Bosnia Arrests 3 on Terrorism Charges
Sarajevo | 05 November 2009 |

Three Bosnian Islamists were arrested in Sarajevo on Thursday on charges of terrorism and illegal weapons trafficking, prosecutors said.

Rijad Rustempasic, Edis Velic and Abdulah Handzic were arrested on charges of terrorism, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina said in a statement.

Rustempasic was also suspected of illegal weapons trafficking, the statement added.

The arrest follows an intense investigation including interviews with “nearly 70 different witnesses and several suspects, and collected over 1000 pieces of evidence from here in Bosnia, as well as from Germany and Austria, and elsewhere,” prosecutors said.

Germany and Austria? Really? Austria? Nah. Couldn’t be.

I’ll repeat a Deliso quote from a previous post:

The weapons had come via Sudan. This confirmed that the African country, run by the radical National Islamic Front and then hosting Osama bin Laden, was playing a major role in the Bosnian jihad. At the same time, the discovery also “implicated members of the Slovenian secret service and indirectly the Austrian Ministry of Interior…both Slovenian security agents and the Austrian Ministry of Interior were providing funds for the Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo.” Austria’s long historical relations with Bosnia included the annexation of the province from the Ottoman Empire by the Austro-Hapsburg Empire in the dying days of both poweers, in 1908, a move that provoked Serbia and Turkey and indirectly led to the First World War.

Back to the article:

All three suspects were previously detained by Bosnian authorities in March last year, but were released after three months in detention for the lack of evidence.

Prosecutors refused to provide specific information, but Bosnian media previously reported the three were linked with terrorist groups in Austria and Germany and were planning to attack European Union peacekeepers and Catholic shrines in Bosnia.

Their specific targets were planned to include soldiers of the EU countries with forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a Franciscan Monastery in Fojnica, central Bosnia. […]

You mean they were targeting Catholics? That means their fellow Nazi Croatian friends?? Where did the love go? You mean anti-Serbian bonding doesn’t last? It seemed like such a solid foundation for friendship. Just look at the Albanians.

And why on earth would Bosnians want to kill the kindly Western peacekeepers who “saved” them? It’s all so puzzling…

It’s amazing that it took this long to get Rustempasic, meanwhile. He’s already been connected to Mirsad Bektasevic, who was arrested in that 2005 raid on a Sarajevo apartment that yielded a “suicide bomb belt, nearly 20 kilograms of explosives, guns and a bomb-making video” and who was aiming for European targets to make foreign troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. That Bektasevic character really got around. Here’s part of an item about a young Georgia guy who was convicted on terrorism charges in August:

Georgia man convicted of aiding terrorism groups (LA Times, Aug 13)

An Atlanta jury on Wednesday found a 23-year-old man guilty of aiding terrorist groups….Ehsanul Sadequee, the U.S.-born son of Bangladeshi immigrants, faces up to 60 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to materially support terrorists. The jury found that he had discussed attacks with accused militants in Toronto and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Along with another Georgia man convicted in June, Sadequee drove to Washington in 2005 to film the Pentagon and other potential targets, then e-mailed the scouting videos to British citizens who since have been convicted of terrorism charges.

The jury heard testimony from Bosnian and British investigators and weighed evidence from six cases that have involved several dozen defendants and years of complex international cooperation. Defendants in those cases have been convicted in Sarajevo, Copenhagen, London and Toledo, Ohio. There also were several acquittals in Copenhagen. A group remains on trial in Toronto, accused of plotting to attack the Canadian Parliament.

Sadequee’s extremist activity intensified when he met Syed Ahmed, a Pakistani American student at Georgia Tech, at a mosque in Atlanta. The two made contact in Islamic chat rooms with an extremist constellation including the Toronto group; a Bosnian named Mirsad Bektasevic, who lived in Sweden; and Younis Tsouli, a Moroccan diplomat’s son living in London whose computer expertise made him a hub of the network.

In October 2005, he communicated from Bangladesh with Tsouli in London and Bektasevic in Sarajevo as the Bosnian obtained explosives and weapons. They discussed a propaganda video that Bektasevic was preparing that would announce the formation of a group they called Al Qaeda in Northern Europe.

Within days, police arrested Tsouli and Bektasevic, subduing the latter as he assembled a suicide vest attached to a detonator. Both now are serving prison sentences after being convicted on terrorism-related charges.

The FBI tracked down Sadequee in Bangladesh and arrested him in April 2006. […]

The sentencing for Sadequee and his accomplice was just announced yesterday at this update, which mentions “Mirsad Bektasevic, a Balkan-born Swede.”

Meanwhile, Rijad Rustempasic’s name came up again just last month — in connection with his equally bad-ass brother Muhamed:

Bosnia: Catching Up with ‘Terrorists’

…Muhamed Rustempasic was arrested on 24 September while attempting to leave Bosnia at the Bosanska Gradiska border and return to Austria where he lives with his family on a temporary residency permit. The Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office issued a warrant for Rustempasic’s arrest after he ignored a summons.

The anti-terror unit of the Bosnian Federation police began investigating Rustempasic, who has prior convictions for manslaughter and robbery, soon after the March 2008 arrest of a group of radical Muslims. The alleged group leader was Rijad Rustempasic, Muhamed Rustempasic’s brother.

Rijad Rustempasic and the three members of his group - Muhamed Meco, Abdulah Handzic and Edis Velic - were arrested last year after Federal anti-terror police and the Bosnian State Intelligence Agency (OSA) discovered the group was plotting attacks on Catholic churches and international forces in Bosnia during the Christian Easter holidays.

In the house in Sarajevo rented by Rijad Rustempasic and his parents’ house in Bugojno, police last year seized anti-tank mines, laser sights, electronic equipment, topographic maps and bomb-making manuals. In Rijad Rustempasic’s apartment, police seized a hand-made explosive device hidden in a book, set to explode when opened. Several days after the arrest, police raided two abandoned summer cottages in Barice, just outside Sarajevo, finding more explosives and munitions.

However, after three months spent in custody, the Prosecutor’s Office failed to win a terrorism indictment against them due to lack of evidence, and all members of the alleged group were released.

Federal police and OSA continued the investigation, focusing particularly on the group’s contacts in Germany and Austria, in an attempt to nail down the supply and financing chain. And that is where Muhamed Rustempasic fits in, according to ISN Security Watch’s source from the Prosecutor’s Office.

During the Bosnian 1992-1995 war, Rustempasic was a member of the El-Mujahid unit, headquartered in central Bosnia. The unit was under the official jurisdiction of the Bosnian army during the war, though it operated autonomously and was comprised of foreign fighters from Islamic countries. It was during this time that Rustempasic developed his bomb-making skills, officials say.

Federal police suspect that Rustempasic was responsible for mining the tower of the Catholic church in the village of Humci, near Bugojno, in July 1996. No suspects were ever arrested in connection with the attack. Police also suspect that Rustempasic was behind numerous threats against Bosnian Croat returnees to Bugojno and other central Bosnian cities where there is a Bosniak majority.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office and the OSA, in 2001 Rustempasic spent time in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but the reasons for his travel are not known. Also, the OSA registered that in 2000 he attempted to go to Chechnya as a volunteer, but failed.

In 2004, Rustempasic was arrested by NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) troops in Bosnia for illegal possession of weapons and suspicion of terrorist-related activities. SFOR had found nearly five kilograms of explosives in his possession. For that crime, the court in Bugojno sentenced him to five months parole, during which time he relocated to Sarajevo. […]

*****LATEST UPDATE on RUSTEMPASIC*****

Three Bosnian Islamists Charged with Terrorism
Sarajevo | 22 December 2009 |

Three Bosnian Islamists have been charged with terrorism offences and illegal weapons trafficking, a Bosnian court said on Tuesday.

Rijad Rustempasic, Abdulah Handzic and Edis Velic have been charged with criminal offences of “terrorism, associating for the purpose of the perpetration of criminal offences and illegal trafficking in weapons,
military equipment and products of dual use,” the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina said in a statement.

The three were arrested in November following an intense investigation which prosecutors said involved interviews with nearly 70 different witnesses and several suspects, as well as the collection of over 1000 pieces of evidence in Bosnia, Germany, Austria, and elsewhere.

As part of the same indictment, the court charged Rustempasic’s brother Muhamed and another man, Edis Strol, with trafficking in weapons and military equipment and being part of a criminal association.

Both men were arrested by police earlier this year and have remained in detention since their capture.

Bosnian media previously reported that the indicted men were linked to terrorist groups in Austria and Germany and were planning to attack European Union peacekeepers and Catholic shrines in Bosnia.

Their specific targets included soldiers of the EU countries with forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a Franciscan Monastery in Fojnica, Bosnia, local media said. […]