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Saudis tied to domineering Wahabi presence in Bosnia

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tueday, March 27, 2007

ABU DHABI Saudis are helping to finance a Muslim presence in Bosnia with mulitple links to Al Qaida ideology, a journalist told a seminar here.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the Rand Corp., he said Saudi Arabia has helped form a Wahabi-style Islamic community in Bosnia. The Saudi effort has combined massive funding with the infiltration of thousands of operatives, most of whom have married Bosnian women.

"After the civil war, mujahideen fighters stayed and married Bosnian women," Senad Pecanin, a Bosnian journalist told the Rand seminar held in the Qatari capital in Doha on March 15. "They started Wahabism. They have physically attacked people in mosques. They are trying to impose a ban on alcohol. All this is sponsored by Saudi Arabia."

Pecanin, director of the independent Bosnian magazine Dani, said Saudis have distributed money and deployed operatives throughout Bosnia, Middle East Newsline reported. He said most of the Saudi operatives married Bosnian women and merged into society. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has coopted the Islamic clergy in the central European state.

Wahabism, which began in the 18th Century in Saudi Arabia, has been termed the ideological basis for Al Qaida's offensive against the West. The Wahabi strain of Sunni Islam preaches intolerance and rejects the rights of women.

"Never before in Bosnia have we seen women moving about in the hijab [Islamic headdress]," Pecanin said.

The assertion by the Bosnian journalist is not new. Starting in 2000, Islamic sources in Europe reported on Iranian and Saudi operatives spreading influence in Bosnia and marrying local women, often by force.

Pecanin said the Saudis pressured Bosnian widows of those killed in the civil war in the 1990s to convert to Wahabi Islam. He said anybody who converted received $50 per month.

Al Qaida agents have been operating in Bosnia. Pecanin said the Bosnia embassy in Vienna has been selling passports to Al Qaida operatives while senior officials were pocketing money from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states.

"A lot of money provided by the Muslim countries ended up in the pockets of people like politicians," Pecanin said.


Copyright 2007 East West Services, Inc.

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