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Potential Terrorism in the Balkans (part 4): Regional Quasi-expertise under Israeli influence

Domagoj Margetić, Darko Trifunović and Dževad Galijašević

Shortly after Evan F. Kohlmann and Steven Emerson published the first comprehensive monographs on allegedly Al Qaeda in the Balkans (in 2004 and 2006 respectively), several domestic individuals have also engaged in so-called Islamic terrorism theory and a number of local-language books and other works also appeared, mainly in Serbia and Croatia. Such authors include Nenad Cvjetković with his 2005 book "Under the flag of Jihad: on the participation of foreign volunteers in the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-95" (in Serbian original: "Pod zastavom džihada: o učešću inostranih dobrovoljaca u BiH građanskom ratu 1992-95"), Violeta Matović with her 2006 monograph "Suicide Terrorism: How to Become a Martyr" (in Serbian original: "Samoubilački terorizam: kako se postaje mučenik"), Domagoj Margetić with his 2006 book "Islamist Terrorism in the South of Europe" (in Croatian original: "Islamistički terorizam na jugu Europe") and a series of articles published on his website "Necenzurirano," Dževad Galijašević with his 2007 book "The era of terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina" (in Serbian original: "Era terorizma u BiH"), and Darko Trifunović with a series of articles and reviews published in relatively marginal outlets since 2004. Furthermore, there's also a Serbian-American writer Srđa Trifković who wrote two books in English ("The Sword of the Prophet" in 2002 and "Defeating Jihad" in 2006), and his book was translated into Serbian as "Senka džihada: islam, dogma, istorija, ambicija" in 2007.

All of these works are very similar in nature, structure and message. Their authors are unprofessional, without any academic background, and are writing from the nationalist Serbian and Croatian perspectives in order to justify their aggressive politics and war crimes. The works are intended for a broad nationalistic market, self-promotion, and for various daily political polemics active in the mid-2000s. They all contain archaic nationalist myths, wartime propaganda, misinterpretations of early works by former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegović, unfounded accusations against numerous individuals and organizations, and so on.

For example, it is common for them to claim that Izetbegović's "Islamic Declaration" (written in the late 1960s) is an evidence that he is the sort of 'radical Islamist' or an 'Islamic fundamentalist' and that he wished to establish an Islamic state. However, all prominent international historians point out that this interpretation is unfounded and that in the early 1990s his radical Serbian and Croatian opponents, lacking stronger evidence that the 'Islamicization of Bosnia' was at hand, justified their hard line tactics by constant references to his old work. In other words, it has been much maligned and exploited for anti-Muslim sentiments. Another common claim in these books is that Bosnia and Herzegovina is full of Muslim foreign volunteers (Mujahideen) who participated in the Bosnian war, and that there's imminent danger of terrorism by thousands of radicals. Today, more than ten years later, such claims proved to be ridiculous.

Direct Neocon-Zionist influence

The earlier works by Neocons and Zionists have provided Balkan-based authors with the political concepts and the theoretical basis for their own misinterpretations of the recent local history. The neoconservative idea of a 'clash of civilizations' served to provide an alleged historical setting for the Yugoslav wars, while distorted Islamic religious principles and 'terrorism theory' were taken mostly from Zionists. In short, they replaced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Yugoslav wars so yet another ethnic conflict is misrepresented as the 'religious war,' Croatia and Serbia took the role of Israel as a 'Western bulwark,' while surrounded and oppressed Bosnian Muslims (like Palestinians) became 'aggressors,' part of the 'global Muslim jihadist conspiracy,' and monsters no different from Al-Qaida fighters of Osama bin Laden.

The influence of English-language books on regional ones is very obvious in every respect. Among the local-language monographs mentioned above, the first published one was "Under the flag of Jihad" (2005) by Nenad Cvjetković which is not surprising considering he is a US-based journalist and had easier access to Kohlmann's book and other publications, at that time unavailable in the Balkans. His book is the synthesis of English publications and war columns he wrote as the war editor of "Glas komuna," a Doboj-based daily newspaper. Writing passionately from an openly Serbian nationalist perspective, Cvjetković claims that Izetbegović's "Islamic Declaration" was a preparation for a 'holy war,' he engages in so-called 'jihad theory' and describes various details related to foreign Mujahideen, claiming that they committed ethnic cleansing against Serbs and Non-Muslims. Finally, he also claims that the Bosnian war was a prelude to the terrorist attacks in New York and Madrid.

Violeta Matović published her 2006 book "Suicide Terrorism" as a graduate economist and a student in the Faculty of Security Studies at the University of Belgrade. In 2004, she became founder and sole member of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC), a for-profit NGO. Speaking on behalf of her organization, in the same year she claimed for the Serbian tabloid newspapers that there's "a high probability of terrorist attacks by Albanian extremists from Kosovo against the cities in the interior of Serbia," but nothing happened. Her book is mainly based on the Israeli publications, and the definitions are derived from Boaz Ganor, a founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (abbreviated IDC Herzliya). Ganor is also a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), as well as a staunch advocate of the US aggression against Iran, a country called in his works as "a cradle of the Jihad and terrorism education."

Quasi-expert trio

Boaz Ganor and his ICT had a profound impact on spreading the radical Zionist and anti-Iranian propaganda in the Balkans during the late 2000s, as evident in the establishment of the "Expert team of Southeast Europe to combat terrorism and organized crime" (in original: Ekspertni tim Jugoistočne Evrope za borbu protiv terorizma i organizovanog kriminala) in 2008, a group of charlatans which included Domagoj Margetić (Zagreb-based journalist), Darko Trifunović (Belgrade-based lawyer), Dževad Galijašević (Maglaj-based journalist), and less active Anto Marinčić (Zepče-based technician). Unlike previously mentioned Cvjetković and Matović, they're not only inspired but directly connected with the Israeli extremists. Two of them, Margetić and Trifunović, traveled to Israel and participated in the ICT's International Conferences at the IDC Herzliya, and were actively engaged (along with Galijašević) in distributing various defamatory materials in the Balkan media.

This trio has a highly controversial background. Darko Trifunović is the author of the RS government's disgraceful "Report about Case Srebrenica" (2002) which impudently denied the Srebrenica genocide, claiming that only a hundred soldiers were killed in this town and accused the Red Cross of having fabricated its findings on the killings with the aim of demonizing the Serbs. The Hague Tribunal judges described the report as one of the worst examples of revisionism, foreign diplomats condemned it as utterly false, disgusting and inflammatory, and even the Republika Srpska government distanced itself from Trifunović. Later, he had been expelled from participation in the 11th European Police Congress after the organizers learned that he was a Srebrenica denier who reduced the figures, and who, in an email correspondence with two Bosnian Muslims posing as a Serb, said of the Srebrenica Muslims that "I wish Ratko Mladić had killed them all." He also distinguished himself in defending war criminal Radovan Karadžić, and even offered to present the journalists with documents proving that he is innocent. Besides denying the Srebrenica genocide, his favourite topic is the "white Al-Qaida." Ironically, since the mid-2010s, Trifunović became pro-NATO lobbyist in Serbia.

Domagoj Margetić, a Croatian journalist, is yet another political opportunist who as a teenager was a member of both [Yugoslav Communist] Tito's Youth and [Croatian nationalist] Tuđman's Youth. He also participated in the controversial privatization and in 2002 he was found to be guilty of financial malversations and multi-million debts, and afterwards he become more actively engaged in journalism. Although he didn't participate in the war, in 2005 he founded the "Croatian War Veterans' Party" but failed to achieve any result in the local elections. Seeking political revenge for his multiple failures, in the following years Margetić builds a career on writing against President Mesić, the Croatian government and the Hague Tribunal. In 2006, he disclosed the strictly confidential Hague documents on his personal website, for which the Trial Chamber sentenced him to three months' imprisonment and fined €10,000. At the end of his short prison term, he started a hunger strike and proclaimed himself a 'martyr,' so he was taken to Zagreb's Vrapče Hospital for mental observation. Widely known as a person with a pathological urge to expose himself in the media, Margetić suddenly found himself in debts and he was rejected by all the respectable media outlets. Therefore, he was forced to post his pieces on the Internet, and desperately sought sponsorship.

Several months later, Margetić was hired by the Bosnian Serb nationalist government of Milorad Dodik, a Serb politician and then Prime Minister of Republika Srpska who was at that time very hostile to the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and Croatian president Stjepan Mesić, as well as openly pro-Israel. In the summer of 2008, Margetić joined Trifunović and Galijašević and trio announced the establishment of the "Expert team of Southeast Europe to combat terrorism and organized crime," a self-promotional name for the media. They started bashing all Dodik's political enemies, claiming that the SDA party is tied with terrorism, and that Mesić arranged Al Qaida for the contract murders. Further, trio claimed Sarajevo is part of the network of organized international terrorism, the September 11 attacks on the New York Towers were masterminded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that top Bosniak politicians knew of the attacks but failed to notify the United States, that about 12,000 terrorists possess Bosnian documents, and so on. Of course, claimants were ridiculed but they still gained the public popularity.

Margetić's 2006 book "Islamist Terrorism in the South of Europe" was published during his short political engagement in favor of senior leaders of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), and contains only a brief introduction (three pages long) about terrorism theory and history. The content is focused on listing dozens of regional and international Muslim organizations, described as potentially terrorist. The book was dedicated to Dario Kordić, a Bosnian Croat former politician and military commander of the HVO, sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2001 for war crimes committed against the Bosniak population.

Screenshot of Margetić's FB profile in 2010

After he established links with Bosnian Serbs and Israelis in the summer of 2008, Margetić went to extremes with his unfounded terrorism accusations and conspiracy theories. On his website "Necenzurirano.com," followed by tens of thousands of readers, he started to publish various pro-Zionist and Islamophobic articles, directed primarily against Iran. Drawing upon the WINEP's and especially the Ganor's material, he accused Iran for being a leader in the international heroin trade, and for a worldwide terrorist conspiracy from Paraguay to East Asia, including the terrorist attacks in Russia, Europe, India and China. Such extremely unusual allegations did not come neither from the international organizations, nor the national governments. Contrary to all reliable data, Margetić also claimed that Iran controls Chechen nationalists in Russia, Uyghur nationalists in China, even the Taliban and Wahhabi movements. He also repeated claims from his 2006 book that Iran supported Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida. Today, the majority of ordinary people would found this laughable because the differences have become widely known after the Syrian crisis, but back in the late 2000s many readers took this serious. Furthermore, Margetić claimed that Iran is planning to provoke five wars in different parts of the world (including the Balkans), in order to distract the USA from an attack.

Two other members of the 'expert team' also made a number of similar horrendous and bizarre allegations. For example, Galijašević claimed that Bosniaks tied to Al-Qaida are fighting alongside Hamas in Gaza. Direct ties between this trio and Israel are clear and indisputable. In September 2009, Margetić traveled to Israel and participated in the ICT's 9th Annual International Conference at the IDC Herzliya. Later annual conferences were also visited by Trifunović and the ICT published his 'research' articles. He is also a founder and president of the Serbia-Israeli Economic Association, and regularly publishes his photos from Israel on social networks. On Twitter, he is a follower of the right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and on Facebook he wrote that his goal is to establish a Serbian-Israeli alliance. The screenshot of Margetić's Facebook profile from 2010 reveals us that he was fan of various hardcore Zionist organizations. The true purpose of trio's activism can be seen in the lobbying example of January 2009 when Margetić, Trifunović and Galijašević, with the help of Israeli Ambassador Shmuel Meirom, organized a press conference in Zagreb devoted to the "Iranian threat in the Balkans" and called on regional governments to include Palestinian Hamas on the official list of terrorist organizations.

2010s quasi-expertise

During the 2010s many marginal figures in the Balkans engaged in distorted interpretations of terrorism, often using the radical Zionist propaganda, and those who have spread such material to the wider audience deserve dishonorable mention. In Serbia, the leading example is Aleksandar Lambros, a homosexual activist and the Bosnian genocide denier who advocated the bombing of Mecca. His blog and a published book include virtually all Islamophobic and pro-Israeli myths. Lambros is a frequent traveller to Israel and personal friend of Yossef Levy, the former Israeli Ambassador to Serbia. In Croatia, similar activists are Neven Barković and Petar Stošić, both tabloid journalists who are quoting Sam Harris, the Gatestone Institute and similar conspiracy theorists in their articles, and also Renato Đurđević who tried to spread the WINEP's propaganda on the local-language Wikipedias. Generally, all these individuals are ideologically motivated mediocres who adopted some 'progressive' attitudes from the American cultural milieu, including the foreign policy guidelines from their liberal hawks.

Last summer, we witnessed a new wave of book publications about alleged terrorism in the Balkans, by several retired politicians from Croatia. Miroslav Tuđman, the son of the first President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman, in his book about the Yugoslav wars repeats all already seen in the mid-2000s publications mentioned above, but he adds the bizarre parallels between the Bosnian war and recent geopolitical developments in the Middle East, extremist movements, attacks in Europe and the accompanying media hysteria. Since February 2016, Tuđman the Younger is also leading the "Zagreb Security Forum" and among the twenty past speakers there are old-established Darko Trifunović and five Israelis: Shlomo Shpiro, Yair Cohen, Ephraim Lapid, Danny Lacker, and Elad Gadot. A weird alliance of Croatian, Serbian and Israeli nationalists and 'terrorism experts' goes on...

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.