Bosnian prison inmate says he was Al-Qa'idah member, offers to testify
BBC Monitoring - July 19, 2004

Report by Esad Hecimovic: "'I was an Al-Qa'idah officer'" by Bosnian newspaper Dani on 16 July

"I was an officer of the counterattack infantry in the Al-Qa'idah terrorist organization," said Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad, a citizen of Bahrain who is serving a 12-year, 10-month sentence for terrorism and robbery in the Zenica Penal and Correctional Facility. Hamad confirmed to Dani journalists that he was the author of a letter sent to Bosnia-Hercegovina B-H state authorities and to foreign institutions in which testimony about Al Qa'idah in B-H was offered.

"I have begun a struggle against my former boss, Usamah Bin-Ladin and Al-Qa'idah, of which I was a member. I have left that organization. That was not for the purpose of clemency, even though I have the right to write such a petition because I have already served almost two-thirds of my sentence. I have offered many institutions, both domestic and foreign, that programme of mine, based on my great knowledge, for the struggle against terrorism. I have engaged attorney Dusko Tomic to aid me in that. I am now awaiting an answer. I do not know if it will be positive or not. I have also begun to write a book in five parts about international terrorism and Al-Qa'idah. Thus far, I have completed the first and second parts," Hamad said, announcing that this book would reveal many secrets about Al-Qa'idah based on his experience in Bahrain, Afghanistan and Bosnia.

Without the presence of his attorney, Dusko Tomic, Hamad did not want to answer questions about when and where he had joined Al-Qa'idah or when and where he had taken an oath of membership in this terrorist organization. Hamad did not grant permission to be photographed during his trail or now in prison.

Attorney was also shocked

Attorney Dusko Tomic was shocked when he received Hamad's first letter from prison a month ago. He visited the prison administration and then spoke with the convict.

"I am representing Hamad in the clemency process. Hamad sought clemency even earlier, when Ejup Ganic was president of the Federation, but his request was not granted. Now, a request has been sent to the Federation Presidency and President Niko Lozancic. At the same time, letters from Hamad have been sent to numerous addresses in B-H and the world. Hamad has sent two letters to the OHR Office of the High Representative alone. I have publicly asked Sfor Stabilization Force Commander Virgil Packett what he has done in the wake of Hamad's letter, because I know that he has surely received that letter. Packett said that his investigators would work on this case, and they have begun an investigation. We are also going to publish a book with his testimony together," Dusko Tomic said.

Until Hamad's complete testimony about Al-Qa'idah in B-H is finished, it is possible to hypothesize about what it will contain on the basis of the statements he gave earlier during his two trials conducted in Zenica. In the first case, Hamad was sentenced in 1998 to five years of imprisonment for the crime of "serious cases of armed robbery and banditry" and, in the second case, he was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment on 3 November 1999 in the only verdict to date for terrorism in B-H. Without clemency, Hamad would not be able to leave prison until 2010.

According to earlier testimony that was recorded in court documents, Hamad arrived in B-H back in 1992. At the time, he explained that he had decided to come "after he heard President Alija Izetbegovic on local television in Bahrain". Izetbegovic was on a visit to Bahrain at that time.

According to his claims, he was in various units and locations. During 1992 and the beginning of 1993, he fought in the al-Mujahedin detachment in Mehurici, then in the 17th Krajina Brigade, in the Gazija Brigade in Tuzla, in the Muderis Brigade in Konjic and in the 319th Brigade in Zepce, where he awaited demobilization. He was wounded twice, in the head and in the legs. He married in 1994 and continued to live in Zeleno Polje near Zepce.

Badzo in Cuba

After the signing of the Dayton accord, he spent about a year in Bahrain with his wife and child, and he later returned to B-H at the request of his spouse. Upon his return, he worked in the High Saudi Committee for Aid to B-H, where he became acquainted with Saber Lahmar, who had married his sister-in-law and who is today a detainee in the US investigative camp in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The two were sentenced in B-H for the armed robbery of a Croat couple in the vicinity of Travnik and a US military instructor in Zenica. By decision of then-Federation president Ejup Ganic, however, Lahmar was granted clemency on 6 January 2000 and paroled.

In his plea for clemency, Lahmar appealed the original sentence of five years and eight months of imprisonment, claiming that it was precisely Hamad's statements that showed that his role had been of minor significance. After emerging from prison, he continued to work in the High Saudi Committee and as a librarian in the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Centre in Sarajevo.

He was arrested once again, as the second on a list of people suspected of preparing an attack on the US Embassy in Sarajevo in October 2001. Lahmar is cited on the roster of prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay camp along with the other five Algerians who were deported to Cuba from the Sarajevo Central Prison on the night of 17-18 January 2002 .

Box All of Hamad's witnesses

In his earlier pleas for clemency, Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad called on numerous commanders of the B-H Army as witnesses to his contributions to the armed struggle during the war in B-H.

"Why don't you go the village of Bijelo Bucje near Travnik to ask the inhabitants who it was that gave them what they needed during the time of the greatest hunger and highest prices? Why don't you ask the armed forces that were there - such as the 312th Brigade, the 17th Krajina Brigade of then-Commander Cirkin, and the 37th Light Brigade of Commanders Vahid and Asim Dervisic - who it was who helped the army? The inhabitants of this village know me by the name Ebu Ubejda. Why don't you ask them who was most responsible for the liberation of seven villages in the direction of Novi Travnik? Why don't you ask the villagers of Karaula and Gradina near Jajce who it was that fought there? Who don't you ask Mehmed Alagic about the huge financial help that I and my group gave? Why don't you go to Kruscica near Vitez and ask the people about me? Why don't you ask Sakib Mahmuljin and Sead Rekic, who know me by the name Alija, who advanced on Ozren? Why don't you go to the Tuzla Gazija detachment, who also know me as Alija? Why don't you go to Konjic and ask Nezim Halilovic about me, how devoted I was to this country and authority? Why don't you ask the 7th Islamic about the help my group and I gave? Ask about me in Zeleno Polje, Zavidovici, or Maglaj! It never would have entered my mind that I was a terrorist," Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad wrote on 4 March 1998.

With the current claim that he was an Al-Qa'idah officer since his very arrival in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Hamad is directly connecting all these people, units, and places with the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world.

SOURCE: Dani, Sarajevo, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 16 Jul 04 p 18 to 20

Copyright 2004 British Broadcasting Corporation  
BBC Monitoring Europe - Political
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