Bosnia: Six Arrested in Terrorism Financing Bust; Bosnic Trial Continues

Published: 19 February 2015

Sarajevo airport security footage of Merin Keserovic (left) and Nevad Husidic

By Igor Spaic

Bosnian police made six arrests overnight Tuesday through Wednesday, raiding six locations in an investigation into the illegal travel of Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens to Islamic State (IS) territories in Syria.

As part of the latest chapter of the anti-terrorism intelligence operation"Damascus" launched by Bosnian police in September 2014, police searched properties in the capital Sarajevo, as well as the smaller towns of Maglaj, Velika Kladusa and Buzim. 

The six arrested were alleged followers of the extremist Salafi movement and were detained on suspicion of financing, publicly inciting, organizing, and recruiting people for terrorist activities.

The operation began Tuesday night, with the arrests of Nevad Husidic and Merin Keserovic at Sarajevo’s airport as they attempted to travel to Islamic State territories by transferring through Istanbul.

The same night, EdinTabakovic was arrested in his apartment in Sarajevo. Wednesday morning, Husein Erdic, Ramiz Ibrahimovic and Alaudin Ibrahimovic were arrested in Maglaj and Buzim.

The trial of Bilal Bosnic

Also Wednesday, the trial of Husein"BilalBosnic continued in Sarajevo with the second court hearing in the case. Bosnic is suspected of inciting and recruiting Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens to fight for IS in Syria.

In the first hearing on Feb. 11, the prosecutor charged that Bosnic – allegedly an informal Salafi leader who gives religious and ideological speeches – had received “vast sums'' of money from Arab countries to help fund ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Yesterday’s session, Feb. 18, saw the trial’s first witness testify. Sedin Husejnovic spoke mostly of his personal experiences travelling to Syria, with little to say about the defendant himself. Husejnovic said he had been to Syria twice, but not as a result of Bosnic’s speeches. Husejnovic said that he first left for Syria in 2012 to help fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, but that nobody had helped finance or prepare him for the trip. After two months he returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A year later, Husejnovic went to Syria again. He claimed that two Bosnians who had already fought in Syria told him that living conditions there were good, so he and his wife decided to move there. When he arrived in Aleppo, however, life was not as he expected, and he returned once again.