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Yossef Bodansky: Some Call It Peace

Part I

1. The Islamists' Peace

The euphoria surrounding the signing of the Dayton and Paris Accords toward the close of 1995 created the impression of an emerging political solution for the bitter and cruel wars in the former Yugoslavia. The key to the new era of peace was to be the emergence of the unified state of Bosnia- Herzegovina. Although divided into two distinct entities (Muslim-Croat and Serb) and ruled by a predominantly Muslim government, the Accords stipulated that the new Bosnia was to be a truly multinational, democratic state. Completely ignored in the Dayton-Paris Accords was the Islamist factor: the force which enabled the Sarajevo leadership to endure and fight since the early 1990s, and the force most capable of breaking down the Accords while confronting the NATO forces enforcing it.

Since mid-November 1995, the Sarajevo Administration has been stressing the growing importance of the Islamist factor to its very survival and ability to consolidate its control over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the process, Sarajevo highlighted and endorsed the vehemently anti-US/anti-West character of the Islamists. Thus, having gone to great lengths to ensure all-out US support during the Dayton negotiations earlier in November, Sarajevo could not wait to resume pursuit of its real policies, having just gained, in the words of US State Department negotiator Richard Holbrooke, 85 percent of its objectives. Washington should not have been surprised by the swift, stark revival of Sarajevo's Islamist character, for even during the Dayton negotiations the Bosnian Muslim leadership was going out of its way to ensure that nobody could doubt Sarajevo's enduring commitment to the radical Islamist cause.

2. The Real Sarajevo After Dayton

Sarajevo's insistence on retaining and expanding its close relations with the Islamists -- particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran -- was repeatedly stressed and demonstrated during the Dayton negotiations. Since late November 1995, Sarajevo has emphasized its close relationship with Iran and its commitment to the Islamist cause. These activities were conducted along two main courses: (a) high-level political activities in which Sarajevo's gratitude to Tehran and determination to further improve and expand relations have been stressed; and (b) a host of clandestine and semi-clandestine activities in which Sarajevo's willingness and determination to continue the Islamist jihad in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been clearly demonstrated. The latter activities are most significant for they are in flagrant contradiction with Sarajevo's promise to Washington that it would evict all the mujahedin by mid-January 1996.

Already in mid-November 1995, Bosnian Muslim sources in Dayton and throughout the Middle East revealed that during the negotiations, the US delegation made repeated and futile efforts to pressure Sarajevo to reduce the level of its close relations with Iran. Sarajevo not only refused, but rushed to demonstrate its commitment to Tehran. On November 21, on the eve of the initialing of the Dayton Accords, Omar Bahman, the Bosnian Ambassador to Tehran, assured the government that the Tehran-Sarajevo ties were "deep and extensive" and that he "had not heard of any report [from Sarajevo] about cutting or curtailing relations with Iran". He reiterated Sarajevo's commitment to policies agreed upon with Tehran.

Ambassador Bahman also routinely briefed Tehran on the progress and character of the Dayton negotiations. The essence of Bahman's, and thus Sarajevo's, reading of the Dayton process was reflected in the November 23 analysis of the agreement by pro-Islamist circles in Tehran. They suggested that agreement was imposed upon Sarajevo through US threats and pressures. These circles, closely associated with the opinion of the leadership of the Pasdaran (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) and VEVAK (Iranian intelligence), therefore anticipate a resumption of fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The cruel nature of the imposed Ohio accord reveals why this accord has many dissenters among the politicians, combatants, and people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. No-one knows whether all the Bosnian people and combatants prefer the unjust accords to war. The Bosnian crisis will not end with the Ohio accord. It will smolder under the embers and erupt into a conflagration sooner or later." Tehran, they assure, will wholeheartedly support the Bosnian Muslim forces in the case of such a resumption of the Islamic struggle in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Meanwhile, official Tehran's reaction to the news of an agreement in Dayton was measured and calm, reflecting inside knowledge and confidence that things would continue Tehran's way. Kamal Kharrazi, Iran's Ambassador's to the UN and a senior Pasdaran intelligence officer involved in terrorism sponsorship, stated that Tehran "share[s] the sentiment expressed by Bosnians that although the agreement [signed in Dayton] is not just, it is a move to prevent further bloodshed in Bosnia-Herzegovina". In Tehran, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Va'ezi stressed Tehran's support for Izetbegovic. If Izetbegovic was content with the agreement, Tehran would support him. The same approach was expressed in Iranian President Hashemi-Rafsanjani's congratulatory message to Izetbegovic.

But the Iranian charade did not last long. On November 27,1995, Ebrahim Rahimpur, a senior Foreign Ministry official, stressed Tehran's commitment to ensuring the Islamic character of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The US-imposed agreement had its shortcomings, Rahimpur explained, the primary being the effort to suppress the country's Islamic character. "Bosnia has survived due to sacrifices of its Muslim citizens and the help of its friends, particularly Iran," he stressed. In the aftermath of the Dayton accord, "the commitment of Muslim countries towards Bosnia and its Muslim population has become deeper than before."

By now, Tehran was at the helm of more than just Islamic solidarity. The Iranian unique position in the Muslim World on the Bosnian issue was clearly demonstrated in the emergency gathering in Tehran of the Islamic Countries' Aid Mobilization Group for Bosnia. The foreign ministers attending included those from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, all ostensibly recognizing Iran's prominence and leadership.

Reflecting the real emphasis of the conference, Sarajevo's representative was Rasim Delic, Bosnia's Chief of General Staff and architect of its long-term military strategy.

On the eve of the conference, in a separate meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati, Delic defined the Dayton accord as "unjust" and urged "the continuing assistance of Islamic countries to the people of Bosnia". He singled out Iran for its "unstinting assistance" to Sarajevo and expressed his confidence that such aid will continue. Velayati assured Delic that Iranian assistance, particularly military, would only increase.

Indeed, in his address to the Tehran Conference, Delic repeated his argument that "the Dayton peace accord was unjust for Bosnian Muslims" and urged "Islamic countries to increase their assistance particularly in the military area to Bosnia-Herzegovina". Delic anticipated the military confrontation to resume "because the unjust peace may cause fresh clashes in the future". Therefore, Delic stressed, "under present circumstances Bosnia-Herzegovina should continue to be a strategic region for all Islamic countries and these [Islamic] states should increase their political and military aid to Bosnia to alleviate pressures being exerted on it".

In response, the conference chairman, Ja'afar Kamel of Malaysia, reaffirmed the commitment of the Islamic states to provide comprehensive political and military assistance to the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The military factor dominated the key addresses. In his speech, Hashemi-Rafsanjani stressed that assistance to "Muslim Bosnia" has always been an "Islamic Duty". "Establishing military balance [in Bosnia-Herzegovina] in order to guarantee lasting peace ... is one of the main duties of this group," Iran's Foreign Minister Velayati declared. "The message that this meeting should convey is that we as members of a single Islamic Ummah (people) are all sensitive to the future and prosperity of other members." Indeed, the Conference decided to provide "new military assistance" to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Tehran concluded the Conference with the declaration: "Islamic countries should not spare any effort to boost the defense capability of Bosnia along with actively participating in the reconstruction of that country."

Meanwhile, the Conference of the Islamic Countries' Aid Mobilization Group for Bosnia also served as a cover for far more significant meetings between Delic and his aides and senior terrorist and intelligence leaders, and senior commanders from Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, as well as representatives from Sudan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, including senior HizbAllah and Arab Afghan leaders. Their deliberations were devoted to the struggles ahead, anticipating a marked escalation rather than an era of peace. They discussed the transfer of additional combatants/terrorists and arms to Bosnia-Herzegovina to be able to deal with the NATO "invasion" and the demands of the ensuing escalation of the Islamist jihad into Western Europe.

Reflecting these decisions, the pro-Islamist circles in Tehran stressed the anti-Islamic character of the Dayton accords. "The West only thinks of... stopping an Islamic state from taking root in Bosnia," they argued. The all out support from the entire Muslim world should ensure that this design did not materialize.

Meanwhile, on November 29, 1995, upon the conclusion of the Tehran Conference, Iran's Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, left for Zagreb and Sarajevo at the head of a high-level delegation.

In their meeting, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman asked Velayati for Tehran's help in mediating outstanding disputes with Sarajevo in order to improve relations between the three countries. Tudjman stressed that Zagreb recognized Tehran's unique position in Sarajevo.

The most important part of Velayati's visit was the discussion of bilateral -- Iranian-Croatian -- strategic relations. These were held between Velayati and Gojko Susak, Croatian Defense Minister. Iran agreed to sell cheap oil to Croatia and purchase ships from Croatian shipyards as part of expediting Iran's ability to contribute to the "reconstruction" and "consolidation" of Bosnian Muslims: especially the transfer of arms and personnel via Croatia. Zagreb stressed the importance of the "military cooperation among Bosnia, Iran and Croatia" agreed upon with Velayati. Before leaving Zagreb, Velayati announced that Iran and Croatia would conclude a military cooperation deal before the end of 1995.

On November 30, Velayati arrived in Sarajevo on a UN aircraft. He was denied his request to fly in a special Iran Air aircraft in order not to alienate the Serbs. Tehran highlighted this incident as an example of the UN's and NATO's anti-Muslim stance.

The official reason for Velayati's visit to Sarajevo was the inauguration of the new huge complex of the Iranian Embassy.

President Alija Izetbegovic and virtually the entire Sarajevo elite attended the ceremony. In his remarks, Izetbegovic stressed the importance of the enduring close relations between Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Significantly, the new Embassy complex includes a major communication center, as well as a vast intelligence and terrorism sponsorship complex. These facilities were built in accordance with the Iranian-Bosnian cooperation agreement which Baker Izetbegovic, the son of Alija Izetbegovic, signed in Tehran back in November 1994. Presently, this Iranian Embassy complex now also provides "legal" cover for numerous (close to 100) senior Iranian experts previously operating semi-clandestinely in the ranks of the Bosnian Muslim military and intelligence arms.

In Sarajevo, Velayati held lengthy discussions with Izetbegovic on the regional and strategic situation, their joint reaction to the Dayton agreement, and the challenges ahead. Velayati reiterated Iran's all out support, especially military, for the Sarajevo leadership. Velayati also met with Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbegovic and Presidency Member Ejup Ganic.

During Velayati's visit, Tehran and Sarajevo reached a new memorandum of understanding between their countries. They agreed that Iran had an important role to play in the reconstruction and securing of a Muslim Bosnia even though this would be "a source of displeasure" for some governments, particularly the US.

Velayati and the Iranian delegation also met with the Bosnian Muslim leadership led by Reis ul-Ulema Mustafa Efendi Ceric and Hadzi Haset Ismet Effendi Spahic to discuss the position of Bosnian Muslims in the region, and Iranian assistance to strengthen Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Balkans as a whole.

Velayati returned to Tehran convinced that Iranian relations with both Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina "have brighter prospects ahead than in the past".

The main reason for Tehran's optimism was the rapid implementation of the military-terrorism preparations in Bosnia-Herzegovina despite the Dayton Accords. The Bosnian special forces, including the Mujahedin, play the central role in these activities.

3. The Mujahedin? What Mujahedin?

Immediately after the Dayton accords were initialed, official Sarajevo expressed its apprehension that fighting would soon resume. In an interview with Sarajevo weekly Ljiljan, President Izetbegovic did not rule out that "the Serb side will annul the [Dayton] agreement, but if that happens... the fighting will continue, but under far more favorable conditions for us. Then the Serbs will wage war against the rest of the world." Furthermore, Izetbegovic attributed the outcome of Dayton, at least to a certain degree, to the contribution of the Muslim world. "The Islamic world is still not well organized and strong enough. Nevertheless, the very fact that the Islamic world exists has influenced the behavior of the West to a degree, and particularly that of some Western countries." Thus, it is impossible for Muslim Bosnia to trust or rely on the West for its future and salvation. Izetbegovic concluded that he returned from Dayton convinced that under the leadership of the West, "it is a world in which it is possible to start an unjust war and impose an unjust peace".

The conclusion driven to by official Sarajevo in late 1995 was that irrespective of the Dayton accords and the anticipated deployment of the strong NATO forces, it was imperative for the Bosnian Muslim forces to prepare for the imminent resumption of fighting.

These were not idle threats. Starting in late November, as the Dayton negotiations were drawing to conclusion, several senior foreign experts with the Bosnian Muslim forces, including senior Iranian intelligence officers, went underground. Many Iranian and Arab "Afghans" were deployed undercover to the Tuzla area, and other sites where US forces were expected to deploy, in order to conduct reconnaissance and operational preparations should the need arise to launch strikes against the US forces.

Meanwhile, there was an increase in the number of attempts by Bosnian Muslim commando units in the greater Sarajevo area to cross the Serb lines. The primary objective of these operations was to instigate provocations which might tarnish the image of the Serbs and strengthen the Muslims' hand in the forthcoming struggle over the Serb sectors of Sarajevo. For example, on November 27/28, a detachment of the 445th Light Infantry Brigade (permanent base in Konjic) was engaged in the Serb rear near Mt. Igman. On December 3/4, another Bosnian Muslim reconnaissance-sabotage detachment was engaged behind the Serb lines in the Mount Ozren area. There were also a few cases of sniping into the Muslim sector of Sarajevo from "gray areas" between the Serb and Muslim lines. The Bosnian Serbs denied that their forces were responsible and UNPROFOR "could not determine" who was responsible for these snipings.

At the same time, the Bosnian Muslim army continued to integrate the mujahedin into its ranks. This process was clearly demonstrated in the December 10 parade in Zenica. It was a major show of force presided over by Rasim Delic and President Alija Izetbegovic. Some 10,000 troops representing numerous units paraded, and a variety of heavy weapons -- tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and mortars, rockets and missiles -- were presented. "This is our demonstration of power. We must prove we have the power for further fighting if it's needed; if Dayton doesn't work," an army spokesman explained. The fighters of several elite units paraded in front of Izetbegovic and Delic shouting such slogans as "Allah-hu-Akbar!" [God is Great] and "American tanks will not scare us!"

The centrality of the foreign component of the Bosnian Army was evident, albeit not specifically mentioned. In his comments, Mr. Izetbegovic highlighted the contribution of the 3rd Corps -- the mother unit of the Mujahedin -- to the war effort. The elite elements \ of the 3rd Corps paraded wearing green and red headbands with Islamic slogans.

Observers on scene noted that "Best-equipped were the elite 7th Muslim brigade ... whose members copy the ardor and bravery of foreign Islamic warriors, known as mujahedin, whom they have fought alongside." Actually, even by most conservative estimates, there were still more than 800 mujahedin from Islamic countries in the ranks of the Zenica based 7th Muslim brigade in December 1995. Many of the fighters of the 7th Muslim brigade were dressed in white coveralls over their uniforms. Officially, these were "white winter camouflage", but the green headbands these warriors were wearing left no doubt that these were actually Shaheeds' shrouds.

The Zenica parade clearly demonstrated Sarajevo's effort to portray the Bosnian Army as a Muslim force relying as much on public prayers and Iran-style unit motivation methods as on conventional weapons. The vast majority of mujahedin have long been fully integrated into these elite forces. Being clean-shaven now, they are impossible to detect from a distance.

A closer examination of the entire Bosnian Muslim Armed Forces of late 1995 clearly demonstrates not only the magnitude of the Islamist forces, but that their relative importance and influence far outweighed their sheer numbers. Significantly, all the Islamist -- so-called mujahedin -- units constituted integral parts of the Bosnian Muslim Armed Forces. The Islamists were now serving in Bosnian national uniforms and as such were entitled to Bosnian citizenship and were exempt from eviction by the Dayton-Paris Accord.

In late 1995, the key Mujahedin units were:

The Armija Republike BH 3, Korpus Odred 'el-Mudzahidin' remained the main Mujahedin unit, serving as the primary assault troops of the Bosnian Muslim Army. The main HQ was in Zenica. The 3rd Mujahedin Corps was comprised of three Brigades, each of about 1,500 troops. These brigades were: The 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade in Zenica, The 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade in Travnik (now operating under the Tuzla-based 2nd Corps), and The 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade initially deployed in the front lines in the "bulge" (Botsilo region) and then in Konjic. Another Brigade -- the 807th Muslim Liberation Brigade --was established and sworn-in on December 20, 1995. The 807th Muslim Liberation Brigade is an integral component of the Gorazde-based 81st Division.

There were separate Islamist elite forces in the Zenica-Travnik area known as the Volunteer Mujahedin Battalion, the Ansar. The Ansar was 300 to 600 troops strong. The main headquarters was in the Vatrostalno Factory building in Podbrijezje (near Zenica). In ad-edition, there was a new camp called the "Martyrs' Detachment", which, since the Spring of 1995, had absorbed a few hundred new Mujahedin (including suicide terrorists and other experts) arriving from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Another elite special forces unit which was still being expanded in late 1995, at the time the foreign mujahedin were supposed to be leaving Bosnia-Herzegovina, was the Kata 'eb al-Manikin (Battalions of Believers). Troops, mainly Arabs including "Afghans", were still arriving from Sudan. They were serving under the command of military officers from Pakistan and Afghanistan. The trainers and leadership were from Iran. Each Battalion was 300 to 600 troops strong. The first operational battalion was based in the Buzim area (north-west Bosnia-Herzegovina). Another battalion served as a special forces unit for the 2nd Corps in the Tuzla area. Other battalions were being organized throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina.

According to Abu-Ma'ali, the commander of the mujahedin, the entire organized mujahedin forces numbered between 5,000 and 6,000 troops. Yugoslav, Croat and Bosnian Muslim military sources put the number at more than 7,000 troops.

Another major Islamist force remained: the Handzar Division, named after the 13th SS Handzar Division which served under the German flag in World War II. The current Handzar Division is Sarajevo's Praetorian Guards, and is comprised of a 2,500 to 3,000 elite force deployed in Sarajevo and a 6,000 to 7,500 strong back-up force at a major training base around Fojnica, but is moved around to augment major fighting fronts. The majority of the troops of the Handzar Division come from the region's non-Bosnian Muslim minorities, primarily Albanians, and are led by veteran Pakistani and Afghan experts.

During the escalation of 1995, elements of the Handzar Division took part as special forces in fighting in the Sarajevo area, Tuzla and in the surge into western Bosnia-Herzegovina. In many cases, particularly in the surge into western Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Summer-Fall of 1995, they operated in close cooperation with the "Eastern Europe" mujahedin units.

There were also a few thousand Islamist military experts from Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, and other Muslim countries serving in key positions in regular units of the Bosnian Muslim forces. They were providing expertise in artillery, air defense, logistics, etc. Their numbers are not included in the estimates above. In late December 1995, there was no indication that they were about to leave for their home countries.

There were other sizable Islamist forces involved in subversive and terrorist operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A major component of the Iran-sponsored Islamist terrorist infrastructure in the former Yugoslavia, and especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, was being concealed in the ranks of various Islamic charities. The key Islamist humanitarian organizations are confirmed to be working under the sponsorship of Iranian intelligence. These organizations operate from Zagreb, Croatia, in cooperation and coordination with the local representatives of Iranian intelligence and the HizbAllah. Mohammad Javad Asayesh, a senior diplomat in the Iranian Embassy in Zagreb, responsible for overseeing intelligence and terrorism operations in the Balkans and Europe under the cover of humanitarian activities. The vast majority of funds for these "charities" are coordinated via the Mostazafin Foundation (a front of Iranian intelligence) and a host of Saudi and Persian Gulf foundations that, through Usama bin Ladin, answer to Sudan's radical Islamist leader, Hassan al-Turabi. Altogether, in late 1995, between 4,000 and 6,000 Islamist terrorists were operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina under the cover of these "charities" and "humanitarian projects". (Their numbers are on top of the mujahedin forces in the ranks of the Bosnian Muslim Army.)

As for the anticipated removal of the mujahedin by mid-January 1996 -- as promised by President Izetbegovic -- both Islamist and UN sources in Sarajevo were in agreement that, at best, it would be a half-hearted, show effort. With the official estimates of only a few hundred mujahedin in-country accepted by the US, Sarajevo would parade a few bearded hard-core cases to the Sarajevo airport and "deport" them, most likely to a well-deserved R&R in Sudan or Pakistan. Indeed, a Sarajevo official explained in late December that "El-Mujahid" was "merely a small unit" whose members would pull out "when all other foreign military and paramilitary withdraw from Bosnia". Indeed, the majority of the 15,000 to 20,000 foreign volunteers were already fully integrated into the key Bosnian Muslim units. Both Islamist and UN sources in Sarajevo acknowledged that for as long as these mujahedin remained clean shaven and in proper uniforms, nobody would touch them.

4. The True Meaning of the Dayton-Paris Agreement

Since mid-November 1995, once it was becoming clear that the Dayton negotiations would result in some form of an agreement, the international Islamist leadership (primarily in Iran and Sudan) and their senior representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina have been studying the ramifications of the agreement for their activities in and out of the Balkans. The primary issue studied by the Islamists is the character of the future Islamic State in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the aftermath of a US-brokered agreement. Presently, the Islamist leadership leaves no doubt as to its determination to ensure the establishment of an Islamist State in Bosnia-Herzegovina even by force of arms. Significantly, the Islamists consider the US forces as the primary threat to their immediate and long-term objectives, thus laying the justification for military confrontations or terrorist strikes in the future.

This commitment was first stated authoritatively on November 18, 1995. Abu-Ma'ali, the commander of the Mujahedin, declared their readiness to continue the war against both Serbs and Croats if the just demands of the Bosnian Muslims were not met in Dayton. "Bosnia is the country conquered by Islam," he stressed. Such a situation was irreversible, he said, even though the political process was threatening this development. "For us, there is no difference between the Serbs and the Croats. Croatia has territorial pretensions toward Bosnia and Serbia wants to create a greater Serbia. The Muslims in Bosnia will never accept such an outcome," Abu-Ma'ali concluded.

Abu-Ma'ali's stand accurately reflected a major study of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina conducted by the international Islamist leadership. This internal study, which was also signed on November 18, examined the situation in Sarajevo as the Dayton negotiations were drawing to a successful completion. Significantly, this study is presently being circulated among senior Islamist leaders as a guideline for future activities.

The international Islamist leadership is apprehensive about the principles of the future Bosnia-Herzegovina as outlined in Dayton. But they stress, despite appearances and popular impressions to the contrary, that there are no real surprises in the negotiations process and the principles of the agreement.

According to the Islamist study, the real role and posture of the United States constitutes the key to understanding and confronting the emerging situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A close examination of both the negotiations process and the final outcome revealed, to the study, the true face of Washington, portrayed as an active ally of the Serbian anti-Muslim campaign. The Islamist study states that "history will see this deal-making as the West's compliance with Serbia's territorial demands, brutally obtained up to now by genocide under the guidance of America's new friend in Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, whom many have called the 'Butcher of the Balkans'." Indeed, the ultimate objective of the NATO I-FOR has nothing to do with the wellbeing of the Bosnian Muslims. "The NATO troops will go in to try to protect the credibility of NATO and the UN," the study concludes.

The international Islamist leadership has already determined that "real peace will not be possible since the peace agreement is being signed under pressure and is thus illegal, null and void". The study further stressed that the principals in Sarajevo shared this reading of the situation. The international Islamist leadership assured in mid-November that the Dayton Agreement had already been "rejected" by the centers of power in Sarajevo, particularly "the Bosnian Army generals and all their soldiers".

The Islamist elite is not worried by the apparent support for the negotiations process and the proposed agreement demonstrated by President Alija Izetbegovic. They recall four previous cases when the elite in Sarajevo had overruled Izetbegovic's signature on so-called international solutions and plans for ending the war because such plans failed to deliver the maximalist demands of the hard-core leaders in Sarajevo and their Islamist allies.

But just in case Izetbegovic had been co-opted by the US, the international Islamist leadership also laid down the legal and moral case for the overthrow of Izetbegovic. The leadership stressed the precarious legal position of Izetbegovic, namely, that there was no legal justification for his stay in power. They noted, and quite correctly, that Izetbegovic continued to serve as President "three years after his constitutionally prescribed (12 months) term and mandate ought to have expired". This situation alone made his signature on any agreement non-obligatory, and therefore "Izetbegovic's forced and illegal promotion of these plans" need not obligate the loyal leadership in Sarajevo.

It is in the context of delegitimizing Izetbegovic that the international Islamist leadership admitted that "Serb mortar shells" used so effectively to promote Sarajevo's cause were actually self-inflicted. The study explains that because "the Bosnian people reject his claim to being President," Izetbegovic had to resort to means of terror in order to remain in power. Toward this end, "he has often used the Serb grenades/shells against Sarajevo as the negotiating argument for his terroristic/horrific-style state to be accepted by the Bosnians and signed on by the USA".

The main challenge facing the Islamists in Bosnia-Herzegovina is still the anticipated deployment of massive NATO forces, and particularly the large US contingent. The study interprets the NATO mandate as an intentional effort to contain the Bosnian Muslims and prevent them from establishing an Islamic State. "The preliminary NATO mandate states quite literally that 'decisive military action will be exercised against any party that violates the new borders'," which, to the Islamist leadership, means active prevention of the Muslim forces from completing the liberation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. "Whatever happened with Bosnia's internationally recognized borders or internationally recognized (1992) legal system?"

Hence, as far as the international Islamist leadership was concerned: "US Soldiers in Bosnia are on mission ... to guard Serb Gen. Mladic's gains in Srebrenica region, and guard his logistic corridor near the Tuzla region." They stress that such a development cannot and will not be tolerated by the Muslim combatants and all these committed to the establishment of an Islamic State in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The international Islamist leadership concludes its November 18, 1995, study with a seemingly veiled threat to the US forces: "The question will boil down to only one: How many US boys will have to pay with their lives by Serb criminals' sniper bullets and landmines this Christmas for the new decisive American policy in Bosnia?... The Americans are falling into the Balkan trap of entering Bosnia to protect the Bosnian Serb front lines."

A closer examination of this statement shows that this is a ver loaded threat. Having stressed above the utility of self-inflicted "Serb" grenades/shells to the Islamist cause, the study need not elaborate on the real origin of the Serb sniper bullets, mines, and other threats. Furthermore, the study is quick to stress that the actual objective of the US forces is to preserve the gains of the Serb forces, which means that the Serbs have no reason to take on their US protectors. The Islamist forces, on the other hand, being committed to the liberation of all of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the establishment of an Islamic state, have every reason to confront the US, and other NATO, forces deployed to Bosnia in order to suppress the march of Islam in the Balkans.

The possibility of Islamist provocations against the NATO forces was also alluded to by Morteza Sarmadi, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister. In a December 19 interview, he warned that "there are certain warmongers in Bosnia -- like the Bosnian Serbs --who would challenge the commitment of the United States and NATO to the Dayton peace accord." He then discussed in great length the reservations several Muslim leaders and communities in the Balkans and the Near East had, stressing Izetbegovic's observation that the Dayton Accord was "unjust" toward the Bosnian Muslims. Sarmadi stressed Tehran's conviction that the Bosnian Muslims were the aggrieved party against whose interests the deployment of the NATO forces was actually aimed.

By now, mid-December 1995, the role of Izetbegovic was no longer an issue. The international Islamist leadership was confident that its allies and supporters in Sarajevo are in full control over the situation. Ultimately, the Islamists are now even confident that they can include Izetbegovic himself among their loyalists for he had not been co-opted by the US, as feared beforehand (when he was in Dayton). The mere signing of the Paris Peace required closer study of the situation in Bosnia- Herzegovina.

* * *

The signing of the Dayton and Paris Accords, and the worldwide expressions of commitment and support for Izetbegovic's Bosnian Muslim administration in Sarajevo, only aggravated the situation as far as the international Islamist leadership was concerned. On December 13, Khartoum, Sudan-based Pan-Islamic Movement (PIM) leader Hassan al-Turabi decreed the Dayton Agreement as "a plot aimed [at] eradicating Islam in Bosnia in a way which resembles eradicating Islam in Europe 500 years ago".

On December 16, 1995, the international Islamist leadership issued a new analysis of the Dayton-Paris Agreement under the headline "Erasing Islam From Bosnia!" Their key argument is that the essence of the US-led diplomatic and military effort is to ensure under the guise of a "peace treaty" the establishment of a westernized secular state so that the Muslims of Bosnia would not be able to establish an Islamic State in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Islamist analysis builds the case that the anti-Muslim design has been a major objective of Washington from the very beginning of the Dayton Process. To prove this, the Islamist analysts point to remarks made by US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on November 1, 1995, and entitled "Strengthening American Security Through World Leadership -- Bosnia and Beyond".

The Islamist analysts stressed that Mr. Talbott confirmed that the US had global designs in devising the Dayton process. They cited Mr. Talbott: "The entire Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia, is watching to see how events unfold. Muslims everywhere are waiting to see whether their co-religionists in Bosnia will be accorded the same rights and protections as other Europeans. The answer to that question could have an impact on the future of moderate, pro-Western leaders such as Prime Minister [Tansu] Ciller of Turkey and Prime Minister [Benazir] Bhutto of Pakistan. Other less friendly forces in the Middle East and Persian Gulf see the Balkans as a target of opportunity."

The analysts see the roots of the conspiracy in these sentences. "Strobe Talbott recognizes that Muslims are feeling and reacting as one body, admitting to a worldwide Islamic revival."

The Islamist analysts point to subsequent statements made by Mr. Talbott on November 1 as substantiating their analysis: "Doing the right thing in the Balkans has been especially difficult.... But there is no question what doing the right thing means today -- and today is surely a crucial moment. It means using a combination of diplomatic skill and the credible threat of force to keep the parties at the negotiating table."

For the analysts, these sentences constitute proof of the anti-Muslim conspiracy. "Talbott here tells it as it is: Credible threat was definitely used to force the Bosnian Muslim State to agree to both the partition and the federation ideas which were designed by NATO."

A close examination of the Dayton-Paris Agreement clearly demonstrates the success of the anti-Muslim designs and conspiracies of the West. Moreover, the Islamist analysts stress, the agreement over Bosnia could be considered as a prototype for future anti-Muslim efforts by the US-led West. "The [Dayton] document is of great importance because it provides Muslims with the American-European strategy in dealing with emerging Islam." Within the entire agreement, the Islamists are especially worried by the segment defining the "Constitution" of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Islamist analysts state: "NATO countries have designed a constitution which is aimed at liquidating any Islamic presence in Bosnia; the word "Muslim" is rarely mentioned."

The two main problems which the Islamist analysts have with the agreed upon constitution are that: (a) the "legal existence" of Bosnia-Herzegovina will be secured "under international law as a state"; and, (b) that "Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be a democratic state, which shall operate under the rule of law and with free and democratic elections." (These are direct quotations from the Dayton Agreement.) The Islamist analysts see in these clauses "step one in erasing any Islam, [which] is by declaring the state as democratic" [sic].

The analysts see in the internal division of Bosnia-Herzegovina into the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb republic the next phase in the destruction of Islam in Bosnia. "Step two [in] erasing any Islamic entity [is] by first dividing the country, then conglomerating and joining the mostly Muslim part into a Croat federation, thus denying Muslims any independent existence politically or otherwise.

The next phase in the intentional effort to destroy Islam in Bosnia could be found in the segment of the Dayton-Paris Agreement devoted to ensuring "Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" to all the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Islamist analysts emphasized the importance of the determination that the rights and freedoms accorded to all Bosnians would be based on "international standards" as "set forth in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols". These principles, the Dayton-Paris agreement stipulates, "shall have priority over all other law". (These are direct quotations from the Dayton Agreement.)

For the Islamist analysts, these sentences contain "step three" in the campaign for the suppression of Islam. By stressing the overruling stature of international law, the West is "ensuring that Shari'a or Islamic Law can never be implemented by making other laws supersede it. The Europeans have done this in every Muslim country they colonized. The US is particularly doing it in Egypt." Pres. Hosni Mubarak's Egypt is considered one of the fiercest enemies of the international Islamist leadership. The mere comparison of the Dayton-Paris Accords to Pres. Mubarak's Cairo reflects the extent of Islamist hostility toward the Accords.

The Islamist analysts see in the definition of the Bosnian Presidency yet another facet of the conspiracy against Islam. This definition delves in great length into the delicate composition of the centralized institutions and decisionmaking process aimed to ensure that the rights of all national groups are taken into consideration. For the analysts, these arrangements constitute the seeds of an intentional suppression of Muslim rights. "The similarities between Bosnia and Lebanon are astonishing. The French have installed a constitution which ensured minimal representation of the Muslim majority and turned the government into a mixed bag of ethnic blend. There was one problem -- it failed!" Left unsaid here is the fact that the fratricidal Lebanese civil war which ultimately doomed the French-installed system of government was unleashed by an alliance of Islamists and Palestinian terrorists. The intended readers of this analysis are fully aware of what happened in Lebanon in the 1970s-'80s, and, for them, this comparison is more than just an academic issue.

The Islamist analysts are also worried about the powers of the Presidency in Sarajevo. They find the roots of yet another conspiracy of far-reaching potential in the fact that the Presidency is expected to have responsibility for "Conducting the foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina," including the "Appointing [of] ambassadors and other international representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no more than two-thirds of whom may be selected from the territory of the Federation ..." (Again, these are direct quotations from the Dayton Agreement.)

For the Islamist analysts, the main reason for this arrangement of Presidential powers over foreign policy is to de-link Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Muslim World. "Another step to uproot Islam is by ensuring important arms of government are controlled by non-Muslims. The above provision would deprive Bosnia from a vital foreign policy link to other Muslim countries." Consequently, without massive help from sisterly Islamist states and organizations, and given the pressure from the West, it will be extremely difficult for the Muslim leadership in Sarajevo to establish and maintain a proper Islamic State.

The composition of several key state institutions provides the Islamist analysts with the proof of a Western design to prevent the establishment of an Islamic State. One such example is the multiethnic composition of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly considering that some of its members will be appointed by a European Court to ensure impartiality and judicial excellence. "Even the Constitutional Court is occupied by foreigners who will most likely ensure that any Islamic Tendencies are stopped," the Islamist analysts explain.

Of greater threat to Islam are "Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", as accorded by the Dayton-Paris Agreement to all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Islamist analysts stress the hidden agenda behind the decree that "No amendment to this Constitution may eliminate or diminish any of the rights and freedoms" as guaranteed to all citizens. (Direct quotations from the Dayton Agreement.) For the Islamist analysts, this is a legal "smoking gun": "There you have [it] Muslims: Even the Qur'an can not overrule the laws set up for Bosnian Muslims by US and European militaries. It is truly an occupation at all levels of life in this Muslim country."

The Islamist analysts further strengthen and substantiate this point by providing a detailed list of the 15 international human rights agreements that the Dayton-Paris Agreement ensure will be applied to all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. "It is amazing to see the enemies of Islam write thousands of books about freedom, draft hundreds of laws about human rights and hold many conferences and conventions for human rights, but when it comes to applying these rights for Muslims, then suddenly there is no-one listening. The above so-called human rights were never intended to protect Muslims, they were intended solely to protect the interest of the enemies of Islam so that they can selectively use them as they wish and whenever they please."

The Islamist analysts conclude their December 16 study of the Dayton-Paris Agreement with a tacit threat that the suppression of Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be the catalyst for the forthcoming spread of Islam into Western Europe. They quote an exchange between the Prophet Muhammad and one Amr Ibn al-Asi. Amr Ibn al-Asi asked: "Which of the two cities will be opened to Islam first? Constantinople or Rome?" Muhammad answered:

"The city of Hercules will be opened [to Islam] first." Indeed, Byzantium, and with it Eastern Christianity as a regional power, fell to the Turks in 1453. Now, the Islamist analysts explain, the time of Rome, and with it Western Christianity as a regional power, has come. This is because NATO's perceived imposition of anti-Muslim order in Bosnia-Herzegovina is bound to incite a backlash against Western Europe. The Islamist analysts concluded their analysis of the Dayton-Paris Agreement with the promise: "And Rome will be opened to Islam. It is a Godly Promise told to us by the Prophet, and it looks like NATO has started that Promise fulfillment."

The international Islamist leadership is quite optimistic about the prospects of a confrontation with NATO. A follow-up analysis issued by the international Islamist leadership on December 18, noted: "It is striking to see NATO so fearful from mujahedin," as well as from the rise of "Islam in Europe". The Islamists relish this phenomenon. "We recall the saying of our Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon Him, when He said: "I was helped by Allah with the terror in the heart of the enemy for as far as a month's walk.'"

At the same time, the international Islamist leadership considers NATO, and especially the US, responsible for the possibility of armed confrontation between the mujahedin and NATO troops. The Islamists are furious with the military segments of the Dayton Agreement that call for the deportation of at least some of the mujahedin from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Islamist analysts consider this demand an integral part of a US conspiracy to weaken the Muslim forces and strengthen the Serb forces. "The Bosnia agreement which was forced on the Muslim government sums it all up. On the one hand the US is pretending to request arming and training of Muslim forces, [but] on the other hand they are telling them to expel their best defenders from [among the] mujahedin, in addition to turning a blind eye to the thousands of tons of supplies that are making their way under the nose of the US embargo observers from Russia and Greece to Serbia." The aggregate impact of these steps, if the US has its way, is seen to significantly weaken the Bosnian Muslim forces, a development the Islamists are determined not to allow.

The Islamist analysts have no doubt that the NATO preparations in Bosnia-Herzegovina are aimed to create favorable conditions for the escalation of fighting against the mujahedin and loyal Bosnian Muslim forces. They point out that according to Article IV: "All Parties understand and agree that they shall be subject to military action by the I-FOR, including the use of necessary force to ensure compliance" with numerous clauses from withdrawal to the new lines to cessation of hostilities. (Dayton Agreement.) The Islamist analysts couple this provision with these of Article III which stipulates the deactivation of independent irregular forces, which theoretically include some mujahedin elements: "The Parties also commit themselves to disarm and disband all armed civilian groups ... within 30 days after the Transfer of Authority." (Dayton Agreement.) Taken together, the international Islamist leadership concludes, these two Articles constitute the legal key to the initiation of armed clashes between NATO and the Islamist forces. "Note that in accordance with the Agreement, NATO will use force if the mujahedin did not leave in 30 days," the Islamist analysts conclude.

By the intent of the Dayton-Paris Agreement, and in accordance with promises made by Izetbegovic to Holbrooke, the vast majority of the mujahedin should have left Bosnia-Herzegovina within the first 30 days. Theoretically, with the mujahedin disarmed and gone, there should not have been any threat of an armed confrontation between them and the NATO I-FOR. The possibility of such a clash need not worry the Islamist leadership. However, this is not the case. The international Islamist leadership knows very well that the vast majority of the mujahedin and other Islamist forces, as well as the legions of Bosnian and other Balkan Muslims, they have indoctrinated, trained, organized and still lead, intend to legally remain in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Having received Bosnian citizenship and having been integrated into the Bosnian Army, they are exempt from the Dayton-Paris Agreement. Little wonder that the Islamist analysts are convinced that there will be clashes between NATO and their own forces. Therefore, the anticipation of clashes with the NATO forces should be considered as yet another facet in the building of the case for an escalation in the Islamist struggle for the establishment of an Islamic State in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Taken together, the analyses written for the international Islamist leadership build a strong case that the Dayton-Paris Accords are inherently anti-Muslim and that an armed struggle -- & jihad -- is the primary method for the realization of an Islamic State in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In late December 19 95, the Sarajevo weekly Ljiljan, which is considered Izetbegovic's mouthpiece, highlighted the contribution of the Islamist volunteers to Bosnia's military might through their personal sacrifices and the overall Islamicization of the Bosnian Muslim forces. The December 10 parade in Zenica was presented as an example of the latter achievement. Ljiljan favorably quoted several Arab mujahedin still in Bosnia-Herzegovina reaffirming their commitment to the Islamist cause and expressing disregard for the Dayton-Paris Accords. "The infidels will not tell us how to live and what to do. This is a Muslim country and the Muslims have to defend it," explained an Arab mujahid. Ljiljan left no doubt that the mujahedin were ready to fight for an Islamic Bosnia against the NATO forces. Considering the unique role of Ljiljan in political Sarajevo, the mere inclusion of this article cannot but be interpreted as Izetbegovic's tacit endorsement of the Islamist defiance and readiness to confront the US/NATO forces.

Significantly, these sentiments are not limited to the extremist Islamist circles. Even the relatively "moderate" factions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Western Europe are adamantly against the Dayton-Paris Agreement because of its "anti-Islamic clauses". They even label the Peace Treaty signed in Paris "the Butcher's Bill". These Islamists also imply that the signing in Paris will only result in a resumption of fighting. "A surrender treaty was signed in Paris on Thursday 14 Dec[ember] 1995 that allegedly ends the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina," they explain. "Clinton's Bosnian peace may turn out ... as 'a period of cheating between two periods of fighting'."

Taken together, the importance of these Islamist documents, particularly the November 18, and more so the December 16 analysis of the Dayton-Paris Agreement -- "Erasing Islam From Bosnia!" -- issued by the international Islamist leadership, lies in that these analysts are also the supreme leaders of the mujahedin and the Bosnian Muslim forces operating with them. These documents essentially constitute a legally valid spiritual and ideological justification for resisting the implementation of the Dayton-Paris Agreement, including armed confrontation with the NATO troops enforcing it. In their December 1995 documents, the Islamist analysis also sets forth the justification for the escalation of the fight over Muslim Bosnia-Herzegovina into a fateful clash aimed to destroy "Rome". While radical militant Islam is incapable of conquering Europe or destroying Western Christianity, it surely can express its wrath and frustration in the form of spectacular terrorist strikes at the heart of Europe.

5. Initial Operational Ramifications

Considering that the leadership of the Bosnian Muslim military is very close, both ideologically and in working levels, to the Islamist leadership, this Islamist document -- "Erasing Islam From Bosnia!" -- should be considered as reflecting the reading of the agreement in Sarajevo as well. Furthermore, since the early 1990s, and particularly since 1994, the Islamist leadership's interpretation of events in the Balkans has indeed been identical to the analysis of the same events by President Izetbegovic and his closest aides. Therefore, the mere existence and distribution of the document "Erasing Islam From Bosnia!" in late 1995 amounted to laying the spiritual and ideological foundations for an obligatory declaration of jihad against the Western forces about to embark on an effort to destroy Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is, what is still being termed in Washington as "the implementation of the Dayton-Paris Agreement".

These were not idle threats. The international Islamist leadership issued its first explicit warning to the United States over the presence of NATO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the last days of December 1995. The warning was issued as a communiqué of the Islamic Committee for the Defense of the Persecuted [ICDP] titled "Beware of Erroneous Handling of Mujahedin Issue". The communiqué was disseminated through authoritative Islamist channels in Cairo and Western Europe, thus leaving no doubt that it originated at the highest levels of the international Islamist leadership in Tehran and Khartoum. An accompanying letter presented The Islamic Committee for the Defense of the Persecuted as "a body comprised of prominent leaders of Arab religious groups that are in close contact with the Arab mujahedin in Bosnia". The ICDP, like the International Justice Group that already issued communiqués over terrorist operations in Switzerland and Pakistan, is a front organization used as an organ for publishing authoritative high-level communiqués for the Islamist leaders without implicating them directly.

The essence of the ICDP communiqué is to warn Washington of the ramifications of its handling of the mujahedin issue, as well as to reiterate that many of the mujahedin intend to remain in Bosnia. The ICDP warns that the US "is leading a hostile NATO campaign against Muslim mujahedin. This grave situation is not unique to Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the contrary, it is a natural component of the blatant US position, which is hostile toward whatever is Islamic, has become a distinguishing feature of US foreign policy." With this depiction of the overall situation, the ICDP sets the logic for the all-Islamic aspects of the continued presence of the mujahedin in Bosnia- Herzegovina and for the possibility of a worldwide Islamist struggle to ensure the interests of these mujahedin in the context of the global anti-US Islamist jihad.

The ICDP communiqué first explains that the US is hostile to the! mujahedin because they prevented the US design to destroy Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The United States was not alarmed by the thousands of people who helped the various parties, while it continues to make a stir over a few hundred mujahedin, even though these have repeatedly declared that they have no political objectives in Bosnia and that they will depart once they have assured themselves about the Muslims' safety and the recovery of their rights. So why is the United States condemning them? Is it because they thwarted its schemes by heroically standing by their brothers, defending them with their lives, while it [the US] was gambling on the Muslims' defeat and surrender when they were besieged between the Serbs and the Croats? Or is the United States condemning them because of their role in the Islamic Call and their efforts to acquaint Muslims with their religion, which, with Allah's help, has had a great impact on the Muslims' coherence and steadfastness?"

The ICDP stresses that the mujahedin are answerable only to Islam. The communiqué states that although "the Mujahedin do not need anyone to recognize their role and efforts in Bosnia ... if the United States or anyone else want to acquaint themselves with their [the mujahedin's] role, they should go to the cemeteries to see their headstones." However, the ICDP highlights the vital contribution of the mujahedin to the Islamicization process in Bosnia-Herzegovina, urging that the US "should go to the cities and villages to feel their [the Mujahedin's} effects and count those taught by them".

The ICDP communiqué now raises the terrorism issue, accusing the US of intentionally portraying the mujahedin as terrorists simply because they are Islamists. First, the communiqué strongly denies that the mujahedin have anything to do with terrorism. But then the ICDP threatens the US and NATO with terrorism if they confront the mujahedin. "What right does the United States have to accuse the mujahedin of terrorism? Did they rape women? Did they slaughter children? Did they annihilate mankind as the Serb and Croat criminals did? No wonder ... standards have been disrupted and racism and ill intentions prevailed."

The ICDP now dwells on the heroic combat record of the mujahedin in Bosnia, and particularly their willingness to confront the enemy despite most adverse odds. The mujahedin prevailed through their heroism and willingness to endure heavy losses. The communiqué emphasizes that "the mujahedin set the most brilliant examples of sacrifice, Islamic brotherhood, and self-initiative, proving that the Islamic peoples, Arab and non-Arab, are qualified to carry out the greatest of tasks, even if some governments are lax".

In this context, the ICDP warns that just as the mighty weapon of Islamist sacrifice was used so effectively against the Serbs and Croats, the mighty weapon of martyrdom -- suicide terrorism -- can be directed also against the US. "Here is the weapon of martyrdom and death for the sake of Allah's cause being highly valued once again:

the lethal weapon that is worrying the United States."

Instead of confronting Islam, the communiqué suggests, the West should come to terms with the presence of the mujahedin in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ICDP stresses that "the mujahedin issue should be tackled within a framework of wisdom and through the Bosnian Government, for which the mujahedin have always declared their respect. They have also declared their intention not to embarrass it. Their policy is not to interfere in its affairs. The Bosnian people, represented in their government, know their interests well."

The above does not mean, however, that all the mujahedin are ready to leave Bosnia-Herzegovina. Instead, the ICDP brings up the primary methods already used by the Sarajevo Government to conceal the continued presence of the mujahedin as legitimate reasons for their continued stay in Bosnia. The communiqué explains that "in view of the reality resulting from a four-year war, during which the Mujahedin intermingled with the Bosnian people, marrying among them and having children, some are entitled to live in this land, to whose people they are bound. The humanitarian aspect of the issue cannot be ignored, nor can the Bosnian Government's right to grant residence permits or citizenship to those who fought alongside their Bosnian brothers to defend this people."

Furthermore, according to the ICDP, there are legitimate reasons even for the continued stay of hard-core Islamist terrorists in the former Yugoslavia: for settling scores with Croatia. The Islamists are determined not only to avenge the arrest and extradition of Fuad Tal'at Qassim as well as the assassination of Sheikh Anwar Sha'ban and four of his escorts, the responsibility for all of which they accurately attribute to the highest levels of the Croatian Government in Zagreb, but also to deter further Croatian confrontations with the Islamists traveling to and from Bosnia-Herzegovina via Croatia. Significantly, the ICDP stresses that the December 14 ambush of the mujahedin "was a blatant violation of the ceasefire declared under recent [Dayton-Paris] agreements". Hence, since the Croats have already violated the Accords, so can the Bosnian Muslims and the mujahedin in pursuit of higher and nobler causes.

In conclusion, the ICDP communiqué returns to the growing threat of conflict between the mujahedin and the US/NATO forces, The ICDP emphasizes that it is virtually irrelevant what the mujahedin do or don't do because the present problems between the US and the mujahedin "proceed from a US position hostile toward whatever is Islamic". Therefore, the ICDP concludes, it is quite possible that a confrontation will take place. Under such circumstances, the mujahedin do not intend to remain passive. "If some of them [US/NATO forces] try to use the big stick and the language of threats, intimidation, and treachery with the mujahedin, the Arab proverb says: They have brought it upon themselves."

6. Enter I-FOR

Islamist terrorism was not the only threat facing the NATO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in late 1995. The Bosnian Muslim Military was already intensifying its preparations for the possible resumption of fighting in the Spring of 1996. The Sarajevo High Command was determined to be able to fully exploit, if not actually instigate, the anticipated major clashes between the US-led I-FOR forces and Bosnian Serbs. General Delic alluded to these preparations in an address on Sarajevo TV back on December 10, 1995. "If the Dayton agreement is not respected, the Army of Bosnia has to be the guarantee that it will be carried out in another way," he quipped. The next day, Brigadier Sead Delic, the commander of the Tuzla-based 2nd Corps, was even more explicit. The Bosnian Army urgently needs combat aircraft, helicopters, artillery and tanks to create "a military balance which must be achieved as soon as possible," he explained. "The Bosnian army must be prepared to resolve the situation by military means if necessary. We must be prepared to liberate territory." Significantly, the Islamist leadership had already decreed this struggle an obligation.

It was into this Bosnia-Herzegovina, not the Sarajevo of the TV evening news, that NATO forces were being deployed. Irrespective of the extent of the US Clinton Administration's support for the Sarajevo cause, the Bosnian Muslim elite forces and their mujahedin allies remained vehemently anti-US and committed to the furthering of the Islamist jihad against "the Great Satan". The Islamist militants and terrorists did not, and still do not, care about the declared nature of the US military missions, but react to the mere presence of US military forces.

A close examination of the proposed role of the US, and other NATO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina pointed to a potential threat growing in phases. Islamist terrorists were contemplating, first to instigate provocations, inciting the US forces to attack the Bosnian Serb and Croat forces in order to deliver victory for Sarajevo. Then, once I-FOR had outlived its usefulness, particularly in the case that the US did not deliver total victory over the Bosnian Serbs, the Islamists would have had "proof of the US anti-Islam conspiracies. This would surely provide the sought-after justification for revenge:

anti-US terrorism both to kill and humiliate as many Americans as possible (the Islamists, at least, remember Beirut). The ultimate objective of these terrorist attacks would be to make the US forces kill Muslims, even if in self-defense, thus inciting a wider populist jihad which both Sarajevo and the Islamists are convinced would then spread into Western Europe and the US.

Thus -- with the US-imposed peace agreement considered by the warring powers as little more than a brief interlude on history's bloody march -- the greater dynamics which dominated events in the Balkans for nearly a decade remain valid and very much in effect. Hence, the possibility of a major conflagration turning into a regional and even European war remained, in late 1995, a most cogent threat. Ultimately the worst is possible: with US forces and Iran-sponsored terrorists roaming around Bosnia-Herzegovina; with Sarajevo still committed to manipulating Washington to destroy its enemies for it;

and with the Clinton Administration eager to please Sarajevo's radicals even at the expense of the NATO forces deployed in Bosnia.

7. Coping With the Presence of I-FOR

I-FOR units on December 16, 1995, formally assumed responsibility for the enforcement of a series of force separation policies and for the redeployment of the local forces, in accordance with the provisions of the Dayton/Paris Accords. It has been clear from the beginning that although formally a NATO force, I-F OR was in effect an instrument for the implementation of the Bosnian policies of the Clinton Administration. This distinction will determine the whole scope of military and subversive activities of the Bosnian Muslim forces and their Islamist allies: the mujahedin. Meanwhile, the presence of Islamist terrorists openly committed to confronting the US and establishing an Islamist state in Bosnia was recognized as one of the major threats facing the US forces deploying to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And from the beginning, Sarajevo belittled the extent of the Islamist presence and its potential threat. The Clinton Administration was eager to believe Sarajevo. On December 29,1995, a White House official said that Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey had met with US National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and assured him that "between 400 and 500 Islamic fundamentalist fighters from such venues as Iran, Egypt and Turkey would depart Bosnia as scheduled by mid-January".

On January 31, 1996, NATO/I-FOR formally announced the successful evacuation of the mujahedin: "The last group of Islamic 'mujahedin' who fought on the side of the mainly-Muslim army in Bosnia's three-year war, has left the country." Still, given the known preparations of the Islamists -- both mujahedin and their Bosnian Muslim supporters -- to confront I-FOR, such confidence was at the very least premature.

There should be no doubt that the Islamists and their Bosnian Muslim patrons were determined to strike I-FOR and especially US forces. That has been repeatedly clarified by the most authoritative Islamist leaders.

Already in late December 1995, the international Islamist leadership issued its first explicit warning to the United States over the presence of NATO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The communiqué warned that just as the mighty weapon of Islamist sacrifice! was used so effectively against the Serbs and Croats, the mighty weapon of martyrdom -- suicide terrorism -- can be directed also against the US. "Here is the weapon of martyrdom and death for the sake of Allah's cause being highly valued once again -- the lethal weapon that is worrying the United States."

In mid-January 1996, the Islamist leadership released a sermon of Sheikh Umar Abd-al-Rahman made on the eve of his sentencing (for his leadership role in the Islamist terrorist networks in New York in 1993). This sermon stressed the centrality of Bosnia to the Islamist cause and specifically threatened the US with terrorism in retaliation "America worked tirelessly to weaken Muslims in Bosnia... Such action made America a partner to the Serbs in killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and in raping women and annihilating children. If Germany is supporting the Croats, and Russia is strengthening the Serbs, we see that everyone, led by America, have united to isolate and weaken Muslims, and the whole plan is for destroying Muslims in the Balkans.

"Behold, the whole world, listen! Islam can not be stopped with violence, with warfare, with spending millions of dollars, with lies, deception, corruption, and with fabricated trials like this one.... The US, with its power and influence, must not bruise itself in stopping these Islamic forces, and whatever they do towards that end will only harm them, and they will bring upon themselves bankruptcy and destruction if they try to stop Islam."

The invoking of Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman's statement was intended to further inspire and motivate the terrorists preparing for strikes on I-FOR. In the second half of January 1996, Arab Islamists passing through the primarily Egyptian Islamist community in Vienna, Austria -- a well-organized body already implicated, among other things, in support for the Islamist terrorism in New York in 1993 -- reported that Arab Mujahedin with Bosnian passports "swore deadly vengeance on US troops" for both crimes against Islam committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as for the life sentence imposed on Sheikh Umar Abd-al-Rahman in New York. These Arabs have no intention to leave Bosnia-Herzegovina for as long as I-FOR remains and there is no Islamic Government in power in Sarajevo. They consider any effort to establish a secular multi-ethnic government in Bosnia, as stipulated by the Dayton/Paris Accords, a grave crime against Islam. As will be discussed later, the devotees of Sheikh Umar Abd-al- Rahman fulfill unique and crucial roles in the expanding Islamist terrorist infrastructure in the Balkans.

8. The New Face Of The Bosnian Muslim Forces

The Sarajevo authorities have, since late 1995, been actively adapting the Islamist infrastructure in order to cope with the peculiar conditions stemming from the presence of I-FOR. However, these changes were essentially cosmetic, adapting the Islamist infrastructure in order to conceal its presence in Bosnia and enhance its preparations for terrorist operations primarily against I-FOR.

As part of this, the 3rd Army Corps was officially "disbanded" in early January 1996 and then transformed into a training unit where former mujahedin turned Bosnian citizens train Bosnian Muslim troops. The first class of 1,000 Bosnian Muslims began training back in November 1995 to serve as replacements for mujahedin transferred to other units all over the country. Moreover, the Arab Corps Commander -- Abu-Ma'ali -- was replaced by Brigadier-General Sakib Mahmuljin, a Bosnian Islamist. Abu-Ma'ali's exact whereabouts are not known.

In the Winter of 1995/96, the Bosnian Muslim Army launched a major program to conceal the presence of the mujahedin in its ranks. The majority of mujahedin with military experience -- mainly Pakistanis, Afghans and Iranians --were integrated into the Bosnian Army, and then dispersed throughout the entire Army. The radical Islamists, most of them Arabs, were permitted to operate in their own groups, either within larger units or as non-military entities.

In late January 1996, Croatian and Bosnian-Croatian security officials were apprehensive about the continued presence of mujahedin and other Islamist elements in the Bosnian Army, especially in view of their growing influence. For example. General Zivko Budimir, HVO Chief of General Staff [Croatian military] stressed that the bulk of the Islamist volunteers "have still not left" Bosnia-Herzegovina even though the key mujahedin unit has been "dissolved". These Croat officials began warning about the dire ramifications to the regional strategic posture if the US went along with its declared plans to arm and train this Bosnian Army. A Dalmatia-based official explained that "the mujahedins [sic.] have been dispersed into small groups... armed only with small arms." Therefore, the I-FOR High Command he dealt with are convinced these mujahedin "do not represent a military threat" to I-FOR. However, Croat officials note, I-FOR suppressed the extent of a mid-January clash between British I-FOR troops and mujahedin. Given this mis-reporting, Croat security officials wonder and worry about both I-Fore's awareness of the true magnitude of the Islamist threat and its willingness to share data it has about terrorism with Zagreb and other allies.

In February 1996, as the continued presence of large numbers of mujahedin was becoming a political "issue", Sarajevo undertook additional steps to better conceal their presence and operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. By mid-February, growing numbers of "former" Arab mujahedin, especially in elite units of the Bosnian Army, were becoming "humanitarian workers" in international organizations accredited to international bodies and supported by Sarajevo. In this new capacity, they could remain in their former bases and facilities, especially in central Bosnia. On February 20, Croatian security authorities in Mostar warned that "Islamic terrorists, mujahedin, who should have already left Bosnia-Herzegovina in compliance with the Dayton agreement, are still where they were."

Another tested and proven mechanism to legalize the presence of the mujahedin -- getting them married to Bosnian women so that they are entitled to Bosnian citizenship -- was markedly expanded. Croatian and Bosnian-Croatian security officials reported that since late 1995 "a large number of mujahedin have been getting married in Bosnia and thereby acquiring all the necessary documents to stay in Bosnia."

The exact number of mujahedin using this means to stay is unclear. Pres. Izetbegovic insists that only 50 to 60 mujahedin, all released or invalided from military service, have remained in Bosnia-Herzegovina because they married local women. Both Croat and Serb intelligence estimate that a few thousand mujahedin married and stayed. Considering that a total of about 40,000 Islamists served in Bosnia-Herzegovina since the early 1990s, the estimated number of married mujahedin -- a few thousand -- could constitute as many as10 to 15 percent of the total Islamist presence. There is only one "own independent statistical case: that of one of the first Lebanese Islamist units organized by the Iranians and dispatched to Bosnia in 1992 for a two-year tour. Of these, about 300 mujahedin, only some 200 returned to Lebanon while about 50 got married and remained in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The rest, also about 50, were killed in action. That is about a 16 to 17 percent marriage rate, slightly above the estimate by Croat and Serb intelligence.

9. The New Mujahedin Deployment

The reassignment of the mujahedin was completed in February and March 1996. This dispersal was more than just the concealment of individuals forbidden to remain in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This dispersal was but one, albeit very important, aspect of a far more profound process: the reorganization of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina to meet future challenges. In early 1996, official Sarajevo was stressing its ultimate objective, namely, that "by next Summer [1996] the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army will have become a regional power".

Indicative of Sarajevo's intentions and priorities is the appointment in January 1996 of Hasan Cengic to the position of Deputy Defense Minister: the man in charge of the implementation of the reorganization. A veteran of the SS Handzar Division during World War II, Cengic is a close personal friend and confidant of Alija Izetbegovic, especially since the time they served together in Yugoslav President Tito's prison.

Hasan Cengic is a committed Islamist and a close ally of Tehran. He spent much of the current war in Vienna and Tehran, in charge of weapons procurement operations and other strategic cooperation with Tehran. In this capacity Cengic worked closely with Iranian intelligence on illegal weapons acquisition and transfer of funds, building intimate relations and deep mutual trust with the mullahs in Tehran.

Cengic has repeatedly argued that the only key to the salvation of the Izetbegovic administration is by adopting an unambiguous Islamic identity and waging an Islamist struggle. Considering Cengic's strong and known positions, his nomination to such a key post -- deputy Minister of Defense -- means that his position has been adopted by official Sarajevo.

Indeed, the majority of mujahedin still served in the ranks of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina by mid-1996, where they were increasingly being transformed into an elite core which was helping to bring about the overall Islamicization of the military establishment. The mujahedin were divided between three clusters of operational units and a fourth cluster of units directly engaged in terrorism and other covert special operations. As will be discussed below, this distribution was not rigid. Particularly, some of the main units including mujahedin are also used to conceal and provide cover for Islamist terrorist elements. The four unit clusters are:

Among them, these units have between 11,000 and 15,000 foreign mujahedin in their ranks.

In addition to these mujahedin forces, there are numerous Islamist terrorist facilities -- ranging from schools to operational forward bases -- under the tight control of the Sarajevo Government, particularly of AID (the new intelligence service of Bosnia-Herzegovina) and under the cover of a myriad of humanitarian organizations.

The Quality Core of the Muslim Liberation Brigades: The three Muslim Liberation Brigades are the main organized elements to have emerged from the disbanded Armija Republike BH 3, Korpus Odred 'el-Mudzahidin', the main mujahedin unit during the war. Until the Fall of 1995, the 3rd Mujahedin Corps was comprised of three Brigades. Starting late 1995, these Brigades were subordinated to other Corps. Their size has been increased from about 1,500 troops each to over 2,000. These brigades are built around a hard core of foreign mujahedin while the rest of the troops are Bosnian Islamists. These brigades are:

  1. The 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 3rd Corps with HQ in Zenica;
  2. The 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 2nd Corps with HQ in Travnik (the 2nd Corps is Tuzla-based); and
  3. The 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 4th Corps with HQ in Konjic.

Official Sarajevo is stressing the crucial importance of these Brigades to the overall military capabilities of the Bosnian Muslim forces.

In early March 1996, the Sarajevo weekly Ljiljan, which is considered Izetbegovic's mouthpiece, published an article stressing the importance of the Muslim units and threatened the US if interfered with their activities. Sarajevo points out the growing tension between the US Army and the Bosnian Army over the prevalence of Muslim units, and particularly over Sarajevo's Insistence to keep the 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade, which is subordinate to the Tuzla based 2nd Corps, garrisoned in the immediate vicinity of US Army bases in Tuzla. In this context, the Lillian article stresses that the 9th Bde "was established according to the model of the 7th", which means that "the unit consists exclusively of Muslim youngsters, who transferred to the unit voluntarily from other 2nd Corps units because they embraced the Islamic code of life offered in the brigade, its only 'sin' -- an outward resemblance with the mujahid from Islamic countries -- produced in the US base near Tuzla the fear two months ago that they might be 'Bosnian terrorists'."

The article stresses that "these famous Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina units -- the 7th, 4th and 9th -- will form the core of the future professional contingent of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina". Considering the terrorist factor, the article ridicules "the irrational fear that the US troops have from Iran". This irrationality, the Ljiljan article concluded, was behind the repeated anti-Islamic provocations and harassment carried out by the US Army against the 9th Brigade. The article concluded with a veiled threat to the US Army: "No-one even thinks of what could happen if the 'Bosnian terrorists' really responded!"

In late April 1996, Yugoslav and Croat military experts were in agreement that the quality core of Sarajevo's politically reliable military might -- the guardians of the Izetbegovic administration -- were "somewhat more than 8,000 [Iranian-controlled foreign] soldiers who form three very strong brigades". These troops are members of Iran's "al-Quds" forces deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina following intensive training and indoctrination in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan and constitute the core of the 4th, 7th and -3rd Muslim Liberation Brigades.

Indeed, by mid-April, the importance of the Islamist units was growing further as they were being modified to serve as the high quality core of the entire Army. The first to be so converted is the 7th Muslim Chivalrous Brigade of the 3d Corps. The new and now "mechanized" 7th Brigade consists of parts of the 319th and 330th Brigades, three maneuver battalions, a Green Beret company (mujahedin-dominated Islamist Special Forces), and a tank company. "We are creating a new army now. We must change many things in this process; however, the 7th Brigade will remain for as long as we live," declared Brigadier-General Sakib Mahmuljin, commander of the 3rd Corps.

Another aspect of this reorganization is yet another circumvention of the Dayton-Paris Accords. As the US was conditioning the supply of heavy weapons to Bosnia-Herzegovina on the removal of the "remaining" Islamist elements from the operational units of the Bosnian Muslim Army, Sarajevo moved the Islamist forces in central Bosnia-Herzegovina into a new status: stand-by units. This arrangement enabled a Bosnian military official to claim in late May 1996, that "Islamic fighters from Iran and other countries have been mostly removed from the Bosnian army." However, he acknowledged, "four Bosnian mujahedin brigades numbering more than 6,000 fighters remain on stand-by." These are the three Muslim Brigades with the fourth being the newly-established 17th Muslim Light Brigade of the 1st Corps in Sarajevo, "replacing" the Handzar Division.

Operational Units in Central Bosnia-Herzegovina: Back in late December 1995, the Bosnian Muslim Forces began establishing and activating additional mujahedin units, comprised of cadres of foreign volunteers and Bosnian Muslims trained by them, in order to spread and conceal the foreign mujahedin throughout the entire armed forces. One example is the 807th Muslim Liberation Brigade, which was established and sworn in at Gorazde on December 20,1995. B} June 1996, there were at least 10 such units in the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina:

  1. The 807th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 81st Division with HQ in Gorazde;
  2. The 117th Brigade -- the "Dzemisetski Golubovi" -- with HQ in Lukovac;
  3. The 119th Special Forces Mujahedin Brigade with HQ in Banovici. This Brigade is divided into two task forces known as: (a) "Tigrici", (b) "Zelena Strela";
  4. The 203 Brigade with HQ in Tesanj. This Brigade is divided into three "Independent mujahedin Special" task forces known as: (a) "Krtice", (b) "Vitezovi", (c) "Tigrovi";
  5. The 204th Light Brigade -- the "Citlucki Vukovi" -- with HQ in Citluk;
  6. The 115th Muslim Brigade with forward HQ in Vogosca;
  7. The 17th Muslim Light Brigade, of the 14th Division of the 1st Corp with HQ in Pazaric;
  8. The 379th Motorized Brigade of the 37th Division with HQ in Tesanj;
  9. One Operational Group known as "Zivinicke Ose" with HQ in Zivinice;
  10. One Operational Group with HQ in Tuzla. It is divided into two special task forces known as: (a) "Janicari" (Janissary), (b) "Taut". (This Operational Group is independent of the Tuzla-based 2nd Corps.)

The exact number of foreign Mujahedin in each of these brigades is difficult to ascertain. All reliable estimates put the average size of the foreign elements at about 750 to 1,000 Mujahedin per Brigade.

In late March 1996, a mujahid member of the 117th Brigade in Lukovac, identified only by the nom de guerre "Muharram", stressed the continuity between these brigades and the earlier mujahedin forces. He explained that "all religious rules and commitments that were applied in the mujahedin formations have been applied to the Islamic Brigades as well, though officially they come under the command of the Bosnian Army. But because they occupied a distinguished position, they were called the mujahedin Brigades." "Muharram" complained that his unit was being singled out by US and Swedish forces for harassment because of its Islamist character, despite repeated protests by Gen. Sead Delic, the Commander of the 2nd Corps, as well as efforts to block I-FOR patrols from entering the Brigade's compound.

As of mid-March 1996, the increased activities among the Islamist and terrorist elements concealed in the Bosnian Muslim Armed Forces has been noticeable. Members of these units have begun to participate in special operations across the Bosnian Serb lines.

One of the first operations took place on the night of March 22, 1996. A group of Bosnian Muslim terrorists attempted a sabotage operation on the Pale-Lukavica road but were captured by the Bosnian Serb forces. They disclosed that they were members of the reconnaissance-sabotage unit of the 115th Muslim Brigade. Back on March 15, Saban Begovic, the Brigade commander, ordered the Brigade's command echelons and the commander of the reconnaissance-sabotage unit to prepare several three-man teams for a series of sabotage and terrorist operations in the Grbavica region. lie team discovered and captured on March 22 was the first sent across the Serbian lines.

In mid-April 1996, with the active preparations for terrorist operations against I-FOR in the Doboj-Tesanj area mounting (for details see below), the Bosnian Muslim Army formed a new elite unit -- the 379th Motorized Brigade -- within the ranks of the 37t|, Division of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to service and provide support for the growing Islamist terrorist infrastructure in the area. The 379th Motorized Brigade is a special forces unit comprised of the best fighters from the Tesanj, Teslic, and Doboj region.

During the Spring of 1996, there was an overall increase in Islamist militant activities in contention points where mujahedin units are deployed. Most were demonstrative actions, statements of Islamist presence despite Sarajevo's assurances to the contrary. For example, in mid-April, Major Kasim Podzic, the commander of the 17th Muslim Brigade told his men and a large group of visiting Islamist dignitaries that "we are ready to fight under any conditions until even inch of occupied Bosniak land is under our control". One such incident took place in late April in Gorazde, the site of the 807th Muslim Liberation Brigade. A few Islamists dropped inflammatory leaflets calling for a jihad against the Serbs under the banner of Hamas. The leaflets were dropped from vehicles in a Bosnian Government convoy as it passed through Serb Gorazde on the Sarajevo-Gorazde blue route. These leaflets were distributed in full view of the I-FOR escort that failed to stop this activity.

Operational Units in the Bihac Pocket: The Bihac-based 5th Corps has recently become a haven of mujahedin units. The first mujahedin special forces were deployed to the area clandestinely via Croatia (many of them smuggled in by the UN and international relief organizations, while others were flown in with illegal weapons supplies) in order to bolster the local units loyal to the Sarajevo Izetbegovic leadership in their clash with the forces loyal to Fikret Abdic, the local popular (Muslim) leader. Sarajevo needed non-local Muslims as the hard core of its own forces in the Bihac pocket to withstand the mass defection of its troops to Abdic's camp.

Starting the Fall of 1995, a large number of the mujahedin expelled from central Bosnia and expected to travel back to their home countries via Croatia had actually been smuggled back into the Bihac Pocket. Indeed, in late January 1996, General Zivko Budimir, the HVO (Croatian Army) Chief of General Staff, warned that a large mujahedin force was being organized in the Bihac area. Mujahedin expelled by I-FOR to Croatia for further travel to home country were being integrated into these units.

The emergence of a mujahedin-dominated Islamist core in the 5th Corps is not surprising and extremely troubling considering the identity of the Corps commander: Gen. Atif Dudakovic. Gen. Atif Dudakovic is a devotee of Izetbegovic and a member of the Executive Committee of the SDA (the Serbo-Croat initials for Izetbegovic's Democratic Action Party). He is also a staunchly pro-Iranian Islam-

For example, in mid-February 1996, General Atif Dudakovic, in his capacity as the Commander of the 5th Corps, organized a celebration of the anniversary of Khomeini's Revolution in Bihac. Iranian and Arab Islamists from all over Bosnia-Herzegovina, including intelligence officers and terrorist commanders, were invited to these celebrations. Many attended.

The key mujahedin units of the 5th Corps are:

  1. The 501st Mountain Brigade IDG known as "Tigrovi";
  2. The 503rd Mountain Brigade IDG known as "Caruge";
  3. The 505th Mountain Brigade IDG known as "Tajfun", "Hamze", and "Balije";
  4. The 511th Light Brigade IDC known as "Apaci".

By designation, all of the mujahedin units of the 5th Corps are elite reconnaissance, sabotage, airborne-hellebore (Desant) groups [known by the initials from its Serbo-Croat designation, IDG]. The exact number of foreign mujahedin in each of these brigades is difficult to ascertain. All reliable estimates put the average size of the foreign elements at about 1,200 to 1,500 mujahedin per Brigade. IDC units are smaller units than IDG brigades, but also combine a number of specialist functions.

Special Units Connected to Terrorism and Covert Operations:

Both Croatian and Serbian intelligence stress that the mujahedin remain the "backbone" of the elite reconnaissance-saboteur units as well as the SDA's own Muslim Defense Force. The latter force now incorporates over 1,000 Bosnian Islamists, many of them with overseas military and religious training. Foreign mujahedin are also the key instructors of "special actions" [special operations and terrorism], intelligence officers, as well as religious commissars and operational commanders of tactical special units. Both the foreign mujahedin and Bosnian Islamists involved in special operations and terrorism are divided between two main "units" of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and an assortment of clandestine terrorist bases, both training facilities and operational sites.

The main "units" are:

1. The I Bosniak Brigade "Nocne Ptice" [Night Birds]. This is a highly specialized "mother unit" that includes an assortment of specialists and experts from Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon. The I Brigade provides cover for numerous Islamic terrorist elements such as "Allah's Combatants" and other small relatively autonomous terrorist units. Among the experts serving with the I Brigade are car-bomb experts from Lebanon, some of them veterans who planned the suicide attacks against the US Marine barracks and other installations in Beirut in the early 1980s. The I Brigade is the unit that will sponsor, operationally support and assist in terrorist operations against I-FOR.

2. The III Corps. As discussed above, the direct mujahedin component of the 3rd Corps is presently a training unit for Bosnian and foreign Islamists, both for service with other elite units and for the terrorists. However, the 3rd Corps provides shield and cover for special operational units known by the code "G" or the "G" Force "G" stands for "Gazija" [in Serbo-Croat transliteration]; that is, "Gazi'a": retribution, retaliation, punishment, in Arabic. This is a training force with operational capabilities that has absorbed some of the more sensitive elements of the original 3rd Corps. For example, the "Martyrs' Detachment" and the training camps of the Ansar Force have been integrated into the "G" Force. The operational core of this terrorist and special force consists of a group of Saudi Islamists committed to avenging the "infidels' crimes" against Islamic Bosnia. They are formally affiliated with, as well as draw support and manpower from, the Bosnian Army's reconnaissance sabotage battalion in Vukovije. There are unconfirmed reports that Abu-Ma'ali is now the commander of the "G" Force.

10. AID and the Terrorist Elite

The various terrorist bases aimed at I-FOR are most important to the future direction of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Preparations at these bases are conducted under the auspices of AID: the new intelligence service of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In late January 1996, Bakir Alispahic, a former senior official of the old communist Yugoslav secret police, SDB , and the State security organs, and a former minister of the interior of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was nominated as Chief of the Agency of Investigation, Research and Documentation (AID), Bosnia's intelligence service. Tailored after the old communist Yugoslav secret services, AID is responsible for both domestic and international security. Alispahic was directly answerable to Izetbegovic and reported to him regularly.

Officially, the main threat which AID is confronting is the "Cetnik" threat: that is, the Serbian unwillingness to surrender. Serbian aggression, and not Islamist terrorism is defined by AID as the main threat to I-FOR. AID considers the "non-viability" of the federation with Croatia "the biggest burden" because of the Croats' preventing the arrival of equipment and experts needed to bolster AID, particularly from the Middle East.

In reality, aid's primary mission is to ensure the establishment of an Islamic State throughout the entire Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina established the Agency for Research and Documentation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (AID) on January 12, 1996. as a centralized security and intelligence service replaces the myriad of secret and security services inherited from the former Yugoslavia and gradually adapted during the early 1990's to the peculiar needs of Sarajevo with the assistance of Iranian intelligence experts. AID has emerged, as planned, as Izetbegovic's security service: a political secret police committed to wishing "complete control" over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The best expression of this objective is the legacy of its predecessors. By the Spring of 1994, during the height of the siege on Sarajevo, aid's predecessor maintained files on approximately 160,000 individuals in the city, mostly for petty black market and other minor/minute offenses. Despite the Bosnian Serb military threat and the continued siege, Izetbegovic ordered the allocation of extensive manpower and resources to close monitoring of the predominantly Muslim population. Among the "crimes" investigated and pursued by the secret police was the case of a few non-Muslim troops (both Croat and Serb) in the Army's 1st Corps who hunted a wild boar at the time there was no food in the Winter of 1993-94. The unit's Bosnian Muslim officers ordered the destruction of the meat, reported the offense to the security services, and ensured that the culprits were punished in accordance with guidelines from the secret police. By 1995, by cautious and conservative estimates, the secret police already had over a quarter of a million files in the Sarajevo area alone.

The most important branch of the secret police was answerable to a high-level official of the special secret military police of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army 1st Corps. Their members are still characterized by their black uniforms and brand new weapons -- such as handguns and Heckler & Koch MP5 submachineguns -- which "somehow" reached Sarajevo despite the siege and at the expense of the ostensibly badly needed food. At the same time, the secret police also established a vast computerized filing system as the key part of the secret police's new computer system and center. The new computers also reached Sarajevo despite the siege. At the same time, the secret police was using more "traditional" methods inside Sarajevo to ensure the stability of the Izetbegovic administration. According to Croatian intelligence experts, "the executioners were criminals and professional murderers who were awarded with the release from prison" for getting rid of Izetbegovic's enemies in Sarajevo.

In mid-February 1996, faced with the implementation of the Dayton-Paris Accords, Croat experts warned about the true character of Sarajevo's emerging centralized secret services: the newly established AID. They stressed that there was "clear evidence that from the beginning of the war Izetbegovic has been building his security system on the principles of the KOS [counter-intelligence service] and SDB [state security service] organizations that existed in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia". The Croatian experts were especially worried about these developments in view of the Izetbegovic's own personal and political background. "By having chosen to retain his position in this way, by looking for the main enemies in his own people, even though the war was raging, he obviously forgot that he himself was a victim of the same system." This trend was only worsening because with the January 1996 establishment of AID, "all Izetbegovic's intelligence and counterintelligence services have thus been united under one administration." The Croat experts concluded that this recent evolution of the Bosnia-Herzegovina secret services constitutes an accurate reflection of the inner dynamics in Sarajevo:

"Especially worrying, however, is the fact that AID was established after the ruling party leadership and the commanders of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army had been 'cleansed' of all who did not agree with the leading Muslim hard liners, even after it became known in Dayton that an election would be held in Bosnia-Herzegovina soon. The AID leader warns that this has practically made AID an intelligence agency, and -- having in mind the present experiences with similar Izetbegovic services -- also a repressive body of the Party of Democratic Action [SDA].

"All this makes us conclude that complete control of Bosnia-Herzegovina citizens in the territories under Bosnia-Herzegovina Army control, which is carried out on the principles of the KOS and the SDA of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- perhaps justified in wartime -- is going on during peacetime. The only difference lies in the form and the name behind which the people in charge of the 'protection' of citizens are hidden. It is a fact that control is now being performed by Alija Izetbegovic's faithful supporters and his followers, which leads to the conclusion that the SDA has started a fierce fight against everybody. They are interested neither in Dayton nor in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina nor its citizens; it is a mere fight for power, for the maintenance of their regime."

The initial leadership of AID confirmed the Croatian analysis and apprehensions. The first AID Chief, Bakir Alispahic, was a faithful SDB official before the war who transformed into a "devoted executor" of Izetbegovic's own orders, as well as other "delicate tasks" for the SDA during the war. Assuming his new position, Alispahic stressed that aid's primary task would be "to protect and develop the factors for the integration of the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina".

Other key officials in AID come from the ranks of the old Yugoslav secret police apparatus. Fikret Muslimovic, a veteran KOS officer with more than 20 years of service, was in charge of the security and counter-intelligence services in the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army during the war before moving on to AID. Enver Mujezinovic, with a comparable 20-year service in KOS, has been responsible for the same tasks at the Interior Ministry.

They brought trusted colleagues to run intelligence for Izetbegovic. In late May 1996, Avdo Hebib, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, stressed the enduring importance of these intelligence veterans to Izetbegovic's security apparatus: "I only know that some quality changes occurred with the arrival of the new director, Kemal Ademovic, a glorious fighter for Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is a fact that a certain number of people who used to work in the intelligence service of the former JNA [Yugoslav People's Army] worked in the Agency. Since I personally know those people, I will tell you that they left the JNA in time and placed themselves in the service of their own nation. Therefore, it is not fair to make accusations against these people for having been KOS and UDBA members."

Zagreb has no illusions about the real objectives of AID. In mid-February 1996, Croat intelligence officials in Zagreb gloated that one of aid's primary crises and headaches was the discovery that "Western intelligence services obtained the information on the infiltration of mujahedin in the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army." Izetbegovic ordered a quick resolution of the problem and the prevention of future embarrassing leaks virtually at any cost. Following the French exposure of the terrorist base in Fojnica (to be discussed below), the Mujahedin issue became a major reason for a shake-up at the top of the fledgling AID.

On March 15,1996, after pressure from NATO countries over the clear affiliation of the terrorist base with AID and the continued presence of mujahedin in Bosnia-Herzegovina, acting president Ejup Ganic relieved Bakir Alispahic from his position as chief of AID and nominated Kemal Ademovic instead. This "shake-up" was not only cosmetic, but demonstrated Sarajevo's enduring commitment to Islamist terrorism. Ademovic was the commander of the Special Forces Brigade in the Ministry of Interior: a Mujahedin unit. He transferred this Brigade, along with key elements of the Handzar Division, to AID upon his nomination to Chief of AID.

At the same time, Zija Dizdarevic, a leading pro-Government commentator, blamed the US for the firing of Alispahic. Alispahic had to go, "under pressure from Washington" because of suspicions that he "was directly in charge of maintaining the Iranian connection". Dizdarevic protests, but does not deny, Western accusations that AID serves the interests of Izetbegovic's SDA in the capacity of "a partisan [secret] police that maintains particular connections with the Iranian intelligence service".

Another loyalist of Izetbegovic in Sarajevo stressed that not only was the US behind these changes, but they were completed against Sarajevo's best judgement. He stressed that the purges were "the result of the suggestions and pressures of the mighty friends from behind the scenes, primarily the United States. Bakir Alispahic has been removed from the head of AID under pressure from the United States". Furthermore, his closest associates, Nedzad Ugljen, Enver Mujezinovic, and Irfan Ljevakovic were also removed as "a part of the same package". He stressed that the purge at the top of AID was brought solely by the discovery of the terrorist training camp in mid-February, and that neither the US nor its NATO allies had had any other reason to object to aid's operations and performance.

However, a closer examination of the Sarajevo elite shows that these purges were largely cosmetic. Bakir Alispahic was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of contacts with the Muslim World, particularly Iran and other Islamist forces. For all intent and purposes, he continues to dominate foreign intelligence and Islamist-related activities. Similarly, Irfan Ljevakovic, the former SDB officer, was moved from assistant director of the AID to the position of "counselor" to the new chief of AID. Enver Mujezinovic and his protector, Fikret Muslimovic, both former KOS, lost their formal positions but were offered worthy "alternative" positions.

Moreover, the only senior AID official made to be an "example" was Munir Alibabic -- Munja -- the former head of the CSB [Security Service Center] of Sarajevo. He has long been known for what Sarajevo insiders call "conflict with Bakir Alispahic" over both individual powers and policy issues. His purge serves as "a lesson and warning to all" not on the character of AID but that the power structure and web of personal loyalties established by Alispahic has not been affected by his own removal from AID.

Indeed, the new director of AID, Kemo Ademovic, has only intensified the imposition of Islamicization. Kemo Ademovic is a former Interior Minister and the commander of their special forces. He is a close associate of Izetbegovic and has close ties with Iran. The ensuing substantive changes in AID personnel during the Spring of 1996 further consolidated the dominance of Izetbegovic's own cronies who are as close to Tehran as to Sarajevo. The total size of AID surpassed the 10,000 personnel in the Spring of 1996.

According to Croatian intelligence sources, in the Spring of 1996, AID had 1,400 well-trained operatives. In comparison, at the height of Tito's reign, his UDBA [State Security Administration] had only about 350 operatives in the same region. Moreover, AID employs some of the most experienced former UDBA. The task of these AID operatives is "to carry out assassinations of distinguished politicians and foreign citizens".

Toward this end, AID is "linked to secret army training camps, managed by Muslim fighters from Iran, who might plan attacks on US soldiers". The main instructors are VEVAK [Iranian intelligence] officers, many with practical experience in assassinating Tehran's enemies in Europe. Turkish intelligence officials identified some of aid's Iranian instructors as VEVAK officers who had been involved in "directing the killing of Iranian dissidents in Turkey". With Sarajevo's encouragement, the VEVAK instructors recruited several dozen key AID officers, trained as operatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and sent them for long-term advance training in Iran. In the meantime, Sarajevo had already organized and activated Iranian-trained assassination and terrorism squads. These AID teams are tailored after Tehran's own hit teams which had been operating quite successfully throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Another major responsibility of AID is providing shelter for the hard-core mujahedin who Sarajevo had promised to evict. AID provides these mujahedin with new identities and appropriate Bosnia-Herzegovina documents and passports. For example, the key members of the El Mujahid unit, which had been based in the Zenica suburb of Podbrezje, were recently provided with disguise, Bosnian citizenship, and living arrangements in surrounding villages: an area commonly known as "the green triangle". Some of these mujahedin were being hidden in confiscated houses in nearby Croatian villages under Bosnia-Herzegovina control so that they could ensure the loyalty of the Croat villagers to Sarajevo and ultimately Islamicize them. On average, there are 30 to 50 Mujahedin, in addition to local wives and children, in each village. One of these groups is still based in Ante Tavic's house in Podbrezje. Other mujahedin squads are concealed in the Croat-inhabited villages of Orasac and Mehuric, near Travnik. The most recent recruitment ceremonies of Bosnian mujahedin were transferred to Mehuric. In central Bosnia-Herzegovina, the mujahedin are concealed in Han Bila and a few other villages. Another cluster of villages concealing mujahedin exists around Zavidovici.

There should be no doubt that these Mujahedin-turned-Bosnian-citizens remain committed to their Islamist jihad. Many of them consider their current resettlement as an interlude between various phases of their Holy War. For example, in March 1996, a young Arab inhabitant of the green triangle was expecting more trials and tribulations for Muslim Bosnia. "Only Allah knows what will happen with Bosnia. If the Muslims in Bosnia are satisfied with this situation, and we will be with our people, Allah will certainly provide some solution. We must be aware, however, that the infidels will not give up their ultimate objective: to plant the cross in Mecca and celebrate the mass in Medina. They will not be satisfied until we accept their faith. It is to be hoped that Muslims will see that Islam is their only support and strength and will not sell out and reject their faith." The local Mujahedin community was as determined as ever before to continue the jihad until Allah's Law was established in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the meantime, these "Bosnians" are involved in a comprehensive Islamist educational program aimed to establish an Islamist way of life in the entire area.

Croatian intelligence sources stress the importance of the mere use of AID and its mujahedin to ensure the loyalty and Islamicization of regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the comprehension of Sarajevo's real objectives. "It is illusory to expect that Izetbegovic would renounce AID, which safeguards his control over the political processes in his own peoples," they stress. What AID is implementing in Bosnia-Herzegovina "simply involves a transfer of the Iranian concept of a para-state military police with whose assistance the country keeps control over its own population and ensures influence among the famous terrorist groups in Egypt (Jamma'a al-lslamiyya), Israel (Hamas), Lebanon (HizbAllah}, and so on. AID would serve this purpose in Bosnia, that is, Europe."

The Croatian sources note the similarity between the real power structure of AID and the Iranian intelligence empire. In both countries, "the masterminds of the entire service are actually in the Islamic religious community and in diplomacy". Little wonder that as Deputy Foreign Minister, Bakir Alispahic continues to exercise dominant influence over the Bosnian intelligence system. With close support from VEVAK, AID continues to pursue "the realization of the goals for which it was set up, namely, the creation of the Muslim state on the designated territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with an internal setup that would reflect the Iranian concept of the Islamic state".

However, the Croats note, under Western pressure to ensure semblance of democracy, "the realization of Izetbegovic's ideas" is being hampered by opposition from "the parties and the politicians among the Muslim peoples who champion a secular internal setup of the Turkish type". AID is Sarajevo's primary instrument to swiftly neutralize this opposition, especially as Washington expects Sarajevo to conduct free elections later this summer. The importance of aid's potential contribution to the consolidation of Izetbegovic's power was clearly demonstrated in Croatia.

The April 8, 1996, arrest by Croatian security authorities of an armed group of Bosnian Muslims on their way "to commit an act of state terrorism" should dispel any remaining doubt about Sarajevo's active involvement in terrorism. The Croat security authorities discovered a group of six Bosnian Muslims (five males and one female) which they identify as a "terrorist group sent from Bosnia" to assassinate Fikret Abdic, the former and still very popular leader of the Bihac area.

The Croat security forces arrested five of the conspirators near Senj on the Adriatic coast, 60 miles south of Rijeka only because of a traffic violation. Subsequent investigation by the Croatian security services discovered that these Bosnian Muslims work for the Bosnian police and/or intelligence service in the Bihac area. The terrorists planned to fire RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) at Abdic's car on a busy road between the industrial port of Rijeka and the tourist resort of Opatija on the Adriatic coast.

The five arrested were the operational cadres. A sixth suspect, known to be a senior officer of AID, escaped. Croatian intelligence learned that the brains behind this operation are "within the Bihac Party of Democratic Action [SDA] who wished to physically rid themselves of Fikret Abdic, a dangerous political opponent". The operation was planned and carried out by the Bihac AID on specific instructions from Sarajevo.

Some members of the network were Bosnian citizens who had been living in Croatia for quite some time. This was not their first assassination attempt. They had already managed to get close to Abdic on about a dozen occasions but did not have an opportunity fire their weapons or activate bombs.

According to the Croat security authorities, the group had a large cache of weapons stashed in Croatia, including large amounts of explosives, grenade launchers, submachineguns, as well as anti-tank and hand grenades. The part of the weapons cache captured included two portable rocket launchers with four shells, four hand grenades, a 7.62 mm caliber machinegun with 14 rounds of ammunition, five dispersion antitank hand grenades, a kilogram of plastic explosive, and three hand grenades. The arms were hidden in the little forest called Costabella near the Preluka camp along the Rijeka-Opatija road. Others caches known to have been prepared in advance by AID support personnel are yet to be discovered. The mere existence of such a system of weapons caches suggests that AID has a larger and wider network of terrorists and operatives in Croatia.

Meanwhile, the six conspirators were indicted (one in absentia) on April 10 in Rijeka for "state terrorism" in the form of active preparations to assassinate Abdic.

Little wonder, therefore, that Croatian intelligence sources now warn about the long-term ramifications of "Muslim state terrorism" exported out of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They stress that "Islamic terrorism, which it seems is gaining strength in this region, is not only Croatia's problem". Since the Islamist guardians of the SDA's hold over power in Bosnia-Herzegovina are equally committed to the spread of Islamist jihad throughout the world, "it is now the turn of the others!" The Croatian intelligence sources leave no doubt as to their reading of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina: "The international community stigmatized only a handful of countries as themselves supporting and financing international terrorism. To Iran and Libya, Bosnia-Herzegovina should now also be added, that is, the Muslim authorities from Sarajevo, to be exact."

11. Confronting Reality

By now, I-FOR HQ had already been getting first-hand exposure to the Islamist terrorist threat in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On February 15, 1996, French forces of I-FOR raided and captured an Islamist terrorist training base west of Sarajevo, arresting 11 terrorists. The training facility was based in a former ski chalet about 20 miles west of Sarajevo and about six miles south of Fojnica. This chalet is part of the compound of the Handzar Division. Bosnian government sources told Reuters that "the site was an intelligence school in the process of being closed down". Those arrested included three Iranian instructors and eight Bosnian Intelligence officers: six of the Bosnians were native Bosnian Muslims but the original nationality of the other two was not clear. They were most likely Afghans or Pakistanis who received Bosnian citizenship. All eight were serving officers and intelligence operatives of the Ministry of the Interior of the State of Bosnia. I-FOR recovered their classified notes for forwarding, including addresses of the state security offices where they were employed. The three Iranians were senior terrorist trainers. Izetbegovic told reporters that he understood the three had diplomatic status.

The terrorism school contained classrooms and an extensive armory. There were pictures of Izetbegovic and Iran's late Ayatollah Khomeini on walls and desks. The arsenal contained explosives and 60 weapons: hand-guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and grenade launchers, as well as assault rifles and large quantities of ammunition. Most significant was the sabotage equipment recovered, including hand grenades, detonators, blasting caps and large stores of high explosives. Among the systems discovered were bombs built into children's small plastic toys, including a car, a helicopter and an ice cream cone, as well as a shampoo bottle filled with explosives and other booby-traps. One red plastic toy car filled with explosives was already fixed with a radio-triggered detonator pending imminent use.

I-FOR recovered considerable instructional material, much of it in Farsi. One of the classrooms was used for espionage training, and the equipment found there included hollowed-out toys and pens for making "drops" of secret messages and related instructional materials included students' exams. I-FOR also found detailed cardboard models of houses and clusters of buildings which were being used for active preparations for terrorist operations.

I-FOR recovered a folder entitled "the special operations project to kidnap the Serbian officer or liaison at the PTT [telecommunications] engineering building". It was a very professional target file, with more than 30 photographs and detailed sketches of the building and a lengthy, hand-written operational plan. The PTT building in Sarajevo was used as a NATO Headquarters. Only the raid on the Fojnica school prevented an attempt to carry out this operation.

The discovered Islamist terrorist training base in Fojnica is but one of many such installations operating under the protection of the Sarajevo Government. Indeed, on February 17,1996, in reaction to the French capture of the terrorist base, Izetbegovic defended his government's performance on Bosnian TV. "We have more such camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where we train people to hunt down war criminals. We will continue that activity," he declared.

Because of the high political profile of the Fojnica operation, and ensuing pressure from Washington, subsequent anti-terrorist operations by European elements of I-FOR were conducted almost clandestinely. According to Italian sources, around February 20/21, European NATO forces quietly discovered and "neutralized" another terrorist base in the general Sarajevo area. This base also employed Iranian instructors and the evidence seized pointed to active preparations for terrorist strikes against I-FOR.

Around March 21, French special forces with I-FOR raided the HQ of the 4th Corps, particularly the base of the 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade near Konjic, in search of mujahedin. The 4th Corps Command described the I-FOR raid as "barbarous". Bosnian Muslim military intelligence was most upset because the French took photographs of troops and personal details. A French officer said the results were "inconclusive" because they could not detain suspected individuals for further investigation. Especially disturbing to the French were "10 people [who] were discovered in a house" in the compound of the 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade.

The few terrorist bases raided, mostly with dismal results, were a fraction of the sprawling Islamist terrorist infrastructure in Bosnia-Herzegovina which was known to be involved in active preparation for operations once the weather improved.

12. The Islamist Terrorist Infrastructure

Actual preparations for anti-I-FOR terrorism began the moment it became apparent that US forces might be deployed to Bosnia. Starting in the Fall of 1995, once the Dayton negotiations were showing signs of progress, the Bosnian Muslim forces began establishing a series of terrorism training facilities dedicated to confronting I-FOR. One of the first training facilities specifically for preparations of operations against I-FOR -- both sabotage or bombing of facilities and assassination of individual I-FOR soldiers -- is in Gradacac. The operatives based there include mujahedin, Bosnian Muslim operatives and even Serb "mercenaries" to be used for provocations. The terrorist unit in Gradacac became operational in late December 1995. Other mujahedin terrorist training and organizational facilities are located in the Zavidovici, Ozren, Fojnica and Banovici areas.

In early February 1996, the main Islamist terrorist headquarters in the Vatrostalno Factory building in Podbrijezje (near Zenica) was still operational. US Special Forces patrolling the area were repeatedly denied access by the Turkish forces surrounding and guarding the huge factory compound. The local Mujahedin receive supplies from the 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade in Zenica. Moreover, the "Martyrs' Detachment" camp continues to function. An indication of what is taking place in the compound came on December 18,1995, when a huge car bomb exploded in the parking lot of the Vatrostalno factory. One foreign mujahid was killed and several others were injured. The Islamists were constructing a powerful car bomb and made a technical error. In early 1996, many of the area's Islamist terrorists went underground. A Tuzla-based mujahid identified only as "Abu-Rashid" acknowledged in late March 1996 that many of his colleagues in the Zenica area "had to trim their beards to avoid harassment by NATO forces".

There are more ominous indications of Islamist preparations for terrorist operations against I-FOR. Starting December 1995, Islamists from West European states -- particularly France, the Netherlands and Germany -- were moved from such high visibility mujahedin units to clandestine basing. Significantly, these Islamist youngsters were born and grew up in Western Europe and thus can impersonate NATO/I-FOR soldiers. There are numerous reports that between 100 and 120 of these young Islamists are being prepared to impersonate I-FOR/NATO troops in terrorist operations.

In early January 1996, there was also a deployment of Islamist terrorists who can operate as US servicemen to the forward base in Tuzla. These "Americans" bolster the Iranian-run terrorist infrastructure in the Tuzla area.

Starting back in late November 1995 several senior Iranian intelligence officers and Islamist "Afghan" terrorist experts deployed undercover to the Tuzla area in order to conduct reconnaissance and preparations should the need arise to launch strikes against the US forces. The Iranians first established, and still maintain, a support base of about 25 foreign mujahedin in Celic, some 20 km east of Tuzla. Many of these Mujahedin acquired Bosnian citizenship through marriage. In late March 1996, one of these Mujahedin, identified only as "Abu-Rashid", explained that he and his friends "have been working in the field of religious guidance and are ready to resume the Holy jihad should the need arise." In early 1996, the Iranians also established a forward operational base in Lukovac, some 10 km from US main base in Tuzla. Presently, some of the terrorist facilities are concealed in the garrison of the 117th Brigade.

It is into the forward operational base that the US Islamists deployed. Among the "Americans" was Kevin Holt, a.k.a. Issa Abdullah Ali, who had participated in the HizbAllah's Beirut bombings in the early 1980s. Another American is a veteran mujahedin leader who fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Known only as Abu-AbdAllah, he is a Palestinian background, a deserter from the US Marines Corps, who is very close to the Hamas and Islamist International leadership. He is a veteran of Beirut in the early 1980s, a former member of AbdAllah Azzam's Islamic Brigade in Afghanistan, and a devotee of Sheikh Umar Abd-al-Rahman in 1990-92. In March 1993, Abu- AbdAllah led the first group of a dozen US Islamists organized by the Brooklyn branch of Al-Kifah to Zagreb and on to the Mikosovic barracks near Tuzla.

As of early 1996, Abu-AbdAllah shared his time between his forward base in Tuzla where, in close cooperation with Iranian Pasdaran terrorist experts, he runs an "American force" of over 20 US Islamist terrorists, and government intelligence and terrorism schools in Sarajevo where he conducts advanced terrorist training. Preparations for sophisticated and spectacular terrorist strikes against I-FOR also take place in this intelligence facility, including preparing over a hundred sets of US and European NATO uniforms.

Other active preparations for terrorism also take place in Sarajevo itself. Starting November and December 1995, the Islamist terrorists began several cycles of active preparations in Sarajevo itself. A few delegations of terrorist experts, some with Iranian diplomatic papers, have surveyed the area in order to inspect and assess preparations for specific operations. Moreover, the flow of weapons, ammunition, explosives, and expert Islamist terrorists has continued at least until late February 1996.

Other preparations for terrorist strikes continue. In early March 1996, the Islamist hard-core in the Zenica area seemed unaffected by the search for terrorists and even more determined to strike at NATO. An Algerian commander of a local mujahedin terrorist unit, identified only as Abu-Salim, stressed the Islamist commitment to the Islamist jihad: "We did not come here just to leave as soon as the Americans arrive. We are living in the time when Islam will prevail. Bosnia is a Muslim country and we will defend it." Another mujahid in Zenica stressed that they are in Bosnia-Herzegovina because "Islamic fighters should defend every Muslim country, regardless of where it is". He confirmed that he and some of his comrades had been affiliated with the Iranian 7th Revolutionary Guards Brigade until recently.

Another terrorist base became operational in mid-April in the village of Svracici, 10 km from Kalesija. The core of this terrorist force are mujahedin from Saudi Arabia that belong to the "Gazija" company. The terrorists live in a religious facility, "Menzet", and are directly subordinated to Efendi Nusret Imamovic from Kalesija. He had organized their arrival in this area. Members of the reconnaissance-sabotage battalion in Vukovije are deployed in Svracici along with the Saudi Islamists. The battalion provides this Islamist terrorist force with support, supplies, and personnel. This Islamist terrorist deployment is of strategic importance because highly-trained Special Forces -- as the personnel of the "Gazija" company and the troops of the Vukovije reconnaissance-sabotage battalion are -- can easily reach the Drina and the main bridge in the Zvornik area from the base in the Kalesija area. Such operations can disrupt the main lines of communications between Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs.

These facilities are but a few examples of a rapidly expanding terrorist infrastructure. Starting in mid-March 1996, Bosnian-Serb and Yugoslav intelligence have reported that the Islamist terrorist infrastructure included facilities in Teslic, Petrovo, Modrica, Bosanski Samac, Bosanski Brod, and Derventa. Later that month. Western intelligence sources confirmed that I-FOR knew about "up to 10 small, secret training camps, most of them in central or north-central Bosnia". Of these, five to seven were clandestine military camps in central Bosnia where mujahedin were training and preparing terrorists for impending operations against I-FOR. These camps belong to the Bosnian administration's intelligence arm -- AID -- but are run by Iranian VEVAK officers. The Iranians are also running comprehensive clandestine programs, including covert operations on their own, to monitor I-FOR and prepare for strikes against them. The mujahedin involved in these activities are provided with Bosnian papers, some of military service and others of a "civil service" nature. At the same time, Croat security authorities pointed to the transformation of the Zenica area into an Islamist terrorist haven, an operational center run by VEVAK under the protection of the 7th Muslim Brigade.

13. The Clandestine Infrastructure

By mid-February 1996, growing numbers of former mujahedin, especially members of elite units of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, were becoming "humanitarian workers" in organizations accredited to international bodies and supported by the Sarajevo administration. A survey by Croatian intelligence of recent incidents raised the alarm about the prevalence of Islamist terrorist activities under the guise of humanitarian activities.

In early February 1996, Croatian police in Travnik arrested Ahmad Z. S. Zuhairi, a Saudi citizen, traveling from Bihac to Sarajevo in a Nissan belonging to the Saudi Committee, an humanitarian organization. They discovered in the car three AK-47s, grenades and a dagger. The only documents Zuhairi had on him were a Saudi passport and a Bosnian Army permit "to move out of unit's center" issued by VJ 5680 in Travnik and stamped by the "Reconnaissance-Saboteur Battalion of the 7th Corps of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina", a special forces unit. the passport was full of stamps indicating extensive traveling to Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia, but included no record of formal entry to, or exit from, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although married and the father of five in Saudi Arabia, Zuhairi told the Croatian police he was expecting his Bosnian documents soon, having married a Bosnian Muslim woman as well, who was already pregnant. Zuhairi also admitted that he was a member of the Saudi "Organization for the Islamic Revolution in the Arabian Peninsula", an Islamist organization affiliated with Khartoum and Tehran.

On February 10, four mujahedin were arrested by the HVO on the Kresevo-Kiseljak road while driving in a UN Nissan suspected as stolen. They were Ahmad bin-Muhammad al-Nusairat (from Jordan, and an UNPROFOR employee), Hermas Sami (from Konjic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a Jordanian father, Bosnian Muslim mother, and with a Jordanian passport), Al-Rayis Hussayn bin Ramadan Ramadan (Gaza-born, serving in a medical unit of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army), and Muhammad bin-Ali al-Humani (from Jordan, a former employee of UNPROFOR in Sarajevo; now residing there). The vehicle was taken from UN/I-FOR without permit and was to be used to smuggle people into Sarajevo.

On February 16, an I-FOR checkpoint near Sarajevo arrested a Saudi mujahid in a UN vehicle full with weapons and explosives. He was on a supply run for the Islamist networks in the greater Sarajevo area.

On February 17, Croatian police arrested nine Iranians in Jajce (Croat-held western Bosnia). Seven of them were traveling by bus from Tesanj to Bihac and the other two in a four-wheel drive behind the bus. They arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina 15 days beforehand, and had documents of students and professors. No weapons were found in the vehicles. The Iranians carried a lot of propaganda material and "state-of-the-art technical equipment which is generally used for intelligence purposes". They were found to be part of a Vitez area Islamist agitation group sent to Bosnia to enhance the Islamicization campaign. This "cultural" activity includes counter-intelligence activities against anti-Islamic elements. When stopped, the Iranian group was on its way to attend the celebration of the anniversary of Khomeini's Revolution organized in Bihac by Gen. Atif Dudakovic, the Commander of the 5th Corps. Because they were unarmed, the Iranians were released to I-FOR, who transferred them to the Iranian Embassy in Sarajevo.

The exposure of these and similar "humanitarian workers" has not deterred Sarajevo and Tehran. Indeed, the Islamist "humanitarian" networks continue to expand throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. By mid-March 1996, the Iranians were maintaining "humanitarian" offices in Mostar, Zenica, Bihac, Visoko, and Sarajevo. In early June 1996, Iran opened a huge new medical center in Bihac with Iranian staff. A Tuzla office was recently closed due to "communications problems". Instead, in March 1996, a veteran mujahid known as "Abu-Sulayman" (one of the first mujahedin to arrive in Bosnia back in the Fall of 1992) is running an Islamist "relief organization" in Tuzla affiliated with the local Dar al-Fatwa. "Abu-Sulayman's" center provides humanitarian and religious assistance not only to the local community, but also to the several "foreign fighters" still serving in the "seven brigades known as the 'Islamic Brigades'" of the Bosnian Army. According to "Abu-Sulayman", these brigades are deployed in Tuzla, Zenica, Sarajevo, Konjic, and Bihac.

14. Iran's Own Assets

The revitalization of the "humanitarian" network is but one aspect in the transformation of the Iranian activities and operations throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina in the aftermath of the Dayton-Paris Accords.

Between 1992 and late 1995, the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps {Pasdaran), maintained an organized unit-- the 2,000 Pasdaran strong 7th Revolutionary Guards Brigade -- in Bosnia-Herzegovina within the Bosnian Muslim Armed Forces. With its main base in Zenica, the Iranian Brigade shifted between training cadres and participated in the most dangerous operations in the front line. The 7th Revolutionary Guards Brigade was officially disbanded in December 1995 during Velayati's visit to Sarajevo.

In addition, Iran has maintained a high-quality training unit of some 400 officers from Pasdaran Intelligence and VEVAK to work with the fledgling Bosnian Muslim intelligence forces and related terrorist units. The long-term presence and roles of this Iranian contingent was codified in the Iranian-Bosnian agreement of November 15, 1994. The agreement was reached in the wake of a secret visit to Tehran by Bakir Izetbegovic, the President's son, in which Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina agreed on a long-term program to strengthen their overall security cooperation: ranging from a marked increased in the Iranian military assistance to the clandestine stationing of both HizbAllah and VEVAK cadres in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In the aftermath of the signing of the Dayton-Paris Accords, the key cadres of the Pasdaran's unit -- at the very least some 150 to 200 IRGC NCOs and officers, but, according to other assessments, as many as between 750 and 1,000 -- have been subsequently integrated into the training and elite segments of the Bosnian Army. Meanwhile, the Iranian command echelon and the key intelligence advisors were attached to the Military Attaché's office in the Iranian Embassy in Sarajevo. In addition, several dozen Iranian intelligence experts, primarily top VEVAK and Pasdaran Intelligence instructors, have been reassigned to AID.

Moreover, some of the experienced Iranian trainers -- many of whom spent several years in Bosnia-Herzegovina and learned the language and became acquainted with the people -- returned to Iran and were assigned to training camps preparing Bosnian cadres sent to Iran. A few hundred Bosnian Muslim troops were sent to Iran in early 1996 for special forces and terrorism instruction, as well as Islamist indoctrination training. Starting in early March 1996, the numbers of Bosnians officials -- both military and AID personnel sent to Iran -- began to grow steadily. Most Bosnians were being sent for various security (intelligence and terrorism) and military training in Iran. This dispatch constitutes a significant increase over the routine training of Bosnians in Iran during the early 1990s.

Most significant, however, was the transformation of Tehran's attitude toward its presence in Bosnia. By March 1996, Tehran was concentrating on a long-term and clandestine presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina, further consolidating its infrastructure while waiting for I-FOR to leave, either on its own or through a clash, before the full extent of the Iranian influence emerged. Sarajevo supports fully the growing Iranian presence despite the adverse impact of NATO accusations of terrorists' presence. On March 18, Sarajevo formally complained that the Izetbegovic administration "is being blackmailed with demands for suspension of all relations with the friendly Islamic Republic of Iran". Soon afterwards, the Sarajevo media began highlighting the Iranian denials of running terrorist training camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina, while stressing important and enduring humanitarian and civilian relations.

In late March 1996, NATO confirmed that Iran not only continued to train the Bosnian Army, but that the Iranian cadres constitute a terrorist threat to the I-FOR forces. "A threat does remain from foreign forces in Bosnia," said Capt. Mark van Dyke (USN), NATO's chief spokesman. "It's a threat from terrorist activity, and it's also a violation of the Dayton peace agreement." Under pressure, Izetbegovic admitted that about 50 to 60 Iranians had remained in Bosnia-Herzegovina, stressing however that all of them were discharged soldiers married to Bosnian women.

15. The Islamist Elite Force

The recent activation of an international Islamist network of expert terrorists based in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- and a high-quality back-up headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria -- was and is most significant.

The final touches of this network were put in place in early March 1996 with the arrival of 40 Egyptian Islamist expert terrorists in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were immediately despatched to bolster mujahedin networks in Zenica, Konjic (known as "Al-Muderis"), and Kakanj ("Black Swans") in central Bosnia, and Tesanj ("Al- Mujak") in northern Bosnia. Other terrorist training facilities used by these Islamists are in Mehuric (village) near Busovaca in central Bosnia, Pazaric (village) near Sarajevo, and Bistricak (village) north of Zenica.

Most significant is the concurrent activation of the senior HQ in Sofia. Since early-1992, the extent of the Islamists' commitment to a Jihad against the West has been tested in the Balkans. The escalation in Islamist terrorism has been a direct outcome of the marked expansion in the commitment of international Islamist organizations to the struggle of Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A forward center of support and coordination was already established by the Fall of 1991 in Bulgaria, where Sudan's Hassan al-Turabi enjoys "special relations" with Dr Ibrahim Natali, a member of the Bulgarian Parliament and a member of the Bulgarian Freedoms and Rights Party.

The Center in Sofia, Bulgaria, has been gradually upgraded since late Summer of 1994, when it was put under the responsibility of Ayman Zawahiri. He first visited Sofia in September 1994 and stayed there under the alias Muhammad Hassan Ali. The frequency of visits increased during 1995, reflecting the growing importance of the Balkan Front to the Islamist International. In the Summer of 1995, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak under his command, Zawahiri began shifting some of his HQ from Geneva to Sofia. The mere nomination of Zawahiri as the regional Islamist commander is of great importance. Zawahiri is a highly experienced terrorist commander, an Egyptian devotee of Sheikh Umar Abd-al-Rahman, who is fully trusted by both Tehran and Turabi in person. In the Fall of 1993, Zawahiri was the Islamist on-site commander in Mogadishu and personally oversaw the lethal clashes with the US troops. During 1994-95, the main responsibility of his Geneva HQ was preparing for, and, should Tehran so order, conducting spectacular terrorist operations inside the US.

In late 1995, once it became clear that I-FOR was to be deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zawahiri moved his HQ to a Sofia suburb, still using the name Muhammad Hassan Ali. Soon afterwards, he activated a rear senior HQ for anti-West/anti-US operations in the Balkans. Moreover, once the Croat venue became unreliable -- because of the arrest of Fuad Tal'at Qassim and the assassination of other Islamists in Croatia and Croat controlled parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Bulgaria became the key HQ for deniable operations (in order not to embarrass Sarajevo). In mid-November 1995, some 20 to 25 senior Islamist commanders met in Sofia to discuss the new wave of operations in the aftermath of Fuad Tal'at Qassim's arrest in Zagreb (back in August 1995) and the then inevitable deployment of I-FOR to Bosnia-Herzegovina. On November 20, 1995, the Islamists "announced" the emergence of their center in Bulgaria, sending a gunman to open fire on the Egyptian Embassy: a "reminder" for the Egyptian Government not to look too closely at the Islamists' activities in Sofia.

In early 1996, confident in his ability to maintain secure and solid lines of communications to the Islamist terrorist forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zawahiri ordered the deployment of key experts capable of planning, overseeing and leading major spectacular terrorist strikes against such objectives as US/I-FOR facilities. The arrival of 40 Egyptian terrorists was the first major forward deployment for this purpose. Additional Iranian and other Islamist expert terrorists continued to arrive in Bosnia-Herzegovina in April 1996.

In early May 1996, these Islamist forces were ready for action. Soon afterwards, they issued a new and credible threat of spectacular and highly lethal terrorist strikes against the US components of I-FOR. The warning specified suicide bombing as the likely form of attack.

The warning was issued by an Egyptian Islamist using the nom de guerre "Salim al-Kurshani". "Al-Kurshani" is a veteran of the mujahedin units who married a Bosnian woman and who now legally lives in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Al-Kurshani introduces himself as the commander of a jihadist organization called the "Islamic Group [al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyyah} -- Military Branch in Bosnia". However, he issued the warning in the name of a new group called the Bosnian Islamic Jihad.

Al-Kurshani stressed the centrality of martyrdom to his forces. "We are looking for ways to die so we can meet Allah in Heaven with dignity," he explained. He stressed his strikes will be most effective because I-FOR has no defense against martyrdom operations. "I have a message for NATO forces in Bosnia. None of you will sleep peacefully. We shall send suicide bombers to punish the United States and I-FOR for their occupation of an Islamic land."

Al-Kurshani has a special warning to the US element of I-FOR:

"Wherever they have interests, we shall be their shadow. There are no security measures against those willing to die. We are fundamentalists. We are terrorists and we shall terrorize them." He added that "Croatia was on top of the hit list" second only to the US.

Significantly, the main strike force of the Bosnian Islamic Jihad is comprised of young Bosnian Islamists -- blond Caucasians in their early 20s --who can easily pass as Europeans or Americans. "These are our Bosnian brothers," al-Kurshani explained, introducing some of them. "Very soon the world will hear their message. They are trained for kidnaping, assassination, using explosives and carrying out suicide missions without hesitation." Their Bosnian Islamic Jihad is a worthy companion to the examples set by "their brothers" in the Middle East: the HizbAllah and Islamic Jihad.

The threat issued by al-Kurshani should be taken most seriously. In his statement, al-Kurshani clarified his own, and his organization's, affiliation with the Egyptian Islamist terrorist elite under the Armed Islamist Movement. This movement now has a forward headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria, under the command of Ayman al-Zawahiri. He is personally committed to avenging the arrest and extradition to Egypt of his deputy, Fuad Tal'at Qassim, by the Croatian government. The Islamist terrorist forces under Zawahiri's command were activated in early April 1996.

Therefore, the warning issued by Salim al-Kurshani in early May 1996 should be considered an on-site declaration by the Islamist terrorist forces that in the aftermath of lengthy and highly professional training and preparations, they are now ready and about to strike.

16. Recognizing The Threat

Numerous intelligence services active in the former Yugoslavia, starting in mid-February 1996, began raising the alarm about ongoing preparations for Islamist terrorist strikes against I-FOR, and particularly US personnel.

On February 15/16,1996, Croatian intelligence in Vitez, Bosnia-Herzegovina, warned that "members of mujahedin units, and that many of them have stayed in Bosnia, [were] preparing themselves to cause serious incidents for I-FOR representatives, which they would then accuse the Croat side of. I-FOR has been informed about this." The Croats complained that the US officials to whom the warning was delivered were slow and reluctant to take action.

At the same time, a source in the Italian military intelligence with I-FOR also warned that "the official withdrawal of a number of Islamic 'military advisers' is being accompanied by the arrival of new men connected to fundamentalist terrorist groups. And this time the target of the attacks would not be the Bosnian Serb militias but, rather, NATO forces."

In late February, a report of the Greek Intelligence Service (EIP) with I-FOR warned that "Bosnian Muslims could attack Greek troops within the international Implementation Force (I-FOR) and make it look as if it had been carried out by the Serbs... Such actions aim to provoke an I-FOR intervention against the Serbs." "Muslims are the greatest threat to I-FOR," the report stated. An EIP source stressed that US intelligence officials on site agree with this assessment, but US higher-ups in NATO HQ prevent action. This is most disturbing, according to the EIP report, because of the intelligence data already available. "Both the Greek and US intelligence service have confirmed that groups of Bosnian Muslims had prepared to carry out terrorist attacks."

In early March, British intelligence had specific reports that the highest levels of government in Sarajevo had already decided that once a certain amount of weapons was delivered, the Bosnian Muslim forces would launch operations and ultimately start a war against I-FOR. In case weapons supplies from the west were not forthcoming, Sarajevo was leaning toward authorizing the use of spectacular Islamist terrorism to instigate clashes with I-FOR .

In mid-March 1996, Bosnian-Serb and Yugoslav intelligence transmitted warnings that mujahedin and Bosnian Muslim terrorists were actively preparing for operations in the general Doboj area. Final preparations for sabotage operations take place in Teslic, Petrovo, Modrica, Bosanski Samac, Bosanski Brod, and Derventa. The initial targets of attacks are I-FOR and international humanitarian facilities. The Islamists planned to launch anti-Serb operations to instigate confrontations with I-FOR, as well as to create public unrest in Bosnian Serb held areas. As discussed earlier, the 379th Motorized Brigade was formed in April 1996 in order to provide support for the growing Islamist terrorist infrastructure in the Doboj-Tesanj area.

In late March 1996, Yugoslav intelligence was expecting the beginning of Islamist terrorist operations behind Bosnian Serb lines. Belgrade acquired highly reliable information according to which "as soon as the demarcation line is cleared of mines, groups of three to four Mujahedin will penetrate deep into [Bosnian] Serb territory and begin attacks on I-FOR soldiers, particularly the Americans. They plan to plant mines on roads along which I-FOR troops are moving, and also to carry out direct attacks on their command posts."

"The terrorist groups are well equipped to survive for a long time in hostile territory. The order they have received states [specifically] that none of the terrorists must be captured alive by the enemy. In the case of possible capture, however, they are supposed to commit suicide by activating an explosive device sewn into their clothing. Those [mujahedin} who perform their task successfully can count on high financial rewards -- the reward for killing US soldiers ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 per head, depending on the victim's rank." These reports should not have surprised I-FOR. In late March, Western intelligence sources confirmed that they knew of about 10 small, secret terrorist training camps, mostly in central or north-central Bosnia. Five or seven of these camps, all in central Bosnia, are clandestine military camps used for the training and preparations of mujahedin for strikes against I-FOR. These camps belong to AID, but are run by Iranian VEVAK officers, some with Bosnian citizenship, and others with Iranian diplomatic papers accredited to the Sarajevo Embassy. In mid-April, Islamist terrorists established forward bases for operations across the Bosnian Serb lines. Most important are the facilities of the "G" force near Kalesija, in eastern Bosnia, for operations against the main supply lines from Serbia, and in Tesanj, in central Bosnia, for operations in the strategically crucial Doboj area.

Meanwhile, starting in mid-March 1996, Sarajevo's official media continued to highlight not only the seeming fallacy in the reports of a presence of foreign Mujahedin and Iranians in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but increasingly attribute such reports to anti-Muslim conspiracies instigated by the US. Ljiljan specifically ridiculed the US "fears" of the alleged presence of Kevin Holt in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

By late March, Zija Dizdarevic, a pro-Government commentator in Sarajevo, criticized the US pressure on Sarajevo to severe its links with Iran as a precondition to massive US aid. He opined that if compelled to chose between Tehran and Washington, the Izetbegovic administration will go with the former. Washington does not care a bout the welfare of a Muslim Bosnia and its objection to Sarajevo's close ties with Tehran are based on anti-Islamic policies. "All in all, to the United States, Iran is a dangerous ideological opponent that endangers its global interests and even threatens terrorist actions in the United States." In contrast, Iran has an unblemished track record of comprehensive, all-out support for Bosnia-Herzegovina during its hardest times. "During the aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran was our most persistent and reliable ally. The Iranians not only helped us with arm s, but with political action as well. They mediated in improving relations between Zagreb and Sarajevo, and in establishing indirect contacts with Belgrade." So, Dizdarevic concludes, Izetbegovic's Sarajevo must remain fastly loyal to its proven allies rather than fall victim to Washington's manipulations.

It did not take long for pro-Sarajevo observers to anticipate growing pressures to amend the I-FOR mandate into being a distinctly pro-Bosnian Muslim force. A failure by NATO to comply with Sarajevo's wishes might result in a crisis. For example, in early April, Djuro Kozar, a Slovene commentator, warned that 'T-FOR does not need much provocation to become unpleasant in implementing its mandate." The West is abusing the "Mujahedin excuse" to the point of making I-FOR's presence counter-productive, especially as the Serb military threat is waning. In view of the concurrent rise in the Bosnian Muslim military might, Kozar recommended that "Sarajevo should initiate corrections to I-FOR's mandate and should demand a decrease of its current number of arms and manpower. The status quo should not be allowed to go on for too long."

17. Iran's Hand

The dynamics between Sarajevo, Tehran, and the Islamist elite has, as always, continued to dominate Bosnian Muslim decisionmaking, including the overall approach to the implementation of international commitments such as the Dayton-Paris Accords. Izetbegovic's Sarajevo has left no doubt about its priorities. In the Spring of 1996, as was the case in the Fall of 1995 at the height of the diplomatic process leading to Dayton, Sarajevo clearly expressed the centrality of its relations with Tehran. Tehran has once again demonstrated its willingness to undertake major steps in order to bolster its Islamist allies in Sarajevo. Sarajevo has, since early March 1996, increasingly demonstrated its tilt toward Iran and the Muslim World despite growing US and European pressure. Although Bosnia-Herzegovina was reluctant to confront the US, given its massive all-out support, there emerged a clear statement of polity in Sarajevo: Izetbegovic's Bosnia-Herzegovina is unwilling to, and incapable of, breaking its close relations with Iran and the Islamists. On the contrary, Sarajevo has since increasingly stressed its commitment to further improving and expanding these relations.

This political process began in a demonstrative act. In early March, Bosnian Prime Minister Dr Hasan Muratovic traveled to Tehran at the head of a high-level delegation. Arriving in Tehran, Muratovic stressed that it was not by accident that his first official foreign visit as Prime Minister was to Iran. He stated that Bosnia-Herzegovina "will never disturb its ties with Iran" despite the mounting "certain foreign pressures" on Sarajevo to disrupt these relations. Muratovic highlighted Iran's crucial support for Bosnia "all along the decisive stages of the war" when the West was watching Muslims die.

Speaking to Iranian media, Muratovic elaborated on these themes, emphasizing the growth potential of the bilateral relations. "Relations between Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Islamic Republic of Iran should be revamped on the basis of new conditions that have emerged and should conform to the peace situation in the country."

He also emphasized the importance of the Iranian support to the survival of Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The Islamic Republic is a friendly country that has done a lot to help our nation survive." Muratovic expressed little hope that the implementation of the Dayton-Paris Accords will resolve the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He defined the Accords as "an unjust plan but better than war" that serves to cease hostilities. However, it will take a strong international effort "in a coordinated manner" to ensure that "durable peace might be achieved."

Officially, the objective of Muratovic's visit to Tehran was "further expanding bilateral ties and also using Iran's experience in post-war reconstruction projects." Indeed, the overt part of the visit stressed humanitarian and economic issues and the unique role Iran had played in saving Islamic Bosnia at its hour of need. Muratovic said in Tehran that the role of Iran's humanitarian assistance to Bosnia-Herzegovina in different sensitive stages of war in his country "have proved to be vital and decisive". In all his public statements, Muratovic referred to the effective assistance of Iran during the war. He repeatedly stated that "when no other countries were willing to help Bosnia, the Islamic Republic of Iran granted its invaluable assistance to Bosnia".

However, there was a more important clandestine aspect to the visit: coordinating the next phase in the strategic cooperation in view of the presence of I-FOR and the growing pressure from the US and the West on Sarajevo to break relations with Tehran. There was no doubt that the Bosnian-Iranian alliance would only grow stronger. Muratovic was in Tehran to discuss the ways to achieve it at the least possible price for Sarajevo. Significantly, Tehran stresses that the most important and substantive meetings of Hasan Muratovic in Tehran were with Fist Vice-President Hasan Habibi at the Sa'dabad Palace in Tehran. Habibi is responsible for Iran's strategic designs and polity, from the consolidation of the Islamic bloc and Trans-Asian Axis, to the support of various Islamist terrorist organizations and subversive groups.

The clandestine, and most important, part of Muratovic's visit to Tehran was devoted to formulating and coordinating joint activities for the anticipated resumption of violence in Bosnia, from Islamist terrorism against I-FOR to general fighting against both Serbs and Croats. Sarajevo was assured of all-out Iranian-led Islamist support in the forthcoming crisis. Mohammad Javad Asayesh Zarchi, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Zagreb, alluded to this agreement discussing the emerging trends in Iranian-Bosnian relations. Tehran was most worried about the lingering ramifications of the Dayton-process. "The Bosniaks are the real losers. They have lost more than the others." Consequently, Ambassador Zarchi warned, not only can the present situation go on no longer, but a backlash eruption is most likely. "I hope it will not cause a new war, but wars break out in Europe much more frequently than elsewhere in the world," Zarchi reflected.

Iranian analysis of Muratovic's visit emphasized the political importance of the visit and the long term potential of the bilateral relation despite current adverse circumstances. "The fact that the first foreign visit by Muratovic soon after he assumed office was to the Islamic Republic of Iran, indicates Tehran's strategic importance in bilateral and multilateral relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina." The objective of Muratovic's visit, Tehran explained, was "to strengthen bilateral relations" and to discuss with Iranian officials the "ways and means of cooperation for the reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina."

The Iranian Government now has no doubt that Sarajevo will resist all pressures from US/NATO/I-FOR to harm its close relations with Tehran. A confident Tehran reminded that it was "no secret for any of the [NATO/I-FOR] countries how the Islamic Republic of Iran provided unstinting assistance to Sarajevo in the most difficult circumstances which boosted the resistance of the legitimate Bosnian government against the Serb dissidents.... Tehran was even accused of violating the arms embargo which -- regardless of the veracity or otherwise of the charge -- indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran did everything it could to save the lives of Bosnian Muslims." Sarajevo owes a lot to Tehran and is fully aware of this historic debt.

Tehran has no doubt that Sarajevo is willing to repay. "Now that the war has ended in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Bosnian nation has not forgotten its true friends. All the officials of the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina admit to the decisive role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the historic resistance of this country against the Serb aggressors and they will never succumb to the pressure of some foreign countries and turn their backs on their friends." Tehran considered Muratovic's visit to Iran to be proof that Sarajevo was determined to exercise "its own independent will as to its future. Despite the presence of 60,000 NATO soldiers on Bosnian soil and the strategic-political pressure they exercise on Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina continues to "consider itself part of the vast corpus of the Islamic World" and not a puppet of the US. Indeed, "the Bosnian government is [so] eager to benefit from the assistance and experiences of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the country's reconstruction," as to risk the adverse ramifications of Muratovic's visit to its relations with the US and the West.

Sarajevo's own analysis of, and commentary on, Muratovic's visit to Iran was in agreement with Tehran's reading. Sarajevo has no doubt that the Muratovic visit to Iran was like "a jab in the eye of the West". One Bosnian commentator rejoiced: "The hair on the heads of senior US State Department officials stood on end at the sight of the picture of Muratovic's cordial meeting with Iranian President [Hashemi-] Rafsanjani." Sarajevo had known from the very beginning that the visit would have an adverse impact on its relations with the US-led West. However, the West, and especially the US, had already failed Bosnia-Herzegovina at its hour of need. Even after Sarajevo had acquiesced to the negative Dayton-Paris Accords, neither financial aid nor military support had been arriving. Instead, Sarajevo has been experiencing only pressure from the US for more compromises in order to keep the Dayton-Paris process alive when it was clear that it had no chance. In a sharp contrast, Sarajevo stresses, Iran and the Muslim world have unfailingly demonstrated genuine commitment and support to the Bosnian Muslim cause.

Nevertheless, Sarajevo is fully aware of the gravity of the crisis it faces and the hard choices to be made. Sarajevo stressed that the US was the root of the problem. "Recently, there has been great pressure from Washington on Bosnia to reduce its links with Iran. There are threats, too; for instance, that otherwise the Federation Army will be denied help. Can Bosnia give up Iran?" Sarajevo's answer is a resounding "No".

In the first half of March 1996, Sarajevo examined very closely the conflict of interests between the US and Iran, and its implications for Bosnia-Herzegovina. From the very beginning, there was no question about Sarajevo's debt to Tehran. Sarajevo readily acknowledged that "out of the Islamic countries the worst US enemy, Iran, supported Bosnia the most. Bosnia came into a situation in which it very much depended on friends who cannot stand one another." In March, Bosnian Muslim officials realized that in view of the overall course of US-Iranian relations, their co-existence in Bosnia cannot last for long. In other words, either the US/West or Iran/Islam has to leave the Balkans.

Sarajevo still stresses that the fact that Washington has already decided that Iran should go is far from being a foregone conclusion, definitely not in Sarajevo. Bosnian Muslim officials described their interpretation of the US position in Bosnia-Herzegovina: "The United States is the measure for everything; Iran is a synonym for Islamic fanaticism and international terrorism. The United States is afraid that a greater influence by Tehran in Bosnia could be a springboard for greater Iranian influence among the growing number of European Muslims. The United States is fighting against that problem, forgetting Bosnian counter-arguments." Given these circumstances, the Bosnian Muslim officials conclude, Sarajevo need not pay the price for the US fears and self-interests.

On closer examination, Sarajevo has become increasingly critical of the extent and importance of the US influence in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Without any consideration to Sarajevo's own desires, the US's "interests are 'subtly' imposed in the region". Off the record, Bosnian Muslim officials were extremely critical of the US accusations concerning Iranian "instructors" and mujahedin remaining in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They stressed that these "unfounded allegations" were but flimsy excuses for Washington to impose "the global American interest, which aspires to the complete negation of any influence by Iran in this region. Th is interest could be seen as a part of the State Department efforts to combat terrorism in the Middle East, for which the United States always accuses the Iranian authorities." In a rare interview, Alispahic dismissed US concerns of Iranian presence and influence as "very silly". Sarajevo should not, and will not, be part of these anti-Islamic designs of Washington, the Bosnian Muslim officials emphasized.

In contrast, official Sarajevo could only hail the closeness of, and benefits from, its relations with Tehran. Bosnia-Herzegovina expressed great satisfaction with the ongoing bilateral relations with Iran, including the flow of economic aid and cooperation. Sarajevo is committed to further development and expansion of these relations, as expressed in the early March visit to Tehran by Prime Minister Muratovic.

By mid-March 1996 the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was deteriorating from both the political and strategic points of view. Grim assessments by US intelligence and area experts were coming out as leaks to The New York Times. The mere publication of these assessments convinced the leadership in Sarajevo that these leaks reflected the real opinion of the Clinton White House, and that the Bosnian Muslims were on their own.

What concerned Sarajevo most was that the US intelligence assessment was based on highly accurate information and could not be faulted for biases. In late March 1996, the Pentagon's intelligence assessment warned that Bosnia-Herzegovina was fragmenting and was likely to return to fighting the moment I-FOR withdrew, unless massive economic and political aid was to pour in. The Pentagon warned that only enormous international aid programs at huge cost and achieving such miracles as the swift rebuilding of the Bosnian economy and revitalizing the political institutions, might forstall and perhaps even reverse the country's rapid slide into fragmentation and resumption of fratricidal fighting.

The US experts considered the prospects for a viable unified Bosnia-Herzegovina as "dim" unless it remained under the guns of I-FOR or a comparable follow-up US-dominated "international" force. The key to the situation was the US experts' recognition that the strategic objectives of the three groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina "have not fundamentally changed" since the very beginning of the war. In the absence of any tangible outcome from Dayton-Paris, the leaderships and population alike would return to the battlefield invigorated, determined to realize their respective manifest destinies by force of arms. The US intelligence experts concluded that it was likely that the myriad of "fragile alliances" imposed by the peace accord would soon collapse. Significantly, the US intelligence analysts were most worried about the prospects of a violent eruption between the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, the members of the "federation." They noted that the Bosnian Croats were adamant on "de facto integration" with Croatia, and were ready to fight Sarajevo to attain this goal.

This grim assessment was shared by the Bosnian Muslim elite in Sarajevo. Former Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic was the only one brave enough to discuss this subject openly.

In mid-March 1996, Silajdzic warned the Arab world that Bosnia was in danger. He claimed that even the Washington-imposed "federation", let alone the Bosnia-Herzegovina mandated by Dayton, was not being implemented. "In fact, so far, the Washington agreement has not seen the light. In Bosnia we have two blocs, one Croatian defended by the Croatian militias, and the other Muslim, protected by the Bosnian Army. If the situation remains thus, it will mean the beginning of the end for Bosnia and the Islamic presence here." For Silajdzic, Croatia is the most significant threat to Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He criticized harshly Izetbegovic and his close aides for making too many concessions to the Croatians who "are doing what they like in Bosnia, as if it was the Croats who fought for us and defended us, when in fact they are the ones who destroyed our country, killed our people, and left not a single mosque standing in their areas. We now refer to these people as political partners." Silajdzic stated repeatedly that "the Dayton agreement is collapsing" and that "Bosnia-Herzegovina is being partitioned".

Little wonder, therefore, that by late March, Sarajevo was openly expressing its exasperation with Washington's attitude toward Bosnian-US relations. Despite Sarajevo's repeated and consistent effort to reach an understanding with Washington, the US kept coming up with new demands. "There are certainly limits up to which cooperativeness can be discussed in a positive sense, but there is a level, however, at which cooperativeness turns into defeatism," explained a Sarajevo insider. The firing of Alispahic, and particularly the stated reason for it -- Bosnia's close relations with Tehran -- exceed Sarajevo's ability to cooperate with the US.

Moreover, the Sarajevo insider explains, Bosnia-Herzegovina has nothing to show for its acquiescence to "cooperation" on Washington's terms. As far as Washington is concerned, "when the implementation of the peace agreement is seriously endangered, it seems that the implementation process too should be healed by yielding, or more precisely by the defeatism of the Bosnian leadership". Instead of generating all out Western assistance for the recapturing of the entire territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo is increasingly pressured to reconcile with Croats and Serbs, thus losing the Islamic character of the state. Washington's demands for the "freezing of all serious contacts with Iran" is only one component in "the list of major concessions" demanded from Sarajevo in the name of Dayton. And the Sarajevo insider sees only grim prospects ahead. Acquiescing to Washington's latest demand "would probably not round it off, however, since if foreign pressure continuously bears fruit, as is the case with Sarajevo, it can only become bigger. Usually, either culprits or losers of a war are forced to make concessions and bow their heads after the war. Bosnia thinks that it has neither caused nor lost the war. The United States and the Europeans obviously do not share that opinion, at least regarding one of these two aspects."

By now, late March 1996, Sarajevo's decision was becoming clear even if its public posture remained vague. Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb intelligence analysis of Sarajevo's options in dealing with the US and Iran stressed that Sarajevo has to make a choice: go either with the US or Iran. And while Sarajevo's uppermost leadership was reluctant to reach a formal and final decision, Sarajevo's actions were already speaking volumes. Rhetoric notwithstanding, the intelligence analysts concluded, Sarajevo has been "increasingly strengthening its ties with Iran, both secretly and publicly, as well as with other militant Islamic countries. These ties actually mean the creation of an Islamic fundamentalist state or center of Islamic terrorism in the south of Europe."

Indeed, Sarajevo was also increasingly highlighting that the hour of reckoning has arrived. Bosnian officials have sharpened their criticism of the US demands from Sarajevo. Special attention was paid to unjustified US interference in the internal affairs of Bosnia. Sarajevo complains that the US "has stamped Dzemal Merdan, the head of the Department for Military Education of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Army General Staff; Bakir Alispahic, the head of the Agency for Research and Documentation; Omer Behmen, the Ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina to Iran; and Hasan Cengic, the Deputy Defense Minister, as 'unsuitable Bosniaks' because of their links with Iran." There is no way that Sarajevo can purge these and many other senior officials with similar opinions from the upper most echelons of the Bosnia-Herzegovina leadership. The real issue, Sarajevo insiders concede, is not Izetbegovic's fears of the adverse ramifications of such a widespread purge, but that these individuals represent the genuine hard-core of the SDA, his own party and power-base.

In late March, the main problem facing Sarajevo was not choosing between the US and Iran -- for the latter has been chosen without any question -- but compelling Izetbegovic to make the decision final and public. Sarajevo insiders and officials began to demand that the US requirement of Sarajevo "that Bosnia should decide between the United States of America and Iran" be answered.

The insiders launched bitter criticism of Sarajevo's public policies in this regard. "Instead of making public its connections with Iran;

instead of documenting and defending them, the Bosnian government tacitly participates in stamping itself and its citizens as criminals." Sarajevo must confront head on Washington's "latest accusations" concerning the dispatch of security and military personnel "to Iran for intensive paramilitary and intelligence education. There is, again, no response from Sarajevo that would defend the dignity of its citizens who traveled to Iran during the war." The Sarajevo insiders demand that SDA officials respond immediately to these accusations because "the US criticism is aimed at their own behavior" and challenges the very basic rights of Sarajevo to choose and determine its own allies and benefactors.

It was impossible for Izetbegovic not to respond to the increasingly open challenge from the innermost circles of his own power base. The repeated secret and internal assurances given to senior officials and insiders that Sarajevo had already determined that its future lay with the Iran-led Islamic bloc were no longer sufficient. Senior officials immersed in the clandestine expansion of cooperation with Iran sought recognition and especially the cessation of their abuse by the US and the Sarajevo media reporting the latest in US-Bosnian relations.

Therefore, in late March, Izetbegovic chose to respond publicly by giving an interview to Ljiljan, his own mouthpiece. It was left for the interviewer, Dzemaludin Latic, to bring up and state the real policy of Sarajevo concerning the crisis with the US. Facing Izetbegovic, Latic stated that "after having found one or two Iranian nationals near Fojnica, the Americans have begun dictating conditions and which staff is to be taken, which infringes upon the sovereignty of our state. It is no longer a secret that they want to overthrow the Izetbegovic administration. Its possible fault because of ties with the Islamic world, and particularly with Iran, during the aggression, when no-one else wanted to give a single bullet to the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, is said to be the main reason."

Izetbegovic snapped back with what appeared to be a prepared response. Phrasing his answer as a question, he addressed Latic: "Let me ask you something: Will you, or will all of us be happier if I confirm the hidden implication in your question that the United States is our enemy?" Izetbegovic then added that the US was not an enemy, and explained why he was making this statement. He implied that the presence of I-FOR on Bosnian soil was a major reason for that statement. "Iran proved itself as our genuine friend during the war, but Iran is far away, whereas our enemies are quite near, we can almost touch each other." Simply put, Sarajevo needs the US-led I-FOR to crush the Serbs and Croats before it can regain control over the entire territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Moreover, Izetbegovic emphasized that considering the US as a friend must not come at the expense of Iran. "Speaking of allies, my full answer reads: We must have the United States and the Islamic world by our side, and to the greatest possible extent the rest of the world as well," he concluded.

As anticipated by both Izetbegovic and the Sarajevo elite, the Ljiljan interview served as the catalyst for further public clarifications of Sarajevo's policies. An early April commentary on the interview in Ljiljan relied heavily on the above sections of Izetbegovic's answers concerning Iran. The Ljiljan commentator stated explicitly what Izetbegovic could only allude to. "Analysis of this remark, as well as some of President Izetbegovic's last remarks, points to the conclusion that there has been a change in his political tactics. This change has been forced by a gloomy view of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the situation in the ruling party, and new pressures from the United States, which believes that Izetbegovic has been enjoying its indulgence for a long time." Since there was no way for Izetbegovic's Sarajevo to make a drastic change in its core policies and objectives to meet the conditions set forth by the Dayton-Paris Accords (which Izetbegovic himself signed), there was no escape from a crisis and confrontation with the US.

Tehran had no doubt about Sarajevo's real policies and commitments. In early April, Tehran completed a major analysis of the economic and political trends in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Special attention was paid to examining the Islam versus the West posturing. Tehran was satisfied with Sarajevo's progress. "Some political analysts believe that although it seems that the Sarajevo government has bowed to the pressure of the West, it emphasizes the maintenance of the religious aspect of the government." Tehran noted that "the Western countries are not satisfied about the Islamic countries giving money and capital to the Bosnian Government". Fearing the rise of Islam, "under no condition will the West allow the Islamic countries to expand their role in Bosnia via military and economic channels. Therefore the West, especially the United States, intend[s] to take control of the circulation of the investment of capital in Bosnia." However, in view of the economic difficulties throughout the West, it is impossible for the US and its allies to replace the investments from the Muslim world. Hence, Tehran concluded, the US was incapable of confronting Iran even in fields where the US is considered to have undisputed supremacy.

Iran's confidence was confirmed in the early April 1996 OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) summit in Sarajevo on the Islamic role in the reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina. At the insistence of Iran, the OIC specifically declared "the Islamic countries' readiness to render military assistance to Bosnia to beef up its defense capabilities" irrespective of the constraints of the Dayton-Paris Accords.

Using the summit as an excuse, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati made a major visit to Sarajevo, meeting Izetbegovic, Ganic and Muratovic to deal with bilateral issues. Moreover, Velayati inaugurated two additional Iranian institutions in Sarajevo "the reconstruction headquarters and the culture house of the Islamic Republic". Both institutions are usually connected with the Iranian support for Islamicization and export of the Islamic Revolution. They serve as venues for the distribution of Iranian funds for all "causes" and "projects" as well as for the presence of Tehran trained and sponsored Islamist education, agitation, and recruitment personnel. The entire Bosnian leadership showed up for the inauguration ceremonies of these two institutions commonly associated with Iranian intelligence and terrorism-sponsorship activities: their actions speaking more than words.

According to Iranian sources, Velayati's most important discussions in Sarajevo were with Bosnian Vice-President Ejup Ganic. They examined closely the emerging trends in Tehran-Sarajevo ties and were in full agreement on meeting present and emerging challenges. According to Iranian officials: "Ganic referred to Iran as the greatest supporter of the government and nation of Bosnia during the war years as well as the economic reconstruction era." Despite the growing pressure from the US, Ganic "called for further expansion of ties in political, economic and cultural fields under the present conditions in the Balkans". Velayati concurred that "the friendly ties between the two countries" must be further expanded and strengthened and promised Tehran's all-out support.

The Iranian commentary and analysis of the visit stressed that Velayati discussed "the latest developments in Bosnia and the Balkans, as well as Tehran-Sarajevo ties." Official Tehran pointed out that "Izetbegovic praised Iran's all-out assistance and support during the Bosnian war and Tehran's unstinting efforts in the international arena to restore the legitimate rights of the Bosnian people ... He asked that these efforts be continued now that Bosnia is undergoing reconstruction." In his response, Velayati stated that the relations between Iran and Bosnia are "deep and unbreakable, emphasizing that cooperation should be bolstered in all fields". Returning to Tehran, Velayati declared: "Tehran-Sarajevo ties are expanding despite the propaganda of enemies of Islam." Sarajevo and Tehran agreed that "Iran will continue its support for the government and nation of Bosnia during the reconstruction era as it did at the time of war".

Tehran is very satisfied with the outcome of Velayati's visit to Sarajevo. The close on-site examination of the moods and resolve of Sarajevo's most senior leaders and officials reaffirmed Tehran's conviction that the consolidation of an Islamic Government in Bosnia-Herzegovina was on track. Tehran has to concentrate on consolidating "Iran's growing ties with Bosnia-Herzegovina" in the face of "the hopeless efforts by [the] White House to isolate Iran".

Tehran's reassured self-confidence does not mean that Tehran is not aware of the magnitude of the crisis with the US over the future of Bosnia. The Iranian analysis of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the aftermath of the OIC summit noted the direct involvement of the White House in Bosnian-Iranian relations. "White House Spokesman Mike McCurry, claiming Iran ignores the interests of the Bosnian people and Iran's objective is to promote belligerence in Europe, called for relations between the Bosnian government and Iran to be severed." However, Tehran concluded that the position of the White House had more to do with the overall US-Iranian confrontation than with Washington's interest in the well-being of the people of Bosnia. "The roots of the statements made by the White House spokesman concerning Iran's intentions in Bosnia must be sought in America's hopeless hostility towards the Islamic Republic of Iran which has now turned into a tedious psychological war, which once in a while results in such posturing."

Tehran argued that the West was incapable of reversing the long-term ties built between Bosnia and Iran. In contrast with the US and the West, "the Iranian nation and government have always stood side by side the Bosnian nation and government". But the key to Tehran's confidence was in Velayati's impressions of the situation at the inner circles in Sarajevo: the resolve of Izetbegovic and his confidantes to establish an Islamic state in Bosnia-Herzegovina regardless of the position of the US or the West. Given the ability to make its choice without overwhelming pressure from Washington, Sarajevo would choose Tehran. "It must not be forgotten that Bosnia is a free and independent state and no power has the right to intervene in that country's internal affairs. Only the Bosnian Government and nation have the right to decide the formulation of their foreign relations, choice of friends, and identification of their foes."

Tehran moved to compel official Sarajevo to amend its public policy to the Iranian line. In mid-April 1996, Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian, the Iranian Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, gave a lengthy interview to reporter Senad Pecanin. Taherian was very optimistic about the future of Iranian-Bosnian relations. "Over the last hard years, we have considered it to be our honor to be with this people. We have been witnesses of a heavy aggression committed against this nation. We have always had very good relations with the officials of this country and with the people of this country. And we have always been welcomed warmly. There are possibilities of the realization of good relations at the highest level between the two countries. On the occasion of the visit of the Bosnia-Herzegovina prime minister to our country, one meeting was held with the president of our republic, and he confirmed once again that we were ready to stay with this people. In one word, so far, we have had very good relations, and God willing, it will be so in the future, too."

At the same time, Taherian was fully aware of the US pressure on Sarajevo to break relations with Tehran. Iran has resolved to ensure that its position in Bosnia-Herzegovina remains secure. Taherian warned that "the United States will make a mistake if it plans to make such a program" to compel Sarajevo to break its relations with Tehran. Moreover, Tehran has no doubt that Sarajevo is committed to the further strengthening of their bilateral relations. Taherian explained that "Mr. Muratovic's visit to Tehran, God willing, [already] extends the things that were started in the past into serious cooperation."

Tehran was now also interested in Sarajevo's role and participation in the spread of the Islamist trend -- that is, sponsorship of Islamist terrorism and subversion -- throughout the world, and especially Europe. The growing importance of this aspect of their cooperation, which is greatly expedited by the presence of the mujahedin infrastructure in Bosnia-Herzegovina, was raised in a late April meeting between Taherian and Izetbegovic. In the meeting, Taherian submitted a message from the Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. Hashemi-Rafsanjani's letter expressed Tehran's "hope that with the cooperation of all Islamic governments, the unity among Muslims throughout the globe will be further consolidated." With Hashemi-Rafsanjani's message in mind, Taherian and Izetbegovic discussed "the latest international and regional developments", delving on their respective roles in furthering their common objectives. Izetbegovic noted the enduring US pressure and the importance of having I-FOR destroy the enemies of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In view of Sarajevo's continued reluctance to initiate an open confrontation with the US, Tehran re-examined the US posture and strategy in the Balkans. The Iranian analysis of the situation in the Balkans, and Iran's relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina, identifies a profound difference between real interests and transient political posturing. Tehran correctly identifies the sudden rise in the public profile of the question of Bosnian-Iranian relations as an expression of US elections policy, and therefore anticipates that the issue will die down. "During the past few weeks the issue of Bosnia and Iran's role in that republic has turned into a major pretext to alter political equations in America's inner politics, especially when the Republicans are pressuring the Clinton Administration for having given a green light to Iran during the Bosnian war to dispatch arms to Bosnia-Herzegovina." Tehran anticipates near-term problems because of the extent of US interference with the internal politics of Sarajevo. "Therefore, establishment of security or maintaining peace in the strife-torn areas, including Bosnia, only take[s] place in line with special interests and internal political considerations within the country and are hence unstable." Therefore, it is imperative for both Sarajevo and Tehran to prepare for the inevitable and imminent crisis which will erupt with the collapse of the Dayton-Paris Accords.

Tehran was not alone in anticipating the imminent collapse of the Dayton-Paris Accords. In late April, Silajdzic warned anew of an imminent breakup of Bosnia-Herzegovina. "Bosnia is in greater danger today than it was six months ago when the war was still going on," Haris Silajdzic believes. "Under the surface of apparent peace the country is breaking up further," he explained. "The principle of separating ethnic groups from each other is well on the way to being implemented. The outcome of such a development will be the division of Bosnia." Silajdzic considers the further rise of Islamic militancy and "fundamentalism" a grave danger to the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and noted that, fueled by the plight of the Bosniaks, Islamism was on the rise. "I am surprised that Islamic fundamentalism has not grown stronger, as a reaction against the persecution suffered by my Muslim ethnic group," he opined.

Croatian insiders, expressing the opinion of senior officials in Zagreb, acknowledged in mid-April 1996 that Zagreb had already concluded that a crisis with Sarajevo was inevitable because "Bosnian Muslim leaders hate Croats." Zagreb is convinced that both Alija Izetbegovic and Haris Silajdzic have the same strategic objective:

"They want to achieve a unitary, civic Bosnia-Herzegovina in which the Bosnian Muslims will always outvote the other two constitutional nations on matters regarding their basic rights."

The Croat insiders pointed to recent development in Sarajevo as indications of the evolution there. They noted the increase in the number of articles in the press about "Tudjman's Fascist-Nazi regime" and other direct attacks against Croats and Croatia. Sarajevo, both the official media and the insiders' rumor mill, was full of conspiracy theories about an alliance between Belgrade and Zagreb to partition Bosnia-Herzegovina once I-FOR withdrew. Sarajevo insiders' were now repeating Tehran's theme about a global conspiracy aimed at preventing the rise of a Muslim State in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and about I-FOR remaining in Bosnia-Herzegovina forever as a Christian occupying force. Taken together, the Croat insiders explain, these media themes serve "to create in the Bosnian Muslims a feeling of being threatened by every other party" and thus condition them for the resumption of conflict.

Having conducted numerous negotiations and other dealings with Izetbegovic's administration, Zagreb has no doubt that "the Bosnian Muslim leadership hates the Croats". Izetbegovic's Sarajevo, Zagreb has concluded, remains determined to achieve a Muslim-dominated unified Bosnia-Herzegovina. "When we consider all that," the Croatian insiders concluded, "it is clear that the Bosnian Muslim leadership is not ready to accept the situation created by the Dayton Agreement -- the former Bosnia-Herzegovina is no more and never will be again, the world does not want a Muslim state in the heart of Europe, and their dreams of a unitary Bosnia-Herzegovina dominated by only one nation have been shattered."

Sarajevo's dread of a US-led conspiracy against a Muslim Bosnia were heightened in mid-May 1996 when yet another US intelligence document was leaked to The New York Times. This time, it was a draft of an intelligence report -- a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) -- which was then being circulated in Washington. This NIE concluded that chances were poor that a multi-ethnic, unified state called Bosnia would hold together as stipulated by the Dayton-Paris Accords. As published, the NIE was in stark contradiction with the declared position of the Clinton Administration.

Furthermore, the US intelligence analysts stated that the continued survival in power of the two Bosnian Serb leaders -- Pres. Karadzic (who has subsequently relinquished power) and Gen. Mladic -- was not the primary reason for the growing crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The primary reason for their grim assessment was the entrenchment of ethnic self-identity and the adamant refusal of all three groups to relinquish their respective self-identity in favor of a unitary Muslim-dominated state. This was a strong grassroots commitment which was growing irrespective of documents signed by leaders or economic incentives.

Within that context, the US intelligence experts identified the Muslim-Croat "federation" as the greatest impediment to reaching stability. The intelligence experts now conclude that this US imposed "federation", originally created to channel aid to the Bosnian Muslims, "remains largely a figment of the American imagination".

Tehran's realization of the dominance of the US election year considerations on the formulation of US policy and posture in Bosnia-Herzegovina was immediately transformed into a policy initiative. Tehran had resolved in late April to widen the gap between the US and Western Europe over economic cooperation with Iran and especially access to oil and technology transfer. Tehran concluded that given growing tensions between Europe and the US over international economic issues, Europe would be adamant in its reluctance to support the implementation of Washington's policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina. With Europe taking a neutral position, Tehran was confident in the Islamists' ability to "defeat" the US through the use of terrorism and infliction of casualties.

In a late April 1996 analysis of the evolving situation in Western Europe, Iranian economic experts were hopeful about the political and economic relations. They identified the core problem which Iran had with the West to be US and Israeli pressure, and observed that this was already a lost cause. "Although the United States and the Zionist regime have carried out extensive efforts in recent months to persuade Europe to break off ties and talks with Iran, and although they have made unfounded allegations against Islamic Iran in order to justify their request, ... none of the foreign ministers of the 15 member countries of the European Union wished to break off talks with Iran."

In contrast, Tehran was offering an olive branch and a myriad of economic inducements. Iran was hopeful that Western Europe would be able to overcome US pressure. "Islamic Iran considers the expansion of ties with Europe, with full respect for the interests of both sides, to be one of its foreign policy programs and it believes that Europe must regulate its relations with Tehran through the adoption of independent policies and free from foreign pressures. Good relations between Iran and Europe are, undoubtedly, to the advantage of both sides." Tehran is confident that further dialogue between the EU and Iran will be "a positive step towards removing misunderstandings, gaining the greatest possible knowledge about the other side's stances and, also, thwarting the efforts of the opponents of 'the consolidation of ties between Europe and Iran' to harm these relations."

The crucial importance of this initiative was clarified in mid-May, when Hashemi-Rafsanjani personally assumed the leadership of Iran's "charm offensive" in Europe. He acknowledged that Iran had launched an effort to court the EU to improve economic relations and prevent Europe from joining the US in taking on Iran. Hashemi-Rafsanjani stated he was "working towards improving relations with the European Union in spite of tensions raised by Middle East instability". Tehran was reassured by the further widening gap between Europe and the US. Economic polarization between Europe and the US was bound to have strategic ramifications, thus contributing to European acquiescence to the Iranian presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the increasingly Islamist character of the Izetbegovic administration. In the meantime, Tehran would be using its economic appeal to "buy" Europe's reluctance to support the US in imposing the Dayton-Paris Accords on Sarajevo.

Meanwhile, Tehran continued to consolidate its hold over the Bosnia-Herzegovina security system in anticipation of the resumption of fighting and anti-Western terrorism. In late May 1996, a defiant Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian, the Iranian Ambassador to Sarajevo, stressed Tehran's commitment and resolve to increase its involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to further the cause of Islam. "We have come to train the Bosnians to defend their land. The international community wants such training to stop, so that Bosnian guns will not be directed towards a community that looked on during some of the ugliest genocide in the history of Europe, " Taherian said. "We are proud that we did our duty to help the Bosnian population in its most difficult times. The United States or any other country has no right to stop us sending arms to the Bosnian army." This statement should be considered a veiled threat to the US and its West European allies not to interfere with the Iranian activities in and out of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and particularly Iran's security-related presence.

Part II -- Regional Military Build-Up And Dynamics >>


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