Statistics give rise to misconceptions

I would like to correct a misconception regarding the number of people who were alleged to have died in the Bosnian conflict (AFP, «Suicide numbers nearly double in postwar Bosnia,» May 8). The article states, «During the Bosnian war some 200,000 people lost their lives… » We should remember with whom we are dealing. The statistic of 200,000 (most statistics have it at 250,000), was thrown out for propaganda purposes by the Bosnian-Muslim government which journalists did not bother to double check. The latest statistic given by BBC on January 21, 2002, gives an estimate of 40,000 on all sides, a far cry from the inflated statistic. This latest estimate is more in line with George Kenney, former State Department official, who puts the figure between 20,000 and 60,000. David Binder, a highly respected foreign correspondent with 30 years experience in the Balkans claimed in a World Affairs Council speech in Orange County, California, that the combined total of all humanitarian organizations can’t even come up with 70,000 victims. However, for some journalists, 250,000 sells more copy than 40,000. The war in the Balkans was not just a civil war. The Serbs have been fighting Al Qaeda for over a decade. Osama bin Laden was even given a Bosnian passport at the same time we were supporting the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic. In his Islamic Declaration, Izetbegovic is quoted as saying, «There can be no peace or coexistence between Islamic faith and non-Islamic faith political institutions… The Islamic movement must and can take place as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough, not only to destroy the non-Islamic one, but to build up a new Islamic one.» With a willing media, Izetbegovic was able to spread his propaganda typical of the disinformation intended to demonize a Christian Orthodox nation and bring about its destruction. By taking the pro-Muslim side in Bosnia, we denied the Serbs the same right to defend themselves against Islamic terrorists that we reserve for ourselves. STELLA L. JATRAS Sterling, Virginia