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Monday, March 19, 2007


Belgrade, 19 March (AKI) - Serbian police continued on Monday to comb the mountainous terrain of the southern Sandzak region, after they said Saturday they had uncovered a Wahabi Muslim terrorist training camp near the town of Novi Pazar. Police said they arrested four people training at the camp but one managed to escape. A cache of weapons, ammunition and plastic explosive with detonators was discovered by police in a nearby mountain cave.

"The action that began three days ago is continuing today," said Serbian police minister Dragan Jocic. "We are continuing to comb the terrain and search for other members of the group," he said, adding that the state organs were "determined to prevent any form of violence and terrorism."

The fundamentalist Wahhabi movement which preaches a "pure Islam" originated in Saudi Arabia in early 18th century and preaches religious intolerance towards other religious groups, including moderate Muslims.

The police said that up to 30 Wahabis had been gathering and undergoing training in the camp at Ninaja Mountain.

The Wahabi movement first emerged in the Balkans during the 1992-1995 civil war in Bosnia, when thousands of mujahadeen fighters from Islamic countries came to fight on the side of local Muslims. Many have remained in the country since the war, and according to foreign intelligence sources have been indoctrinating local youths and even operating terrorist training camps.

Several clashes have been reported lately in Bosnia and in Sandzak between Wahabis and moderate Muslims and three people were wounded in a shootout in Novi Pazar last November.

Terrorism expert Darko Trifunovic, a professor at Belgrade university's security faculty blamed the Wahabi upsurge on the overly tolerant stance towards them by Bosnian Muslim political, military and religious leaders. "Today we are paying the price for this, but there is no doubt that the main victims of the divisions in the Muslim community will be Muslims themselves," he said.

Trifunovic said the Wahabis were covertly financed by Saudi "humanitarian organisations" and were training their members for suicide attacks against selective targets in Europe. Like Bosnia and Serbia’s breakaway Muslim majority Kosovo province, Sandzak - whose population is 50 percent Muslim - has provided fertile ground for Wahabi extremism, Trifunovic told Serbian media.
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