: Telegraph: Muslim radicals in mountain villages spark fears in Bosnia

17:15 May. 2, 2016

Telegraph: Muslim radicals in mountain villages spark fears in Bosnia

Wearing a gas mask, a Palestinian youth carries an Islamic Jihad flag during clashes over Israel's separation fence on June 13, 2004 (Getty Images)

Bosnian special forces raided the village of Gornja Maoca after photos emerged of some of its houses displaying the black flag of jihad

The imam in the Bosnian mountain village spoke in flawless American English. Any suggestion that his area was an extremist stronghold was false, insisted Edis Bosnic.

"We are enemies of the state only because we are calling people away from vice, drugs and alcohol and urging them to come back to decent values," he said.

The ultra-strict approach to Islam known as Wahhabism or Salafism which Mr Bosnic practises in the village of Gornja Maoca is spreading in Bosnia – and hundreds of parents blame its followers for recruiting their sons to fight in the battlefields of the Middle East for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Read also Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40 years in jail

Some 250 Bosnians have gone to fight in Syria or Iraq since 2012 - the biggest proportion of the population of any European country except Belgium. Around 45 have been killed and around 50 have returned home.

Dragan Mektic, the Bosnian security minister, told the Telegraph there were no training camps in the country, but there is evidence that camps intended to prepare Bosnians for jihad did - or still do - exist.

Today, the authorities say there are about 3,000 Salafist fundamentalists in Bosnia, a fraction of the country's 1.6 million Muslims. But the government adds that the number of Salafists is increasing.

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