Report: 300 "Balkan mujahideen" fighting in Syria

BANJA LUKA -- Some 300 persons from the Balkans, described as "mujahideen", are taking part in the fighting in Syria, the Srna news agency is reporting.

The news agency of the Serb entity in Bosnia (RS) said that the men came from Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, and also from Serbia's southwestern, predominantly Muslim region of Sandžak.

The article cites "intelligence services" to claim that the number of Bosnians fighting in the ranks of Al-Nusra - which has been marked as a terrorist organization by the U.S. authorities - is far greater than the media have previously reported.

When it comes to Bosnia-Herzegovina, about half of its mujahideens fighting in Syria come from Sarajevo and its surroundings. They gather in a house in the town's Butmir neighborhood, which Wahhabi Nusret Imamović bought from Montenegrin citizen Sead Redžematović, who has been deported back to Montenegro, the media in Banja Luka are reporting.

As a member of the Salafi movement, Redžmatović became close with Imamović, and later built a big house close to Sarajevo's airport. Upon Imamović's insistence, the house was later turned into an Islamic center "for the Wahhabi brothers."

Besides this, their presence was noted during large gatherings organized by the Bosnian Cultural Center in Sarajevo.

A second group of Wahhabis has been gathering in the house owned by Bajra Ikanović in the Hadžići neighborhood, according to reports. Ikanović has been accused of terrorism and illegal possession of weapons.

A third place is Semir Čelebić's house in Konjic, who, according to this, has been using an online moniker of "Semi(r) El Konjici."

Once they cross into Syria, the mujahideen train to acquire various skills - and once they go back to Bosnia, i.e., the Balkans, "they are treated as war veterans, trained for various types of terrorism in case of conflicts."

The source quoted by the news agency said that the United States has a "tolerant stance" toward the mujahedeen, "just as they did in 1992, when the mujahideen were arriving in Bosnia, and where this subject has not been talked about for years."

However, "once the death notices started appearing, this had to be talked about publicly," the report said and added that while in 1992 Bosnia-Herzegovina was "importing" radical Islamists the country is today among the top "exporters", right behind Tunisia, Libya, and Afghanistan.

The Bosnian media have been reporting during the past few days that two citizens of Serbia from Sandžak also died in Syria, as did a Montenegrin from the town of Rožaje, Adis Salihović. Eldar Kundaković from Novi Pazar was also killed in the fighting, according to this.

Previously, the media in the Muslim-Croat entity, the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that 52 Bosnian members of the Salafi movement had joined an Al-Qaeda associated terrorist group and were fighting in Syria.

The Agency for Investigations and Protection (SIPA) said earlier they questioned eight persons believed to have been involved in organizing the departure of Bosnian citizens to join the war in the Middle Eastern country.

Overall, security services say that some 1,000 mujahideens left Europe to fight in Syria, most of them from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg. These countries are now "worried because the mujahideen are coming back trained for all types of terrorist activities."

The case of Nihad Cosic, a German-born Bosnian Muslim, is given as an example. He was previously fighting on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

According to the Srna report, "the German government views this as proof that serious terrorist attacks are being planned across the country."