September 11, 2003

The Lost Terror War
In The Balkans

by Nebojsa Malic

The much-ballyhooed "War on Terror" that followed the horrors of Black Tuesday fizzled in the blood of thousands. Afghanistan was reduced to even more rubble, yet the Taliban are back and the Bearded One is still at large. Iraqis are so happy about their "liberation" they kill American soldiers on a daily basis. The worldwide sympathy for Americans after September 11 soon evaporated, to be replaced by anger at Washington's Imperial arrogance. From a victim of unspeakable terror, the US came to be seen as "an aggressor that starts wars on the basis of lies and disinformation." (Roberts, The Washington Times)

George Bush's claim that America was after terrorists everywhere was seriously undermined from the very beginning by its continued support for terrorists in the Balkans, for example. Those familiar with events in Kosovo and Macedonia, and certain personalities in Bosnia, were forced to conclude that terrorism was considered "evil" only when it targeted Americans. Others were fair game, especially when the terrorists were American "allies."

Human Rights?

Two years after signing a humiliating surrender to banditry, under enormous EU and US pressure, Macedonia is experiencing at least one bomb attack, missile attack or shooting per week, sometimes more. Western media routinely claim that Albanians (all of them?) "revolted" in 2001 to demand "greater rights." But rights can't be greater or lesser; they are by definition absolute: life, liberty and property. Everything else is an entitlement. It has to come out of someone else's pocket, by force.

The UCK bandits could not have extorted entitlements from the Macedonian people (since they will be paying for them), without the wholehearted support of Brussels and Washington. This support came with full awareness that the UCK were engaging in clearly terrorist behavior, and after George Robertson, NATO's Secretary-General, called them "murderous thugs." Robertson got the job by championing the cause of UCK bandits in Kosovo, so he knows who he's talking about.


Macedonia's predicament would not have been possible without a 1999 NATO intervention on behalf of the Albanian "liberation movement" in Kosovo, also called the UCK. Originally a band of terrorists who murdered postmen, police officers, teachers and farmers, with foreign funding and diplomatic support, through the miracle of modern propaganda they became a "liberation army" that successfully "liberated" hundreds of people of their lives and property – most of them Albanians, actually. Twice they were crushed and sent scurrying across the border into Albania by Serbian security services. Twice the US came to their rescue. If subsequent generations of Americans ever re-examine the shameful policies of aiding terrorists in the interests of Imperial power, names like Richard Holbrooke, William Walker and Madeleine Albright will certainly live in infamy.

It was on behalf of this organization that the US scrapped the NATO charter and violated international law by committing naked aggression against a sovereign state, and occupying one portion thereof. That occupation has gone on for over four years now, and has resulted in over 200,000 ethnically cleansed non-Albanians, at least 112 destroyed churches and monuments of culture, and constant terror against the remaining non-Albanian population. This happened because of, not in spite of, some 60,000 NATO troops who occupied Kosovo. That's half the troops occupying a much-bigger Iraq. The UCK-led violence was not only not prevented, but legitimized by holding elections for a "president," and "parliament" of Kosovo. The UCK itself was re-organized into the "Kosovo Protection Corps," paid by the UN/NATO to deal with "disaster relief." But the only disaster in Kosovo was of NATO's own making.

When confronted with the consequences of their actions, the seneschals of "international community" always react the same way: lie and deny. To confess would be political suicide.

A United Front

Let's recall that the "Albanian National Army" (AKSh), who even the shamelessly pro-Albanian Kosovo viceroy Michael Steiner had to declare a terrorist organization, first appeared in Macedonia after the 2001 "rebellion." They were allegedly remnants of the UCK. But when two of the AKSh members tried to mine a railway bridge in Kosovo earlier this year (but blew themselves up instead) one was identified as a member of the "Kosovo Protection Corps." It is no secret that many – if not most – "Macedonian" UCK came from the original, Kosovo UCK ("KLA"). Their uniforms and weapons were identical. So, for that matter, were those of the "Presevo Liberation Army" (UCPMB) in southern Serbia, which was bought off in a manner similar to Macedonia – again, to no avail.

Clearly, these "national liberation movements" are one single organization, changing names to appear local and legitimate. It uses means clearly classified as terrorist by any government in the world, even the US. It aims to seize and ethnically cleanse a territory on which to establish an ethnically pure, Greater Albanian state. And because this charge has been baselessly leveled against the Serbs by the US government and PR agencies hired by Croatia, Bosnian Muslims, and yes, the Kosovo Albanians, they seem to have an alibi. Even today, reputable news services continue to dismiss Albanian terrorism as such, and even advocate appeasement as policy for best dealing with it.

The Islamic Manifesto

Northwest of Kosovo is NATO's first Balkans protectorate, still occupied by thousands troops and ruled by an international viceroy. Bosnia's problems are roundly blamed on its Serb population, from the 1992-95 war to the present poverty, corruption and despair. Yet the role of Bosnian Muslim leadership in the tragedy – or the story of its connections with Islamic militants worldwide – is deliberately suppressed.

Little if anything is known in the West about a pamphlet published in 1970 by Alija Izetbegovic. Titled "The Islamic Declaration: A program for the Islamization of the Muslims and the Muslim Peoples," it was a manifesto for revolution in the Muslim world and a philosophical blueprint for the creation of Islamic states. Izetbegovic was convicted of "nationalism" by the Communist government and spent several years in prison – just as he had in 1946, for his involvement with a militant Muslim organization during World War Two.

In 1990, he rose to the leadership of the Bosnian Muslims and became the chair of Bosnia's governing committee. That same year, the "Islamic Declaration" was reprinted, without changes. Izetbegovic insisted on an independent, Muslim-dominated Bosnia, while hiding behind the rhetoric of multi-ethnicity, tolerance and democracy that seemed to fool everyone – except those who experienced it first-hand. When Bosnian Serbs and Croats refused to go along, he labeled them as "aggressors" in their own country, styled himself "President of Bosnia" even though such a post did not exist, and claimed to defend his people from "genocide" even as he sacrificed thousands of them in a war he had hoped for.

In the carnage that followed Izetbegovic's repudiation of a constitutional compromise and unilateral declaration of independence, no one was blameless. But thanks to relentless propaganda and US government support, Izetbegovic and his cabal of militant Islamists got away with many a murder, while the Serbs were declared collectively genocidal.

The Hidden Bosnia

Nearly eight years after the Peace of Dayton, Izetbegovic is officially retired, but in fact the svengali behind Bosnian Muslim politics. Bosnia's occupiers are well aware of this; every incoming or departing Ambassador, viceroy, envoy or dignitary checks in with Izetbegovic upon their arrival to, or departure from, Bosnia. If Bosnia's Sunni Muslims had the institution of ayatollah, he would be it.

Far from being limited to the Balkans or considered outlandish, Izetbegovic's ideas on Islamic revolution have earned him praise from institutions of Islam and Muslim governments. There is even a Muslim award named after him.

Yet under his rule, Bosnia became a haven for terrorists, including Al-Qaeda. In 1999, one of Bin Laden's lieutenants was caught with a passport issued by Izetbegovic's government. Several suspected Al-Qaeda members arrested since have had Bosnian papers as well. In 1999, one Sarajevo weekly alleged that Osama bin Laden himself was issued a Bosnian passport in 1993 – something official Sarajevo hastily denied only after September 11. And in 1996, NATO raided a terrorist training camp near Sarajevo.

On Black Tuesday, Izetbegovic's militants were temporarily out of power, replaced by a shaky social-democrat coalition in which they maintained a Trojan horse (Haris Silajdzic's "Party for Bosnia"). A complete lack of interest on part of the US in cracking down on Bosnia's Al-Qaeda connections, and the insistence on hunting Serb "war criminals" instead, undermined the coalition's ability to fight Islamic militants. Last fall, it lost the elections to Izetbegovic's followers, who promptly re-launched their drive for hegemony.

Izetbegovic and his followers will not stop until all of Bosnia is under their control. This insane idea, which the Bosnian Croats and Serbs will never accept willingly, enjoys the support of NATO occupiers, the viceroy, and Washington. It is unclear whether they simply believe Izetbegovic's propaganda about multi-ethnicity and tolerance, or want to "unify" Bosnia despite knowing that Muslim politicians are only interested in "unification" if they get to rule.

Deja Vu

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, when people clamored for blood and vengeance, few were prepared to listen to reason. So as US troops descended onto Afghanistan and later Iraq, no one remembered Bosnia, Kosovo, or Macedonia. By late 2002, the "War on terror" had morphed into a "War of terror":

"How can anyone, in face of … prima facie evidence that the US is backing Balkans factions whose actions are undeniably terrorist in both methods and aims argue that the US is fighting a 'War on Terror' and 'evil' all over the world?

[…] Now the paladins of 'humanitarian bombing' are using what they got away with in Bosnia and Kosovo to further new bloodshed, all under the guise of 'fighting terrorism.' Yet what is 'regime change' other than an effort to replace a government through use of force: a textbook definition of terrorism?"

- The Day Nothing Changed, September 12, 2002

Road to Perdition

The US persists in supporting certain terrorists – and not just in the Balkans, by the way – while claiming to wage a war on the idea itself. In the case of the Balkans, the Washington policymakers' Serbophobia seems strong enough to blot out the images of the burning Towers, the smoldering Pentagon, and a dozen other lethal attacks.

How can a man like Joseph Lieberman, who praised the UCK as fighting for "American values," have the face to run for President – and on a belligerent platform, natch? For that matter, how can the Bomber of Belgrade, the mad General Wesley Clark? That is up to Americans to decide, along with where their country will go from here: to a new dawn of liberty, or the long night of Empire.

Americans desperately need to decide whether to support a policy that aims to create a global Balkans, where US power and hypocrisy rule supreme. They should know that in the real Balkans, where US power is unchallenged, terrorism thrives:

"…events in the Balkans clearly show that the war on terrorism is anything but, and that the only benefactor of Black Tuesday will be the apocalyptic vision of American Empire, now finally able to assert itself in a war without end."

War Without End, September 27, 2001

It was supposed to be The Day Everything Changed. But nothing did, really.

– Nebojsa Malic

comments on this article?

Please Support

Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Ave., Suite #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your contributions are now tax-deductible


Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo, and contributed to the Independent. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for appears every Thursday.


Archived Columns

The Lost Terror War

Balkans Online

The Black Hole of Nation-Building

Fresh Blood in Kosovo

Empires and Balkans Don't Mix

The New Janissaries

The Worthy Balkans Booklist

Worthless Words

Liars, Halfwits, Inquisitors and Thieves

The Serbian Lincoln?

Paragons of Empire

Remember Kosovo?

Retrospect: Balkans And the Big Picture – A Year Later

Bosnia's Founding Stepfather

The Folly That Is Europe

Lies Reporters Tell

Worshippers of Power and Violence

After 'Liberation,' Democracy

Empire's 'Liberation'

Bolsheviks in Belgrade

Seeking Scapegoats

The Argument of Force

Alley of the Damned

Death of a Manager

From Kosovo to Baghdad

Genocide Games

Excuses and Justifications

Yugoslavia's End

Balkanizing the World

A Chauvinistic Farce

The 12 Months of Christmas

More Dirty Lies

Democratic Destruction

Forged Memories

Making the Balkans Connection

Remembering the Obvious

Empire's Playground

Casus Belli

Forward to The Past

The Unbearable Futility of Voting

A Global Balkans

Triumph of the Will

The Day Nothing Changed

Illusions of Truth and Justice

More archived columns by Nebojsa Malic

Back to Home Page | Contact Us