Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Despite ethnic polarization and disputes among Bosnian political leaders that hindered the functioning of state government, Bosnia and Herzegovina's law enforcement organizations cooperated with the United States on international counterterrorism issues. Bosnia remained a weak, decentralized state with poor interagency communication and competing security structures. Efforts by Republika Srpska officials to undermine state-level institutions slowed efforts to improve operational capabilities to combat terrorism and terrorist financing. These factors, combined with political interference in law enforcement, resulted in Bosnia being vulnerable to exploitation as a potential staging ground for terrorist operations in Europe

The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) is the state-level Bosnian law enforcement agency with primary responsibility for counterterrorism operations, but SIPA's capacity was limited. The government filled the position of SIPA Director in December 2007 after a vacancy that lasted almost a year.

The issue of terrorism in Bosnia, including terrorism threat analysis and counterterrorism operations, continued to be politicized. Consequently, Bosnian capabilities and potential for independent action at the state level did not improve as much as hoped. However, the state-level intelligence service provided excellent cooperation and Bosnian authorities were generally responsive to U.S. counterterrorism cooperation requests.

Some former members of the mujahedin brigade, whose citizenship was revoked by the Citizenship Review Commission, have pursued appeals of these decisions that remained unresolved. In the case of Abu Hamza al-Suri (Imad al-Husayn), the Bosnian Constitutional Court issued a ruling that upheld lower court decisions stripping him of his Bosnian citizenship. The Constitutional Court did, however, return one portion of Hamza's appeal to the State Court to consider whether deportation and possible resulting family separation would violate his human rights. The court had not adjudicated this case as of December 2008.

In March, a group of five individuals with alleged ties to extremists, led by Rijad Rustempasic, was arrested for possession of arms and explosives. For reasons that remain unknown, charges against the defendants were dropped in May and the defendants were released from custody. Investigation of this case continues.

The Bosnian organization Aktivna Islamska Omladina (Active Islamic Youth, or AIO) experienced fractures among its leaders and is no longer an officially registered organization in Bosnia. However some former members continued to spread extremist doctrine. These former members maintained links with extremists in Western Europe and the United States.

In December, Bosnia successfully concluded its mission in Iraq with the redeployment to Bosnia of its Emergency Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team and infantry platoon for fixed site security. Through eight rotations to Iraq, the EOD team reduced the threat of unexploded ordnance and excess ammunition.


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