SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A Bosnian court on Thursday sent an Islamic State supporter to jail for seven years for encouraging, organizing and recruiting volunteers for extremist activities in Syria.
Pronouncing the verdict, judge Amela Huskic said that Husein Bosnic imposed himself as a religious authority and used "skillful oral manipulation" to lure believers into joining the Islamic State group. At least six of his recruits died on battlefields in Syria.
One of the witnesses told the court during the hearings that Bosnic personally selected the volunteers and issued recommendations for them that served as a guarantee they were true fighters and not spies. Some of Bosnic's speeches were posted by supporters on YouTube and used against him during the trial.
Bosnic was arrested last year along with over a dozen other suspects during a police crackdown on Islamic State supporters. He was sentenced under a new law introduced last year to prevent people from fighting foreign wars.
Most of the witnesses who testified against him were angry parents whose children went to Syria, or disappointed returnees from battlefields who came to say that nothing he was describing in his sermons was actually true on the ground.
Bosnian Muslims traditionally practice a moderate form of Islam, preached by the country's official Islamic Community but some have embraced a radical teaching under the influence of foreign fighters who came to help Muslims during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Prosecutors said during the trial that 94 Bosnians have gone to fight in Syria. Their records show that 56 of them have returned, while 26 died there.
Bosnic's lawyer, Adil Lozo, said he will appeal the verdict because he believes the trial aimed to persecute a certain interpretation of Islam and that the case will most likely end up at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.