Serbia: Trial begins for 15 Wahabi terrorism suspects

Belgrade, 14 Jan. (AKI) – Fifteen members of a radical Islamic Wahabi movement went on trial before a special court in Belgrade on Monday on charges of terrorism and illegal possession of weapons.

Serbian police raided a Wahabi training camp in Ninaja mountain in the southern Sandzak region in March last year and arrested five alleged members of the group.

The police also confiscated a large cache of weapons and explosives, medical supplies and propaganda material in the hideout.

In another raid a month later, ten members of the group were arrested and an alleged Wahabi leader Ismail Prentic was killed in an exchange of fire. A police officer was wounded in the shootout.

The Wahabi movement is relatively new in the Balkans and has a small following, but it is perceived as a serious threat.

The radical Islamist ideology was brought to the Balkans by mujahadeen fighters from Islamic countries during the 1995-1995 civil war in Bosnia and has slowly gained strength ever since.

Many mujahadeen have remained in Bosnia after the war and were reported to be indoctrinating local youths and operating training camps.

Sandzak is a region bordering Bosnia, with a substantial Muslim population and local religious leaders have complained they were terrorized by Wahabis who accused them of having betrayed Islam.

The Ninaja group has also been accused of having planned a murder of Sandzak mufti Muamer Zukorlic.

The first accused, Senad Ramovic, denied charges, saying “the indictment is based on the hate of Islam and Muslims”.

Ramovic said it looked as if US President George “Bush, or CIA agent Zukorlic wrote the indictment”. He accused Zukorlic of having “abandoned the faith”, adding the problem would be solved when Zukorlic is jailed.

Ramovic rejected the accusations that the Wahabis were seeking political power, saying they “recognize only Allah and oppose usury, prostitution, smoking and consumption of alcohol”.

Wahabism is a conservative 18th century reform movement of Sunni Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, after whom it is named.

Wahhabism formed the creed upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded and is the dominant form of Islam found in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.


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