7th Muslim Brigade

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Not to be confused with Bosnian mujahideen.

The 7th Muslim Brigade (Bosnian: Sedma muslimanska brigada) was a brigade in the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH). It was often misinterpreted by Serb and Croat media, which confused it with the squad of Arab volunteers known as El-Mudžahid - foreign fighters from various Islamic countries that fought during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. The 7th brigade had over 1,000 local soldiers and was a part of the 3rd Corps of the Bosnian Army, while El-Mudžahid was an independent detachment.[1]

Background[edit]

The Seventh Muslim Mountain Brigade (7.muslimanska brdska brigada) was established on 18 December 1992 at the proposal by staff of the provisional Territorial Defence Force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zenica, the soldiers of which were located on the plateau of Vlasic. These men, all Bosniak Muslims, insisted that the unit be formally titled Muslim. The Brigade belonged to the 3rd Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At its creation Lieutenant Colonel Enver Hadžihasanović, as Commander of the 3rd Corps, decided to appoint the following men to command the unit:

  • Commandant: Mahmut Karalić
  • Chief of Staff: Asim Koričić
  • Assistant Chief for Operational and curricula: Amir Kubura

On 12 March 1993 General Sefer Halilović appointed Asim Koričić to command the unit, although Amir Kubura in fact becomes the de facto leader of military operations. Amir Kubura was formally appointed commander on 6 August 1993.

The Command and Brigade headquarters was located in Bilmišće, Zenica. The 1st Battalion was headquartered in Travnik. Each battalion had four companies and the total number of troops was about 1,500. The 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade sported a distinctly Islamic army uniform badge featuring Arabic lettering which alarmed and confused outside observers.

Bosnian Mujahideen confusion[edit]

During the Yugoslav wars, Bosnia-Herzegovina received humanitarian aid from Islamic countries as well as from the West, because of intensive and widespread killing, mass rapes, death camps, ethnic cleansing committed by Serb and, to a lesser extent, Croat forces. The main targets were Bosnian Muslim civilians. The International Court of Justice concluded that these crimes, committed during the 1992 -95 war, were crimes against humanity and genocide (dolus specialis) regarding Srebrenica region according to the Genocide Convention.[2] Following such massacres, Arab volunteers came across Croatia into Bosnia to help the Bosnian Army protect the Bosnian Muslim civilian population. The number of the El-Mudžahid volunteers is still disputed, from around 300[3][4] to 1,500.[3] These caused particular controversy: foreign fighters, styling themselves mujahiddin, turned up in Bosnia around 1993 with Croatian identity documents and passports. They quickly attracted heavy criticism, who considered their presence to be evidence of violent Islamic fundamentalism at the heart of Europe. However, the foreign volunteers became unpopular even with many of the Bosniak population, because the Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina had thousands of troops and had no need for more soldiers, but for arms. Many Bosnian Army officers and intellectuals were suspicious regarding foreign volunteers arrival in central part of the country, because they came from Split and Zagreb in Croatia, and were passed through the self-proclaimed Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia without problems unlike Bosnian Army soldiers who were regularly arrested by Croat forces. According to general Stjepan Šiber, the highest-ranking ethnic Croat in Bosnian Army, the key role in foreign volunteers arrival was played by Franjo Tuđman and Croatian counter-intelligence underground with the aim to justify involvement of Croatia in Bosnian War and mass crimes committed by Croat forces. Although Izetbegović regarded them as symbolically valuable as a sign of the Muslim world's support for Bosnia, they appear to have made little military difference and became a major political liability.[4] According to Predrag Matvejević, a notable Italian and Croatian modern prosaist who analysed the situation, the number of Arab volunteers who came to help the Bosnian Muslims, "was much smaller than the number presented by Serb and Croat propaganda".[4]

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