Bosnia in the midst of extremism and terrorism subversion process

– Ioannis Michaletos –

Recent revelations by the Bosnian security service (SIPA), in a publisized report,confirm an earlier warning by the Croatian security service SOA, relating to elevated terrorism concerns in the country.

Furthermore attention is being paid in the augmenting presence of the Wahhabi-Salafi ideology. In fact the Bosnian state pin points that religious-ideological strain as the primal subversion route in the country that mobilized up to 500 Bosniaks into volunteering for Jihad in Syria.

The report is entitled “The focus of the Wahhabi-Salafist presence in the country”.Some members and leaders of the Islamic community actively participate in the promotion and strengthening of the Bosniak salafist movement as well as in collaboration with the interests of Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Outside the official institutions of the Islamic Community also Wahhabis and Salafis are extremely active.

The report states as one of the main focal points of the Wahhabi activity in Sarajevo the King Fahd mosque whose Imam Halilovic Nezim is considered an unofficial Wahhabi emir. This mosque should be under the juristiction of Islamic Community in BiH, but it is in fact not. According to the SIPA, “it is directly controlled by Saudi Arabia, as part of the Cultural Center” King Fahd. The center focuses on spreading Wahhabism in Sarajevo and it constitutes the most important public gathering of followers of the Wahhabi ideology “.

It is also interesting that the report mentions hotel “Terme Ilidza”, as a place in which in recent years Libyan wounded fighters were rehabilitated. According to SIPA, ISIS used the assistance of Libyan diplomats to shift some of its members via that method into Bosnia.

All this takes place in plain view of local political officials, with the explicit, and not just tacit approval. Wahhabis are also present in large numbers in some mosques in the outskirts of Sarajevo, for example. Ilidza, Nedzarici, and Alipašina . They often organize collective meetings, trips and seminars on the surrounding mountains of Sarajevo. This particularly applies to the kind of Wahhabi-Salafi commune like the one in Gornja Maoca, or elsewhere.

In the SIPA report it states that “in recent years there is a particular interest in the real estate market, or the purchase of land in the outskirts of Sarajevo by Saudi religious figures ,as well as from Kuweit and Qatar. All of them are Wahhabi related.
SIPA further details that “local lawyers, notaries and individual municipal officials take part in assisting the aforementioned and the cultural and social landscape of Sarajevo is gradualy being transformed”.

These economic activities, the construction of settlements and the expansion of the network of influence in local government, could in the long run contribute to the transformation of BiH into the main transit, but also the recruitment center of extremism, considering the fact that the media of such nature are extremely strong. “They have portals like, minbar, Saff and Islambosna who for years conduct undisturbed work to promote and spread the Wahhabi teachings in BiH”.

In Sarajevo, there are tens of villages, training camps Wahhabis who go for jihad in Syria and Iraq, the settlement outside the influence of the state that the Islamic community called ‘paradžematima’, such as: Zaklopača, a village near the international airport in the streets around Hajrudin Šabanije, Briješće Hill, Briješće Hill two, Dobroševići, Bare at Pillar, and Kasindolska, Záuličí .

The most important aspect nowadays relating to the above is the likely existence of a “Balkan terrorist route” with Bosnia as the major gathering and springboard base of Jihadists into Europe who aim to conduct terrorist attacks.
The existence of weaponry and easy access to them coupled with training camps and logistics infrsastructure, clearly puts most of EU countries under direct threat. Furthermore the still ongoing refugee/immigration Balkan route increases the expansion of local netwoks interlinking smugglers-organized crime figures and terrorists, fuelled also by local fanatic cells of believers.

In that sense anti-terrorist focus of the EU should be directed into examing the state capacity of BiH of containing such threats and the international assistance needed to overcome them successfully and certainly same could be said for all peripheral states in the region.