My "Jihadists find convenient base in Bosnia" article got major play in the Balkans. Included in the article was an edited version of a video I obtained from Gregory R. Copley of the International Strategic Studies Association. The video, said to have been shot in Bosnia-Herzegovina, shows jihadists in training. [still shot above]
Days later-on August 23- it was the headline story in the largest newspaper in B-H and was covered throughout the Balkans. "BOSNIAN" TERRORIST CAMP VIDEO RELEASED BY US NEWS AGENCY was the headline in Serbia. Soon reporters were calling for more information to press government officials on. Copley's phone rang off the hook.
The ensuing stories in the Balkans were picked up by the BBC Monitoring Service/BBC and Financial Times Global News Wire. My story was also picked up by UPI and ADNKronosInternational and was referred to by articles carried by the Xinhua News Agency and Kuwait News Agency.
Bosnian Serb Television (Banja Luka) on 23 August questioned government officials on the jihadist video:
"Gen David Leakey has stated that Eufor [EU Force] has no information about the existence of terrorist training camps in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
[Barisa Colak, security minister of Bosnia-Hercegovina] I cannot tell you anything. It would be unprofessional of me to make any comments before our security institutions, that is, our institutions, have checked out allegations.
[Robert Cartak, spokesman of the Interior Ministry of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation] The Police Administration of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation Interior Ministry really has no information about the existence of such camps, that is, about terrorist training activity on the territory of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation.
[Radovan Pejic, spokesman of the Serb Republic Interior Ministry] The Serb Republic Interior Ministry has no relevant information about the existence of jihad training camps for the training of terrorists on the territory of the Serb Republic. We claim with full responsibility that there are no such camps on the territory of the Serb Republic.
[Reporter] Eufor does not have information about the organization of terrorist training camps in Bosnia-Hercegovina either.
[Leakey] Eufor, in conjunction with NATO, intelligence services of Bosnia Hercegovina, and the police, is working intensively in order to ensure that there are no terrorist camps, that they are not established in this country, and that they are not used for terrorist training. However, when we talk about terrorism: never say never."
[Source: Bosnian Serb Television, Banja Luka, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 1730 gmt 23 Aug 05]
And from the ONASA news service in SARAJEVO, Aug 24:
"There are no terrorist training camps in BiH and EUFOR would immediately react together with the local police if it had such information, EUFOR Commander General David Leakey
Asked why NATO and EUFOR have not found camps in BiH, Copley said that "European countries and NATO do not want to intensify any of operations as long as peace exists in BiH." In the last month three prosecutors and four judges have filed resignations to the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), Oslobodjenje reported."
And then there was this from the Premier:
PREMIER DENIES TERRORIST CAMPS EXIST IN BOSNIA
Text of report by Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA
Capljina, 23 August:
"The chairman of the Bosnia-Hercegovina Council of Ministers, Adnan Terzic, said today that information on terrorist training camps in Bosnia-Hercegovina was untrue and added that this was "continuation of a campaign coming from the neighbouring countries". "I have spoken with people who are in charge of security services and it is clear that such information is untrue," Terzic told journalists in Capljina where police reform talks are under way."
That allegation of a propaganda campaign evoked a pointed retort from Serb Republic Ministry of Internal Affairs, who issued a statement which mentioned my Cybercast News Service report:
August 24, 2005
BOSNIAN SERB POLICE SLAM STATE PREMIER FOR RASH STATEMENTS ON TERRORIST CAMPS
Text of report by Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA Banja Luka, 24 August:
"[Bosnian] Serb Republic Ministry of Internal Affairs [MUP] has described as unfounded and ill-intentioned a statement made by Chairman of the Bosnia-Hercegovina [B-H] Council of Ministers Adnan Terzic in which he said that an agency report on a terrorist training camp in B-H was "continuation of [Serb Republic police director Dragomir] Andan's statements".
Terzic stated for today's issue of Dnevni avaz [Sarajevo daily] that reports on terrorist training camps in B-H could be viewed as "continuation of statements made by Serb Republic police director Dragomir Andan".
A statement issued by the Serb Republic MUP says that it is completely unclear how the US Cybercast News report could be linked with the MUP and the Serb Republic police director.
"What is particularly surprising is the fact that Mr Terzic came up with this statement at a time when intensive talks on the reform of B-H police structures are held and when solutions are being sought for better and more efficient security operations," the statement goes on to say.
The statement adds that Terzic should direct his energy to the better functioning of intelligence and security structures at the level of B-H, so that adequate arguments, not approximate assessments, could be given in reaction to these and similar reports, which would prevent rash and unfounded statements.
"We would like to recall that recently, after the tragic incident at the Metaljka border crossing near Foca, before he received any reports from the investigative bodies, Terzic had made statements which did not come as a result of having access to relevant information, but can only be seen as irresponsible and political," the Serb Republic MUP says. The statement says that the Serb Republic MUP will make the best contribution - as it has done before - to the fight against terrorism, organized crime and all other forms of crime, and will exchange information with all police agencies in B-H, with full respect for top professional standards.
[Source: SRNA news agency, Bijeljina, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 0942 gmt 24 Aug 05 BBC Monitoring ]
See my next post for what happened next.