Monday, June 25, 2012

The Global Jihad Movement In Bosnia

Time Bomb In The Heart of Europe

By A. Ceresnjes and R. Green

This document will review radical Islamist groups that are active in Bosnia and have influence among the Bosnian diaspora in that Balkans and Europe at large.

Jihad During The Civil War In Yugoslavia

In the Communist era, Bosnian Islam existed in a state of ideological isolation. In the 1990s, after the fall of the USSR and with the outbreak of civil war in Yugoslavia, the religious-ideological vacuum was filled by jihadis who came to fight alongside the Bosnians, and by Muslim preachers who came to spread the doctrine of radical Islam. Today, a clear division exists in Bosnia between "old" Muslims – who attempt to preserve the traditional heritage of Bosnian Islam which is multifaceted and incorporates Turkish, Sufi and local customs – and "new" Muslims, who are influenced by Islamism and aspire to impose the Salafi and Wahhabi doctrines in the country.

In the eyes of many Muslims around the world, the Bosnian civil war was a struggle to preserve the physical existence of the Bosnians and their national and cultural heritage, and was also part of a global struggle to purify and unite the Islamic nation. Accordingly, Bosnia soon became a destination for jihadi volunteers who came to join their Bosnian brothers in the war against the Serbs and other "infidels." As a matter of fact, the Bosnian civil war came at a convenient juncture for the Islamic mujahideen. The war against the Russians in Afghanistan had ended in victory, and the mujahideen were looking for new theatres of operation. One of the first leaders of the jihad fighters in Bosnia, the Saudi Abu 'Abd Al-'Aziz Barbaros,[1] saw the war as confirmation of Muhammad's prophecy that "jihad will continue until the Day of Judgment."

Luckily for the mujahideen, the U.S. and several European countries deliberately allowed their influx into Bosnia.[2] Based on their experience in the struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, these countries regarded the mujahideen as legitimate allies who could help the Bosnians while also furthering American-European interests. Saudi Arabia likewise supported the mujahideen, whom it saw as a tool for countering the Iranian influence in Bosnia, which had been apparent since the beginning of the war.[3]

The fighters, who began to arrive in Bosnia via Croatia in 1992, were Arabs from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Yemen, as well as Muslims from Africa and Asia. Initially they did not join the Bosnian army but acted independently, using methods different from those of the military. They stormed through minefields, kidnapped Serbian soldiers and killed them while filming the execution, and sowed fear wherever they went. They teamed up with criminal elements that were participating in the fighting and helped transport weapons and fighters to the front.

The mujahideen established their bases in remote mountainous areas in order to avoid drawing attention to themselves. But after successfully taking over some areas, they began to make their presence felt in the cities as well. The Americans estimated their number at 1,200-1,400 fighters, but the Bosnian army estimated that there were around 3,000 mujahideen.

As mentioned, the mujahideen initially acted independently of the Bosnian military forces. But in the course of 1993, following a series of incidents and reports of "war crimes" against the Serbian and Croatian population, they were incorporated into the Bosnian army as a separate unit – the Al-Mujahid detachment – which was established especially for this purpose. Videos and photos circulated by the mujahideen themselves show that they coordinated their actions with a small number of high-ranking Bosnian commanders, who knew they were dealing with people against whom international arrest warrants had been issued in connection with terrorist activities. One of the commanders of the Al-Mujahid detachment, an Algerian named Abu Al-Ma'ali (aka 'Abd Al-Qader Mukhtari, a member of the Algerian jihad organization GIA, dubbed by the Americans "little Osama bin Laden"), stressed that he had received his orders directly from Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic and from Bosnian chief of staff General Rasim Delic (the latter was convicted of war crimes in 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison).

The ideological and political leader of the mujahideen was Sheikh Anwar Sha'ban, founder of the Islamic Culture Center in Milan, a senior member of the Egyptian Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. In 1991 he was granted political asylum in Italy, and with the outbreak of the Bosnian war he became a key player in the logistical apparatus of recruiting, financing and transporting mujahideen to Bosnia and of supplying weapons for the war. He was killed in 1995 at a Croatian checkpoint in Bosnia, along with three top commanders of the Al-Mujahid detachment.[6]

It should be mentioned that many of the volunteers that arrived in Bosnia were operating out of a sense of religious-ideological mission. They believed that the plight of the Bosnian Muslims was a result of their drifting away from their Islamic roots, and that they must therefore be brought back to the pure faith and practices of early Islam, i.e., to the Salafiyya. Though these notions were foreign to Bosnian Muslims, for the Arab Salafis they were a pivotal component of their global struggle. For them, the Bosnia crisis was another means of rallying the Muslims worldwide to awaken and join the global struggle, as happened with the earlier war in Afghanistan and the later one in Iraq.

Wahhabis In Bosnia

Since the early 1990s, Saudi Arabia funneled millions of dollars to Bosnia in order to spread Wahhabi Islam. To this end, it built mosques and madrasas, and Bosnian clerics who were trained in Saudi Arabia returned home to participate in the spread of this doctrine. The humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia also served this purpose, as did the arrival of the mujahideen in Bosnia during the war. The latter established a network of madrasas headed by Al-Mujahid ideologue Sheikh Hafez 'Imad Al-Masri. By the end of the war, more than 2,000 Bosnian Muslims had passed through these madrasas. According to Al-Masri's students, during the war he directed 19 madrasas, which grew to 25 madrasas after the war. [7]

The Wahhabis spread their teachings in other ways as well. There are many accounts of Wahhabis providing humanitarian aid to Bosnian villagers, but only to people who met their criteria. For instance, they would arrive at starving villages with trucks full of food, but give it only to residents who attended the madrasas.[8]

Despite Western demands to expel the mujahideen, many of them stayed by marrying local women, which entitled them to a permanent status in the country, and continued to spread their ideas and gather support. Nowadays, the fighters who remained in Bosnia are integrated into the local population: they hold Bosnian citizenship and speak the language, and many have taken local names and have started families. Their origins are difficult to detect, even though several books contain detailed lists of mujahideen in Bosnia. They are active in the community and the state, and have websites, newspapers, and youth organizations that spread their doctrine.

The Start Of The Radical Salafi Movement In Bosnia

The first Salafi community in Bosnia was established by Bosnian-born Jusuf Barcic in the village of Bocinje, and consisted mostly of Arabs who were former fighters in the Al-Mujahid detachment. Barcic advocated non-recognition of the state and its institutions, and accordingly refused to obey state laws, "even a red light." (Not surprisingly, he was killed in a car accident in 2007. His funeral was attended by more than 3,000 Salafis from the former Yugoslavia area, Austria and Germany). He was a religious prodigy and memorized the Koran by the age of 17. He continued his studies at the Tafsir (Koranic Commentary) Department at the Islamic University in Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia. Upon his return to Bosnia in 1999, he began preaching and gathered a large group of followers. He was arrested several times and even served eight months in prison for attacking his wife and her family. Barcic was known to the general public because of his combative personality and his aggressive efforts to take over several mosques in Sarajevo.

According to the official Bosnian religious establishment, Barcic's activity was funded by Muhamed Fadil Porca, a Bosnian cleric and head of the Vienna-based Al-Tawhid mosque, who had studied with Barcic in Saudi Arabia. He served as the representative of the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia (SHCAB), and the Saudis used him to funnel money to Bosnia in order to purchase land to establish Salafi settlements.[9]

Another source of funding for Bosnian Salafis was 'Adnan Buzar,[12] another Vienna-based official in the SHCAB. Buzar is known to the public due to the affair of the King's Mosque in Sarajevo, in which he and his followers refused to let the religious authorities replace the imam at this mosque, an associate of theirs, with a man appointed by the authorities. Barcic also maintained close ties with Palestinian businessman Ahmad Shehadeh (the brother of Salah Shehadeh, founder of Hamas' military wing), who lives in Bosnia. Shehadeh studied medicine in Belgrade in the 1980s, and during the war, he established the Bosnian office of the Saudi-based International Islamic Relief Organization.[13]

After Jusuf Barcic died, the Salafi leadership in Bosnia passed to Sheikh Nusret Imamovic.

Radical Salafis In Bosnia Today

Today, Salafi preachers in Bosnia spread their message via websites, and by delivering sermons in Salafi communities in former Yugoslav countries and throughout Europe. Their center is the village of Gornja Maoca, dominated by a group that follows the teachings of the Salafi-jihadi movement and of Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi[14] and spreads these teachings among Bosnian speakers. In effect, Gornja Maoca forms an enclave that conducts itself independently of the Bosnian state institutions and religious establishment, and where the Bosnian authorities have no jurisdiction.

Its leader is Nusret Imamovic, who was born in Bosnia in 1971, and studied religion in Sarajevo and several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia. Imamovic also fought in the Bosnian war. Until 2005, he was imam of the King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo - which was built by Saudi Arabia and is said to be the largest mosque in the Balkans - but he came to public attention in 2006 when he became the leader of Gornja Maoca community. His supporters address him as the emir of the village. Imamovic broke off all contact with the official Muslim leadership, and replaced the state curriculum used in the local school with materials more suited his religious views, based on the Jordanian school curriculum.

In February 2012 Imamovic was arrested on suspicion of involvement in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. The shooter, Mevlid Jašarevic, had stayed in Gornja Maoca before departing to Sarajevo. Imamovic was arrested along with his brother and some of his followers, but was released several days later. Over the last year, the Bosnian police has staged several large-scale raids on the village, searching for weapons.

Two other prominent preachers are Bilal Bosnic and Idriz Bilbani. Bosnic is the most popular preacher among Bosnian Salafis and is well known to the Bosnian public and diaspora due to his many videos on the video-sharing site YouTube, in which he incites against the U.S., the West, and other "infidels." He lives in Bihac and travels throughout Western Europe lecturing and establishing new mosques. Videos of dozens of lectures he delivered in Austria, Germany, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and former Yugoslav countries can be found on the internet.

Thirty-year-old Bilbani is a popular and charismatic preacher who acquired his religious education in Novi Pazar in the Sandžak region and at an Islamic university in Cairo.[15] He was a resident of Gornja Maoca, but after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo he moved to Kosovo. He currently travels throughout Europe and the former Yugoslav countries delivering sermons and lectures. Bilbani serves as the authority on Islamic jurisprudence for the Stazom Islama website, and he is signatory to all rulings on the site's question and answer section.

The Salafi Community In Gornja Maoca

The number of residents in Gornja Maoca varies and is estimated at 20 to 50 families. Bosnian Salafis from Austria, Germany, Serbia, and the Sandžak region[17] frequently stay in the village for months at a time. These guests arrive to study and receive indoctrination from Nusret Imamovic. The villagers deny entry to everyone except the "brothers" whom they know. The Salafis have recently been working to purchase lands in the area from Serbs and Croats (at prices far above market value) in order to create a continuous territory under their control in Bosnia-Sandžak-Kosovo. Their resources come mainly from Austria, courtesy of Sheikh Muhamed Porca. Many of the villagers hold Austrian citizenships, which entitle them to assistance and social services from the Austrian government. They possess weapons (ostensibly used only for hunting and self-defense) and conduct paramilitary activities.

A Bosnian newspaper recently published an article titled "Gornja Maoca – A Way Station for Wahhabis Embarking on Jihad,"[18] which describes life in the village according to an anonymous source who presented himself as a former follower of Nusret Imamovic and a former resident of Gornja Maoca. The following are details provided by the source: In recent years the village has been visited by many fighters on their way to jihad fronts in Iraq and Yemen. Imamovic makes sure to send unmarried men, since he does not want the responsibility of caring for the families if the men are killed in combat. The fighters are transported to Iraq by the preacher Bilal Bosnic (see above), whereas a man named Edis Bosnic is responsible for translating Al-Qaeda materials into Bosnian. The latter was acquainted with Samir Khan, editor of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's English-language magazine Inspire, whom he met in the U.S. Imamovic has contacts in several Western European cities. His contacts in Vienna, for example, are Adem Demirovic and his brother Ebu Tejma, and the contact in Munich is a man named Senad Avdic.[19] Some residents of Gornja Maoca engage in criminal activity like trafficking in stolen property, which they sell or give to the widows of the Arab fighters. Imamovic rules the village with an iron fist and brainwashes the residents with Al-Qaeda ideology. After the attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo in October 2011 and the subsequent arrests, Imamovic became paranoid, ceased all visible action such as weapons training, and banned the use of electronic devices. Security and secrecy are the responsibility of all residents (both children and adults), so that everyone watches everyone.

Imamovic's Online Propaganda – Religious Extremism And Support For Global Jihad

The main websites used by Imamovic to spread his teachings are "Put Vjernika" ("The Way of the Believer")[20] and "Stazom Islama" ("In the Path of Islam").[21] The websites provide a variety of religious content – articles by preachers associated with the group, videos of sermons and lectures by preachers, and videos by Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups translated into Bosnian. In addition to matters of Koran, jurisprudence, and Islamic customs, the websites also discuss issues like takfir, jihad and relations between Muslims and infidels, and answer reader questions. The websites also provide translations of articles, books, and fatwas by prominent Salafi-jihadi clerics such as Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and his disciples. In this way, Imamovic makes Salafi-jihadi ideology accessible to Bosnian speakers.

Main Points In Imamovic's Ideology

Salafis in Bosnia, and Imamovic chief among them, openly support Al-Qaeda and global jihad movements. In their sermons, they grant religious legitimacy to harming infidels and attacking the West. An example can be found in a lecture Imamovic delivered on March 7, 2011, titled "The Laws of Jihad," in which he explained that the struggle against the infidels is "an armed struggle, a struggle with guns and not pens. For in Arabic we say 'qatl,' which means 'kill,' and killing can only be done with guns."[22]

In a 2008 fatwa, Imamovic legitimized suicide bombings. A reader of "The Way of the Believer" website posted the question: "Is it a sin to wear an explosive belt and detonate it among the infidels?" Imamovic replied: "We do not see this form of combat as forbidden; however, unlike conventional weapons, it must only be used in special circumstances."[23] In the spirit of Salafi-jihadi doctrine, Imamovic takes a hard line with regards to Muslims who are not sufficiently pious by his standards. According to him, even Muslims who pray, perform the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), are charitable, etc., are targets for jihad if they neglect a single law of Islam.

Support for jihad is also expressed in ceremonies, events and folklore of Bosnian Salafis. In several online videos, the preacher Bilal Bosnic sings songs of praise for themujahideen, as well as songs beseeching them to take vengeance upon the U.S. and other Western nations. In one video Bosnic sings: "Beautiful jihad has risen over Bosnia/ Bosnians have begun saying takbir and praying.../ Let America know that I perform Da'wa/ and pray that it fall to pieces. Oh infidels! Try to touch the mujahideen one more time/ and our brothers the Taliban will immediately come/ and judge you with their sword."[24]

In another song of praise for suicide bombings, Bosnic says: "Jihad, jihad, oh Allah/ Jihad, jihad, oh Allah/ is the redemption of the Muslims. Let America and the other tyrants know/ that now all Muslims as one are the Taliban/ Hear now, all my brothers/ believers from all over the world: With explosives on our chests we will pave the paths of jihad... Themujahideen of Palestine/ give their lives for the shahada/ May they all enjoy paradise."[25]

Spreading The Concept Of Jihad On The "Way Of The Believer" Website

Jihad is a central theme on "The Way of the Believer" website, which reports from all the jihad fronts: Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Iraq, and recently from Syria as well. Almost all of the reports are based on statements by Al-Qaeda and its affiliate organizations. In addition, the website features these organizations' propaganda videos translated into Bosnian. The videos include statements by Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Anwar Al-Awlaki, the Taliban, Chechen rebels, and more. Some of the videos have been downloaded as many as 4,000 times.

The website recently featured an article marking the first anniversary of the death of bin Laden, which said: "Despite the expectations of the U.S. and Europe, Al-Qaeda has only grown stronger since the elimination of the Sheikh [bin Laden], and has seen victories in Yemen, Mali, and Somalia. Its influence has also increased in Libya, Algeria, Syria, and Egypt. For us, Osama is the greatest warrior who ever rose against the Crusaders and the Zionists... The fact that the Americans managed to kill Sheikh Osama is no shame, for heroes die on the battlefield. The day of every man's death is preordained. Can the Americans, with all their media, their military, and their intelligence apparatuses, kill the cause for which the Sheikh lived and was murdered? Absolutely not! Sheikh Osama did not establish an organization that would die when he did and disappear along with him!

"America will long for the days when Osama was alive. After his murder, jihad against the Western enemy and its puppets will only increase and become more humiliating for all the infidels. Let the Americans know that the flame of jihad will burn brighter than it did during the days of Sheikh bin Laden!...

"Time will prove that the murder of bin Laden is a boomerang that will come back to bite the killers. [By perpetrating] this murder, America sparked a desire in the heart of Muslims and non-Muslims alike to take an interest in the Sheikh's life and ideas. Contrary to the expectations of many in the West, it actually strengthened Al-Qaeda."[27] The article is accompanied by a series of links to speeches by bin Laden, in which he addresses the citizens of Europe and the U.S.[28]

Attack On The U.S. Embassy In Sarajevo – Leads Point To Imamovic

On April 23, 2012, a Bosnian court indicted Mevlid Jašarevic and two others, all three of them residents of Gornja Maoca, on charges of establishing a terrorist organization and undermining national security by carrying out a shooting attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo in October 2011. The indictment stated that the attack had been planned in Gornja Maoca, and that the Gornja Maoca group had tried to cover up the trail by hiding the weapons and the DVD featuring a statement by Jašarevic, in which he declared his intention to perpetrate the attack. His stated reasons were the U.S. activity in Afghanistan, NATO presence in Bosnia, and the Zionist occupation of Palestine.

Jašarevic is a Serbian-born Muslim from the Sandžak region, which has a Muslim majority. He lived in Austria and was arrested there for criminal activity. Recently he had been living in Gornja Maoca and in the town of Novi Pazar in the Sandžak region. This town has a large Salafi group which follows Nusret Imamovic. The center of their activity is the Furqan mosque, whose Imam is a cleric named Abu Safia.

In a sermon uploaded to the internet on November 4, 2011 – days after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo – Abu Safia expressed some reservations about the attack, but said it was far less grave than the crimes of the Americans themselves. He said: "The biggest tyrant of our time, the false god [of our time] is America. Many of our [Muslim] people flock to make sacrifices to it, and the country we live in wants to sacrifice us to it. They grovel and worship these accursed [Americans], the greatest thieves to ever live on earth. Nothing is sacred in the eyes [of the country we live in], and it is willing to sacrifice its own people just to grow closer to the tyrant, the greatest false god of this world, [the U.S.]. What Mevlid [Jašarevic] did cannot be compared to the ways in which America spreads its Demon-cracy. It does so by bloodshed! I pray that Allah will help themujahideen in their path, humiliate polytheism and the polytheists, and shock the infidels!"[29]

Rejecting Democracy And The Modern State, Distancing Themselves From The Infidels

In the spirit of Salafi-jihadi ideology, Bosnian Salafis reject the modern state and democracy, and stress the importance of distancing themselves from the infidels. They devote a significant portion of their articles and sermons to condemning democratic principles, and refer to the state and its institutions as "taghout" – a term meaning tyranny and unbelief.

In one of his sermons, titled "The Laws of Jihad,"[31] Imamovic states that it is a Muslim's duty to carry weapons, kill the infidels, and eradicate "unbelief", namely the modern state and its laws. He stresses that a Muslim must not live near non-Muslims and must distance himself from them. The sermon focuses on the verse: "And fight them until there is no fitna and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah [Koran 8:39]." Imamovic endorses the interpretation according to which fitna here means "unbelief." This verse is one of the cornerstones of Salafi-jihadi theology, and is used by them to justify all-out war against secular rulers and those whom they consider enemies of Islam.

Following are excerpts from the sermon:

"The laws of jihad were written to suppress shirk [polytheism]. [The Koran says] 'Fight them until there is no fitna.' What does fitna mean here? It means shirk. Until none are worshipped but Allah. That is the purpose of jihad. It is not enough for a person to say 'There is not God but Allah'... He must cease worshipping unbelief and [embrace] tawhid[monotheism]. For the sake of the sentence 'There is no God but Allah'... Swords have been drawn, the hijra [Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Medina, and subsequently, any Muslim emigration in order to preserve the faith] was performed, and jihad was invented. This sentence separates good from evil. It distinguishes the ways of tawhid from those of unbelief. It tells us that our ways [and the ways of the infidels] are not the same. [Speaking] the shahada is the key to paradise.

"Not only the shahada [is the key to paradise], but also hijra – leaving the homes and the environment that you share with the infidels. In the absence of a personal example and during the long ages in which Muslims lived among the infidels, they lost their way. Today it is unpopular to speak of hijra, so no one does. And when someone speaks of hijra, he is immediately labeled a cultist, an extremist who invents new rules for Islam. As though our calendar did not begin with [Muhammad's] hijra. So we see that any other situation [i.e. living among infidels] is unnatural. Without hijra we cannot perform jihad.

"In today's atmosphere, all those preachers who believe they are on a comfortable path, who do not know the purpose of their preaching, and who blur the truth are leading the people down a false path. [They do so] because what matters [to them] is that their bank accounts remain full. It you begin speaking the true language of shari'a and using words like shirk, kufr [unbelief], munafiq [hypocrite], hijra and jihad, their hair immediately stands on end... because [they are afraid] the money won't come...

"A Muslim who lives in a polytheist environment and does not leave it, but rather continues to live with [the polytheists] is an infidel, even if he prays and goes to the mosque. He can fulfill his duty only by publicly telling [the polytheists] that they are infidels. This is not easy today, because the more forceful our preaching, the stronger the resistance from the infidels and the polytheists. We must understand where this is going. Allah will put us to the test. How far will this test go, and how long will it last? Until we understand who [the true] mujahideen are. You must prepare yourselves for that day. We know many will leave this path and turn their backs on us. [But] do not worry, for we are starting a new chapter, a chapter of struggle, because it is written that swords will not cease descending on the infidels. When will they cease? When they abandon shirk and turn to tawhid. And since shirk and tawhid cannot coexist, jihad will not cease so long as there is shirk and unbelief... So long as there is even a small amount of shirk, the struggle must continue, because all religion [must be] Allah's, not just part of it. As long as religion is not Allah's, jihad must continue – and not by preaching, but by killing. 'Kill them,' it says. Kill them!

"The minute we apply these laws to our reality, all becomes clear; we understand who does what, and what we must do. All those people who make laws and force us to follow them, those who have entered into the parliaments of the infidels and legalize homosexuality and music lessons in schools – what about them? We must fight them! They permit what Allah has forbidden! According to the ijma'a [a consensus of clerics] we must carry out jihad against them! [Speaking] the shahada and all those laws they follow will not protect them! Those who fraternize with the polytheists, those who condemn the men of tawhid – nothing will protect them from jihad."

The Influence Of Bosnian-Salafi Clerics Outside Of Bosnia

As mentioned, the center of Bosnian Salafi preacher activity is in Bosnia itself and in the former Yugoslav countries. However, they wield influence in the Bosnian diaspora throughout Western Europe. A review of videos featuring Bilal Bosnic and Idriz Bilbani shows that they have lectured in Sweden, Holland, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and other countries.

Another indication is the ties they maintain with French jihadis. These ties became apparent when members of the jihadi message board Ansar Al-Haqq asked Idriz Bilbani to approve the content of an anti-democracy flyer they were circulating ahead of the French elections as part of a campaign titled "Everyone against Demon-cracy." The flyer, titled "The Truth about Democracy," called on French Muslims to boycott the elections, on the grounds that participating in them was an act of unbelief. The flyer expresses a clear Salafi-jihadi ideology, and notes that its content is approved by Sheikh Abu Osama Bilbani – the nickname of Idriz Bilbani.[32]

Takfiri Bosnian Group: Relations With Infidels Must Be Based On Hatred

An even more radical group of Muslims from former Yugoslav countries, called Kelimetul Haqq, is based in Vienna. Its head is Nedžad Balkan, aka Ebu Muhammad, who is the imam of the Al-Sahaba mosque in Vienna. Formerly an associate of Vienna-based Bosnian cleric Muhamed Porca (who funded Barcic's activity), he took up his position at the Al-Sahaba mosque after quarreling with Porca and his friends. He is also at odds with Imamovic's movement, which he considers insufficiently devout.

In the early 1990s, he studied at the Islamic University in Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia, but was disappointed by Saudi Arabia's policy and returned to Vienna. He developed extreme views, similar to those of Al-Takfir Wal-Hijra[33] – so extreme that no Muslim regime or movement could meet his ideological standards. Balkan does not only reject the Bosnian administration, but also the act of living in Bosnia, since, according to his world view, a Muslim must not live in a country that purports to be Muslim yet does not enact the laws of Islam in their entirety.

Balkan operates several websites through which he spreads his ideology. The websites are concerned mainly with identifying unbelief in the main streams of Islam and with the ways to deal with it, but are also concerned with the evil ways of the West. In July 2011, he posted on one of his websites his book titled "The Unbelief of the UN and Its Member States," in which he denounces the UN and its founding principles, as a means to prove that Muslim countries that accept its authority have betrayed Islam. The book states: "One of the biggest [acts of] unbelief in our day is sanctioning membership in the UN, which is the 'mother' of modern unbelief, democracy, secularism, and atheism. The permission to be a member of this accursed organization has created a situation where its critics are portrayed as strange and isolated [people]."[35] The book levels harsh criticism at the Saudi authorities, and portrays the U.S. and Europe, which it says steer global politics, as "infidel" countries. The author calls on Muslims to oppose their agenda, because relations between Muslims and infidels must be based "on hatred, hostility and war – for the blood and property of the infidel are forfeit!"[36]

Serbian Sources: Toulouse Shooter Spent Time In Jihadi Training Camp In Bosnia

According to sources in Serbia and Republika Srpska, Toulouse shooter Muhammad Merah spend time at a jihadi training camp in Bosnia some two weeks before starting his series of attacks. The camp is run by the Poziv U Raj ("Call to Paradise") organization. This is the Bosnian branch of a German organization by the same name (Einlaudung zum Paradies), headed by the radical preacher Pierre Vogel, whose activity was banned in Bavaria due to its missionary nature. [37]


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