Monday, December 31, 2007

Notes to "Progress Report"

[1] Excerpt from Foreign Area Officer Association: "Green Flag Over the Balkans"


"The Active Islamic Youth (Aktivna Islamska omladina - AIO) is an indigenous fundamentalist organization with the goal of promoting an Islamic state in Bosnia.and is the one organization in Bosnia within the IZ that causes the most concern with ties to terrorism and fundamentalist Islam. 14 Established in Zenica in 1995 and associated with the mujahadeen the group's main activities has been to organize protests in opposition to Bosnian state action against the foreign fighters, publishing promotional material and books showcasing AIO's religious and political extremist ideology. Its Islamic weekly magazine SAFF and organization's website, have been fonts of radical Islamic preaching, gaining notoriety for publishing interviews with terrorists who have fought against US forces in Iraq and expressing solidarity with the jihadists and suicide bombers in Israel.

Since 2002 the AIO has expanded to include computer and internet facilities, multi-media Islamic libraries, offices and conference rooms in centers located in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, Travnik, Mostar, Zavidovi i, Gornji Vakuf, and Sanski Most - all located in the Federacija. 15 In addition, the AIO has members throughout the Bosniak Diaspora in Europe and the US. Through outreach activities such as summer camps, internet cafes and youth centers the AIO has been effective in recruiting young, disenfranchised Bosniaks and raised suspicion in countries that host these Bosniak-AIO sponsored camps. The appearance of bearded men and women dressed in chadors in Sarajevo is noticeably increasing and of great concern to residents who adhere to the traditionally moderate form of Islam practiced in Bosnia. According to Western sources the recruiting focus of radical Islamists in Bosnia are: (1) unemployed youth, (2) orphans of the 1992-95 Bosnian civil war, (3) rural communities in Bosnia, and (4) Bosnia's Muslim poor and disaffected.

The Muslim Brotherhood Group or Muslimansko bratstvo, is smaller and less well funded than the AIO. However, it represents a significant threat due to its prominence as a Bosnian Islamic portal. 16 Islam Bosna (, the organization's website offers promotional material, video clips and flyers typically denouncing US or Israeli aggression against the Muslim world. Its advocating of establishing an Islamic state in Bosnia, sympathy with Hamas and destruction of Israel highlight concerns about this website. Islam Bosna has supposedly distributed at least 80,000 copies of some of its posters and operates a well maintained and largely unregulated message boards and information postings. This poses an exceptional threat given the grave concerns recently of terrorist organizations utilizing radical Islamic websites to pass information and conduct terrorist attacks. Another concern is the Muslim Brotherhood Group's success in attracting Bosniak youth membership through its website. According to the Nezavisne Novine daily in 2002 the oldest members were just 25 years old. 17"


Excerpt from Jamestown Foundation (Global Terrorism Analysis)" "Wahhabism and al-Qaeda in Bosnia-Herzegovina", by Stephen Schwartz (21st Oct. 2004)

"The most prominent Wahhabi organization in Bosnia is the Active Islamic Youth (Aktivna Islamska Omladina or AIO). Early in 2003, the Sarajevo weekly magazine Slobodna Bosna (Free Bosnia), which has an aggressively secularist and sensationalist tone, described the AIO as a front for the Saudi High Commission for Relief and the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. [2: Ahmetasevic, Nidzara, Buturovic, Adnan, and Fazlic, Mirsad, “Fishers Of Children’s Souls: Third Offensive Of Young Muslims,” Slobodna Bosna, Sarajevo, January 30, 2003.] The Bosnian branch of al-Haramain was shut down after it was designated an al-Qaeda affiliate by the U.S. Treasury and the Saudi government. (...)


Excerpts from "The Young and the Old: Radical Islam Takes Root in the Balkans", by Risto Karajkov

"One of the founders of the A.I.O., Muris Cupic, a former fighter himself, has repeatedly argued that there is no danger of militant Islam in Bosnia. But his colleagues in the A.I.O., which has a few hundred members, are often identified as promoters of fundamentalism. They have issued strong statements of criticism addressed to their fellow Muslims for not behaving like true believers and having acquired too much from their Christian neighbors.
The A.I.O. were put under surveillance in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and were found to have been funded by the Saudi Al-Haramain Foundation, later declared by the United States to be a sponsor of terrorism.

The Islamic Community in Bosnia, under the leadership of Rreis-ul-Ulema (Chief Imam) Mustafa Ceric, often described as a pro-American promoter of tolerance, has been trying to assimilate these groups even though they hold sharply conflicting views on Islam.

Ceric, who holds a Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago and is a recent recipient of a UNESCO award for intercultural understanding, seems to be able to keep a fine balance between reassuring the West that Bosnia is safe and cultivating relations with the radical Muslim offspring in his backyard.
A case that put A.I.O. in the spotlight was the 2003 murder by a young Muslim fanatic of three ethnic Croat returnees on Christmas Eve. The killer claimed he was a member of the A.I.O., which the organization denied, conceding that he might have attended some lectures. Ceric swiftly condemned the act and called on young Muslims to "stay away from superstition, false books, and teachers who do not want to understand the authentic life in our homeland," a clear reference to outside hardliners.

But in an interview he gave last year to the Islamic youth magazine Saff, Ceric rejected anonymous statements by fellow Muslim officials that organizations such as A.I.O. should not be considered part of the Islamic Community. "The Islamic Community is more important than me, us, and them," he said. "Thus, we are all the Islamic Community."


[2] Excerpt from Jamestown Foundation (Global Terrorism Analysis): "Wahhabism and al-Qaeda in Bosnia-Herzegovina", by Stephen Schwartz (21st Oct. 2004)

"Alongside Slobodna Bosna and other periodicals in Sarajevo, one also finds the unmistakable Wahhabi journal SAFF, which describes itself as an "Islamic Youth Review." The August 15 issue of SAFF includes, on its slick cover, a box with the arresting heading "Exclusive from Iraq: Suicide Actions as a Defensive Strategy." SAFF also includes, along with criticism of Mustafa Ceric, an article describing the Algerians in Guantanamo as Bosnians, which they no longer are, and a report that the Shia rebel Moqtada al-Sadr, in Iraq, has called for the execution of Wahhabi infiltrators in that country. [3: SAFF, Sarajevo, August 15, 2004, issue number 128.]

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