BBC Monitoring International Reports - October 6, 2008 Monday

Text of report by Bosnian independent weekly Slobodna Bosna, on 2 October

[Report by Nermina Sunj, Mirsad Fazlic: "Shari'ah Police Bringing Order to Bosnia-Hercegovina" pp36-38]

Last week's brutal Wahhabi attack on visitors of the Queer Festival in Sarajevo has once again attracted the public's attention to this radical Islamic movement. Slobodna Bosna reveals major Wahhabi strongholds in Bosnia-Hercegovina, how the movement is funded, in what way they recruit new members, and what actions they have in plan.

The opening of the Queer Festival during Ramadan was a pretext for the Wahhabis' show of force in Sarajevo last week. Sarajevo police officers even had to defend themselves from "the devout," whose worldviews arrived in Bosnia-Hercegovina at the start of the war together with Saudi Arabian food aid. Considering that the Wahhabis preach a conservative interpretation of Islam, their excuse next time could be anything that does not conform to their interpretation of Islam. This, however, does not worry the B-H Islamic Community [IZ], that is, Sarajevo Mufti Husein effendi Smajic, who said during the Bairam prayer that "the joy of Ramadan has been marred by the Queer Festival." He said nothing about the Wahhabi violence. The B-H IZ has for years been claiming that the problem with Wahhabis does not exist, despite the dozens of pieces of evidence that indicate the opposite.


Emerging throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina are entire settlements where only the Wahhabis live. The King Fahd Mosque and Cultural Centre in Sarajevo's Alipasino Polje suburb, a donation of Saudi Arabia, is the best known Wahhabi center in Sarajevo, but it is not the only one. Today Nezim Halilovic Muderis, the imam of the King Fahd Mosque, leads prayers for the largest ever number of Wahhabis. Most of them live in Alipasino Polje and Saraj Polje suburbs, without much contact with their neighbours.

When Jusuf Barcic, the fanatical Wahhabi leader from Kalesija, died in a traffic accident in March last year, the Wahhabis allegedly decided to "keep a low profile" and change the way they conducted their activities. To recall, Barcic's followers' hub was in Kalesija. Before they were kicked out of the mosque in Kalesija by members of the local dzemat [lowest administrative unit of IZ], they tried, among other things, to enter in early 2007 Sarajevo's Emperor's Mosque without the imam's permission. Just before he died, Barcic threatened that he and his followers would break away from the B-H IZ. They failed to assume control of dzemats in several cities in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The IZ never wanted to talk about the obvious link between these incidents. When the Wahhabis' initial plan failed, they switched to "other methods," which include construction of "their" religious buildings. After recruiting people with a criminal past, whose additional motive to join the Wahhabi community were monthly donations, they have begun recruiting followers in the intellectual stratum, targeting particularly the students. One of the biggest Sarajevo assembling points is allegedly the Faculty of Economy, as well as the student dormitories in the Nedzarici suburb. New members of the Wahhabi movement in Sarajevo are less and less conspicuous - they do not have a foreign accent, they do not have a special dress code, and do not grow long beards. Hubs in Vienna provide funds via local humanitarian organizations, private companies, and even banks. Sale of books on Sarajevo streets is controlled by Hafiz [person who recites Koran by heart] Adnan Buzar. He lives in Austria and goes occasionally to Sarajevo, allegedly to visit his parents in Bistrik [Sarajevo district]. Buzar is close to Muhamed effendi Porca, who runs the dzemat in Vienna, which the B-H IZ considers to be a coordinator of radical Islam in Bosnia-Hercegovina. A second, but no less important, support hub is allegedly in Sandzak. Another major stronghold is in the Ilidza settlement of Sokolovic Kolonija. Members of this Wahhabi community pay their followers 400 convertible marks [KM] a month; their wives are paid KM1,000 a month if they wear niqabs. They are funded with the money provided by Imad al-Hussin, better known as Abu Hamza. As Abu Hamza awaits a decision of the B-H Constitutional Court on his appeal against the revocation of his B-H citizenship, Sokolovic Kolonija has become the most recent address of this ex-informal mujahidin leader in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Right next to the mosque in Sokolovic Kolonija is a residential building constructed for Wahhabi families through a Kuwaiti donation. The building was initially allocated for members of shahidi [fallen soldiers of Muslim persuasion] families from Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Another Wahhabi centre is located on the outskirts of Sarajevo, in the Hadzici settlement of Kopisanj. This settlement is on a slope of Mount Igman, alongside the Hadzici-Igman road, where Serbs were the majority population before the war. As early as 1999 Hadzici was identified as a place of residence of followers of the conservative interpretation of Islam. That year Kalil Jaraj, a "world-class" terrorist," was arrested in the Hadzici Municipality over the suspicion of being involved in the plotting of terrorist acts. Mirsad Bektasevic, leader of a group subsequently convicted of terrorism, was also arrested in Hadzici in 1999. One of Hadzici residents in Bektasevic's group was Amir Bajric, former criminal and drug addict convicted of car theft before he started socializing with the Wahhabis. Initially, the Hadzici followers of Wahhabi teachings prayed in the mosque in downtown Hadzici. When they grew in numbers, they build a mesdzid [small mosque without a minaret] in Pazaric, adjacent to the mosque in Kahrimani.

Closed Circles

They live in Kopisanj without much contact with others. The only public venue where they can be seen is a cake shop in downtown Hadzici. They live solely in conformity with shari'ah laws. One of these Wahhabis has two wives, and it is customary in this community to have preschool girls wear a niqab. "Shari'ah police" - after conducting regular patrols and controls of young couples meeting at night alongside the Hadzici-Igman road, in the vicinity of their settlement - have also started maintaining order in downtown Hadzici, in daytime. This happened recently in a park next to the bus station. Previously identified communities are located in the villages of Serici; Zeljezno Polje, near Zenica; Pojska and Mehurici, near Travnik; Bocinja, near Travnik (from which they have moved to other locations throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina); and Gornja Maoca, near Brcko. Over the past few years, new Wahhabi communities have appeared in Krajina villages. A major gathering in the Grmusa village, near Bosanska Krupa, in mid-August was just an indication of their numerical strength. Several hundred of them have settled in Velika Kladusa, in settlements near the City Mosque. They allegedly came to Cazin from central Bosnia; most have settled in the Sturlic Local Community, in the village of Debeljak. They are led by a Jordanian-born Muhamed. The only duty of the Wahhabi leader in Sturlici, apart from being in wedlock with two women, is to be an example to other community members in the practice of religion and living according to shari'ah.

The Wahhabi community in Konjic has several hundred members and has grown to be one of the "stronger" such communities in Bosnia-Hercegovina. In addition to the usual sources of financing, they are allegedly involved in summer tourism. Allegedly, a large number of rafting lovers in Glavaticevo are a summertime front for the holding of the annual Wahhabi gathering. The business with rafting clubs is an additional source of funding. According to the same scenario as in several other cities in Bosnia-Hercegovina, they last year tried to take control of one of the Konjic mosques. In the Glavicine dzemat, a few kilometres from Konjic, on the road to the Boracko Lake, they tried to take the key to the mosque under the pretext of wanting to perform a shari'ah wedding in their own way. To recall, the growing Wahhabi community in Mostar, under the pretext of being entitled to perform religious rituals according to their rules, tried last year to take control of the Karadjoz-bey Mosque.

[Box, p 37] May 1995 Report of the ARB-H [Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina] Military Security Secretariat's Department for Analytical and Information Affairs

"Members of the El Mudzahid squad have of late showed a dwindling interest in participation in military operations; their activities are increasingly focusing on the efforts to impose on Bosniaks-Muslims in the Zenica region the shari'ah lifestyle and the practicing of religion that runs counter to our people's tradition. The leader in this religious instruction - 'dawa' - in the El Mudzahid unit is the Egyptian Imad Al Misri. The leader among the civilian population is the Pakistani Jasin Swara.

"In the implementation and organization of this religious instruction and promotion of a 'new' approach to religion, in accordance with the Wahhabi mesheb [school], members of the El Mudzahid squad have established links to the Benevolence International Foundation, an Arab humanitarian organization. The general director of this humanitarian organization for North America and Europe is Enaam Arna'ut, a shari'ah lawyer born in Syria. He lives in Chicago. The director of the Zenica office is Jasin Swara (nom de guerre: Abu Jusuf). We have information that this unit has been abusing humanitarian aid by making the acceptance of 'dawa' a precondition for giving aid to citizens. In order to get as many supporters as possible, the advocates of a 'new' approach to religion have been visiting shahidi families and offering them financial assistance. Otherwise, they tell the families, the family members who died will not be shahidi. They go so far as to recommend that closest family members be denounced if they do not accept their beliefs and religious practices.

"We already have as a consequence the polarization of the Bosniak-Muslim population, which in the future could have far more damaging consequences. A source of the Military Security Secretariat, originally from an Afro-Asian country, then said [as published]: 'You will deal with the Arabs easily. You will expel them at one point, but your indoctrinated young people will stay behind.'"

So reads a part of the report entitled "Overview: Knowledge of Activities of People of Afro-Asian Origin on the Eve and During the War in Bosnia-Hercegovina." The report was made by the ARB-H Military Security Secretariat's Department for Analytical and Information Affairs in May 1995.

Source: Slobodna Bosna, Sarajevo, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 2 Oct 08
Posted for Fair Use only.