U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina's law enforcement organizations cooperated with the United States on international counterterrorism. Bosnia remained a weak state, however, with multiple semi-autonomous centers of power, vulnerable to exploitation as a terrorist safe haven or as a potential staging ground for terrorist operations in Europe. Nevertheless, there were notable signs of increased local operational capability to combat terrorism and terrorism finance.

Bosnian authorities continued to strengthen existing counterterrorism mechanisms and develop new ones. The Inter-Ministerial Counterterrorism Task Force (IMCTF), formed in December 2004, and currently responsible for coordinating all State-level institutions with counterterrorism responsibilities, directed two successful terrorism-related deportations in 2006. On February 8, the State Investigative and Protection Agency (SIPA), the State Border Police (SBP), the Foreigners Affairs Service (FAS), and the State Prosecutor worked together to remove convicted terrorist Said Atmani from the country. Atmani, a Moroccan national who fought in Bosnia during the war, served three years in jail for a bombing in France in the mid-1990s, before returning to Bosnia in 2005. On August 30, these agencies deported Tunisian national Bedrudin Ferchicij (a.k.a. Abu Malik), a mujahedin fighter who had remained illegally in Bosnia after the war. Despite these successes, the Task Force's operational effectiveness was generally hampered by insufficient coordination, such as infrequent communication and a lack of clear divisions of labor among the agencies.

In January, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina formed the Citizenship Review Commission (CRC). The Commission reviewed the status of foreign Mujahadin fighters and others who obtained Bosnian citizenship during and after the 1992-95 war, and withdrew citizenship from those who had obtained it improperly. In October the Council of Ministers adopted the Commission's interim progress report. According to the report, the CRC has completed preliminary reviews of approximately 600 cases (about half the total number pending), adjudicated 150 decisions, and stripped about 50 individuals of their citizenship. Among those stripped were three men listed under UNSC 1267 Committee for links with the Taliban, UBL and/or al-Qaida. The Foreigner Affairs Service had responsibility for determining the appropriate legal status of people stripped of citizenship and of initiating deportations when mandated under the Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens and Asylum. Although created in August 2005, vacant leadership positions stalled FAS institutional development until summer 2006. The process of drafting a revised Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens that would define and strengthen the FAS, which also began in 2005, remained unfinished.

The Bosnian State Court heard opening arguments in its first state-level terrorism trial in July. The trial remained underway with three individuals that were arrested in October 2005 and charged with terrorism, and two others charged with illegal possession of explosives. During the arrests, authorities confiscated weapons, explosives, a crudely fashioned suicide belt, and a video depicting masked men supposedly preparing to attack unspecified European targets. Lead defendants Mirsad Bektasevic (a Swedish citizen) and Abdulkadir Cesur were linked to terrorist networks elsewhere in Europe, and Cesur was also a named defendant in a terrorism trial concurrently underway in Denmark.

The Bosnian organization Aktivna Islamska Omladina (Active Islamic Youth, or AIO) spread extremist and anti-American rhetoric through its weekly print and on-line publication SAFF Magazine. AIO was founded in Zenica in 1995 by individuals with ties to the so-called "El Mujahid Brigade," a wartime unit comprised mainly of foreign extremists. There were indications that AIO conducted youth outreach in Bosnia during the year and maintained a presence in Western Europe.

In December, the Ministry of Defense pledged to donate 50,000 AK-47 rifles and necessary ammunition to security forces in Afghanistan in support of OEF. Bosnia and Herzegovina deployed a 36-member Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit began its fourth rotation in Iraq in November.


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