What really happened in Bosnia?
Were the Serbs the criminal
aggressors, as the official story claims, or were they the victims?
Historical and Investigative Research, 19 August
by Francisco Gil-White
1 | 2 | 3
NATO and the
Western mass media told the public that the Bosnian Serbs had a racist and
genocidal ideology, and committed atrocities.
The Bosnian Serbs
were fighting Alija Izetegovic, leader of a minority Bosnian Muslim faction
that became politically and militarily dominant among Muslims in Bosnia. To
know Izetbegovic is to cultivate doubts concernig the official story of
In his adolescent
youth Alija Izetbegovic founded during WWII the Young Muslims organization in
Bosnia, in imitation of Hassan al Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood, an organization
closely allied with the German Nazis. At this time, former Mufti of Jerusalem
Hajj Amin al Husseini was in Bosnia recruiting tens of thousands of Bosnian
Muslims to the all-Muslim SS Handzar Division, which played a large role in
the Yugoslav chapter of the Holocaust, massacring innocent Serbs, Jews, and
After the war, in
1970, Izetbegovic wrote a book calling for Muslims to slaughter infidels in
order to install an Islamist theocracy in Bosnia (documented in Part 1, below). In the Bosnian presidential
elections of 1990, the aging Izetbegovic republished that book as part of his
Then he recreated
the SS Handzar Division (documented in Part 2).
By contrast, the
Serbs were the great heroes of World War II, becoming the staunchest
defenders of the persecuted Jews, and willing to pay any price (including torture to death by the hundreds of thousands)
in order to oppose the German Nazis.
So isn’t it more
likely that the one killing innocent people in Bosnia in the 1990s was Izetbegovic
and not the Serbs?
We will argue here
that the overwhelming, crushing bulk of the evidence supports the view that
in the Yugoslav civil wars of the 1990s the Serbs behaved ethically, much
like they did in WWII. Wheras Izetbegovic behaved consistent with his earlier
pro-Nazi behaviors and genocidal writings.
The portrait that
was painted of the Serbs in the 1990s as “the new Nazis” is not only false,
it is absurd, product of mass media lies and hoaxes—entirely necessary,
these, because Alija Izetbegovic was
receiving the stalwart support of NATO, and so Izetbegovic had to
be whitewashed and his enemies demonized.
But the lies and
hoaxes are in fact easily exposed, as for example the accusation that the
Bosnian Serbs were running death camps (refuted in Part 3).
you will encounter here raises the sharpest possible questions about the
integrity of the mass media, and concerning the intentions of the Western
powers that destroyed Yugoslavia.
by Jared Israel, Emperor’s Clothes (21 October 2003)
A few days ago, the
Bosnian Muslim Fundamentalist (or, for short, Islamist) leader, Alija
Izetbegovic, died of heart failure. The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued
a statement praising:
“…the late president’s serious attempts to defend the identity and
territorial integrity of his homeland as well as the unity among the
residents and various ethnic races of the country.”
The US State Department praised him as well:
“President Izetbegovic’s personal courage helped the
Bosnian people endure one of Europe’s greatest tragedies since World War II.
His determined leadership was instrumental in Bosnia and Herzegovina
remaining a unified multiethnic country.”
Note the similarity between the two statements. They might have
issued from the same foreign office.
This may be surprising if you don’t know that the Pentagon coordinated
Iranian and Saudi military intervention in Bosnia, on the side of
Izetbegovic, against the Bosnian Serbs and moderate Muslims. This included
the importation of the worst Mujahideen cutthroats - they boasted that “we do
everything with the knife” - to indoctrinate and train Izetbegovic’s army,
and lead it in a campaign of terror.
The State Department’s reference to “Bosnia and Herzegovina remaining
a unified multiethnic country” has one problem: Bosnia was never a country.
It was an administrative unit within the internationally recognized state of
Yugoslavia. Rather than protecting the multiethnic state of Yugoslavia,
Izetbegovic’s fundamentalists fought to secede with the aim of creating
an Islamist republic on this piece of Yugoslav territory. This was opposed by
virtually all the Serbs and probably most Muslims. But it was backed by the US,
Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Islamist states.
Despite the hype in the Western media, Izetbegovic was not fighting to
affirm (let alone reaffirm!) some supposed Bosnian nationhood. Rather, he
“…the implementation of Islam in all fields of individuals’ personal
lives, in family and in society, by renewal of the Islamic religious thought
and creating a uniform Muslim community from Morocco to Indonesia. ...”
In other words, the Islamist takeover of Bosnia was intended as a step
towards the creation of a unified Muslim world-state. Quite the
opposite of preserving the nonexistent ‘Bosnian nation’! And yet the fiction
of a Bosnian nation, threatened by supposed Serb secessionists (the Serbs
were in fact the people who didn’t want to secede from
Yugoslavia) was sold to ordinary people in the West.
The Iranian statement refers to Izetbegovic as a unifier among “the
various ethnic races”. I wonder, what on earth is an “ethnic race”?
Sounds like something from a Nazi’s dream.
That aside, was Izetbegovic aiming for unity? And if so, what
kind of unity?
Prof. Gil-White deals with those questions below.
1. Who was Alija Izetbegovic: Moderate
Democrat or Radical Islamist?
Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim leader whom the U.S.
and NATO supported during the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s. The Western
media and governments recognized him as President of Bosnia.
According to Newsweek magazine:
government of Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic…has always been committed
to a multiethnic society.”
Knight-Ridder News Service stated that:
Bosnian [Muslims] are struggling for democracy,
human rights, and a multiethnic country.”
And Warren Zimmerman, former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, wrote in
“Izetbegovic was…A devout Muslim but
no extremist, he consistently advocated the preservation of a multinational
But others disagree.
For example, various writers published on Emperor’s Clothes have
argued that Izetbegovic was an Islamic fundamentalist whose goal was to
create, by all available means, a totalitarian clerical state, modeled on
Emperor’s Clothes and HIR have argued that the NATO and Western media
blamed the fighting in Bosnia on its main victims, the Bosnian Serbs. Our
research contradicts the official—and mainstream media—story, which has Serbs
as opponents of all Muslims, as if the latter were monolithic. On the
contrary, Fikret Abdic, arguably the most popular Muslim leader, was
militarily allied with the Serbs. There is plenty of evidence that Alija
Izetbegovic, who victimized the Serbs, was supported only by a minority in
the Muslim population, and that his fanatical followers victimized thousands
of moderate Muslims.
So who is telling the truth? Newsweek, Knight-Ridder, Warren
Zimmermann, the rest of the Western media, and a slew of academics, all of
whom claim that Izetbegovic was a moderate democrat fighting for human rights
and multicultural tolerance?
Or are Emperor’s Clothes and HIR telling the truth when we argue that
Izetbegovic was always an Islamic Fundamentalist, or Islamist?
Why is this an
There are three reasons why it matters whether or not Izetbegovic is a
First, because NATO intervened politically and militarily for
Izetbegovic. For example, former US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith,
admitted in congressional testimony that the U.S. gave Croatia the green
light to violate international agreements by letting Iranian weapons reach
The US also allied with Iran in order to import foreign mujahideen
terrorists into Bosnia, and this
was all coordinated directly by Pentagon intelligence.
And NATO repeatedly and massively bombed the Bosnian Serbs, including
with bombs encased in depleted uranium. The US and NATO backed Izetbegovic
with destruction and death.
Second, because if we are right to say that Izetbegovic was an Islamist
fanatic, and that this was no secret in Yugoslavia, then the media lied
systematically. It is difficult to explain such uniform media disinformation
absent coordination by the covert services of Western powers. If we are right
about Izetbegovic, then this constitutes evidence that the West has a
Third, because if Izetbegovic’s views were entirely misrepresented by
politicians and the media, this is evidence that the U.S.-led Empire has a
dual policy regarding Islamic fundamentalism, as we claim. The US invokes the
threat of fundamentalist terror in order to excuse its military adventures,
but—covertly—it also allies with and sponsors Islamic fundamentalists around
Before answering whether Alija Izetbegovic is a fundamentalist, let us
provide the necessary background: a clear definition of what Islamic
fundamentalism stands for.
What is an Islamic fundamentalist? ______________________________
An Islamic fundamentalist (or Islamist) is a Muslim who advocates
theocratic rule. This means subordinating the legal system and all aspects of
life to Islamic religious law, or Sharia, which covers personal behavior.
It is fashionable in the West to romanticize this, a process made
easier by disregarding the conditions of life under Islamist rule, which can
In the Islamist State of Saudi Arabia, for example, there is a special
police, ‘The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,’
which answers directly to Prince Naif, the Minister of the Interior. These
policemen have extensive powers. They patrol the streets, armed with long
clubs, enforcing Islamic rules of dress and behavior, beating and arresting
those who violate such rules.
This may strike you as thuggery but, to a fundamentalist, Islam is
all; the rest is nothing. Thus, one prominent Islamic fundamentalist
“…the most important thing that the
Qur’an recommends is: all of Islam; everything else is nothing more than a
detail and explanation of this central idea. This aspect of Islam contains
the principle of the Islamic Order, which is to say the union of religion and
politics, but it also has other consequences of a primordial practical
importance, of which the first is the impossibility of confusing the Islamic
Order with the non-Islamic systems.
…There is no secular principle, and
the State must be for Muslims the scrupulous expression of the moral and
conceptual pillar of the religion.”The ‘Islamic Order’ excludes any secular
principle. That means no non-Islamic public schools, no non-Islamic trade
unions, no non-Islamic political organizations, no non-Islamic mass media...
And how is the ‘Islamic Order’ to be created and enforced? By taking
over the modern state with its vast powers of organization and coercion. As
our philosopher says, the state is to be the “scrupulous expression of the
moral and conceptual pillar of the religion.” My thesaurus offers these
synonyms for ‘scrupulous’: regulated, accurate, fastidious, careful, and... severe.
Our Islamist philosopher continues:
“The exhaustive definition of the
Islamic Order is: the unity of religion and law, education and force, ideals
and interests, spiritual society and State…the Muslim does not exist at all
as an independent individual…”
(You may be wondering which fundamentalist wrote these lines. I shall
leave you guessing a bit longer.)
Consider the philosopher’s use of phrases such as “the unity of
education and force” and “the Muslim does not exist at all as an independent
individual…” Perhaps these ideas are consistent with the traditional
teachings of Islam; but the wording has a 20th century ring, as does this
philosopher’s reference to “Islam as a total way of life.” Super-strict
Islamic rules combined with an all-powerful Islamic state to enforce them
suggests a modern phenomenon: ‘totalitarianism.’
Having penned the chilling phrase, “the unity of education and force,”
our Islamist philosopher informs us that:
“The education of the population, and
especially those media which have an effect on the public such as newspapers,
radio, and television, must be entrusted to people whose good Islamic
reputation, moral attitude, and intellectual ability are unimpeachable.”
And who are these “people whose good Islamic reputation
[and] moral attitude...are unimpeachable”? Answer: Islamic
fundamentalists. So, all the means of communication and education must be in
the hands of Islamists.
The last quoted paragraph—believe it or not—appears under the heading “Freedom
of Thought.” This is reminiscent of the society that George Orwell described
in his famous novel, “1984.” The difference is that in the Islamic Order, Big
Brother is divinely sanctioned by Allah.
Thus, according to our philosopher, the very existence of non-Islamic
systems is a violent affront.
“It is not in fact possible for there
to be any peace or coexistence between ‘the Islamic Religion’ and non-Islamic
social and political institutions…”
If there can be no peace or coexistence, then Islam is at war with all
non-Islamic cultural and political institutions. And since ‘institutions’ do
not exist apart from the people involved with them, this translates into a
war against ‘infidels’, i.e. against non-Muslims - a jihad, or holy war.
In a section of his book entitled, “The Relations Of
The Islamic Society With Other Societies,” our philosopher quotes the Qur’an.
These quotes are presented as fully self-explanatory, and are neither
preceded nor followed by qualification or comment:
“Oh Prophet, incite the believers to
combat. If there can be found among you twenty who will endure, they will
vanquish two hundred, if one hundred can be found, they will vanquish a
thousand infidels, because they are people such as cannot understand.”
Why must infidels be slaughtered? Because “they are people such as
cannot understand.” That is, they must be killed for their beliefs.
The philosopher quotes the Qur’an again (and again without preface or
“And combat on Allah’s path those who
combat you, and don’t disobey. True, Allah does not love the disobedient! And
kill them where you will find them; chase them from where they chased you:
association is a graver sin than murder. But don’t fight them near the sacred
Mosque unless they fight you there first. And if they fight you there, kill
them then. Such is the retribution against infidels. Should they cease, Allah
is, surely, forgiving and merciful.”
Consider the statement, “Association is a graver sin than murder.”
What constitutes ‘murder’? If a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, is that
murder? Not according to our Islamist philosopher. He has quoted a Quranic
text that says the killing of an infidel pleases Allah. Indeed, in the text,
Muslims are enjoined not to disobey Allah but to kill infidels “where you
will find them.” Since killing infidels is a sacred duty, it can’t be murder.
A Muslim can only commit murder when he kills another Muslim.
Thus, “Association is a graver sin than murder” means that for a
Muslim to have cordial relations with a non-Muslim is worse than killing a
What is our philosopher telling Muslims? That as long as they live in
a non-Islamic society, they must segregate themselves, avoid cordial
relations with non-Muslims, and prepare for the day when they can seize state
power and enforce the Islamic Order.
This, of course, will guarantee growing tension, leading to civil
Our philosopher explains:
Islamic movement may, or rather should, begin by seizing power as soon as it
possesses a good measure of moral and numerical strength, allowing it not
only to overthrow the non-Islamic power, but also to establish the new
Doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it?
Who is this Islamist philosopher?
Who did you think wrote the above quoted lines? Osama bin Laden?
Or maybe Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas?
Or perhaps you guessed it was some official in the Wahabbi
fundamentalist state of Saudi Arabia?
These are all good guesses. But in fact the author of these lines is
Alija Izetbegovic, leader of the Bosnian Muslim faction backed by the US and
NATO during Bosnia’s civil war. And the book he wrote, and from which all the
lines quoted above were taken, is entitled “Islamic Declaration”. (This is
sometimes translated, “Islamic Manifesto”). 
Izetbegovic had his book reissued before the crucial 1990 Bosnian
elections. Thus, it was his political manifesto for the 1990s.
If you previously heard of this book, you probably didn’t think there
was anything scary about it, because the Western press worked hard to make it
seem inoffensive. For example, this is what the Financial Times said:
“In 1983, [Izetbegovic] was sentenced.
. .for 14 years, commuted to five, for writing the ‘Islamic Declaration’, a
political tract which sought to reconcile European democratic principles with
(Sunni) Islamic teaching.”
Did you see anything in the quotes from Izetbegovic’s book that
sounded even remotely like “European democratic principles”?
Izetbegovic was not jailed for trying to reconcile “European
democratic principles” with Muslim beliefs. Who would have objected to that?
His book was meant to incite hatred and war against non-Muslims, and such was
the determination of the court that judged him, as the BBC reported in 1983,
when the sentence was passed down:
“...The court found the accused guilty
because it held that their activity had been directed against brotherhood and
unity, and the equality of our nations and nationalities with a view to
destroying Bosnia-Hercegovina as a Socialist Republic and thus of undermining
the social order of the SFRY.
For the criminal act of association
for the purpose of enemy activity and counter-revolutionary threatening of
the social order Alija (Mustafa) Izetbegovic was sentenced to 14 years’...”
To get the story right, all that the Financial Times had to do was
consult the news reports from 1983, and look at Izetbegovic’s book, as I have
done. Is it conceivable that the Financial Times does not know what is in
But the New York Times called Izetbegovic
a moderate. . .
So they did.
“The Bosnian President, Mr.
Izetbegovic, a Muslim Slav regarded by Western diplomats as a moderate…”
Were Western diplomats really fooled into believing Izetbegovic was a
moderate? Or did they just pretend to believe? Here is what former US
ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman said in an interview:
“As for Mr. Izetbegovic, we heard that
some call him a Muslim fundamentalist. We know what fundamentalism really
does, as we were its victims in Iran. That is why we do not believe that
Izetbegovic is some sort of fundamentalist. Actually, it seems like he is a
moderate politician who is trying to do the best in a difficult situation.”
He “heard” that some call Mr. Izetbegovic a fundamentalist? Was it a
vague rumor? Remember, Izetbegovic reissued his book in 1990. There is no
question that the diplomatic corps was aware of the book’s contents.
Moreover, as seen above, Izetbegovic had been famously imprisoned in
Yugoslavia for several years precisely because of his writings and other
activities meant to incite Islamist violence. None of this was a secret;
everybody in Yugoslavia knew it, and it is stated in the preface to the
French translation of his book (the one I have been using here).
And note Zimmermann’s argument:
1) Fundamentalism is bad;
2) If Izetbegovic were a
fundamentalist, that would be bad;
3) Therefore, Izetbegovic is not a
This Alice-in-Wonderland logic translates:
1) The American public would rebel if
the US government told them it was backing a fundamentalist (whose great
hero, by the way, is the Ayatollah Khomeini);
2) It would be bad if the American
3) Therefore we will simply say that
Izetbegovic is a moderate, and the truth be damned.
This became the position of the Western mainstream media, as I show in
part 2 of this series. Almost without exception, the media—and, I am afraid,
many academics—lied about the Izetbegovic regime, precisely as intended by US
officials such as Warren Zimmermann.
Up next I show how the media went out of its way to paint fascists as
victims, and their victims as fascists: the mainstream media turned Bosnia
Continue to part 2:
Footnotes and Further Reading