Raid in Bosnia-Herzegovina Steps Up Pressure on Jihadists
Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis -  May 26, 2006, Friday
From Darko Trifunovic, GIS Station Sarajevo. Bosnian anti-terrorist units raided two locations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during May 23-24, 2006, in a search for counterfeit specialists allegedly connected to radical Islamist underground. Two out of three detainees, all of Arab origin, were released after questioning, but the third, a Tunisian who used the name Abu Malik, was kept in custody.

The search followed the "sure tip" from intelligence services about another Tunisian, Munir Silini, and his alleged ties with a terrorist network. Silini, who had been living in BiH for some time with his wife, Mersija Topic, and four children, had already been targeted by US and Italian specialists in 2003. Western troops seized several computers and Islamic brochures at that time, but no legal action followed. This time, police said they gathered substantial evidence, including video and audio recordings, letters, notebooks, airline tickets and photographs for fake documents. All this, police said, might reveal a part of complicated underground network in Bosnia, which serves as a transfer point between Middle East and Europe for several radical groups.

In parallel with the hunt for terrorists, the BiH Government launched a review of all citizenships given to foreigners during and after the civil war of the 1990s. The papers of some 3,000 Afro-Asians were now in jeopardy, and a leader of the former mujahedin fighters, Abu Hamza, was already threatened to "raise hell" if his combat comrades lost their Bosnian documents. At least nine of them were included on an Egyptian blacklist of terrorists. The whole review was the product of intense US pressure, and, significantly, reflected a new but discreet approach to the issue of terrorist links in BiH which had been impossible while former EU-appointed High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown had been in office.

Ashdown was replaced as High Representative in late 2005.

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Reprinted with Permission.