Serbia: Wahabi terror suspect displays religious fervour in court

Belgrade, 16 Jan. (AKI) – The trial of 15 members of radical Islamist Wahabi movement saw a rare display of religious fervour in a Belgrade court on Wednesday.

One of the accused, Fuad Hodzic, before entering a plea on charges of terrorism and illegal arms possession asked the court to bow and say a prayer before refuting charges against him. He said the indictment was a charade.

The group members are alleged to have operated a terrorist training camp in the Ninaja mountain in southwest Sandzak region and have been charged with planning terrorist attacks on the American embassy in Belgrade, a theatre and a hotel in Serbian capital.

They are also alleged to have planned an attack on a police station in Novi Pazar, Sandzak's commercial and administrative centre.

According to the indictment, they also planned the murder of Sandzak mufti Muarem Zukorlic whom they accused of betraying Islam and of being an American spy.

“We were planning no terrorist attacks, nor the murder of the mufti Muamer Zukorlic,” Hodzic told the court.

“I swear to Allah, there are boys here who wouldn’t even know how to return home from here, let alone finding the American embassy,” he said.

He said the group moved to the mountain hideout because Zukorlic banned them from Novi Pazar mosque. He said Zukorlic was a “Jewish and American spy” who was hiding behind Islam.

 According to the indictment, Hodzic told the police who arrested him in March last year: “You are my enemy and I don’t recognise this state and law, but only Allah the supreme.

"For you, I’m Bin Laden, your deadly enemy,” he told police. “I’m Allah’s slave, and you are the slave to money and your job.”

Hodzic said a policeman insulted him and asked what his wife was doing while he was hiding in the woods.

“I shivered and told him: ‘I’m Bin Laden and you are a rabbit, so don’t pretend to be a lion,” Hodzic said.

During the raid on the Ninaja camp, police claimed to have discovered a cache of weapons, explosives, ammunition and food supplies, but the defendants said the weapons were to defend themselves if attacked by Zukorlic’s followers.

Hodzic said the mufti was acting on orders from the American embassy in Belgrade. “But Allah will give him what’s good for him, the mufti will break his neck,” Hodzic told the court.

The Wahabi movement is relatively new in the Balkans and has a small following.

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

Many mujahadeen remained in Bosnia after the war and were reportedly indoctrinating local youths and even operating training camps.

Sandzak is a region bordering Bosnia, with a sizable Muslim population. Local religious leaders have complained they were terrorised by Wahabis who accused them of having betrayed Islam.

Wahabism is a conservative 18th century reform movement of Sunni Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, after whom it is named. Wahabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.



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