Setting the Record Straight on Bosnia
Jihad Watch - March 2011

by Andy Wilcoxson

In a recent article published by the American Thinker, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi attacked Jihad Watch, and he attacked Serbian-American scholar Srdja Trifkovic’s “attempts to portray the Bosnian War as a case of Serbs being the victims of supposed jihadist aggression.” According to Al-Tamimi, “the Bosnian War overwhelmingly consisted of Serb aggression” with “aims of a Greater Serbia.”

With that article, Mr. Al-Tamimi has exposed himself as a shill for the Islamist cause in Bosnia. Alija Izetbegovic, the war-time President of the Bosnian-Muslims, and his Defense Minister, Hasan Cengic, were both outspoken jihadists.

Izetbegovic is the author of a book entitled the Islamic Declaration, which he wrote in 1970 and published in 1990. In his book, Izetbegovic advocates Sharia law, asserting that “the Islamic movement should and can, take over political power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only overturn the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.”

Izetbegovic brands Western feminists “a depraved element of the female sex” and says, “There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions.” Izetbegovic asserted that “means of mass influence -- the press, radio, television and film -- should be in the hands of people whose Islamic, moral, and intellectual authority is indisputable.” And he advocated banning “casinos, night clubs, dance halls and all other forms of entertainment incompatible with the moral tenets of Islam.”

In 1983, Izetbegovic and Cengic were tried and convicted by the Yugoslav authorities for attempting to incite an Islamist uprising similar to the Islamic Revolution that gripped Iran in 1979.

According to the 1983 trial judgment, “Alija Izetbegovic asserted that Islam must be a state system or social system in all countries where the population is Muslim, and that the necessary conditions should be created to turn Bosnia and Herzegovina into an Islamic republic with Islamic laws.”

The judgment also quoted Izetbegovic as saying “Our imams should be armed and they should interpret and apply Islam following the example of Iran’s Shiite imams.” The judgment quoted Cengic saying, “The goal of the Islamic revolution in our country is the creation of a unified Islamic state comprising the area of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sandzak, and Kosovo.”

The judgment went on to quote Cengic’s view that “Jihad should be pursued to its final outcome in order to exterminate the enemy and the infidels.” He said, “We should not wait for a challenge or a provocation. Muslims must invent a challenge. They must be the ones who produce the challenge, and the goal will then come by itself.”

Cengic believed that “The Muslims should be prepared for self-sacrifice to achieve their goals.” The judgment quoted him admonishing Muslims, “do not take an infidel as your friend. Do not be friends with your fathers or your brothers if they favor the absence of our faith.” He said, “A Muslim woman should not nurse the children of a non-Muslim woman. A Muslim cannot receive the blood of or give blood to a non-believer. Muslims must be superior to all others, and every effort should be made to create an environment in which everyone will be of pure Muslim blood.”

Of the five judge panel that convicted Izetbegovic and Cengic, three (including the presiding judge) were Muslims, one was a Croat, and one was a Serb. Of the 63 witnesses who testified in the trial, 58 were Muslims.

During the war, Izetbegovic and Cengic enlisted the help of jihadists from around the world. Renate Flottau of the German newspaper Der Spiegel and Eve-Ann Prentice of the London Times and Guardian, both were eyewitnesses to the presence of Osama bin Laden at Alija Izetbegovic’s offices in Sarajevo in 1993 and 1994. [1]

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, along with three of the hijackers (Nawaf al Hazmi, Salem al Hazmi, and Khalid al Mihdhar), all fought in the Bosnian jihad. [2]

In 1996, just after the Bosnian war ended, the U.S. House Committee on International Relations launched an investigation into America’s role in Iranian arms transfers to Croatia and Bosnia. Their investigation found that the Iranian government had provided a full two-thirds of the Bosnian-Muslims’ military hardware.

According to their report, “Iran ordered senior members of its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”), the elite force used to advance militant Islam, to travel to Bosnia to survey the military needs of the government. IRGC trainers taught the Muslims how to use anti-tank missiles and helped with troop logistics and weapons factories. The IRGC also incorporated religious indoctrination into military training. Iran used this leverage to urge Hizballah to send foreign fighters to the region as members of the Mujahideen. The effort was successful, and a force of thousands drawn from several pro-Iranian groups and other Islamic Opposition movements assembled in Bosnia.” [3]

In spite of Mr. Al-Tamimi’s denials, the Bosnian-Serbs were the target of jihadist aggression. The Muslims had been setting-up paramilitary groups in Bosnia long before the war started in 1992.

In an interview with Izetbegovic’s party newspaper, Halid Cengic (Hasan’s father and a party official) boasted that “already on August 1, 1990, we had a platoon armed with automatic weapons, a machine-gun and a mortar. They all had camouflage uniforms and they pledged their allegiance in the Ustikolina mosque, with their hands on the Koran.” [4]

In 1991, a year before the war started; Izetbegovic’s party officially established the Green Berets and the Patriotic League paramilitary organizations. Just prior to the outbreak of war in the spring of 1992, the Green Berets were reported to have had more than 80,000 Muslims under arms in Bosnia. [5]

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who is responsible for the Bosnian war. Was it the outspoken jihadists who were jailed in the 1980s for trying to incite an Islamic revolution, and who spent the years leading-up to the war establishing Islamist paramilitary groups, or was it Radovan Karadzic, a doctor, who spent the years leading up to the war practicing psychiatry and writing mediocre poetry? This isn’t a difficult puzzle to figure out.

The “Greater Serbia” conspiracy alleged by Mr. Al-Tamimi is precisely the kind of Muslim propaganda that he dismisses as “imaginary” in his article. Before the war even started, the Serbs, together with the Croats and the Muslims, agreed to the Cutileiro Plan -- named for Portugese diplomat Jose Cutileiro -- who brokered the deal under the auspices of the European Community. Under the terms of the Cutileiro Plan, Bosnia was to be a sovereign nation separate from Serbia, thereby eliminating any possibility for a “Greater Serbia”.

It was the Muslims, not the Serbs, who reneged on their commitment to the Cutileiro Plan and opted for war instead of negotiations. After the war ended, Cutileiro wrote a letter to the Economist magazine stating that: “After several rounds of talks our ‘principles for future constitutional arrangements for Bosnia and Hercegovina’ were agreed by all three parties (Muslim, Serb and Croat) in Sarajevo on March 18th 1992 as the basis for future negotiations. These continued, maps and all until the summer, when the Muslims reneged on the agreement. Had they not done so, the Bosnian question might have been settled earlier, with less loss of (mainly Muslim) life and land.” [6]

Even if the Bosnian-Serbs had secretly been fighting for a “Greater Serbia,” they would have needed the cooperation of Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbian government in Belgrade -- which was not forthcoming.

In 1991, when the Serbs in the Krajina region of Croatia tried to secede from Croatia and join Serbia, they were rejected by Milosevic.[7] In May of 1992, barely a month after the war began in Bosnia, the Yugoslav government, which by then had been reduced to Serbia and Montenegro, passed a resolution stating unequivocally that it had no territorial pretensions towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. [8]

In addition to that, Slobodan Milosevic publicly denied, on numerous occasions, that he wanted any kind of a greater Serbia. Greater Serbia was impossible from the start. It was written off by the Serbian leadership before the Bosnian war even started. Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were faced with a choice in Bosnia. Their choice was to let their people be subjugated by the likes of Izetbegovic and Cengic, or to stand and fight. Anyone in their position would have opted to fight.

There may be room to criticize the tactics they used during the war, but it is extremely hypocritical for the Muslims to point the finger at them and complain about the humanitarian consequences of the Bosnian war when they’re the ones who started it.

Al-Tamimi’s criticism of Srdja Trifkovic is entirely disingenuous. He has no right to accuse others of intolerance, when he makes lying accusations about the Bosnian war that certainly appear as though they were crafted to incite racial hatred against Serbs.



1 - John R. Schindler, Unholy Terror, Zenith Press, 2007, Pg. 123-124. See also: Testimony of Eve Ann Prentice, Slobodan Milosevic trial transcript, ICTY, February 3, 2006; Pg. 47949


2 - The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Official Government ed.; Pg. 58, 147, 155.


3 - US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, Final Report of the Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia (“The Iranian Green Light Subcommittee”); October 10 & 25, 1996; Pg. 543-545


4 - ICTY Case No. IT-97-24-T, Judgement: Prosecutor v. Milomir Stakic, July 31, 2003; ¶ 33


5 - “Bosnia Teetering on the Brink of a Bloodbath,” Evening Standard (London), March 4, 1992


6 - Jose Cutileiro, The Economist, December 9-15, 1995, Pg. 6


7 - Testimony of Milan Babic, Slobodan Milosevic Trial Transcript, ICTY, pg. 13115-13116. See also: “Other Report on Serbian Assembly Session SPO deputies walk out of Serbian Assembly over failure to debate Krajina issue,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, June 1, 1991, Source: Yugoslav News Agency in Serbo-Croat 1527 gmt 29 May 91


8 - “Yugoslav Presidency Denies FRY Involved in Bosnia-Hercegovina Conflict,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts; May 27, 1992, Source: Tanjug in Serbo-Croat 1526 gmt 25 May 92