Bosnia and Herzegovina and Terrorism 1996-2011: Defining the Threat, Devising Counterterrorism Strategy

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


The Dangerous Landscape, p.191-209 (2013)


Following the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC on September 11, 2001 and a sudden upsurge in attention to Islamic affairs worldwide, Bosnia and Herzegovina came under scrutiny for alleged links to Al-Qaeda and the so-called global jihadist movement. These allegations were based on the presence and activities of Islamic volunteer fighters (mujahedeen), missionaries, and foreign Muslim charities in the country during the 1992-1995 war and, in some instances, their later affiliation with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. The fact that more than a million indigenous Muslims live in Bosnia and Herzegovina added in no small measure to the haste and care with which these links were investigated. It is already a well-documented fact that, as of 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina was indeed a meeting point for members of various militant Islamist groups. Wartime events habitually described by Western media as “the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two” served as a rallying cry for Muslims around the world. Many of them felt that genocide was taking place, and some believed that jihad was the answer. Those who decided to join the fight began arriving in Bosnia early in the summer of 1992. Some came directly from training camps in Afghanistan; others arrived from the Middle East, North Africa, or immigrant communities in Western Europe, where they had been recruited in mosques and Islamic centers. This effort was bolstered by the arrival of Islamic missionaries and charities that embarked on a spiritual and humanitarian mission to aid the embattled Bosnian Muslims. The most conservative estimate is that the number of foreign Islamic fight-ers in Bosnia totaled 600 to 700; while the boldest, and probably most exaggerated, alleges that some 20,000 mujahideen were in the country between 1992 and 1995 ...