Americans on the Line
If the militant Islamic Mujahedeen have it their way, the tenuous position of the American peacemakers in Bosnia will be made even worse. According to a recent New York Times News Service release, black-garbed Afghan fighters have plans of their own for U. S. troops. While cursing the arrival of American GIs, these radical Islamic volunteers are quoted as saying, “The American tanks do not frighten us. We came here to die in the service of Islam. This is our duty. No infidel force will tell us how to live or what to do. This is a Muslim country, which must be defended by Muslims… We all pray we will one day be martyrs.”
With the cease-fire in Bosnia, these militantly Islamic volunteers, some three to four thousand in number, who fought alongside Bosnian government soldiers against the Serbs and Croats, have turned their attention to what they see as the other enemies of the faith, namely Americans.
These Mujahedeen fighters are linked to violent Islamic groups struggling to overthrow the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Among other things, they have threatened Christians, warning them to get out of the country. Bosnian-Croat Catholics who live near one of the ten Mujahedeen camps have suffered some of the worst harassment. Many have been beaten and robbed at gunpoint. More than half of the Catholic families in one village have been driven from their homes. The Mujahedeen are suspected of killing American William Jefferson of Camden, New Jersey, last November.
“The problem is,” a UN officer said, “that the local authorities have no control over the Mujahedeen. The Mujahedeen are protected by the highest levels of the Bosnian government. They operate with total impunity. We do not know who controls them, perhaps no one.” In addition to the Mujahedeen, there are at least ten other militant Islamic groups, including one operated by the Iranian government, working as charities in Bosnia. With budgets of tens of millions of dollars, they work to build militant grass-roots organizations in Bosnia.
Beyond the obvious threat posed to our troops in the area, there is something else to consider. Now that peace talks between Israel and Syria are heating up again—with a seize-the-moment sense of urgency—there is a strong possibility that in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal of early warning devices from the Golan Heights, American troops will be positioned between the Syrians and Israelis. Before this arrangement is implemented, Americans need to be reminded that the same Mujahedeen types who are spoiling to fight Americans in Bosnia are awaiting the arrival of U.S. forces on the Golan—and for the same reasons.
It is, of course, a problem for serious U.S. leaders to mull over with extreme care. But more than that, for those believers who are earnestly praying for our peacekeepers in Bosnia and, perhaps in the near future, in Israel, we must pray with great urgency for our sons and daughters who are obviously being placed in harm’s way. As we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, let’s pray for our young emissaries of peace as well.