"IS stronghold in Bosnia-Herzegovina" under surveillance

The British tabloid Mirror has recently described the village of Osve near Maglaj in Bosnia-Herzegovina as "the stronghold of Islamic State."

Source: B92, Avaz.ba
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The police and local authorities "don't reveal much, but the village is under surveillance."

The Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni Avaz says the increased frequency of land purchases by "persons with Salafi or Wahhabi backgrounds" has gotten the attention of the police and security agencies, and that Bosnia's State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) "has the village under surveillance especially after the latest raids in the area."

This agency in 2014 and this year launched a number of raids as part of its Operation Damask (Damascus) that resulted in arrests and searches in this village.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry in the Zenica-Doboj Canton in the Federation (FBiH) entity in Bosnia said that the police were monitoring "activities of persons about whom concrete information is received."

"There are a number of persons we are observing, but there has been no concrete action in the sense of the police force activities in this village. Our operative work is continuous," said Aldina Ahmic.

Head of the Maglaj municipality Mehmed Mustabasic confirmed for the Sarajevo daily that "individuals are indeed buying land in the village of Osve."

"For the moment, we have no problems with these persons. There's a lot of Serb returnees. But, the situation is peaceful. Those who bought land, they did become a closed whole," Mustabasic has been quoted as saying, and adding that "Osve could not see the fate of Gornja Maoca" - a Bosnian village that is associated with radical Islamists.

The paper quotes "reports in certain media" that "a series of departures to Syria and Iraq battlefields has been recorded from the village." Before going to Syria, Emrah Fojnica lived there in July 2013. He was later, along with Mevlid Jasarevic, accused of a terrorist attack against the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Fojnica died in Iraq last year, as did Azimir Alisic, who moved to Osve from Sanski Most, and Atif Nuhanovic, who came to the village from Zenica.

Furthermore, the media said that Amir Dzanic, "who is allegedly still in Syria," previously lived in the village, and that he in August 2013 left to join the war in the Middle Eastern country "along with Adem Karamuja, Emir Alisic, and Elvedin Zukic."

Karamuja was one of those arrested in Operation Damask.

The informal leader in Osve is believed to be Izet Hadzic, "who now wants to distance himself from everything." Hadzic was "appointed as the leader in the village by Nusret Imamovic, the leader of the Salafi community in Gornja Maoca." Imamovic, in turn, found himself on a list of "ten individuals marked last year by the U.S. State Department as global terrorists."

The Bosnian newspaper quoted on its website Director of the Center for Security Studies Amin Krzalic as saying that "the issue of the village of Osve, in the context of terrorism, should not be removed from the agenda, while it is up to security agencies to submit objective and accurate information in a timely manner."

"I think that some intelligence services in Serbia have been consciously placing information that exaggerate things, in that way skillfully moving the interest from issues such as the referendum in the RS to the FBiH (the Muslim-Croat entity, the Federation) in the context of terrorism, and Bosnia-Herzegovina as suitable ground for an IS base," he said.

Britain's Mirror earlier this week carried an article under the headline "ISIS sets up stronghold in isolated village in the heart of Europe" that said security services "think the area in Bosnia is used for ISIS training camps and could be a base for devastating terror attacks on the West."

"Crucially, the location gives Islamic State a key strategic position due to its proximity to the Mediterranean which is used by extremists from Syria, Iraq and North Africa," the report said, adding that "at least 12 ISIS fighters trained in the village of Osve have left for Syria in recent months and five are reported to be dead."

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