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Last checked: July 15, 2003

The Emperor's New Clothes
Piercing a Fog of Lies


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Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim leader whom the U.S. and NATO supported during the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s. The Western media and governments recognized him as President of Bosnia.

According to Newsweek magazine: “The government of Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic…has always been committed to a multiethnic society.”[1]

Knight-Ridder News Service reported that: “The Bosnian [Muslims] are struggling for democracy, human rights, and a multiethnic country.”[2]

And Warren Zimmerman, former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, wrote in Foreign Affairs: “Izetbegovic was…A devout Muslim but no extremist, he consistently advocated the preservation of a multinational Bosnia.”[3]

But others disagree.

For example, various writers published on Emperor's Clothes have argued that Izetbegovic was an Islamic fundamentalist whose goal was to create, by all available means, a totalitarian clerical state, modeled on Iran.

Emperor's Clothes has argued that the Western media blamed the fighting in Bosnia on its main victims, the Bosnian Serbs. Our research contradicts the official - and mainstream media - story, which has Serbs as opponents of all Muslims, as if the latter were monolithic. On the contrary, Fikret Abdic, arguably the most popular Muslim leader, was militarily allied with the Serbs. We have provided evidence that Mr. Izetbegovic, who victimized the Serbs, was supported only by a minority in the Muslim population, and that his fanatical followers victimized thousands of moderate Muslims.[3A]

So who is telling the truth? Newsweek, Knight-Ridder, Warren Zimmermann, the rest of the Western media, and a slew of academics, all of whom claim that Izetbegovic was a moderate democrat fighting for human rights and multicultural tolerance?

Or the writers at Emperor's Clothes, who claim that he was always an Islamist?

Why is this an important question?

There are two reasons why it matters whether or not Izetbegovic is a fundamentalist.

First, because NATO intervened politically and militarily for Izetbegovic. For example, former US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, admitted in congressional testimony that the U.S. gave Croatia the green light to violate international agreements by letting Iranian weapons reach Izetbegovic's army.[3B]

The US also allied with Iran in order to import foreign mujahideen terrorists into Bosnia, and this was all coordinated directly by Pentagon intelligence. [3BB]

And NATO repeatedly and massively bombed the Bosnian Serbs, including with bombs encased in depleted uranium. The US and NATO backed Izetbegovic with destruction and death. [3C]

Second, because if we are right to say that Izetbegovic was an Islamist fanatic, and that this was no secret in Yugoslavia, then the media lied systematically. It is difficult to explain such uniform media disinformation absent coordination by the covert services of Western powers. If we are right about Izetbegovic, then this constitutes evidence that the West has a controlled media.

Third, because if Izetbegovic's views were entirely misrepresented by politicians and the media, this is evidence that the U.S.-led Empire has a dual policy regarding Islamic fundamentalism, as we claim. The US invokes the threat of fundamentalist terror in order to excuse its military adventures, but - covertly - it also allies with and sponsors Islamic fundamentalists around the world.

Before answering whether Alija Izetbegovic is a fundamentalist, let us provide the necessary background: a clear definition of what Islamic fundamentalism stands for.

What is an Islamic fundamentalist?

An Islamic fundamentalist (or Islamist) is a Muslim who advocates theocratic rule. This means subordinating the legal system and all aspects of life to Islamic religious law, or Sharia, which covers personal behavior. [3D]

It is fashionable in the West to romanticize this, a process made easier by disregarding the conditions of life under Islamist rule, which can be harsh.

In the Islamist State of Saudi Arabia, for example, there is a special police, 'The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,' which answers directly to Prince Naif, the Minister of the Interior. These policemen have extensive powers. They patrol the streets, armed with long clubs, enforcing Islamic rules of dress and behavior, beating and arresting those who violate such rules. [3E]

This may strike you as thuggery but, to a fundamentalist, Islam is all; the rest is nothing. Thus, one prominent Islamic fundamentalist explains:

[Start quote from prominent Islamist]

 “…the most important thing that the Qur’an recommends is: all of Islam; everything else is nothing more than a detail and explanation of this central idea. This aspect of Islam contains the principle of the Islamic Order, which is to say the union of religion and politics, but it also has other consequences of a primordial practical importance, of which the first is the impossibility of confusing the Islamic Order with the non-Islamic systems.

…There is no secular principle, and the State must be for Muslims the scrupulous expression of the moral and conceptual pillar of the religion.”

[End quote from prominent Islamist]

The 'Islamic Order' excludes *any* secular principle. That means no non-Islamic public schools, no non-Islamic trade unions, no non-Islamic political organizations, no non-Islamic mass media...

And how is the 'Islamic Order' to be created and enforced? By taking over the modern state with its vast powers of organization and coercion. As the author says, the state is to be the “scrupulous expression of the moral and conceptual pillar of the religion.” My thesaurus offers these synonyms for 'scrupulous': regulated, accurate, fastidious, careful, and... severe.

Our Islamist philosopher continues:

“The exhaustive definition of the Islamic Order is: the unity of religion and law, education and force, ideals and interests, spiritual society and State…the Muslim does not exist at all as an independent individual…”

(You may be wondering which fundamentalist wrote these lines. I shall leave you guessing a bit longer.)

Consider the writer's use of phrases such as “the unity of education and force” and “the Muslim does not exist at all as an independent individual…” Perhaps these ideas are consistent with the traditional teachings of Islam; but the wording has a 20th century ring, as does this writer's reference to “Islam as a total way of life.” Super-strict Islamic rules combined with an all-powerful Islamic state to enforce them suggests a modern phenomenon: 'totalitarianism.'

Having penned the chilling phrase, “the unity of education and force,” our writer informs us that:

“The education of the population, and especially those media which have an effect on the public such as newspapers, radio, and television, must be entrusted to people whose good Islamic reputation, moral attitude, and intellectual ability are unimpeachable.” 

And who are these people whose good Islamic reputation [and] moral attitude... are unimpeachable”? Answer: Islamic fundamentalists. So, all the means of communication and education must be in the hands of Islamists.

The last quoted paragraph - believe it or not - appears under the heading “Freedom of Thought.” This is reminiscent of the society that George Orwell described in his famous novel, "1984." The difference is that in the Islamic Order, Big Brother is divinely sanctioned by Allah.

Thus, according to our writer, the very existence of non-Islamic systems is a violent affront. 

“It is not in fact possible for there to be any peace or coexistence between ‘the Islamic Religion’ and non-Islamic social and political institutions…”

If there can be no peace or coexistence, then Islam is at war with all non-Islamic cultural and political institutions. And since 'institutions' do not exist apart from the people involved with them, this translates into a war against 'infidels', i.e. against non-Muslims - a jihad, or holy war.

In a section of his book entitled, “The Relations Of The Islamic Society With Other Societies,” our author quotes the Qur'an. These quotes are presented as fully self-explanatory, and are neither preceded nor followed by qualification or comment:

“Oh Prophet, incite the believers to combat. If there can be found among you twenty who will endure, they will vanquish two hundred, if one hundred can be found, they will vanquish a thousand infidels, because they are people such as cannot understand.”

Why must infidels be slaughtered? Because “they are people such as cannot understand.” That is, they must be killed for their beliefs.

The author quotes the Qur'an again (and again without preface or comment):

[Start excerpt]

“And combat on Allah’s path those who combat you, and don’t disobey. True, Allah does not love the disobedient! And kill them where you will find them; chase them from where they chased you: association is a graver sin than murder. But don’t fight them near the sacred Mosque unless they fight you there first. And if they fight you there, kill them then. Such is the retribution against infidels. Should they cease, Allah is, surely, forgiving and merciful.”

[End excerpt]

Consider the statement, “Association is a graver sin than murder.”

What constitutes 'murder'? If a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, is that murder? Not according to our Islamist philosopher. He has quoted a Quranic text that says the killing of an infidel *pleases* Allah. Indeed, in the text, Muslims are enjoined not to disobey Allah but to kill infidels “where you will find them.” Since killing infidels is a sacred duty, it can't be murder.

A Muslim can only commit murder when he kills another Muslim.

Thus, “Association is a graver sin than murder” means that for a Muslim to have cordial relations with a non-Muslim is worse than killing a Muslim!

What is our philosopher telling Muslims? That as long as they live in a non-Islamic society, they must segregate themselves, avoid cordial relations with non-Muslims, and prepare for the day when they can seize state power and enforce the Islamic Order.

This, of course, will guarantee growing tension, leading to civil war...

Our philosopher explains:

“... the Islamic movement may, or rather should, begin by seizing power as soon as it possesses a good measure of moral and numerical strength, allowing it not only to overthrow the non-Islamic power, but also to establish the new Islamic power.”

Doesn't leave much to the imagination, does it?

Who is this Islamist philosopher?

Who did you think wrote the above quoted lines? Osama bin Laden?

Or maybe Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas?

Or perhaps you guessed it was some official in the Wahabbi fundamentalist state of Saudi Arabia?

These are all good guesses. But in fact the author of these lines is Alija Izetbegovic, leader of the Bosnian Muslim faction backed by the US and NATO during Bosnia’s civil war. And the book he wrote, and from which the quotes are taken, is titled "Islamic Declaration" (sometimes translated as "Islamic Manifesto").[4]

Izetbegovic had his book reissued before the crucial 1990 Bosnian elections. Thus, it was a political manifesto.

If you previously heard of this book, you probably didn't think there was anything scary about it, because the Western press worked hard to make it seem inoffensive. For example, this is what the Financial Times said:

[Quote From Financial Times Starts Here]

In 1983, [Izetbegovic] was sentenced. . .for 14 years, commuted to five, for writing the 'Islamic Declaration', a political tract which sought to reconcile European democratic principles with (Sunni) Islamic teaching.[4A]

[Quote From Financial Times Starts Here]

Did you see anything in the quotes from Izetbegovic's book that sounded even remotely like "European democratic principles"?

Me neither.

Izetbegovic was not jailed for trying to reconcile "European democratic principles" with Muslim beliefs. Who would have objected to that? His book was meant to incite hatred and war against non-Muslims, and such was the determination of the court that judged him, as the BBC reported in 1983, when the sentence was passed down:

[Quote From The BBC Starts Here]

... The court found the accused guilty because it held that their activity had been directed against brotherhood and unity, and the equality of our nations and nationalities with a view to destroying Bosnia-Hercegovina as a Socialist Republic and thus of undermining the social order of the SFRY.

For the criminal act of association for the purpose of enemy activity and counter-revolutionary threatening of the social order Alija (Mustafa) Izetbegovic was sentenced to 14 years'... [4B]

[Quote From The BBC Ends Here]

To get the story right, all that the Financial Times had to do was consult the news reports from 1983, and look at Izetbegovic's book, as I have done. It is not believable that the Financial Times did not know about this. But they were interested in portraying him as a moderate, so they lied.

But the New York Times said he was a moderate...

So it did. 

“The Bosnian President, Mr. Izetbegovic, a Muslim Slav regarded by Western diplomats as a moderate…”[5]

Were Western diplomats really fooled into believing that Izetbegovic was a moderate? Or did they just pretend to believe? Here is what former US ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman said in an interview:[6]

[Start Quote From Zimmerman Interview]

“As for Mr. Izetbegovic, we heard that some call him a Muslim fundamentalist. We know what fundamentalism really does, as we were its victims in Iran. That is why we do not believe that Izetbegovic is some sort of fundamentalist. Actually, it seems like he is a moderate politician who is trying to do the best in a difficult situation.” 

[End Quote From Zimmerman Interview]

He “heard” that some call Mr. Izetbegovic a fundamentalist? Was it a vague rumor? Remember, Izetbegovic reissued his book in 1990. There is no question that the diplomatic corps was aware of the book's contents. Moreover, as seen above, Izetbegovic had been famously imprisoned in Yugoslavia for several years precisely because of his writings and other activities meant to incite Islamist violence. None of this was a secret; everybody in Yugoslavia knew it, and it is stated in the preface to the French translation of his book (the one I have been using here).

And note Zimmermann's argument:

1) Fundamentalism is bad;

2) If Izetbegovic were a fundamentalist, that would be bad;

3) Therefore, Izetbegovic is not a fundamentalist.

This Alice-in-Wonderland logic translates:

1) The American public would rebel if the US government told them it was backing a fundamentalist (whose great hero, by the way, is the Ayatollah Khomeini);

2) It would be bad if the American public rebelled;

3) Therefore we will simply say that Izetbegovic is a moderate, and the truth be damned.

This became the position of the Western mainstream media, as I will demonstrate in a forthcoming piece on Bosnia.[7] Almost without exception, the media - and, I am afraid, many academics - lied about the Izetbegovic regime, precisely as intended by US officials such as Warren Zimmermann.


Francisco Gil-White
Deputy Editor
Emperor's Clothes

Footnotes and Further Reading

[1] Newsweek, December 18, 1995, UNITED STATES EDITION, NATIONAL AFFAIRS; Pg. 32, 1240 words, Sarajevo on the Spot, BY RUSSELL WATSON AND ROD NORDLAND

[2] Bosnia suffers genocide as the world - and America - remains silent. (Originated from Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service) Jennifer Scarlott; Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service Dec 21, 1993 p1221K5689 (696 words)

[3] ‘The last ambassador: a memoir of the collapse of Yugoslavia.’ By Warren Zimmerman; Foreign Affairs March-April 1995 v74 n2 p2(19) (8919 words)

[3A] See, 'Pro-Yugoslav Muslim Leader Put on Trial,' at

[3B] Galbraith's congressional testimony included the following statement:

"Two years ago the Bosnian government asked the Croatian government to permit the transit through Croatia of weapons for its beleaguered army. A principal supplier of these arms would be Iran. The Croatian government asked for our reaction, the administration decided we would not answer, and I told the Croatians I had no instructions. The Croatians understood this response and a subsequent colloquy described to you by Ambassador Redman to mean that we would not object to their role in helping the Bosnians. I believed then, and even more strongly now, that the administration made the right decision."
Peter Galbraith, U.S. Ambassador to Croatia; Iran/Bosnia Arms; House International Relations Committee; 30 May 1996

[3BB] "U.S. & Iran: Enemies in Public, but Secret Allies in Terror: The US and Iran have long cooperated to sponsor Islamist terror"
by Jared Israel, Francisco Gil-White,
Petar Makara, and Nico Varkevisser 

[3C] To get some idea of the enormity of the U.S./NATO war against Bosnian Serb *civilians* read Tika Jankovic's 1997 report on his investigative trip to the Bosnian Serb Republic, posted at

[3D] Islamic religious rules cover areas that are left to personal discretion in most societies. Consider, for example, these elaborate requirements for intimate personal hygiene. [Scroll down to the subhead, 'Rules of Toilet'][Takhalli

While Shari'a may not currently be enforced with the ferocity of the Taliban or of Saudi Arabia in all Islamist states, keep in mind two things.

A) Wherever it is enforced, it may subject *all* citizens to the rule of men whose authority derives from Islam and who are trained in its ancient teachings. This leads to very sharp conflict, for example in places like Nigeria. To understand what motivates the non-Muslims who are resisting Shari'a in Nigeria, consider the case of Adama Yunusa. This 19- year-old had sued her fiancé, Isa Katagum, for impregnating her and refusing to marry her. So: we have Ms. Yanusa, 19 years old, that is, little more than a child, and Mr. Katagum, perhaps not much older. And we have a personal tragedy, small, but very real for these young people. What do they need? They need some intelligent help from their elders, so they can resolve the mess they have gotten themselves in. How did the Shari'a court deal with this little tragedy?

First, Ms. Yanusa could not, of course, meet the Shari'a requirement to produce four male witnesses who could confirm that she had had sex with Isa Katagum. So the Shari'a court threw out her charges. Second, since she was pregnant, and it was therefore apparent that she'd had sex with *someone,* the judges, in their exercise of 1300-year-old wisdom, found her guilty of the crime of fornication. She was sentenced to 100 strokes of the cane, to be administered publicly, after the baby was born. [Scroll down to, 'Sharia: Woman Gets 100 Strokes Over Pregnancy']

B) Once Shari'a is in force, its severity can increase according to the rulings of religious authorities and/or the mood of the Islamic population. And in States governed by Shari'a, the *only* views that count are those of Muslim men.

[3E] For a glimpse into the world of the Saudi "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," see
"Saudi police 'stopped' fire rescue," BBC, Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT at  

[4] Izetbegovic, Alija. 1999 [1980]. Le manifeste Islamique (original title: Islamska deklaracija). Beyrouth-Liban: Éditions Al-Bouraq. (pp. 75-76; 81-82; 105; 118; 132)

[4A] Financial Times (London), March 7, 1992, Saturday, Pg. 6, 1108 words, Man in the News: Former rebel with a pacifist cause - Alija Izetbegovic, By JUDY DEMPSEY

[4B] Copyright 1983 The British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, August 22, 1983, Monday, Part 2 Eastern Europe; B. INTERNAL AFFAIRS; YUGOSLAVIA; EE/7418/B/1; , 372 words, Muslim Nationalists Convicted, (a) Yuqoslav News Agency 1555 gmt 12 Aug 83 Text of report Belgrade home service 1700 gmt 20 Aug 83

[5] The New York Times, April 5, 1992, Sunday, Late Edition - Final, Section 1; Part 1; Page 3; Column 1; Foreign Desk, 681 words, Bosnia Calls Up Guard and Reserve, By Chuck Sudetic   Special to The New York Times, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, April 4

[6] "Nothing is Forever. . ." An Interview with Ambassador Warren Zimmermann ['Danas', 21 January 1992]

[7] "Painting Fascists as Victims, and Their Victims as Fascists: The mainstream media turned Bosnia upside down."
by Francisco Gil-White


[ "Painting Fascists as Victims, and Their Victims as Fascists:
    The mainstream media turned Bosnia upside down."
    by Francisco Gil-White ]

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