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Albanians and Afghans fight for
the heirs of to Bosnia's SS past
Daily Telegraph, 29 December
By Robert Fox in Fojnica (Bosnia)
"DOCUMENTS!" shouted a man in
a beret with an insignia in green Arabic script outside the UN house in
the Bosnian mountain town of Fojnica. He was hostile and demanded our presence
at the police station.
Later the police chief apologised, but made
clear that authority had passed to the men with the Koranic texts hanging
from their fatigues.
Last summer Muslim and Croat leaders in
Fojnica asked the WN to declare it a "zone of peace". Since then
war has ravaged the town, bringing murder, mayhem and exile to at least
half its original population of 12,000. Different, and alien, forces are
now in charge -- some of the toughest in the Bosnian Muslim army.
are the men of the Handzar division. "We do everything with the knife,
and we always fight on the frontline," a Handzar told one UN officer.
Up to 6000-strong,
the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves
as the heirs of the
SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for
the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand
Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler.
According to UN officers, surprisingly few
of those in charge of the Handzars in Fojnica seem to speak good Serbo-Croatian.
"Many of them are [Muslim] Albanian, whether from Kosovo (the Serb
province where Albanians are the majority) or from Albania itself."
They are trained and
led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say UN sources. The
strong presence of native Albanians is an ominous sign. It could mean the
seeds of war are spreading south via Kosovo and into Albania, thence to
the Albanians of Macedonia.
are known to have had a strong hand in providing arms and a small weapons
industry for the Bosnian Muslims.
of the Bosnian army, like the Handzar, appear to have the backing of an
increasingly extreme leadership in Sarajevo, represented by Mr Ejup Ganic,
Foreign Minister, Mr Haris Silajdzic, Prime Minister, and Mr Enver Hadjihasanovic,
the new army chief.
The Handzars are working closely with other
units around Fojnica, preparing for the long assault on Kiseljak to the
east and Prozor to the west, a campaign likely to last years.
The first political act in this new operation
appears to have been the murder of the two monks in the monastery. Last
month Brother Nikola Milicevic, 39, and Brother Mato Migic, 56, were surprised
by a four-man squad.
After an argument, Brother Nikola was shot
dead on the spot. His colleague was only wounded, but finished off by a
shot in the neck.
Mysteriously, the police guard disappeared
a few minutes before. The murder squad withdrew after the killings.
The Provincial for the Franciscans of Bosnia,
Petar Andjelovic, demanded an explanation. He received condolences from
President Alija Izetbegovic and a note from the police in Sarajevo that
the matter was under investigation.
The Provincial is convinced this was a political
murder to deepen the division between Croats and Muslims. He also believes
it was sanctioned by Sarajevo.
"I can say that for the moment all
responsibility for this killing falls at the door of the Bosnian army,"
he told an Italian Catholic magazine last week. "Somebody very powerful
must have organised this."
The way the Handzars have settled in Fojnica
suggests they are playing for a long war. The town is self-sufficient in
meat, vegetables and cereals. The terrain is ideal for guerrilla operations.
More significant is the nature of the Handzars,
and the influences of the Albanians in their command, and the support from
Pakistan. These suggest, politically and militarily, the war in Bosnia
has spread - under the dozing eyes of the West.
From our sources: Look how today,
Bosnian Muslims BRAG
ABOUT THEIR NAZI PAST..
The truth belongs to us all.
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December 29, 1997