Bosnian in What Way?

Abu Elias, Yugoslavia, and the Bosnian
10 October 2010

In my informal investigation into alleged Lockerbie bomber Basel Bushnaq, the first thing that pops out is his unusual family name. It of course means Bosniac (from Bosnia) rendered in Arabic, and here converted back to English in one of several possible ways.

And it's the only Arabic name with Bush in it, and it doesn't appear anywhere I can find prior to June 2001. Basel mentions at Facebook his favorite politicians - top-tier Republicans including Reagan, Palin, and McCain, but excluding any Bushes. Conversely, his bio section lists only one thing - the reason his name makes no such exclusion. For additional detail or realism, he added there:
"Rooted to Lakisic family (prounced Lakjitch) from Mostar, Bosnia. Never been there. My grandfather’s Mosque is well known Landmark in Mostar."

That's it. Nothing about him except that odd name explained. So I look up the family name Lakisic in relation to Mostar. There's a town, Lakišić Kula, 16.5 km from Mostar. [source] There seem to be people of that family name around, at least one living in Mostar. And there's a link centered around a mosque (Basel's grandpa's?) One site I  found quickly, listing Yugoslavian war crimes in Bosnia, mentions over a dozen mosques in Mostar alone either damaged or destroyed. Interestingly one entry said:
"Hadji-Ahmed aga Lakisic Mosque in Mostar, [built] 1650, was heavily damaged in May, 1992." [source]
The conflict that spawned such destruction was of course between Muslim separatists and Serb forces, one of several conflicts that marked the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. One interesting report on this era mentions that "the PFLP-GC had networks and offices in Yugoslavia that also housed HizbAllah operatives," among the facts that made Bosnia, to the authors, "Iran's European springboard." That might have been of relevance as Iran sought to avenge its downed airbus in Europe, 1988. The same report, by Bodiansky and Forrest, also states some of the foreign terrorists engaged in false-flag attacks on Muslim civilians, and heinous ones, designed "to win world sympathy and military intervention." It cites these as beginning in May 1992.

So while that last report is something I can't vouch for, and while Basel says he's never been to Bosnia, it seems entirely possible Abu Elias was. At any rate, we know he was in Yugoslavia. FBI Agent Marshman's report (partial, re-created from transcripts) relates Khreesat's experience with this PFLP-GC bigwig. No exact explanation is read out,  but it seems the double agent's first trip to Yugoslavia, right before his big job in Germany, was to meet with Abu Elias.
"Khreesat did not know the function of Abu Elias in Yugoslavia, nor did he know the purpose of the meeting that was to be held in Yugoslavia."
FBI chief investigator Richard Marquise has presumably read the whole report, and his informative 2006 book SCOTBOM agreed:
In September 1988, Dalkamouni summoned Khreesat to Yugoslavia. ... Khreesat ... recalled they were supposed to meet with Abu Elias, but they never met. ... Elias was supposed to have been in Yugoslavia the previous month, but failed to appear." [SCOTBOM, p 54]
And another verification comes from Pierre Salinger - admittedly not the best source - investigating sometime after the 1991 indictments against the Libyans. It started with an interview he'd done with Khreesat in 1989, where he had been told about Abu Elias. Under questioning at trial in 2000, he said the following:
Q Were you given any information as to where Abu Elias was going to be coming from?
A I don't know where he was from, but at one point, when Marwan Khreesat was in Germany, he was told by -- that Abu Elias was coming to Germany to see him. That's -- Dalkamoni did that. But that didn't work. And so when all these people got arrested -- you remember that?
Q Well, before you go any further, I don't want to explore hearsay.
Q Did you subsequently make inquiries in Yugoslavia in connection with Abu Elias.
A I made questions in Yugoslavia. I've got papers that were given to the National Security Council and -- by Sandy Berger. That's the most important thing that I gave him. And when these lawyers came to Washington and asked me to get those papers back, they refused to give them.
Q I see. So you say that you recovered certain papers from Yugoslavia which you handed over to the National Security Council?
A Correct.
Q And they still have those papers?
A They still have those papers.
And they were about Abu Elias. These documents have never been found or publicized, but I tend to think they do exist and show, at the very least, that our mysterious fugitive was in Yugoslavia before, and perhaps after Lockerbie. They might even show he was in Bosnia in 1992, around the time the Lakisic mosque in Mostar was bombed, but that clearly is just speculation.

Certainly anywhere along his work in the Yugoslav disintegration, our man could have learned that Bushnaq means Bosnian, which is funny given the former US president's name. He could learn of the town Mostar and a family Likisic, and later somehow relocate to be right by the CIA. A new identity needing a name, another Bush in power, a need to explain his Arabic accent and Syrian background along with his fair looks ... so he says his people were Bosnian. It might just have been too clever to pass up, and it's too late to undo it now. Bad decisions do happen.

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