Mustafa Ceric

According to a former US National Security Agency intelligence analyst, Dr. Mustafa Ceric is known to have had extensive Islamist ties since the time of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. Educated at Al-Azhar, Dr. Ceric headed the Zagreb office of the Third World Relief Agency that sent funds and financed arms shipments to the Bosnian mujahedeen and which had extensive ties to a variety of Islamist groups and individuals including Osama Bin Laden and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the radical Egyptian cleric who was convicted of planning several terrorist bombings in New York. Dr. Ceric held the position of Chief Mufti of the Bosnian Islamic Community for almost 19 years but was replaced in September 2012. Bosnian media reported on the controversy surrounding the selection of Dr. Ceric as head of the newly established World Bosniak Congress. According to a translation of a Slobodna Bosna report (see Note 1 below)

The founding of the World Bosniak Congress [WBC] to be headed by Mustafa effendi [honourific title]Ceric has generated strong reactions and divisions within the Islamic Community in Bosnia-Hercegovina [IZBiH]. Namely, the majority view within the IZBiH is that the formation of such an organization is unnecessary and is Effendi Ceric’s vanity project. Doubts about this project were also stoked by the Bosniak National Foundation set up, according to Ceric’s adversaries, to launder money in some way. Namely, it is hoped that millions of euros in voluntary donations from well to do Bosniaks from across the world will be pouring into the foundation. 

Recent US State Department cables characterize Dr. Ceric as deeply ambitious and known for “shady business dealings” including accepting substantial sums of money from wealthy supporters for the building of his private residence.  The cables also say that Dr. Ceric is among those who were heavily criticized “for past efforts to placate both extremist elements and silence their more moderate, secular critics. The cables also indicate that he adopted the language of the Muslim Brotherhood in describing the 2008 events in Gaza by describing the Israeli military action there as “genocide.”

Considered by some to be a leading “liberal” Islamic leader, Mustafa Ceric is tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood through his membership in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), headed by global Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and by his participation in the UK-based Radical Middle Way comprised of a wide range of associated scholars representing the global Muslim Brotherhood.” In November 2012,  the International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by Qaradawi, was expected to send a delegation to the Gaza Strip that included Dr. Ceric who is known to be a member of the IUMS. Recent statements by Dr. Ceric put him at odds with Qaradawi and some of his religious rulings and Dr. Ceric has also participated in Holocaust remembrance events which would also seem to conflict with Qaradawi’s Holocaust denial/minimization. However, as noted above, Dr. Ceric is known to be deeply ambitious  sees himself as a possible future leader of a “European Islam.” In addition, in June 2014 Dr. Ceric announced his candidacy for the Bosnian presidency. It maybe that these actions may be designed to win greater acceptance for Dr. Ceric by European leaders while at the same time preserving his connection to Qaradawi by remaining part of the ECFR. 

Note 1: BBC Monitoring Europe – Political December 31, 2012  “New organization by Bosnia’s ex-grand mufti causes rift in Islamic community”