Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Serbia: Four radical Muslims jailed for terror plot

Serbia: Four radical Muslims jailed for terror plot

Belgrade, 8 Sept. (AKI) - A special Serbian court has sentenced four radical Muslims from a the volatile Sandzak region of the country to up to eight years in prison each for planning terrorist attacks on targets in the Balkans. The four men were sentenced on charges of terrorism, illegal possession of weapons and alleged links with unidentified foreign terrorist groups, following an eight-month trial.

Adis Muric and Bajram Aslani were sentenced to eight years each, Nedzad Bulic to seven and Enes Mujanovic was given a four year jail term. Bulic and Aslani's sentenced were delivered in absentia as they earlier escaped from police and are on the run.

The four men were arrested in police raids in 2007 in the Sandzak region, which borders Kosovo. They are from predominantly Muslim town of Novi Pazar and adhere to the fundamentalist Wahabi interpretation of Islam followed by Osama bin Laden and many Al-Qaida members.

The group formed a cell in 2007 that planned to carry out terrorist acts in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, judge Milan Ranic stated, explaining the court's verdict. The group's objective was to spread fear among citizens and to gain religious power.

The prosecution claimed the group planned to plant explosives at Novi Pazar football stadium and to kill policemen deployed there.

The group was in close contact with other Wahabis from Bosnia, Albania and Syria and had in their posession a large quantity of terrorism prosyletising materials, according to the court indictment .

The group was based in Novi Pazar and in Kosovska Mitrovica, where weapons and explosives were found.

Twelve Wahabis were sentenced in July to a total 60 years in jail for terrorism, conspiracy and planning terrorist attacks in Serbia, including a plot to assassinate local mufti Muamer Zukorlic, who the group considered to be an American spy and betrayer of Islam.

Most of those convicted were arrested in 2007 during a raid at a Wahabi training camp on Ninaj mountain in Sandzak, where police found a large weapons cache in a cave.

The group's leader Ismail Prentic was killed as security forces tried to arrest him in Donja Trnava village a month later.

The radical Islamist movement was brought to the Balkans by fighters from Muslim countries during the 1990s Bosnian war. Many have remained and are believed to operate camps and recruit young people in a bid to gain influence in Serbia, Bosnia and elsewhere in the region.

Wahabis preaches religious intolerance towards other religious groups, including moderate Muslims. Although still a small group, Wahabis are increasingly seen by officials and observers as a growing threat in the Balkan

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