In the secluded woodlands of Bosnia, ISIS has developed a stronghold in the town of Osve, which came to light during a raid on a neighboring village by the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), Bosnia’s state police agency. It is suspected the base is being used as a training camp or possibly as a stage from which to launch terror attacks inside European countries. During the SIPA raid on the village of Gorjna Maoca, officials discovered that ISIS members have been secretly buying land in the town of Osve. The move by ISIS is logical as it is close to the Mediterranean, a travel route used by terrorists from Syria, Iraq and North Africa.
Locals regularly hear gunshots from surrounding woods, suggesting training exercises by the group. Adherents to the strict form of Islam known as Wahhabism, remained in Bosnia following the civil wars of the 1990s and many who join ISIS originate from this subset of Islam. Couple this fact with the ease of access to weapons there, as well as the remote nature of the suspected village and there is much to attract ISIS to the region.
It is known that 12 ISIS fighters have already been trained and left Osve, with five already reported dead in Syria. Known ISIS supporter Harun Mehicevic is among those who have purchased land in the village. He is joined by other ISIS members Jasin Rizvic and Osman Kekic, who are currently fighting in Syria. The report titled “The Lure of the Syrian War: The Foreign Fighters Bosnian Contingent,” states that between 2013 and 2014 there were over 200 individuals who travelled from Bosnia to Syria, including women and children. As of this January, the report also stated that around 50 individuals had returned from Syria. Sarajevo University professor Vlado Azinovic and Islamic theologian Muhamed Jusic authored the report.
Suspected individuals in Bosnia are currently under surveillance by SIPA. Fighters continue to arrive in Bosnia from Syria, and ISIS’s self-described “gateway to Europe” through Libya was announced earlier this year, with ISIS bases already established in that country. There are still many clouds on the horizon for the Mediterranean region, and Europe.