Bosnia and Herzegovina
Involved in: Training grounds, Aid for terrorists;
Profit: Keep the citizens under fear, Damage on domestic democracy;
Providing for Terrorists: Ground, Arms, Funds, Camps;
The Islamic Declaration by Alija Izetbegović (1925–2003) published in 1970, is an essay on Islam and modernization. In 1983, 13 Muslim intellectuals were sentenced to prison on charges of Islamic fundamentalism.
The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), founded in 1990 and led by Izetbegović won the November 1990 elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the Bosnian War, Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) received financial aid from Iran and Saudi Arabia, and foreign fighters numbering up to 4,000 waged jihad in the war.
There were several strict Muslim special units in the Army of BiH, such as the 7th Muslim Brigade, Black Swans, Green Berets, Green Legion, El Mujahid, and Patriotic League. The Bosnian mujahideen (El Mujahid) was made up of foreign fighters and radical Bosniaks. In 1995, Izetbegović invited the jihadists to leave the country in return for American peacekeepers, leading to his denouncement from other Islamists.
In 1995, veterans of the Bosnian mujahideen established the Active Islamic Youth, regarded the most dangerous of the Islamist groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During and just after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H) the relationship between the Bosniak part of the new state of B-H and the Muslim world were elevated to an unprecedented level. The financial support coming from foreign Muslim countries undermined the power of the well-organized and structured Bosnian Islamic community.
The Islamic revival that began in Yugoslavia in the 70’s decade, which was developed in the framework of the local Muslim institutions and tradition, turned during and after the war to a more politicized revitalization influenced by foreign elements as the Arab fighters and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from the Middle East.
The Official Islamic community has been taking control of Islam in B-H since the end of the 1992-95 war. However, the Islamic Community has recognized the presence of religious organizations outside its control, and that one of these organizations is an obstacle for the legitimate activities of the wider Islamic Community.
Besides efforts on behalf of the Islamic Community to counter Wahhabi influence, ordinary believers are very often staunch opponents of Wahhabism and that might be the really insurmountable obstacle in front of Wahhabism in B-H. Since the end of the war the largely secular and European attitude among the Bosniaks has caused friction with foreign Islamic extremists. Different reports on incidents involving moderate and radical Muslims have shown that Wahhabi communities are willing to use coercive methods to spread their radical ideas. Traditional Muslims have also demonstrated that they can use radical methods to counter the spread of the Wahhabi movement in B-H.
Assessments show that, despite their efforts, the Wahhabi movement does not have many supporters in B-H. The general population is afraid of their fundamentalist approach towards religion. B-H Muslims want to maintain the local traditional and moderate version of Islam.
While the predominance of traditional ‘Bosniak’ Islam is widespread, the Wahhabi movement has established itself in some areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some radical groups have been determined in their efforts to publicly confront the role of the Bosnia and Herzegovina official Islamic Community and its control over Islamic religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, using their radical Wahhabi interpretation of the Koran. Their actions have drawn the attention of both local and international media and security services.
An element of the local media, that often shows nationalist or political bias, has tried to show the problem of Wahhabism in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a growing threat against the safety and security within B-H and perhaps within the rest of Europe. This media element has used a theme that is similar to that used at the beginning of the 1990’s, in changing the term ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ to ‘Wahhabism’. To counter this, media close to the Bosniak establishment, have tried to ‘hide’ any evidence of the Wahhabi presence in B-H or, at least, to downplay the significant of their influence.
B-H in the 1990s was in a unique situation: it had the political and mobilizing structures in place for the creation of an Islamic state. Nevertheless, it lacked the cultural framework around which to mobilize social support, nor did it have a context in which to develop a strong Islamic social movement. Islam was used more in a nationalist context rather than as a pervasive issue that could transform the society. At the moment, despite its efforts, the Wahhabi movement does not have many supporters in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The general population appears to be afraid of their fundamentalist approach towards religion.
The Bosnian Muslims have been among the most secularised Muslim populations in the world.
The largely secular and European attitude among the Bosniaks has caused friction with foreign Islamic extremists. In the past, Islamic radical groups have been financed through the donations of Arabic countries and by non-governmental organizations that were headquartered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These NGOs have been present in the Balkans since the 1990s, many evolving from the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. Since then, these organizations have developed support structures that have proven to be easily exploited by terrorist and extremist groups. As a consequence of a number of worldwide terrorist attacks, the situation dramatically changed with police starting to raid a number of Arab charities.
The arrests of suspected terrorists alerted local and international attention to the birth of a different interpretation of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also the situation in Saudi Arabia has undergone serious changes. Currently, the Saudi Kingdom, including the royal family, is a significant target for international terrorist groups linked to Salafi ideas. The Saudi authorities are now more careful about the final use of the money that they send abroad. It is however necessary to be aware of the fact that the radical networks have been looking for other financial sources to support their activities and are careful to avoid police and intelligence agencies. An important consideration that guides the groups is time.
They do not attach the same imperative to their objectives that Western nations might. The spreading of their radical ideas transcends a time-linked end state. If they perceive that the situation is not good to achieve their goals, they may move to isolated areas where they can practice their version of Islam, waiting for the right moment to proceed with their ‘mission’: that is to establish Bosnia and Herzegovina as a homogenous Islamic country, based exclusively on the principles of the Sharia. This is the concept of Hijra or emigration that radical groups associate with a kind of spiritual retirement outside a ‘corrupted society’ or Yahilia, the ‘dark’ period before Islam. Some Bosnian Muslim radicals have lost their respect for the leaders of the official Islamic Community.
These Salafis consider the local Islamic Community as ignorant, lacking initiative, indifferent and transgressing Islamic norms. This is the likely attitude of some radical groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina currently. Bosnia and Herzegovina local authorities and the Official Islamic Community attempt to counter Salafi influence. Additionally ordinary believers are very often staunch opponents of Salafis, and this might be the insurmountable obstacle for Salafism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is possible that the Wahhabi movement does not have many supporters in B-H because the general population is afraid of their fundamentalist approach towards religion. They want to maintain the traditional local and moderate version of Islam.
The measures that have been taken by the local and international authorities to raid a number of Arab charities, to block their bank accounts, to search for suspicious financial operations and to close some of these organizations, have been successful and, consequently, these organizations have to find alternative financial sources to support their activities. These measures, together with the secular attitude of the Bosniaks and the well-organised Islamic Community, have hampered the spreading of radical ideas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The official Islamic community has been taking control for Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the 1992-95 war. At the end of 2006, the strategy of some Wahhabi leaders of openly challenging the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community and their public statements, labelling Bosnian traditional Islam as ‘communist Islam’, have increased the traditional Muslims’ animosity towards him and the rest of the Wahhabi community. Despite the fact that the stance of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community has repeatedly been considered as unclear and ambiguous, and intellectuals, scholars and journalists have continually asked for an active position to tackle Wahhabism, the ‘tardy and shy’ measures taken by the B-H Islamic Community since the end of 2006, can be considered as positive.
The response of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community has increased the ‘schism’ that had been observed in the Salafi community in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the last month. Mustafa Ćerić, the leader of the Bosnia and Herzegovina official Islamic Community has gathered around him, not only the traditional Bosnian Muslim believers but also a part of the Salafi reformists that want to distance themselves of the more radical wing of the movement. The more radical elements of the Salafi community are almost isolated by the rest of the Muslim society.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Wahhabi movement is currently comprised of two main streams:
– a Salafi / Wahhabi stream loyal to the B-H Islamic Community;
– a Salafi / Wahhabi stream outside the control of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community. This stream can also be divided into two main groups: Missionary and Jihadi.
a) ‘Wahhabi’ stream ‘loyal’ to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic community
Nezim Halilović, high-ranking official of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community, has been considered to be the main Salafi / Wahhabi leader in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite this, he is totally opposed to those Salafis / Wahhabis that want to split from the Islamic Community. According to Halilović, they are undermining the unity of Muslims. Halilović is likely the leader of those Salafis who want to distance themselves from the more radical elements and gather around the official Islamic Community.
Some local scholar refuses that Halilović is a Salafi or a Wahhabi follower and labelled him only as an ultra conservative and nationalistic traditional Bosnian believer. Former AIO members, close to SAFF magazine, as Semir Imamović, defend that is possible to cooperate with the Islamic community if it will benefit Islam and Muslims. This circle has also defended the need for dialogue between islamic scholars and religious leaders of other faiths and confessions, and confessions, and for religious tolerance since both are firmly rooted in the Koran and the Sunnah of Allah́s Prophet. Samir Avdić, member of SAFF circle, has stated that he would cooperate with SIPA (State Investigation and Protection Agency) in denouncing terrorist.
Semir Imamović, has recommended that Bosnian Salafists should be advised on how to be civil to other people, and how to show respect for the opinions of others. SAFF has published the fatwas issued by important scholars, the European Council for Fatwas and Research (ECFR), as well as a part of the study by Abdul Karim Zaidan which he presented at the session of the Rabita (Muslim World League) Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Council in which he sets forth the arguments about when permission can be granted to engage politically, to vote, and take part in elections.
b) ‘Wahhabi’ stream ‘outside’ the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic community The Salafi / Wahhabi community outside the control of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community can also be divided in two main groups: Missionary and Jihadi.
i) Missionary ‘Wahhabism’
Muhamed Porča, the Imam of the ‘Al-Tawhid’ Mosque in Vienna, who has repeatedly stated his opposition towards the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community, is considered to be the spiritual leader of the Bosnian Salafi / Wahhabi movement in Austria, and a middle-man between some Middle Eastern NGO’s and Salafis / Wahhabis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Members of the official Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community have condemned Porča’s and other radical leaders’ idea to set up a parallel Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Porča can be considered as the leader of Bosnian Missionary Salafism / Wahhabism without any relationship with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community. After his studies in Saudi Arabia, Porča arrived in Austria in 1993 to serve as an imam. From the moment he was denied a job at Sarajevo’s Faculty of Islamic Studies on his return to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Porča started implementing the idea of creating an Islamic community parallel to the official one lead by Reis Mustafa Efendi Ćerić. Porča has not succeeded in this but he has managed to strengthen the Wahhabi movement specially among the Bosnian Diaspora to an unprecedented extent.
This outcome took time to achieve, but, owing above all to the inertness of the B-H Islamic Community, Porča and the like-minded Adnan Buzar and Senad Podojak had ample time. The Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Austria, as well as the Islamic Community of Muslims in Austria, have unequivocally disassociated themselves from the Wahhabi movement, whose members – they believe – are doing unprecedented damage to all Muslims in Austria.
‘The Diaspora has been neglected and … there was no reaction to developments among their members. Most of the divergence among Bosnian Muslims was originated in the EU. Many individuals and in some cases ‘džemats’ refer to Vienna and at the same time their links with Bosnian scholars are becoming increasingly tenous. As a result relations with the Muslim community have become so strained that Muslim have drawm arms against Muslims, and some have even come to an untimely end. There is no answer as to how all this will end because it is not yet clear if the current state of affairs will have any impact on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many young men who started practicing Islam only recently feel lost and are at the mercy of those who sow confusion. They often complain that Bosnian Salafis have become relaxed about their work because they have not issued tekfir against the Reis and other scholars’.
After the reported closure of the AIO, Muhamed Porča, has appointed himself as the leader of the emergent Islamic Youth in Europe, an organization or movement that has apeared as a parallel of the AIO that insists on being point of reference for all the Bosniaks which no one should digress.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina Porča is using Selam organization to take the control over those Salafis that are not maintaining contacts with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community. These Salafi communities, such as those in the area of Bihać, Maoca and Bocinja, have decided to isolate themselves from official mesdžids and tears apart of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic community , embracing the concept of hijra, or emigration, to be apart of the jahilia, the corruption, the dark period before Muhammad spread their message.
Safet Kuduzović is considered to be one of the Missionary Salafi/Wahhabi leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kuduzović is a graduate of the Islamic University in Jordan, with a Masters degree, and a former Imam of the Bosnian Salafi Kewser Džemat (Muslim religious congregation) in Linz, Austria. Kuduzović is a well-known and active figure in Bosnian Salafi circles. It is possible he currently resides in B-H. Kuduzović actively cooperates with the Studio-din portal (www.studio-din.com), Salafi / Wahhabi missionary portal, and advices it on its political and religious direction.
In its 1 June 2007 edition, ‘SAFF’ magazine reported that after the death of Jusuf Barčić, a majority of members of his group had chosen Nusret Imamović to be their new leader. ‘Saff’ reported that Imamović was well known as a religious leader and primary school teacher in the village of Gornja Maoca.
Nusret Imamović is a prominent Salafi / Wahhabi cleric originating from Kalesija. Imamović’s reporting started in 2002, when Barčić was imprisoned, Imamović had taken over the leadership over his network. Lately, major media attention has been drawn to an important inter-ethnic incident that occurred on 15 July 2006, in the Bukvik (CQ 1567) settlement near Brčko, when some 10 persons, known to belong to a Wahhabi group, clashed with three Bosnian Serbs.
One Bosnian Serb, Mihajlo Kisić, was seriously injured and allegedly gunshots were fired too. The Brčko District (BD) Police started an investigation, and six Salafis / Wahhabis were detained by the Tuzla Police. BD Police increased the security around the detention centre as it was close to Gornja Maoca.
A few days after the incident, the local police detained Imamović. He is known to have contacts with Nedžad Balkan, who was arrested together with Imamović, after the Bukvik incident. Imamović is close to Vienna-based Wahhabi cleric, Muhamed Porča. Imamović is one of the few Bosnian Salafis / Wahhabis who has publicly refused any kind of collaboration with the B-H Islamic Community. He is linked to the ‘Selam’ organization.
A mainstream Islamic biweekly ‘Preporod’, published by the B-H Islamic Community (IZ) of Bosnia and Herzegovina
, in its 15 March 2007 issue featured an editorial by the Editor in Chief, Aziz Kadribegović, entitled ‘Destruction of the Islamic Community as a Long Term Goal’, in which the author claimed that Bosnian Salafists were contemplating a new strategy for their mid-term activity.
Kadribegović wrote that ‘Preporod’ had learned that one of the Salafi authorities in the Diaspora, a Jordanian student with a Masters degree mentioned as ‘S.K’ (probably Safet Kuduzović), having grasped the seriousness of the situation in which his companions could find themselves, and having realized that ‘the sand that until yesterday appeared as mortar has started to crumbled’, had held a meeting with a group of ‘the most mature Salafi / Wahhabi Da’ias or missionaries’. At this meeting, he presented them with the basic elements of a new strategy for the Salafi / Wahhabi movement, which the editorial called ‘the Organization’.
According to ‘Preporod’, the leader of the meeting, stressed that:
‘the Organization’s activity in the EU countries must remain a strategic interest, because the B-H Islamic Community was weaker abroad than in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which created a manoeuvring space for the Organization’. He told the meeting participants that the strong ‘Organization’ outside B-H could: ‘financially assist ‘the brothers’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and act as a powerful platform for a more aggressive approach in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The editorial also commented that the leader highlighted the importance of a new generation of missionaries graduating from Middle Eastern Islamic universities, who would be returning to Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly. ‘These missionaries are better educated than the B-H Islamic Community missionaries, more eloquent, and, most importantly, fully committed to their work and ideas. In time, they will overwhelm the B-H Islamic Community and take full control of the Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina’.
At the meeting, the importance of avoiding future incidents was also highlighted. As ‘Preporod’ wrote, he advised that ‘brothers’ at all times ‘give the impression that they are normal citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the EU countries in which they reside’. ‘With this goal in sight, we must bury immediately the hatchet with the Rijaset, B-H Islamic Community executive office, and the representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad’.
Jusuf Barčić was not mentioned at the meeting, which led Kadribegović to conclude that Barčić was probably ‘a lone shooter’ and not a member of ‘the Organization’. However, ‘some brothers from Sandžak’ were mentioned in this context at the meeting.
According to the editorial, it was proposed that those ‘who cannot be controlled’ first be ‘isolated’ by ‘the Organization’ and, if this did not work out, then to ‘denounce them’ openly in Islamic papers such as ‘Saff’ (an Islamic youth magazine reflecting of Salafist, favouring some sort of cooperation with B-H Islamic Community) and ‘Al Asr’ (Islamic Salafi / Wahhabi bi-monthly, published by the Bosnian Salafi ‘Hidžra’ Džemat (Bosnian version of the Arabic word Jama’at) in Holland, more theological in nature).
As for the group’s attitude towards Muslims sentenced on terrorism charges, the participants of the meeting have reportedly agreed that ‘brothers’ should be advised ‘not to embark on similar undertakings’ in the future, in view of the stiff sentences envisioned for these acts. However, the meeting decided against a public distancing from individuals charged with terrorism. Terrorism verdicts ‘should be ignored’ and ‘there should be no public reaction to them’.
Assumptions taken in the previous chapters of this paper support the above information and give credibility to the ‘Preporod’ article. Salafi / Wahhabi future strategy may be summarized as:
– Recruitment of Bosniak Diaspora. This recruitment is especially easy and profitable for ‘the Organization’ because:
A. The Bosnian Islamic Community is weaker abroad.
B. The Bosnian ‘converted’ Muslims are a healthy financial source.
C. Converted Muslims abroad are able to spread Salafism / Wahhabism in their close circle when they come back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
– Well trained Salafi / Wahhabi scholars will argue with those who are less prepared within the B-H Islamic Community. In 2003, there were about a hundred Bosnian students of Islam in different Middle East countries. Although many of them would easily find their place in the Bosnia and Herzegovina Islamic Community upon return to the country, some of these students could adopt Salafi / Wahhabi ideas.
– Silent creation of a parallel Islamic religious structure, without publicly facing the official one but with the final goal of defeating it.
– Not to be directly linked to any kind of terrorist activity.
Members of the Salafi / Wahhabi movement may change their approach to Islamism when its perceived that they are not going to attain their goal as a result of preaching and proselytizing, and so they may take a more radical and violent stance. The lack of a result by the Wahhabi mission and the religious attitude of the Bosnian Muslim mainstream, who wants to maintain the traditional local and moderate version of Islam, may hasten this process.
– Salafi / Wahhabi groups are used to spot talent by Jihadi groups that find highly motivated and religiously convinced youngster.
ii) Jihadi Salafism / Wahhabism
Jihadism defends an armed struggle that has three main variants:
– Internal: a Jihad against nominally Muslim regimes which the Jihadis hold to be ‘sinful’ and thus legitimate targets for insurrection.
– Irredentist: the fight to redeem land considered to be a part of Dar Al Islam or Muslim territory, from non-Muslim rule or occupation.
– Global: the Jihad against the West, particularly the US and their associates.
The three different strands of Jihadism can, and are, used in various combinations by the same Jihadist group simultaneously, according to their objectives.
No Jihadi leaders have been reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although Nedžad Balkan, labeled as the leader of a Sandžak Jihadi group, maintains contacts with religious leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nedžad Balkan, also known as Abu Muhammad, who was born in Vienna, is a Bosnia and Herzegovina citizen of Sandžak origin. He studied at the Islamic University in Medina, Saudi Arabia, but he left without graduating, reportedly disappointed with the Saudi political regime. Upon his return, he stayed in Vienna, where he preached at the ‘Al-Tawhid’ Mosque.
He left the mosque due to disagreement with Muhamed Porča and other members of the congregation. Nedžad Balkan led the ‘Sahaba’ Mosque in Vienna’s 7th County. In 2005, Balkan was placed under observation of the Austrian Police, for condoning the London bombings and for making extremist statements for the Austrian press. According to ‘SAFF’ magazine, Balkan is considered to be the ‘highest religious authority’ of the Jihadi group Kelimetul-Haqq and of young extremists in Sandžak. The website – www.kelimatulhaqq.co.nr, of the group Kelimetul-Haqq (Words of the Truth, Right Words) is the first openly Jihadi Bosniak website, actively promoting the concept of holy war and disseminating Jihadi videos and lectures.
However, its radical message appears to have little support outside its base in the Sandžak region. www.islamskadravska.com, whose content is hard-core Salafi. There are indications of ties with the Sandžak-based Jihadi group Kelimetul-Haqq. The website is also linked to www.abuhamzabrigade.tk and www.bugojnocity.tk. Both are Bugojno-based minor Salafi / Wahhabi web pages.
The potential threat of terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is totally linked to the spread of extremist religious ideas in the country. Despite the fact that Wahhabism and Terrorism must not be merged, most people detained in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of suspected terrorist activities have also been linked to Wahhabi groups. Wahhabi communities are used by terrorist networks to recruit new members, to provide logistic bases for transient terrorists and as a front to cover their activities.
Different articles appearing in local and international mass media have commented about the role of Bosnia and Herzegovina in different issues related with international terrorist networks. Most of this information is unconfirmed. The substance of follow-on media coverage is variously both true and false.
Terrorist cells are no less likely to be present in Bosnia and Herzegovina than in any other state. Bosnian Serb and Serbian media outlets regularly misappropriate such reporting, and the information is generalized to the point of suggest that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a significant threat to ethno-national security because it allegedly harbours foreign Islamic terrorists.
This is nationalist propaganda that deliberately obscures the facts in two areas: first, the symptoms of global security threats are confused with the causes of Bosnian state weakness; and second, deliberate state-level support to terrorism rather than the weak state’s inability to police itself. The terrorist phenomenon in Bosnia and Herzegovina is no more developed, and the risk of a terrorist attack is not higher than in other parts of the world.
It is possible to assess that the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the growing interest of local and foreign police agencies in this issue, especially after September 11th, and the special characteristics of the Muslim population have reduced the possibility of the establishment of a Jihadi base in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But it is necessary to remark that the potential for instability exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, the presence of some NGOs, some radical communities, the citizenship issue, the historical links between Bosnia and Herzegovina and some suspicious countries and the problem of a weak border control, may provide an environment suitable for such establishment to occur, in a significant and widespread way.
Though Islamic terrorist acts cannot be excluded from B-H, it is assessed that they are very unlikely. Until now there has never been a direct threat against the International Community (IC) in B-H. Taking into account the reported long-term goal of the major ‘Islamic players’ to turn B-H into an Islamic society, it is considered that a terrorist attack in Bosnia and Herzegovina could have a negative impact on achieving this goal. The predicted reaction of the IC might change the now favourable environment significantly.
According to different sources Bosnia and Herzegovina is mainly used by international terrorist organizations mainly for the following purposes:
– Islamic bridgehead in to Europe,
– Logistic base,
– Recruiting base,
– Rest and recuperation area
– Transit country.
During the last six years there have been some terrorist activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina linked with international terrorism but the terrorist phenomenon in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not as significant as some nationalist and foreign mass media try to show:
– In October 2001, Bensayah Belkacem, Saber Lahmar, Ait Idir Mustafa, Boudallah Hadj, Boumedien Lakhdar and Necheld Mohammad were arrested on the suspicion that they had planned a terrorist attack against the U.S Embassy and the British Embassy in Sarajevo. No charges have been presented against them.
– On 6 May 2004, the US Treasury froze the assets of three Bosnia and Herzegovina charities suspected of financing the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. The Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities raided several Islamic charities operating in Bosnia and forced three of them to close.
– On 19 October 2005, the FMUP Anti Terrorist unit raided a house in Ilidza and arrested Mirsad Bektašević and Kadar Cecur on suspicion of terrorist activities. Mirsad Bektašević is a Bosnian citizen that is the holder of a Swedish passport. Cecur is a Turkish citizen and the holder of a Danish passport.
– On 12 December 2006, upon order of B-H Prosecutor’s Office, SIPA searched several buildings in different locations in Sarajevo. One of the searched buildings is the address of a Kuwaiti humanitarian organization in Nedzarici neighbourhood. No one has been charged because of this operation.
– At the beginning of April 2007, the German newsweekly ‘Spiegel’ reported that Nihad Ćosić, B-H citizen born in Germany, was arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of links to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. He was reportedly arrested by the Pakistani Secret Service in the city of Rawalpandi on 30 Jan 07, while crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where he was supposed to run the camp for training of the Al-Qaeda mercenaries. ‘Spiegel’ reported that Nihad Ćosić was known to the German Police for his earlier links to a Jihadi organization in southern Germany and terrorist organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Recent reports in local and international media have alleged the presence of terrorist training camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Various analysts and commentators have offered wildly differing opinions on the implications of individual foreign terrorists being present in B-H, while local authorities have denied that there are any terrorist training facilities operating in B-H. Because extremely limited international and domestic collection assets and capabilities, there is insufficient information available to confirm or deny the presence of paramilitary training camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The focus on ‘training camps’ however is, in part, a red herring.
Although Bosnian terrain is extremely rugged and suitable to clandestine insurgent-style operations, known extremists have also conducted training in classrooms, prison cells, sporting clubs, and via the Internet. Such approaches to training do not require open-air facilities, cleared fields, firing ranges, tented camps, or sites otherwise identifiable in military terms. Summer youth camps are often reported as terrorist training camps. Although the potential for indoctrination exists at such locations, they are not the same as paramilitary facilities used for training in terrorist methods and equipment.
According to 2006 Country Reports on Terrorism, released by the Office of the US Coordinator for Counterterrorism:
‘B-H’s Law enforcements organizations cooperated with the United States on international counterterrorism. B-H remained a weak state, however, with multiple semi-autonomous centres of power, vulnerable to exploitation as a terrorist safe haven or a potential staging ground for terrorist operations in Europe. Nevertheless, there were notable signs of increased local operational capability to combat terrorism and terrorism finance’.
The reports also states that:
– ‘Bosnian authorities continued to strengthen existing counterterrorism mechanisms and develop new ones. The Inter-Ministerial Counterterrorism Task Force (IMCTF), formed in December 2004, and currently responsible for coordinating all State level institutions with counterterrorism responsibilities, directed two successful terrorism-related deportations in 2006. Despite these successes the Task Force’s operational effectiveness was generally hampered by insufficient coordination, such as infrequent communication and a lack of clear divisions of labour among the agencies’.
– Is also reported the work of the Citizenship Review Commission (CRC).
– The only reported terrorist activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 2006 is ‘the trial against the three individuals that were arrested in October 2005 and charged with terrorism, and two others charged with illegal possession of explosives. The charged people were supposedly preparing to attack unspecified European targets’.
– ‘The Bosnian organization Aktivna Islamnka Omladina (Active Islamic Youth, or AIO) spread extremist and anti-American rhetoric through its weekly print and on line publication SAFF Magazine. There were indications that AIO conducted youth outreach in B-H during the year and maintained a presence in Western Europe’.
According to this report, it is possible to assess that:
– B-H’s Law enforcements organizations cooperate on international counterterrorism. There are notable signs of increased local operational capability to combat terrorism.
– Bosnian authorities continue to strengthen existing counterterrorism mechanisms and develop new ones, although coordination among the different agencies has to be increased.
Campaign of violence:
-1997 Mostar car bombing, organized by Ahmed Zuhair (Abu Handala), a Saudi mujahideen that fought in Bosnia. Handala was later arrested and detained in 2007 at Guantanamo.
-On Christmas Eve 2002, Muamer Topalović, a Wahhabist, killed three Bosnian Croat returnees in their home, in Kostajnica near Konjic.
-On 19 October 2005 Bosnian–Swedish Mirsad Bektašević was arrested during a police raid Sarajevo, together with a Danish citizen. A home-made suicide belt, 18 kilograms (40 lb) of factory-made explosives, timing devices, detonators and a Hi-8 videotape with footage demonstrating how to make a home-made bomb were found. A video (to be published following planned attacks) of the two arrested, in ski masks, surrounded by explosives and weapons, was found, in which they say that they will attack sites in Europe to punish nations with forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were suspected of planning a suicide attack against a Western embassy in Sarajevo.
-27 June 2010 terrorist attack on Bugojno police station, in which IEDs exploded by the guard walls, killing one, seriously wounding one, and wounding several other policemen. The perpetrator Haris Čaušević, an ethnic Bosniak, was sentenced to 35 years. He has stated that he has no remorse.
-Mevlid Jašarević, a 23-year-old Serbian-born Bosnian, fired on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo on 28 October 2011, resulting in one local policeman guarding the embassy being wounded in the arm, while the shooter was wounded by a police sniper. On 24 April 2012 Jašarević was indicted by a federal grand jury in the D.C. on charges of attempted murder and other violations in connection with the attack on the embassy. A Bosnian court sentenced him on 6 December 2012 to 18 years in prison.
-Husein Bosnić “Bilal”, a Bosnian Muslim cleric and unofficial leader of the Salafist movement in Bosnia, was arrested in September 2014 and is currently on trial for recruiting ISIS fighters. In 2013 he called for a tax on non-Muslims (Serbs and Croats), modeled after Ottoman practises. In his various khutbas, he also advocated the “victory of Islam”, promoting war and bloodshed. Moreover, in 2012 he called for other Muslims to join the Jihad and to defend Islam, for which he was briefly arrested and soon released.
-On 27 April 2015, local Nerdin Ibrić (born 1991), attacked a police station in Zvornik. He killed one police officer and wounded two others before he was shot dead by other police officers. It was later found that Nerdin’s father, Sejfo, was one of the victims of Bijeli Potok massacre that occurred on 1 June 1992, when 750 Bosniaks of Zvornik were separated from their families and killed by the police of Zvornik, with help of paramilitary units from Serbia.
-2015 Sarajevo shooting, in which a suspected Islamist killed two policemen.