Husein Bilal Bosnic
Place of Birth: Buzim, Bosnia and Herzegovina;
Husein Bilal Bosnic is one of the leaders of the Salafi movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is known for recruiting jihadists from Europe.
He was born Husein Bosnic in Buzim, northwest Bosnia in 1972, but he adopted Bilal as his nickname. As a youngster he moved with his parents to Germany, where he met with the “Salafist movement” and eventually adopted it.
He returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war in 1992, and joined foreign volunteers at first, later incorporated into 7th Muslim Brigade detachment of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He was a member of the Active Islamic Youth. After the war, he was a prominent member of the “Bosnian Salafist movement” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with Jusuf Barcic who died in a car accident in 2007. After Barcic’s death he was de facto a leader of the Bosnian Salafist movement.
He began to attract attention from the media for making controversial statements at public appearances. In one of his songs written in July 2011, he wrote “with explosives on our chests we pave the way to paradise” and praised “beautiful Jihad that has risen over Bosnia“, while wishing that “God willing, America will be destroyed to its foundations”.
He was known to the media for his controversial statements at khutbahs (Friday sermons). In one of them, made in May 2007, he supported Osama bin Laden, calling him a “shahid” (martyr), adding that “he will always remain alive as he died on the Allah’s path”.
In another khutbah made in February 2013, he called for Croats and Serbs to pay a religious tax. 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.
In April 2013, he came under investigation from the police for polygamy. Bosnic lived for years with his four wives in one house. Bosnic was subject to criticism from the non-governmental organizations specialized in protecting women’s rights. However, he wasn’t prosecuted because he is married with only one of them.
In a sermon in September 2013, Bosnic claimed that everything “from Prijedor to the Sandzak” belongs to Muslims. Bosnic is known for recruiting European Muslims for the Islamic State. In one of his khutbas in August 2014, he called men to defend the Islamic State. Though his “khutba” appeared on YouTube, Bosnic denied he ever said that.
Italian paper Corriere della Sera reported that Bosnic claimed his involvement in recruiting some of the 50 Italians from northern Italy, who joined the Islamic State. Huffington Post Italy reported on Bosniac saying to La Repubblica that the American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by the Islamic state in August 2014, “was a spy” and called killing “justified”, He said to Italian paper how “[We] Muslims believe that one day the whole world will be an Islamic state. Our goal is to make sure that even the Vatican will be Muslim. Maybe I will not be able to see it, but that time will come”.
According to these reports Vatican dismissed existence of security threats, while the Italian police investigated and interviewed Bosniac for claims of involvement in the recruitment but never proceeded to arrest him, no criminal charges were filed either. The Islamic State official magazine, the Dabiq, also quoted Bosnic’s words.
For attempted recruitment and promotion of terrorism, he was arrested by the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 3 September 2014, along with his 15 others in operation code-named “Damask”. Prior to his arrest, Bosnic was on a tour across Scandinavia and allegedly received 100,000 marks from an unnamed Kuwait citizen. Bosnic was at first given one-month’s custody, which was extended for another two months on 3 October.
Finally, his custody was extended by two years because of possibility that he might influence witnesses. A day earlier, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed the charge against him in which he had been accused that during 2013 and 2014, as a member of the Salafi community, publicly incited other people to join terrorist organizations.
The charge also said that because of his incitement, a number of Bosnia and Herzegovina‘s citizens, who were members of the Salafi community, left the country and joined the Islamic State. On 5 November 2015, Bosnic was sentenced to seven years in prison for public incitement to terrorist activities, recruitment of terrorists and organization of a terrorist group.
Recruiting the youth:
Witnesses, who are from the town of Velika Kladusa in northwest Bosnia, said that their sons went to fight in Syria for the Islamic State.
The father of Ibro Cufurovic told the court his son, had been a good child and an excellent student before allegedly falling under Bosnic’s influence.
He said Ibro had started working for Bosnic in the summer of 2013, looking after his sheep, and even lived with the man, who is a prominent figure in the conservative Wahhabi movement in Bosnia.
According to Cufurovic, he saw changes in his son’s behavior after he spent time with Bosnic.
“He started attacking me for not being a good Muslim, for not praying five times [a day] and for smoking, which is a sin. He told me I was an infidel,” Cufurovic said.
He said in December Ibro’s brother told him he had learned from a short phone call that Ibro had travelled to Syria.
“I say that he sent him there,” said Cufurovic, looking at Bosnic. “From his house he left for Syria, not from mine.”
Cufurovic, who remained calm and quiet throughout his testimony, then addressed the defendant directly: “Aren’t you ashamed for misleading those children?”
Another witness, Rifet Sabic, told the court his son Suad left for Syria in late 2013, and was killed fighting for the Islamic State early this year.
“Any family whose house was ever visited by Bilal Bosnic is destroyed,” Sabic testified.
He said he suspected that not only his son but others, too, had been influenced by Bosnic to leave for Syrian battlefields.
Bosnic denies the charges. His defense says he is merely a preacher of Islamic teachings, and that the trial is an unjustified attack on his religious freedom.
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