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Bosnian government seen covering up naturalized citizens, terrorist suspects
BBC Monitoring ^ | August 12, 2005

Posted on 08/22/2005 3:48:44 PM PDT by joan

Text of article by Esad Hecimovic entitled "Mujahidin from Centar municipality, Sarajevo" published by the Bosnian newspaper Dani on 12 August - subheadings as published

In the last issue of our magazine we wrote about the five Pakistanis who wanted to move into the mosque in Dobrinja: where were they at the time and what did they want from our country? Our journalists have gone a step further: searching for 740 people, B-H [Bosnia-Hercegovina] citizens descended from African and Asian countries, in whom the investigators of Al-Qa'idah are now interested, we have found that a high 504 were granted citizenship in Sarajevo, in Centar municipality, registering themselves as residing at addresses they never lived at!

The staff of Dani magazine, after carrying out their own investigation, analysed the extensive records proving that the wartime and postwar B-H authorities had carried out an extensive operation of covering up the identities of many people wanted by both Western and Islamic countries for possible links to terrorist groups.

Dani compared the lists of 740 B-H citizens descended from African and Asian countries who were under local and international investigations in late 2001 and early 2002 for possible links to Al-Qa'idah with the lists of people who were under local and international investigations. The results of the check were shocking: out of 740 people, a high 504 had been granted citizenship in Sarajevo, primarily in Centar municipality, registering themselves as residing at addresses they never lived at. However, in addition to many irregularities and flaws in the procedure of granting those people B-H citizenship, the Dani research also indicated that the B-H government had used racial profiling of their citizens in order to cover up the identities of people who were really wanted by many countries.

First Lieutenant Abu Maali

In the most significant of such examples, the B-H Presidency granted the commander of the Al-Mujahid Squad the rank of captain first class, and then the MUP [Ministry of Interior] granted him citizenship under a fake identity. According to the decision of the RBiH [Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina] Presidency dated 5 August 1994, the commander of the Al-Mujahid Squad, under the name of Abu Maali, was promoted to the rank of captain first class. According to the information now available to public, that person was granted B-H citizenship by decision of the B-H RMUP [Republic Ministry of Interior] number 07/2-204-357/92, dated 13 March 1992, under the name of Khalid Ibn Abdullah, born on 24 July 1967 in Kuwait.

The RMUP informed the Sarajevo CSB [Security Service Centre] about that on 3 October 1995, based on which, on 28 December 1995, the CSB Sarajevo decided to subsequently register that person in the birth register of Centar municipality, Sarajevo. In the birth register of Centar municipality for the year 1996 he was registered under the number 10908. Then the person's name was changed from Ibn Abdullah to Catic in that register. The rest of the information remained unchanged. On 5 April 1999, the person registered 16 Cekalusa, Sarajevo, as his place of residence.

At that point, at the request of the US government, the programme of US military aid to the B-H Federation Army was discontinued because of that person. Nobody found it strange that the former mujahidin commander was registered at the address of the Spanish embassy in Sarajevo!

He was issued a new passport the very next day. Just three months later, the person allegedly left B-H in order to spare its authorities US pressure. Abu Maali then kept returning to the country until the autumn of 2001. At that time, it was revealed in a US media research that the person was actually a citizen of Algeria under the name of Abdelkader Mokhtar.

When a person appears in front of a state official without the necessary identification documents, that state official has the right to register that he personally knows that person. The person's identity is thus verified by an authorized state official's personal familiarity with that person. The state is thus personalized in the official and his knowledge at the moment there are no documents that would verify somebody's identity. Wartime photographs and footage, created in September 1995, confirm that at least two important state officials, [wartime B-H president] Alija Izetbegovic and Sakib Mahmuljin, were familiar with the Al-Mujahid commander.

So why did the state, almost eight years after promoting him to first lieutenant, in early 2002, produce a list on which the person was registered as a fake Kuwaiti citizen residing at the address of the Spanish embassy in Sarajevo?

The Travnik connection

Just days after the terrorist attack on the United States, the state and federal entity governments in B-H requested an extensive check of passports issued to naturalized B-H citizens born outside of the territory of the former SFRY [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]. The B-H Council of Ministers, as early as 20 September 2001, asked for a list of persons of Arab descent to whom passports were issued in 1992 or later.

The state thus chose to racially profile its citizens, which is probably one of the most serious violations a state could commit against its citizens. If anything, B-H has a recent experience of the consequences of a government classifying its citizens according to racial, ethnic or religious criteria. As a consequence, a list of 740 B-H citizens of Arab descent, including the wives and even children of persons suspected of connections to Al-Qa'idah, with all the addresses at which they and their families are registered as residing, can be found on the internet. By choosing racial profiling, which identified responsible individuals with their ethnic groups, the government again covered up the actual suspects.

For instance, the list describes Abu Maali as a Kuwaiti, although the public knows very well, even from his rare wartime interviews, that he is Algerian. The authorities issued at least two passports to Abu Maali. One, marked BH 540623, was issued on 4 September 1995 in the name of Khalid Ibn Abdullah, and the other, marked 0857563, on 6 April 1999.

Instead of him, the list contains the names of 75 persons from Algeria who gained citizenship by being registered in the birth registers of the municipalities of Centar in Sarajevo, Zenica and Jelah-Tesanj. Five out of the 75 people are now in the US military detention camp in Guantanamo, Cuba: all were granted B-H citizenship under the same name under which they are now in Cuba.

Two were granted citizenship in Zenica, two in Sarajevo, and one in Tesanj. Their names are known: Bensayah Belkacem, Nechla Mohamed, Bouda Alhadj, Boumediene Lakhdar and Ait Idr Mustafa. The sixth prisoner from the so-called Algerian group, Saber Lahmar, did not have B-H citizenship, but a permanent residence permit. B-H and FBiH [Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina] authorities stripped them of citizenship and the residence permit after their arrest, and then the ruling of the Human Rights House forced them to restore their acquired rights. Only in the case of Belkacem did the government carry out a court procedure proving that he had gained B-H citizenship using fake documents, to which Belkacem admitted.

Other Algerians who were granted B-H citizenship under their real names after fighting in the Al-Mujahid unit during the war have been extradited to some western or Islamic countries or were arrested in B-H by Sfor [UN-led Stabilization Force] or even local authorities. For example, Zitouni Perenda Muhamed was arrested by Sfor and returned to Travnik police station after a hearing. Travnik police station is one of the most important addresses when analysing the way former mujahidin acquired passports, but the authorities obviously have not carried out such an analysis even years after the fact.

Paper and reality

Among the Algerian-descended citizens of B-H arrested by local authorities was Boulbair Salih, born in 1971 in Grarem Mill - Constantine in Algeria. Boulbair was granted B-H citizenship by decision of the Justice Ministry dated 19 March 1997. The Sarajevo Canton MUP was informed of that on 26 March 1997. The Canton MUP took almost eight months to complete the subsequent registration in the birth register.

Only on 11 December 1997 Boulbair was registered in the birth register of Centar municipality. The registration was verified by the signature of Canton Interior Minister Ismet Dahic. Then, on 16 December, his place of residence was registered as 6 Kralja Tvrtka, Sarajevo. As soon as 18 December he was issued a passport, BA 663762, and a personal identity card, 16327/97, in PU [Police Administration] Centre.

The reality was different. Salih Boulbair, aged 27, was a member of VJ [military unit] 5689 under the name of Abu Musab Telal from 12 November 1994 to 25 December 1995. That meant he was living in Tetovo, near Zenica. He was arrested in Tetovo, near Zenica, in October 1997, and was in prison during October and November, under investigation for various allegations. Among other things, he was sentenced to 15 days in prison for "not applying for a permit for temporary residence in the territory of the Republic of B-H".

He was released on 2 November, but arrested again while he was leaving Zenica KPD [Correctional Facility]. He was returned to pretrial detention. He was eventually deported from B-H on 7 December 1997. The Algerian embassy in Vienna inquired about him and was informed that he was no longer in B-H.

The racial and ethnic profiling of allegedly suspicious B-H citizens created the impression that those were ethnically organized groups (an Algerian group, an Egyptian group, and so on), while international investigations suggested that those were transethnic groups not bound by ethnic or national affiliation.

There are other elements of their internal loyalty. For instance, Choulah Zoheir and Said Atmani were arrested in B-H in 2001 and extradited to France. Those were just two extraditions in a broader international investigation of the so-called Roubaix Network of people from Canada, France and Great Britain. The persons involved were from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco by origin. They were connected by the fact that they fought for the B-H Army during the war in B-H and then committed many crimes in the countries where they were accepted as refugees.

Choulah was granted B-H citizenship on 4 January by RMUP decision and registered in the birth register of Centar municipality, Sarajevo, the next day. His residence was registered as Stari Grad, then Novi Grad, and then another location in Sarajevo. Choulah was cleared of charges in France. The authorities were allegedly not informed that they themselves had deported Choulah to France and looked for him at one of the addresses for possible links to the "Algerian group".

From Abdesthana to Montreal

Said Atmani was granted B-H citizenship by decision of the RMUP dated 16 January 1995 and then registered in the birth register of Stari Grad municipality, Sarajevo, on 31 January 1995. At the time they were granted B-H citizenship, both Choulah and Atmani were registered at the same address in Stari Grad, Sarajevo - 4 Abdesthana. As soon as 2 February 1995, Atmani got a B-H passport, number BH 552438. As it turned out, as soon as 1996 Atmani left B-H for Canada and lived there until 1998, when he was deported to B-H.

While in Montreal, he was under antiterrorist investigation and supervision. After his return to B-H, on 12 June 1999 he was issued a new B-H passport, number 1232551, and a personal identity card in the Stari Grad PU. Half a year later, a broad international search for Atmani began. In December 1999, the US, Canadian and French governments were looking for him and Sfor cautioned its troops about him. He turned out to have been living in Novi Travnik under his wife's surname.

One of the reasons for such a search for him was that during his stay in Canada, Atmani had been the roommate of Ahmed Ressam, arrested in December 1999 while trying to cross into the United States from Canada in a Jeep full of explosives. After ceasing to cooperate with US investigators, in late July 2005 Ahmed Ressam was sentenced to 22 years in prison for attempting a terrorist attack on an airport in Los Angeles.

It was the discovery of his links to a group of former mujahidin in B-H that led the US administration to request, in late 1999 and early 2000, a check of the persons of Arab descent who had been granted B-H citizenship. Dani's research shows that the investigation launched at that time hid more than it revealed regarding who had been granted B-H citizenship and how.

[Box, pp 22, 23] From Pakistan into Sarajevo mosque: is DGS covering up for Omer Behmen?

In the last issue of Dani we carried a story about the five Pakistanis who landed at Sarajevo airport and managed to explain to the taxi driver that they wanted to go to the nearest mosque. They were taken to Dobrinja. Upon arrival, the guests asked that the mosque be unlocked, because they wanted to spend the night in it!? They allegedly managed to explain that they were not representatives of the Pakistani government and that they came to B-H at the invitation of the Young Muslims organization, led by Omer Behmen.

Checking how the Pakistani citizens ever reached B-H, we contacted the State Border Service [DGS] first. The official response was that they were familiar with the case and that the Pakistanis had "valid passports with visas issued by the B-H embassy in Islamabad".

When asked about the procedure they used for the citizens of so-called "high risk" countries, to which Pakistan belongs to a high degree, the DGS answered that "a security procedure of increased supervision and control, including interviewing such persons", was used in such cases. Although the DGS failed to inform us what had been done in that actual case, obviously nobody had asked the Pakistanis where they were going, because if they had, the answer would have been: "To a mosque." Was that answer perhaps sufficient for somebody to allow them to enter B-H?

On the other hand, the DGS explained that they could not reveal the identities of those people and that "all information and identification data were a part of official police records and used for police purposes".

We called the police and were informed that an investigation into the entire case had been launched and that they were also curious about how the Pakistanis had reached B-H and where they were staying! According to their information, we were told, they were issued tourist visas to enter B-H on 23 July. Their visas are good until 22 August, until which time their presence in the country is legal and they do not have to report to police.

The procedure for obtaining a B-H visa is clear, at least according to the web page of the Foreign Ministry [MIP]: the Pakistani citizens who wanted to come to B-H had to be invited by somebody. However, the MIP has no information on that, because it only receives the basic information on persons issued visas: their names and surnames, and the types of their visas. Or is the MIP perhaps covering up for Omer Behmen?

The police emphasized that they insisted on information on how the Pakistani citizens came to B-H. However, they admitted that they had information on a rather large number of Pakistanis living in Sarajevo and that the five could have been invited by some of them.

If that is established, the question remains why nobody greeted them at the airport and why they were not given a place to stay. This way, their presence in B-H is highly suspicious, especially if we know that Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf ordered all foreign students of Islamic schools deported from Pakistan after the recent terrorist attack on London! And, of course, it is up to the police to detect Omer Behmen's role in inviting people to stay in Sarajevo mosques!

[Box, p 24] B-H citizens (table heading)

Country of origin; number of persons

Algeria 75

Egypt 87

Iraq 27

Iran 9

Yemen 19

Jordan 80

Kuwait 27

Lebanon 28

Libya 17

Morocco 18

Palestine 26

Saudi Arabia 18

Syria 108

Sudan 76

Tunisia 49

Turkey 43

Albania 2

Bahrain 1

Djibouti 2

Gambia 1

Georgia 1

France 2

Qatar 4

Comoros 1

Luxembourg 1

Mali 1

Mauritania 2

Germany 1

Oman 3

Pakistan 5

Somalia 1

Switzerland 1

UAE [United Arab Emirates] 5

Total 741

[Box, p 24] B-H Algerians: the state list

The list of Algerians who have been granted B-H citizenship contains the following names [all as published]: Baouchi Badra, Raffaq Jilali, Sofiane Amer, Huseinovic Nadjia, Bekkaye Abdelmalek, Fares Rachida, Boukhalfa Ziden, Zedioui Riad, Bendaoud Abdelkade - Faruk Alic, Atia Mohamed - Kokic Murad, Zitouni Mohamed, Merabiti Ouarda, Karfa Azeddine-Omerovic, Ait Idir Mustafa - Ait Idir, Lamrani Atika, Lamrani Djamel, Younsi Mohamed, Benhammoud Hakim, Ghlam Abed, Benaissa Abdelmajid, Benounene Abdelkader, Mokadem Ahmed, Kaltak Fatima, Mokhtar Ahdouga Mohamed-Arezki, Sehili Ghani, Sakhri Smail, Bengroniche Belinza, Boulbair Salih, Boumediene Lakhdar, Bouadjmi Abassia Nawal, Hellassi Halima, Boumedmed Rekia, Arar Mohammed Nadjib, Yahia Aissa Mehdi Tahar, Kaddari Mohamed, Choulah Zoheir, Sahli Ali, Moussa Hassene, Djedaini Brahim, Mehdaoui Mohamed, Saihi Mohamed, Ouchene Mohamed, Merabiti Nabila, Senoussaoui Houcine, Yahia Aerhouche, Zemerline Merouane-Julardzija, Lebbad Mohamed, Karim Abbes, Akhriche Maamar, Merabiti Salim, Saadna Bahi Amar Mohamed, Bouras Rabah, Rahahala Kamel, Gasmi Zeinedine Reda, Habchi Hadj-Mokhtar, Saoud Samra, Benkhira Aissa, Boudellaa Haj, Frendi Omar, Gherbi Ahmed, Bouleghalegh Mohamed, Hamwi Hecham, Saoud Salim, Djaroun Rachid, Hanouf Mounir a.k.a. Ahmed and Abu Harb, Dikes Mahdi a.k.a. Halid, Douida Larbi, Attou Mimoun, Nechla Mohamed a.k.a. Sarafeldin, Boudellaa Abdel Jabar, Belaidi Said, Boutrif Djamel, Bensayah Belkacem a.k.a. Mezd, Mourad Ben Hamza and Djemiat Smail.

SOURCE: Dani, Sarajevo, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 12 Aug 05 pp 20-24

© Copyright 2005 British Broadcasting Corporation
Posted for Fair Use only.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: balkans; bosnia

1 posted on 08/22/2005 3:49:57 PM PDT by joan
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To: Balkans


2 posted on 08/22/2005 3:50:29 PM PDT by joan
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To: joan
"Bosnian government seen covering up naturalized citizens, terrorist suspects"

Isn't that a shocker? /sarc

3 posted on 08/22/2005 4:14:09 PM PDT by isrul
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