Saudi killed in Bosnia

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(First Edition)

A SAUDI national has been killed and another wounded in fighting alongside Muslim forces in Bosnia, according to a leading Saudi-owned Arabic language daily published in London.

Asharq al-Awsat reported yesterday from a correspondent in Zagreb that Abu Ali al-Mekki Hassan al-Qurshi had been killed ('martyred', in the style of Arabic language news reports) and his comrade in arms Abu El-baraa al-Mekki Hussameldin had been wounded in an exchange of fire with Serbian fighters near Doboj.

It is not clear whether the two Arabs were leading their own crusade their names look like noms de guerre or were part of a more co-ordinated move to send fighters into Bosnia as they were sent from around the Islamic world to help the mujahedin in Afghanistan.

The prominence given to the report, in what is an outlet controlled by Saudi interests, underlines the growing concern in the Arab and Islamic worlds at the developments in Bosnia. The West's apparent lack of support for the Muslims has been taken as support by default for Serbian aspirations. And despite the generally anti-Serbian feeling in the West, the conflict is increasingly being portrayed as one between the Islamic world and aggressive, expansionist Christendom.

Leaflets calling for arms to help Bosnian Muslims have been distributed in the past few weeks by militant Islamic groups in the Gulf and North Africa. This has put all governments under pressure from their own populations to support their co-religionists.

The most strident call was made in Iran, a long rival of Saudia Arabia, which is consistent in its backing of Muslim minorities worldwide. A leading Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, on return from a visit to Croatia and Bosnia, said Iran should take the lead in arming Muslims in Bosnia.