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Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 3): Quasi-expertise by Denialists

Books by Deliso and Schindler

Year of 2007 was the most fruitful for an "expertise" in so-called terrorism theory of Islam in the Balkans, as among others Deliso and Schindler published their books ("The Coming Balkan Caliphate: The Threat of Radical Islam to Europe and the West" and "Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa'ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad" respectively), but actually nothing has improved since Emerson and Kohlmann. Considering that both Deliso and Schindler cite these earlier authors, they're for sure familiar with their works and were most probably inspired by it to make their own comprehensive overview of the topic.

According to Marko Attila Hoare, books by Deliso and Schindler are really works about the rights and wrongs of the Balkan conflicts, more than the threat posed by "radical Islam." Hoare further describes their works as "such inaccurate, unscholarly, poorly researched and politically motivated works of propaganda". Both authors share a hostility to Islam and to the politics of Western interventionism which goes far beyond any mere concern with the alleged Islamic threat in the Balkans. Thus, while Emerson, Kohlmann and Schwartz are manipulating with anti-Muslim sentiments among the Western population to feed their own neoconservative agendas, Deliso and Schindler use the same tool against the US military interventionism, but for justification of the Serbian interventionism and Milošević policies. Only Islamophobia is a constant.

Deliso's thesis of a "coming Balkan caliphate" embraces Bosnia, Albania, Kosova, Macedonia and Turkey. His animosity in particular is directed against the Albanians, and he faithfully upholds anti-Albanian stereotypes popular among the Balkan Christian peoples. Deliso describes the Kosovo Albanians as "opportunists who at various times sided with the Turks, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, fascists and NATO," thereby repeating the myth popular among Serbian nationalists, of the Albanians as stooges of repeated foreign invaders.

Some of Deliso's claims are so bizarre and also funny, as he complains about "mosques being too noisy" and uses the term "sonic cleansing" of non-Muslims, who gradually move out of what become essentially "ghettos by choice." Deliso manages to construct his bogey of a "coming Balkan caliphate" through multiple conflation. He conflates nationalism with religious chauvinism, moderate Balkan Muslim national leaders with the radicals operating in their midst, Takfiri Al-Qa'ida with Shiite Iran, the regimes of the Persian Gulf region and Pakistan, quiet Wahhabis with terrorists – all these diverse, conflicting elements are thrown together to make a single indeterminate green Islamic stew.

Deliso makes many sweeping statements about the dangers allegedly posed by the Balkan Muslim peoples, which are then refuted by his own account. Hence, he writes that "the most fundamentally surreal dimension of the West's Balkan misadventures must be that specific policies have directly benefited Islamic fundamentalism." However, throughout his book, Deliso mentions that the fundamentalist version of Islam, as put forward by the Wahhabis, was rejected by ordinary Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia and by their political leaders, and was out of keeping with their native tradition.

Some of his denialist claims are less funny, for example in writing of the Serbian massacre of Albanian civilians at the village of Račak in January 1999, he calls it as an "alleged massacre." A massacre undoubtedly happened. Deliso draws upon some highly dubious sources in support of his thesis, including Darko Trifunović (see part 4), pro-Milošević activist Nebojša Malić, and the most raving Serbian bigots as though they were objective experts. Schindler's subject matter is narrower than Deliso's, being confined essentially to Bosnia. It is less a study of the role of Al-Qa'ida and the mujahedin in Bosnia and more a diatribe against the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian cause.

He is clearly hostile to the religion of Islam and views the Bosnian war on this basis: "Bosnia's Muslims were really Muslims, and some of them adhered to a faith that was deeply hostile to Western concepts of freedom, democracy, and human rights." Schindler considers the term "fundamentalist" meaningless when applied to Islam, because "all truly believing Muslims are fundamentalists." Like Deliso and Kohlmann, he claims Bosnian president Izetbegović and the SDA party leadership adhered to the "jihadist conspiracy," and even describes Osama bin Laden as having been one of Izetbegović "friends."

On Ottoman period, he engaged in intense historical revisionism by endorsing the long-discredited victimhood myths and calling the Turks as "classical jihadists." Later, while whitewashing the role of the Milosević regime and Yugoslav army in engineering the war, Schindler portrays the "Muslim" (i.e. Bosnian) side as being the one that was initiating preparations for war, while the JNA was merely responding. Schindler revises the death-toll of the Srebrenica massacre downward to "as many as two thousand Muslim men, mostly soldiers" although, in one of several internal contradictions in this book, he earlier put the figure at about seven thousand. He also describes the siege of Sarajevo as a "faux-siege," where "conditions were much more normal than the Western media was willing to portray." Schindler relies on extremely dubious source material in his books and there are numerous other factual errors and internal contradictions.

Overall, books by Deliso and Schindler are counter-productive in many ways, because they're suggesting a false dilemma between two extremes: supporting the US-led NATO military interventionism and denying that Serbs committed any serious war crimes. Such an attitude actually undermines all serious critics of aggressive US foreign policy, since it implies that they deny reality. The Serbian massacres undoubtedly happened, however, contrary to the views of those "humanitarian interventions" proponents, a war crime itself isn't the necessary justification for open military aggression or for partition of sovereign territory. American endorsing humanitarian pretexts to pursue (otherwise unacceptable) geopolitical goals is of the selective and inconsistent nature, mainly because the US itself committed numerous massacres and war crimes in the Muslim-majority countries. And by using the Islamophobic arguments given by Deliso and Schindler, it's very easy to whitewash these crimes.

See also:
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 1): A Brief Overview
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 2): Quasi-expertise by Neocons & Zionists
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 3): Quasi-expertise by Denialists
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 4): Regional Quasi-expertise under Israeli influence
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 5): US Governmental Accusations and Pogorelica Case
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 6): US Governmental Accusations and Lobby Groups
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 7): Foreign Mujahideen
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 8): Wahhabi Movement
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 9): From the Balkans to Syria, and Back
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 10): Recorded Attacks
Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 11): MEK in Albania

Robert Novak

Robert Novak is a social anthropologist and human rights defender with more than five years of experience in the Open Society Institute (OSF), an organization campaigning for human rights and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. His research interests include law and religion, human rights, comparative ethics, and international relations. Born in Osijek, he lives and works in Zagreb.