Monday, December 04, 2006

Al Qaeda's White Muslims in Bosnia

"No general had the authority to command us", former al Qaeda activist Ali Hamad reports about his time as commander of a Mujaheddin unit in the war in Bosnia. In the Interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE the former terrorist warns of a sleeper network in the Balkans.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: You fought as the commander of an al Qaeda unit in Bosnia, ordered by Bin Laden. Today you call yourself his biggest enemy. Why did you renounce terrorism?

Hamad: I was hired by al Qaeda officers in Bahrain when I was 17 years old. My family had cast me out and I welcomed any help that could promise me a home and bread. After a 13 month long training in an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan I became a soldier in one of Bin Laden's units. He convinced me that we would fight a Holy War for Islam, which I was told was under attack by Judaism and Christianity.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: Including suicide attacks?

Hamad: The lectures in Afghanistan had brain washed me. I would definitely have wired myself with explosives and blown myself up cold-bloodedly some place, if I could take hundreds of our enemies with me.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: You would have had no second thoughts about sacrificing your own life?

Hamad: If you see your fellow fighters embrace death without hesitation, you follow them blindly. Our teachers convinced us that death is painless - it would feel like the sting of a needle at most. And anyone who would kill a Christian or a Jew would only exchange his visible body with an invisible one.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: In the 8 years that you have been here in the Bosnian Zenica prison, you wrote a book about Al Qaeda. The book mainly deals with Al Qaeda's role in the war in Bosnia.

Hamad: Al-Qaeda wasn't interested in helping the Bosnian Muslims, they were interested in creating a base that would allow them to increase their radius of operations - much like the USA with their bases spread across the globe. Some leaders of the Western World noticed that, but did nothing.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: What makes you think that?

Hamad: For example, the Bosnian army and our units were supplied with weapons from Iran during the time of the embargo.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: While standing before the Hague tribunal, you were mainly asked about your connection to the Bosnian army. The prosecutors were interested, whether the mujaheddin -- who are known for their extreme cruelty -- had been under command of the Bosnians.

Hamad: 1992 there had been a mass influx of mujaheddin into the Balkans. Our route led via Frankfurt to Zagreb, Split and from there via Mostar into Bosnia. Croats and Bosnians let us pass and those who wanted a Bosnian passport received it - though most of us used false names for that. The political and military command of Bosnia at that time, granted us the highest privileges and immunity from the police.

SPEIGEL ONLINE:Was there no protest against your fighting methods?

Hamad: Of course our methods were cruel. Al Qaeda demanded to torture the enemy, to cut him into pieces with chainsaws, to massacre him with knives. Though we officially had to obey the command of the Bosnian army, our conditions were accepted. No Bosnian general was allowed to command us.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: Contrary to the Dayton peace treaty, the foreign combatants actually stayed in the country, as "sleepers" for future terror attacks on the European continent?

Hamad: The Bosnian leadership put themselves out so we would get Bosnian passports after the war. We were advised to marry Bosnian women, so we could stay in the country as civilians. Many al Qaeda fighters entered "humanitarian organizations" and got their papers that way. Concerning the future danger of terrorism: Had the terrorism in Bosnia not been able to root in the Balkan, he (bin Laden) would not be able to threaten Europe as open as he is doing it now.

SPEIGEL ONLINE: Bosnia wants to become a member of the EU. Doesn't al Qaeda have to fear that the persecution of potential mujaheddin will become much easier for the EU (and also the USA) in this way?

Hamad: In the current Bosnian leadership, there are those who welcomed our arrival in the past. Also there were 400 native, Bosnian mujaheddin in our unit, which supported the terrorist methods of al Qaeda. Today, about 800 Bosnians belong to the so-called "White al Qaeda " - they are terrorists with white skin. Their enrollment is supported by the economic crisis. These will help later on to expand this terror network into Europe.

(Translated from the original article in German)

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