prosecutor they were returning home after fighting in Syria. “I don’t know Ramadani well. He offered to travel to Kosovo with me and I accepted. I wasn’t aware of any weapons. I later found out he secretly placed weapons in my bag. When he saw the soldiers at the checkpoint, he drew his gun and started firing. He also shot me in the foot during the shooting and said it was an accident. I don’t remember what happened next because I had taken drugs,” Xu said. Xu said he was not a member of any terrorist organization and pleaded for his release.
Turkey, a staunch critic of the Assad regime and host of the Syrian opposition, is accused of arming and helping ISIL militants in Syria. […]
In addition to all the Balkans volunteers to Syria previously noted here, new reports streamed in steadily last summer. In August, news portal InSerbia found “another clip of Wahhabis, allegedly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are participating in the clashes in Syria…In the video Wahhabis call youth to join them in ‘jihad in Allah’s path’…”
Also in August came this AFP roundup of Balkans jihadists in Syria:
Balkan former guerrillas join Syria rebels (AFP, Aug. 7, 2013)
File - A former sniper in the Kosovo Liberation Army, who also fought with rebels in Syria, plays video games at his home near the town of Pristina on June 11, 2013. (AFP Armend Nimani) Proving that violence can lead to video games.
Some fought as guerrillas during the bloody Balkans wars of the 1990s, battling powerful tanks and artillery.
Others grew up under the influence of radical Islam that has gained ground in poverty-hit areas in the Balkan countries and regions populated by Muslims. [A phenomenon that, coincidentally, grew after the West’s 90s interventions.]
Today, both experienced fighters and their younger followers are leaving the Balkans to join Syrian rebels on the front line…Migena Maliqaj, an Albanian, had not heard from her husband Halil since November, when he told her he was leaving their home in Prush, outside the capital Tirana, to try to find work in Turkey. In June, she received a text message from an unknown number saying that Halil had been killed in Syria.
The first Ermal Xhelo’s mother knew of her son’s involvement in Syria was when the 35-year-old’s remains were brought home to her in Albania’s southern city of Vlora. He too had said he was going to work in Turkey.
The Xhelo family also refused to talk. “My son had nothing to do with extremists,” the mother told AFP, abruptly ending the phone call.
[Of course not. Albanians aren’t ‘like that,’ so this is shocking to Albanians.]
Illir Kulla, a security expert from Albania, estimates that “at least 300 Albanians from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia have left for Syria to fight in the name of a ’sacred war’” over the past months. Their conviction comes from their Islamic faith, Kulla stressed.
“They are not mercenaries, but volunteers convinced that they are fighting for a good cause…prone to religious manipulation that the war in Syria is truly a sacred war,” Kulla said.
A classified intelligence report by Kosovan security services described “Islamic extremists” going to Syria in small groups “claiming they are helping out their brothers.”
In May, street signs in Novi Pazar, the main town in Serbia’s Muslim-majority southern region of Sandzak, were covered with obituaries for Eldar Kudakovic, a 27-year-old [’Bosniak’] killed in Syria during a raid by rebels on a prison near the key city of Aleppo, reportedly with another man from the area.
“All of us are with them. And all of us are Mujahideen,” read a message posted on a Sandzak radical Islam web portal, praising the victims as “martyrs.”
Reports of jihadists dying in Syria have not deterred Balkans fighters. One father-of-three from Podujevo, a small town in northern Kosovo, was making the final preparations for his journey to Syria, which he was to enter illegally…His words muffled by the call for noon prayer from a nearby mosque, he was nevertheless adamant his decision was final.
“Once I am gone, I will not return until the end of the war,” he told AFP, adding that his wife and young children would be taken care of by his two brothers.
Also planning to depart for Syria was a former sniper in the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army….along “with about a dozen war comrades, experts in different weaponry if peace talks fail.”
Religious expert Visar Duriqi said recruitment of future fighters has been taking place in Kosovo through a set-up allegedly run by a Salafi sect….Recruitment is voluntary, experts agree, with Salafists meeting far from the eyes of the community, and often late at night. The Islamic Community of Kosovo, a body representing Muslims, denies any involvement in the Syria recruitment.
“I am all for helping the (Syrian) people to escape from this bloody mess, not individually, but as it was done in Libya” with help from the international community, its representative Resul Rexhepi said. [In other words, the way it was done in Libya, the foundation for which was laid in Kosovo and Bosnia: get the infidels to fight your jihad for you.]
Observers say that the worsening economic crisis in the Balkans…has contributed to the radicalization of youth. Experts believe that the Salafist presence is strongest in Bosnia, as many foreign fighters joined Muslim forces against Bosnian Serb troops and settled there after the bloody 1992-1995 war.
Esad Hecimovic, a Bosnian security expert, told AFP that volunteers for the war in Syria said they were motivated by the fight for what they describe as a single “Islamic homeland.”
[Oh. So in 1995 we weren’t helping establish an ‘independent, democratic, multi-ethnic, Westward-facing Bosnia,” but a caliphate? Golly.]
“This is the original motive, the same one which motivated some foreigners to come and fight in Bosnia, and now motivates Bosnians to go to Syria,” Hecimovic said.
Kosovo Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Grand Mosque in Pristina. Gee, life looks so much more pleasant than rule from Belgrade.
“I absolutely don’t care what becomes of my children”
The IPS wire service carried a similar piece:
Balkans Feed the Syria Battle (Inter Press Service, Aug. 2, 2013)
…Muaz Sabic (41) died near Aleppo two months ago…[His brother] Ilijas said his brother left Sarajevo for Istanbul in March. Muaz travelled with a couple of young men from Zenica and nearby Kakanj. According to the local reports, Muaz is one of 52 Bosniak Salafis who left for Syria. Volunteers from Bosnia reportedly gather in the Turkish town Antakya and cross into Syria illegally at the Bab el Hawa crossing…Most [volunteers] join the Al-Nusra unit, labelled by the U.S., the United Nations and Britain a terrorist organisation “with links to Al-Qaeda.”
Bosnian Muslims are Sunnis. Many have re-invented their religion after the 1992-1995 war…According to a former top official of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bajro Ikanovic (37) is among those taking Bosniak Muslims to Syria. In 2007, he was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Sarajevo court on charges of terrorism. His home in Hadzici near Sarajevo was found to be a storage for explosives…Ikanovic was freed after four years, and began to organise volunteers for Syria.
Ikanovic told the religious [jihadist] site www.putvjernika.com in an interview that “…I absolutely don’t care what becomes of my children, we leave them to the law of Allah and we’ll be proud of our deeds and our lives the way we lived them.”
…Two young men from the southern Serbian town Novi Pazar died in Syria in May. Their deaths were praised on the local www.sandzakhaber.net site. Known under their battle names Abu Bera and Abu Merdia, Eldar Kundakovic and Adis Salihovic died in an effort to free prisoners from the Al-Safira jail near Aleppo. [And in January, 19-year-old Mirza Ganic was the third from Novi Pazar to die in Syria. Now there’s an apropos last name.]
The SIPA official told IPS that “the war in Bosnia opened the doors for re-invention of Islam; jihad fighters who came here to fight along their Muslim brethren against Serbs or Croats brought their ideology, customs and enthusiasm. For some young men that was a revelation, a kind of missing link being revealed…”
“It is no secret that people are being paid to go to Syria or other fronts for that matter,” a local resident told IPS. “Mosques are places where people gather more than ever in the past…they hear their imams calling for solidarity, explaining the sufferings of fellow Muslims in Syria and all over the world…” The monthly income for jihadis paid through organisations disguised as ‘humanitarian agencies’, can be about 600 dollars…
And Then There Were None
Below is an excerpt from a piece last July, subheaded with this common disclaimer: “Even though conservative Islam is not much appreciated among the liberal and secular Bosniak and Albanian communities, radical groups show an increasing online and real-life presence.” Which as usual misses the point: Many of those “nominal” Muslims wanted what they wanted, and caused what they caused; now they must live with the consequences, as must their neighbors and now the rest of us.
From YouTube to Jihad – Balkan volunteers in Syria (TransConflict, July 18, 2013, By Vladimir Ninković)
The alleged popular uprising in Syria has quickly turned into a predominantly religious conflict, if it had ever been anything else…there might be over one thousand European jihadists fighting with the rebels in Syria…In Holland, for instance, the national terrorism threat level has recently been raised to substantial, given that around one hundred Dutch nationals are currently in Syria, whilst a dozen who have already returned are now subject to government surveillance…
With respect to the Balkans, media outlets suggest that around 300 local Islamists went to fight for the Sunni cause in Syria, primarily from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia (from its Southwestern part, called ‘Raska oblast’ by Serbs, and ‘Sandzak’ by Bosniaks). [Where’s Kosovo in that list? Is the writer considering it one with Serbia, or with Albania?] Two Serbian citizens – Eldar Kundakovic from Novi Pazar and Adis Salihovic from Rozaje – recently lost their lives…Another young man, Muaz Ahmeti – a 23-year old student of the Islamic Cairo University, from…Bujanovac – was killed in Syria in May. The death of Naman Demoli from Pristina last year, meanwhile, figured prominently in the Kosovo media. [Oh, there’s Kosovo.]
In neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Salafists and Mujjahadins were settled in several locations after the tragic [not strategic?] war of the nineties, the situation is even more alarming. According to various sources, some 52 volunteers left Bosnia and joined the Al Nusrah front, widely-recognized as Al Qaida associates. The media recently reported that their recruitment was organized by the extremist leader of the Salafi community in the village of Gornja Maoca in northern Bosnia [Gornja Maoca popped up on the radar just a month after 9/11], Nusret Imamovic, and Dzevad Golos, from Mostar, who runs the Daru-l-Quran Foundation for Kur’an studies.
Another factor contributing to the influx of Balkan Muslims is the extensive media coverage of Syria, echoing the nineties wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, in which Muslim Bosniaks and Albanians were represented as victims by the Western media [which itself contributed to the influx of nastier Muslims to those regions], as it is currently the case with the rebels. The question posed by the Dutch media resonates – what will the veterans be capable of doing once they return?
Kosovo in particular has had at least a five-part role in this whole Syria thing: In addition to contributing fighters, weapons have been funneled through it; Syrian rebels have trained there; Kosovo’s ex-terrorist “leadership” has politically mentored both Libyan and Syrian oppositions (though Doug Saunders of Canada’s Globe & Mail felt reassured by Kosovo officials that Syrian rebels weren’t “actually training in Kosovo [perhaps those plans were scrapped because Russia urged against turning Kosovo into a training ground for militants, using reopened KLA bases, after an April 2012 guerrilla warfare experience-share attempted to make such a deal]; rather, their leaders…held numerous meetings with leaders of Kosovo and former fighters from the KLA…[D]eputy foreign minister Petrit Selimi…described Kosovo as ‘a quiet meeting place away from the spotlight that comes with gathering in larger capitals such as Istanbul or Cairo.’”); finally, Kosovo also has been extensively cited as an inspiration, road map, and precedent for both Libya and Syria.
That’s right — the political establishment that brought you the 15-year “Kosovo Is Not a Precedent” mantra/instruction, spent 2013 pointing to Kosovo as a precedent. (So, when they want it to be one.) Applying the precedent in every which way but how it fits, the political and media classes were justifying a Syria intervention by pointing to our Kosovo one (no sooner than they’d done the same for Libya).
Perpetual war-stoking early bird and Bosnia relic Christiane Amanpour’s April 2012 piece “Bosnia’s Lesson for Syrian Slaughter” (as well as “Syria must not become new Bosnia: U.N. rights boss” and “UN repeating mistakes of Bosnia, says Turkish PM“) foreshadowed the following slew of Syria-Kosovo analogies based on the same kind of original fiction as Amanpour’s Bosnia one, though the analogies were apt in ways unintended (i.e., ‘let’s again side with the greater evil and wreak havoc’):
Intervention Lessons from Kosovo for Syria; Obama Aides See Kosovo as Precedent for Attacking Syria; Looking Back at Kosovo Can Move the Syria Conflict Forward; It’s 1999 in Syria; Kosovo Offers United States a Roadmap for Syria; Air War in Kosovo Seen as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack; John McCain: ‘Syrian Rebels Do Not Understand Why We Won’t Help Them’; Learning Lessons About Syria from our Experience in Kosovo and Libya; To deter extremists in Syria, Obama must heed lessons of Kosovo intervention; and, for good measure, a piece by the Turkish and Bosnian foreign ministers, titled “Syria Proves Nothing has Changed Since Bosnia,” including, apparently, the inflated, now corrected for almost a decade, figure of “more than 300,000″ war dead — like I’ve said, no fact-checking for Balkans material even if you’re Washington Post; and “Syria is President Obama’s Kosovo.”
In fact, Kosovo is a precedent in every way that they don’t want you to notice. In addition to the biggest one — as a separatism domino — we were again seeing:
* U.S. backing radicals, emboldening multinational jihadists (Washington backed jihadist elements in Kosovo, now in Syria — “The Western media’s coverage of the Syrian conflict has drawn comparisons to how it covered…the disintegration of Yugoslavia… ‘taking a complex situation involving atrocities and violence committed on both sides of the conflict, and attributing them only to one side. What you do is come up with a concept, and you fit the facts into the concept…’ [former Senate policy adviser James] Jatras noted… ‘Why is it that in the name of fighting terrorism and promoting democracy, the United States always seems to find itself on the side of jihadist elements engaging in terrorism…?’”);
* Christians and other non-Muslims and semi-Muslims being mowed down;
* The U.S. Constitution and international law being flouted ( “Pentagon is working on a Kosovo-type intervention in Syria even in the absence of a mandate from the UN Security Council…military intervention cloaked as providing security for the humanitarian mission….Ankara ha[s] also begun echoing the same idea… But it is hard to imagine that without a UN mandate of some sort, Turkey or NATO would have the audacity to intervene militarily in Syria… [ “Imagine” it in 1999.] The Western ploy would be to cast Russia and China as blocking the international community’s noble mission to render humanitarian help to the Syrian people in distress.” Meanwhile, Madeleine Albright finally made a half-admission this year: “What we did in Kosovo wasn’t legal, but it was right.” It was “right,” of course, because Serbs are “Disgusting!” Maybe in another 15 years she’ll admit it also wasn’t right. And of course, Hillary Clinton: “‘Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations.’ [I]t was Mrs Clinton’s husband who took action in Kosovo without direct UN authorisation.”);
* Which reminds me: Turkey agitating for action: in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Syria alike (“Erdogan lashed out at the United Nations’ inaction, saying world powers are repeating the mistakes they made in Bosnia…He also called for a change in the structure of the UN Security Council, where reluctance by any member…can stymie action.” Erdogan had “been calling for Assad’s ouster for two years and transships weapons to the rebels….[T]hough he has a 400,000-man NATO-equipped army, three times Syria’s population, and a 550-mile border to attack across, Erdogan wants us, the ‘international community,’ to bring Assad down.”);
* “Limited airstrikes” not being called an act of war (again, an undeclared war);
* The West and rebels co-staging atrocities (During the Bosnian war, every time a critical decision was pending at the UN or Congress, there would be a “Serb mortar attack” in a Muslim civilian area; that’s not mentioning the staged atrocities by KLA-CIA in Kosovo. Notably, anti-terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky called this one out last August, even catching Rush Limbaugh’s attention: Could the Chemical Attack in Ghouta be the Markale of the Syrian War? — “In August 1995…negotiations with the Serbs were going well as Pres. Slobodan Milosevic was demonstrating unprecedented flexibility and accepting virtually all the demands… Hence, it was becoming politically and legally impossible for the US-led West to launch the NATO military intervention which Pres. Clinton had promised Bosnia-Herzegovina leader Alija Izetbegovic….Then, on August 28, 1995, a mortar shell appeared to hit the Markale market-place in Sarajevo, killing 38 people and wounding another 90. Russian Col. Andrei Demurenko, then the commander of UN Forces in Sarajevo, immediately rushed with an UNPROFOR team to the supposed Bosnian-Serb mortar positions and ascertained that none of them could have been used… Nevertheless, NATO launched the air campaign against Bosnian-Serb forces and shortly afterwards decided the war in favor of the Bosnian-Muslims. On August 31, 1995, Jean Daniel, then Editor of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur…recounted an exchange he had just had with French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur…. ‘They [the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ Daniel asked. ‘Yes,’ confirmed Balladur without hesitation, ‘but at least they forced NATO to intervene.’” It all certainly gives deeper resonance to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s words in October 2012: “It appears that every time hope for progress in the Syrian situation arises, somebody…deliberately fuels the continuation of the bloodshed…” Lavrov cited some unspecified opposition groups as telling Russia that Western countries urge them to continue the resistance.”);
* NATO as air force for KLA/al-Q;
(On the four counts immediately above, this time we heard some American trepidation: Aug. 28, 2013 — “‘So what, we’re about to become Al-Qaeda’s air force now?’ said Kucinich… ‘And to try to minimize it by saying we’re just going to have a “targeted strike”‘ …[H]e doubted the allegations that President Assad had used chemical weapons… ‘This is being used as a pretext,’ he said. ‘The verdict is in before the facts have been gathered. What does that tell you?’ … [Further,] ‘Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” says the letter [to Obama from Kucinich and 21 Republicans]…The Syrian government has warned that an assault on the country would not be easy for Western powers. ‘We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves…’ Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told a televised news conference.” (Defending itself was something Serbia was condemned for as “anti-Western” and branded as “the enemy.”)) Continuing now with the Kosovo-as-precedent bullet points:
* U.S. tying hands of sovereigns dealing with domestic terror;
* Victorious rebel forces not disarming, then instituting lawlessness with “revenge killings, detention, ethnic cleansing and torture continu[ing] unabated” and “rather than being grateful for NATO helping drive out Gadhafi [or Insert Strongman Here], the al-Qaida elements have begun targeting British, American and UN facilities”;
* Again the bizarre logic that worked out so well for us in Kosovo and Bosnia, of “We’re helping the rebels so they don’t turn to the bigger radicals ( “Mr. Kerry said one reason for sending money to the Syrian coalition is to try to counter the influence of extremists.” And similar words from “Jihad John” Mc thank-god-for-the-Saudis Cain, who early on said it was shameful we weren’t helping the Syrian rebels: “McCain called Monday for the United States to lead a military coalition… ‘Inaction denies us the opportunity to have influence with forces in Syria who will one day inherit the country, ceding that to foreign states that may not always share our values….the longer this conflict drags on, the more radicalized it becomes.’ [So support the more radical side?]…Failure to act could result in Syria becoming a failed state, riven by extremist violence and sectarian conflict, he said… ‘It’s not a civil war, because all the military strength is on one side, and not the other,’ he said. ‘At least we ought to give them a chance to have a fair fight.’”);
* Which reminds me: Again the “we have to even out the playing field” mentality, which prolongs the conflict and increases the chaos and casualties. (To wit, The NY Times‘ Malcolm Rifkind, in “A Call to Arm Syria’s Rebels (Aug. 2012),” wrote: “In September 1991, as violence spread through the Balkans, Yugoslavia’s helpless foreign minister, Budimir Loncar, requested that the UN Security Council establish a global arms embargo that would apply to all parties in the conflict….the only example of a government demanding sanctions be imposed on its own country…In fact, the embargo — which I supported at the time — consolidated the Bosnian Serbs’ overwhelming superiority of arms due to their access to the stockpiles of the Yugoslav National Army…And we are now making the same mistake in Syria….”);
* And again the “we have to do something” mentality — which actually creates the “failed state, riven by extremist violence and sectarian conflict” (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in October 2012,”It should not take something as drastic as Srebrenica to shake the world into taking serious action to stop this type of conflict”; and Angelina Jolie, belated discoverer of the debunked version of Bosnia and director of a movie recycling it, had her “do something” moment for Syria in Feb. 2012, from Bosnia itself: “Angelina Jolie said [to Al Jazeera Balkans] the world should intervene to stop the violent crackdown in Syria, and condemned powers that have vetoed a UN resolution against the regime…[Her] wartime love story in Bosnia…she has called a ‘wake-up call’ to prevent atrocities like those now happening in Syria.”);
* Last and most, the Holocaust analogies (Brendan O’Neill in September: “Holocaust relativism is rampant…usually as a form of moral blackmail to get people to support military action against some tinpot tyrant said to be ‘the new Hitler’, [which] has the effect of making the Holocaust mundane, unexceptional, an event that happens again and again…[John Kerry] says America’s stand-off with Assad is ‘our Munich moment’ [after our last not-so-Munique moment, Albright’s in 1999]. He describes the…chemical-weapons attacks in Syria as being reminiscent of those who “lost their lives…to German gas” …Harry Reid likewise… ‘”Never again”, swore the world.’ …[C]ommentators have gone into Holocaust-milking overdrive, arguing that ‘the gassing of Syrians with vaporised sarin’ is on a par with the Nazis’ ‘gassing of Jews with Zyklon B 70 years ago’. [See this whopper from American University’s Lori Handrahan.]…The Muslim Council of Britain once boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day on the basis that it failed to commemorate conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya, which apparently were Holocausts too….[T]he Serbs were frequently referred to by liberal observers as Nazis….It took Elie Wiesel to point out the difference…: ‘The Holocaust was conceived to annihilate the last Jew on the planet. Does anyone believe that Milosevic…seriously planned to exterminate all the Bosnians, all the Albanians…?’”)
* Which leads us to that other great Balkans-era hallmark: recruiting the Jews. Because it’s hard to help out the most radical Muslim side without enlisting a Jew. (AIPAC was practically blackmailed, though not by all accounts, by the Obama administration to support limited airstrikes against Syria. “Obama ordered AIPAC to go to Capitol Hill to lobby for the Syria strikes,” Caroline Glick wrote last September. “He did so knowing that its involvement would weaken public support for AIPAC and Israel. Both would be widely perceived as pushing the US to send military forces into harm’s way to defend Israel.” On cue, Patrick Buchanan (and worse Israel-unfriendlies) had a field day, though not an easily dismissible one, complete with a photo of Obama with a Jewish star in his face:
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has joined the Israeli lobby AIPAC in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria. Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League have invoked the Holocaust…The Republican Jewish Coalition, too, bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson…whose solicitude for the suffering children of Syria is the stuff of legend, is also backing Obama’s war…Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have saluted and enlisted…is it really wise for Jewish organizations to put a Jewish stamp on a campaign to drag America into another war that a majority of their countrymen do not want to fight? …Does the U.S. Jewish community really want to be responsible for starting a war that ends with two million Christian Syrians facing a fate not unlike that of Poland’s Jews?
Balkans: the Ultimate Gateway Drug
And still, despite all these parallels, we’re not supposed to believe that Bosnia and Kosovo were a gateway drug. Specifically: In the context of a 20/20-hindsight-on-1980s-Afghanistan world, our again helping in the early 90s — this time less excusably — Muslims against infidels, seems to have opened the door to additional and more dangerous addictions.
Last August, former Senate policy adviser Jim Jatras sent out the following email about the ironic Syria-Kosovo analogies being made by those who instructed us that Kosovo was no precedent:
I routinely check news searches for “Syria” and “Kosovo.” Up til a few days, ago, you only saw a handful of hits. Now the news is full of gleeful advocates of the “Kosovo precedent.”
The bottom line is always the same:
• frame the issue of “stopping” the designated former client now turned Hitler-of-the-month (Milosevic, Saddam, Qaddafi, Assad, whoever’s next);
• provoke or invent the casus belli (as we define it, a “red line” massacre, gas attack, WMDs, impending “humanitarian crisis” in Benghazi [again, check out CNN, Sept. 2, 2013: Free Syrian Army general Salim Idris tells Wolf Blitzer that “in the coming days” — right around when Congress was to vote on war authorization — Assad’s forces would use chemical weapons to kill 20,000 or 30,000 people. How would he know that and how could he already have the figure of victims? Unless the rebels already had a plan in place for a “government strike” designed to influence the vote. The video has been pulled, but here’s another example and another. Perhaps the “chemical attack” was scrapped in light of the general giving the world a heads-up, or maybe because the Russians and Turks traced chemical weapons to the rebels, Patrick Buchanan wrote that September, and suggested, “Why not tell the Russians to meet us in the Security Council where we will prove our ’slam-dunk’ case?…The idea of launching missiles based on evidence we will not reveal….]);
• bully or entice at least some of our satellites (starting with the London poodle) into joining in so we can cite the opinion of the “international community”;
• make sure the designated Muslim client (always Sunni except in Iraq) comes out on top, so they’ll love us ( “Six times in the past decade, U.S. military men and women have risked their lives to help Muslims in Kuwait, northern Iraq, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and now, Afghanistan, Wolfowitz noted.” – feel the love?);
• show the Russians and Chinese their vetoes on the Security Council don’t count, only ours does (and those of our puppets, London and Paris): international law is what we say it is.
It’s pretty much tried and true – the lies of the past are the gift that keeps on giving:
Balkan Peace and Prosperity Will Remain Elusive Unless Freed of Dead Hand of the 1990s (Diplomatic Courier, Aug. 9, 2013, By James George Jatras)
…Fresh and constructive approaches to current problems and future prospects are smothered when the dead hand of the past continues to exert a tenacious grip on the present. Unfortunately, that remains the case with the Balkans, where outsiders — notably the American and European foreign policy establishments — insist that the future must be strictly confined by reverence for past idols. Two such idols stand out:
First, that the United States and NATO intervened in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 to rescue European failures, and brought “peace” by imposing the Dayton Agreement. In fact, in 1992 Washington played a key role in touching off the Bosnian war and was instrumental in prolonging it, notably through the April 1994 “green light” for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a U.N. embargo.
Second, that in Kosovo in 1999 the U.S.-led NATO war was the textbook example of a successful “humanitarian intervention.” In fact, far from stopping a claimed “genocide” of Albanians in Kosovo…intervention precipitated a genuine eradication of most of the province’s Serbian community, along with Roma and others. Worse, the “Kosovo precedent” became the template for actions elsewhere in contravention of the international legal order — notably the authority of the Security Council — in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.
On the global level, these idols established the dangerous notion that “American exceptionalism” means that the rules of international conduct do not apply to us, and that whatever we do is right because we claim as our goals promotion of “democracy” and “human rights.”
On the local level, they established in the Balkans two simple identity-based rules and one corollary, where right and wrong are determined not by actions but by the identities of the actors and of those acted upon. These continue in force today, including disparate treatment of accused war criminals, and include:
Rule One: The Serbs are always wrong.
Rule Two: The Muslims are always right.
The Corollary: Other actors (notably, the Croats) are right when opposing the Serbs (for example, clearing them from the Krajina with U.S. assistance in 1995), but wrong when opposing Muslims (for example, expendable Croats massacred by mujahedin in central Bosnia in 1993).
“Rule Two” …remains a pillar of U.S. policy, despite abundant evidence that such favoritism leads not to the expected gratitude but to blowback, starting with the birth of al-Qaeda itself, and most recently in the conflict in Mali and the Algerian hostage crisis as fallout from NATO’s intervention in Libya.
In applying “Rule Two” in the Balkans, the U.S. has been explicit in its subjective intention to help Muslim communities and movements because they are Muslim…In contrast, objective reality starts with the fact that Bosnia is not a “Muslim country” but has a Christian majority, if one adds Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats together. No matter: as recently as November 2012, Washington supported a plan for greater centralization of Bosnia and further marginalizing of Serbs and Croats.
Similarly, American and European policymakers can think of no better solution to Kosovo than pressing for more recognitions of the separatist administration in Pristina while hammering away at Belgrade’s already feeble resistance to amputation of its province.
Today, such simplistic approaches serve only to keep alight fond memories of the idolized “successes” of the 1990s. They do little to promote good governance in post-Yugoslav states…papered-over communal tensions will continue to smolder.
In a similar, shorter note Jatras sent out that May, he explained how a mountain of lies about the Balkans interventions are being used to get us into ever more disastrous interventions:
Bosnia and Kosovo have become a kind of “can-do” antidote to an Iraq or Vietnam syndrome. Indeed, it was the claim of success “without too much difficulty” (meaning no Americans lost) that fed the expectation that Iraq would be a “cakewalk” and that we could build democracy in Afghanistan. Those latter fantasies died in Mesopotamia and the Hind Kush but the Balkan illusions that fed them remain.
…As in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, in Bosnia and Kosovo the US was on the side of militant Muslims — including al-Qaeda — against the Christians. The result was a disaster for the local Christians (especially in Kosovo) and empowerment of jihadists, recrudescence of the Ottoman Empire, and blowback against Americans, including in the United States.
As for “genocide” in Bosnia or Kosovo, that’s parked somewhere near Saddam’s WMDs. The only “genocide” likely to occur in Syria is if we help the jihadists to win…Until the story is set straight of what really happened in the Balkans in the 1990s, and of the results that reverberate there to this day, the lies told then and elevated to the status of truism ever after will keep exerting their poisonous legacy and undermine a sound perception of the choices before us.
(This just in: Yugoslavia offers Iraq hope — “The winds of sectarian war in Iraq uncannily echo Yugoslavia’s. Not only is Kurdish Iraq pushing a referendum on independence, as Slovenia did. Sunni fundamentalists have seized swaths of northern Iraq and are massacring Shiites — as Serb militants once swept into towns and villages to ‘ethnically cleanse’ non-Serbs. The U.S. helped end Yugoslavia’s wars with airstrikes, peacekeepers and peace accords.” … Author and journalist Louise Branson is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors. She was a foreign correspondent in…the former Yugoslavia. [Well that explains it — a veteran of Balkans pack journalism that built its careers on inversions and uncorroborated tales of horror.] In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions [???] from outside writers…)
Parting with Themselves
While the Clintons and their resurrected cabal were still trying to use their fictitious Kosovo and Bosnia capital for Syria, interestingly other Balkans interventionists turned non-interventionist on Syria. In calling to set straight Balkans history before applying it elsewhere, UNLV professor Dr. Michael Pravica wrote a letter to Malaysia’s Daily Sun in September, cleverly supporting writer Eric Margolis’s anti-Syria-war argument — with facts from the war that Margolis did — and does — support:
…Serbia was bombed, destroying the Pancevo chemical complex, releasing thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Danube river, Europe’s longest waterway. Many tons of depleted but still highly radioactive and toxic uranium…were unleashed into the picturesque Serbian countryside, creating an enormous uptick in cancers in the indigenous Serbian and Albanian populations as well as the Nato ground troops who illegally occupied Kosovo, including very rare eye cancers….the US administration now has the chutzpah to criticise the Syrian government for allegedly doing the same? Citizens of the world need to learn the truth of what we did in Kosovo to better understand that what we are doing in Syria…is the standard protocol for naked aggression against a sovereign nation, disguised as “humanitarian” intervention.
Another Balkans warmonger but anti-Syria-interventionst was the English former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown. In late June 2013,
Lord Ashdown, the former [Bosnia high representative]…described the rebels as “not a fit and proper collection of people for us to be providing arms to…It is an unchallenged figure that 3,500 tons of arms have been shipped in by way of Croatia with the assistance of the CIA, funded by the Saudis, funded by the Qataris, going almost exclusively to the more jihadist groups…weapons left over from the Bosnian war….making vast sums for corrupt forces in the Balkans.” …He said Syria was the “front line in a wider conflict” involving an attempt to build up a radicalised jihadist Sunni population….
Unlike the jihads that Ashdown did support in Bosnia and Kosovo? A 2002 article reminds us:
In April 1999 Ashdown said Milosevic was the “central problem” in Yugoslavia….[Yet] Ashdown was the first [Hague] witness to admit that [the KLA was a terrorist organization]. Ashdown also admitted having seen substantial quantities of small arms being smuggled across the border from neighbouring Albania. Last year he wrote that the “KLA rebellion in 1998” lit “the fuse which led to war and NATO’s intervention” …Although he poses as protector of the Kosovars and a humanitarian envoy — he gave evidence to The Hague with tears in his eyes — Ashdown will be remembered as the most bellicose and consistent advocate of a full-scale ground war and occupation in the Balkans. A recent Economist article…described Ashdown’s calls for a stronger military presence in the early 1990s in the Balkans when European governments “dithered”…Last summer — as the threat of civil war grew in Macedonia — Ashdown said, “If the West is to extract peace out of this witches brew, it will only be by taking the initiative.” He called for a “third major NATO deployment.”
Commenting on the Syrian “Balkans Redux,” libertarian blogger Nebojsa Malic wrote in July 2012:
The Bosnia intervention was promoted by “advocacy journalists”, who uncritically accepted propaganda accounts of atrocities, then inflated them for good measure. Syria has denied access to these vultures [so] Western mainstream media simply skipped the expense of sending correspondents, uncritically airing propaganda from the rebel “activists” instead. Facts are nowhere in the picture; it is all about the narrative. One part of the Bosnia narrative that hasn’t worked well in Syria is the massacre story. Every time a major escalation of Imperial involvement [in Bosnia] was to happen, a tragedy of some kind would helpfully occur….This was taken to the next level in 1999, when the Empire claimed a “massacre of civilians” took place at the village of Racak, after a battle between the Albanian terrorist KLA and Serbian police…[I]t took years for the truth about Racak to emerge: the CSI team was pressured to declare it a massacre. In contrast, the massacre stories coming out of Syria have been debunked within weeks or even days.
…The “lesbian blogger” that captivated the Western public for months turned out to be a middle-aged American man. The “massacres” turned out to be the work of the rebels (Houla) and legitimate fighting deaths (Tremseh)…Allegations of “systematic and mass rape” were a key component of the propaganda narrative in Bosnia. Even today, entirely unsubstantiated claims…are repeated as established fact. The newest reports out of Syria accuse the government of — you’ve guessed it — mass rape …Now that the rebels have been routed from Damascus and are battling for Aleppo, the Empire has announced it fears a “massacre.”
Consequences of the hysterical propaganda about the Bosnian War still linger….It took a decade just to establish an accurate death toll, which ended up being two to three times less than what the mainstream media had claimed. Yet the basic myth of the noble Empire swooping in to save the helpless “Bosnians” from genocide — the ultimate weaponization of human rights — continues to power the virtual reality in Washington. Without it, the Empire has no purpose. This is why it [is] so dead set on a war in Syria – and after Syria, somewhere else.
Witness Ukraine-Russia. Like clockwork.
Closing with a refreshing page from the school of apt Syria-Kosovo analogies, appreciable by those who correctly have called foul on both treacheries: ISIS fighter from Kosovo praises jihad in Syria (Long War Journal, By Bill Roggio, Oct. 21, 2013) How do you like that — it’s a jihad in Syria, after all, but only according to the horse’s mouth. Like the jihad in Kosovo which we also were eager to sign up for.
Abu Abdullah al Kosovi. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.
A jihadist from Kosovo recently appeared on a video from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (or Levant), one of al Qaeda’s two main branches in Syria, to praise jihad and encourage others to fight in the country.
The Kosovo jihadist’s statement was released just one week prior to news that more than 1,000 Europeans, including 150 from Kosovo, are now thought to be fighting inside Syria.
[So 15% of European Muslims who have joined the rebels’ fight in Syria are from America’s Kosovo. How unexpected.]
The Kosovan jihadist, known as Abu Abdullah al Kosovi, “speaks in his native tongue” from the city of Azaz in Aleppo province in northern Syria, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the statement.
“The most pleasurable thing in life is jihad,” al Kosovi says, while imploring Muslims in Europe and throughout the world to put aside their Western comforts and fight in the trenches in Syria…US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal that the majority of them do indeed flock to the Islamists. […]
(An aside: Like The Weakly Standard’s Balkans “expert,” Stephen Suleyman Ahmad al-Kosovi Schwartz — who spent the 90s getting us to sign on to the Bosnia and Kosovo jihads — this jihadist’s name also includes “al Kosovi.”)
In a roundup of Balkans terrorism, extremism, and “militant Islamism,” a painstakingly researched article this past February by Gordon Bardos, former assistant director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, included some interesting details (excerpted below) about Our-Friends-the-Docile-Balkans-Muslims. The headline “Our Goal is Jerusalem,” is a reference to the earlier-mentioned Bajram Ikanović cited in Serbia’s Politika magazine last July after an interview he gave to the Bosnian website Source.ba (thanks to Serbianna.com’s Mickey Bozinovich for tracking down the original). This Bosnian Muslim recruiter — and by some newspaper accounts a rebel leader — had gone to Syria “to establish Allah’s law on Earth,” adding that he and his compatriots “have as a goal to die ‘especially in battle against Jews…Syria absolutely does not matter to us, our goal is Jerusalem. I am not viewed as citizen of Bosnia, we think the same from Kazakhstan to Iceland.’”
The blue-eyed ‘White al Qaeda” they told us they’d activate. This could have been an ad for trail mix, but that just wasn’t austere enough for Bajro.
“Our Goal is Jerusalem” – Militant Islamists in Southeast Europe (Feb. 8, 2014, Gordon N. Bardos)
…[L]arge numbers of individuals from the Balkans have joined the Syrian jihad. According to one estimate, Bosnia has provided more Syrian jihad volunteers than any other country in Europe per capita,[v] with several hundred citizens of Bosnia & Herzegovina now reported to be fighting in Syria,[vi] along with a large number of Bosnian émigrés.[vii] It has also been reported that Bosnia and Romania are sources of weapons for the Syrian jihad [as are Kosovo; Croatia — whose media bragged that its role in the Balkans supply operation showed they were “reliable partners” and a “faithful ally” of the U.S.; and eager-to-please-Washington’s-Saudi-friends Serbia (on the heels of signing a “cooperation protocol” with the U.S. military)]…In addition, reports suggest up to 140 ethnic Albanians are now fighting alongside Islamist groups in Syria,[ix] as well as some thirty individuals from the Sandzak.[x] Priština media have reported that some 30 individuals from Kosovo went to Syria in January 2014 alone, and that six Albanians have already died in the fighting there.[xi]
…[Bosnia’s former ambassador to Turkey, Hajrudin Somun] has noted that more individuals from the Balkans have joined the Syrian jihad than from Central Asia or the Caucasus.[xii] An indication of the degree to which the threat of violent Balkan extremists joining the Syrian jihad has become, and the danger they pose to their native states and societies upon their eventual return, is the January 2014 dispatch of a large, multiagency US government delegation (including individuals from the FBI, the NSA, the Department of State, and the Department of Justice) on a fact-finding mission to the region [with an emphasis on Albania].[xiii]
You know things have gotten bad, if the U.S. Government notices. An excerpt about that “counter-terrorism mission,” wherein the U.S. embassy doth protest too much: “‘The visit is occurring in the framework of continuing close cooperation and consultation with Albania, our NATO Ally…’ The International Center for the Study of Radicalization, ISRA…believes some 300 Albanian fighters, from Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania, have joined….Calls for Albanians…are being made also by some local preachers including one, Abdurrahim Balla, who heads a mosque in a Tirana suburb. A 33-year-old Albanian, Anri Maliqi, who died fighting in Syria, used to attend the mosque…Security experts warn that although the number of Albanians being drawn into the ranks of Islamic militants is small, they still pose a serious threat to national security.” Back to Bardos:
The Balkan blowback from the Syrian jihad is already being felt. In November 2013, six suspected terrorists (two of whom are believed to have fought in Syria) were arrested in Kosovo on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks using cell-phone activated explosive devices. The group was also believed to have been involved in an attack on two American Mormon missionaries in Priština on November 3rd.[xiv] Subsequently, a group called “Xhemati i [Teuhidit dhe Xhihadit ne Kosove]” warned police of “painful attacks” if their comrades were not released…[xv] [Another four from this group had been arrested for “activities related to Syria, according to Kosovo daily Koha Ditore,” and one of the arrested six — Genc Selimi, aka Ebu Hafs Al Albani — associates himself with al-Qaeda, plus the brother of suspect Bekim Mulolli was currently fighting in Syria.] The continuing threat from militant Islamist groups in the region was further on evidence in Bosnia, when at the beginning of the month the largest illegal arms cache discovered in postwar Bosnia was found near the central Bosnian town of Tešanj, in the heart of territory where foreign mujahedin and their local Bosnian allies operate. The weapons [arrived] in the area about 1999 [hmm, just as we were busy engaging in Bosnia Redux a little to the south]…
Bosnian jihad veteran Sulaiman abu-Ghaith with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, October 2001
Indeed, almost every major terrorist action against the US and other western countries and interests over the past two decades has had Balkan ties or connections — including the 9/11 attacks, the August 1998 US African embassy bombings, the December 1999 Millenium Bomb Plot targeting Los Angeles’ LAX Airport, the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden Harbor, the November 2003 Istanbul bombings, the March 2004 Madrid Train bombings, the 7/7 London Underground bombing, the May 2007 Fort Dix bomb plot, the July 2009 Raleigh Group conspiracy, and the January 2010 conspiracy to attack the New York subway system…
Bosnian jihad veteran Khaled al-Harbi, November 2001
…Balkan allies and sympathizers [made it] easy for Al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to extend their reach throughout Europe. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, Bosnia, according to one study, became “[a] new refuge, close to both the heart of Europe and the Middle East . . . an excellent tactical base for espionage, fundraising, and terrorist activities . . . a major center for terrorist recruitment. . .where recruits could train, coalesce into cells, and seek shelter from prosecution by foreign law enforcement.”[xxiv] The former NATO commander in Bosnia, US Army Major General Virgil Packett, has claimed that “Bosnia has moved from being a sanctuary for terrorism to a gateway for terrorism.”[xxv] …[T]he existence of an extensive network of individuals sympathetic to militant Islamism makes Bosnia a command and control center for various groups of regional militants.[xxvi]…
… In February 1996, NATO forces raided an Iranian-operated terrorist training camp in Bosnia where they found plans to [destroy] NATO installations, booby-trapped children’s toys [changed to “Serbian” booby-trapped toys in the film “The Rock”], and essays on how to assassinate political opponents and critical journalists. The camp’s director was the personal intelligence advisor to Bosnia’s late Islamist president, Alija Izetbegović [whom we made our “partner” against the Serbs].[xxviii] His son, Bakir Izetbegović (currently a member of the Bosnian state presidency) has admitted to personally being in touch with leading mujahedin figures in Bosnia such as Imad al-Husin, a.k.a Abu Hamza, and offering “to help in any way.”[xxix]
Alija Izetbogic with Abu el Malli (second from left), aka “the little Osama bin Laden”
Bakir Izetbegovic with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cairo, 7 February 2013
…By one count the Izetbegović [Sr.] regime distributed some 12,000 Bosnian passports to international jihadis.[xxxi] Osama Bin Laden himself was the owner of a Bosnian passport,[xxxii] and Western reporters even saw him [in] Izetbegović’s office during the war.[xxxiii] When Italian police discovered a plot to kill Pope John Paul II in Bologna in 1997, all fourteen men arrested were travelling on passports issued by Izetbegović’s foreign ministry.[xxxiv] (In April earlier in the year, another attempt to assassinate the Pope had been made in Sarajevo.)[xxxv] In the 1990s, Al Qaeda operative Safet Abid Catovic was given cover as a diplomat at Bosnia’s Mission to the UN in New York.[xxxvi] In 1998, just days before the bombing of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, the mastermind of the attacks, visited Bosnia on a “business trip” on a visa issued to him by the Bosnian consulate in Ankara.[xxxvii]…As of January 2014, the chairman of the security committee in Izetbegović’s Islamist party is a man on the US government’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, and who is otherwise widely considered to be the leading Iranian agent in Bosnia.[xxxix]
[The] central Bosnian village of Bočinja Donja, inhabited by some 600 people, has been associated with numerous international terrorists, including Karim Said Atmani, the document forger for the Millenium Bomb plot; Khalil Deek, arrested in December 1999 for his involvement in a plot to blow up Jordanian tourist sites; and Omar Saeed Sheikh, involved in the murder/beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.[xlii] Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahiri, is known to have visited the village in 1997[xliii]….
Another Bosnian village, Gornja Maoča, is the headquarters of Bosnia’s main Wahhabi leader, Nusret Imamović. In 2005, Italian investigators discovered [thanks to Bosnian-Serb intelligence] a Gornja Maoča-based plot to attack the funeral of Pope John Paul II and assassinate the assembled world leaders.[xliv] …[R]esidents claim to personally know the editor of Inspire (Al Qaeda’s online publication)….The village is frequently used as a way station for extremists joining jihads in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Yemen…The Wahhabis are also known to cache weapons in local forests surrounding the village.[xlv] In October 2011, the Sandžak Wahhabi Mevlid Jašarević left the village with two other residents on the day he attacked the US Embassy in Sarajevo.[xlvi] [Related: Serbs selling their property near Wahhabi training centers]
Bosnian jihad veteran Omar Ahmed Saeed Sheik, participant in the murder/beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl
…In March 2007, Serbian police raided [a] camp in the mountainous Sandžak region straddling the border between Serbia and Montenegro….[xlviii] The group was allegedly planning to attack western embassies in Belgrade. Similarly, in July 2013, a raid near the village of Kalošević…uncovered the largest stash of undeclared weaponry and explosives found since the end of the Bosnian war….hidden there on the order of a high-ranking member of Izetbegović’s party Bosnian media cite as one of the main local liaisons with Al Qaeda operatives in the country.[xlix]
…A focal point for Wahhabi extremists in Bosnia is the Saudi-funded King Fahd Mosque and Cultural Center in Sarajevo, “the epicenter of the spreading of radical ideas” in Bosnia,[l] which for a number of years functioned autonomously under the direct supervision of the Saudi embassy in Bosnia. The White Mosque in Sarajevo is the headquarters of Sulejman Bugari, a Kosovo Albanian-born imam whom some reports have described as a go-between and point-of-contact for Albanian and Bosnian extremists.[li] In Kosovo, the Makowitz mosque on the outskirts of Priština and the Mitrovica mosque are reportedly recruiting militants to fight alongside Islamist groups in Syria.[lii]…The CIA has estimated that one third of the Bosnian NGO’s operating worldwide have terrorist connections or employ people with terrorist links,[liv] and various NGO’s with known ties to Al Qaeda funneled several hundreds of millions of dollars to Izetbegović’s war effort.[lv] Izetbegović himself was on the Iranian payroll….[lvi]
al Qaeda’s donors’ list, “The Golden Chain,” discovered in Sarajevo in March 2002
…In the aftermath of 9/11, a raid on the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia netted “maps of Washington, material for making false State Department identity cards and anti-American manuals designed for children.”[lix]…Also found in Sarajevo in March 2002 was Al Qaeda’s donor’s list, the so-called “Golden Chain.” Bin Laden’s organization apparently felt so comfortable in Bosnia at this time that some 70 Al Qaeda members reportedly planned to flee there from Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 [as they’d done in the wake of WTC-1993].[lx] Among the Al Qaeda-linked organizations working in the Balkans have been the Benevolence International Foundation (which had offices and personnel in Chicago), the “Taibah Foundation,” the “Global Relief Foundation,” which operated in Bosnia and Kosovo, and al Haramain, which was active in Albania.[lxi] The Turkish-based IHH…which was involved in the Mavi Marmara incident off the Israeli coast in May 2010, began its activities in Bosnia in the 1990s. In June 2010, Turkish authorities began an investigation of the group’s founder, Bűlent Yildirim, for funding Al Qaeda.[lxii] [Recall also the Bosnian origins of the Oklahoma-City-style bomb blueprint found in a Kabul mansion in 2001.]
Members of the Al Qaeda cell in Albania, for instance, working under the cover of various Middle-East based charities, were required to contribute 26 percent of their salaries to support the global jihad. [Awful similar to the mandatory tax on Albanians to support the KLA.]…[Bin Laden-connected Third World Relief Agency] alone collected $400 million for Izetbegović’s war effort.[lxvi] TWRA, among other things, has been revealed to have provided some of the operational funding for the first group of World Trade Center bombers in 1993. [lxvii] Most of Izetbegović’s inner circle was involved in the organization.[lxviii]…
Militant Islamists in the Balkans have developed an extensive array of print periodicals, websites, and YouTube spots…[that] promote jihad, suicide bombings, and the killing of non-Muslims.[lxx]…the Put vjernika website recently carried “A New Order from Zawahiri: Focus on Attacks on American Interests.”[lxxi] …The Facebook page Krenaria Islame (Albanian for “Islamic Pride”), which posts pictures and stories of Albanians fighting in Syria, has 2,00 followers. [Interesting that we went to war over that exact number of mutually-sided deaths in ‘99.] According to the Tirana-based security expert Arjan Dyrmishi, “If all the followers of this page were identified as terrorists, they would make a small army and pose a major problem…even if these people were to be identified only as supporters of political Islam.”[lxxiii]
The US State Department has reported that the Bosnia-based “Active Islamic Youth” (Bosnian acronym AIO) spreads extremist views and has links with radical groups in Western Europe and the US.[lxxiv] ..In Kosovo, a radical preacher, Zahir Naik, has established a 12-hour daily Albanian-language, hardline-Wahhabi TV channel ironically called “Peace TV” which “insults, in aggressive terms, spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, non-fundamentalist Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Hindus, among others.” In his sermons Naik has praised Osama bin Laden and supported terrorism.[lxxvi] …As Esad Hećimović, a leading expert on the jihadi movement in Bosnia has noted, “There is now a new generation of Islamic preachers in Bosnia who were educated after the war at Islamic universities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and other countries . . . Thus, it is no longer possible to distinguish between ‘imported’ and ‘local’ versions of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina anymore.”[lxxix]
…In 2010, a Bosnian security official estimated that there are 3000 potential terrorists in Bosnia,[lxxxiii] and a former Al Qaeda operative in Bosnia, the Bahraini-born Ali Hamad, has claimed there are some 800 individuals of local origin making up a “white Al Qaeda”.[lxxxiv]… In Kosovo, security experts suggest about 50,000 people adhere to the more conservative, Middle-Eastern forms of Islam,[lxxxvi] and one specialist on Balkan Islam has claimed that, “Exponents of Saudi-financed Wahhabism and of the Muslim Brotherhood have penetrated the highest levels of the official Kosovo Islamic apparatus.”[lxxxvii] …[S]ecurity specialists believe up to 3000 Wahhabis are active in Macedonia….[lxxxix] …[T]he leader of the Islamic Community in Sandžak, Muamer Zukorlić, has close ties to the movement and receives funds from Wahhabi sources in Rome and Vienna.[xci]
…Remarkably, western officials prefer to deny that any problem exists; for instance, the current High Representative in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, claims that the Wahhabis in Bosnia are not a threat to Europe.[xcii] […]