Salafist preachers from the Balkans were invited to events in Belgium on several occasions this year. Among them two people who are suspected of links with terrorism in their own countries. One of the preachers reportedly also recruits for Jihad in Iraq and Syria. The organization that invited them, is a Belgian group of islamic Romani — gypsies, as most people call them.
On June 22, an islamic seminary with foreign guest speakers was held in the Belgian town of Heusden-Zolder. Two of those guests came from the Balkans: the Bosnian Bilal Bosnic and the ethnic Albanian from Macedonia Bekir Halimi — as the Belgian anti-jihadi group ‘Vlaams Comité voor Ex-moslims’ signalled to the daily newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’.
Halimi runs a charity — Bamiresija — which raised serious suspicions in 2008, as it appeared to get large sums of money from the Kuwaiti ‘Revival Islamic Heritage Society’, blacklisted by the United Nations because of their close ties to terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. And according to US intelligence services, Halimi already launched some appeals to attack Jewish synagogues.
Bosnic — seen on the event in Heusden-Zolder here — is known as secondant of Nusret Imamovic, the most notorious of all salafists in Bosnia. They operate from the village of Gornja Maoca, where only radical muslims are allowed to enter. In February of last year, police raided the village and arrested Imamovic and Bosnic on suspicion of complicity in the October 2011 terrorist attack against the US embassy in Sarajevo.
That attack was carried out by a resident of Gornja Maoca. But lack of proof about their role made that Imamovic and Bosnic soon were free again. Though it is sure that Bosnic already explicitly has called for terrorist attacks. “With explosives on our chests we pave the way to paradise”, he sings in a video that circulates on the net.
Reportedly, the village of Gornja Maoca also is serving many years already as a transit point for foreign fighters on their way to Jihad in countries such as Yemen and Iraq. Bosnic is named as the main responsible for their transport and recent reports point to the village as a transit point for Syria too.
The group that invited Bosnic and Halimi to Belgium — and did it at least two times in 2013 with the latter — is the ‘Islamsko Romani Dawetsko Organizacija’ of ‘IR-DO’ — translated as the organization for preaching of islamic Romani. ‘IR-DO’ has branches in the whole of Western Europe and in Belgium it is active for example in the towns of Sint-Niklaas and Tienen. It’s focussed on Romani people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo.
In the course of time, Romani people usually adhered to the religion of the country in which they settled, meaning that a lot of them are christians. But in Balkan countries, there are also many muslims amongst them. It isn’t clear whether the visits of Bosnic and Halimi already resulted in Belgian Romani joining the Jihad in Syria. Certain though is that their communities do raise money for ‘Helfen in Not’, a rather suspicious German organization.
‘Helfen in Not’ poses as a humanitarian organization that brings relief to Syria. But German security services explicitly warned last September that it’s mainly a salafist propaganda tool. In Germany, it is even suspected of compliticy in the abduction of three genuine aid workers in Syria in May 2013. The victims — two of which were relased in July and the third in September — were building a clinic in the northern Syrian town of Haram. Apparently, ‘Helfen in Not’ was a building a coranic school in the same town and a member of the organization was seen there in a military uniform.