Q: Were you aware of the KLA and Bosnian Muslims’ ties to Osama bin Laden at the time you were negotiating with them?

A: Yes.

Richard C. Holbrooke, September 10, 2002

Below I’ve transcribed some of the most compelling parts from this clip of the documentary “Sarajevo Ricochet” by journalist J.M. Berger, which aired in Norway in April.

UN peace negotiator in Bosnia Thorvald Stoltenberg witnessed the arms smuggling and claims the United States directly supplied the Bosnians. “We saw Iranian planes and American planes coming in with arms and military equipment…I saw it myself, the planes.”

Every American official interviewed by Berger denies that the United States directly provided weapons to the Bosnians, but most admitted that all other arms suppliers were welcome.

By 1995 some 2000 jihadists had traveled to Bosnia according to the research of Esad Hasimovich. Soon, the jihadists also started to kidnap and kill soldiers and civilians serving in the UN peacekeeping mission to Bosnia. They created gruesome propaganda videos executing prisoners of war….

[Galbraith: Mujahedeen atrocities not a big issue.]

But Esad’s investigation shows that mujahedeen war crimes rose to new levels in Bosnia during the last year of the war. Serb prisoners were tortured and executed in public places then buried in mass graves.

For Esad, this is not just a Bosnian story. This is a story about the spread of global jihad. “It was something different from the war, because the Bosnian war was over in December of 95. But it was my mistake. For these groups, war was not over.”

[Former NSA Bosnia intelligence chief John R. Schindler:] “By 1995 there were already European governments that were very concerned about some of the al Qaida footprints in Bosnia that was [sic] now spreading out across Europe. It’s not an accident that after 911, many of these governments quietly told Washington, ‘We told you, we were warning you about this a half decade ago and you called us crazy, not a team player, being difficult, paranoid.’ But the reality is it was several European governments who in the mid to late 1990s were far more proactive than the U.S. government in fighting al Qaeda and in my mind they’re allowed to say ‘Hey, we’ve been in this fight longer than you have, we got it long before you did. It was your policies that — certainly didn’t cause it — but facilitated a lot of this badness.”

On December 14th, 1995, the same day as the Dayton accord was to be signed, a key leader of the mujahideen was conveniently killed. The Egyptian Anwar Shaban, commander of the mujahedeen forces and an ally of Osama bin Laden, was ambushed near the Bosnian border. In his bullet-ridden car, a notebook was found. Esad Hasimovic got a copy of the notebook and it reveals the discussions and postwar plans of the mujahedeen. It says they were prepared to attack the NATO forces that were coming into Bosnia to replace the UN peacekeepers. The mujahedeen wanted to use the country as a new European base for the global jihad. For president Alija Izetbegovic this notebook would have been a devastating political scandal. Shaban had invited the president to several meetings with the mujahedeen shortly before the Dayton accord was signed. Shaban filmed the meetings and made detailed transcripts. In defiance of the terms he agreed to during the Dayton negotiations, Izetbegovic continued to promise the mujahedeen fighters they could stay in Bosnia. The record of these meetings was a nightmare for the Bosnian intelligence service. They knew Shaban planned to use the transcripts and photos to blackmail the Bosnian leadership. They also had another reason to be worried. Propaganda videos that included footage from one of the meetings carefully edited out the face of a man sitting next to the president. But the original picture reveals the man was Abu Mali, one of Osama bin Laden’s top allies in Europe. And Bosnian intelligence documents showed that the leaders of the mujahedeen, Shaban and Mali, were in close telephone contact with al Qaeda operatives and with Osama bin Laden personally.

Closing with some quotes:

[Kosovo] is reminiscent of the situation in Bosnia a few years earlier where, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Clinton administration had sought “to keep the lid on the pot at all costs” regarding its role in abetting the Iranian infiltration of the country with mujahedin, military trainers and heavy weapons during the 1992-1995 civil war.

– Christopher Deliso, Balkanalysis.com, June 22, 2007

Western journalists failed to note that the (Bosnia) Muslim ruling party, while portraying itself as thoroughly democratic and impressively multicultural, in fact was run by and for Islamists of a radical bent, whose ideal society was revolutionary Iran. … That the Bosnian jihad was considered a major success by al-Qaida was something no journalist uttered…[Bosnia] has continued its seemingly relentless slide into crime, corruption and extremism. Radical Islam has a stronger hold there than ever before, and it remains a mystery to me why Western governments continue to not give this problem, in the heart of Europe, the attention it deserves.”

– John R. Schindler, professor of Strategy at U.S. Naval War College and former NSA analyst, Town Hall, Oct. 18, 2007

“If you read President Izetbegovic’s writings, as I have, there is no doubt that he is an Islamic fundamentalist,” said a senior Western diplomat with long experience in the region… “This has not changed. His goal is to establish a Muslim state in Bosnia, and the Serbs and Croats understand this better than the rest of us.”

“Bosnian Leader Hails Islam at Election Rallies,” New York Times, Sept. 2, 1996

Osama bin Laden — stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 — is alleged to have retained the Bosnian passport he was issued in Vienna in 1993. According to a Sept. 1999 report in Dani, a Bosnian Muslim weekly paper, Alija Izetbegovic, then president of Bosnia, granted Mr. bin Laden a passport in recognition of his followers’ contributions to Mr. Izetbegovic’s quest to create a “fundamentalist Islamic republic” in the Balkans.

…While no exact numbers exist, it is estimated that between 1,500 and 3,500 Arab volunteers participated in the Bosnian civil war…According to reports, it was the mujahedeen who committed some of the worst atrocities of the war, under Gen. Nasir Oric in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Beheadings of Serbian civilians were commonplace, and in some villages the mujahedeen would dynamite homes with the inhabitants trapped inside.

Alija Izetbegovic was also proud to display the fighting prowess of his mujahedeen volunteers… Mujahedeen warriors had served as the vanguard of the assault force, and were awarded 11 decorations for valour, including the Golden Crescent, Bosnia’s highest honour.

Yugoslav intelligence estimates that citizenship was granted to more than 1,500 mujahedeen, including al-Qaeda members, following the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995…According to Miroslav Lazanski, author of the new book, Osama bin Laden Against America, al-Qaeda members still maintain two bases in Bosnia, one of them reserved for top fighters.

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, FBI and CIA agents uncovered evidence that two of the suicide hijackers had originated from this Bosnian camp. The commander of the camp, an Algerian named Abu Mali, was subsequently arrested while travelling in Istanbul on a Bosnian passport.

Scott Taylor, “Bin Laden’s Balkan Connections,” Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 15, 2001

[There is a] call to Jihad at the beginning [of Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration]…Political Islam was the foundation of the Bosnian Government, and the Serbs were right to be concerned…[The Declaration] shows, beyond dispute, that his aim was an Islamic state in which minorities would only be tolerated in so far as they adopted Islamic values and lifestyle (i.e., became dhimmis). In his Unholy Terror, John Schindler quotes a Bosnian newspaper (early 90s) in which a high-up Bosnian Government official also talks of the aim of establishing an Islamist state. Importantly, the tone is very much that of the Islamic Declaration.

– A. Millar, editor of European Son website and contributor to Hudson NY

The “Islamic Declaration” can and should be compared to Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”, a pamphlet that not only defines the objectives of “Islamic revival” (i.e. return to the basics, or fundamentalism) but also lays out the strategy and tactics of waging jihad wherever there are Muslims. The world’s Muslims are normally a fractious lot, so it is important to note that Izetbegovic was honored from Morocco to Malaysia, and by any and all “flavors” of Islam in between. Nobody else on the planet is thought of as highly in Rabat, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Tehran, Islamabad and Jakarta alike. Also note that the awards and recognitions he received were for contributions to Islam as such, rather than some supposed heroism in the Bosnian War. Though one could argue that getting the “Great Satan” to fight his jihad for him is no small feat.

Every Muslim male soldier was [buried as a “martyr”]. Even today, when Muslims talk of their war dead, they speak of “shaheed and fallen fighters” (the latter being the few non-Muslims who joined the “Bosnian Army”). But the clear implication is that all the Muslims who fought and died were martyrs in the jihad. They never call it a jihad, of course (bad press and all) but it is written on every tombstone that it was.

Back in March, there was a story on Bosnian Serb TV of a Muslim woman from Srebrenica (Hasa Omerovic), who refused to have her husband buried under the “path of Allah” sign in Potocari [where the Srebrenica memorial is], and insisted instead to have him buried in Tuzla, under a secular tombstone.

She couldn’t afford this, mind you, so the Bosnian Serb authorities pitched in. She was simply VILIFIED by the Muslim public (”Chetnik whore”, etc.), while the “Mothers of Srebrenica” argued she was defiling their “holy place, their pilgrimage.” (Incidentally, proving correct my thesis from the Bleiburg article.)

– email from Nebojsa Malic, June 2011