Bosnia--a new Islamist sanctuary?


American military intelligence and the CIA have deployed hundreds of officers in Bosnia to track suspected Islamic militants amid concern that the country has become a refuge, recruiting ground and cash conduit for international terrorism.

Almost a decade after the end of the war in the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia has become a "one-stop shop" for Islamic militants heading from terrorist battlegrounds in Chechnya and Afghanistan to Iraq, according to European intelligence officials.

With five months to go before European Union peacekeepers take over from Nato troops in Bosnia, the United States is preparing for a huge cut in its military presence.

But local sources say that, while its soldiers will leave, about 300 intelligence personnel will monitor the activities of Muslim foreign fighters who settled peacefully in Bosnia after the end of the 1992-95 war. They are believed to be providing documents and weapons to active mujahedeen returning to the country after tours abroad.


Other agencies say US operations have begun to sour relations with local people that were once extremely harmonious.

"The US had everything going for it here," said Madeleine Rees, head of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Sarajevo. "It stopped the war, set up and funded human rights initiatives. But then it bypassed the local police, courts and legal system, and now confidence in the US has plummeted."

Well, harboring people bent on destroying the US tends to sour relations too. Bosnia sounds like just another ungrateful European country that has been saved by the US.


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