CEOL - Bosnia terrorist safe haven

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dec 9, 1999 -- (AFP) Bosnia-Herzegovina has become a safe haven for international terrorists and is handing out passports to the extremists, the Croat chairman of Bosnia's presidency said in an interview Wednesday.

"The fact that terrorists of the worst reputation in the world have Bosnian passports unambiguously shows that there was an uncontrolled granting of these passports," Ante Jelavic told the weekly Nezavisne novine.

Jelavic did not say how many suspected terrorists were granted Bosnian passports and citizenship but suggested the government should review the validity of the passports.

"Nothing concrete has been done on this issue," Jelavic said criticizing also the international community for "not taking any steps to revoke Bosnian citizenship illegally granted to foreigners and expel them from Bosnia".

The Bosnian magazine Dani said in September that Osama bin Laden, the Saudi billionaire wanted by the United States for masterminding the 1998 twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, was granted a Bosnian passport in 1993 by the country's embassy in Vienna.

The Bosnian government earlier confirmed that in 1997 it had granted citizenship and a passport to Mahrez Amduni, a Tunisian-born senior aide of bin-Laden.

Jelavic also warned that a number of Islamic fighters were present in Bosnia and said Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the presidency, had been videotaped inspecting the ranks of a group of mujahedeen.

"I cannot agree with Izetbegovic's claim that there are no mujahedeen in Bosnia," Jelavic said, adding that they were "to a large extent a factor of destabilization here."

Jelavic confirmed he handed over a copy of the tape to officials from the American Jewish Congress while visiting New York last month.

Russia warned Sarajevo in October that it had information about Muslim militants fighting in Chechnya who had received military training in Bosnia before being sent to the breakaway republic.

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