Overview: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) remained a cooperative counterterrorism partner and continued to make slow progress in increasing its counterterrorism capacity in 2014. BiH law enforcement agencies generally keep close track of foreign terrorist fighter suspects in BiH and have carried out operations against them, although internal cooperation needs to improve. BiH's Joint Terrorism Task Force, tasked with improving coordination between BiH's many security and police agencies to better counter potential terrorist threats, has faltered significantly over the last year. Islamist extremist ideology and regional nationalist extremist groups both remain potential sources of violent extremism in BiH.

BiH has seen a significant number of its citizens travel to Syria and Iraq over the last year. In August, the BiH government began to consider a proposal to donate ammunition to the Government of Iraq to assist in its counter-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) efforts. In November 2014, BiH joined the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and in December sent its Foreign Minister to Brussels to participate in the U.S.-led coalition ministerial.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: BiH does not have a comprehensive counterterrorism legal framework, but in July, Parliament enacted the first "foreign terrorist fighter" law in the Balkans region in an effort to discourage BiH citizens from participating in foreign paramilitary groups. The bill, which does not address BiH citizens who serve in the armed forces of internationally-recognized countries, criminalizes organizing, managing, training, equipping, or recruiting individuals or groups of people to fight abroad, and joining paramilitary groups and imposes both imprisonment and monetary fines.

Much of BiH's coordination and cooperation issues are caused by overlapping law enforcement jurisdictions. The problem is also the result of personal, political, and institutional rivalries that exist among most police agencies as well as with the BiH Prosecutor's Office and BiH Court. Many of these rivalries are deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome.

In October and November, BiH authorities arrested a combined total of 27 suspects in two separate actions under "Operation Damascus," which targeted BiH citizens who went to fight in Syria and Iraq as well as those who supported them or aided them in their efforts.

On September 4, Bosnian authorities, in cooperation with Italian authorities, arrested in BiH Bilal Bosnic, a Cremona preacher, and another 15 activists, seizing large quantities of weapons. Bosnic was accused of having recruited and funded foreign terrorist fighters sent to Syria and Iraq.

On terrorism-related prosecutions, in October, the BiH Appeals Court ordered a new trial for Haris Causevic, who was convicted in 2013 of a terrorist act and sentenced to 45 years in prison for the June 2010 bombing of a police station in Bugojno, which killed one police officer and injured six others. The Appeals Court agreed with the defense that the first panel had prevented it from calling additional witnesses and ordered a new trial. The case will not be re-tried in whole, but only the parts where the defense can call these witnesses. This is the second time since 2013 that a court has overturned a terrorism case on appeal.

To track entries into BiH, the BiH Border Police (BP) use a computerized database and software system to support immigration and passenger information collection. The system links all 55 border crossings and all four airport locations (Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar, and Banja Luka) via the State Police Information Network, a network developed and donated by the Department of Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), funded by the U.S. Department of State. Both the BP and the Foreigners Affairs Service (FAS) field offices are connected to this system. It provides the BP and FAS with immediate access to other supporting databases (including Interpol) to run appropriate checks and cross-checks. All law enforcement agencies in BiH have the capability to add data into this system, and any derogatory information will come up as a "hit" when a subject's passport or BiH identification card is passed through the scanner at the point of entry. The BP has both legal authority and physical facilities at border crossings to detain individuals for up to 24 hours while they consult with SIPA and the BiH Prosecutor's Office regarding next steps regarding questionable individuals.

Through the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, Bosnian law enforcement received training in instructor development, critical incident management, and management of antiterrorism curricula.

Separately, ICITAP is working with the FAS to provide a biometrics system that will permit it to better monitor individuals entering and leaving BiH. This system is compatible with EU systems, and BiH has now met the requirements to share biometrics data with the EU. ICITAP is also helping to upgrade the existing Emergency Operation Center at the BiH Ministry of Security. In the event of a terrorist attack, these centers would be able to work together to ensure that required resources are made available anywhere in BiH. ICITAP, with Department of State funding, is also assisting with the construction of mobile command posts which can respond to the scene of any disaster and coordinate responses.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: BiH belongs to the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, which in 2014 expressed concerns that BiH needed to improve its laws to better deter and detect money laundering and terrorist financing. BiH is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.

The new law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing created a financial investigation department within the government that is empowered to forward information and data to appropriate authorities concerning money laundering and funding of terrorist organizations. The bylaws and amendments to Criminal Code had not been implemented as of the end of 2014.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: BiH's criminal code and related legal framework are generally harmonized with UN and EU counterterrorism standards. In September, BiH voted to support UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which requires countries to take certain steps to address the foreign fighter threat. The Bosnian government participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA.

BiH law enforcement agencies regularly interact with their U.S. and European counterparts on counterterrorism investigations. Interpol has a Sarajevo branch office that enjoys good cooperation with all law enforcement agencies throughout the country, all which have direct access to its databases. Regional cooperation at the professional law enforcement level with Croatia and Serbia improved in 2014.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The main religious communities in BiH (Islamic, Orthodox, Catholic, and Jewish) continued to work together through the Interreligious Council to promote tolerance and confront acts of bigotry or extremism directed at any of the communities. Among public figures, the leader of the Islamic Community in BiH, Reis Kavazovic, continued to speak out against "misinterpretations of Islam" that lead to extremist violence, and the Bosniak Member of BiH's Tri-Presidency, acting in his capacity as a political party leader, issued a statement in October that was sharply critical of ISIL and condemned those who support it. In academia, a noted professor from the faculty of Islamic Sciences at the Center for Advanced Studies in Sarajevo published a piece in Bosnia's leading daily newspaper in November, condemning the ISIL terrorist organization.


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