Okun Says Radical Islamic Views Espoused by Izetbegovic and Cengic Shouldn’t Have Been Taken Seriously
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - May 20, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing Date: April 26, 2010


On Monday, April 26th former Bosnian-Serb leader Dr. Radovan Karadzic continued his cross-examination of Ambassador Herbert Okun who served in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1997 as the special advisor and deputy to the personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General.


The Radical Views of Alija Izetbegovic & Hasan Cengic


Karadzic spent much of the day questioning the Ambassador about Bosnia’s war-time President Alija Izetbegovic and Bosnia’s war-time defense minister Hasan Cengic.


Karadzic put it to the Ambassador that “In 1943 the Jerusalem Mufti al-Husseini visited Bosnia-Herzegovina [as] a guest of Alija Izetbegovic, and his visits resulted in the creation of the SS Waffen and Handzar Division, composed of Bosnian  Muslims.”


The Ambassador responded saying, “Yes, I know about the Handzar Division.  ‘Handzar’ means ‘scimitar,’ during World War II, 66 years ago.”


Karadzic also put it to the Ambassador that in 1939 Izetbegovic was among the founders of the ‘Young Muslims’ (an organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).  Karadzic claimed that the Young Muslims “continued to act secretly within Yugoslavia after World War II and because of that, the group was tried and given prison sentences in 1947.”


Okun responded saying, “I’m not aware of that.  I suspect it’s possible.”


Okun acknowledged that in 1970 Izetbegovic authored and published the “Islamic Declaration.” Karadzic asked the ambassador, “Do you agree that from 1970 to 1980, he disseminated the ‘Islamic Declaration’ through Islamic circles, and in the 1980s, he started creating the nucleus of an organization which was supposed to put into practice the ‘Islamic Declaration,’ and he was tried because of that at the Court in Sarajevo?”


The witness confirmed Karadzic’s information saying, “Yes, I know that.”


Karadzic then proceeded to put the 1983 verdict and findings of the Sarajevo courts (trial exhibit D73) to the witness.


Karadzic pointed out the fact that on the five judge panel trying the case, 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.


The judgment said that Alija Izetbegovic, and Hasan Cengic sought the establishment of Islamic sharia law, and that they idealized the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. The judges found that Izetbegovic and Cengic had solicited the help of the Iranian regime to foment an Iranian-style revolution in Yugoslavia based on Izetbegovic’s “Islamic Declaration”.


The trial judgment said, “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 Sarajevo trial chamber concluded that the realization of Izetbegovic’s goals could only be accomplished “with a fratricidal war, terror, or a foreign intervention.”


The judgment quoted Izetbegovic as saying “Our imams should be armed and they should interpret and apply Islam following the example of Iran’s Shiite imams.”


Hasan Cengic, who would go on to become Izetbegovic’s Minister of defense during the Bosnian war, held even more radical views than Izetbegovic.


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.”


Karadzic asked Okun, “Do you remember that in the autumn of 1991, I asked Mr. Izetbegovic to say publicly that the ‘Islamic Declaration’ was not his political and state programme?  I asked him to renounce it, but he didn’t do that.  Do you remember that?”


Okun confirmed saying, “Yes, I remember that.”


Karadzic asked, “Mr. Ambassador, do you know that the ‘Islamic Declaration’ was republished in 1990 and that it was sold freely and distributed freely? Izetbegovic signed it as its author, so he thereby confirmed his authorship.”


Again Okun replied, “Yes, I’m aware of that.”


Karadzic asked, “Do you know what kind of relations we had with the MBO (Muslim-Bosniak Organization) and Fikret Abdic?  I mean the secular Muslims.”


Okun said, “No, I don’t know that specifically.  I would assume they were pretty good.”


Okun Downplays Significance of Radical Islamic Views


Incredibly, Okun tried to downplay the significance of what Izetbegovic and Cengic had said. He told Karadzic, “What you’re doing is comparing the words of a decade earlier, that were re-signed in 1990, with the reality on the ground, and I think that’s really not fair.” He said, “in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1990 and 1991, which is, after all, the subject matter of this discussion, the Muslims did not have an army, they had nothing, like any military force whatsoever.  They were outnumbered by the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Serbs, both of whom were more highly organised and had their countries behind them. We’ve already discussed that in discussing the goals.  So the chances of them ever putting this fanciful dream into action were nil.”


Okun tried to dismiss President Izetbegovic and BH defense minister Cengic as an insignificant faction of SDA. He said their statements were something “I wouldn’t take seriously”


Okun believed that Cengic, as the minister of defense, didn’t have any real power. He said “they gave this man some kind of propaganda position.” Then he tried to portray Alija Izetbegovic as the Balkan equivalent of George W. Bush. He said, “Izetbegovic never hid his religiosity, nor did our president, George W. Bush, who was often accused of this kind of stuff because he was a self-described born-again Christian.  These are not unusual events in countries.”


Of course George W. Bush never said he wanted to turn the United States into a theocracy, he never solicited the help of a foreign government to instigate a religious revolution in America, and he was never imprisoned for collaborating with Nazis and foreign religious fundamentalists. Ambassador Okun seemed like a fairly intelligent man, it’s difficult to believe that he was as foolish as he sounded. It was sadly obvious that he had a political agenda that he was pursuing through his testimony.


Karadzic quoted entries that Okun had made in his notebook. One entry quoted Croatian president Franjo Tudjman saying, “Muslims want a Jihad, getting billions from Arabs.”

Okun said, “I always took President Tudjman seriously.  But like all leaders, he was given to exaggeration and sometimes to prevarication.  It was also no secret that the Arab states were helping the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  One had only to look at Haris Silajdzic’s travel schedule.  I think he earned quite a many frequent flyer miles between Sarajevo and Abu Dhabi.”


In another notebook entry Okun quoted former Bosnian Prime Minister Mile Akmadzic (an ethnic Croat) saying “Muslim radicals (specifically: Ejup Ganic, Haris Silajdzic, Sefer Halilovic and Rusmir Mahmutcehajic) want to rid BH of Serbs.”


Okun dismissed this saying, “These were assertions by the Bosnian Croats.  They were not accurate.”


An astonished Karadzic said, “Mr. Ambassador, are you telling us that both Serb and Croat politicians presented a fundamental fear to you; namely, that the Muslim side, headed by Alija Izetbegovic, that is to say, this type of Muslims, not Abdic, Zulfikarpasic, and the others, but these Muslims, rather, have the intention to set up a unitary Islamic Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that you did not believe either the Serbs or the Croats?”


Okun answered saying, “We believed that the Bosnian Muslims sought a unitary state.  We did not believe and there’s no evidence, no serious evidence, to prove that they wanted an Islamic Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the period of the war.  All the statements you have cited come from 10 or 20 years before the war.”


When Karadzic accused Okun of behaving as Izetbegovic’s advocate, Okun volunteered an interesting piece of information. He said, “As you know, the Bosnian Muslims refused to sign the Vance-Owen Peace Plan, along with you.  That was in January 1993.  It took several months, until March 25, 1993, before Izetbegovic signed the peace plan, and then he only did so after the map had been changed to ensure Bosnian Serb rejection, because the corridor was cut by a Muslim province.  So that I don’t think it’s fair to say that Izetbegovic, whether he’s looking down on us or up at us, thinks he has an advocate in me.”


However, earlier that day Okun had been critical of the Bosnian-Serbs for rejecting the Vance-Owen plan. He said, “The Vance-Owen Peace Plan would have left you in a good position, But as you know, you rejected the plan … you signed the plan under the heaviest pressure. And everybody knew that when you took the plan to the Serb Assembly, it would be rejected.”


Karadzic asked, “Is it customary for plans of that kind to be ratified by the parliaments of the countries in question?” and Okun’s response was “Yes, but Republika Srpska was not a country.”


The fact that Okun criticized the Bosnian-Serbs for rejecting the Vance-Owen Plan when he knew the plan had been purposefully rigged “to ensure Bosnian Serb rejection” shows a disturbing lack of sincerity in his testimony.


Izetbegovic Regime Abuses Suffering to Obtain Foreign Intervention


Karadzic quoted from Izetbegovic’s “Islamic Declaration” (trial exhibit D75). One passage advocated an Islamic rebirth. It said, “We are not announcing an age of peace and security, but one of unrest and trial.  There are too many things crying out to be destroyed.  There will not be days of prosperity, but of self-respect.  A people which is asleep can be awakened only by blows.  Whoever wishes our community well will not try to spare its struggle, danger and misfortune.”


Karadzic asked the Ambassador whether he was aware that Izetbegovic held these views and Okun said, “On the whole, yes ... we knew that Izetbegovic was on the religious side of the SDA.”


Karadzic said, “I’m telling you, Mr. Ambassador, that Izetbegovic did not care about the well-being of the Muslim people, let alone the well-being of the Serb and Croat people.  What do you say to that?”


Okun replied, “I say that’s a debatable point.”


Again Karadzic quoted entries from Okun’s notebook. One entry said, “Mr. Izetbegovic and the radical wing of the Presidency want to provoke foreign intervention.” And another entry quoted the French UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) commander General Morillion saying “The B and H government was very unhappy when the UNHCR convoy got through to the Muslim town of Srebrenica.”


After reading out these entries Karadzic asked the Ambassador, Did the Muslims “abuse the sufferings of their own people to win over the sympathies of the international community and bring about a foreign intervention?”


Okun’s response was, “I would not say they abused it.”


Karadzic asked, “Did General Morillon inform you that the government was unhappy because the humanitarian aid had reached Srebrenica?”


Okun replied, “Well, it’s in my note, so the answer is yes.”


Muslims Commit Crimes in Sarajevo and Ascribe them to Serbs


Karadzic showed the witness a document from the Security Administration of the Supreme Command of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina (exhibit D77). The document laid out the way in which Muslim soldiers in Dobrinja (a neighborhood in Sarajevo) murdered a Serbian civilian and then told the international authorities that the victim had been killed by Serbian shelling.


Okun reacted saying, “Well, you quoted from a document that says that, and I have read the document.  That’s all I know about it.  That does not really have any bearing on the three-years-long shelling of Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serb forces under General Mladic’s command.”


Karadzic read out entries from Okun’s notebook. One entry said, “Since third week of August, UNPROFOR is being deliberately targeted by Muslim troops, have protested this to Izetbegovic.”


Another entry quoted UNPROFOR commander Satish Nambiar saying “Incidents of killing of two French soldiers yesterday was dastardly act cold-blooded ambush by Muslim force of Presidency.  The humanitarian convoy announced in advance, as always, unquestionably 100 per cent certain that French soldiers were killed by Muslim forces.”


Karadzic asserted that in Sarajevo the Muslim Army killed UN soldiers with a view to tarnishing the image of the Bosnian-Serbs and Okun conceded, “That’s correct, we knew at the time that it was most probable that the French peacekeepers had been killed by Muslim fire.  It’s in my journals, and that was something that was widely understood by the UN troops.”


The summary of Okun’s testimony will continue in the forthcoming summary of the April 27th hearing. A full transcript of this hearing is available at:


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