The Americans love coming up with catchy and punchy terms. Take for instance “blowback”, a term used in espionage to describe the unintended consequences of covert operations. In the war on terror context it means former Mujahaddin Islamic holy war warriors once sponsored by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the cold war who have now turned against their former paymaster.
I have travelled to the Balkans region four times, including spending a 12-month stint as a stringer for a major British newspaper in 2002 at the tail end of the war in tiny Macedonia. In my time in the volatile Balkans, perhaps the research laboratory for world destruction, I learnt three valuable lessons: everyone believes in conspiracy theories; never take things at face value; and good guys can become bad guys and vice versa in an instant.
So it comes as no great surprise to discover that there is an incredible Balkan example of “Reverse Blowback” now hitting the media in both Serbia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A report titled, Jihad, bought and sold on January 26, 2009 by ISA Consulting, a non-profit international think tank reveals an interesting individual offering his services in the fight on terror:
He is an Islamic warrior who fought in Bosnia during the war, a fierce follower of jihad who has pledged to die in the name of God, a convicted terrorist and proclaimed al-Qaida commander. Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad is now trying to sell information about atrocities committed by his warriors in Bosnia in return for asylum.
The report adds:
A native of Bahrain, Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad, known during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war as “Ubaidah al-Bahraini”, was released on 30 December 2008 from a Bosnian prison where he served a 12-year sentence for robbery and terrorism.
Ali Hamad was a high-ranking officer of the notorious El-Mujahid unit, composed of foreign fighters from Islamic countries, and under the command of the Bosnian Army. El-Mujahid committed war crimes against ethnic Serbs and Croats in Bosnia. In 1997 Ali Hamad was eventually locked up for masterminding a terrorist car bomb attack in the Bosnian town of Mostar (Old Bridge) aimed against the ethnic Croat population.
Irony of ironies, he is now seeking asylum in Serbia, his former enemy in the Bosnian war, after his Bosnian citizenship was revoked and with deportation to his native Bahrain on the cards.
The ISA report explains:
Ali Hamad told local media that he is since "reformed" and is now ready to help "fight terrorism" and Osama bin Laden, admitting that he did "bad things" as an al-Qaida fighter. He also revealed that he was preparing to release a book containing secrets about al-Qaida based on his experiences in Bahrain, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
The Bosnian war was a result of the break up of the former Yugoslavia and in a three-way struggle which pitted Muslim Bosnians (Bosnjaks) against ethnic Serbs, against ethnic Croats, in a bid to control the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosna-Hercegovina). No one can forget the images of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo being bombarded constantly by Serb artillery or the infamous Serb concentration camp with emaciated Muslim Bosnian prisoners or the UN’s inability to stop the slaughter of Muslim Bosnians at Srebrenica. The war ended with the US-brokered Dayton Agreement in 1995.
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