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Terrorist Sanctuaries and Bosnia-Herzegovina: Challenging Conventional Assumptions

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism Volume: 28 Issue: 4 Dated: July-August 2005 Pages: 295-305
Michael A. Innes
Date Published
July 2005
11 pages
This article explores whether assumptions that Bosnia-Herzegovina is a terrorist sanctuary are legitimate.
Since global counterterrorism efforts began focusing on denying terrorists their bases of operations, the subject of terrorist “safe havens” or “sanctuaries” has received wide attention. In particular, the Deputy Director of Plans and Policy, United States European Command who addressed terrorism issues in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2004 was quoted as saying that Bosnia still lingers as a potential safe haven for transit, training, arms sales, and financial support of terrorist activities. This article expands on this assessment by exploring answers to whether Bosnia-Herzegovina is a terrorist sanctuary. In attempting this, it draws on official statements, independent studies, declassified reports, and local and international press coverage and begins with a brief survey of relevant arguments and defining criteria. It argues that a model of terrorism and terrorist sanctuaries rooted in post-September 11th strategic thought and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is inadequate to the study of terrorism in Bosnia, as well as the Balkans. This article identifies and addresses a series of conventional assumptions regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina’s status as a presumed terrorist sanctuary. In summary, conventional assumptions of terrorist sanctuary in Bosnia need to be viewed with a skeptical eye, with terrorism in Bosnia viewed as a complex phenomenon linked to multiple domestic and foreign communities and subject to evolving political circumstances and priorities. Notes