by Rusmir Smajilhodzic, AFP, April 29, 2015
h/t Jihad Watch
|Church in Kosovo destroyed by Bosnian Muslims|
A magnet for foreign jihadists during its 1990s war, Bosnia is now grappling with the threat from home-grown extremists wooed by the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
While most Bosnian Muslims are moderates, a few thousand have adopted the ultraconservative Salafist brand of Sunni Islam introduced by the fighters who flocked to Bosnia from North Africa, the Middle East and Asia during the 1992-1995 conflict between Serbs, Muslims and Croats.
Most of those foreign fighters, or “mujahedeen”, left Bosnia when the war ended.
But the seed had already been sown. Twenty years on, the radical preachers giving fiery sermons in “mesdzids”, or improvised prayer halls, are no longer foreigners.
Those taking up arms are also local men.
On Monday, a gunman shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) opened fire on a police station in the eastern town of Zvornik, killing one officer and wounding two others before being killed in a shootout.
The assailant, identified as 24-year-old Nerdin Ibric from a village near the northeastern town of Zvornik, was suspected of links to radical Islamist groups. Another man, said to have travelled to Syria, was arrested Tuesday over the attack.
Suspected Islamist extremists had made their presence felt before in the Balkan country.
In October 2011, a gunman opened fire on the US embassy in Sarajevo, wounding a policeman before being injured himself and arrested.
In June of the previous year, a man set off an explosive device at a police station in the central town of Bugojno, killing one officer and wounding six others in what the government called a “terrorist act”.
– Prayer room recruitment –
Would-be jihadists are suspected of being recruited by radical preachers, operating through a network of informal prayer rooms.
“There is no doubt that the recruitment process is possible due to the existence of a network of such places of worship,” Esad Hecimovic, a local journalist who has reported extensively on the subject told AFP.
Hardliners, whose numbers are estimated by the authorities at around 3,000 followers, represent just a fraction of Bosnian Muslims, who make up around 40 per cent of the population of 3.8 million.
But their ranks are suspecting of supplying scores of fighters to the wars in the Middle East….