Hundreds of Bosnian police have arrested seven members of the Wahhabi branch of Islam in a raid on a rural Muslim village in the country’s north.
The operation on Gornja Maoca on Tuesday targeted people connected to those accused of threatening the country’s stability, authorities said.
Police also seized a large cache of weapons, ammunition, CDs and DVDs during the raid, said Boris Grubesic, a state prosecution spokesman.
“The goal of this operation … is to identify people accused of endangering the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Hercegovia, threatening the constitutional order and promoting national, racial and religious hatred,” he said.
Grubesic added that those arrested included Nusret Imamovic, a local community leader, and one foreign national.
Around 600 security forces and intelligence agents were involved in the raid, the largest of its kind since the country’s 1992-5 war.
A foreign diplomat in Bosnia said the raid was a follow-up to a Bosnian court indictment in December of a group of Muslims on charges of “terrorism” and arms trafficking.
Prosecutors said that a group had bought and possessed weapons and explosives and had video recordings of people being trained in the use of arms and combat activities to carry out an attack.
“The primary concern was the connection to these alleged terrorists who were arrested a couple of months ago,” the diplomat told the Reuters news agency.
About 20 families of the remote mountainous village live in accordance with sharia law and their children attend an Arabic-language school which operates outside the official education system.
The village is home to followers of the Wahhabi branch of Islam, which insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran.
During the 1992-95 war, which pitted Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Serbs and Croats, large numbers of foreign Islamists flocked to the country to take up arms.
Most have since left the Balkan country, but many young Bosnian Muslims have in recent years adhered to the Sunni Wahhabi branch under the influence of foreign Muslims.
spotted by RS