The Dayton Agreement contained a strong international demand directed at Izetbegović and his policy to cancel the hospitality extended to the Mujahideen. The military aspects agreement of the Dayton Agreement determined that “all forces, including individual advisors, freedom fighters, instructors, volunteers, and personnel from neighboring countries and other states, must withdraw from the territory of BiH.” Forces not of local origin must withdraw within 30 days.
Sheikh Anwar Shaaban held a leading position in the El Mujahideen unit and played a key role in the strategy, planning, and implementation of the policies of the Arab Mujahideen in BiH. He was killed near Žepče on December 14, 1995, during an exchange of fire with members of the Military Police. During his identification, his diary was seized, in which he recorded the final discussions about the future relationship between the Arab Mujahideen and the Bosniaks after the end of the war in BiH. These discussions took place between the initialing of the Dayton Agreement on November 21, 1995, and its signing in Paris on December 14, 1995. The meeting of the El Mujahideen unit commanders, Abu El Maali and Anwar Shaaban, with Alija Izetbegović, Rasim Delić, and Sakib Mahmuljin, took place on December 10, 1995, in Zenica, at the Retirement Home, where Izetbegović informed them that the unit would have to be disbanded, as reported by Scena.ba. Shaaban recorded the positions of the El Mujahideen unit commanders on the dissolution of the unit, the surrender of weapons, staying or leaving BiH, as well as conversations with the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Republic of BiH, General Rasim Delić, and Alija Izetbegović. His diary is an authentic testament to the real relationship between Izetbegović personally and Izetbegović’s policy toward the Mujahideen, as well as the agreement between Izetbegović and the Mujahideen leadership on the conditions and tasks of their stay in BiH after the Dayton Agreement. The Mujahideen perceived the Dayton Agreement as a betrayal of the fight for Islam, humiliation, and occupation. In this context, the statement of the Algerian commander in Zenica was recorded: “We did not come here to leave as soon as the Americans arrive; we live in a time when Islam will prevail. Bosnia is a Muslim country, and we will defend it.”
Some Mujahideen were determined not to accept the provisions of the Dayton Agreement that required them to leave Bosnia and threatened to fight by other means:
HAMZA: “First of all, being expelled from Bosnia is a great humiliation for Muslims. We seek martyrdom and diligently search for it in this country. Let us confront all unbelievers, and God will be with us, and He will not forsake us. Let us confront the unbelievers and pray to God for martyrdom so that we may die for His cause. We will not be an obstacle to any Muslim. Even if Abu Al-Maali and Shavkkh accept such humiliation, we will not accept it. We will fight by other means. We will commit ourselves to martyrdom before God. We will not leave the country or surrender our weapons. We did not come here in search of freedom or to be mercenaries or volunteers. We were brought here by the doctrine of helping Muslims, which is an obligation we have toward any group of Muslims anywhere in the world. That is why it hurts us the most that the people whose war we came to lead are now expelling us from the country – a replica of Anwar’s diary.”
The “Holy Warriors” came to Bosnia to spread Islam and establish an Islamic order in a state on European soil. They believed that in four years, they had done more for Islam than in the previous 100 years.
The reasons for the involvement of the United States in the peace negotiations were seen in the fear of Americans and Europeans of the increasing influence of the Mujahideen on the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina: “their recent involvement is motivated by the fact that the Bosniak Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina is growing and accepting Mujahideen. This is especially true when it comes to the work of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United States and Europe are afraid of that. They did not get involved because they were concerned about the number of Mujahideen, but the influence of the Mujahideen on the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is evident in the Third Corps. They themselves are not much different from the Mujahideen…”
For “religious reasons,” they believed they couldn’t leave or lay down their arms, and they hoped to have Alija Izetbegović’s support: “Ali will probably agree and leave us untouched as a unit, but he is implementing the policy of the United States. We hope we will be competent enough to convince him tonight to take our side in confronting these people.”
The Mujahideen discussed various ways to retain their unit, which represented a “force for the protection of Islam.” They assured each other that they would have to “resort to cunning to survive, but they would not relinquish their weapons.” If they disbanded the military unit, they would hide the weapons; if they were expelled from the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they would continue their missionary work. However, they became aware that their unit would be disbanded, but most of them rejected the proposed ceasefire, withdrawal, surrender of weapons, and advocated guerrilla tactics as an alternative to the proposed peace agreement. This meant fighting under different labels and carrying out assassinations when they could be used as a means to spread Jihad.
The Dayton Agreement posed a threat that would prevent the Mujahideen from serving their goal. The Americans were the main enemies trying to disband the Mujahideen military units, expel them from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and prevent Jihad for Islam in Bosnia and Europe. Therefore, the Council of Mujahideen Leaders took the position that “all we have left is to settle scores with the British, Croats, and Americans…”
Foreign fighters expected the protection of ALI IZZAT – Alija Izetbegović. The political strategy proposed by Al-Harith confirmed the following years, aiming to preserve the Mujahideen as a social group in enclaves where concealed weapons would remain, called “Muslim villages.” Mujahideen groups (gamma¨a) would engage in missionary work and establish an Islamic society, implementing Jihad for the sake of God. Obviously, the Council of Mujahideen, which discussed their future after the signing of the Dayton Agreement, had high expectations of Ali Izzat (Alija Izetbegović) to realize their clear ideas. They hoped that the president would not betray his promises or succumb to any international pressure. They didn’t consider themselves as foreigners; they had Bosnian citizenship, and perhaps they would be offered to integrate into civilian life. They believed that Arabs would likely not be expelled as long as Alui Izzat was there. However, they were aware that they had to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina within 30 days of the agreement’s signing and that there was significant international pressure on Izetbegović. Therefore, they hoped for his determined support because they knew that he had been imprisoned for Islam and expected him to continue to sacrifice for the faith: “I was a Muslim, and I will remain one. I felt like a fighter for the cause of Islam in the world, and I will feel that way until the end of my life – Memories.”
Alija Izetbegović was respected by foreign fighters for his beliefs and suffering for Islam, but also for his policy that symbolically demonstrated consistency as a fighter for Islam. He was as close to them as Ayatollah Khomeini, and both of them did not appreciate Ataturk because they considered him a traitor to Islamic principles and values. Izetbegović, who advocated for a civic Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not want to show respect for the founder of secular and civic Turkey, even as the President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina: “Turkey, as an Islamic country, ruled the world. Turkey as a European plagiarism represents a third-rate country like a hundred others in the world – Islamic Declaration, page 157.”
Regret over the fact that the military unit of the Mujahideen no longer existed, at least not by name, was revealed by IFOR in February 1996 when it entered the Aid Training Center in Pogorelica near Fojnica and arrested three Iranian intelligence officers. The Iranians trained Muslim security operatives in intelligence and terrorist activities. Izetbegović admitted that the existence of the camp was “our big mistake and a violation of what we signed.” The Pogorelica camp was just one of many episodes that did not change the strategy of placing the Mujahideen in Bosnia and Herzegovina in places called “Muslim villages,” where they would form independent Jamaats. Members of these units were naturalized, married local girls, obtained passports, and integrated into civil society. They became invisible to international forces. Thus, despite the promised help from official Sarajevo, the provision that all fighters had to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina was violated. In response to NATO’s objections to the presence of the Mujahideen and the circumvention of the agreement, Izetbegović responded: “… it is not in accordance with the moral principles of our people to expel people who fought on our side and have nowhere to go because they cannot return to their countries… E. Kohlmann, page 224.”
Terrorist activities were also recorded during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bosnia and Herzegovina. International forces and U.S. policy had enough evidence that the Mujahideen had found refuge, training, and protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina and continued to act on the program of radical Islamization of Bosnian society, and some of them were involved in terrorist actions that occurred after the Dayton Agreement. The problem of the presence of foreign fighters was not wanted to be overly emphasized in international politics to save the fragile peace agreement. However, the number of terrorist attacks increased from year to year. In 1997, terrorist actions were almost daily – 35 attacks with explosive devices, with more than 90% of the targets being Croats – 10 private properties, 8 Catholic churches, 5 residential buildings, 3 infrastructure objects, 2 mosques. It happened that terrorists accused of attacking Croatian returnees, former members of the El Mujahideen unit, who were wanted by the police, lived in a police apartment.
The assassination of Assistant Director of the AID, Nedžad Ugljen, on September 26, 1996, was evidently the result of a showdown between key actors in Bosniak politics. Ugljen had information that an assassination was being prepared against him and informed Izetbegović about it, to which he replied, “Nečko, every day 5 or 6 people come with the same plea. Believe me, they threaten me too…”
On March 16, 1999, an assassination attempt was carried out in the center of Sarajevo against Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs in the Government of FBiH, Jozo Leutar. An explosive device was detonated under his car. As an official, he had warned the international police IPTF about the presence of the Mujahideen in Central Bosnia, although warrants were issued for some of them, and they were moving freely in certain parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite all the terrorist attacks and crimes after the war, Izetbegović was consistent in defending the Mujahideen. According to him, “Mujahideen and terrorists are not the same thing.” “None of them has been suspected of any terrorist activities in BiH, and neither the international forces of IPTF and NATO had any problems with the Mujahideen in the last 6 years – E. Kohlmann, page 267.”
International terrorist organizations had their foothold in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This became evident when terrorist plans moved from the incubation phase to the implementation phase. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, changed both American and international policies towards terrorism. This change also had direct consequences for U.S. relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. American high officials conveyed Clinton’s message to Izetbegović in 2000: “… we have constantly repeated to Izetbegović that if the day comes when we discover that these people are connected to some terrible terrorist act, that day the entire relationship between the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina will change from friendship to enmity…” Mohamed Atta was the most famous member of the group of plane hijackers with which the WTC was brought down, and he reportedly, according to some sources, stayed in Bočinja in 1999, as did other Mujahideen from Bosnia and Herzegovina. After September 11, the facts about the Mujahideen in Bosnia and Herzegovina were no longer a second-rate political phenomenon. A month after the attack on the WTC, on October 13, 2001, Alija Izetbegović resigned as the president of the largest and most powerful Bosniak party, the SDA of BiH, for health reasons. Sulejman Tihić was elected as his successor, representing a more moderate Bosniak policy. After his resignation, the official BiH began with more effective searches and prosecution of terrorists with a Mujahideen pedigree.