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A generic propagation model has been proposed recently and, from it, a new unifying statistical model has been obtained for the irradiance fluctuations due to a turbulent atmosphere. The statistical model presented, termed M distribution, can be written in a closed-form expression, and it contains most of the statistical models for the irradiance fluctuations that have been proposed in the literature. Relying on this generic model, in this paper, the performance of a subcarrier intensity-modulated free-space optical (SIM-FSO) communication system is investigated, and a novel closed-form analytical expression is derived for the average bit error rate of the system. Since the turbulence-induced fading is modeled by a generic distribution, the expression presented can be applied for performance analysis of SIM-FSO communication systems over most of the proposed statistical models derived so far.