Bosnian Muslim Army troops of the Al-Qaeda linked El Mujahedeen Unit parade in downtown Zenica in central Bosnia in 1995, carrying the black flag of Islamic jihad.
Ossama Bin Laden played a key role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war. Alija Izetbegovic not only issued him a Bosnian passport through the Bosnian Embassy in Vienna in 1993, but met with him at least on one occasion in Sarajevo in November, 1994. Bin Laden came to Bosnia at least two times. Bin Laden organized the recruitment of Arab-Afghan mujadeheen “volunteers” for Bosnia. He also used Islamic front organizations and charities to funnel money to the Bosnian Muslim regime and army.
More importantly, according to many prominent anti-terror experts, Bosnia was the “guidebook” for Al-Qaeda. Bosnia was where Al-Qaeda was forged in the fires of Islamic jihad.
In Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (NY: Free Press, 2004), Richard A. Clarke, who was the anti-terror czar in the George W. Bush Administration, a security and counter-terrorism advisor to three U.S. Presidents, wrote:
“What we saw unfold in Bosnia was a guidebook to the Bin Laden network, though we didn’t recognize it as such at the time. Beginning in 1992, Arabs who had been former Afghan mujahedeen began to arrive. With them came the arrangers, the money men, logisticians, and ‘charities.’ They arranged front companies and banking networks. As they had done in Afghanistan, the Arabs created their own brigade, allegedly part of the Bosnian army but operating on its own. The muj, as they came to be known, were fierce fighters against the better-armed Serbs. They engaged in ghastly torture, murder, and mutilation that seemed excessive even by Balkan standards.”
The funding and recruitment of the mujahedeen to Bosnia was organized by Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network:
“Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic decided to take aid where he could… Better yet, al Qaeda sent men, trained, tough fighters. European and U.S. intelligence services began to trace the funding and support of the muj to bin Laden in Sudan, and to facilities that had already been established by the muj in Western Europe itself.”
The Afghan-Arab mujahedeen force in Bosnia was engaged in an “al Qaeda jihad”:
“Although Western intelligence agencies never labeled the muj activity in Bosnia an al Qaeda jihad, it is now clear that is exactly what it was.”
Clarke noted that “[m]any of the names that we first encountered in Bosnia showed up later in other roles, working for al Qaeda.” These included:
1) Abu al-Makki, who was seen in the December, 2001 video standing next to bin Laden “as al Qaeda’s leader extolled the September 11 attacks”;
2) Abu al-Haili, who was arrested in Morocco in 2002 for planning to attack U.S. ships;
3) Ali al-Shamrani, who was arrested by Saudi police for attacking the U.S. military aid mission in 1995;
4) Khalil Deek, arrested in 1999 for planning attacks against U.S. installations in Jordan;
5) Fateh Kamel, part of the Millennium Plot cell in Canada;
6) Khalid Almihdhar, 9/11 hijacker fought in Bosnia; and,
7) Nawaf Alhazmi, 9/11 hijacker fought in the Bosnian civil war.
Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic, lower right, meeting with Al-Qaeda linked Arab-Afghan mujahedeen in Bosnia.
One of the hijackers of the second attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, possessed a Bosnian passport
Senior Al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was granted Bosnian citizenship in November, 1995. He is allegedly the mastermind and planner of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the U.S.
Mohammed was born in Kuwait to a family from the Baluchi region of Pakistan. He went to Bosnia in September, 1995. He went in the guise of a Muslim “humanitarian aid worker” for an Islamic charity front organization called Egyptian Relief, a front for the radical Muslim Brotherhood of Cairo.
The Bosnian government also issued a passport to Mahrez Amduni, a senior aide to Ossama Bin Laden, in 1997. In an Agence France Presse news report from September 24, 1999, “Bin Laden Was Granted Bosnian Passport”, it was reported:
“Earlier this week the Bosnian government confirmed it had granted citizenship and passport to a Tunisian-born senior aide of bin-Laden in 1997. The government said citizenship was given to Mahrez Amduni, known in Sarajevo as Mehrez Amdouni.”
The same report noted that the Bosnian government destroyed all the documents and files relating to Ossama Bin Laden:
“’The Bosnian embassy in Vienna granted a passport to bin Laden in 1993,’ Dani magazine said, quoting anonymous sources, emphasizing that files and traces linked to his case have recently been destroyed by the government. …
“‘High Muslim officials of the Bosnian foreign ministry agreed that it was the top priority. It was even more important than investigating a person responsible for granting a passport to the most wanted terrorist in the world,’ Dani reported.”
Marko Attila Hoare conceded that “Osama bin Lade himself … plays very much an off-stage role” in Bosnia “although he apparently hoped to use the mujahedeen presence in Bosnia to create a base for operations against the US and its allies in Europe.” Ossama Bin Laden was part of “How Bosnia Armed”, by violating the UN arms embargo against Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia.
Renate Flottau, an award-winning German journalist, reported seeing Ossama Bin Laden meeting with Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic in 1994. Born in Munich, she began her career working for newspapers and magazines in Germany. She worked in television as well in 1976.
In the 1980s she settled in Belgrade with her husband Heiko Flottau. She worked initially for the German television network Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF, Second German Television) and then became the Balkan correspondent for Der Spiegel in 1986. Flottau was one of the few Western journalists to meet Osama Bin Laden in Sarajevo when Bin Laden met with Izetbegovic.
Flottau was waiting to interview Izetbegovic in his office when she met Ossama Bin Lade in Sarajevo in November, 1994. Bin Laden gave her his business card and informed her that he was planning to bring Afghan-Arab mujahedeen fighters to Bosnia. He was given VIP treatment and rushed in to meet with Izetbegovic.
Bin Laden spoke to Flottau for ten minutes in fluent English. Moreover, he told her that he had a Bosnian passport issued by the Izetbegovic government. Staff for Izetbegovic told her that Bin Laden is “here every day”. Flottau maintained that she again saw Bin Laden meeting at Izetbegovic’s office one week later. In addition, she witnessed Bin Laden in the company of senior members of Izetbegovic’s ultranationalist Muslim party, the SDA, Stranka Demokratske Akcije, Party of Democratic Action. She recognized members of the Bosnian Muslim secret police in an meeting that she later characterized as “incredibly bizarre”. Bosnian Muslim Sejfudin Tokic, who was the speaker of the upper house of the Bosnian parliament, confirmed these meetings between Ossama Bin Laden and Alija Izetbegovic. There is also purportedly a photograph of the meeting.
Flottau’s account was corroborated by veteran British London Times journalist Eve-Ann Prentice on February 6, 2006 when she testified under oath at the ICTY. Prentice stated that she witnessed Ossama Bin Laden “being escorted” into the office of Alija Izetbegovic in November, 1994. Ossama Bin Laden “was shown straight through to Mr. Izetbegovic’s office.”
Bosnian Muslim Army members of the Al-Qaeda linked El Mujahedeen Unit in downtown Zenica wearing green headbands with Arabic script to signify Islamic jihad, 1995.
Ossama Bin Laden was able to effectively finance and organize Al Qaeda and mujahedeen recruits for the Bosnian Muslim Army. In the Los Angeles Times article “Terrorists Use Bosnia as Base and Sanctuary” from October 7, 2001, the report noted that there was a connection between Al-Qaeda and Ossama Bin Laden and the El Mujahedeen Battalion in the Bosnian Muslim Army:
“Bin Laden financed small convoys of recruits from the Arab world through his businesses in Sudan.”
Ossama Bin Laden relied on his experiences in Bosnia in the creation, development, and expansion of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Bin Laden also relied on his Bosnian experience in planning and organizing the 9/11 attacks.