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Croatian alt-right and problem with Near Eastern immigrants (part 2): Pro-terrorist mindset?

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, focused on a homeland of tiny ethnicity

(← part 1) An answer to the question whether you want mass immigration of a single tiny Near Eastern group responsible for a series of terrorist attacks across the world, seems pretty obvious, and itself raises a number of additional questions. For example, why would the idea of slaughtering a bus driver and causing the death of innocent civilians come only to a Near Eastern, and not to an Anglican English, a Protestant German, or let's say, a Catholic Croat? At this point, the political opponents of Frano Čirko usually experience breakdown and start with name-calling: fascist, racist, xenophobic, hater, Nazi, etc. This is counterproductive, questions need to be answered. Is there a problem in genes, upbringing, mindset, or a holy book? And how many such attacks are needed, according to Čirko's words, to start talking about an epidemic problem rather than isolated cases?

Well, to your great surprise, the perpetrator of described suicidal attack on a crowded bus near Manchester, Tennessee, actually is a Catholic Croat, a veteran of the Croatian War of Independence. His name was Damir Igrić and US police described him as "mentally ill." When the same description were given for the criminal offenders during the recent immigrant crisis, Čirko and his colleagues from the web portal Sloboda.hr tended to ridicule police reports, call it "cover-ups," and look to some deeper causes. One may wonder whether the same argumentation is applicable to Damir Igrić and should we seek deeper causes on the basis of his religion, ethnic or geographic origin, or perhaps his attack is indeed an isolated case.

A selective case of Damir Igrić's attack may be problematic for a discussion of "Croatian terrorism" or "Croatian Catholic terrorism," but its launching becomes easier by the fact that all the aforementioned terrorist attacks were also carried out by Catholic Croats. The adjective "Croatian" can be misleading in the geographical sense because the perpetrators, although ethnic Croats, are not from the territory of today's Republic of Croatia but Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). And if you're wondering how all this is related to the Near East, you should know that this term has varying definitions and originally was applied to the maximum extent of the Ottoman Empire, which included the Balkans and thus, of course, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Therefore, the list of responsible Near Eastern terrorists and their places of origin includes: Ivan Jelić, originally from Doboj, set up bombs at the railway station, and Miljenko Hrkać, born in Mokro near Široki Brijeg, planted an explosive device in a movie theater. An unnamed European capital city where both attacks were carried out in 1968 is Belgrade, the capital of former Yugoslavia. The organizer of the aircraft hijacking in Sweden was Stipe Mikulić from Potkraj near Široki Brijeg, and the hijackers were Tomislav Rebrin from Brda near Kupres and Rudolf Prskalo from Bogodol near Mostar. Zvonko Bušić, born in Gorica near Grude, was the leader of a group that hijacked an American aircraft and set up a bomb in a New York train station. After serving 32 years of imprisonment, Bušić was deported to Croatia where he was welcomed as a hero, and in 2013 he committed suicide by gunshot. Virtually all other terrorist attacks have been carried out by organizations known under the acronyms of HNO, HOP and HRB. Their leaders were Vjekoslav Luburić from Humac near Ljubuški, Ante Pavelić from Bradina near Konjic, Dinko Šakić from Studenci near Ljubuški, brothers Adolf and Ambroz Andrić from Tuzla, and Ilija Tolić from Lupljanica near Derventa.

Why is there such a strong link between Croats from BiH and terrorism? Perhaps genes, upbringing, mindset, or a holy book? Regarding the last, it should be taken into account that all three mentioned organizations originated from a group called Križari (lit. Crusaders) whose slogan was "For Croatia and Christ against Communists." They also explicitly claimed to fight for the defense of the faith against the Yugoslav "unbelievers." However, the link between them and Catholicism is in fact the same as between ISIL and Islam: mere declarative names, few symbols and pretexts, contrary to all religious teachings and official stances.

The real motives of terrorism lie in radical nationalism, and although the leaders of these organizations have argued that they are fighting for "free and democratic" Croatia, the reality was different because they represented the remains of the Ustasha NDH regime. The mentioned Pavelić was leader of the Ustasha movement and dictator of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), while Luburić and Šakić were commanders of concentration camps in which genocide was carried out. Today's Croatia is distancing itself from such crimes and the legacy of antifascism is incorporated into the modern constitution, but its international reputation has been deteriorating recently due to official expression of sympathy to the convicted leadership of Herzeg-Bosnia (HRHB). The leaders of this criminal quasi-state project are, naturally, the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And what about their social integration? (→ part 3)

See also:
Part 1: A single tiny group
Part 2: Pro-terrorist mindset?
Part 3: Unintegrated minority
Part 4: A representative failure

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.