Bosnia and Herzegovina: Court Indicts Twelve Suspected Islamic State Fighters

Published: 16 June 2015

Fatih Hasanovic

By Igor Spaic

A court in Bosnia and Herzegovina has approved the indictment of 12 people for funding terrorism and fighting for Islamic State (IS) forces in Syria.

 The indictment, confirmed by a Bosnian court last week and announced by police yesterday, is the latest step in a long investigation into extremism which began with a police operation in September 2014, dubbed Damascus.

That operation saw police raid properties in the northeastern village of Gornja Maoca, a key foothold of the so-called Salafi community – a group of Islamic fundamentalists who follow a strict interpretation of Islamic teachings.

Since the Bosnian war of the 1990s drew Muslims from the Middle East to come and fight on the side of Bosnian Muslim factions, the small Balkan country has struggled with the issue of extremism.

Attention to the topic has intensified since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and the eyes of the world turned to the activities of IS. Salafi members found themselves the center of attention as authorities accused some of providing support for IS by recruiting young men to fight in Syria.

In September's raids in Gornja Maoca, police arrested 16 people and uncovered a cache of weapons, explosive devices, ammunition and unauthorized military equipment.

All those arrested at the time were released after questioning – except for the informal Salafi leader Husein Bosnic, who is now on trial over charges of recruiting for IS.

After September's operation, an intensive investigation continued, say police.

Then, on May 15, the Prosecutor's Office sent an indictment to the state court to formally accuse 12 people of organizing a terrorist group. That is the indictment which has now been approved.

It names Fatih Hasanovic, Mirza Kapic, Adem Karamuja, Ibro Delic,Enes Mesic, Jasmin Jasarevic, Emin Hodzic, Salko Imamovic, Fikret Hadzic, Enver Lilic, Samir Hadzalic and Mehmed Tutmic.

Hasanovic is also charged with illicit possession or transfer of weapons or explosive substances, and Kapic, Karamuja and Delic are accused ofthe illegal possession of weapons or explosive substances.

Some of the defendants – Hasanovic, Mesic, Hodzic and Karamuja –had been arrested in the September operation.

Prosecutors say that those indicted have been raising money for the recruitment of young men to ISIS over the past two years. They also allege that the defendants illegally crossed into Syria through Turkey with the help of unknown Turkish accomplices, where they then collaborated with IS forces.

Of all the defendants, only Fatih Hasanovic has been held in detention, likely linked to his suspected involvement in a separate case – a terrorist attack in the eastern town of Zvornik which shocked the country on Apr. 27.