Bosnia and Herzegovina: Tears as Mother Testifies at 'ISIS Recruiter' Trial
Nobody knew that Nermin would go to Syria, said the mother of a young man who died fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS) in a quiet, shaky voice.
She was one of the final witnesses in the trial of suspected IS recruiter Husein "Bilal"Bosnic, the informal leader of the Bosnian Salafi community – a group of people who practice a radical interpretation of Islam – whom prosecutors suspect of being a main organizer behind a new trend of Bosnian citizens joining IS fighters in the Middle East.
The court heard that Nermin Sabic, born in 1982, went to live with Bosnic in the north-western village of Buzim in 2013.
His wife and their two children joined him, and the two had another child there.
Shortly afterwards, Nermin and his family moved to Syria.
Some time later that year, Nermin is thought to have died fighting for IS.
His mother, 59-year-old Halida Coralic, was a witness called in by Bosnic's defense lawer Adil Lozo.
She told the court Wednesday that her son hid the fact that he was preparing to go to Syria.
Coralic said that after Nermin left, he only called her once to let her know.
In August, the prosecution called Coralic's former husband, Nermin's father Ekrem Sabic, to testify against Bosnic.
According to Nezavisne Novine, Sabic said at that hearing that Bosnic had influenced Nermin to depart for Syria when he lived with him.
Sabic also said Bosnic paid Nermin's travel expenses.
In a dramatic reversal Coralic refuted her ex-husband's testimony, saying Nermin sold his truck and all of his belongings shortly before he left.
She told the court that she, her ex-husband, and their three children lived in the north-western town of Cazin six years ago.
Then, she claims, her husband kicked her out of the house.
She broke down in tears during her testimony and said that when she moved to Buzim six years ago she remarried to one of Bosnic's relatives.
The children, including Nermin, stayed with their father.
Coralic claims that four years later, in 2013, Nermin called her and said his father had also kicked him out.
Bosnic then allegedly offered Nermin a room in his own house. Coralic says that after living in Buzim for a while, Nermin left for Syria on his own initiative.
She said that when Nermin contacted her from Syria, she tried to persuade him to come back home.
"The Kur'an literally states that we must go to jihad," Nermin answered, according to Coralic.
The court heard another witness at Wednesay's hearing, Ahmed Mustafic, 55. He said he had known Bosnic since he was a child.
Mustafic told how he'd bought a piece of land in Buzim on which he now lives by borrowing € 25,000 Euros (US$ 28,217) from Bosnic, who was also buying land in the area at the time.
He told the court that someone in Kuwait paid money – intended for the purchase of land - to Bosnic's bank account, but he could not provide any additional information.
Charges against Bosnic include an allegation that he has received funding from Arab states for terrorism recruitment.
When prosecutor Dubravko Campara asked Mustafic if he had any contracts to back up his claims, Mustafic said no.
The trial continues.