Bosnia and Herzegovina: 8 Suspected IS Fighters Plead Not Guilty

Eight men, accused of fighting for the Islamic State (IS), have pleaded not guilty at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Fatih HasanovicThe indictment against twelve people, approved by the court on June 10, alleges that the suspects visited multiple locations in BiH and raised money; produced and trafficked firearms; illegally travelled to Syria; and joined IS in battles during 2013 and 2014.

Last Thursday, eight of them pleaded not guilty - Fatih Hasanovic, Enes Mesic, Jasmin Jasarevic, Emin Hodzic, Salko Imamovic, Fikret Hadzic, Ibro Delic and Samir Hadzalic.

The other four charged in the case -- Mirza Kapic, Adem Karamuja, Enver Lilic and Mehmed Tutmic -- did not attend the hearing due to health reasons, according to the court.

All are members of the Salafi community - a group of Islamic fundamentalists who follow a strict interpretation of Islamic teachings, very different from those espoused by BiH's official Islamic community.

Some of the suspects were arrested during the September 2014 police operation dubbed Damascus – which also featured the arrest of alleged high-profile IS recruiter Husein "Bilal" Bosnic. His trial is ongoing.

The Damascus operation raided multiple locations in the village of Gornja Maoca, where police arrested 16 people and uncovered a cache of weapons, explosive devices, ammunition and unauthorized military equipment. All suspects were released after questioning – except for Bosnic, the informal leader of the Salafi community.

Hasanovic is also known for his alleged involvment in a separate case.

In that case, Nerdin Ibric, 24,shot at a police station in the eastern town of Zvornik on April 27, killing a police officer and injuring two others before he was gunned down. Shortly thereafter, Hasanovic was arrested in connection with the attack.

According to authorities, Hasanovic and Ibric had a close relationship for three months before the attack took place. Local media reported that Hasanovic was the last person to call Ibric's cellphone as he was laying dead on the ground after the shootout.