In February there was a major police action in the notorious radical stronghold of Gornja Maoca. Located at the juncture of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, and near a major roadway, this town briefly became a focus for investigators immediately after 9/11, and has come up repeatedly as a problem since. (Including as the nexus of the planned rocket attack on world leaders at Pope John Paul II’s 2005 funeral, which naturally went virtually unreported.) Here is what happened in February:

Bosnia: Police raids target radical Islamist stronghold

Sarajevo, 2 Feb. (AKI) - Bosnian anti-terror police on Tuesday raided the northeastern Bosnian village of Gornja Maoca, a stronghold of conservative Muslims. Women were reportedly among some ten Wahabis detained by police for questioning.

The villagers are suspected of “jeopardising Bosnia’s constitutional order and spreading national, racial and religious hatred,” the Bosnian prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The operation was carried out by 600 police officers and was the largest since the end of the country’s 1992-95 war, according to Bosnia’s state prosecutors.

Police also said they uncovered a large quantity of weapons from a number of buildings searched during the raids.

Bosnia’s largest Wahabi community lives in Gornja Maoca, near the northeastern town of Brcko. The village is reported to be run according to Sharia law and its inhabitants reported to have connections to Islamist terrorist networks.

Police searched another location, in the Gornji Rahic area, also close to Brcko, seizing computers, cell phones and other equipment from the home of a Wahabi there, Serbian media reported.

Many followers of the Wahabi movement in Bosnia are Arabs who fought on the side of local Muslims during the war. [Note: And many are not.]

Many have remained in the country after the war, indoctrinating local youths and even operating terrorist training camps, western intelligence sources have said.

Most Wahabi homes fly black Islamic flags, and the children [are taught in Arabic and] do not attend public schools - a violation of the Bosnian laws. Local road signs are reported to be in Arabic.

Immediately after the raid, the Muslim propaganda machine went into motion to portray the police action as an attack on human rights in Bosnia, as Serbianna’s Mickey Bozinovich reported at the time:

Bosnian Muslims are actively seeking Amnesty International’s official condemnation of recent arrests of Bosnian Muslim Wahhabis as a violation of human rights….Bosnian Muslim activist with the Amnesty International (AI), Nadja Dizdarevic, said that the raid on the Wahhabi radicals in Bosnian village of Gornja Maoca is yet another attack on human rights in Bosnia and she plans to inform the AI headquarters in London about it.

Dizdarevic said that the attacks on the Wahhabi leader Nusret Imamovic are based on insinuation and that Imamovic’s replacement of Bosnian state law with Islamic Sharia in that village does not represent treason.

Dizdarevic is also a wife of Hajj Boudella, one of five Algerians ordered released from Guantanamo Bay prison [in 2008].

At the same time, Bosnian Muslim Mufti Husein Kavazovic demands that authorities give Imamovic basic “religious rights” while held in jail.

Meanwhile, Bosnian Muslim political leaders like Silajdzic and Tihic are silent about the raid and the silence is about as much as they said about all the foreign-born mujahedeen that came to Bosnia, domiciled [and] then, as leading terror scholars say, became involved in virtually every terror attack across the globe.

The outspoken Bosnian Muslim terror analyst, Dzevad Galijasevic, warned in the past several days that…“We have a serious problem…No one important from Sarajevo, Sulejman Tihic, Haris Silajdzic, Bakir Izetbegovic (son of Alija Izetbegovic honored by Saudi Arabia), nor did reis [chief Bosnian Imam] try to offer support [for the police] and now they have made a front. Police is literally left lonely, but the police must continue its action or we will have a foiled action like the case in Pogorelic.”

In the Pogorelic case, official Bosnian Muslim state officials were involved in terror planning and cooperation with Iran and a text on that event can be found here as a rough Google translation from Serbian.

Now that the Bosnian Muslim police is isolated and portrayed as going against their own people, Galijasevic says that the prosecutors are making a mistake for parading publicly with claims that these Wahhabis are Islamic terrorists while officially they are not charging the arrested with terror.

Galijasevic, once a mayor of Maglaj, says that what was found in Maoca (see my previous post) is nothing but what was available to be seen on the surface of the village.

Galijasevic says that Maoca is loaded with underground bunkers that are full with weapons and munition. He says that these Wahhabis are also loaded with money.

[Another Bosnian-Muslim analyst named Esad] Hacimovic also notes the global dimension of the arrested Wahhabis. He says that the Maoca Wahhabis are connected to the Vienna based Kelimetul Haqq organization of Bosnian Muslims that advocates extremist views of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi.

Al Maqdisi is the spiritual leader of Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi whom, we can recall, was beheading all sorts of people in Iraq and was subsequently “terminated” by the US troops.

Viennese media, some of which has been ridiculing all these Wahhabi warnings either as Serbian propaganda or an overblown rhetoric, seem to be behind the loop as to what sort of groundwork for Europe is being laid from their city.

A few more details in this report.

…The Bosniak language site [run by the Gornja Maoca Wahhabi group] carries statements by the al-Qaeda and Islamic groups fighting in the Caucasus. It commemorates suicide bombers as the most joyful people among Muslims and displays dozens of photos of young ‘martyrs’ with smiles on their faces after carrying out missions against the ‘infidel’.

For Dzevad Galijasevic, member of a Sarajevo counter terrorism team, “the village [of Gornja Maoca] is only one of the arms of the octopus that is spreading everywhere in the region.”

In an interview with the Federal Sarajevo TV, Galijasevic said that the presence of the Wahhabi group in Gornja Maoca only “distracts attention from activities in Sarajevo.”

“The head of the octopus is in the King Fahd Mosque, where the Wahhabis and other extremists carry out their business unimpeded and even meet the members of international criminal groups,” he said.

Galijasevic was referring to the November 2009 arrest of three radical Muslims charged with terrorism offences and weapons trafficking by a Bosnian court…

The arrest last month of five Wahhabis in Kosovo who assaulted a government worker for distributing bibles in his free time was compared to the “anti-humanitarian” shutting down of the Gornja Maoca cell by some Bosnian Islamists, who went on “to blame the arrests on Serbian influence over the Kosovo police,” as Stephen Suleyman Ahmad al-Kosovi Schwartz wrote last week on his Weakly Standard blog.

As we know, the “Serbian influence” and “Serbian spy” accusations are popularly employed whenever Bosnian or Kosovo authorities go against either Islamist or Albanianist activities. And it’s certainly not a ploy of just fringe elements in the Balkans (as evidenced above by Austrian media dutifully referring to “Serbian propaganda). It also happened to Galijasevic in 2008 — by Bosnia’s most popular daily newspaper:

Main Bosnian Muslim daily campaigns against terror expert (BBC Monitoring Europe, text from Dnevni avaz in Sarajevo, Sep 27, 2008)

A Bosnian anti-terrorism expert has been the subject of an unprecedented attack by the country’s main Muslim daily Dnevni avaz. The Sarajevo publication mounted a scathing attack against Dzevad Galijasevic on 27 September headlined “Dzevad Galijasevic’s special war against Bosnia and Bosnian Muslims”. Galijasevic recently became a member of the Expert Team of South Eastern Europe for Fighting Terrorism and Organized Crime which was formed in Zagreb on 19 September. The team includes terror experts from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

Galijasevic described as traitor

Dnevni avaz says that Galijasevic, himself a Bosnian Muslim, is employed by the Bosnian Serbs to systematically spread stories about Bosnia as a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists.

“Bosnia-Hercegovina is in the system of organized international terrorism, and the future mujahidin and terrorists are being recruited there,” the daily quotes Galijasevic as saying and warning that “the recruitment is done in mosques, and they are mostly recruiting young people and children of the shehids [Islamic martyrs]”.

“Such Galijsevic’s statements may even provoke someone into attacking him physically, although this is the last thing that we would need. People like him cannot wait for someone to attack or threaten them, or at least to give them a nasty look,” the main Sarajevo daily said in conclusion.

However, the daily failed to block a series of threats against Galijasevic which swamped its website’s comment section after the article was posted.

Hundreds of Dnevni avaz readers commented on the article with a large number calling for Galijasevic’s head. “He should be hanged by his testicles” and “pour petrol on him and set him on fire” are some of the recommendations for ways to deal with “the man who is a greater monster than Karadzic and Mladic” and whose “bones should be spat out by the earth” when he dies.

However a number of participants in the debate praised Galijasevic’s afforts to warn against the threat poised by radical Islamists in Bosnia. “It is not Galijasevic’s fault that Usamah Bin-Ladin was issued a Bosnian passport”, says one of the participants in the discussion which is also joined by Domagoj Margetic, the Croatian member of the anti-terrorism expert team. Margetic defends his Bosnian colleague, often using quotes form his book on Islamist terrorism in the Balkans, but many of his comments are removed by the Dnevni avaz web moderator who failed to do so with the threats against Galijasevic.

The latest attack on Galijasevic came after his and Margetic’s Expert Team of South Eastern Europe for Fighting Terrorism and Organized Crime called for the publication of the Hague tribunal’s indictment against the late Alija Izetbegovic, SDA founder and Muslim wartime leader. The expert team believes that the publication of the indictment would reveal his party’s role in Bosnian imports of Islamist and Wahhabi warriors and ideology…

While we can be heartened that there are still Bosnians who aren’t “like that” — as evidenced by those readers praising Galijasevic’s efforts — let’s consider the overwhelmingly negative Bosniak reaction to Galijasevic’s anti-terror efforts. Especially, consider the significance of the editors at the MAIN BOSNIAN-MUSLIM DAILY NEWSPAPER going after Galijasevic and being happy to allow multiple threats to appear in the comments section but not comments about terrorism in the Balkans. And what does it say about Bosnia when an anti-terror expert is deemed a “traitor” to begin with? That’s not even mentioning the conspicuous fact, as outlined in the earlier Serbianna report, that Bosnia’s political and religious leadership — which can’t be entirely non-representative of the Bosnian public — is isolating law enforcement that goes after terror cells, keeping silent or outright denying terror havens in Bosnia, and apparently actively involved with terror planning with Iran? This is the “not like that” Bosnia we keep hearing about and defending?

One more note on Gornja Maoca, from Nebojsa Malic:

Issued Bosnian citizenship by the grateful Izetbegovic government, [the mujahedeen] married local women, and settled in villages whose Christian inhabitants were killed or expelled during the war. One such village is Gornja Maoca (formerly Karavlasi), in the north of the country.

For years, Bosnian law enforcement and international intelligence and security outfits have kept an eye on the village. One of the investigations focused on the terrorist recruitment of Muslims living in Europe, and the trail led straight to Maoca.

Of course, official Sarajevo vehemently denies there are any terrorists or terrorist sympathizers in Bosnia. But just a few years ago, one senior American official said that the “international community” was well aware of them, and preferred to leave them be.

If there are terrorists and terrorist sympathizers in Bosnia, why would the government act like it wasn’t so? I think we know the answer by now.

In a related 2007 item, we learn that “most” of the “moderate/secular/non-religious/not-like- that/Europeanized” Bosniaks in Serbia’s Novi Pazar “believe that 90% of Wahhabis are in no way involved in crime, that they are only utterly devoted to their religion and the mosque, and that they pose no threat to the state”:

BBC MONITORING INTERNATIONAL REPORTS (Text of report by Serbian newspaper Vecernje novosti on 23 March, 2007: “Silence More Dangerous Than Weapons”)

Fear of extremists and their evil plans is still felt in Novi Pazar a week after the discovery of a terrorist camp on Mt Ninaja and the arrest of four Wahhabis….More than the “bearded men from the forest,” residents of Novi Pazar, at least those that are prepared to talk about it, are worried by the silence of the local politicians and the absence of a public condemnation of obvious terrorism.

There are also attempts to sweep everything under the carpet, to hush it all up and blame the discovery of the camp, the arrest of the Wahhabis, and the exposure of their intentions on Belgrade media for “unnecessarily heightening tension.” It is precisely due to this attitude to obvious problems that Novi Pazar has been featuring on the pages of world press as a town of crime (described as a “black spot” in the latest US State Department report), of growingly impoverished people, a town to move out from.

“Until terrorism is proven, nobody has the right to call these people terrorists and condemn them in advance,” the Sandzak Human Rights Committee and Sandzak Intellectual Circle nongovernmental organization, which is co-chaired by Semiha Kacar and Ramiz Crnisanin, insists in a statement.

“The police statement about the capture of ‘Wahhabi terrorists’ and the way in which media reported it only stokes an atmosphere of fear and disturbs the people of Sandzak. We demand an exhaustive investigation and respect for the rights of the suspects, against whom methods of coercion must not be used,” it is stressed in the statement of this nongovernmental organization, which strongly attacked Colonel Momir Stojanovic at the time when he first warned that Sandzak was under threat from Islamic extremists.

“Not all Muslims are Wahhabis and not all Wahhabis are terrorists. However, what was found on Mt Ninaja clearly shows that somebody was planning terrorist operations,” Mirko Popovac of the Serb Democratic Union stresses.

“We all saw that large quantities of explosives and armour piercing ammunition were found in that camp,” Vujica Tiosavljevic, chairman of the New Serbia Municipal Committee and deputy chairman of the Novi Pazar Municipal Assembly, says. Tiosavljevic insists that this development will drive away the few domestic and foreign businessmen that were prepared to invest in Novi Pazar.

Most Bosniaks [Muslim Slavs] in Novi Pazar believe that 90 per cent of Wahhabis are in no way involved in crime, that they are only utterly devoted to their religion and the mosque, and that they pose no threat to the state.

“The security situation in Novi Pazar is not good: there are drugs, shootings, bomb fights, murders, corruption, and so on. There are moving about the town some armed and dangerous men, so-called tough guys, ready to pull a gun at the drop of a hat and endanger innocent lives. The greatest responsibility for this situation rests with the police, but we all of us that live in this town have our share of the responsibility as well,” says Camil Hubic, president of the District Court and a rare resident of Novi Pazar that is constantly drawing attention to the danger of organized crime.

Although the situation in this part of the Raska [Sandzak] region is highly volatile, the mayors of Novi Pazar and Sjenica, Sulejman Ugljanin and Esad Zornic, respectively, have made no statements as yet. The security
committees, which have the duty to review the current security situation, have not convened, either. People are confused and the leaders’ silence opens scope for all sorts of speculations.

Finally, just a reminder that “The majority of [Bosniak] respondents (69 per cent) were against the presence of the Wahhabi interpretation and practice of Islam in B-H. Nevertheless, every ninth citizen expressed a certain level of support to the presence of this form of Islam (12.9 per cent).