Sunday, February 26

Sputnik's alarm about Bosnia-Herzegovina -- and Germany

A tiny picture-perfect country courts big trouble

"It's common knowledge that Vienna has become a place where Islamic fundamentalists, with some coming from Bosnia, gather."

"Islamist infrastructure has been in Bosnia for the last three decades"

In 2015 a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime showed Bosnia and Herzegovina was a key route for the trafficking of heroin and opium from Afghanistan to Western Europe, with receipts amounting to an approximate US$28 billion annually — one third bigger than the entire GDP of Afghanistan itself.

"According to the Bosnian Foreign Trade Chamber, the country's defense sector profits for 2016 were around 20 percent higher than 2015 ..."

The above quotes from Sputnik reports are part of a long line of statements featured by mainstream press from around the world in recent years, as governments have started to confront the corrosive effect of Saudi wealth mixed with Islam.

An example of the growing concern is Carlotta Gall's May 2016 report for The New York Times, How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS: Extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudis and others have transformed a once-tolerant Muslim society into a font of extremism and a pipeline for jihadists. 

She reports on a story that continues to become more common all around the world: 
Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars — including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children — who have gone abroad to join the Islamic State, the highest number per capita in Europe.

They were radicalized and recruited, Kosovo investigators say, by a corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.  
“They promoted political Islam,” said Fatos Makolli, the director of Kosovo’s counterterrorism police. “They spent a lot of money to promote it through different programs mainly with young, vulnerable people, and they brought in a lot of Wahhabi and Salafi literature. They brought these people closer to radical political Islam, which resulted in their radicalization.”
After two years of investigations, the police have charged 67 people, arrested 14 imams and shut down 19 Muslim organizations for acting against the Constitution, inciting hatred and recruiting for terrorism. The most recent sentences, which included a 10-year prison term, were handed down on Friday.
It is a stunning turnabout for a land of 1.8 million people that not long ago was among the most pro-American Muslim societies in the world. Americans were welcomed as liberators after leading months of NATO bombing in 1999 that spawned an independent Kosovo.
After the war, United Nations officials administered the territory and American forces helped keep the peace. The Saudis arrived, too, bringing millions of euros in aid to a poor and war-ravaged land.
But where the Americans saw a chance to create a new democracy, the Saudis saw a new land to spread Wahhabism.
“There is no evidence that any organization gave money directly to people to go to Syria,” Mr. Makolli said. “The issue is they supported thinkers who promote violence and jihad in the name of protecting Islam.”
Kosovo now has over 800 mosques, 240 of them built since the war and blamed for helping indoctrinate a new generation in Wahhabism. They are part of what moderate imams and officials here describe as a deliberate, long-term strategy by Saudi Arabia to reshape Islam in its image, not only in Kosovo but around the world.
Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2015 reveal a system of funding for mosques, Islamic centers and Saudi-trained clerics that spans Asia, Africa and Europe. In New Delhi alone, 140 Muslim preachers are listed as on the Saudi Consulate’s payroll.
All around Kosovo, families are grappling with the aftermath of years of proselytizing by Saudi-trained preachers. Some daughters refuse to shake hands with or talk to male relatives. Some sons have gone off to jihad. Religious vigilantes have threatened — or committed — violence against academics, journalists and politicians.
Yet in February 2015 The Telegraph was reporting that 50,000 Kosovars had fled the country within a period of two months -- most of them bound for Germany.  So now Germany has a big problem. 

And as recent reports at Sputnik underscore, BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) is not only suffering from massive unemployment and Islamist radicalization, it's also become a hub for 'black globalization' of all kinds -- illicit drugs and human organ smuggling, etc. as well as a weapons exporting -- that last somewhat mysterious given that it takes considerable money to manufacture arms for export. But somehow this dirt-poor country is managing to play with the big boys in the arms trade.  See the fourth Sputnik report below.   

1. 30% of Arab Immigrants in Bosnia Follow Ideology Made Notorious by Daesh [Islamic State]
12:36 - 26.02.2017 - Sputnik

Approximately 30 percent of those who moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Arab world, primarily the Gulf states, follow Wahhabism and Salafism, movements within Sunni Islam given a bad name by terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and Daesh, Brankica Ristic wrote for Sputnik Serbia.

"There is clearly nothing wrong with Arabs flocking to Bosnia. However, the issue is that approximately 30 percent of the newcomers follow Wahhabism and Salafism, primarily known because organizations like al-Qaeda and Daesh adhere to these movements," she said.

According to some estimates, more than 40,000 Arabs live in the capital of Sarajevo, Ristic added.

"The Ministry of Security is aware of these numbers. It has carried out investigations targeting real estate companies and other businesses established by the Arabs in Bosnia. As a result, 30 nationals from Arab countries were deported from Bosnia and forbidden to enter the Balkan nation due to their ties to Daesh and other radical groups," she detailed.


11:44 - 03.02.2017 - Sputnik 

If Russia and the United States join their counterterrorism efforts and launch a comprehensive large-scale operation to tackle Daesh in the Middle East, the militants will most likely flee to the Balkans, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina, experts told Sputnik Serbia.

Bosnia will become an "ideal refuge of last resort" for terrorists fleeing Iraq and Syria due to the existing infrastructure, an expert on terrorism Djevad Galijasevic asserted.

"Islamist infrastructure has been around in Bosnia for the last three decades. There are no obstacles preventing it from developing. Propaganda of [radical ideas] and financial assistance [to extremists] have continued unabated. One can buy any weapon in Bosnia. Some terrorists have their own banks," he detailed.

Milan Pasanski, president of the Forum for the Study of International Terrorism, shared these sentiments, saying that militants will most likely refrain from crossing the borders of the European Union since EU law enforcement and counterterrorism services have been on high alert. They will instead settle in the European periphery, primarily Kosovo, the Serbian region of Sandžak and Bosnia, he suggested.

The latest developments in Austria appear to confirm Pasanski's assessment.

Last week, imam Nedžad Balkan was arrested in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Galijasevic described him as the most radical, but not the most dangerous Islamic fundamentalist of Bosnian origin.

"Balkan is considered to be an expert in interpreting Islamic religious texts, particularly those on prophet Ibrahim. Balkan founded the İbrahim Milleti project. 
Several years ago the German police conducted a large-scale operation arresting Wahhabis affiliated with the project," the analyst said. 

"He is the most radical Islamist with ties to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Vienna, but he is not the most dangerous one. In this respect, hafiz Muhamed Fadil Porča, who represents the Dawa Salafia union, is more dangerous."

The analyst added that Nedžad Balkan is active beyond Vienna, conducting operations in the Austrian cities of Linz, Klagenfurt and Graz. He was also active in other countries, most notably Switzerland and Germany.

"By detaining Nedžad Balkan Austrian authorities have indicated that if a second wave of refugees comes, they will not turn the blind eye on the fact that terrorists could be among them. It's common knowledge that Vienna has become a place where Islamic fundamentalists, with some coming from Bosnia, gather," Pasanski said.

13:40 - 23.12.2016 - Sputnik

BELGRADE (Sputnik) — The Wahhabi movement has spread all across Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in past 20 years, and currently there are several thousand of its supporters in the country, Interior Minister of Republica Srpska, the BiH autonomous Serb region, Dragan Lukac said on Friday.

The minister had an interview with the N1 television channel to discuss security situation in the wake of attacks in Berlin and Ankara. According to him, the analysis of the situation shows an increase in the number of terrorists.

"In BiH, there are several thousand of supporters of the Wahhabi and Salafi movements that were the source of the terrorist attacks in BiH and Europe. This, however, does not mean that all who practice Wahhabism are terrorists," Lukac said.

He said that in the wake of conflict in Syria and emergence of Daesh, which is outlawed in many countries including Russia, up to 350 people left BiH to join terrorists in the Middle East.

The minister added that some 50 BiH nationals have been killed in the conflict zones, and some 50, who returned home, are currently under investigation over terrorism links. 

20:49 - 17.02.2017

Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks 115th out of 191 in global GDP rankings, and at 44 percent, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. However, its economy has been growing steadily in recent years - spurred officially by arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, and no doubt helped by illicit trafficking of drugs and human organs.

According to the Bosnian Foreign Trade Chamber, the country's defense sector profits for 2016 were around 20 percent higher than 2015, with the value of exports
amounting to 87.4 million euros (US$92,8m), up from 70 million euros (US$74,3m) the previous year. 

The biggest recipients of Bosnian weapons were Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the latter having been the primary importers in 2014 and 2015. Egypt spent 22.8 million euros (US$24,2m), Saudi Arabia 17.2 million euros (US$18,3m). Other major importers of Bosnian-produced arms, ammunition and military equipment in 2016 included Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Pakistan, Switzerland and Turkey, purchasing under five million euros' (US$5,3m) each.

Saudi Arabia is primarily putting the weapons to use in the Yemeni civil war, a conflict in which the Kingdom has repeatedly come under fire from human rights organizations and even the UN for purposely targeting civilians.

Moreover, a 2016 investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found that thousands of Bosnian assault rifles, mortar shells, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, and heavy machine guns have poured into Syria since 2012. Arms manufacturers in the country have run at full capacity since then, with some factories so overburdened with requests that staff have taken on extra shifts, or have paused orders temporarily.

The investigation suggested at least some of these shipments could be illegal under international and national law; Bosnia and Herzegovina is a signatory to the UN's Arms Trade Treaty, and the EU's 2008 Common Position on arms exports, which requires countries to take into account eight criteria when assessing arms export applications, including whether the purchasing country respects international human rights, the preservation of "regional peace, security and stability" and the risk of diversion.

If such exports are illegal, it would be merely the latest indication of endemic corruption and criminal activity in the former Yugoslav republic. 

In 2015, a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report showed Bosnia and Herzegovina was a key route for the trafficking of heroin and opium from Afghanistan to Western Europe, with receipts amounting to an approximate US$28 billion annually — one third bigger than the entire GDP of Afghanistan itself.



No comments: