SARAJEVO – Bosnian fighters returning from Syria and Iraq are forming regional militant networks that pose a direct threat to security in the Balkans and beyond, a study warned on Thursday.
The returnees have formed links extending to Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo, said the non-profit Sarajevo-based Atlantic Initiative, and may be radicalizing youngsters on the margins of society. “Once a destination country for foreign fighters in the 1990s, Bosnia is now the country of origin for volunteers in other people’s wars,”
said Vlado Azinovic, a co-author of the report. Drawing on both intelligence sources and open documents like court records, it said a total of 192 Bosnian adults and 25 children, aged 5 months to 17 years, had travelled to the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq from spring 2012 to the end of 2014. Of these, 156, mostly men, had gone there to fight, making Bosnians one of the larger contingents of foreign jihadists from Europe. More than a third of the 156 had previous criminal records, and their ages ranged from 18 to 74.