A citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina who fought in the ranks of Islamist paramilitary groups has been arrested in Sarajevo on charges of terrorism. The Prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina confirmed this on Thursday.
Members of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested a person with initials A.I. (born in 1987), and searched his apartment and other premises, seizing his car, computer and other IT equipment, it has been announced.
The police and security services established that the suspect left Bosnia in April 2014 to go to Syria and Iraq, where he joined terrorist paramilitary groups.
According to this, the evidence that has collected shows he was also involved in organizing illegal departures of other Bosnia-Herzegovina citizens to Syria. Based on information gathered during the investigation, A.I. is suspected of forming a terrorist organization, i.e., of the criminal act of terrorism.
Bosnia-Herzegovina Security Minister Dragan Mektic said earlier that 18 indictments have been raised so far against persons who have returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina after fighting in Syria and Iraq and that more Bosnia-Herzegovina citizens who are now there are “interested in returning and being convicted under a plea bargain.”
Mektic said that negotiations with these persons are underway, and that there are currently around 130 Bosnia-Herzegovina citizens in Syria.
“We already have indictments against 18 people who have returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina from Syrian and Iraqi battlefields. Processes are under way against them and if found guilty they will be sent to jail for up to three years, while those who plead guilty under a plea bargain will get one year each,” Mektic told Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti.
He believes it is “a great thing” for the security system in Bosnia-Herzegovina that a number of citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina will “repent” for fighting on the side of Islamic State.
Mektic stressed that their return “will mean collecting a large quantity of useful intelligence on radical Islamists from Bosnia-Herzegovina, because returnees must, if they reach a plea agreement, answer many questions of the Prosecution of Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
“It can be expected that data will be received on the recruitment network, financing and organizing of the departure of Bosnia-Herzegovina citizens to Syria. Once information has been collected then security agencies can continue to react and break up radical groups on the ground in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” said Mektic.
Two persons who returned from Syria in recent days pleaded guilty under a plea bargain agreement before the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina – Emin Hodzic and Fatih Hasanovic.