By Mladen Dragojlovic – Banja Luka
State investigation and protection agency (SIPA) BiH arrested on Thursday morning 11 persons suspected for several criminal acts linked with terrorism. This police operation was performed as a follow-up action to the recent operation “Damascus”, when the same police agency had arrested 16 persons for same crimes.
SIPA spokesperson, Kristina Jozic, told the media in Sarajevo that operations were performed in the cities Sarajevo, Zenica, Maglaj, Kakanj and Zivinice. SIPA officers, she confirmed, searched several locations in these cities, in order to find evidence of terrorist activitυ.
“The arrested persons are suspected of financing terrorist activities, public incitement on this activities, recruitment for terrorist activities, the organisation of terrorist groups, linked with the criminal offense of terrorism, forming and joining paramilitary or parapolice organisations”, stated Jozic on the press conference.
Some of the arrestees are suspected of organising the departure of BiH citizens in Syria and Iraq where they joined radical islamist groups and were involved in battles on the side of these groups, while some of them were in Syria on battlefields and came back in BiH. A few months ago, BiH adopted a law which bans citizens from going in foreign countries to join and fight on the side of radical groups.
Jozic added that, since the beginning of the warfares in Syria and Iraq, SIPA has been gathering information on BiH citizens involved in these conflicts. All arrested persons are detained in SIPA HQ, in the district of East Sarajevo.
In the first part of police operation “Damascus”, on the beginning of October this year, SIPA arrested Bilal Bosnic, informal leader of Salafist community in BiH, and he is still in detention. A few days ago, the Chief of the Center for the fight against terrorism in the Italian Police Department, Lamberto Giannini, was in BiH and express an interest for Bosnic’s activities, but there is no official confirmation that he interrogated the Salafi leader.
Bosnic is a person of interest for the Italian police because, months ago, he gave an interview to Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” and said that 50 Italian citizens are on battlefields in Syria. In the interview Bosnic had said that he was involved in their recruitment.
In BiH nobody knows the exact number of persons who went to battle for radical groups in Syria and Iraq, but this number is estimated to “more than 300”. Until now, it is confirmed that more than 20 fighters from BiH have died in the battles.