Bosnia and the Global Jihad Revisited

English: Kingdom of Bosnia in the XIV century....

English: Kingdom of Bosnia in the XIV century.Category:Maps of the history of Principality of Zeta and Kingdom of Bosnia(XIV th-century) Category:Maps of the history of Bosnia (XIVth-century) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 23, 2014

Back in 2007, my book Unholy Terror ruffled quite a few feathers by pointing out the unpleasant truth that, in the 1990s, Bosnia-Hercegovina became a jihadist playground and a major venue for Al-Qa’ida, thanks to malign Saudi and Iranian influences. This was off-message, to put it mildly, to critics eager to defend failed Western (especially American) policies in the Balkans, as well as the usual coterie of jihad fellow-travelers and Useful Idiots, plus those eager, for personal reasons, not to have anyone look too deeply into where Saudi money goes in Europe.

However, my essential message — that Islamist extremism, though a largely imported phenomenon in Bosnia, has put down local roots and is likely to metastasize further due to that country’s intractable socio-economic problems — has been proven sadly accurate over the last seven years. For years, the debate over Islamism in Bosnia, and Southeastern Europe generally, was divided between security practitioners on one side and academics and journalists on the other, with the former group, which actually understood what was happening on the ground, being concerned about growing radicalism, while the latter bunch was generally happy to avert eyes from obvious signs of trouble, and to hurl accusations of bias and “Islamophobia” at those who pointed out what was happening. Continue reading

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Greece intelligence on alert for traveling Islamist militants

The Balkan peninsula as defined by the Soča-Kr...

The Balkan peninsula as defined by the Soča-Krka-Sava border in the north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Western Balkans.

English: The Western Balkans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greece intelligence on ‘heightened state of vigilance’ in search for suspected Islamist militants
Greek surveillance alert comes amid concern that Islamist State fighters might hit back for U.S. airstrike

Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months.

The surveillance operation comes amid concern that the militant group, formerly known as  Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will retaliate for increased U.S airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.

ABA ROLI Releases Comparative Analysis of Criminal Defense Advocacy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia

May 2014

balkans_report_image_0414

The Comparative Analysis of Criminal Defense Advocacy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia was released at the opening conference of the Balkans Regional Rule of Law Network (BRRLN) Conference today in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. The report, which analyzes the profession of criminal defense advocacy in light of international law and standards, seeks to answer the question “What does a strong, independent, and effective criminal defense bar look like, and how can a regional network of defense lawyers help achieve this?” Continue reading

Eastern Europe Goes South

Disappearing Democracy in the EU’s Newest Members

Regression to the mean: unveiling a bust of Hungary’s one-time ruler Miklos Horthy, 2013. (Laszlo Balogh / Courtesy Reuters)

Europeans love to celebrate anniversaries, especially those commemorating a terrible past overcome. This year will offer many such moments, marking as it will 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, 75 years since the beginning of World War II, and, most uplifting of all, a quarter century since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Such milestones are bound to make everyone feel good about European unity.

But another important anniversary is less likely to be celebrated, precisely because it would put a damper on those good feelings. Ten years ago, eight eastern European states joined the European Union, followed by Bulgaria and Romania three years later. Europe seemed to have overcome not just Cold War divisions but also deeper historical differences. The EU had brought East and West together, consolidating the fragile democracies that had emerged from the fall of communism. Continue reading

The Balkanization of Al Qaeda

The "black flag of jihad" as used by...

The “black flag of jihad” as used by various Islamic terrorist organizations (since the late 1990s) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles E. Berger   February 21, 2014

This month, Al Qaeda officially disenfranchised one of its affiliates, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In fact, ISIS is now in open warfare with al Nusra Front, another Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. These events reveal an Al Qaeda more Balkanized than unified. They also undermine the generally accepted view of a global Al Qaeda network expanding its reach. As opposed to a single organization bound by a common ideology, we should view the Al Qaeda network for what it is: a loose coalition of separate terrorist groups with their own individual causes. Our current strategy to defeat the Al Qaeda network by countering its ideology will likely fail. These other groups will continue on, perhaps under different names, long after Al Qaeda is militarily defeated.

The Obama administration’s 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism distanced itself from Bush’s “Global War on Terrorism” by accurately describing terrorism as a tactic, not an enemy. The enemy is now defined as Al Qaeda core (the organization established by Osama Bin Laden now largely located in Pakistan), its affiliates (other groups aligned with Al Qaeda) and its adherents. “Adherents” includes individuals who are inspired to take action based on the ideology of Al Qaeda. Adherents includes any terrorist or group who claims to share Al Qaeda’s ideology, leading to the conclusion the only way to defeat such a networked organization is to destroy this one common link—the ideology. While terrorist organizations can be destroyed and individuals can be imprisoned or killed, it is unlikely that we will ever achieve victory defined as stamping out an objectionable creed.

Terrorist groups are paramilitary organizations and behave as rational actors. Their strategies are directed specific political end states, or “causes.” While a group’s end state and ideology are related, they are not synonymous. For example, Al Qaeda and the Palestinian group Hamas share similar Islamist ideologies, but their end states are completely different. Likewise, the causes of most of the Al Qaeda’s affiliates are regional, differing from Al Qaeda core’s focus on the West. When these groups assume the Al Qaeda moniker, they anticipate a predictable counterterrorism response from the United States; however they do so to attract funds, recruits and media attention. Continue reading

Balkans — War Crimes, Genocide And Name Games

Map of the districts of Cyprus, with English a...

Map of the districts of Cyprus, with English annotations, and showing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas, and United Nations buffer zone. The TRNC section illustrates the current de facto district boundaries following this map as a guide. The northern districts are labelled in Turkish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

June 9, 2012: Turkey announced that it will give the Tunisian government $100 million. The money is for economic and social development projects but will probably be spent very quickly since Tunisia is experiencing a severe economic crunch. Turkey will also loan Tunisia $400 million at a low interest rate. Tunisia’s Ennadha Party is a moderate Islamist party which models its political program on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Several Tunisian politicians are warning that the country could face another political explosion unless it can revive the stalled economy and put people back to work. The AKP has told the Tunisian government that it strongly favors a secular democracy and that Turkey will try to help the Tunisian people manage the transition from dictatorship to democracy. At the moment that means providing economic aid.

June 8, 2012: Maps stir passions in the Balkans. Bulgaria’s foreign minister and Turkey’s Bulgarian ambassador met to discuss a map that appeared with educational materials published for schools in Istanbul three years ago. The map showed a Greater Turkey of a sort, with parts of Bulgaria (including Sofia) and Greece’s Thessalonica (Salonika) included as Turkish territory. All of Armenia, part of northern Iraq, and part of Georgia were also labeled as Turkish territory. Cyprus was also included as Turkish territory. The government of Turkey has assured Bulgaria that it does not have any territorial claims on any neighboring nations. Turkey has disavowed the map and said the maps, which appeared on a compact disk, were withdrawn from the schools when they were discovered and publicized.

Greece acknowledged that it now faces an energy crisis because it cannot pay its electricity, gas, and oil bills. The government and Greek energy corporations are looking for up to $400 million in emergency bridge loans in order to avoid power cuts during the summer tourist season. Though overall demand for energy has been declining, due to the economic crisis, Greece imports most of its power, including electrical power. Tourism is a major industry in Greece and despite numerous travel and tourist bargains, tourists have been reluctant to visit Greece because of the riots and other social turmoil accompanying the economic crisis.

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Genocide (2)

Coat of arms of Serbia (since 2011)

Coat of arms of Serbia (since 2011) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With Serbia’s new president, Tomislav Nikolic, taking advantage of the accelerating debasement of the word “genocide”, the US and EU should make it clear that Belgrade’s treatment of Srebrenica is a red line.

By David B. Kanin

David B. Kanin is an adjunct professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University and a former senior intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

One thing is clear.  Tomislav Nikolic really enjoys being president.  The first thing he did after defeating Boris Tadic was celebrate – a lot, according to some reports.   (Why not?)  The next thing he did was go to Russia, demonstrating the turn in Serbian orientation he will use his pulpit to maximize (Again, why not?)  Nikolic made positive comments on the possibility of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  This should please Washington, since this initiative shows the good-natured Serbian president shares the American view that Kosova’s unilateral declaration of independence was an entirely unique event.  (Those who do not share the American view might point out that Nikolic’s willingness to support Abkhaz and South Ossetian separation from Georgia is directly relevant to Kosova’s contested sovereignty – supporters of the latter’s independence should point to this analogy when they attempt to convince those who have not yet recognized Kosova’s sovereignty to do so.)

Next, Serbia’s new president paid homage to his former leader Vojislav Seselj by regurgitating his old noise about a greater Serbia and making a preposterous reference to Vukovar as a Serbian town.  (The question “why not?” is not rhetorical in this case.  The Serbs lost that war, lost that town, and earned that defeat, whether stalwarts in the original or repackaged Serbian Radical Party like it or not).

Nikolic is having too much fun to stop there.  He now has volunteered his sage opinion that whatever happened in Srebrenica in 1995 was not genocide.  The murders there were a grave crime, he acknowledges, but it was not genocide.  Why should the president permit his enjoyment of victory to be speed-bumped by the fact that emotions over the mass murder committed be Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 currently are being re-stoked by the likelihood that this Fall’s local elections will elevate a Serb mayor in that town?  Why should Nikolic’s personal good time be affected by the feelings of people whose loved ones were slaughtered or by the desires of less fun-loving Serbs who would like to find a way to reconcile the anger so many of their former Yugoslav partners feel toward Serbian behavior after 1987 with their own belief that the single-tracked blame assigned Serbs for everything bad that happened in the last two decades is a tad unfair?  Nikolic won the election, and so why can’t he inflict verbal harm on anyone he chooses to insult?

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