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How many times has it been said or written sarcastically of us Balkans heretics that “The place she wants you to worry about for terrorism is not in the Middle East or Pakistan, but in the Balkans. She wants you to think that Bosnia/Kosovo is the next Afghanistan.”

Well, over the past three years more and more people have gotten the memo that ISIS is setting up its Great White Hope in Bosnia and Kosovo, while recruits from both continue topping the numbers, proportionally speaking.

It has something to do with the fact that the West created Afghanistan-like potential “in the heart of Europe,” as the Balkans are again emphatically being called, this time not to dramatize some desperately concocted genocide “in the heart of Europe,” but to underscore the juxtaposition of the Middle East making its way into Europe, which is happening thanks in large part to that early help from media and governments in concocting that genocide and the wars they justified with it.

This European Middle East we facilitated is precisely what the Caliphate had pinned its hopes on for infiltrating Europe more expeditiously. How many times have we few tried to explain this, and in how many different ways, in response to criticisms that we were mischaracterizing the vast majority of secular, European, moderate, pro-American “Kosovars” and “Bosniaks,” as if that were the point.

As we peruse the following year-in-review about Bosnian and Albanian jihadis (and these are just the ones I haven’t had a chance to chronicle yet on this blog), let’s keep in mind that old pals U.S., UK and Germany brought us all of this. That’s who’s made this world for us, and so more of our children have to die, starting with the soldiers who are sent by the same devils to face the enemy proliferated by us (UsIS?). And still they want us to believe that it was a bigger deal that some Serb paramilitaries in the 90s executed up to a thousand Muslim soldiers (”8000,” as they call the same figure), and so everything we’re dealing with now is justified by it.

Inside Kacanik, Kosovo’s jihadist capital (UK Telegraph, Aug. 23, 2015, by Colin Freeman)

Tiny town boasts only 30,000 people, yet two dozen local men have gone to fight jihad in Iraq and Syria

Nestling in a wooded valley that its citizens laid their lives down to defend [sic: seize], the town of Kacanik in southern Kosovo is fiercely proud of its war dead.

Well-kept cemeteries include nearly 100 victims of Serb-led ethnic cleansing [sic] in 1999, while in the town centre, a statue clutching an RPG honours fallen members of Brigade 162 of the Kosovan Liberation Army [what?].

But a decade and a half on from the war that brought about Kosovo’s independence, there is rather less pride in Kacanik’s new crop of warriors.

In the last three years, some 24 local menfolk have gone to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, giving the town of just 30,000 people an unwanted reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans.

Not in any way predicated on the first crop of violent, Christian-host-society-delegitimizing-and-slaughtering domestic terrorists, of course, those “Kosovan” Liberation Armyfolk.

…”[Lavdrim] Muhaxheri [the jihadi who last year beheaded a Syrian teen] has given Kacanic a name as the most radical city in Kosovo, if not the whole Balkans,” said Musli Verbani, a local imam, who claims that hardliners forced him from Kacanik’s Islamic Association four years ago. [More than a “claim,” as reporter Freeman could have checked.] “I warned that this kind of thing was coming, but no-one listened.”

…For a nation [sic] of just 1.8 million people, [Kosovo] now punches well above its weight in terms of the number of citizens joining Isil. The interior ministry estimates that some 300 Kosovans have followed in Muhaxheri’s’ footsteps, making Kosovo Europe’s biggest contributor per capita. [Syria alone has 300 from Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.] Along with neighbouring Albania, which has fielded around 200, and nearby Bosnia, which around 160, it is now seen as a potential launch pad for Isil in its bid to establish a new front against Europe in the Balkans.

What’s this? Albania-Kosovo-Bosnia as some sort of jihadi hideout/transit point and launching pad for the Caliphate into Europe? Not like we were warned a million times or anything. Wow, so the enemy found some utility in our pro-American Muslim projects? Who would have thunk?! But wait — before you go second-guessing those projects — The Telegraph wants to keep you on-program via the following image:


Captain Andy Phipps from the British Army holds his head in hands as he looks over the site of a possible mass grave of nearly 100 ethnic Albanians in southern Kosovo Photo: Reuters

What also alarms Western security officials, though, is why any Kosovans would join Isil’s fanatics at all.

[Because they’re Muslim?]

After all, back in 1999, it was the West that rescued Kosovo’s mainly Muslim population, with Nato bombing raids that halted the campaign of ethnic cleansing by Serb extremists.

Yes, let’s be sure to use the language of “ethnic cleansing” and semantic juxtapositions such as “Serb extremists,” lest people start questioning whether either of those was ever accurate, and whether what we did was help with the first leg of a logical conclusion, saving the Caliphate time, money and bodies.

Since then it has been staunchly pro-Western, with the capital, Pristina, boasting both a statue of Bill Clinton and a road named after George W Bush….There are even young Kosovans named “Tony” in honour of Tony Blair.

Some people are so easy.


A Yugoslav army truck with soldiers on it passes next to a police truck with ethnic Albanian refugees near the town of Kacanik, some 60 km south of Pristina [Just look at those women and children in an open truck being ethnically cleansed to safety, away from the fighting; note the older boy’s casual stance, while the younger boy looks scared mostly of falling off the Serbian truck.] Photo: Reuters

Most Kosovans also follow moderate Islam that allows bars on the same street as mosques, and which is enshrined in a new constitution promoting the diversity suppressed during Communism. [Well then, it must be ironclad, permanent and impermeable; after all, everyone — especially the Caliphate — respects national constitutions.]

Yet those same liberal values have also allowed less tolerant voices to flourish, including hardline Islamic charities that arrived during the chaotic post-civil war years…Prosecutions are already pending of various recruiting networks, including one that passed messages via go-betweens at a kebab shop near the Bill Clinton statue.

[Now you get the picture, and what that statue really represents.]

It is, however, already too late, according to Mr Verbani, the Kacanik imam.

A former KLA fighter, he personifies the moderate face of Kosovan Islam. He studied in Cairo and speaks fluent Arabic, yet looked just like another drinker in the cafe bar where he met The Telegraph, wearing neither a beard nor robes.

[Looks like someone’s been had. How did Mr. Verbani put it above: I warned that this kind of thing was coming, but [Mr. Verbani] didn’t listen.]

It was precisely that secular outlook that he found himself having to defend as far back as 2006, when a confrontation with a young local radical named Jeton Raka turned violent.

“At first Jeton was just another good Kacanik kid, but he became more extremist by the day,” said Mr Verbani. “He said the government of Kosovo was against faith, and that school taught children to be unbelievers. I told him he couldn’t speak like that at my mosque, and eventually he came to my house, saying ‘I will burn you and your family’, and petrol-bombed my car. Even then, though, the municipality and the police didn’t help me.”

Raka is now believed to be in Syria along with Muhaxheri, while the government crackdown has largely driven the rest of Kacanik’s radical fringe out of town…[I]n such a small community, most know someone now fighting abroad.

Among them is Sadek Dema whose nextdoor neighbour, Hetem Dema, 41, was killed in January after apparently going to fight with Isil’s rival al-Qaeda faction Jabat al-Nusra.

“He fought in the KLA and was always a good and religious man, although he never showed signs of being radical,” said Mr Dema, as Hetem’s five year-old son, Harith, cycled past on his bicycle.

[Because one form of radicalism (Albanian-nationalist-separatist) never leads to the next, right?]

Arbana Xharra, a Kosovan journalist who has investigated [the Islamic charities’] activities, says that anyone who speaks ill of them can find themselves denounced and threatened as “Islamophobic”.

“I’ve had to change my kids’ school after I got messages online from people saying they would cut my children’s throats — they even knew what time they went to class,” she said.

Like many moderate Kosovans, she also points the finger at Turkey, whose Islamist government has funded networks of mosques across its Ottoman-era provinces of Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania…One senior diplomat from a moderate Arab regime recently told The Telegraph that radicalism would foster in the Balkans as long as Turkey’s influence remained unchecked. “The EU’s best chance is to get countries Kosovo and Albania into its club,” he warned.

[The definition of fanaticism: If what you’re doing isn’t reaping the desired results, keep doing what you’re doing.]

That is a view echoed by Ramadan Ilazi, Kosovo’s 30-year-old deputy minister for EU integration, who says the EU is being too slow in accepting Kosovo’s membership bid. Kosovo’s constitution, he says, is everything that a liberal EU bureaucrat could want, complete with a national anthem that has only music rather than words so “as not to offend anyone”.

Yet to this day, Kosovans cannot even travel to Europe without visa, giving small town youth in places like Kacanik little chance to broaden their horizons [or targets].

“Kosovo was built as an antidote to nationalism and the causes of the war [sic: it was built on hypernationalism that wanted only war],” said Mr Ilazi, who has a picture on his office wall of him shaking President Clinton’s hand as a 14-year-old boy. “But when people don’t see tangible results of their desire to become part of Europe, that allows radicals to suggest that Europe doesn’t want us.”

Still, with Kosovo still also suffering problems with corruption and organised crime, and with Brussels suffering enlargement fatigue, most estimates are that it may be another decade before Pristina enters the Brussels club. That gives the radicals plenty more time to urge men in towns like Kacanik to head East rather than West.

So hurry up and give the Albanians everything they ask, when they ask, even if that gets their non-country into the EU before the actual country they broke off from. I mean, you definitely want ISIL’s #1 contributor to be in the EU.

Now, on to July: Bags with “weapons and uniforms” found near lake [Badovac] in Kosovo (B92, Tanjug, July 20, 2015)

…The bags were found near the location where [on July 11] several persons were detained on terrorism charges… “There were black uniforms in one of the bags, a letter believed to be written in Arabic, and two Kalashnikovs (AK-47s), while it is suspected that the second bag contains explosives and ammunition.” […]

ISIS set up stronghold in the heart of Europe as terrorists secretly buy land near an isolated village (Sunday Mirror, July 18, 2015)

Islamic State have established a stronghold in mainland Europe, a Sunday Mirror investigation reveals.

What?! WHERE? Where on earth in Europe could it be? What choice location have they found? Of all European locations, where has ISIS chosen, pray tell?

…Security services think the area in Bosnia is used for ISIS training camps and could be a base for devastating terror attacks on the West. Crucially, the location gives IS a key strategic position due to its proximity to the Mediterranean which is used by extremists from Syria, Iraq and North Africa.

There’s a place in Europe that’s strategic for the jihad???????? And it’s Bosnia? No Wayyyyyyyyyyyyy!

At least 12 ISIS fighters trained in the village of Osve have left for Syria in recent months and five are reported to be dead. Terror expert Dzevad Galijasevic said: “…There is no one there who isn’t ready to respond to the summons to jihad.”

…A number of villagers wore Islamic-style clothing, including two women wearing burkas. Our guide – our driver and translator – said we were being watched and it was too dangerous to photograph them. Clearly worried, the dad-of-one said: “We should leave now – our presence here is beginning to cause suspicion…If they see the camera all hell will break loose.”

It is understood that notorious ISIS supporter Harun Mehicevic…has purchased two hectares. Mehicevic fled Bosnia during the 1990s Balkan wars and settled in Melbourne, Australia, where he is considered one of the country’s most dangerous men…

Other known terrorists believed to have bought land in the village include Jasin Rizvic and Osman Kekic, who are both now fighting with ISIS in Syria. Muslim leader Izet Hadzic – arrested by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s security service Sipa in a raid – is also understood to have property in the village, as have many others who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq.

One villager…who does not want to be named, said: “We regularly hear gunshots coming from the woods up there for long periods at a time. It happens every week….”

Bosnia is an ideal position for jihadis travelling illegally from Syria to Greece, via Turkey, and then through Macedonia and Serbia.

How about that! Why wasn’t anyone screaming this from the rooftops? Oh wait, we were.

…Five months ago, anti-terror cops raided the village of Gornja Maoca in the north of the country following reports of houses flying the ISIS flag…It has been raided by police several times over the past decade due to suspected links with radical groups.

The report, The Lure of the Syrian War: The Foreign Fighters’ Bosnian Contingent, said that between 2013 and 2014, 156 Bosnian men and 36 women travelled to Syria, taking 25 children with them. It said 48 men and three women had officially returned by last January. […]

The article above followed a July 2 BBC item titled Bosnia: The cradle of modern jihadism? by Mark Urban on “Newsnight”:

Back in the 1990s something happened in central Bosnia-Herzegovina that inspired people to this day and helps explain why that country now has more men fighting in Syria and Iraq…as a proportion of its population, than most in Europe.

The formation of a “Mujahideen Battalion” in 1992, composed mainly of Arab volunteers in central Bosnia, was a landmark. Today the dynamic of jihad has been reversed and it is Bosnians who are travelling to Arab lands.

No! It couldn’t be — not the religiously unreachable, uncorruptible Muslims of Bosnia! Who could have seen this coming?!

“There is a war between the West and Islam,” says Aimen Dean, who, as a young Saudi Arabian volunteer, travelled to fight in central Bosnia in 1994. “Bosnia gave the modern jihadist movement that narrative. It is the cradle.”

Imagine that. Bosnia as the birthplace and nexus of modern jihad. A decade ago almost to the day of this publication, just after the London attacks, the UK Guardian said as much: “[Al-Qaida] was in business from 1993…[T]he big surge…came not after 9/11 or Iraq but in the mid-1990s — with Bosnia serving as the recruiting sergeant.” And as early as 2002 there was this: “The mullahs of Iran saw the Balkans as a prize to be won for the glory of Allah and markedly intensified political involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina…Iran proclaimed [it] a microcosm for resisting the West’s war on Islam, and called in reinforcements.” 2004: “It appears that the Bosnia operation, supported by Bill Clinton, played a vital role in globalising the mujahedin mentality….Many Arabs, as the journalist James Buchan put it, were left stranded in Afghanistan ‘with a taste for fighting but no cause’. Bosnia provided some of them with a new cause.” And 2007: “Liberal hawks and al-Qaeda have no moral equivalence…Yet both camps view world affairs in simple terms in which everything is reducible to a clash between good and evil. Maybe that is because both were forged during that most moralized of wars - Bosnia.”

Now, if Bosnia created the West vs. Islam narrative, how does one explain all that Western aid, training, and firepower that went to the Muslims against the Christians in Bosnia? It’s a head-scratcher, for sure. How could the Muslim world totally misunderstand our intentions with all the help we gave them? How much more loudly could we scream: “Hey, in the war between the West and Islam, we’re on the same side!! There’s no need to look to the fanatics for help. We can be as helpful as any terrorists!”

…Dean’s point is that the West and the Salafists…were on the same side in Afghanistan, but became enemies in Bosnia.

[Well someone should have told us!]

…[I]t was in early 1993, when it became a three-way fight against Catholic Croatians as well as the Serbs, that the Mujahideen Battalion swelled to the hundreds and started to hunt non-believers more actively…British troops fought the Mujahideen Battalion at Guca Gora and elsewhere in the summer of 1993 — the opening shots of that army’s fight against jihadism [So now we’re casually admitting what it was?]…In the nearby town of Travnik, that had been almost equally Muslim, Croatian and Serb before the war, the foreigners helped drive out thousands, and tried to impose Sharia law on those who remained. They were also involved in kidnapping local Christians, and beheaded one, Dragan Popovic, forcing other captives to kiss his severed head.

…[T]he Mujahideen Battalion was also suspected in many others including the kidnap and murder of aid workers as well as the execution of 20 Croatian prisoners.

The foreigners never amounted to more than one per cent of the fighting force at the disposal of the Sarajevo government, despite the frequent claims of the Serb and Croatian media to have spotted Islamic fanatics from abroad just about everywhere. From an early stage the Mujahideen also started recruiting Bosnians and, by 1995, in the final months of the war, the incorporation of several hundred local men allowed the outfit to be expanded into the Mujahideen Brigade, around 1,500 strong.


Dragan Popovic was kidnapped and beheaded by foreign fighters in Bosnia

By the summer of 1993, the Sarajevo government was starting to wake up to the potentially toxic effect of these jihadists on their image as a multi-ethnic, secular republic. So, in an attempt to control it, the battalion was placed under the command of III Corps, the Bosnian Army formation headquartered in the central city of Zenica…

Hundreds of Mujahideen went from Bosnia to Chechnya, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Among their alumni were two of the 9/11 hijackers, the murderer of American hostage Daniel Pearl and numerous other al-Qaeda cadres.

Today also there are suggestions in Sarajevo that the SDA — the late President Izetbegovic’s party — is not taking a tough enough line against foreign fighters. Only this time they are the hundreds of Bosnians who are choosing to fight in Iraq and Syria…In fairness, the Sarajevo government has taken action to ban recruiting for foreign wars and has mounted numerous raids to disrupt extremist networks and arrest those who have returned from fighting in the Middle East.

However, its critics note that for years it turned a blind eye to those Arab Mujahideen who remained in Bosnia but continued to agitate, and has allowed several communities of home-grown Bosnian Salafists to emerge in recent years.

Among those who link what is happening now with the 1990s is Fikret Hadzic, who has been charged with fighting for the so-called Islamic State in Syria…Hadzic had joined the Mujahideen unit in 1994….Other Bosnians who served with that unit back in the war include the leader of an important Salafist mosque in Sarajevo, and Bilal Bosnic, who is in detention awaiting trial. Bosnic is charged with recruiting fighters for the Islamic State group.

With IS now trying to start a “new front for the Caliphate” in the Balkans [What? Someone sees potential in the Balkans for the Caliphate?], there are many who worry that Bosnia is vulnerable because it remains so weak and fragmented, even two decades after its war ended. […]

Sure, that’s why. Not because of the aforementioned approval of Bosniak politicians, but because Bosnia is fragmented, and so the only solution is to centralize it. Meaning, put the Serbs and Croats under one Islamic roof. That’ll fix everything, especially if Washington has anything to say about it. Meanwhile, if there’s any doubt that “fragmented” is code for decentralization that needs such a fix, an August Jane’s Intelligence Review article dispelled it:

On 23 July 2015, Croatian newspaper Globus quoted a report by Croatia’s security agencies saying Bosnia was home to 4,000 Islamic State extremists…The institutional vacuum that emerged after the end of the war and the subsequent ossification of Bosnia’s institutional makeup into a decentralised state divided along ethnic lines further aided the proselytisation of Wahhabi ideology.

The next paragraph ups the ante, saying that, actually, jihad isn’t nearly as big a threat as the Serb nationalist-separatist response it can produce, so it’s really Bosnian-Serb leader Dodik who’s still the problem to worry about:

…A greater risk stems from the possibility of such attacks being utilised by local politicians to advance a separatist agenda, similar to what occurred in the aftermath of the [May] attack [on a police station] in Zvornik. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has been pressured lately due to the Bosnian Serb entity’s grave fiscal problems….Using divisive nationalist and separatist rhetoric and discourse has previously assisted him in deflecting from pressing issues, and any new attack is likely to be exploited by his government to thwart any attempts at centralising Bosnia’s governance model. This increases the risk of renewed inter-ethnic animosity and retaliatory attacks by Bosnian Serbs against Bosniak enclaves situated in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska…

So, the article ups the ante even more, imagining scenarios wherein Bosnian Serbs could potentially attack Bosnian-Muslims. Notice, however, that the phrase “retaliatory attacks” is used, implying that the Muslims will have done something to cause the attacks but not saying so outright, referring instead to “renewed inter-ethnic animosity” and “any new attack.” That is, Jane’s cowardly uses the old trick of general language sans perpetrator when referring to Islamic violence, while “boldly” using “by Bosnian Serbs against Bosniaks” when referring to the Serb response, real or imagined. (As we see in reporting on the Middle East, e.g., “Israelis Kill Six Palestinians on Beach” vs. “Bus Explodes in Central Jerusalem” or “IDF Soldier Stabbed at Crossing.”)

A June UK Guardian article likewise thinks the best way to deal with the Muslim-fanatic threat in Bosnia is to centralize Muslims and Christians under one Muslim-dominated roof:

Isis targets vulnerable Bosnia for recruitment and attack (Guardian, June 25)

High youth unemployment, ethnic tensions and political paralysis help jihadis lure young people to Syria and open up new terror front in heart of Europe (June 25)

Europe could come to regret the failure to confront Bosnia’s profound structural problems in the two decades since the war. Isis produced a new recruitment video this month, targeting the Balkans region and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular… “If you can, put explosives under the cars, in their houses, all over them…” one of the Bosnians, identified by a pseudonym, Salahuddin al-Bosni, implores the audience in Bosnian.

The authors [of the aforementioned “Lure of the Syrian War” report]…found that Bosnia was ill-equipped to deal with the potential threat. It is a weak state, split by a 1995 peace agreement into two entities

It proceeds with more legitimate points:

…Furthermore the federation is divided into 10 cantons. Twenty-two police agencies operate in the country with overlapping jurisdictions and roles…[T]here is no single database on foreign fighters, and the existing data is “mostly scattered, often incomplete or disorganised”… “We are not doing anything. We are just observing,” [author Vlado] Azinović said.

Salafist communities operating outside the official mosques have sprung up in three districts, Gornja Maoča, Osve and Dubnica, and “pop-up” radical mosques, often funded from the Gulf, have appeared in Sarajevo, Zenica and Tuzla.

After three years of observing Bosnian jihadis, the authors place them in two broad categories: veterans who fought alongside mujahideen volunteers from the Arab world in the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict, and young Bosnian men “driven mostly by adrenaline and a quest for self-validation, self-respect, group belonging, and purpose.” Almost a third of the Bosnian Isis recruits had criminal records. [That harkens back to what we already know: Islam is a crime syndicate, one that validates or redirects violent tendencies toward a ‘higher purpose’.]

Like most Isis videos…[it] paints an idyllic picture of insurgent life in Syria, with Bosnian, Kosovan and Albanian fighters walking off to battle like a smiling band of brothers while enjoying time with their families on their days off, complete with complimentary cars.

[”Kosovan AND Albanian fighters,” a.k.a. Albanian and Albanian fighters.]

…With the use of computer graphics, the film portrays the sweep of Balkan history as a prolonged expropriation of inherently “Muslim lands”, first by “crusaders”, then atheistic communists, and finally nationalists. [Gee, but that portrayal was good enough for the West in the ’90s.] The current Bosniak political leadership are painted as collaborators with the enemies of Islam “preparing you like sheep for the next genocide”.

With a dramatic skewing of history, the film credits the mujahideen brigade with “repelling the Serbs” in the Bosnian war, although in reality it had a limited impact on a small section of the frontline. Meanwhile it depicts the large-scale US-led air campaign against the Bosnian Serb military as incidental and somehow designed to prevent the rise of the Muslim faithful. […]

Well, it sort of was, relying on the logic that we should help them so they don’t turn to the fanatics for help. What a surprise: as would later happen in Kosovo, they accepted help from both, and doubled down on the Islam. One supposes the “incidental” part holds true since Western participation, which was passive at first, was egged on by journalists, only later becoming a full-blown policy agenda. (It also took the Bosniaks bemoaning Western indifference to their self-made plight, guilting us about not doing enough to aid them in their war of secession. Yet “far from appreciating Western help in claiming a state in the ‘heart of Europe,’ the Bosnian Muslims have come to believe that was the very least the West owed them, and have engaged in mockery of Western assistance,” Nebojsa Malic wrote in 2007. Then, because we ultimately went along with it, it reaffirmed their victim status. “By hyping the supposed Muslim ‘genocide,’ Jim Jatras has written, we “stoked Muslim rage, not mollified it.”)

But back to the “Kosovars”: 20 Families Join The Islamic State (RTS, Zeri, July 19)


A few decades ago these three would have gone to Woodstock; today it’s ISIS. Photo: telegrafi.com, InSerbia.info

Three brothers from the village of Klina — Arben (38), Adnan (34) and Ekrem (29) — ran to Syria earlier this year and took their wives and children….One of the brothers told his mother that he was “bored enough and that he has to go to fight in the name of Allah”. [Pot used to be enough for boredom; now they need Allah.]

Shortly after the flight to Syria, Ekrem Hasani was killed and it is still unknown what happened to his wife and children.

None of them ever worked before fleeing to Syria, said brothers’ mother to “Zeri”.

According to the daily, because of poverty, people of Kosovo are forced to join the Islamic State….

Yet another case of the people of Kosovo being “forced” to do something. That is, being victimized yet again. And again it’s a form of ‘victimization’ whose solution is to victimize others.

But if poverty is ‘forcing’ the people of Kosovo to join IS, why aren’t the even poorer Serbs, Roma and Ashkali of Kosovo joining ISIS? Maybe because they’re not Muslim? Leaving the main vulnerability to recruitment not poverty, but Islam. (ISISlam?)

Imam from Podujevo Bekim Jasari, who has been fighting against Wahhabism since the beginning…[said] poverty, education, failure, isolation from others are gaining momentum… [He] criticizes religious schools, teachers, the Academy of Sciences, adding that Albanians can no longer raise their voice against this evil. “God said that knowledge is more valuable than worship,” concluded Jasari.

They sure didn’t have a problem raising their voices against secular Yugoslav society. (Maybe because it just wasn’t so evil?) Why are they so cowed now? Cowed by what their own persistence and national aspirations have created.

Still on July, and still on Kosovo, this Albanian kickboxer in Germany had joined ISIL in January and was pro-American enough to die on July 4th. If one reads the linked Wikipedia page, one sees that even thriving Albanians in Europe, with a bright future, join IS. (Notice that his top-model Thai wife had to first convert to Islam before he’d marry her. Why? I mean, if Albanians are so secular?)

…He also opened a Muslim-oriented Muay Thai training camp in Winterthur, Switzerland…with stricter rules applied. But the training programme was marred with media scrutiny when three young men aged 16 to 20 attending the camp, and a sister of the one of the trainees all decided to join ISIS ranks…In January 2015, Gashi left Germany to join up with Islamic State militants in Syria…His father Enver Gashi pleaded with him through the media to return….In a later interview with the Swiss German SRF station in June 2015, he said he was “trying to help build a modern caliphate in Syria” …His death was widely reported on 6 July 2015 after his brother confirmed the death of Valdet on 4 July.

This past June, Maclean’s magazine caught on to the growing trend, incorporating in its characterization of Kosovo as a jihadi hub the very objection commonly raised to such a characterization: the pro-Americanism that’s supposed to negate any possibility of Kosovo being a jihadi hub:

How an America-loving country became a jihadi hub (Macleans, June 15, 2015, by Michael Petrou)

Kosovo owes its existence to the West. Its capital even has a statue of Bill Clinton. But even here, Islamic State is taking root.

The Western country that has sent the most recruits on a per capita basis…is one that owes its very existence as a state to NATO’s military intervention on its behalf.

An April report by the Kosovo Center for Security Studies (KCSS) reveals that as of January, some 232 Kosovars have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria and Iraq, a rate of 125 recruits for every one million people living in the country. This is well ahead of Bosnia, which comes in second with 85 recruits per million, and of Belgium, the third-ranked country, with 42 recruits per million.

Savor that a moment. The top two slots for contributing nations to IS are held by Kosovo and Bosnia. Our pro-Muslim projects.

…According to Shpend Kursani, an external research fellow at KCSS and author of the report, most Kosovars still have a positive view of America and NATO…raising disturbing questions about Islamic State’s ability to penetrate communities that, being broadly secular and pro-Western, would seem to have little reason to support it.

[Isn’t that something.]

Islamic State’s recruiting success in Kosovo upsets Kosovars…. “There’s a sense that people joining Islamic State are betraying in many ways the very nation,” says Florian Bieber, professor of southeast European studies at the University of Graz.

Muslim Kosovars are still much more likely to join jihadist groups than Muslims in Albania and Turkey….[Isn’t that interesting?] Turkey, which borders Syria and Iraq and is a major transit point for foreign fighters joining Islamic State, sends only eight recruits per million Muslims, barely six per cent of Kosovo’s rate.

[A]ccording to Kursani, the rate of Kosovar recruits is still worrying — in part because Islamist extremism is such a radical departure from the way the faith has traditionally been practised in Kosovo and elsewhere in the Balkans. [Which, recall, was supposed to make them impermeable, proof-positive that we weren’t aiding a potential threat.]

Changes began in the wake of the 1999 war [how about that!], with the influx of charities and other NGOs from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf…Kursani has also traced a number of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania who studied together in the Middle East during the 2000s and, as he puts it, “started hanging out with the wrong crowd.” …The ethnic Albanians returned to the Balkans. A few began to preach in Macedonia, and one or two did the same in Kosovo, where they had some success spreading the foreign ideology they had acquired. [How about that!]

…[T]here has also been an erosion of national identity as a unifying force since the war, and for some young people, religion has filled that gap. [How about that! So much for all those reassuring emails I get: “Albanians’ religion is Albanianism, you bitch. It’s a NATIONAL struggle.” Yeah. We know. And still it misses the point.] This, in turn, creates dislocation within families, Kursani says, as secular parents recoil from the new-found religiosity of their children. Young people then turn away from their parents and find community among supporters of violent Islamism. [Twitter isn’t enough anymore?]…

Another contributing factor to Kosovo’s fecundity for jihadists may be the poor economic prospects of its young people. Kosovars are leaving their country by the thousands…Others, unemployed, isolated from their families, and lacking a strong sense of communal identity other than religion, look elsewhere.

None of these factors is unique to Kosovo. Liberal strains of Islam have elsewhere been challenged by severe and chauvinistic manifestations of the faith. Other countries are poor and have gone through conflict and political upheaval. It’s noteworthy that Bosnia…is also a rich source of jihadists among European nations.

How about that. Kosovo isn’t alone. Why, “other countries” with “liberal strains of Islam,” have been challenged. Such as…say…for example…off the top of the writer’s head…just randomly picking here…BOSNIA…rolls off the tongue. That other Balkans project of ours.

Continuing with the thread about the influx of Gulf “charities” and such, a June 24th NPR interview was titled After Kosovo Emerged From War, Foreign Extremists Radicalized Youth

Decades of communism left Kosovo a largely secular place. But after the U.S.-backed war for independence, extremists radicalized young people. Now some have joined the Islamic State in Syria. (It’s that U.S. might, or Might-us, touch we have: Everything we touch, turns to Islam.)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: …NPR’s Ari Shapiro just returned from Kosovo….[H]ow big a role does religion actually play in public life there?

SHAPIRO: Well, before I left for Kosovo, I spoke with Akan Ismaili, who is Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States, and he describes this as a country that is Muslim in name, but far less so in practice. Here’s what he said.

AKAN ISMAILI: …[T]he media would start describing it as a kind of an Islam-light just by what they were seeing. By a couple of years later, they were describing it as an Islam-zero because you would not see it in a sense that it’s there.

SHAPIRO: And Audie, I can tell you from first-hand experience that this is true. I was in Kosovo last week during Ramadan, and the cafes in the capital Pristina were full during the day. People were eating and drinking. And I asked restaurant owners if business had dipped at all because of people fasting for Ramadan. They said nope, not at all.

CORNISH: So if the country’s so secular, how has radicalization come to be seen as a problem?

SHAPIRO: …[W]hen Kosovo emerged from war in the 1990s….groups from Saudi Arabia came in to build schools and dormitories where people were essentially brainwashed…For some context here, youth unemployment is above 50 percent in the country. People in Kosovo are not allowed to travel to other parts of Europe without a visa, so a lot of young people feel trapped. And that makes them easy targets for indoctrination, as you can hear in this video.

“Black days are coming,” [an Albanian-speaking male in the video] says. “You will fear to walk in the streets.”

I wanted to find this young man’s family, so we drove far outside of the capital city, high up into the mountains. It was so remote, so poor, it was hard to fathom that this is 21st century Europe.

We’ve just arrived in this tiny village of Bukovik, and every building looks half ruined and crumbled. The road is rutted. It’s made of dirt. There are a few chickens but no sign of people. The mosque is the only building that looks new…They’ve moved to the foot of the mountain to try to find jobs in the slightly larger town of Gjilan.

In Gjilan, too, mosque is the fanciest building in town. This place feels totally different from the capital, Pristina. Men here have long beards. The women wear headscarves. Eventually, we do find the father….In fact, we find a few families like his, people whose relatives have gone to Iraq and Syria. All of them refuse to speak with us. So I reached Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi. He’s the government’s man in charge of fighting radicalization, and he connects this problem to larger challenges that face any new country emerging from war.

PETRIT SELIMI: Transition’s very tough. To become from zero to hero, it’s not an easy process. A lot of people feel that a new country has born but they don’t have the new opportunities in life.

CORNISH: …What does the government in Kosovo see as a solution?

SHAPIRO: When I asked officials that question, they told me they can’t do this on their own. They need Kosovo to become a member of some international organizations. Here’s Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi.

SELIMI: We’re not part of U.N. We’re not part of Interpol. We’re not part of UNESCO. We’re not part of FIFA World Cup in soccer.

SHAPIRO: Well, that might be a good thing at this point, but go on (laughter).

SELIMI: Yeah, well, you know, we’re not part of the Eurovision song contest, which, also, you may say is a good thing. (LAUGHTER) But these are platforms of public cultures in which people become proud of their societies and their countries. [Funny, one thing that never seemed to be lacking in Kosovo is pride.]

SHAPIRO: He argues that if this small new country becomes more of a part of the global community, then people from Kosovo won’t have as much reason to look for belonging elsewhere in a group like ISIS.

Notice how for every next mischief that Albanians are involved in, the solution always seems to be in giving them the next thing and the next and the next that was never part of the original deal. Everything will be solved if you just keep pushing the full agenda of what they wanted from the start of their expansionist war which they recruited us into and which was the gateway to all these problems in the first place. And yes, let’s repeat the boomeranging rationale behind helping in the first place — that if we help them, they won’t look to the radicals for help. Maybe, since it hasn’t worked yet, it’ll work this time around. What can go wrong? Surely enshrining something born of evil doesn’t reap more evil?

Continuing backwards through the past year finds us with this May item:

A Kosovo father recounts harrowing trip to retrieve sons from Syria (By Jonathan S. Landay - McClatchy Washington Bureau, May 6, 2015)

For months, Faik Uksmajli warned the Kosovo police that his elder son was determined to go to Syria to join the Islamic State. And for months, the police insisted that the country’s border posts were on alert, ready to stop him if he tried.

So when Uksmajli’s son Arbnor telephoned one day last July to say that he, his wife, two children and younger brother, Albert, were in Syria, Uksmajli took matters into his own hands…

It’s also a story of a father’s love and determination to reunite a family sundered by the Islamic radicalism that’s been growing in Muslim-dominated Kosovo since the 1999 U.S.-led military intervention put Europe’s newest country on the road to independence from Serbia…Just a day after an Islamic State death threat forced [Uksmajli] to leave Syria, 21-year-old Arbnor died and Albert, 19, lost an arm in airstrikes in the eastern city of Aleppo.

Uksmajli now is all but bankrupt, unable to maintain the concentration he needs to operate the dangerous saws and grinders of his small woodworking business. He feels betrayed by his government and bitter that he’s powerless to rescue Albert – who went to care for Arbnor’s family, not to be a jihadi – or his daughter-in-law and grandchildren, who remain in Syria.

The family lived in Germany for years, dodging late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic’s brutal ethnic cleansing offensive, which he’d unleashed in 1998 to crush an uprising by Kosovo’s oppressed ethnic Albanian majority, leading to the U.S.-led intervention. [That’s to keep you on track, lest you start questioning how big and dangerous this “dodged” Milosevic bullet really was, leading to questions about how necessary it was for us to turn Kosovo into a jihadi hub.]

After the war, Uksmajli moved the family and his business – producing doors and other wooden products – back to his village.

The business prospered. Uksmajli’s sons graduated from university. Arbnor returned to Germany to work, while Albert found a job with a U.S. humanitarian group, teaching music to poor children.

In 2013, Arbnor returned from Germany and began attending the village mosque, Uksmajli said, nodding at a minaret across pastures and orchards. And that’s when his son began to change [NO, really?!], Uksmajli recounted, explaining that Arbnor grew a beard, regularly attended prayers and adopted the puritanical Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia.

Early last year, Arbnor started railing about the Syrian civil war….He also spoke about bombing Camp Bondsteel, the U.S.-built NATO peacekeeping headquarters in eastern Kosovo.

“I asked him, ‘What’s happening to you? Why are you acting like this?’ …My son told me, ‘The first chance I get, I’m going to plant a bomb in Bondsteel.’…”

Uksmajli blamed the radicalization of Arbnor and some 20 other young men who he said also had gone to Syria on the local cleric, Nehat Husseini, and an associate who’d had several run-ins with the police after returning from fighting in the Middle East.

Uksmajli said that all Arbnor talked about “was how to plant a bomb inside Bondsteel, because Nehat Husseini told him, ‘You will be closer to heaven the more Americans you kill.’ I said to him, ‘How dare you say that. Who was it who helped us in 1999? Do you know that the Americans are our greatest friends? . . . It was God first and Bill Clinton second.’

“I told the police that my son is praying in the mosque and the imam of that mosque is telling my son to go to Syria,” Uksmajli said. “I told them about the man who’d been to Syria…I told them they’re pressing my son to bomb Bondsteel.”

The police questioned Arbnor, and released him. At that point, Uksmajli said, his son stopped coming home most days and turned off his cellphone. Again Uksmajli called the police, asking them to arrest Arbnor and confiscate his passport and those of his family, but to no avail, he said.

“…Arbnor called me and said, ‘…You must know that we are stronger than the police and we can get passports anytime we want. The imam, Nehat Husseini, can get us passports in 24 hours.’

“I was calling the police every second day,” said Uksmajli. “This period was May 2014, and the police again told me not to worry because they’d already contacted people at the airports in Albania and every other border of Kosovo and the moment they try to cross the border, they’ll be detained. The police also told me that they already had their passports.”

In a statement to McClatchy, the Kosovo Police denied confiscating the passports. The police, however, confirmed that they’d asked Kosovo border authorities and “other countries in the region” to watch for the group and to alert the Kosovo Police if they tried to leave the country, so that an “official request to stop their travel” could be issued.

“…[O]n June 29 I called the police. I told them my sons weren’t home. They told me there was no chance for them to cross the border. And after six days, Arbnor called me from Syria.

“…I asked him, ‘How could you do it without passports?’ And my son told me, ‘No, we got our passports back.’ And then he hung up.”

Another call to the police. Another assurance that the group couldn’t leave Kosovo.

So Uksmajli did his own sleuthing, canvassing travel agents in the nearby town of Ferizaj.

“I found the travel agency in Ferizaj where they’d bought their tickets,” he said, explaining that his sons had taken a bus to Albania’s capital, Tirana, from which they’d flown via Istanbul to Gaziantep in Turkey, a key transit point….Uksmajli made copies of the group’s ticket receipts and showed them to the police.

‘I said to them, ‘Here is the proof. You see that they went and that they had passports. So are you stronger or are the imams?’ The police just shrugged and said anything was possible,” he said.

The police, he charged, “have their own financial interests in sending people to Syria” and collude with the hard-line clerics.

The police deny it, saying they’ve stopped “dozens of young people and many families with children from going to Syria.”

Uksmajli decided to follow his sons, to try to persuade them to return home. He asked the government for financial assistance and a document certifying that he wasn’t going to Syria to fight. He got neither. So he sold his car and truck for about $34,000, bought a plane ticket and flew to Gaziantep.

He found a small restaurant in Gaziantep, and using his fluent German he asked diners whether they knew how someone could get into Syria or Iraq to join Albanian-speaking fighters. A German-speaking Afghan offered to drive Uksmajli for about $30,000 to a compound near the Iraqi city of Mosul where Albanian-speakers were based.

…That evening, Uksmajli climbed into a van driven by the Afghan, who was with another man. Both were armed. Two Afghan women – clad in body-length black chadors with eye-slits to see through — and a third man sat in the back, bound for the Syrian city of Aleppo. They drove across the border without a problem and, after an all-night trip, reached Mosul.

It was Aug. 15, a little more than two months after Iraq’s second largest city had fallen to the Islamic State’s offensive that swept to the doorstep of Baghdad. There was fighting everywhere. “…All the way to Mosul, I saw bodies. . . . I saw burnt cars, bodies all over, children who’d been killed, women, old people. Houses on fire. But the driver knew which roads to take.”

In Mosul, Uksmajli found some fighters from Albania, who advised him to look for his sons at a base of Albanian-speakers outside Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city…As the van approached the entrance, Uksmajli said, he saw his younger son, Albert, walking out with two men. He shouted for the Afghan to stop. As the vehicle slowed, gunfire rang out, ripping the van with bullets.

The Afghan floored it, but the bullets found the tires, and the driver had to stop a half mile down the road. Uksmajli and the two men in the front seat got out…The women were dead. The [third] man was alive, but barely, bleeding from a head wound.

“The driver dragged the two women out of the vehicle and left them in the road,” Uksmajli said. “The man was still alive. The driver turned around and shot him in the head. I asked him, ‘If I also was wounded, would you have killed me as well?’ He said to me, ‘Yes, because what would I do with you if you were injured?’

The three men ended up walking to a nearby house, where the Afghan ordered Uksmajli to wait and then left with his companion. A few hours later, another German-speaking Afghan showed up. His name was Ali Hussein.

Hussein had fought with the Soviet force that occupied Afghanistan in 1979, but then apparently he’d switched sides and become a jihadist. He knew some Albanian words that he’d picked up fighting against the Serbs in Kosovo with some 40 other foreign Islamists. He knew Uksmajli’s village [Naradinja]. His passport showed that he was 63 years old.

Uksmajli spent the next eight days driving around war-ravaged eastern Syria with Hussein…Hussein kept a black Islamic State flag in his car that he’d display when passing through the group’s territories and would hide when passing through land controlled by Syrian rebels who were fighting both the Islamic State and the Assad government.

“There were women and children dead all over the place. Old people. Houses were on fire in Aleppo, Raqqa, Homs, everywhere…I saw different kinds of groups, like groups from Russia, from Serbia, from different countries,” Uksmajli recounted. “There were lots of groups. and you never knew who was fighting whom.”

On the final day of his stay near Aleppo, Uksmajli finally received a written response in Arabic…that a check with clerics in Kosovo had showed that, “You aren’t a person who was sent to fight. Your name isn’t anywhere. Someone sent you from the police, and if we capture you, you know how you’ll end up.”

That evening, Hussein told him he’d have to leave Syria immediately if he wanted to live.

“Then Ali took my phone because I’d been recording videos the entire time. He told me, ‘We need to destroy this phone because if they capture us together with this phone, they will behead us both.’ ”

They crossed the border on Aug. 24 and drove to the Turkish city of Hatay, where Uksmajli boarded a flight to Istanbul. From there, he flew to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, and then drove the short distance home.

The bad news came Sept. 1. Albert called to say he’d lost an arm and Arbnor had died in airstrikes on Aleppo the day after his father was forced to leave Syria.

Uksmajli is convinced that the raids were launched by American aircraft, but the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria didn’t begin until Sept. 23.

Several police officers came to speak to Uksmajli after news about his sons spread. But no one came from the government or the Islamic Community, the official body that oversees Islamic affairs in Kosovo, he said.

Uksmajli said he’d called for an investigation of Husseini, the cleric, but that none was launched.

“I’ve been on television. I publicly mentioned the imam’s name, my sons’ names. The Kosovo Police said they’ve got no evidence,” said Uksmajli. At one point, an Albanian-speaker called, warning that Uksmajli would be beheaded if he didn’t remove a video of one of his interviews with a local TV station from the Internet. […]

Not so long ago, these threats would come for speaking out against the beloved KLA and the Kosovo leaders it sprouted. Now the threats are as much for speaking against the religious ones — whom the KLAniks supposedly kept in check. One is all just a bit reminiscent of the other. And these poor Albanians are finding themselves a bit bewildered. No, Mr. Uksmajli, America is not your greatest friend. It’s no one’s friend, not even its own.

April brought us this Bosnia interlude:

Once a magnet for foreign mujahedeen, Bosnia now exports them (AFP, April 29, by Rusmir Smajilhodzic)

A magnet for foreign jihadists during its 1990s war, Bosnia is now grappling with the threat from home-grown extremists wooed by the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

While most Bosnian Muslims are moderates, a few thousand have adopted the ultraconservative Salafist brand of Sunni Islam introduced by the fighters who flocked to Bosnia…Twenty years on, the radical preachers giving fiery sermons in “mesdzids”, or improvised prayer halls, are no longer foreigners. Those taking up arms are also local men.

Hardliners, whose numbers are estimated by the authorities at around 3,000 followers, represent just a fraction of Bosnian Muslims, who make up around 40 per cent of the population of 3.8 million. But their ranks are suspected of supplying scores of fighters….

Some 150 Bosnians are believed to have joined jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, while some 50 others have already been and returned from the battlefield, according to the intelligence services. Two men arrested at Sarajevo airport in February were charged with attempting to join the Islamic State group….

“Those who return to the country are very dangerous….they start to recruit others,” said Jasmin Ahic, a professor at the Sarajevo University Faculty of Criminology. To prevent their departure, parliament last year introduced sentences of up to 20 years in prison for jihadists and their recruiters.

In January, a radical imam in the northwestern town of Buzim was the first person to go on trial accused of recruiting people for jihad. Husein Bosnic, a former member of a mujahedeen unit in Bosnia’s war, replaced Nusret Imamovic as leader of the country’s Salafists after Imamovic left for Syria in late 2013, according to intelligence sources and the US State Department. Imamovic, who is named on a US State Department terrorist list, is believed to be the third-in-command of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Testifying at Bosnic’s trial in Sarajevo, the relatives of several youths who travelled to Syria or Iraq, some of whom have died in fighting, said their kin attended his sermons. The prosecution accused the cleric of receiving “significant” funding from unnamed backers in Arab states. […]

It got so that even a U.S. propaganda outfit like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty couldn’t ignore what’s been happening, bringing us back to Kosovo the same month:

TRACKING ISLAMIC STATE
Report Finds Alarming Outflow Of Kosovars To Islamic State
(RFERL, April 15)

…At least 232 Kosovo citizens are fighting alongside militants in Syria and Iraq, making Kosovo rank eighth overall (and first per capita) among the 22 Western states with citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq, a new report has found.

The majority of Kosovars fighting in Syria and Iraq are thought to have joined militants there in 2013. During that year, the recruitment of Kosovars intensified as IS and other foreign fighter factions strengthened their positions in the country, the [Kosovo Center for Security Studies] report said.

In October 2013, another Kosovar — 24-year-old ethnic Albanian Lavdrim Muhaxheri — appeared in an IS video calling on Albanian Muslims to join the militants fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Muhaxheri appears alongside other ethnic Albanians from Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania in an IS propaganda video, Clanging Of The Swords Part 4…Muhaxheri, who hails from the town of Kacanik in Kosovo, gained even more notoriety in July 2014, when a news report published graphic photographs of him apparently cutting the head off a young man. Muhaxheri went on to explain his actions in an interview with Tirana daily Dita on August 2, 2014, saying that he had decapitated the teenager because he suspected him of being a spy and that he had done “nothing more than what members of the KLA did during the war [in Kosovo].”

[For those reading between the lines, this is another uncanny similarity between the Albanians’ “purely national struggle” and the jihad that Albanians have nothing to do with.]

After the Kosovo War ended in 1999, religion became more popular in the country thanks to societal disorientation and weak economic and political conditions, the [KCSS] report says.

[So after “non-jihad” wars with the infidel host society, both Bosnia and Kosovo emerged more religious. Uncanny.]

The KCSS accuses international and local government structures of neglecting Kosovo’s rural communities after the war, which the report says created space for “Middle Eastern charity organizations to massively penetrate these areas.”

Those local government structures would be the ones composed of the Albanians’ KLA heroes. Meanwhile, we all know how the international overseers would reassign or hush up anyone who dared bring up the Middle Easterners taking over. (”[OSCE security officer Tom] Gambill presented evidence of a concerted Islamic fundamentalist build-up in Kosovo…to army and intelligence officials from the US and allied countries…indicating a terrorist presence, however, he was often ignored. ‘The peacekeeping motto was, “don’t rock the boat.”‘ …Gambill’s testimony is reminiscent of the situation in Bosnia….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. While that was done to suppress an embarrassing and shortsighted government policy, the disregarding of dubious developments in Kosovo has had more to do with the general mediocrity and every-man-for-himself dynamic of a non-accountable UN peacekeeping mission.

Regardless, yes, let’s point the finger at individual, micro reasons — and never at the Albanians themselves, who wanted a war with a predictable outcome. None of the specific micro reasons explains how some of us knew what the outcome would be from the start.

…Kursani told RFE/RL’s Balkan Service that those in Kosovo who embrace the IS ideology are opposed to state institutions. “They are against all the state institutions, police and army, they’re against voting, against handshaking with a police or a soldier for that matter, because in such a case, you would be immediately regarded as infidel,” Kursani said.

Despite this, those who have fought and died in Syria are treated with caution or even rejection by local people.

“For instance, when we met a brother of a person who was killed in Syria, he was very isolated, neighbors kept calling him a ‘terrorist’,” Kursani told RFE/RL.

…Kosovo has already taken a number of steps to fight radicalization. In a wave of arrests in January, the republic’s security services detained over 80 individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist groups. However, police have lacked evidence to file indictments against over 60 percent of those arrested….The IS ideology came to Kosovo via a “number of Skopje based imams who have visited and studied in the Middle East,” the report said.

…The report says that the majority of Kosovo citizens in Syria have only completed a secondary education. One former militant named as A.A…told the KCSS that notorious militant Lavdrim Muhaxeri had asked recruiters in Kosovo, including an imam named Zekirja Qazimi, not to send educated people. Uneducated people were better able to follow orders without asking questions, Muhaxeri reportedly said.

A momentary side note first on Qazimi (pronounced Chazimi), then on Muhaxeri. It is not clear if Qazimi is a relation of the KLA et al’s “Captain Lleshi,” real name Ridvan Cazimi, who was among those “moderate” Albanians coached by NATO to stage attacks on Serbia in the late ’90s. What is known is that the son of Lleshi/Cazimi is among the Albanian followers of ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a.k.a. Caliph Ibrahim. Lleshi’s/Cazimi’s brother Izet, meanwhile, is living off the glory of his family ties despite shaving off his jihadi beard and posting tons of family selfies on facebook when he’s not obstructing war crimes arrests.


A 2001 photo of late southern Serbia-based Commander Lleshi, the picture of ‘moderate’ Albanian nationalism that was supposed to be deadly only to Serbs. Caption: Picture taken 13 March 2001 of the Commander of UCPMB (Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedje and Bujanovac), Ridvan Cazimi with nickname “Lleshi” in the village of Trnovac during an interview. Cazimi was killed Thursday 24 May 2001 in the village of Trnovac. He was the Head of the Albanian Negotiation Team of Presevo Valley in talks with Yugoslav Authorities. Ethnic Albanian sources insisted on Thursday that Yugoslav troops had shot dead the top Albanian guerilla commander[, which Serbia denied]. EPA PHOTO EPA/VALDRIN XHEMAJ

Meanwhile, Muhaxeri, alternately spelled Muhaxheri, has been reported dead and reanimated half a dozen times, starting in August 2014, a death that a Facebook friend of his denied was true. Then came this December 2014 report, apparently about Muhaxheri under his jihad name:

Report: ISIS Commander from Kosovo Killed in Mosul, Iraq (Dec. 8, 2014)

Kurdish news outlet Rudaw is reporting that high-ranking Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) commander Abu Abdullah Kosovoi was killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday inside of Mosul, Iraq. The Mosul Brigades, a group of ordinary citizens fighting against the Islamic State, are allegedly responsible for the hit…The Islamic State invaded Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June and pushed out the entire Christian community. Kosovoi was supposedly the terrorist group’s top commander in Iraq.

Muhaxheri was again reported killed in January 2015, this time in Kobani, Syria. Before he reappeared in Iraq this past July, RFERL in May tried to pin down when a video of him killing someone with an RPG was taken. That article had a few precious updates and reminders:

* an updated figure of 500 Albanians in Syria and Iraq, 232 of them from Kosovo, “making Kosovo rank eighth-highest overall (and first per capita) among the 22 Western states with citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq.”

* a new manner of death: by air strike.

* a reminder of the charming fact that Muhaxheri had reportedly worked at our Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, and that “in 2010 he is thought to have been hired, via a private company, to work for two years in NATO camps in Afghanistan.”

* a new factoid: Kosovo Albanian Fatlum Shalaku, “a 20-year-old bodybuilder from London, was one of six suicide bombers who blew themselves up fighting for IS in Ramadi, Iraq.”

All along, however, the article made sure to use the usual phrases: IS Albanians “causing outrage” and “shock” back home among the majority of Albanians, who — gee — never saw this fruit of their labor coming:

Meanwhile, a new figurehead, an ethnic Albanian named Rivdan Haqifi or Ridvan al-Albani, emerged in Muhaxheri’s stead…(Haqifi, who appeared alongside Muxaheri in Clanging Of The Swords Part 4, shocked Kosovo in November by ordering the death of those who had helped bring a young Kosovar boy home after his militant father abducted him and took him to Syria.)

That’s a reference to this October item:

Kosovo ‘jihad’ boy rescued in Syria (BBC.com, Oct. 16, 2014)

An eight-year-old boy from Kosovo has been reunited with his mother after his jihadist father kept him for five months in Syria. Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, said the country’s intelligence agency had found and rescued Erion Abazi with help from Turkish intelligence…While Erion was in Syria, pictures appeared on social media showing him holding up one finger in the Islamic State (IS) sign, and tumbling around with other children next to the militants’ black flag. […]

The aforementioned Kosovo-born bodybuilder/suicide bomber, meanwhile, has company:

The boy from Kosovo who grew up to be a suicide bomber (By Linda Pressly, BBC World Service, Kosovo, Oct. 8, 2014)

…Arieta is leafing through a pile of photos of her younger brother, Blerim Heta

“My brother had a wonderful life. He had money. He didn’t have a Mercedes, he had an Opel, but we were a happy family. And I can’t understand why he did that.”

Blerim was 24 when he left Kosovo on 7 August 2013, without a word to his family. Two days later Arieta got a text — he said he was in Turkey. She didn’t worry, because after becoming a devout Muslim, he often travelled to hear different imams preach. Then she called his number and a message flashed up on her screen — “Welcome to Syria.”

Like many Kosovans, her family identifies culturally as Muslim, but was never religious. Then Blerim started going regularly to the mosque. He began travelling to Macedonia across the border, and to mosques in other Kosovan towns.

“There is one boy in particular - I still see him around every day. He was the one who influenced my brother…”

In his last three months in Kosovo, Blerim Heta changed. He grew a beard. He wore his trousers shorter…and he watched a lot of YouTube videos of imams preaching. Then he was gone.

“He told me he’s fighting for his religion and that other people are bad. He said he wanted to die for Allah, and that it would be a great pleasure for him. I started to cry and scream and say to him what kind of religion do you have to kill people, to kill yourself? And he said if you speak to me like that, I will never call you again.”

Erion Abazi’s family…[too] were all aware his father was becoming more religious. But it was only after her son’s disappearance that [wife] Pranvera told them her husband asked her to wear a hijab, and talked about going to Syria.

On 25 March Arieta’s brother killed himself and 52 Iraqis in a suicide bombing.

“When he was in Kosovo, Blerim said that suicide bombers, they’re not Muslims. But when I talked to him in Syria, and I asked him, ‘Is it good to kill people?’ He said, ‘If they’re not Muslim, yes.’”

At least this kid gets the connection: He celebrated the 16th anniversary of America’s March 24, 1999 “liberation” of their inner Muslim by taking that liberation to its logical conclusion.

Back to Bosnia, and an update on this previously touched-upon item:

Indictment: Bosnian immigrants plotted over Facebook (AP, Feb. 7, 2015)

CHICAGO — Six Bosnian immigrants accused of sending money and military equipment to extremist groups in Syria used Facebook, PayPal and other readily available services…[The indictment] says two of the defendants, a husband and wife in St. Louis, used some of the money to buy U.S. military uniforms, firearms accessories, tactical gear and other equipment from local businesses….

One of the suspects [is] Mediha Medy Salkicevic, a 34-year-old mother of four from the Chicago suburb of Schiller Park….The case will be tried in Missouri, where several other defendants were arrested… All six people who are charged are natives of Bosnia who were living in the U.S. legally. Three are naturalized citizens; the other three had either refugee or legal resident status….

Besides Salkicevic, the indictment names Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County; Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; and Jasminka Ramic, 42 of Rockford, Illinois.

The property manager at the complex where the Hodzics live told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the couple had been living there for 1½ years with their three children. Larry Sorth and his wife, Joyce, said they were surprised by the arrests and that the couple was friendly.

“She was very sweet, to tell you the truth,” Joyce Sorth said of Sedina Hodzic.

That’s the consensus of neighbors of the St. Louis Bosniak community in general, as was protested to me when I railed about the minarets going up there in 2008. (And of course none of this bad Bosnian news out of St. Louis was going to have an effect on Muhamed Sacirbey, that “American and Bosnian” who served as foreign minister for the discredited jihadist administration of wartime president Alija Izetbegovic, writing a July 4th piece extolling Bosniaks as “great Americans” and prattling on about loyalty to America despite its Srebrenica “betrayals.” He invoked the St. Louis community as exemplary, and for good measure threw in something about Serbs going to Syria and/or Ukraine to perhaps kill and cleanse again — in contrast, Bosnian Muslims fighting for ISIS in Syria are merely victims of trickery “exploiting” Srebrenica.)

Still moving backwards through the past year, we land on this little Bosnia item:

Inside the Bosnian mountain village where locals fly the black flag of ISIS above their homes as jihadists’ influence spreads (The Daily Mail, Feb. 4)


Militant Islam was all but unknown to Bosnia’s mostly secular Muslim population until the 1990s Balkans wars


Children are pictured walking to school seemingly oblivious to the insignia of a terrorist group responsible for the brutal killing Jordanian fighter pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. The 26-year-old was locked in a cage, doused with fuel and torched.

…In September [2014], Bosnian police detained 16 people on charges of financing terrorist activities, recruiting and fighting for radical groups in Syria and Iraq, authorities said…

Militant Islam was all but unknown to Bosnia’s mostly secular Muslim population until the 1990s Balkans wars when Arab mercenaries turned up to help the outgunned Bosnian Muslims fend off Serb attacks. […]

We’re still supposed to be sorry they were outgunned?

Still on February here, security expert Gordon N. Bardos detailed “The Balkan Connection” to January’s Charlie Hebdo massacre:

Officials in both the Paris State Prosecutor’s office and Bosnia’s Ministry of Defense have now confirmed that the ammunition used in the Charlie Hebdo attacks was produced in Bosnia, and officials now believe that the weapons used in the attacks may have come from Bosnia as well…[A]ll of this is hauntingly reminiscent of…the murder of Dutch film producer Theo van Gogh, in which, according to veteran Washington Post reporter Douglas Farah, the murder weapon had also been traced to Bosnia (other sources claim the weapon was produced in Croatia). There are other Balkan connections to the recent Paris tragedy as well. The “mentor” of Amedy Coulibaly (who killed a police officer and four other people in the attack on the Parisian kosher grocery store) and Chérif Kouachi (one of the brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices) was Djamel Beghal, a man who had been originally recruited by Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants and a man with both Bosnian citizenship and a Bosnian passport. Beghal himself was an associate of another Bosnian jihad veteran, the imam of London’s Finsbury Park mosque, Abu Hamza al-Masri, recently sentenced to life imprisonment in US federal court.

This is not the first time France has been the victim of Islamist terrorists with roots in the Balkans. In the 1990s, the so-called “Roubaix Group” was largely composed of French veterans of the Bosnian jihad who managed to smuggle an arsenal of heavy weapons back to France from the Balkan battlefields. The Roubaix Group engaged in a wave of metro bombings and armed robberies across the country. Among the group’s more prominent members were Christophe Caze and Lionel Dumont, both French converts to Islam who had fought in Bosnia. Other Bosnian jihad veterans involved in the Roubaix Group were Fateh Kamel (who was also connected to the Millennium Plot bombers, see below), and Rachid Ramda, whom French police found had sent a wire transfer of $10,250 to the individuals involved in the wave of bombings against the Paris metro system in 1995.

The Roubaix Group’s most well-known action was a botched attempt to bomb a Group of 7 summit in Lille, in March 1996. Caze was afterwards killed in a confrontation with police, while Dumont escaped France and was, in March 1997, arrested in Zenica, in central Bosnia, in an apartment belonging to the local interior ministry. He subsequently “escaped” from a Sarajevo prison just five days before he was to be extradited to France.

Dumont was not unique among Islamist terrorists who found convenient Balkan hiding places — or support from local officials sympathetic to the global jihad. Ahmed Zuhair, a.k.a. Abu Hanzala, wanted in connection with the murder of a US citizen and a car bombing in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar, was revealed to have been hiding in the apartment of the chief of police of the central Bosnian town of Travnik (American intelligence ultimately captured Zuhair in Pakistan and transferred him to Guantanamo).

Similarly, in September 1997, Italian police discovered an assassination plot targeting Pope John Paul II during a planned pastoral visit to Bologna. All 14 men arrested were travelling on Bosnian passports. One of the individuals involved in the attempt was the Tunisian national and Bosnian jihad veteran Karray Kamel bin Ali, a.k.a. Abu Hamza. In 2001, Italian authorities requested Kamel bin Ali’s extradition but Bosnian officials refused because he had “Bosnian citizenship.” Subsequently arrested in 2007, he was allowed to take a short “holiday” from a Bosnian prison, during which he promptly escaped.

In December 1999, US authorities arrested would-be LAX bomber Ahmed Ressam on the US-Canadian border. During the subsequent investigation, US officials tried to track down the document forger for the plot, Karim Said Atmani, who lived in the Bosnian village of Donja Bocinja. US intelligence believed that Atmani was traveling between Sarajevo and Istanbul, but Bosnian officials denied that Atmani had ever been there — until investigators later discovered that Atmani had been issued a Bosnian passport six months earlier.

…[E]vidence that the Balkans are still considered a safe place for extremists to lay low can be seen in the May 2013 arrest of Zahid Ali Akbar Khan, one of the architects of the Pakistani nuclear program, on the Bosnian-Croatian border.

Southeastern Europe has also become an important base of activity for the security and intelligence services of various Islamist states; according to a report in the newspaper Dnevni Avaz late last year, Iran, Pakistan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia had some one thousand intelligence agents operating in Bosnia alone. Meanwhile, the propaganda department of the militant Islamist movement in southeastern Europe continues to draw new recruits and spew various forms of hate speech, with extremists in Bosnia such as the imam of Sarajevo’s King Fahd mosque, Nezim Halilović-Muderis, and “journalists” with the Islamist website Saff telling listeners and readers that the Charlie Hebdo attacks were “staged.” (These same people, by the way, claim that “the Jews prepared 9/11 and blamed the Muslims.”)

…Some of the deepest fissures in our security efforts and counterterrorism strategies can be found in southeastern Europe. Many of the individuals and networks supportive of or complicit in the global jihad movement remain in important positions of power and influence in southeastern Europe, yet policymakers in Brussels, Washington, and elsewhere have for more than a decade ignored the dangers they pose — both to their own societies and others…

(Even a 2003 report had it: “Among the new material being circulated in Washington, DC, is a study…entitled Islamic Fundamentalists’ Global Network-Modus Operandi: Model Bosnia, [which details] the linkages between al-Qaida and, for example, Bosnian Government officials….”)

Just a brief pause on Charlie Hebdo, to point out a few ironies, karmas, contradictions, and just plain consequences. As Nebojsa Malic wrote in the days after the January attack, in 1999 the newspaper — rather unsingularly and unheroically — joined the undangerous chorus demonizing Serbs in the course of sanctifying the Muslim side. Here were two Hebdo cartoons that Malic reprinted on his blog:

The first is to the effect that “we’ve run out of women.” That is, women to rape. Implying that the Serbs had raped — and then killed — all the Albanian women. In the second picture, we have an implicitly Muslim head, severed of course by a Christian Serb. I probably don’t need to point out the inversion of that. Or of depicting Serbs as rapists and murderers in the first place, in a region where they were finally responding to the unchecked raping and killing that had been going on for generations as a tool of ethnic cleansing paving the way for a Greater Albania. “Yet those supposedly barbarous Serbs never responded with violence,” Malic wrote, disproving the depiction.

Like everyone else, Hebdo didn’t exercise the courage or intellectual rigor to sort out whether the Muslim side really was the victim, nor to stand with those who were standing up to Islam when it was still stoppable. In that crucial juncture, turning point and battlefield, the Balkans. Hebdo’s communal denial of the Balkans jihad for what it was and the publication’s participation in the world’s 1999 joint criminal enterprise fed the beast that proved its undoing. While it’s now our place to stand with Charlie Hebdo and say “Je Suis Charlie,” at the moment those 12 staffers crossed into the next world, they might have thought, “Je Suis Serbia.”

Continuing again through the past year: Kosovo Citizens Who Fight For Islamic State Are Serious Issue Today (Oct. 2, 2014)

Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Interior[, token Serb] Sasa Rasic has said that…“The situation is serious and a large number of people, around 100, are still under investigation,” he explained. At the same time, the organisations that funded terrorism have been shut down or are under investigation…The rise of Islamic radicalisation and willingness to join a jihad is present in Kosovo, but also throughout the region and in Europe, and it is the result of events from the past 15 years, he said. Certain elements used the instability that followed NATO’s bombing campaign against Serbia, but there are also some social and economic factors that have played a rol[e], he remarked. Although Kosovo is a secular country according to its Constitution, it still poses fertile ground for such activities, since most of the population is Islamic, Rasic said…The overall security situation in Kosovo is much better than before, he believes. “It is also indicated by the number of ethnically motivated incidents, which are dropping in frequency and are mostly no longer serious crimes. The talks between Belgrade and Pristina have helped, as well as some of the agreements signed in Brussels,” he noted…

In other words, capitulation to the secular Muslim thugs can get you their cooperation in keeping the other thugs in check. But thanks for underscoring my earlier point that, secular or not, Kosovo is Islamic. Period. And so NATO was actively and obviously creating a problem from the get-go. Plus creating the jihad-helpful instability that he mentions. At least there are hardly any more non-Albanians to terrorize, making the ethnic incidents “drop.”

In the September/October 2014 issue of World Affairs Journal, Gordon N. Bardos had another article: Jihad in the Balkans: The Next Generation

…While the Muslims of southeastern Europe remain the world’s most moderate Islamic populations, an estimated five to ten percent has become indoctrinated….This is not an accident — the rise and growth of militant Islamism in southeastern Europe is the result of long-term efforts by extremists to radicalize local populations…All of this is funded by generous Middle Eastern donors and supported by small groups of local extremists who have infiltrated influential political, religious, and social institutions.

The origins of the militant Islamist movement in southeastern Europe can most directly be tied to the life and work of Bosnia’s late Islamist president, Alija Izetbegovic. In the late 1930s, Izetbegovic and a conspiratorial group of like-minded Islamist extremists formed an organization called the Mladi Muslimani (“Young Muslims”)…whose goal, as Izetbegovic himself frequently noted, was the creation of a “great Muslim state” …throughout the Balkans, northern Africa, and the Middle East. Toward this goal, the Mladi Muslimani swore an oath promising perseverance on their “path of jihad” and their “uncompromising struggle against everything non-Islamic.” Tellingly, the name of their underground journal was Mudzahid (“Holy Warrior”).

Yugoslavia’s disintegration in the 1990s opened the doors for a second generation of militant Islamists to establish itself in the region…Mostly concentrated in a unit Izetbegovic formed in August 1992 named the Katibat al-Mujahideen, veterans of the Bosnian jihad in the 1990s included people such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, involved in the attack on the USS Cole; Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, involved in the August 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa; Abu Hamza al-Masri, the spiritual father of the July 2005 London Underground bombings; and Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the participants in the November 2008 Mumbai bombings. Ali Hamad, a Bahraini-born al-Qaeda operative, has claimed that al-Qaeda figures would visit Bosnia with “state protection,” and both the US and Saudi Arabia accused the Izetbegovic regime of giving Bosnian passports to known terrorists.

…[T]ogether with local extremist allies, an entire infrastructure supporting militant Islamist causes (and not infrequently outright terrorism itself) was created during the latter part of the decade, the consequences of which are still plaguing the region today.

Thus, in remote, isolated villages around the Balkans, militant Islamists have developed a network of extra-territorial, sharia-run enclaves that serve as recruiting stations for local converts and safe havens for jihadis from around the world. According to writer Janez Kovac, in the central Bosnian village of Bocinja Donja, for instance, inhabited by some six hundred people, extremists live “separate lives untroubled by local police, tax-collectors, or any other authorities. Outsiders never set foot in the small community.” Another Bosnian village, Gornja Maoca, is the headquarters of Bosnia’s main Wahhabi leader, Nusret Imamovic. Gornja Maoca has frequently been used as a way station for extremists joining jihads in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Yemen. In October 2011, Mevlid Jasarevic, a Wahhabi from the Sandzak region, left the village with two other residents on the day he attacked the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

…The White Mosque in Sarajevo is the headquarters of Sulejman Bugari, a Kosovo Albanian-born imam whom the global intelligence firm Stratfor has described as a go-between for Albanian and Bosnian extremists. In Kosovo, the journalist Mohammad al-Arnaout has reported that the Makowitz mosque on the outskirts of Pristina and the Mitrovica mosque are recruiting militants to fight alongside Islamist groups in Syria….

The CIA has estimated that one-third of the Bosnian NGOs operating worldwide have terrorist connections or employ people with terrorist links. In the aftermath of 9/11, a raid on such a “charity” in Sarajevo, the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia, according to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, netted “maps of Washington, material for making false State Department identity cards, and anti-American manuals designed for children.”

According to Fahrudin Kladicanin, the co-author of a recent study on Balkan extremists’ use of the Internet and social media, “the number of those who are ‘liking,’ making comments, and sharing the content of these pages…is rising on a daily basis.” The Facebook page “Krenaria Islame” (Albanian for “Islamic Pride”), which posts pictures and stories of Albanians fighting in Syria, has twenty-five hundred followers. According to Arjan Dyrmishi, a security expert based in Tirana, the Albanian capital, “if all the followers of this page were identified as terrorists, they would make a small army and pose a major problem…”

…Misogyny and homophobia are prominent elements of the militant Islamists’ ideology. In Kosovo, the mufti of Prizren, Irfan Salihu, publicly claimed in a recent sermon, “Any woman who has intimate acts without being married according to provisions of the Islam [sic] is a slut and a bitch [and garbage]” [Things are pretty bad when Kosovo’s most radical independence agitators, the Self-Determination Movement, also condemns the sermon and lets the cat out of the bag that Kosovo faces a “huge risk of religious fundamentalism.”]

…[Bilal] Bosnic, the Bosnian Wahhabi leader, has posted a song on YouTube in which he sings:

The beautiful jihad has risen over Bosnia
And the Bosnian started calling “Allah Akbar” and praying
America had better know I am performing dawah
God willing, it will be destroyed to its foundations…

This unending din of propaganda is having an effect on a new generation. Over the past decade, militant Islamists indigenous to the Balkans have been involved in numerous actions and conspiracies: the October 2002 attack on the US Embassy in Vienna, the May 2007 Fort Dix bomb plot, the July 2009 Raleigh Group conspiracy, the 2009 New York City subway attack conspiracy, the October 2011 attack on the US Embassy in Sarajevo, a January 2012 plot to bomb nightclubs in Tampa, and the murder of two US servicemen at Frankfurt Airport in February 2012. Most recently, a young man from Kosovo became “the Balkans’ first suicide bomber,” killing fifty people in an attack in Baghdad in March 2014.

According to Bulgaria’s former chief mufti, Nedim Gendzhev, militant Islamists in southeastern Europe are trying to create a “fundamentalist triangle” formed by Bosnia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria’s western Rhodope Mountains…As Esad Hecimovic, a leading expert on the Bosnian jihadi movement, 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. . . . Thus, it is no longer possible to distinguish between ‘imported’ and ‘local’ versions of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina anymore.”

Unfortunately, the international response to militant Islam’s rise in southeastern Europe has ranged from neglect to outright denial. For instance, after 9/11, the then high representative in Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, somewhat incredibly claimed in a New York Times op-ed that “no evidence has been produced that [Bosnia] has served as a base for al-Qaeda,” while the current high representative in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, for his part, has similarly argued that the Wahhabis in Bosnia “pose no danger to Europe.” Yet as Evan Kohlmann, a leading specialist on al-Qaeda’s campaign in Bosnia, has put it, individuals who deny that al-Qaeda is operating in the Balkans “are either lying or have no idea what they are talking about.” […]

As long as we’re on Balkanites in ISIS, it may be worth a mention that according to Croatia’s Jutarnji List four Croatian chicks took “Saturday Night Live’s” advice and opted out of college for ISIS, part of the Bimbo-isis sweeping the globe. Apparently there were also some Croatian males who ran off to Syria and Iraq, and the report reminds us that “Croatia is a transit country for radical Islamic elements.” Croatia? A transit country for jihad-facilitating? Again? An interesting paragraph in the article:

…It was in an interview, confirmed by the former president of the Islamic Association Ševko Omerbašić [who] in 2011 [told] Daily Avaz that the Wahhabis “tried to root in Zagreb a mosque, but were prevented. They rented a house where they had gathered. Croatian intelligence service followed them, after which they were warned that they could have big problems, and they went where they have a little more freedom, in Bosnia…

Could this be? An ally of ours — a made-in-the-USA-and-Vatican-and-Germany democracy — following Muslims around and intimidating them out of practicing their religion? We certainly don’t let Serbia or Macedonia get away with that sort of thing. And so the Muslims went to where they could have “a little more freedom” to be radical. Bosnia. My but what does our beloved Bosnia have to do with radicalism? Perish the thought! A few more tidbits:

Croatian secret services for several years have closely monitored the movement of radical Islamists in Croatia. Ševko Omerbašić then confirmed that Sead Plojović is the person who is trying to organize the Wahhabis in Zagreb and Croatia. Plojović is a native of Novi Pazar, and the family lived in Zagreb. In March this year [he was] arrested by Serbian police, suspected of organized recruitment and sending of young Muslims from Sandzak in Syria…It is Plojović and his sister Nesvresu [who are] considered the persons who arranged marriage of Dora Bilic [to] Sead Avdic with whom Dora last year went to Syria. Family Plojović is, as we found out, for years [has been watched by] the Croatian intelligence service. [Plojovic] is linked to Novi Pazar’s Mevlid Jasarevic who in 2011 shot at the US Embassy in Sarajevo.

It is alleged that Plojovic, the martial arts coach at Gornja Maoca…organized training and hanging out with Jasarevic. In a brief statement for Jutarnji List in 2011, Plojovic condemned Jašarević’s act: “I do not know Mevlid well, maybe I met him at gatherings in Maoča….” said Plojović, who was then living at the Zagreb address…He was suspected of having brought Jasarevic to Sarajevo on the day of the attack on the embassy. After, he was released because there was no evidence that he was an accomplice in the attack.

…US has recently declared Wahhabis from Bosnia a terrorist organization. Vienna has been identified as a center of spreading radical Islamism in the region, along with an organization surrounding the radical Viennese imam Muhamed Porca, all of which have ties with Wahhabis in Gornja Maoca and other places in Bosnia…Plojović was [tasked] in Vienna [with] the establishment of a Wahhabi movement in Croatia…Slovenian intelligence service for several years now supervise the work of Islamic organizations in Slovenia…Our respondents indicate a link [between] Slovenian and Bosnian Wahhabis and the arrival of Hussein Bilal Bosnic in Ljubljana[, Slovenia].

Bosnic was recently arrested in Sarajevo with a group of radical Islamists. Slovenian public was shocked a few weeks ago, when the Slovenian police arrested Slovenian citizens Boštijan and Rocco, who converted to Islam and then went to fight in Syria.

[They] have worked in Bosnia as humanitarian workers and associated themselves with the Wahhabis in Gornja Maoca. It was Bosnic who organized their departure to Syria….[T]he two Slovenians also met Nusret Imamovic, listed as one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists by the State Department.

Jihad ‘Made in Kosovo’ (Deutsche Welle, Aug. 24, 2014)

Over the span of two days, 43 Islamic extremists were arrested in Kosovo. Dozens more are under watch, both at home and in the Middle East…The act that triggered the largest police action in Kosovo since the war in 1999 was…[Muhaxheri’s] beheading of a 19-year-old in Syria….Those images were published in nearly every Kosovo newspaper and Internet portal and sparked outrage and deep shock among Kosovars.

The president of Europe’s youngest nation [so young, it’s not even a nation], Atifete Jahjaga, immediately announced her response. “Kosovo will be no safe haven for terrorists,” she said. [Too late.]

…[I]n the last few weeks at least 16 bodies from Iraq and Syria were returned to Kosovo. It is also alleged that there could be a few hundred radical extremists within Kosovo.

Kosovo media report that at least 56 further suspects will be arrested shortly…According to Kosovar media, there were threats of a possible Islamist terrorist attack during the film festival “Dokufest”…Prior to the 1999 war in Kosovo, there were 560 mosques; today there are nearly 700 Muslim houses of worship.

The Islamic community of Kosovo (Bashkesia Islame e Kosoves - BIK) is very well organized. “With full responsibility I say, ‘We have all mosques and imams under control,’” said the the chairman of BIK, Naim Trnava, in an interview with DW.

Still, he says, there are many “guests” coming in from the outside because the country’s border is very open.

“After the war, anyone could come and go as he pleased. This is the reason a part of our youth have been indoctrinated,” Trnava said.

Analyst Haki Abayi, chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation in Prishtina, believes the difficult economic situation has made youth particularly vulnerable to radical Islamic propaganda…

(But Washington promised us that Bosnian and Albanian Muslims were *not* vulnerable to Islamic propaganda, and so it was safe to help their war against the local Christians.)

…Moreover, in Kosovo there were, until a short while ago, four so-called houses of worship…Trnava believes radical groups and their supporters assembled there. This is likely the reason police recently closed one of these houses in Prishtina.

That closure is part of the “uncompromising fight” the government of Kosovo has declared against all extremists.

“In Kosovo there will be no place for extremism, radicalism, and terrorism. Kosovo is a free and independent country that will, with the help of the European Union and the USA, continue to fight for good and against evil,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told DW.

And when it comes to good versus evil, you can trust a proven murderer heading a country. But at least we can trust the information coming from Imam Trnava (Ternava), who disapproves of building new churches and the Mother Teresa cathedral. (”No human brain can understand how a church should be built in the middle of 13 Muslim villages.”) It’s fitting that in 2009 Thaci, the butcher and ethnic cleanser who became prime minister, thanked Ternava “for the new culture of religious tolerance being cultivated in Kosovo.”

It’s also the same Ternava whose assistant was Sabri Bajgora, a known Wahhabi sympathizer, and whom even America’s earliest media champion of bombing a UN member state on behalf of its restive Muslims has called “the Wahhabi head of the Kosovo Islamic Community,” and detailed Ternava’s academic usurpation and indulgence of fanaticism. The same Ternava who on a State Department-sponsored trip in 2007 told a Detroit Islamic center, “Pray for the independence of Kosovo…thousands of people went as shahids (martyrs) during all these sufferings. With the blood of these shahids…we hope in the near future to be the newest state in the world…Islam is such a comprehensive religion which includes all what the family needs and what an individual needs in this world…Teach it to others.”

A 2009 article about an imam calling Ternava out had a telling title: “Wahhabis ‘have spread their roots throughout Kosovo’, imam warns government.” Ternava’s first thought for garnering international recognitions, meanwhile, went to the Middle East. During an August 2008 conference called ‘Kosovo and the Arab World’, he said, “The Western world has assisted in the establishment of the Kosovo state, while we anticipate the Islamic world to assist Kosovo strengthening its statehood,” and called the conference a good opportunity to establish ties between the Islamic world and Kosovo. To that end, after mutual visits with the UAE in May 2014, Ternava secured construction of eight new mosques in Kosovo. And this is the replacement for the radical Shefqet Krasniqi, who was arrested a year ago.

But none of it keeps media from going to Ternava for assurances about Kosovo’s tolerance and modernness. In July 2013 he obliged the Southeast European Times with, “Islam is peaceful and has nothing to do with fundamentalism…There is no extremism in Kosovo…there is a small part of the young people who have a little different understanding of the meaning of Islam…[that] can cause confusion among the broad mass of people.” Which makes the following more honest comment by Abit Hoxha, researcher for Pristina’s Centre for Security Policy, a bit of a head-scratcher: “The Islamic community does not do much except for the discourse of denying the inspiration of extremism, terrorism, fundamentalism. But the fact stands that inter-religious tolerance is not on the agenda…”

(Like Deutsche Welle still coming to Ternava, recall how Utah’s Deseret News in 2007 would go for reassuring soundbites on the Trolley Square massacre by a Bosnian teen, to the very likes that Mr. Bardos warns us about, its favorite Bosnian imam Nezim Halilovic, who just this month called for a “Bosnian Spring” against Republika Srpska, including military action and Wahhabi fronts so that Allah might destroy it. Bosnia’s security organs naturally responded with silence.)

According to a 2012 article titled “Kosovo: Catholic bishop: high risk of radical Islam,” Ternava is included in the “interfaith dialogues” among Kosovo’s Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox leaderships: “Four years on from its independence, Kosovo…is calling on the West for help to avoid being swallowed by the slow advance of radical Islam… ‘If the West were to leave us alone,’ the Kosovo Ambassador to Italy, Albert Prenkaj, never tires of saying, ‘our country would risk becoming a pupil of the more fanatical Islamic countries.’”

Which brings us back to our year in review:

The Hidden Growth of Islamic Extremism in Kosovo (Aug. 22, 2014)

…The constant development of Islamic influences in Kosovo remained unnoticed for a long time by most observers…Kosovo was supposed to be the example of a Muslim state in the middle of Europe that does not struggl[e] with religious and cultural challenges. Kosovo may have problems with trafficking, organised crime and corruption; but not Islam. [And of course organized crime has no connection to terrorism. 2003: “Substantial and irrefutable evidence is increasingly becoming available…as to the extent of the connection between al-Qaida terrorist groups, narco-trafficking and the Kosovo Albanian leadership within Serbia. This was highlighted extensively in the 1995 book by Yossef Bodansky, Offensive in the Balkans: The Potential for a Wider War as a Result of Foreign Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina…and [his] 1996 book Some Call it Peace: Waiting for War in the Balkans.]

…Until the 1980s, religion in Kosovo was a private thing. Under pressure from the Slobodan Milošević regime, it transformed into a nation-building and freedom-fighting issue.

Ah, so religion was intermingled with the “purely national” struggle. (It’s not like author Chris Deliso has been screaming it from the rooftops or anything. Here he was in 2008: The Saudis are “‘hoping to change nationalistic extremism into religious or Islamic extremism.’ …While there are few targets to attack in the country, Kosovo is still a prize…[and it] provides areas for radicals to hide out, and members of its white population can blend into Western areas….A fugitive wanted by the Spanish police in connection with the terror attacks on trains in Madrid was pulled off a train by the Serbian police, and it is believed he was headed for sanctuary in Kosovo….” And as early as the month we attacked Serbia in 1999, Israeli investigative journalist Steve Rodan cited European security sources when reporting that “Kosovo has become the latest and most significant arena for radical Islamic states and groups that seek to widen their influence in Europe.”)

…The growth of importance of religion in Kosovo is happening casually en passant and on a very grassroots level; and so is the social base for recruitment of potential Islam fighters. Several years ago, the holy month of Ramadan was unnoticeable in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. Today the group of people fasting from dawn to dusk is clearly visible in the city. The usually full cafeterias and restaurants in the main boulevard, boulevard of Mother Theresa, are empty during the day, the city becomes peaceful and qui[et] until the Iftar dinner time comes. [A slightly different take on Kosovo’s Ramadan scene from that of the NPR reporter earlier, though one may be talking about daytime and the other, evening, or simply different stages of the Ramadan.]

The status of traditional Albanian national heroes like Mother Theresa or Skandenberg is now being questioned, as they were Catholics not Muslims. [But Kosovo was supposed to be a national struggle!] Unlike just a few years ago, covered women and men with a beard wearing pants above his ankles is a common sight nowadays in Pristina, not to mention the conservative cities and regions such as Kaçanik or Hani i Elezit.

It’s becoming common practice to pay people in their initial phase of religiosity for regular visits to mosques, wearing a hijab or a beard. Several hundreds of euros are frequently donated to parents, or even more preferably to single mothers…as a payoff for making the children follow the ahadith, the traditions.

…The bad economic situation should be regarded, rather, as an indirect factor which creates an advantageous environment for recruitment…Another crucial reason – an identity crisis – is a more complex one. Kosovo Albanians, or Kosovars, experience trouble with defining who they are. They are not emotionally attached to the blue and yellow Kosovo flag, so they use the Albanian red flag….They are Albanians but they feel distinguished from the Albanians in Albania. They fought for independence and sovereignty, but they feel their country is run by foreign embassies. Religion offers a clear identity and a sense of belonging. [How about that!]

There is still a strong belief in Kosovo society that religion and state should be separated. When the Macedonian Albanians were protesting in July against the authorities in Skopje, the protests enjoyed strong support from the Kosovo Albanians, but faced a critique regarding the strong religious component of the protest, including the use of the green Muslim flags and organisation of the demonstrations in front of mosques. At the same time, terrorism has a long tradition in Kosovo and it is difficult to distinguish Islamic terrorism from the general phenomenon of terrorism in the country executed by paramilitary organisations or other politically driven groups. […]

So Macedonia Albanians’ push for “rights” is Islamic after all? Who knew?! And terrorism as such has — drum roll — a long tradition in Kosovo and it’s difficult to distinguish Islamic terrorism from Albanian terrorism. Well I’ll be darned. It was domestic terror that the Yugoslav Army and police responded to, after all.

That same August 2014, Nebojsa Malic reminded us of four key things:

…[Syria] isn’t the first time the Empire is in bed with murderers and terrorists: prominent Washington politicians have praised the “Kosovo Liberation Army” as fighting for “human rights and American values.” In fact, one such politician – John McCain – has heaped praise on both the KLA and the ISIS. The KLA-run “Republic of Kosovo” has even helped the Empire “train” Syrian jihadists, back in 2012. Maybe that explains why so many Albanians (aka “Kosovars”) are killing and dying in Syria and Iraq today.

Of course, the Imperial media claim the Albanians are “outraged” that one of theirs would behead people. Yet why would they be, when the KLA had no problem beheading Serbs or committing other atrocities in 1998-99? Jihadist beheadings were also common during the Bosnian War, but the media narrative of “Good Muslims” vs. “Evil Serbs” insisted on burying that inconvenient fact. The Empire continues to cover for the KLA even today.

Washington’s spokes critters proclaim [about the Kiev regime] it’s perfectly fine for a government to bomb its own people, because that’s just “defending sovereignty.” Except, when Serbia actually defended its sovereignty in 1999, with far less force, NATO screamed “genocide” (which it wasn’t) and launched a war of aggression. […]

The same month also brought this: Albanian Jihadist Reportedly Killed in Syria (Balkan Insight, Aug. 18, 2014)


[Idajet] Balliu poses with an Islamic State flag on Facebook.

Now, just because Balkans jihadists have been properly internationalizing, doesn’t mean they’re about to neglect the locals, their original targets — whom America, England and Germany helped to target:

Bosnian and Albanian Muslim Extremists threaten: Belgrade is next target! No Serb will remain on the planet! (Pravda, Jan. 9, 2015)

Terrorist graffiti appeared overnight in the vicinity of Dečani Monastery (Serbian-Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, Oct. 12, 2014)

…The most common graffiti are UCK, ISIS, AKSH (Albanian National Army), “The Caliphate is coming” and some undecipherable lines that may look like an attempt to write in Arabic. While [KFOR] Col. Minelli, the chief of the police, and the Abbot Fr. Sava were inspecting the graffiti a group of young Kosovo Albanians who were passing on the road overlooking the monastery land began shouting UCK in chorus…[T]hree young Albanian men were detained by the police for provocative behavior.

…The perpetrators of [the graffiti] provocation most probably entered the monastery property on the eastern side where there is no wall. Six years ago the Monastery had to stop construction of the wall on the eastern side because they were openly threatened in the press by the local UCK war veteran organization, claiming that the Monastery had no right…

Today’s incident comes several days after the incident at Peć Patriarchate gate where a Wahhabi person (identified as Alegorik Muhamed Beqiri born in 1992 from Skenderaj/Srbica, with residence in Peć/Peja) attacked and injured a local Kosovo policeman shouting “Allahu-Akbar”. On that occasion the Church learned that this man and his companions had allegedly threatened the Catholic nuns in Peć a few days before telling them that they would be slaughtered.

Dečani monks informed KFOR two months ago that they could see four vehicles full of bearded men dressed in Wahhabi style passing by the monastery on their way to the Dečani gorge…Today’s incident also comes six months after unknown individuals left UCK graffiti on one of the Monastery gates (24 April 2014). The perpertrators of this incident have not been brought to justice yet (NEWS http://www.eparhija-prizren.com/en/statements/uck-graffitti-painted-decani-monastery-gate-communique-diocese)…In recent weeks KFOR has increased the security around the Monastery…

Kosovo: New “ISIS” Graffiti On Visoki Decani Monastery (Inserbia.info, Oct. 13, 2014)


Photo: Novosti

New graffiti in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Albanian National Army (AKSh) appeared on the gate of Visoki Decani monastery….Sava Janjic, prior of the Serbian Orthodox monastery Visoki Decani, wrote on Twitter.

“This morning we have noticed another ISIS graffiti on the monastery’s gate closer to the church. This is a shame,” Janjic wrote. […]

Authorities Urged to Protect Kosovar Reporter Threatened by Muslim Radicals (Reporters Without Borders, Sept. 3, 2014)

…[Visar] Duriqi’s coverage of Islamic issues and religious extremism has been a source of annoyance in radical circles…

“I received many threats, mainly via Facebook, after the [Muslim Youth Forum’s website] communiqué was published,” Duriqi told Reporters Without Borders. “The MYF statement is a death sentence. I am being threatened with beheading. I hope the police will investigate this quickly. I do not feel safe at the moment.” […]

Consistent as ever, rights groups such as Reporters Without Borders stir only when Albanians are endangered. Only this time, unlike in 1999, it’s for real, and of the media-Albanian-humanitarian-Westerventionist cabal’s own making.

Flashback to 2001:

Islam Builds a Future in Kosovo, One Mosque at a Time (RNS, Sept. 12, 2001)

Kosovo legally remains part of Yugoslavia. But the region’s Muslim leaders are preparing for eventual independence.

…Andreas Szolgyemy, a Hungarian religion expert working in Pristina, said there is a “tremendous interest among the young” in Islam.…Saudi sponsors delivered 200,000 Albanian-Arabic Qur’ans to the province last October…At the current rate of growth, Szolgyemy predicted that Kosovo will have an increasingly Muslim character…Szolgyemy was quick to caution, however, that “maybe the main religion will be Islam but not the state religion…”

“We have made clear to all the Islamic organizations that we will accept their help but that we remain in control of the Islamic situation,” said [Qemajl] Morina, [vice dean of the Islamic Faculty,] adding that Wahhabis are not especially influential. […]

So much for that.

******

An appendix on Bosnia-Iran, or Bosniran:

[A] senior CIA officer testified: ‘There is no question that the policy of getting arms into Bosnia was of great assistance in allowing the Iranians to dig in and create good relations with the Bosnian government…And it is a thing we will live to regret because when they blow up some Americans…it will be in part because the Iranians were able to have the time and contacts to establish themselves well in Bosnia.’ … ‘Five years before the sophisticated terrorist assault on the U.S…the French were starting to uncover loosely linked violent networks spreading into several countries, all tied together by a common thread: Bosnia.’ … Bosnia, the Muslim country America had so fervently supported during the previous decade, had also served as a finishing school for terrorists intent on killing Americans.”

******

Another Flashback, one again underscoring the ultimate targets of the Islamic wars in those moderate-Muslim Balkans:

Wahhabis Threaten Bosnia’s Security (B92, March 10, 2007)

Bosnian Federation police director Zlatko Miletic said the Wahhabi activity posed a threat to the whole country.

Miletić did not wish to confirm whether the Federation’s MUP was undertaking an investigation into the sources that financed the group of Wahhabis led by Jusuf Barčić in Kalesija….Asked whether in some instances physical conflicts between Wahhabis and local Muslims reported recently could escalate, Miletic said that scenario was unlikely, however repeating the situation was such that it threatened the security in the Federation and the entire country.

Late last month, locals in Kalesija reported they were forbidden to play music, while their women were forced to cover themselves by the Wahhabis there, who called the local Muslims “infidels”.

The group led by Jusuf Barcic gathered in the village slaughterhouse, “performing religious service”, while other locals went to the mosque, located several kilometers away, according to an earlier Nezavisne Novine report.

The locals told the newspaper that at night the Wahhabis in the slaughterhouse played cassettes originating from military operations in the Bosnian war.

And another flashback:

Islam’s Presence in Balkans Grows
(The Trumpet, Oct. 6. 2010)

Islam expands onto Europe’s turf.

Experts are worrying that a new strain of radical Islam is growing in the Balkans. With Bulgaria a member of the European Union — and other nations set to join — these radicals could obtain EU passports, and easy access to the West.

The rise of radical Wahhabi sects…is even worrying “moderate” Muslims. On September 20, Suleyman Rexhepi, the leader of the Islamic Religious Community in Macedonia, called for the government, the EU and America to take “radical measures” against these groups.

Jakub Selimovski, head of religious education in the same community, said, “Wahhabism in Macedonia, the Balkans and in Europe has become more aggressive in the last 10 years.”

“They are in Bosnia, here, Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia, and lately they have appeared in Bulgaria,” he said.

Associated Press reports that the Wahhabists are thought to control five mosques in Macedonia’s capital, Skopje.

Serbia arrested 12 Muslims last year for planning attacks, with targets including the American Embassy in Belgrade.

Organizations accused of having links to Wahhabism have been pouring money into Bulgaria since the mid 1990s. They have built over 150 mosques and teaching centers…The Bulgarian government has shut down some of these teaching centers; however, new ones continue to be built.

The state recognizes three official Muslim schools, but another seven are not controlled or regulated by the government. […]

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,[8]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] […]

******SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM******

Yes, that’s really the title.

In Bosnia, Turkey brings back a gentle version of the Ottoman Empire (Washington Post, March 24, By Michael Birnbaum)

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA — Turkey conquered the Balkans five centuries ago. Now Turkish power is making inroads through friendlier means. [Yayyyyyyyyy!]

Two Turkish-run universities have opened in Bosnia’s Ottoman-influenced capital in recent years, bringing an influx of Turkish students and culture to a predominantly Muslim country still reeling from a brutal ethnic war almost two decades ago.

[As Jim Jatras pointed out when this was circulated: You’d never know Bosnia has a Christian majority. Of course, it had a Christian majority the first time Turkey conquered it too.]

Turkish investment has expanded across the Balkans….Turkey also has helped broker talks between formerly bitter enemies in the Balkans. This growing presence has given Turkey an expanding field of influence in Europe at a time when the country’s prospects of joining the European Union appear dubious.

[i.e. Like we’ve been saying: Bosnia is Turkey’s backdoor into the EU. And like I’ve been saying: we gave Turkey the Balkans back in exchange for keeping it out of the EU.]

“Turkish leaders are working at a new Ottoman empire, a gentle one,” said Amir Zukic, the bureau chief of the Turkish Anadolu news agency’s Sarajevo office, which has expanded in recent months…

…[D]uring the mid-1990s, as Yugoslavia fell apart, Turkish aid started flowing to the Muslims who make up about half of Bosnia…

Now Turkey’s cultural influence is hard to miss. Turkish dignitaries are frequent visitors to Sarajevo. A grand new Turkish embassy is being built near “sniper alley” …Billboards advertise round-trip flights to Istanbul for the equivalent of $74. And this year, a baroque soap opera based on the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, a 16th-century ruler of the Ottoman Empire, has mesmerized couch potatoes amid Bosnia’s dreary winter.

The biggest outposts in Bosnia have been the two Turkish-backed universities, which have mostly Turkish students.

At the International University of Sarajevo, students who enter the main door of the sunny building that opened two years ago have to pass under the watchful eye of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottoman ruler who introduced Islam to Bosnia in 1463. The private university is backed by Turkish businessmen who are close to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party…

Administrators are transparent about the school’s ambitions.

“The Turks are attracted to come here because they believe that Bosnia, for all its problems, will be in the E.U. before Turkey is. And they see this as a bridge between two countries,” said Muhamed Hadziabdic, the vice rector of the school, who is a Bosnian Muslim.

Turkish people “like Bosnia,” he said. “It’s European, but it still feels like home. The smell, the culture, it’s recognizably Turkish.”

…The other Turkish school in Sarajevo, the International Burch University, opened in 2008 and has connections to Fethullah Gulen, an influential Turkish Muslim preacher who runs an international religious and educational movement from Pennsylvania…[There was quite an eye-opener on the Gulen movement, especially vis-a-vis the Balkans, in Chris Deliso’s book The Coming Balkan Caliphate.]

Turkey’s expansion into the region comes as the country’s long-held dream of joining the European Union seems remote

But Bosnia is firmly within Europe — even though Sarajevo’s old city is a dense warren of shops and centuries-old storefronts that is reminiscent of Istanbul. Turkey’s growing presence in European regions that were once part of its empire is one way of making up for being excluded from the E.U., some analysts say.

Turkey’s increasing influence has upset some Bosnian Serbs, who maintain a parallel government [???] in Bosnia under the complicated system dictated by 1995 peace agreements. Officials from the parallel government [???] have complained that the Bosnian Muslim part of the country is falling under the influence of a former imperial power.

“For Islamists, a return of Turkey back to the Balkans is a fulfillment of ambitions. But for many Serbs and also for many Croats, their national struggle in the 19th century is still in their minds,” said Esad Hecimovic, the editor of news programs on OMT, the private television station that has been airing the soap opera based on Suleiman’s life.

Many in the Balkans think they are merely a way point on the route to Turkey’s broader goals.

“They are a big regional power,” said Hayruddin Somun, a former Bosnian ambassador to Turkey. “The Balkans was always their path to conquering Europe. They had to come through here.”

******UPDATE******

The Jewish reporter of the article above, written in a voice that almost applauds a Turkish caliphate, made me think of the Jewish man that comedian Bill Maher recently debated on his HBO show “Real Time.” One also needs to emphasize that even the ever-slow-in-coming-around-to-the-obvious, Maher, finally gets it re Islam:

Maher To Defender Of Islam: Equating Christianity And Islam “Liberal Bullshit”

Video at link.

HBO host Bill Maher debates guest Brian Levy, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, about the Boston Marathon Bombers’ Muslim faith playing a role in their terrorism.

BILL MAHER, HOST: So you’re obviously the perfect person to have here today. You study this all the time, the mind of crazy people who do horrible things. I’m always interested to know how people like the people we caught today up in Boston can have two minds going at the same time.

I mean, if you read what the older brother wrote on his –on the internet, he said his world view [is] Islam; personal priorities: career and money. And we see this a lot. I mean, the 9/11 hijackers went to strip clubs the night before they got on the plane.

BRIAN LEVIN: But could I just interject? Look, it’s not like people who are Muslim who do wacky things have a monopoly on it. We have hypocrites across faiths, Jewish, Christian who say they’re out for God and end up doing not so nice things.

MAHER: You know what? Yeah, yeah. You know what? That’s liberal bullshit right there. I mean, yes, all faiths –

LEVIN: Are there no Christian hypocrites?

MAHER: No, there are. They’re just –

LEVIN: You make a career on that.

MAHER: They’re not as dangerous. I mean, there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So, you know, I’m just saying, let’s keep it real. (Real Time, April 19, 2013)

While I finally posted updates this week on Albanian killers and would-be killers of Americans (Arid Uka of the fatal Frankfurt shootings, Hysen Sherifi of the North Carolina Eight, and Sami Osmakac/Osmankaj of the Tampa plot), I never logged the updates on Mevlid Jasarevic, the Bosniak jihadi — or as media and governments would have you know him, “Serbian Muslim,” who in October opened fire on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo:

Bosnia court orders detention for U.S. Embassy attacker (Oct. 31)

A state court in Bosnia ordered…that Mevlid Jasarevic, a 23-year-old Serbian Muslim, be detained for a month to prevent him fleeing the country, influencing witnesses and hampering an inquiry into the shooting on the embassy on Friday.

“I do not recognize your court. It is worthless before Allah,” he told the judge during his first appearance in court.

Jasarevic’s lawyer Senad Dupovac told the court the defendant had wanted to become a “martyr.” “His goal was to get killed by the officers guarding the U.S. embassy in order to become a martyr and go to heaven.”

Dupovac had earlier said that Jasarevic had no accomplices and expressed concern over his mental state.

Many young Bosnian Muslims, particularly from rural areas, have in recent years adhered to Wahhabism under the influence of foreign fighters, most of whom left Bosnia after the 1992-95 war.

Gee, that wasn’t supposed to happen. Most unexpected!

In a Nov. 14th update, we learn that Jarasevic may have had accomplices after all:
Bosnia detains another suspect over US embassy attack

Bosnia’s state court has detained for one month a man suspected of assisting a gunman who fired at the US embassy in Sarajevo, wounding a police officer.

The court on Monday said Emrah Fojnica, 20, was suspected of a “criminal act of terrorism” over the Oct. 28 attack in which Mevlid Jasarevic paralyzed central Sarajevo for 30 minutes as he fired on the embassy.

The authorities have already detained two men, Dino Pecenkovic and Munib Ahmetsphaic, who they say helped Jasarevic.

Police officers arrested Fojnica during a raid last week on the northeastern village of Gornja Maoca.

The police found a large cache of weapons in sports bags during the raid including an automatic rifle and Fojnica’s identification card, local media said.

The assault revived questions over the threat from radical Islam in the Balkans.

NOTE: Saying “threat from radical Islam in the Balkans” even a few years ago earned a person censure and ridicule, including by some international troops who served there.

On the use of “Serbian Muslim” in favor of “Bosniak” or “Bosnian Muslim,” from Nebojsa Malic (Nov. 4):

This deliberate conundrum about identity helps explain a peculiarity about last week’s [Oct. 28] jihadist attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Both local and Western media have described the attacker as “Serbian” – that is, a citizen of Serbia. Yet those very same media vocally insist that the Muslims living in that region of Serbia are “Bosniaks”. So apparently, one can be a “Bosniak” when special privileges are about to be dispensed [and autonomy claimed], but magically becomes “Serbian” upon engaging in terrorism.

Early in October, Canadian daily The Globe and Mail published a feature on a Quebecois composer of Serbian origin, who explained that only in Canada did she become aware of her roots and the richness of her native culture. While she still lived in Serbia, she believed, along with many others, that traditional identity and culture were something to be despised and ashamed of, cast aside in favor of some higher, global, cosmopolitan identity.

This was in the 1980s, before the wars that broke up Yugoslavia, or the “democracy” brought by NATO bombs, boots and bribes. Back then the identity to aspire to was that of the socialist workers of the world. Today it is of global conspicuous consumers. Either way, it was at the expense of genuine identity, culture and traditions. Back then, it was the Yugoslav Communists who demanded this. Today it is the Euro-Atlantic “Democrats”. It makes one wonder what exactly is the difference.

Also noting the sly switching between “Serbian” and “Bosniak” to describe Muslims in Serbia was a Serbian citizen named Dragan Rakic, who had a question regarding the following development: Zukorlić the Muslim imam from Sandzak, “opens” embassy in Sweden (Nov. 14)

Mufti Muamer Zukorlić last weekend opened the first diplomatic mission of the Bosniak Muslims organization National Council of Sandzak (NVS) in the Swedish city of Gothenburg as part of a broader strategy aimed [at] internationalization of the status of this part of Serbia…. “We are asking in this proclamation to restore the autonomy of Sandzak” was said at the opening of representative offices in Brussels and Washington, “…but we are very pleased that the Scandinavia Bosniaks forestall our efforts and opened the first office here,” said Zukorlic adviser Sead Šaćirović, quoted the [Belgrade] daily “Hello.”

For all those Western guardians of democracy who, in their towering concern for what they were just sure was Serb “bigotry” and human rights violations, ensured a jihadist Bosnia, Dragan’s question is:

[How would they] react if something like this happened in their own countries: A Muslim Mufti, a “Bosniak” in Serbia, opens an “embassy” in Sweden in order to promote “current issues of Bosniaks in the Balkans…According to the Constitution of any sovereign country, he could be either a Serbian citizen or a foreigner. If he is a foreigner, then he cannot claim what he claims in the country in which he is a foreigner.

Sarajevo, which criticized the attack by the Muslim from a Serbian province, suddenly proudly announces that the “Bosniak” Mufti made a lecture in his “embassy” about the current issues of “Bosniaks” in Serbia.

The very same scenario we could observe in Kosovo. First there was a “human rights” question, then the “current issues of Albanians in the Balkans, looking for help by NATO, the taking of Serbian territory, then independence, and finally today the Ibrahim Rugova Highway, linking Pristina with Tirana in Albania. In other words, the making of Greater Albania.

In addition to the formerly Bosnia-friendly Croat at The Washington Times, Jeffrey Kuhner, the jihadist Jasarevic seems also to have jarred a research fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom into finally noticing what’s been going on in the West-remade Balkans. The alert to the piece, which appeared on National Review Online (NRO), came from the New English Review, which cross-posted it with the following introduction:

…A great deal of support was given to fundamentalist [sic: and non-fundamentalist] Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims by the Saudis, Al Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran, during the conflict. Perhaps these Wahhabists have been trained and equipped by Al Qaeda and the IRGC? [YOU THINK? Perhaps?] That revelation could come in the wake of these latest attack on the US Embassy in Sarajevo in late October. That is, if the Obama Administration, the CIA and Gen. Petreaus come clean.

Uhhhh…that “revelation” DID come, well over a decade ago. And it was promptly ignored. Precisely because of the kind of American disinterest that causes the Hudson Institute and New English Review to only notice Bosnia now. They shouldn’t anticipate anything different after this attack. After all, bigger Bosnia-related plots and attacks couldn’t break the story. Maybe, just maybe, if one of these organizations did a little more than fart out a single article the day after a Balkans blowback attack and then move on to what everyone else is talking about, then someone in power might finally find him/herself in a position to come clean about something.

Meanwhile, if the Clinton and Bush administrations didn’t come clean — and New English Review never asked them to — why are they asking Obama to? It’s a little late to be turning the Western crime known as Former Yugoslavia into a partisan issue now. (It wasn’t too late in 2000, when I tried it myself, screaming from the rooftops, to no interest from any of these conservative outfits.)

Of course, if one of these news organizations does, for once, try a little follow-up and maybe even a partial investigation of the sort that Bush’s wars were subjected to (as opposed to Clinton’s), they’ll notice that their bombshell of a story lands with a thud as it gets aggressively ignored and dropped like a hot potato, and that their colleagues are suddenly eying them with suspicion, which could then cause them to notice that every Balkans-jihad news event dies within a week, and then they might start to finally wonder why that is. And maybe after we’re all dead, they’ll finally ask whether there wasn’t perhaps a bit of suppression going on with the Balkans, which like sheep they oblige with their disinterest. (Really, what more could the State Department, Pentagon, White House, Defense Department and CIA ask for? Could the assignment be any easier: suppress news from a region no one gives a damn about anyway.)

On to the Hudson article in question, though let me caution that the excerpt starts with the writer giving credit to “analysts such as Stephen Schwartz” for “warn[ing] of Wahhabi threats in the region for years.” See my very recent post on Schwartz, where I mention that he threatened a CNS News reporter’s career when she first asked him circa 2005 to comment on the growing Islamic threat in Bosnia. Always one to cover his hide and reinvent himself, however, Schwartz has since adjusted his take to reflect the current realities that he’d previously denied. So that the guy who spent the 90s pushing the U.S. to join the Bosnia and Kosovo jihads can now be credited with “warning” of the resulting dangers, now that he can no longer cover for his Balkan babies. (His mind, however, still manages to keep unconnected the war he supported and fanned, from its predictable negative developments — and he still manages to blame Serbs and love his Muslims there.)

Wahhabism: A Forgotten Legacy of the Bosnian War (by Sarah Schlesinger, Nov. 7)

[Forgotten? Forgotten by whom? By the writer, of course. And the rest of the conservative establishment clones. Or, more precisely, ignored. As for the liberal establishment, they ‘forgot’ on purpose. And conservatives simply took their cue rather than setting the terms of debate, as usual.]

…Analysts such as Stephen Schwartz, Esad Hecimovic, Anes Alic, and Vlado Azinovic have warned of Wahhabi threats in the region for years. Numerous attacks, including the murder of a Catholic Croat policeman in 1996, have been linked to Wahhabis. Several Wahhabis were arrested in 2008 and 2009 for plotting terror attacks on Christian sites and European Union Forces in Bosnia. In July 2010, a Wahhabi group was suspected in the bombing of a police station in Bugojno, killing one police officer and wounding several others.

Originally from the Muslim-majority city of Novi Pazar in the Sandzak region of Serbia, Jasarevic recently spent time in Wahhabi communities in Vienna and Gornja Maoca, a settlement in a remote part of Bosnia that has been the site of repeated anti-terror raids. He was imprisoned for armed robbery in Vienna in 2005 and arrested in his hometown in 2010 after brandishing a knife at an appearance by the American ambassador to Serbia .

The Wahhabi movement has taken hold among a small but vocal portion of the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) population — the group is estimated to include a mere 3,000 out of 1.4 million Muslims. [a.k.a. A TINY MINORITY!] They largely live in isolated villages that they govern according to strict Islamic law. Men wear long beards and distinctive short pants and women are fully veiled, in sharp contrast to the majority of Bosniaks, who are moderate in practice.

But who nonetheless defend supporting a fundamentalist president’s war for an Islamic state carved out of another country, Ms. Schlesinger.

And now, here she goes. Try not to get nauseous from going ’round and ’round on the same ride over and over again:

The movement’s presence in Bosnia dates to the 1992–1995 civil war in Yugoslavia….The largely defenseless [DEFENSELESS!] Muslim community was unable to withstand the onslaught by well-armed Bosnian Serb militias. [MILITIAS! SERBS STILL THE AGGRESSORS! Ms. Schlesinger needs a paycheck, after all, so she’s not about to push sand against THAT tide and question whether we got the original story right. And, of course, god forbid the lesser evil and more civilized element should be better armed.] Their desperate [DESPERATE!] situation drew an influx of Wahhabis, such as veteran mujahideen and Islamic aid agencies, including the al-Qaeda front the Benevolence International Foundation. [YES, YES, they came TO HELP! Even the holy warriors themselves have boasted that they saw a vast “opportunity” via Bosnia. The repentant former al Qaeda officer Ali Hamad has repeated and repeated that this is what the fight was about. Is Ms. Schlesinger listening?] Many of these remained in Bosnia, where they provided material support to the devastated Muslim community [sic: self-devastated, and by Sarajevo’s design; they chose it, Ms. Schlesinger. Just like the “Kosovars” would a few years later], but also influenced it ideologically with Wahhabism. Leading the way was Saudi Arabia, which raised more than $373 million for the “Bosnian jihad” in the 1990s. The mujahideen, charity staff, and foreign-educated Bosniaks provided the vanguard of a local Wahhabi movement.

Thanks to this foreign support, Wahhabis have been able to aggressively challenge Bosnia ’s mainstream Islamic community. Two figures led early efforts: Jusuf Barcic and Muhamad Porca, both Bosnian imams who had studied in Saudi Arabia on Saudi-funded scholarships. In early 2007, Barcic and his followers gained national attention by (unsuccessfully) attempting to claim a number of mosques for their movement in Tuzla and Sarajevo. When Barcic died in a car accident two months later, more than 3,000 people attended his funeral.

Let’s pause on that for a moment. Ms. Schlesinger earlier used the “3,000″ tiny minority figure to estimate the extent of Bosnia’s Wahhabi community. Yet here we already have “more than 3,000 people” showing up to the funeral. (Though one allows for a foreign presence there as well.)

Barcic’s primary financial supporters, according to Bosnian authorities, had been Porca and Porca’s close friend Adnan Buzar, the Bosnian-born, Vienna-based son-in-law of Palestinian terrorist leader Abu Nidal. Reportedly, Porca has now been supplanted by Nedzad Balkan, a Vienna-based Wahhabi with openly violent views who gained power after his role in the Bugojno police station bombing.

Again, please note that the son-in-law of Abu Nidal, the terror leader who dumped a wheelchair-ridden old Jewish man into the ocean, is a Bosnian Muslim.

…Wahhabis in Bosnia have succeeded in demonstrating that even in small numbers, they present a threat, especially as Nedzad Balkan’s followers allegedly now promote armed jihad. Bosnian authorities and the international community would be wise to closely monitor links between Wahhabis in Bosnia, Sandzak, and Vienna and larger militant networks. Without closer attention to this growing threat in the region, the October 28 attack undoubtedly will not be the last.

Nor was it the first, Ms. Schlesinger. (Talk about the need to pay closer attention.)

Meanwhile, and again, I like that Americans finally have to learn words like Bugojno, Sandzak, Novi Pazar, and Gornja Maoca. It’s about time. And a little too late. [Gornja Maoca should have been noticed in October 2001, actually, when investigators descended on it right after 9/11, which should have had Americans asking questions about Bosnia and our stubbornly immovable position on it.)

I suppose I should be happy that at least some of these conservative buffoons are waking up to the backwardness of the Bosnia intervention (oh wait a second — they haven’t figured that part out yet). And at least this Schlesinger outed the Bosnia jihad to the conservative slowpokes at NRO. Hopefully it’ll do more good than the two articles I futilely wrote for them on the subject way back in 2004. But I doubt it.

Giving Ms. Schlesinger and other oblivious Westerners some context, for when the grand plan starts coming together and our government and media again cue us to blame the Serb side, is a November 11th interview with security and counter-terrorism expert Ioannis Michaletos, explaining the big picture so that Ms. Schlesinger doesn’t find herself again fooled as she was about the 90s:

…[Q:] The Wahhabi’s Green Corridor in the Balkans — [the] establishment of the Republic of Sandzak and its merging with the Bosniaks in BiH — are these the goals of the Wahhabi Movement?

[A:] These are exactly their main targets and they are using a two-way approach.

[1] It is the “soft power” approach by recruiting people to their sect, by providing charity to people of financial-social need, so as to have a “good name” and via buying land and businesses with the assistance of individuals and organizations from the Middle East. Moreover, soft power approach means that they use propaganda through media and especially websites and forums, plus trying to merge the concerned individuals in Sanzak, BiH, as well as in Muslim communities in Montenegro and in Balkan Muslim communities that live in other European countries such as in Austria. Therefore soft power means establishing a concrete political-social force that they believe in the future will be able to create a “Green corridor.”

[2] It is the “hard power” approach. That is terrorism of course, acts of violence against perceived enemies, criminality in order to raise money and gain influence and contact in the organized crime world, which of course is still strong in the Western Balkans. Hard power approach means also intimidation campaigns against moderate Muslims that are against Wahhabism and also against the local Christian population.

[Q:] What would encompass Republic of Sandzak?

[A:]Their aim, however farfetched it may seem, implies that the divisions between the Muslims and Christians in that area, will implode sometime in the future, and then they will seize the opportunity to raise their voice — gain support of other neighboring Muslim communities and thereafter place the whole issue into the international agenda, thus seek recognition for their “struggle” by other Muslim countries and especially those in the Middle East.

Therefore a hypothetical Republic of Sanzak would resemble the “Kosovo example” and it is highly likely that should a development like this occur, it will involve BiH as well.

[Q:] Do you believe that Wahhabi movement poses a security threat to the Balkans – Serbia and BiH?

[A:]It poses a threat, not so much [because] of the number of the people involved, but of their connections with international Islamic origin terrorism; the involvement of foreign powers and their connection with criminal groups. For the time being they can be considered as extremist elements capable of destabilizing the present day social consensus in the region. What they try to achieve in a second phase is to become destabilizers of the ethnic consensus in the region and drive Muslims apart from Christians similar to the early 90’s wars in the region.

[Q:] Where are the centers of Wahhabism in the Balkans and how they are connected in Europe, how would you describe their network?

[A:] Zenica is a traditional center; Sarajevo also hosts pro-Wahhabi elements and many other villages in Bosnia. Also Wahhabist elements are to be found in Kosovo in Prizren and also in localities in Montenegro, as well as in Novi Pazar and they have been noted as well in Tetovo [and] Skopje [Macedonia], [and] in the southern parts of Bulgaria and limited groups exist in Albania and Croatia.

Also in Europe they are mainly based in Vienna and also in Munich, Koln, Malmo, and Milan and in many small towns in Germany, Netherlands and Italy. Their hierarchy is decentralized in essence, they tend to communicate via the internet, especially the younger generations, they try in general not exposing themselves in the European cities and for the time being their interaction with other radical Islamist networks has not reached a maturity level, although they do of course cooperate both with Turkish and with Arabic groups.

[Q:] How would you describe the goal or mission of the Wahhabis in Serbia and BiH?

[A:]They reject societal values and norms and they seek to overthrow what exists now and form a new reality by imposing their will. Thus, they need to create their own territorial space in order to achieve their aims and at the same time to push forward plans made in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere that call for the Islamisation of European territories.

[Q:] [Given] foreign powers’ interference — [e.g.] the US, Germany — what countries might have financial benefits from that?

[A:] USA is systematically trying to please Middle Eastern powers and that is why many times in the past it has turned a blind eye in the situation we are discussing. Germany to a lesser extent follows the same policy and both of these countries resent the Serbian element in general in the Balkans for reasons relating to the struggle for hegemony in the Balkans since the early 90’s. In this perspective, sentimental approaches that demonize the “bad Serbs” vs. the “good Muslims” have blinded foreign policy makers in Washington and Berlin, although that has started to change gradually over the past few years, in relation to the Wahhabi issue.

Going back again to the “3,000 Wahhabis” figure, a Serbianna.com article from days after the embassy attack indicates that “3,000″ appears to be hopeful. (Nor, as we know, does one have to be a Wahhabi to be a jihadist):

Up to 5,000 Bosnian Muslims involved with Islamic terror, expert (Nov. 1)

Of 100,000 devout Bosnian Muslims, 3,000 to 5,000 are implicated in terrorism, says Dzevad Galijasevic LINK, member of the Expert Team against terrorism and organized crime for the Southeastern Europe. [Note: That’s up from “3,000″ in July 2010]

Referred by Galijasevic as [”Wahhabi”] sects, these terror cells, for those interested in geography, are located in villages Osvam and Bocinja near Maglaj, then in Zeljezno Polje, Serici, Babina Reka, Tetovo near Zenica, Lepenica, Miljanovci near Tesanj, Mehurici by Travnik, Rujnica near Zavidovici, Blagaja near Mostar, Buzima, Sanski Most, Sarajevo, Jablanica and Konjic. [Americans may have to learn even more new place names yet.]

Galijasevic expressed concern that Western media wants to portray these Islamic terror cells as “foreigners” either as Middle Easterner[s] or as in the case of the recent attacker on the US Embassy as “Serbian citizen”.

“That is minimization and undermining of this terror act,” Galijasevic said about this latest incident.

Prime Minister of the Serb Republic Milorad Dodik also noted Western efforts to use the media in order to portray the Muslim attacker on the US Embassy as a Serb.

“The attacker is portrayed as a Serb, and not a Muslim, or Bosniak or a [Wahhabi]. Most world media have shown it like this because to most they like the idea that ‘Serbs are the bad guys’,” said Dodik.

Dodik also said that Bosnia’s chief Imam, Mustafa Ceric is very much respected by these extremists and that Imam Ceric has direct contacts with them. Dodik says that Imam Ceric along with the son of the former Bosnian Muslim leader Izetbegovic, have direct contacts with the Iranian intelligence service which has its cells in Bosnia. “[This] creates an atmosphere in which radical Islamist circles can develop in Bosnia…”

Galijasevic is already on the record saying that Imam Ceric is the responsible party for the development of radical Islam in Bosnia. […]