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By Carl Savich
The ICTY Trial Chamber, consisting of Presiding Judge Vonimbolana Rasoazanany, Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti, who had replaced Judge Claude Jorda of France, and Judge Bert Swart, convicted these commanders of the Bosnian al-Qaeda of committing war crimes against Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat civilians. Enver Hadzihasanovic was sentenced by the ICTY Trial Chamber to five years imprisonment. Amir Kubura was sentenced to two and a half years.
Trial Chamber II of the ICTY Tribunal convicted Hadzihasanovic and Kubura for committing war crimes against Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat civilians of their “failing to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or punish several crimes that forces under their command committed in central Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and the beginning of 1994.”
Writes the Court: “The foreign Mujahedin actively recruited young local men, offering them military training, uniforms, and weapons. As a result, local people joined the foreign Mujahedin and in the process became local Mujahedin. They imitated the foreigners in both the way they dressed and behaved, to such an extent that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two groups. For that reason, in the Judgement, the Trial Chamber shall use the term 'Mujahedin' to designate foreigners from Arab countries, but also local Muslims who joined the Mujahedin units.”
Equally remarkable is the media's suppression of this story by a decision not to focus on it and when forced to focus to minimize the outrage at the atrocities these two commanders perpetrated against Christians in Bosnia.
For example, BBC and CNN did not bother to report of the case while other US mainstream media presented the news of the convictions of these Muslims in way that reduces the monstrosity of the Muslim atrocities in Bosnia so that the story may, as journalist say, loose its legs.
Indianapolis Star, the San Jose Mercury, the Australian and the New York Times all grudgingly and reluctantly reported on the convictions. New York Times was in particularly lenient to the guilt of Bosnian Muslim because it characterized their atrocities for which they got convicted as “Top Muslims Guilty of Abuses in Bosnia”.
The Trial Chamber heard evidence from 172 witnesses, admitted 33 witness statements in writing, displayed 2,949 exhibits as evidence of Bosnian Muslim atrocities and then convicted the commanders of these murderous Muslims because they "exercised effective control over a detachment of such forces”, thus not only explicitly acknowledging al Qaeda presence in Bosnia but specifically citing the murderous evidence against them. The Court determined that the mujahedeen volunteers “severely beat and psychologically abused” five Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat Christian civilians in Bosnian Muslim-occupied Travnik. The Court further found that mujahedeen troops murdered Bosnian Serb civilian Dragan Popovic in October, 1993 in the Orasac camp. Popovic was beheaded in a ritual Islamic beheading. In its guilty verdict against these Bosnian Muslims, the Court also cited “failing to prevent or punish” the Muslim troops who “cruelly” treated Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat civilians and POWs in 1993 in the five Bosnian Muslim-run detention camps in central Bosnia.
The case proves that war crimes were committed against Bosnian Serb civilians by Bosnian Muslim military government forces during the civil war and that inside thaose government military forces were al Qaeda units. The case proves conclusively that Bosnian Muslim forces were not “victims”, but well-armed and well-supplied military forces that committed horrendous war crimes and crimes against humanity in premeditated and ritual murders of Bosnian Serb civilians.
What makes the New York Times reporting on this case even more discriminatory against Bosnian Christians and in favor of Muslims is not just that it mischaracterizes monstrous atrocities as abuses but also that it deliberately relayed a Reuters report, another news spin outfit, even though the Times has its own reporters in the Hague who could have reported.
Reuters reported that “the foreigners recruited many Bosnian Muslims who imitated their dress and fighting tactics.” The Afghan-Arab Mujahedeen contingent consisted of many “local” Bosnian Muslims. Reuters did not draw the obvious conclusion. The Mujahedeen was made up of not only Afghan-Arab Mujahedeen recruited by Ossama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but was made up of Bosnian Muslims who were engaged an Islamic Jihad or holy war in Bosnia.
Reuters noted that: “Hadzihasanovic was convicted of failing to punish army soldiers who beat prisoners at the Zenica music school, where more than 100 civilians were held. The judgment said prisoners were smashed with wooden shovel handles as they ran a gauntlet of soldiers….One man was ordered to beat his mentally handicapped son, then was beaten himself when he refused, the judgment said….Kubura was convicted for failing to act against soldiers who plundered and rampaged through Bosnian Croat villages in the summer of 1993.” Apparently, Reuters believes that such acts of cruelty are only abuses.
In the similar way to the news trend-setting New York Times, the New York Sun carried the announcement of the convictions under the title “Two Bosnian Muslim ‘Mujahedeen’ Sentenced for War Crimes,” another warped and perverted spin of the convictions so that they may appear as insignificant and trivial by presenting them as ironic and in a flippant manner.
Others pursued the matter-of-fact approach of the Associated Press reports that refrained from citing the implications of this landmark war crimes case. The Associated Press wrote that “two Bosnian Muslim army commanders were convicted of war crimes Wednesday for failing to rein in foreign Muslim volunteers who murdered and tortured Bosnian Croats and Serbs in a 1990s ‘holy war.’” The AP reporter carefully avoids the term Jihad and uses irony quotation marks to downplay the facts that Muslims were waging a war that they believe is holy, i.e. Jihad.
The censorship technique these mainstream US and Western media utilized in this case is known as emphasis. The US media did not censor the case completely, but by misplacing the emphasis is tantamount to outright censorship. As the story of the convictions was allowed to trickle to small newspapers and media outlets, it was effectively buried.
So, why is the conviction being censored and suppressed?
There are multifold reasons and here is the list of the plausible ones:
(1) The story is potentially very damaging to the State Department because it is the one that formulated Washington's support for the Bosnian Muslim “Government” military forces under Alija Izetbegovic and looked the other way as they committed horrendous war crimes against Bosnian Serb and Croat civilians. Still dominated by Clinton's staffers, the State Department is agreeable to having the story lose its media leg by twisting arms of media outfits to de-emphasize its importance and thus pave the way for centralizing the government of Bosnia under Muslim domination that will be too willing to cover up the evil of these Clinton's State Department strategists.
(2) The story of the conviction of these two Bosnian Muslims may irritate some in the US military, in particular some in the top brass, that looked the other way as the military supplies from Iran were freely lending on a Bosnian airport while they were planning how to bomb Bosnian Serb positions. For example, it has been well documented that General Wesley Clark spoke daily with the Bosnian Muslim command in Sarajevo obtaining first hand briefing from the very command that now the Hague Court has indicted for war crimes.
(3) Since the court has determined that Bosnian Muslim government forces were engaged in an Islamic Jihad, and Washington was supportive of that, it bodes ill on those that are now supportive of the war on Islamic terror because they can be accused of hypocrisy that during the 1990s they supported in Bosnia but now are against it when these Bosnian Jihadists exported their murderous skills to the US shore.
... and finally...
(4) there is an increasing body of evidence that suggests a direct and close connection between Usama bin Laden and the Bosnian government, and that Washington was perhaps in on that loop.
For some time, a fact that bin Laden has been issued a Bosnian passport has been under attack by the media so that it has been rendered a rumor. However, Renate Flottau, a reporter for the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that she saw and spoke to Ossama bin Laden in Sarajevo when he came to visit the Bosnian Muslim President Izetbegovic in the 1990s.
Moreover, on February 3, 2006, at the ICTY trial of Slobodan Milosevic, veteran British journalist Eve-Ann Prentice corroborated the same bin Laden citing in Bosnia. Eve-Ann Prentice is a veteran reporter for The Guardian and The London Times and had traveled to the Balkans on forty separate occasions. Under oath, she testified at The Hague that she witnessed Ossama bin Laden “being escorted” into Alija Izetbegovic’s office in Sarajevo in November 1994. This dramatic testimony offers corroboration for the eyewitness account of Renate Flottau, who also witnessed bin Laden in Izetbegovic’s office.
ICTY Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice objected to the testimony of Prentice on the ground that it was leading the witness. Judge Patrick Robinson cut off the testimony by Prentice by requesting that Milosevic “move on”, stating that Milosevic was taking too much time and dismissing this line of questioning as essentially “irrelevant.” Judge Robinson showed no interest in pursuing the issue so the issue of al Qaeda presence in Bosnia was left unexplored.
Milosevic asked Prentice about her reporting in Bosnia, found on page 47949 of the ICTY trial transcripts:
Milosevic: “During your stay in Sarajevo, did you visit the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina? And if you did, on what occasion?”
Milosevic: “Did you later, in view of the pictures and what you remembered, were you able to conclude that it was actually him?”
Nice objected that the question is “marginally misleading”. Judge Robinson asked Milosevic to “ask another question”.
Milosevic: “I understood her to say that she didn't recognize him at the moment when she saw him but that later she did establish it was him. I wanted to clarify that. But if it's leading, she needn't answer it. This is too serious a matter to pass over just like that.”
Milosevic: “Later on did you investigate the presence of Islamic fundamentalists in Bosnia-Herzegovina?”
Prentice: “I did, particularly after the atrocities on 9/11. I tried to interview as many people as possible, ranging from Western politicians to Serbian and Croatian and Muslim people from Bosnia and from Serbia about whether or not there was an outside Islamic presence in Bosnia. It's -- on a couple of trips back to Bosnia after 1995, up until the present day, it seemed to me a very unstable place despite the Dayton Peace Accord, and -- and there were many people, when they heard that I was trying to ascertain whether there really was an outside Islamic influence in Bosnia, who came to me to tell me that they had evidence about that. They included Mr. Toholj from Republika Srpska who told me, for instance, that there was a Afghan brigade under the command of somebody by the name of Mahmud Abu Abdul Aziz al Montasibe from Saudi Arabia. He told me also that they had set up a training camp to teach Bosnian Muslim troops the rules…”
Islamic Terror: Bosnia as Common Cradle
In the Los Angeles Times article “Terrorists Use Bosnia as Base and Sanctuary" from, October 7, 2001, Craig Pyes, Josh Meyer, and William C. Rempel reported on the connection between al-Qaeda and the Bosnian El Mujahedeen Battalion. According to their report, "Bin Laden financed small convoys of recruits from the Arab world through his businesses in Sudan... Other support and recruits for El Moujahed came, at least in part, through Islamic organizations in Milan, Italy, and Istanbul, Turkey, that European investigators later linked to trafficking in passports and weapons for terrorists."
"A series of national security and criminal investigations across Europe have since identified the El Moujahed unit in court filings as the "common cradle" from which an international terrorist network grew and ultimately stretched from the Middle East to Canada,” conclude Pyes, Meyer, and Rempel.
Lieutenant Colonel John Sray, a US Army Military Intelligence Officer, described the Bosnian mujahedeen in October, 1995, as follows:
“Approximately 4000 Mujahedin, supported by Iranian special operations forces, have been continually intensifying their activities in central Bosnia for more than two years. Detachments of Mujahedin have assisted in training selected Bosniac army elements and began to spearhead many tactical-level attacks against the BSA during the summer of 1994. The potential for this organization to escalate its activities remains high and could threaten regional stability despite any future agreements."
According to the Lieutenant Colonel Sray "Funding for the Mujahedin has been provided by Iran and various other Islamic states with an interest in expanding extremism into Europe. International radical groups, such as Hizbollah, have also been included on the suspected list of sponsors. Bosnian government sources only grudgingly acknowledge the presence of the Mujahedin but publicly intimate that they have accepted their presence… As time progresses, these professional ‘holy warriors’ will likely divert their attention to politicizing the Muslim population and attempting to establish an Islamic republic obedient to fundamentalist doctrine.”
The Mujahedeen troops were subordinated to the Bosnian Muslim 3rd Corps and the 7th Brigade and made a part of the Bosnian Muslim Army.
The “foreign Mujahedin” arrived in central Bosnia in the second half of 1992 with the aim of helping their "Muslim brothers".
On October 5, 1995, a “local” or “domestic” Mujahedeen, Bosnian Muslim Elvedin Hodzic, was killed by British United Nations troops when he pointed a loaded gun at them. Hodzic had joined the ranks of the “foreign” Mujahedeen in Bosnia.
The first Mujahedeen training camp was established in Poljanice by the village of Mehurici in the Travnik district. The Mujahedeen at this camp were from Arab nations. The important fact the Court established was that Bosnian Muslims, “locals”, or domestic Mujahedeen, were also part of the camp. The “local” Bosnian Muslims at the camp were former members of the Muslim Forces of Travnik and troops who were by law members of units of the 3rd Corps, the 7th Muslim Brigade and the 306th Brigade.
The Mujahedeen also set up training camps in Zenica and Travnik in the Bila region of central Bosnia. In 1993, the Mujahedeen create a camp in Orasac. Tuzla was the logistic center of the Mujahedeen because a prominent Bosnian Muslim family Cengic, owned the airport there and one of their family members, Hasan Cengic was Bosnian Muslim emissary to Iran where he stayed virtually throughout the Bosnian war. According to the testimony of a Norwegian Captain Ivan Moldestad, on February 10, 1995 at 5:45 pm he heard the sound of the propellers of an approaching transport aircraft, Hercules C-130 that was being escorted by two jet fighters towards the Tuzla airport. When Moldestad phoned NATO, he was told that there was nothing in the air that night, and that he must be mistaken so when Moldestad persisted, the connection was broken.
The Court held that "local" Mujahedeen, Bosnian Muslims, were legally or de jure members of the 3rd Corps. The Court noted that Bosnian Muslims, “local” or “domestic” Mujahedeen, known as “white” Al-Qaeda, joined the Mujahedeen troops at Poljanice. Bosnian Muslim Ramo Durmis was a member of the Mujahedeen forces. Bosnian Muslim troops from the 7th Muslim Brigade and 306th Brigade joined the Mujahedeen units.
Abuse or Islamic Ritual Atrocities
The Court found that the Bosnian Muslim government and military command “maintained a close relationship” with the foreign Mujahadeen ever since their arrival in Bosnia in 1992. They engaged in “joint combat operations” against Bosnian Serb and Croat forces.
The Court found that Hadzihasanovic “exercised effective control” over the El Mujahed unit.
On 26 January 26, 1993, troops in the 7th Muslim Brigade executed Bosnian Serb civilian Vojislav Stanisic and six Bosnian Croat POWs, Zvonko Rajic, Niko Kegelj, Stipo Kegelj, Vinko Kegelj, Pero Ljubi?ic, Augustin Rados, in Dusina.
The Mujahedeen murdered Bosnian Croats Franjo Pavlovic, Tihomir Pavlovic, Vlado Pavlovic and Anto Petrovic.
On April 25, 1993, the bodies of four Bosnian Croat men were found mutilated and covered in blood. Their hands had been tied behind their backs. The four Roman Catholics “had their throats slit open and their blood had been collected in a pan.” The Court held that they were “killed by the foreign and local Mujahedins from the camp in Poljanice.”
The Court found that on June 8, 1993, twenty-three Bosnian Croat men and one woman were executed in Bikoci by foreign and local Mujahedeen from the Poljanice camp.
The Court found that it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that local and foreign Mujahedeen in the El Mujahed Unit murdered Bosnian Serb civilian Dragan Popovic by beheading him in a ritual Islamic beheading. This is how the Court described the murder of the Bosnian Serb civilian Popovic:
“The Trial Chamber considers furthermore that it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that, on 21 October 1993, Dragan Popovic, who was not actively involved in the hostilities, was executed by members of this detachment. The Trial Chamber notes that this murder was particularly heinous. Dragan Popovic was taken with three other prisoners to a meadow where a pit had been dug. About 50 to 100 soldiers from the El Mujahed detachment stood around the pit shouting. Dragan Popovic was pushed to the edge of the pit and fell on his side after being tripped. One soldier then tried unsuccessfully to behead him with a hatchet, so another soldier had to finish the execution. The other prisoners were then forced to kiss the head of the deceased while the soldiers shouted in ritual celebration.”
The Court found that the Mujahedeen had destroyed and desecrated Roman Catholic Churches:
“Evidence presented to the Trial Chamber indicates that the Monastery of Gu?a Gora and the Church of St. John the Baptist in Travnik were damaged in June 1993. Members of the 306th Brigade Military Police and international observers noted that in the Monastery of Gu?a Gora - which was both a sacred and historical site for the Croatian Catholic community - steles and the organ were destroyed, and the frescoes and walls were partially covered with inscriptions in Arabic. Similar destruction and damage was recorded at the church in Travnik: paintings, organs and windows were destroyed or vandalised and the statues of saints were decapitated. The Trial Chamber is in no doubt that this damage amounts to acts of profanation. According to the case file, however, the perpetrators of these acts were the Mujahedin.”
Hadzihasanovic was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment and Kubura to 2 ½ years.
Yet, Bosnian Muslim war crimes did not happen only in 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war.
During the WWII, the Bosnian Muslim leaders requested that Adolf Hitler make them a part of the Nazi New order in Europe and pursuant to this desire, the Bosnian Muslims formed two Nazi SS Divisions that willingly joined in Holocaust and murder of Serb and Jewish civillians during the second war.
Go to part 2: Bosnian Muslim War Crimes: World War II