terrorist sanctuaries and bosnia-herzegovina: challenging conventional assumptions
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Terrorist Sanctuaries and Bosnia-Herzegovina:Challenging Conventional AssumptionsMichael A. Innes aa Associate Fellow Center for Developing Area Studies , McGill University Montreal , Quebec,CanadaPublished online: 19 Aug 2006.
To cite this article: Michael A. Innes (2005) Terrorist Sanctuaries and Bosnia-Herzegovina: Challenging ConventionalAssumptions, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 28:4, 295-305, DOI: 10.1080/10576100590950147
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Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 28:295305, 2005Copyright Taylor & Francis Inc.ISSN: 1057-610X print / 1521-0731 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10576100590950147
Terrorist Sanctuaries and Bosnia-Herzegovina:Challenging Conventional Assumptions
MICHAEL A. INNES
Associate FellowCenter for Developing Area StudiesMcGill UniversityMontreal, Quebec, Canada
This article argues that a model of terrorism and terrorist sanctuaries rooted inpost-9/11 strategic thought and the Global War on Terror is inadequate to the studyof terrorism in Bosnia and the Balkans. It addresses a series of conventional as-sumptions regarding Bosnia-Herzegovinas status as a putative terrorist sanctuary,based on a reading of post-war ethnic politics and political architecture. This as-sessment turns on the basic notion that terrorism in Bosnia is a complex phenom-enon linked to multiple domestic and foreign communities, defined along competingnational trajectories and intersecting foreign interests, and subject to evolving po-litical circumstances and priorities.
At a House Armed Services Committee forum held in July 2004, Major General JamesDarden, Deputy Director for Plans and Policy, United States European Command, ad-dressed terrorism issues in Bosnia-Herzegovina1 under the Dayton Accords. In general,he noted, the threat of terrorist influence in Bosnia is low as the operations of SFORand International Community continue to suppress extremist enclaves and terrorist sup-port activities. Dardens address, part of an initiative to define and justify Americascontinued military presence in the Balkans, highlighted the potential for slippage. Bosniaspostwar reconstruction, he emphasized, was not yet sufficiently mature to pose a sus-tained and cohesive obstacle to terrorist activities. Bosnia still lingers as a potential safehaven for transit, training, arms sales and financial support of terrorist activities, Dardenstated, due to porous borders, lax immigration control, and underdeveloped govern-mental and civil police and security organizations.2
The subject of terrorist safe havens or sanctuaries in general has received wideattention since global counterterrorism efforts began focusing, among other things, ondenying terrorists their bases of operations. Afghanistan was not the first case of a dys-
Received 17 October 2004; accepted 8 November 2004.The findings and statements in this article are the authors alone, and do not represent the
official interests, activities, or policies or NATO, SFOR, EUFOR, or any other agency of theinternational community in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Address correspondence to Michael A. Innes, 3715 Peel Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada,H3A 1X1. E-mail: PolMilAnalyst@yahoo.com
296 M. A. Innes
functional state being targeted for its permissiveness toward foreign terrorists. Since 11September 2001, the subsequent U.S.-led war against its Taliban regime, and the morerecent war in Iraq, however, it has served as an intuitive model and polemic referent formilitary planners and policymakers interested in confronting terrorist actors abroad. Therehas been little scholarly attention to defining terrorist sanctuaries as such,3 or to theircontemporary implications for nation-building, regional security, and global counterterrorism.4
The potential for conceptual stretch and consequent policy misdirection is significant,particularly in a political environment as rife with propaganda and metaphor as the Balkans.5
For NATO and EU member states concerned with preserving the safe and secure envi-ronment, force protection, and rule of law in Bosnia, terrorists and the harbors in whichthey hide represent complex threats in need of analytical rigor and close attention tolocal detail.
This article expands on Dardens assessment by exploring the answers to a simplequestion: Is Bosnia-Herzegovina a terrorist sanctuary? Drawing on official statements,independent studies, declassified reports, and local and international press coverage, itbegins with a brief survey of relevant arguments and defining criteria. Specifically, thisarticle argues that a model of terrorism and terrorist sanctuaries rooted in post-9/11strategic thought and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is inadequate to the study ofterrorism in Bosnia and the Balkans. It identifies and addresses a series of conventionalassumptions regarding Bosnia-Herzegovinas status as a putative terrorist sanctuary, basedon a reading of postwar ethnic politics and internationally mandated political architec-ture. This assessment turns on the basic notion that terrorism in Bosnia is a complexphenomenon linked to multiple domestic and foreign communities, defined along com-peting national trajectories and intersecting foreign interests, and subject to evolvingpolitical circumstances and priorities.6
Humanitarian Intervention and the 911 Paradigm
In the wars of the postCold War period, Adam Roberts noted in 1998, there havebeen innovative attempts to create areas of special protection for victims and humanitar-ian bodies assisting them. Such areas have been variously called corridors of tranquility,humanitarian corridors, neutral zones, protected areas, safe areas, safe havens,secure humanitarian areas, security corridors, and security zones. 7 The interna-tional community has been vigorous, if not always successful, in its attempts to promoteand protect such areas. For Roberts, [t]he variety of the terminology reflects the widerange of forms that such areas can assume and the absence of a standard legal con-cept.8
Humanitarian and terrorist sanctuaries are qualitatively distinct phenomena, but theadaptable nomenclature used to designate such sites of refuge is remarkably similarsuggesting their ultimate meaning lies in the mind of the beholder. Indeed, politicalscientist Rex Brynen, who has looked closely at the issue of terrorist sanctuaries and thevarious forms they take, notes the care that needs to be taken in defining related securitythreats as such.9 Since 9/11, the semantics of safety have had much broader and infi-nitely more sinister implications for the security-conscious, potentially undermining theviability of troubled states such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq, and raising the likeli-hood for collateral damage to misidentified host communities. As John J. Hamre andGordon R. Sullivan noted in a 2002 issue of Washington Quarterly, One of the princi-pal lessons of the events of September 11 is that failed states matternot just for hu-manitarian reasons but for national security as well. Indeed, If left untended, such
Terrorist Sanctuaries and Bosnia-Herzegovina 297
states can become sanctuaries for terrorist networks with a global reach, not to mentioninternational organized crime and drug traffickers who also exploit the dysfunctionalenvironment.10
Relatively little scholarly work has been done to identify the conceptual elements ofsanctuary in terms that satisfy counterterrorist needs.11