Bosnia and Herzegovina: Photos of Bosnian Citizens 'Fighting Alongside Islamic State' Shown in Court

Published: 30 April 2015

Husein Bosnic

By Igor Spaic

A police official has shown photographs of men who police say went to Syria to fight alongside terrorist groups to a court hearing at the trial of Husein "Bilal" Bosnic.

Bosnic is accused of inciting terrorist activities and recruiting Bosnian citizens to fight alongside the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

Witness Srdjan Lazic, 32, a researcher at a regional police office, told the court Wednesday that the force has intensified its monitoring of individuals who left for Syria in the end of 2013.

Police scoured the social network activities of these individuals, and Lazic provided a CD loaded with images of men from Bosnia and Herzegovina who are allegedly now in Syria, or died in battles there. Some of the men joined IS, Lazic said, while others joined Jabhaat al-Nusra, a sub unit of Al-Qaeda.

The photos showed Bosnian citizens Azmir Alisic, Sejdin Omerovic, Emrah Filipovic, Samir Begic, Nusmir Pjanic, Amir Dzinic, Senad Hasanovic, Mevludin Ahmetspahic, Bajro Ikanovic, Elvis Hajric, Jasmin Jasarevic, Muaz Sabic, Edin Kahriman, Emrah Fojnica and Ramo Pazara, who also has US citizenship, in various scenarios. One included the men dressing in army uniforms, posing with large guns in front of tanks, jeeps, and other military equipment.

After Lazic's testimony, Bosnic's defense lawyer, Adil Lozo, said that the defendant could not be seen on any of the photographs, and that prosecutor Dubravko Campara was wrong to use the testimony in evidence against Bosnic.

Lozo also questioned where the photos, which show a war-torn background, had been taken.

Lazic countered that some of the photos could be confirmed to have been taken in Syria due to the military equipment seen in them, which he said was specific to Syrian battlefields. 

A number of the names of men in the pictures, including Muaz Sabic – who is thought to have died in Syria – are contained in the indictment against Bosnic. Bosnic is accused of inciting and recruiting the men during his speeches in various mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Most of the photos date further back than 2014, before the Bosnian parliament passed a law prohibiting citizens to fight wars in foreign countries. Lazic says that after this law came into force, the mentioned individuals either shut down their social media profiles, or set them to private.

The court announced that the next hearing would include the testimony of expert witness Vlado Azinovic, a professor of terrorism studies at Bosnia's State Faculty of Political Sciences.

Lozo objected, arguing that Azinovic is not a theological scholar, and therefore does not have the relevant knowledge to evaluate Bosnic's speeches.