Thursday, March 31, 2011

Developments on Balkan Islamic terrorism , by Ioannis Michaletos

The article was originally presented on May 2008 (International Analyst Network) The previous days witnessed a series of revelations and developments regarding the spread of Islamic terrorists in the Balkans, many of those active for the better part of the last decade and virtually untouched by the authorities up to date.

The Italian daily “La Stampa” which monitors regularly the security concerns in the region, made some notable reports on certain Bosnia Muslim personalities and the role in contraband arms trade to Europe, presumably to arm extremist organizations there. Vladimir Popilovski runs an al-Qaeda ratline of arms from Bosnia across Sava River into Croatia and henceforth to Europe and Kemal Alagic, Naser Panaslamovic and Omer Murselovic run the same thing on the western side of Bosnia. All of those were active during the Bosnia civil war between 1992 and 1995.

Kemal Alagic was mentioned in an ICTY report, when a witness was asked around his role in village attacks and against Christian population. Moreover, according to the HRI news network, “The RS deputy minister of justice, Goran Neskovic, stated that “three Muslims accused of crimes against Srpska were released today at 15:00 hrs”.”We released them as a gesture of good will towards the international community and Carl Bildt, although we could have accused them of war crimes. We fulfilled the agreement while the Muslims did not release the civilians arrested in Grbavica”, said Neskovic. In the presence of the deputy high representative, Michael Steiner, the following Muslims were released: Hasan Hrnadovic, Kemal Alagic and Enver Krasic, accused of “espionage, armed rebellion and participation in an enemy army”. The above took part in 1995, during the end of the war in Bosnia. Continuing, Popilovski’s boss is Semsudin Mehmedovic, who is known as the major figure in Islamic religious nationalism in Bosnia and was in charge of police in the Zenica area in the mid-90′s.

According to Michael Sells citing Washington Post’s reports back in 1996 ” The U.S. government, if it were serious about enforcing the Dayton accords, could simply ask its close friends in Kuwait and Riyadh to stop supporting extremist fundamentalist like Mehmedovic who are trying to destroy the Dayton agreement and establish what would be an Islamic ghetto in the heart of Europe”

Mehmedovic was a minister for police with the Bosnian Muslim government and was prosecuted for dealing with arms but let go. Mehmedovic was the man who signed off on marriage licenses for Jihad fighters who came to Bosnia and got married off with local Muslim women.

Boudel Haj and Hanouf Munir, still in Guantanamo, own Bosnian Muslim wives for which Mehmedovic signed off on.

Mehmedovic is member of OEBS, was a member of police reform committee that EU forced Serbs to sign, and is part of the Bosnian Muslim parliament. The wider image that can retrieve by the above, is that organized crime centered in illegal arms trade and Islamic extremism is related in Bosnia and poses a security threat for Europe, since the weaponry was exported through Croatia, a country about to become a NATO state in the near future. Also the penetration of state institutions in Bosnia by extremists is still prevalent. According to Balkan Insight, citing the reports by the Nezavisne Novine (Banja Luka daily), which in turn took its information through anonymous intelligence sources “Muslim extremists are counting on Croatia’s fast-track European Union membership and expected liberalization of its visa regime, to move the weapons and explosives further into EU countries and use them for terrorist activities”.Already 9 Bosnian Wahhabis are to be found in Guantanamo prison, and since 2001 there has been a continuous effort to disband the tens of Islamic NGO’s that were used to finance terrorist operations. The existence of an unspecified number of former Jihadi fighters that married local women, is still a major concern, since they were all recruited and operated under the aegis of organizations such as Al Qaeda and have formed Pan European support networks, especially in Central Europe and in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia, the Imam Bekir Halimi, was arrested recently by the authorities in Skopje due to his involvement in illegal funding by pro-terrorist organization. The Albanian descent Halimi received 2,115 euros payments from the Kuwaiti Organization “Revival Islamic Heritage Society” – RIHS-.

The Revival Islamic Heritage Society has been blacklisted by the United Nations because of their close ties to terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda”, said Interior Ministry’s spokesperson, Ivo Kotevski. The money transfer through a swift account was done via Kuwaiti and two German banks eventually ending up on Halimi’s account. RIHS has been accused of financing Al Qaida in Afghanistan, as well as extremist groups in Pakistan, under the pretext of humanitarian care and since the 11th of January 2002 it was classified in the UN’s black list of international organizations.

The organization operated over the previous years in Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania, whilst it seems that it aimed at penetrating FYROM through Bekir Halimi’s actions. According to reliable information himself was under supervision by the local security forces and he was also about to complete his work by importing into the country, radical Islamic figures from the Middle East. It seems that he was a part of a larger plan of destabilization in the Southern Balkans and it would not be improbable as to assume that the revelations by the Italian paper for Bosnia are connected with those in Skopje. It is widely known that the Italian security services are especially active in the Balkans due to the perils this region entails for the security of Italy and in the past various operations were conducted in order to prevent terrorist attacks against the major Italian metropolitan centers. The Balkans remains a hot bed for the Islamic driven terrorism in Europe and it should be noted that they still remain a convenient entrance for the transfer of radicals from the Middle East. In addition organized crime and illegal immigration are another two dimensions that contemplate the overall picture and should be addressed by the security agencies as a triangle of critical attention well over the coming years.