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  Wahhabies – A New Danger for Balkan Security

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic
2011 11 23

Will the Balkan Powder Keg explode again?

Terror Act in Sarajevo

At about 4 p.m, Friday, 28, 2011, a young man Mevlid Jasarevic (23) from the city of Novi Pazar (a city and municipality located in southwest Serbia, in the Rashka District), armed with an assault rifle (“Kalashnikov”) with three spare rounds opened fire near the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, the capital of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He fired shots at the building with five boxes of ammunition (each containing thirty 7,2 mm caliber bullets), but finally was wounded in the leg and arrested. During the shooting the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar!”. At least one police officer was injured in the shooting spree before the gunman was taken down.

The attacker Mevlid Jasarevic is related to the terrorist group, which is trained in the village of Gornja Maocha in the Muslim-Croat part of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Croatian-Boshnjak Federation accounting for 51% of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina). This terrorist group was led by a Muslim Nusret Imamovic from Kalesija, a town in north-eastern Bosnia, before the group was destroyed in February of the last year when Bosnian security forces took action and detained Imamovic and six others suspected of subversive activities. According to the police, Jasarevic had two hand grenades. It turned out that Jasarevic is a member of the Wahhabi movement in Novi Pazar. He was detained (together with Fatmir Muratovic), by Serbian police in December 2010 for possession of a large knife outside a meeting of foreign ambassadors in the city. The US Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick was present at that meeting as well.

The terrorist attack in Sarajevo once again demonstrated that Wahhabi movement is a serious issue in Bosnia regarding the radical Islamist threat, and that it is necessary to consolidate police and security forces in the region against the organized Islamic terrorism.

However, the recent terror act in Sarajevo organized and committed by the Balkan Wahhabi group is not the first and probably not the last. On 15 January, 2008, the court procedure against a group of militant Muslims from Rashka commenced in Belgrade, in the Supreme Court of Serbia. The Court convicted the group of planning terror acts in Belgrade in an Al-Qaeda style.

Planned Terror Act in Belgrade

On 5 December, 2007 Serbian security forces arrested 15 members of an Islamic Wahhabi terror group in Rashka, the region of south-western Serbia (populated by mixed Serb Orthodox and Boshnjak Muslim inhabitants). This group originated in Saudi Arabia. The above people have been charged by the Serbian authorities for planning terror attacks in various locations of Belgrade, including the bombings of the US Embassy. According to the Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, the Wahhabies established a close network with their peers, commanders, ideologues and mentors abroad, namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria and Saudi Arabia. They communicated by phone, e-mail and the CD-recorded commands.

The above 15 Muslims were led by a Muslim Boshnjak Senad Ramovic from the city of Novi Pazar where rival Muslim groups have recently engaged in mutual violence. The authorities in Serbia accused Senad Ramovic of conspiring to kill the Muslim leader Mufti Muamar Zukorlic. One of the accused, Senad Vjeselovic, also from Rashka, told that the group was in close contact with various radicals in Mecca and Medina (Saudi Arabia), who were passing the orders from Sheiks on whether Mufti Zukorlic should be assassinated or not. Serbian authorities have also found maps in the confiscated computer owned by Mehmed Koljshija, a member of the terrorist group. The maps identified locations inside the city of Belgrade such as the National Theatre, Beogradjanka building (highest building in the Balkans), Hotel Park (all buildings in the down town) and the US Embassy (in Knez Milosh Street). Serbian state security forces have also seized various weapons that can fully arm from 30 to 40 individuals.

The Wahhabies at the Balkans

The Wahhabi movement first emerged in the Balkans during the 1992-1995 civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when thousands of Mujahedeen fighters from Islamic countries came to fight on the side of local Muslims. Many have remained in the country since the war,.[i] Some of them took active part in the war as members of the Mujahedeen groupings under the command of the Muslim government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[ii] After the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina[iii] they have been active in Kosovo since the mid 1990s and now are running about 30 Koranic schools. The Albanian language media in Kosovo several times reported that due to its unimpeded activity, after the Kosovo War in 1998-1999, the nature of Muslim Albanian community experienced serious trials. Wahhabies are against any foreign cultural influence and impose their „exclusive teachings“ at funerals, circumcision rites and religious gatherings, contest the theory of natural or social occurrences and offer in return their interpretation of the Sharia or the Koran. According to the Prishtina media, a young man from Pec (western Kosovo) Elvis Goga is referred to as the chief Mujahedeen in Kosovo, and non-governmental organizations still active under the umbrella of the Joint Saudi Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya, have contributed to the expansion of Wahhabism in Kosovo.[iv]

Many Islamic non-governmental organizations emerged in Kosovo after the war in 1999 and tackled poverty issues in Kosovo suburbs and surrounding villages. They must respect the Saudi government's stand to stay active on the ground „as long as there is a need for that“.According to recent statements of Serbian political and security analysts, Kosovo Albanians and international Mujahedeens, including the ones who are members of Al Qaeda and the Wahhabi movement, are getting prepared for a possible „Kosovo Spring“ given that international/western KFOR and EULEX institutions in Kosovo are not able to bring the northern part of Kosovo under full political control and governance of the central authority in Prishtina.[v]



[i] More about Wahabbies at: http://wn.com/who_are_wahhabies_?orderby=relevance&upload_time=all_time

[ii] There is a short documentary movie made by the British “SKY News” after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina about Arab Mujahedeens fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the side of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina led by Muslim government in Sarajevo and about the impact of Wahabbies on Muslim society in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. A full access to the movie is on: http://vimeo.com/8482257

[iii]Many of those Arab Mujahedeens received after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina a citizenship and passports of this country as a grant for their active participation in the war. According to some western sources, it was around 5000 Arab Mujahedeens including and the Wahabbies from Saudi Arabia fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most infamous Muhajedin military unit in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the “El Mujahedeen”. However, after the pressure by the US and British governments passports issuing policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina is radically restricted for the former Mujahedeens and present Wahabbies.

[iv]About Wahabbies, Al Qaeda, Jihadists and Mujahedeens in Kosovo see the article “Al Qaeda in Kosovo” at: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/mb/035.shtml

[v] For example, see at: http://www.nspm.rs/komentar-dana/dzihad-u-sarajevu.html. About CIA and Al Qaeda in the Balkans see at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1394711/posts

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