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News 18 Oct 17

Security Minister Warns of Jihadists Returning to Bosnia

Following a meeting with Interpol’s Secretary General Jurgen Stock, Bosnian Security Minister said that the defeat of Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria will pose a challenge to the country’s security.

Filip Rudic BIRN Belgrade
Syrian Democratic Forces celebrate ISIS defeat in Raqqa. Photo: Beta

Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic also warned that a number of former IS fighters will return to Bosnia, and announced tighter cooperation with Interpol on the issue.

"On that matter we will be receiving certain analysis and data from Interpol," Mektic said at the press conference with the Secretary General of Interpol, Jurgen Stock, in Sarajevo on Wednesday.

Stock said his visit to Bosnia “comes in a changed international context marked by new and evolving security concerns that call upon us all to strengthen our collaboration and to better share our relevant police information”.

"Because of terror threats and attacks around the world, law enforcement outfits should use the existing networks of police agencies," Stock said on his visit to Bosnia, according to the Serbian national broadcaster, RTS.

Stock commended the police in Bosnia for its role in joint operations, especially in breaking up the illegal weapons trade.

According to intelligence agencies, about 200 extremists from Bosnia have travelled to Syria and Iraq since 2012, where they fought with jihadist groups, including the Islamic State and al-Nusra, which is linked to Al-Qaeda.

At least 30 were reportedly killed in clashes and more than 50 of them have returned to Bosnia.

The number of Bosnian citizens wanted by Interpol on terrorism-related charges has risen to 13 this June, but analysts are divided about whether the country itself is in danger of attacks.

Bosnia-based experts have challenged claims that Bosnia is more vulnerable to Islamist penetration than other European countries, noting that the authorities have taken effective action against such threats.

NOTE: This article has been amended on October 19 to properly attribute a statement that the defeat of Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria will pose a challenge to the country’s security to Dragan Mektic. An earlier version of this article stated that the comments had been made by Jurgen Stock, as reported across regional media outlets.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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