Here is an interview of Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros or Barbarossa (named after his red beard and Khayreddine, the naval commander and greek privateer of the Ottoman empire). He is also known as Abdul Rahman al-Dosari, he fought in Afghanistan in the 80s after Abdullah Azzam called for recruits in Saudi Arabia. After fighting the Soviets he went to Bosnia, initially for a reconnaissance mission to see if there was a possibility of establishing operations there. He eventually established a headquarters in a school in Travnik, central Bosnia. His battalions provided training to several foreign contingents. A British citizen, Shahid Butt was one of the earliest foreign fighters to join Abu Abdel Aziz. The former then went on to publicise the cause amongst Muslims in the UK. Other Brits followed including Baber Ahmed and Abu Hamza al-Masri. Ironically, according to one veteran I spoke to, the biggest recruitment for Abu Abel Aziz was actually a profile on him by TIME magazine that put him on the Muslim map and made foreign fighters flock to Bosnia. Although they had a minimum impact on the conflict they were seen by President Alija Izetbegović as having symbolic value similar to the way the Afghan leadership viewed the Afghan Arabs.
The US deemed him to be a senior al-Qaeda recruiter and places him in various conflict zones including the Philippines, Kashmir and parts of Africa. Nine years later Gulf News reported that he was leading militants who kidnapped foreign tourists in the Philippines.
The following interview was conducted by Tawfiq Tabib, Jordanian born a saw mill employee in Pittsburgh, who interviewed Barbaros in August 1994. Mr. Tabib himself came under scrutiny after FBI linked him to radicals. The interview highlights the following:
- Importance of Abdullah Azzam to global Jihadism
- Afghanistan as a cradle of global Jihad and conflicts such as Syria
- Submission of Mujahideen to Bosnian leadership
- Cooperation or consultation between religious clerics and Mujahideen
- That Abu Abdel Aziz followed a model closer to Arab Services Bureau than al-Qaeda
- Note also the role of Anwar Shabaan’s crucial role amongst the Mujahideen
I present the interview in its entirety for the interested reader. The editor’s notes in the interview is that of the magazine.
A Note on the Bosnian Mujahideen
According to court documents relating to the prosecution of Rasim Delić more information can be gleaned about the foreign fighters. Delić was commander of the ABIH main staff. Interestingly there are many similarities between the Bosnian and Syrian conflict in the way foreign fighters operated, except that in the Syrian case many of the issues that the Bosnians faced were magnified and went out of control.
Earliest foreign fighters came in the summer 1992 and entered via Croatia with help from the Croatian authorities. A witness of Bahraini origin Ali Hammad says that the fighters came for three reasons: 1. ‘Dawah’ or proselytising Islam 2. Fighting Jihad 3. Creating a base of military operations. Some had links with al-Qaeda. There were several Muslim foreign fighter contingents which over time became filled with indigenous Bosnian Mujahideen who outnumbered them in rank and file. In 1992 there were only a handful of foreign fighters by 1993 there were a thousand strong.
The three main groups were Abu Abdel Aziz Barbaros based in Travnik. Abu Zubair was based in Željezno Polje Tešanj and Borovnica and Abu Hamza based on Guča Gora. They remained distinct, didn’t have military insignia and liked to operate as separate units from each other. There seemed to be similarities with the Syrian example where possible rivalries and competing visions of individual commanders came to the fore.
The foreign fighters vision was very different from how the Bosnian army viewed itself. The latter saw itself as representing a multi-ethnic army and state and had Serbs like Jovan Divjak serving in its ranks at a senior level. Hence very early on whilst the political leadership may view the foreign Muslim fighters of having symbolic value the Bosnian army did not. An internal Bosnian communique suggested that the Mujahideen were acting “outside the usual context and lawful methods of combat which is directly detrimental to the Bosnian state and to the RBIH army.” In fact, one eye witness of the siege of Sarajevo told this author that the Serbs and the Croats used the presence of foreign fighters to stoke up ethnic tensions in the conflict.It was therefore paramount that they be incorporated under the military leadership.
However irrespective of their incorporation to the Bosnian regular army they were accused of excesses. See for instance the case of Enver Hadžihasanović and Amir Kubura case at the Hague here. The Mujahideen battalions were accused of murder, torture and sexual violence as well as contravening the Geneva convention. In one instance a camp run by the foreign fighters resulted in a macabre spectacle which lead to Delić’s prosecution:
“On 24 July 1995, one VRS prisoner Gojko Vujicic was decapitated in the Kamenica Camp and all the other prisoners were forced to kiss the severed head, after which the head was placed on a hook of the wall in the room where the prisoners were held.”
In December 1993 Mujahideen Corps was formed. It’s first leader was a Libyan, Abu Haris followed by an Algerian, Abu Maali who was the official Emir of the military council. It’s military commander since 1993 was Egyptian Vahidin or Wahiuddin following his death in the same year another Egyptian Muatez took over until he was killed in 22 September 1995.
It’s organisational structure was based on 20 strong shura council who elected members and discussed the issues surrounding the battalion. The Shura members were mostly senior Arab members. The Emir was answerable to the 20 strong and they could overturn his decision. The rank and file wore no insignia, didn’t have ranking markers or carried military identification papers. Although like in Syria when the mujahideen corps entered battle they wore ribbons to identify them and carried the black banner of Jihad. In 1994 they had Sheikh Enver Shaban of the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italy, to join the leadership. He seems to be an Abdullah Azzam-like figure who seemed to have recruited and publicised the cause in the Muslim world. He was seen as the ‘real’ Emir and issued fatwas as well as made decisions which wasn’t opposed by the Shura council. Shaban an Abu Haris were killed in 14 December 1994 at a checkpoint.
The battalion also operated somewhat differently from the rest of the Bosnian army. It issued communiques to the Muslim world. The shura council operated on a quasi-judicial status which could exclude members for disciplinary infractions and focused on religious instructions. Its rank and file could not marry locals until they had served for six months and needed permission from the detachment. The Mujahideen battalion were disbanded by the 1995 Dayton accords. Some of the Mujahideen wanted to carry on fighting but they accepted their dissolution. Some then applied for Bosnian citizenship and others left Bosnia.
Q. To begin with, we would like to welcome the Mujahid Abu Abdel Aziz. We would like him to give us a brief overview of how he came to know Jihad. What are in your opinion the characteristics of the Mujahid in this time and era?
A. All grace be to Allah, as is due unto Him, and I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is his slave and messenger. To begin with, I would like to thank the newsletter Al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem for its interest in Jihad and Mujahideen, and its interest to propagate (Islam) in this land, which is a land of Kufr (unbelief), and permissiveness. I would like to commend them for propagating (the right knowledge about Islam), especially reminding Muslims of their role in standing up to the propaganda of others (against them) in this land, so that the light of Islam and its purity become clear. May Allah reward you with the best.
Now, concerning the beginning of Jihad in my case, I was one of those who heard about Jihad in Afghanistan when it started. I used to hear about it, but was hesitant about (the purity and intention of) this Jihad. This -and Allah knows best- is most probably because we forgot the concept of Jihad in Islam. We became part of those who subscribe to the conception that Islam means Istislam (submission) and Salam (peace), and that Jihad was only prescribed at the dawn of Islam, and now it is history and that the present forum is one of call and propagation of the faith (Da`wah). This credo reached the point that the lights of Jihad, its rules and prescriptions (as detailed in the coded Islamic legal text), faded (and disappeared) from our daily reality in the Ummah (World Muslim Community). But Allah -in His infinite wisdom and planning – made it such that these brothers in Afghanistan declared Jihad (against the communist government and the Russian intruders) and revived this important element of Islam to teach people anew that Jihad means “to fight to make the word of Allah supreme and the word of the disbelievers low and despised.” (Qur’an)
One of those who came to our land (presumably Saudi Arabia) was sheikh Dr. Abdallah Azzam — may his soul rest in peace – I heard him rallying the youth to come forth and (join him) to go to Afghanistan. This was in 1984 – I think. I decided to go and check the matter for myself. This was, and all praise be to Allah, the beginning (of my journey with) Jihad. I am still following this same path. I have found that the best sacrifice we can offer for the sake of Allah, is our souls, then our possession. This is because Allah said in his holy book, “Behold, God has bought from the believers their lives and their possession, promising them paradise in return, (and so) they fight in God’s cause, slay, and are slain: a promise which in truth He has willed upon Himself in (the words of) the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who could be more faithful to his bond than God? Rejoice, then, in the bargain which you have made with Him: for this, this is is the triumph supreme!” (At-Tawbah 9:111)
Then the conquest of Kabul came, and we thanked Allah, praised be He. The joy of Jihad overwhelmed our hearts. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “The highest peak of Islam is Jihad.” We were looking for Jihad (after Afghanistan). We found it in the Philippines, and in Kashmir. Only fifteen days lapsed (after the conquest of Kabul) and the crisis of Bosnia begun. This confirmed the saying of the Prophet (of Islam), peace and blessings be upon him, who said, “Indeed Jihad will continue till the day of Judgment.” A new Jihad started in Bosnia, (we moved there), and we are with it, if Allah wills.
As to your question about the characteristics needed for someone to be a Mujahid, I say: Belief in Allah, praised be He (comes first). He should be in our sight, heart and mind. We have to make Jihad to make His word supreme, not for a nationalistic cause, a tribal cause, a group feeling or any other cause. This matter is of great importance in this era, especially since many groups fight and want to see to it that their fighting is Jihad and their dead ones are martyrs. We have to investigate this matter and see under what banner one fights.
THE MEDIA CAMPAIGN (AGAINST JIHAD)
Q. Within the context of the International media campaign against Jihad, how do you evaluate the Muslims’ approach to Jihad, especially after the intended distortion of the Afghan experiment?
A. The main purpose of the International media campaign against Jihad is to paint it with the trait of terrorism and things of that sort. (This is done) to push people away from it. They know that Muslims, if they hold tight to Jihad, will achieve the intended thrust which will make them reach whatever Allah wills. They know quite well that the Muslim zeal to Jihad stems from the belief that Allah is the sole source of victory, He will send His help from the sky and that if the Mujahid dies, his abode shall be the highest Firdaws (Peak of Paradise), among the prophets (Nabiyyin), the truthful (Siddiqin) and martyrs (Shuhada’), and those near to Allah, as Allah, praised be He, said, “They are with their Lord receiving their bounty (Rizq).” The media campaign wants to convince people and prove to them that the Jihad in Afghanistan failed, that the Afghan experiment is utter shame. This thesis is widespread whether you consider Western sources or the secular (Arab ones). The truth of the matter is that there is a confusion of facts. What is happening (today) in Kabul is erroneous, however it does not tarnish the brightness of Jihad and its necessity (as an Islamic injunction).
THE WESTERN MEDIA AND ABU ABDEL AZIZ
Q. Many people – especially in the West – came to know Abu Abdel Aziz through the Western media first. What do you think about the present Islamic media and their presence in Jihad battle-zones?
A. It is a pity that the media is in the hands of the West. They are far ahead of (official and otherwise) Islamic media; manifolds indeed. They have institutes teaching this art and they compete to obtain information and news, especially when it comes to Jihad. Westerners wanted to present Jihad and those participating in it and I am one of those they featured personally. This is a new breed for them, especially in the West. It is (also) because Bosnia is in the heart of Europe and from it Jihad was declared. The Islamic presence is very poor (in this journalistic domain). Most Muslims are content with translations and report what the Westerners themselves investigate. The events and analyses are not presented from an Islamic angle. We hope Muslim reporters come to us and research the events themselves and not stay behind their desks and simply translate reports and news. (They must investigate claims themselves).
HOW DID JIHAD START IN BOSNIA?
Q. In short, how did (your) Jihad start in Bosnia, and what is the truth to the existence of an Arab Mujahideen Brigade under your command? What is its role and what are its relations with the Bosnian government?
A. As I told you before, when Jihad in Afghanistan was over, with the conquest of Kabul, I went with four of those who participated in Afghanistan to Bosnia to check out the landscape. We wanted to see things with a closer eye. I wanted to find out the truth to what is reported by the Western media. And surely, as was reported, there was persecution of Bosnian Muslims. Many were slaughtered, others were killed, while others were forced to exile. The chastity of their women was infringed upon for the simple reason that they were Muslims. The Christians took advantage of the fact that the Muslims were defenceless with no arms. They recalled their age-old hatred. As to Arab Mujahideen (in Bosnia), they do not have a separate battalion. There is a battalion for non-Bosnian fighters. Arabs are a minority compared to those of the Mujahideen (gathered from around the World). This battalion is under a unified command and is called Kateebat al-Mujahideen (Mujahideen Battalion), Odred “El-Mudzahidin” as they call them in Bosnian. Militarily, it has a link to the Bosnian government under the general command of the Bosnian Armed Forces. It is in fact part of the seventh battalion (SEDMI KORPUS, ARMIJA REPUBLIKE BH) of the Bosnian Army.
I am a field commander under the “General Unified Armed Command”. We have – and all grace be to Allah – full jurisdiction in the region we are responsible for (Editor’s note: Mostly central Bosnia). The general command of the Muslim forces wants to see results, it does not dictate strategy or action.
THE MEETING WITH ULEMA
Q. We heard, and many brothers heard, that you met with prominent Ulema and scholars in the Muslim World and discussed with them the question of Jihad in Bosnia. Can you tell us some of their views and the issues you discussed?
A. First, we consider our scholars the light and guidance of Islam. They are the heirs of prophets (as the Hadith says, “warathat al-Anbiya”). Our duty is to seek knowledge from them and guidance from their scholarly light (sic). I – alhamdulillah – met several prominent Ulema. Among them Sheikh Nasir ad-Din al-Albani, Sheikh Abdel Aziz Bin Baz and Sheikh Muhammad Bin Otheimin and others in the Gulf area. Alhamdulillah, all grace be to Allah, they all support the religious dictum that “the fighting in Bosnia is a fight to make the word of Allah supreme and protect the chastity of Muslims. It is because Allah said (in his holy book), “Yet, if they ask you for succour against religious persecution, it is your duty to give [them] this succour.” (Lit. “to succour them in religion”, Qur’an, al-Anfal, 8:72). It is then our (religious) duty to defend our Muslim brethren wherever they are, as long as they are persecuted because they are Muslims and not for any other reason.
(You asked about) the circumstances of my meeting with Sheikh Nasir ad-Din al-Albani – may Allah protect him. (I must note) that he is one of the great Ulema of this time and one seeks guidance in the light of his knowledge and view. (I say) in my last meeting with him, he was supportive of Jihad in Bosnia-Herzegovina (as a religious duty). However, he told us not to attack – that is we, the Arab Mujahideen – since we were the smaller host (Editor’s note: In reference to King Saul and his army. Check Surah Baqarah (2: 250). “[Yet] those who knew with certainty that they were destined to meet God, replied: How often has a small host overcome a great host by God’s leave! For God is with those who are patient in adversity.”) (The Sheikh) was afraid we might get killed in large numbers if we engaged people in the fight. However, he requested that we dig in and be at the most advanced defensive-lines (Khat ad-Difa` al-Awwal) to defend those persecuted. This is a brief summary of his view – may Allah protect him. The rest of the Ulema support Jihad by any means (defensive or offensive). You must understand that – militarily speaking – the number of those killed in defence is (far) higher than those killed in attack. This is due to the fact that in attack, clashes and skirmishes take place between Mujahideen and Kuffar (non-believers). The Kafir (unbeliever) does not throw himself arbitrarily in the cross-fire for fear of killing his companions. This fact lowers the number of the dead and this is the most important fact of the matter.
BETWEEN AFGHANISTAN AND BOSNIA
Q. People speak these days about Jihad. What comes in their minds though, is the in-fighting between different Islamist groups in Afghanistan. Do you think – based on your on-the-field-expertise and knowledge of Bosnia and Afghanistan – that Bosnia will, one day, become just another Afghanistan?
A. First, each crisis has its own circumstances and many reasons (which are not clear) as to why things happen the way they do. (For instance), what comes in the minds of many Muslim brothers when questioning the reasons for the in-fighting between the Islamists groups in Afghanistan: Could such a thing happen in Bosnia in the future? God forbid. I say: First, what is happening in Afghanistan is due to the absence of religious conscious and restraint (Wazi` Deeni) as the primary factor (for such a dire condition). This is what (salafist) Sheikh Nasir ad-Din al-Albani (of Jordan) recounted: “We were hesitant and afraid to spread the correct Sunni practice (Da`wa) within our brethren. We were afraid to cause a fitna, dissension, and clash between the different schools of jurisprudence.” (Editorial note: Most Afghans are Hanafis. Sheikh al-Albani refers to Ahl al-Hadith school, mostly Hanbalite-Salafist understanding). (He used to say), “We were afraid to give religious injunctions (fatawa) and used to say: ‘Let us wait until the Afghan crisis is over. We will spread the correct practice then’. We let each leader work according to his understanding and Ijtihad. The end result is what you see today. Each leader wants to prove that he is on the right path and the rest are wrong-doers.” We ask Allah to end the Afghan crisis and have our brethren come together under one Majlis (council) and one government and ask Him to guide them to abide by the rules of the book of Allah and the tradition of His Messenger, instead of slaughter and warfare.
Now as to Bosnia and whether it would one day become another Afghanistan? I say: There is a clear distinction between the two cases. In Bosnia, there aren’t many political parties. There is no tribal rivalry (as there is in Afghanistan). In Bosnia, all fight under one state, under one rule, that of the Bosnian Army and its general command. The sole supreme commander of chief is Dr. Ali Izzet (Begovic). He is also the president of the state. There is no need for disputes as those of the type in Afghanistan. All grace be to Allah, alhamdulillah.
CAUSES FOR RIVALRY IN AFGHANISTAN
Q. Based on your connections and past participation in the Jihad in Afghanistan, what are the causes – in your view – for the rivalry that is going on there. How can Muslims elsewhere take lessons from the events on the Afghan battlefield.
A. (Of course), I have already answered this question. At least most of it. What we can learn from the Afghan experiment is that we should not allow parties to mushroom in one region. We should make people aware. We should educate people and remind them of Islam. We should show them how the Sahaba, the first disciples of the Prophet of Islam, may Allah be pleased with them, performed Jihad. Theirs was the true Jihad, the one that increases belief (Iman) and fear of the Almighty (Taqwa). This will not give chances for Satan to enter the hearts and create dissensions by highlighting the work of one party and dismissing the effort of another.
JIHAD IN KASHMIR
Q. We heard that you have strong connections in Kashmir. What is the latest from that battle front?
A. Jihad in Kashmir is still going on. It is healthy – alhamdulillah. Our Kashmiri brothers have achieved a lot. Some of our Mujahideen brethren, whether Arab or (‘Ajam, non-Arab), such as the Pakistanis and our brethren from South-East Asia, have also helped. Their actions have been very successful, especially in the lands under Indian government control. Mujahideen execute hit-and-run operations. However there is a lack of support by Islamic governments and a lack of media coverage by Islamic outlets, on the level of atrocity and destruction by the non-believers in those lands: From killings to bulldozing to the burning of Muslims, sometimes alive, in public squares. Action is slow. There is also a lack of trained Jihadist cadres to stand to this dire situation. We ask Allah to give them and us success.
THE FUTURE OF JIHAD IN BOSNIA
Q. How do you perceive the future of Jihad in Bosnia, based on what has happened in the past and what is going on now? What are the best and worst case scenarios there?
A. Of course, knowledge of the future is with Allah. As to what we foresee based on our expertise and participation, in the past and now, I see that the future is for Jihad. Yes, Jihad in Bosnia should continue. This is because Westerners do not want Jihad to find a launching-board. We say to them what Allah said in His holy book, “If you champion Allah, Allah shall assuredly champion you and ground you feet.” And He said, “It is our prerogative to champion the believers.”
We have to strengthen our belief and the belief of our brethren the Bosnians by all means: through training, through education, through awareness programs and other means.
Now as to the best and worst case scenarios that things might turn out to: The best is the establishment of a state for the Muslims by any means and under any rule (religious or secular). When we went there, we did not go to train state employees and create cadres for it. We went to defend and champion our Muslim Brethren. The worst scenario is to have a mixed state or a mixed parliament or a mixed government between the Muslims and Christians as the case that happened in some Arab countries of having a Muslim president and a Christian vice-president or the opposite (Editor’s note: the only such state in the Arab world is Lebanon).
WHAT ABOUT THE BOSNIAN PEOPLE?
Q. Based on your participation and long stay in Bosnia, how do you perceive the Bosnian Muslim people? What about their government? Do you think that the Christian onslaught has strengthened their attachment to their religion?
A. Concerning the Bosnian people, and this is not my view, but what our Muslim Brethren themselves say: They say that this is not a crisis (Azmah), but a blessing (Rahmah). ‘If it were not for this, we would not have known Allah, glorious be He. We would not have known the road to the Mosque. Our men, women and children were loose morally and in their appearance, one could not distinguish the Muslim from the Christian. Muslim women were dressed, but were really exposed (Kasiyat-Ariyat). But now alhamdulillah, all grace be to Allah, our Mosques are full. Our women are wearing the complete Hijab’ (Editor’s note: commonly known as Niqab whereby women cover the body and face, as in Saudi Arabia and some Arab and Muslim countries). That is, they cover their faces completely. They are proud when they parade in the market-place or bazaar in it. The complete Hijab is something natural now. This, alhamdulillah, is due to Da`wa that our youth, the freelance Mujahideen, do in their spare time.
In general, commitment to religious doctrine and the return to Allah is fast in the midst of these Bosnians.
Now as to your question about the (Bosnian) government, I say: After my meeting with president Ali Izzet (Begovic) in the past, and according to what we hear and gather, the members of his government perform the five (obligatory) prayers. We, in general, do not expect them to be like the Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them. These (Bosnian) people lived and knew nothing of the Deen (system and religion) and creed of Islam, except the name.
Qur’an and religious studies were absent during the communist days (of General Tito).
The Christian onslaught strengthened their attachment to their religious values. This is what they say: ‘Our return to the Deen was caused by this onslaught.’
PEACE WITH THE CROATS
Q. What is the truth to reported peace with the Croats? How do you perceive the stands of America (US), Europe, Russia and the UN on the fighting in Bosnia?
A. We must seek the reasons and truth to this truce with the Croats. Once the Muslims made advances on the battlefield and got territory back from the Croats, they (Croats) latter betrayed the trust and joined with the Serbs to stab the Muslims in the back. Allah glorious be He, made it that the Muslims defeated the ambitions of the Croats. (Bosnian) Muslim Army forces backed by Kateebat al-Mujahideen were able to establish themselves in several Croat cities and villages. They were also able to siege other (localities) for extended periods. This lead Europe and America to rethink and assess this force which had established itself in Central Bosnia. This, of course, with the fact that all the roads were closed plus the imposition of sanctions. They realized that a truce between Croats and Muslims was necessary. They created a new formula and started to think of a “confederal” structure and union that will link Croats, Serbs and Muslims. They were successful in brokering a partial agreement between the Muslims and the Croats; this with the full backing of Europe, America, Russia and the UN. Muslims accepted the agreement with bitterness and compulsion. Lots of factors were involved: Harsh economic conditions with (for example) the price of 1 kg of sugar running at US$ 40 and a litre of Diesel at US$ 30! The agreement will be effective for one year. This will give time to the Muslims to weigh its positive and negative aspects.
Concerning (your inquiry) on the military options for American, European, Russian or UN forces (and their positioning on Bosnian soil). This runs counter to the Muslim interest. They aim to put a hindrance for Muslim advancement. These forces used the bombing of the Sarajevo central market, when a bomb fell in the heart of the Sarajevo Bazaar, as a means to curtail the Muslims. They declared Sarajevo a “safe heaven” and said that it would come under the control of the UN forces and ordered the Serbs to remove their heavy weapons from the center of Sarajevo to about 20 km off the city-limits. They demanded that Muslims deliver their heavy weaponry (to the UN). What happened is that the Serbs moved from Sarajevo to other cities and the same masquerade was played again. NATO and UN forces opened the roads for them to enter Gorazde, Bihac and other regions. When the Muslims tried to defend Gorazde (from falling), they were held back by UN forces. In general, what is happening is in accordance with what Allah said in his holy book, “Christians and Jews will not be satisfied with you until you follow their ways.”
Q. A lot of noise and rambling is made when one talks of material support. Whether it is officially given by different governments or that offered by different philanthropic Islamic institutions. People question whether such money reaches the Mujahideen or those who need it most. Can you shed some light on this issue? What is the best way, in your view, to send help to fighters there?
A. Yes, dear brother! Many Muslim states collected material help, aired what is happening in Bosnia, created relief agencies in all Arab and Muslim lands. But did these agencies deliver this money or send it to fighters? I can assure you that no Muslim or Arab state delivered money or food for Mujahideen. Where did this money go? What is delivered to the Bosnian government directly? Did these agencies open their own refugee camps and offer food services for the needy in different regions? This, I can neither confirm nor deny. As for Mujahideen, it is a pity that no Muslim state wants to help or even deal with them. They are fought by these states and are considered terrorists. This is what they say. (Official) heads of relief agencies say that they do not want to deal with Mujahideen because they are terrorists. “All power and glory are to Allah” (for such accusations)!
Does any help reach us? Yes, from individuals. Our good brothers collect donations for us and bring them directly to us. We use these donations to buy food and clothing. May Allah reward them the best, Jazakum Allah Khayran. The best way to send donations – in my view – is for Islamic centers to deliver them directly, in the person of their Iman or Mosque official. He collects these donations and sends them personally to the Mujahideen (as a religious duty). Donations trough relief agencies or governments do not necessarily make it to Mujahideen, even if they are collected in their name (as is done in some countries).
A FINAL WORD
Q. Do you have a final issue you would like to address?
A. May Allah reward you the best. And this is not a final word, but a request and announcement. (I would like to say) that the number of Mujahideen in Bosnia is small. A very small number of brethren came from Muslim countries and despite their Islamic commitment, they have little religious knowledge to do Da`wa in the midst of these brothers and sisters. We need – and this is unfortunate – Ulema, scholars of Islam, in Bosnia. Believe me dear brother, until now, two years since we established our base there, there isn’t a single scholar in our midst for us to seek his religious judgment. For the small number of youth that make it here, we ask them do Da`wa, and they reply, “We came seeking martyrdom. We did not come to sit in Mosques and public squares to teach people and educate them. We want the word of Allah to be supreme and the word of the dis-believers to be low and despised. All we wish for is a bullet that hits our chests through which we reach Shahada (the state of witness and martyrdom).” The other issue I would like to address is the question of material support. Again, I say that collections made in the name of Mujahideen, through official means, I have no knowledge of. You should consult with such institutions and agencies as to where the money goes. (Again) many relief agencies do not like to deal with the Mujahideen. They are afraid of “helping and assisting terrorists” as the saying goes.
Finally, I ask Allah to make you and I successful (in this world and the hereafter). I ask Him to help the workers and those who support this newsletter to perform their religious duty of Da`wa, to publicize Mujahideen news and Jihad, not just in Bosnia, but also in Kashmir, Tajikistan, Philippines and Armenia. Again thank you for your interest. Our final prayer, alhamdulillah, all grace to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem (The Straight Path) ISSUE: No. 33, Safar 1415, August 1994. For more on the Bosnian Jihad do look at From Syria to Bosnia: Memoirs of a Mujahid in Limbo. For more on the Afghan Jihad do look at the book I have cowritten with Abdullah Anas, To The Mountain: My Life in Jihad from Algeria to Afghanistan (Hurst) 2019.