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Center for Balkan

Tel: 978-461-0909
Fax: 978-461-2552
[email protected]

Statement on terrorist bombings and letters of support from the Balkans

September 17, 2001

Dear Friends:

Please forgive me for not writing sooner regarding the tragic events of last Tuesday and also forgive the very personal nature of this letter to the Friends of Bosnia email list.

Between 8:45 and 10:30 a.m. on September 11, the world became a different place and it will be a long time before we know what the contours are.
I grew up in a community in New Jersey overlooking the New York skyline and watched as the World Trade Center was built and then became a permanent fixture --or so I thought--of the New York skyline. To watch it come down live on television was almost too much to bear. My pain and fear was excruciating, and to a degree still is.

First, I could not imagine the tragic carnage occurring before my eyes. Next to a nuclear holocaust, this is about as bad as can be imagined. Then for a few moments my fear was for my own personal safety. I ran outside to see if the few tall building in downtown Boston were still standing. Thank god they were.

Then my fear went to our future--what this will mean for us in America, our friends in the Balkans, our friends and foes throughout the world, and innocent civilians who will undoubtedly be caught in the crossfire. I am fearful for our civil liberties, and as the rhetoric and fighting escalates, for our personal safety.

And then my deep sadness for all those personally effected by the terror. There is hardly anyone who doesn't know someone who knows someone who was not in the World Trade Center, the flights, or the Pentagon, or in some way directly effected by this tragedy. In addition to the tragic loss of life, many people lost their jobs overnight (my sister-in-law's law firm across from the World Trade Center may never open again). Other's will loose their jobs in coming weeks as the result of business failures such as airlines, in flight services, curbside baggage handlers, etc.

Friends of Bosnia then started to receive emails of concern from the Balkans. A close friend in Pristina called to see if we were OK and to tell me that there were blood drives at the hospital and huge rallies in Kosovo in support of America. I then read on B92 from Belgrade that the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) offered their services to provide protection in New York. Below I have included some of these emails from the Balkans in addition to a statement from Chris Bragdon, FOB's Outreach Bosnia director. I have also included two jpg attachments. One is from the front page of Koha Ditore newspaper of a rally in Pristina. The other is of a poster in Pristina.

As my thoughts turn to the Balkans, I wonder what the connection is between a world that did little for three-and-a-half years in Bosnia and 6,000 people were killed in a few days during the siege of Srebrenica and the events of this past week.

While around the world atrocities of this proportion have occurred too frequently, America has been insulated from this reality. Over the past week we have heard over and over, "it wasn't suppose to happen here." Our innocence is now shattered, but perhaps we will become a bit more compassionate towards others who are suffering, be they Africans, Europeans, Asians, or Americans. The perpetrators of this crime must be found and punished, but the vulnerability they have exposed in us can have beneficial results if we become less isolationist and more willing to fight against tyranny wherever it occurs. It may also have grossly belligerent results as the US prepares for and predicates a war without a clearly defined enemy or goal.

Friends of Bosnia came into existence in 1993 as ultra-nationalists in the Balkans executed a campaign of genocide against Bosnians Muslims and others who supported a multi-ethnic state in Bosnia. FOB has always refrained from assigning collective guilt for these war crimes and supports the ICTY as a means of prosecuting those individually responsible. FOB now calls on the Bush Administration and the U.S. public to be equally judicious in assigning guilt for the attacks on Tuesday. While there is a high likelihood that the crimes have been committed by people sympathetic to Osama bin Laden, this has yet to be proved, but more important, this in no way assigns guilt to the entire Muslim faith. This would be no different than Jews holding Christianity accountable for the crimes committed by Adolf Hitler.

This week thousands of New Yorkers are posting photographs of missing loved ones throughout the city. This is eerily reminiscent of Kosovar refugees fleeing their homes in 1999 and looking for loved ones in refugee camps in Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia. Now rescue workers in New York are disinterring the largest mass grave in history as they look for forensic evidence and survivors. It is no wonder that Friends of Bosnia has received an outpouring of support from our friends in the Balkans.

I know that all of you on the Friends of Bosnia email list are there because of your connection to the Balkans and to people who have suffered tremendously in the recent past. Many of you have experienced the terror in the Balkans first hand and have even come to the United States to flee the bloodshed in your own country. I hope you will all continue to struggle for peace and justice and join Friends of Bosnia in a prayer for the victims of this tragic terrorist act and for our future.


Glenn Ruga
Director, Friends of Bosnia

Letters of Support

Dear All,
In these very difficult moments for United States of
America and entire world, in my personal name, in the
name of my family, many friends and colleagues, allow
me to express my condolence and commiseration for the
innocent victim of this madness. This evil act is a
terrible attack against all those values we believe to
be the fundament of humanity. However, I am deeply
confident that you will find enough strength to
overcome this tragedy and continue on the road we will
like to be your co-passengers.

Sincerely yours,
Luan and Vlora
Pristina, Kosova
Dear friends,
I use this opportunity to express my deepest condolence to you and to all
Americans with hope that your great spirit will prevail in such tragic
moment for your great nation, and that those who are responsible for such
horrible action will be founded and brought to justice.
I have to say that my mind is with all of you my good friends in such
tragic moments for all of you.

Amir Tobudic
Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
We all hope you are OK, and all of your friends are
OK. We are deeply sorry for everything that happened
to your people. We don't have words for it.
Hope that all of your friends are well.
Our condolences

Radio kameleon staff,
love Majda, Zlatko and Bato
Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Kosova Albanians are deeply saddended by this
senseless terrorist attack. we feel condolence and
sympathy with American nation. Those attacks against
innocent people and American institutions is also
attack against the democracy and freedom. We, Kosova
Albanians, think that such terrorist acts committed by
those medieval thugs should be stopped once forever.
We will never forget the America`s and its allies`
help to us, Kosova Albanians, during our most
difficult hours, therefore, we stand by American
nation and support your actions in protecting the
values of democracy and freedom throughout the world.
Lot of people from our community donated blood for the
victims of that mad act. In every town of Kosova three
minutes of silence was held, and candles where lit up
in remembrance of innocent victims.
God Save America and American nation.

Enver Vrajolli
Pristina, Kosovo
The Bosnian premier, Zlatko Lagumdzija, [...] offered assistance not only in protecting US citizens in Bosnia but also in tackling international terrorism.

"Today is a new day in history," Lagumdzija said. He warned Bosnians that they may have to adjust themselves to possible changes in US foreign policy, as other concerns take precedence over the Balkans.

From the Institute of War and Peace Reporting
No. 280, 14-Sept-01
From Chris Bragdon
Director, Outreach Bosnia
Friends of Bosnia

I believe that if we are to avoid a tit-for-tat
escalation that will ultimately one day lead to
nuclear terrorist attacks against the United States,
we must achieve a world-wide unity and dedication to
civilization that we have never seen before. I see
hope for a new global unity in the opening prayer at
the National Cathedral as all of our leaders listened,
"God of Abraham, God of Mohammed, Father of Jesus
Christ, we pray to you." I see hope for that in the
expressions of love that we are receiving from Bosnia.
I see the potential for that in each and every
individual who is reading these words. May we all move
forward and contribute to this world-wide effort to
build an international civil society.