The September morning six years ago that saw three
hijacked jetliners slam into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon has often
been called "the day everything changed." What really changed was
Americans’ skepticism of their own government – a fact that has been abused
ever since. The man from Crawford who campaigned on the promise of a "more
humble foreign policy" and against Clintonian "nation-building"
quickly became Emperor George, launching two foreign wars in rapid succession
and asserting the right to attack anyone,
anywhere, for any reason. The rest of the world was either "with us
or against us," and the same stark choice was given to the American people.
All of this was justified by a perpetual "war on terrorism." That
war, it turned out, was against many things – but terrorism was not one of them.
These Are Not The Jihadists You Are Looking For
Once it was established that Islamic militants
were behind 9/11, many analysts believed that Emperor Bush would start paying
attention to the Balkans. The presence of mujahedin – "holy warriors"
engaged in jihad for Islam – in Bosnia has been one of the best-known
secrets of the 1992-95 war. Not only did the regime of Islamic
fundamentalist Alija Izetbegovic welcome thousands of "Afghans"
and other jihadist volunteers, it established domestic mujahedin units
and encouraged the foreigners to settle in Bosnia after the war. Izetbegovic’s
government also designated all Bosnian Muslim soldiers who died in the
war as shaheed, "martyrs for the faith."
The U.S. not only knew about this, but also actively aided the Bosnian regime,
turning a blind eye to illegal
arms shipments from Iran. Several Clinton administration officials got a
slap on the wrist during the 1996 Congressional
investigations, but nothing more.
Bush’s "War on terror" never came to Bosnia, though. Evidence of
terrorist activities, connections, training camps, financing and recruitment
was handled quietly, swept under a rug, or simply ignored. In August 2005, Bosnian
Muslim weekly Slobodna Bosna quoted
Jacques-Paul Klein, a senior U.S. official in Bosnia, "as having confirmed
to the Security Council that Islamic terrorists were active in Bosnia, but added
that it was good they were concentrated in one place, because ‘the rest of the
world would be safe.’"
Emboldened by this neglect, the radical Islamist elements in Bosnia have grown
stronger over time. Last month, U.S. deputy viceroy Raffi Gregorian met with
a hailstorm of protest from the Muslim community for even
suggesting there were terrorist sympathizers in Bosnia. Meanwhile, Bosnian
Muslim "political scientists" have developed a
new definition of terrorism, according to which Islamic terrorism cannot
– and therefore, does not – exist!
Keys To Understanding Jihad
Two recently published books argue that Bosnia
– and the Balkans in general – is crucial to understanding modern jihad.
Similar works in the past – Evan Kohlmann’s Al-Qaeda’s
Jihad in Europe was published in 2004 – met with wall of silence, and
the mainstream media is certainly treating John R. Schindler’s Unholy
Terror and Chris Deliso’s The
Coming Balkan Caliphate the same way.
Schindler used to be an NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer, and now
teaches at the Naval War College. His Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qaeda and
the Rise of the Global Jihad argues that Bosnia "played the same role
for al-Qaeda in the 1990s that Afghanistan did in the 1980s," providing
a training ground for a generation of jihadists.
Deliso, who runs Balkanalysis.com and
has been a columnist for Antiwar.com
as well, goes beyond al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, examining the penetration
of radical Islam throughout the Balkans, from Bosnia and Kosovo, the Serbian
province of Raska, as well as Bulgaria and Macedonia. His work also quotes testimonies
from UN and NATO insiders, showing that the West has deliberately turned a blind
eye to Islamic activities in the Balkans, as Muslim radical have been considered
allies against the evil Serbs.
This perception of Islamic radicals as allies of the U.S. in the geopolitical
sense cannot be stressed enough. Recall that Zbigniew Brzezinski, President
Carter’s National Security Advisor, boasted
of his brilliant idea to support a fanatical Islamic movement in Afghanistan
in the 1970s as a way to hurt the Soviet Union. Afghanistan did hurt the Soviets,
but it also gave birth to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. U.S. policy
in the Balkans – on the surface absurd and arbitrary – begins making a twisted
sort of sense if Bosnia and Kosovo are seen as the modern Afghanistan, and Serbs
as the surrogate Russians…
Further food for thought along these lines can be found in "The
Bosnian Connection" by UK journalist Brendan O’Neill, which argues
that both modern liberal imperialism and al-Qaeda’s jihad were forged in the
fires of Bosnia, with each side manipulating the facts of the war to bolster
their own narrative.
This explains both why liberal-imperialists like
Tom Lantos (D-Ca.) believe they can purchase
the friendship of the Muslim world by holding forth Bosnia and Kosovo as
examples where America "saved Muslims from genocide," and why the
jihadists just don’t care.
Interventionists in the West, knowing little or nothing about Islam, assumed
the Islamic world would react to their support of Izetbegovic and the KLA
as they would have reacted. Instead, Islamic militants saw Bosnia and
Kosovo as instances of the "Crusaders" standing idly by while Muslims
were slaughtered wholesale – an idea, ironically enough, bolstered by the hysterical
propaganda and "advocacy journalism" of mainstream news outlets in
The 'War' at Home
Even as Emperor Bush and his supporters have argued
that "we’re fighting terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them
over here," jihad has already arrived on American shores.
Last week, the Salt Lake City police closed
their investigation of Sulejman Talovic’s February 2007 rampage, without
establishing a motive for the attack. The Deseret
Morning News quoted Chris Burbank, SLC police chief, as saying
that the motive "may have died" with Talovic. This is the same Burbank
who said, back in February, that
he had ruled out jihad as the motive, considered that notion "hate
speech," and intended to fire anyone who dared investigate along those
On Valentine’s Day, Talovic shot nine people at the Trolley Square mall, five
of them fatally, before getting killed by an off-duty police officer that happened
to be on the scene. As soon as it was established that the shooter was a Bosnian
Muslim refugee, the media went into overdrive – while information about the
victims was virtually nonexistent, Talovic himself was subject of many
three-handkerchief pieces about his suffering at the hands of evil Serbs
in Bosnia, fully exploiting the fact that his family passed through Srebrenica
(in 1993) on its way to the US. This Stockholm
syndrome went so far that citizens of Salt Lake City took up donations for
Talovic’s family, which paid for Talovic to be flown to Bosnia and buried in
a splendid Islamic ceremony. Detective Burbank’s determination to see no jihad
was rewarded with a promotion. The massacre was ruled a "mystery"
– to anyone who refuses to see the obvious, anyway.
In May 2007, six men were
arrested in a FBI sting on charges of plotting a terror attack on Fort Dix,
New Jersey. Four of them were ethnic Albanians – a fact that emerged only after
several days of media obfuscation, in which they were called "Yugoslavs"
or even "Serbian citizens." One of the suspects was a member of the
KLA, while the other three were illegal immigrants from western Macedonia.
These are all examples of non-Arab terrorists, the "white al-Qaeda"
of which Balkans sources have warned for years. But because such facts do not
fit the official narrative – namely, that Muslims (Bosnian, Albanian, etc.)
are solely the innocent victims of evil Serbs – the warnings have fallen on
Could the reason for this be what Chris Deliso
says is "Serbian lobby’s tendency to sensationalize and even provide false
information incriminating the Albanians"? A handful of blogs that wax hyperbolic
does not a lobby make, though. And either way, the Serbs’ propensity to see
jihad everywhere certainly doesn’t excuse the tendency of Western media
to see no jihad at all.
In the aftermath of the Fort Dix arrests, a rare voice of protest arose from
the Washington Times, where an editorial (no longer accessible online)
fired a broadside at American journalists:
"But when a fact – ‘Albanian’ – emerges, report it. The public has
a right to know. The sanitization of language is at war with the public’s right
to an understanding of the facts. […] ‘Yugoslav’ is a sanitizer. […] As long
as our news organizations fail to report the facts they know to be true, they
are failing to do their job. They should not engage in ‘perception management’."
In this day and age this comes across as quaint. The media have done nothing
but "perception management," particularly when it came to jihad,
or the Balkans.