This morning, in a series of coordinated police raids across Bosnia-Hercegovina, authorities arrested eleven Islamist radicals suspected of support for terrorism and the jihad in Syria and Iraq. The raids took place in five Bosnian locations, including Sarajevo, the country’s capital.
As explained by the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), “The detained are suspected of links with financing, organizing and recruiting Bosnian citizens to leave for Syria and Iraq and fight in armed conflicts there alongside radical terrorist groups and organizations.”
This is a continuation of Operation DAMASCUS, the Bosnian police-intelligence move to diminish the country’s substantial Salafi jihadist infrastructure, which began with raids in early September, which I explained in detail at the time. Of the extremists arrested over two months ago, five remain in custody, importantly including Bilal Bosnić, a radical imam who is the de facto leader of Salafi jihadism in the country, particularly its very radical variant that is affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz has detailed coverage of today’s round-up, including the names of the arrested, some of which will be familiar to seasoned jihad-watchers in Southeastern Europe: Ramiz Ibrahimović, Fikret Hadžić, Senad Kljajić, Enver Lilić, Mehmed Tutmić, Kenan Okan, Berin Tahić, Salko Imamović, Halil Garanović, Samir Hadžalić, and Ahmet Mušanović — most of these men are believed to have been fighting recently with the Islamic State.
Avaz has also reported that SIPA seized weaponry and explosives, presumably brought to Bosnia from the Middle East by returning jihadists, during today’s raids. More details will be forthcoming, watch this space, but this is one more overdue step in Bosnia’s struggle to diminish the country’s deep-seated radical infrastructure, which dates to the war fought there two decades ago — it’s a nasty and underreported story that includes terrorism, corruption, crime, jihadists from many countries, and lots of Iranians. Any progress on that front should be welcome news to those who oppose armed Salafism, especially in Europe.
UPDATE (14 Nov, 1230 EST): Having talked with Bosnian security, I can confirm that, among those arrested yesterday, at least five have fought in Syria with the Islamic State: Ramiz Ibrahimović, Fikret Hadžić, Enver Lilić, Mehmed Tutmić, Samir Hadžalić, while others are suspected of having done so. More as it happens.