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Bosnian court jails 'Islamic State' recruiter

A Bosnian preacher practicing Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi interpretation of Islam has been sentenced to seven years in prison. The court said he recruited several Bosnians to fight for the "Islamic State" militant group.

A Bosnian court on Thursday sentenced Muslim preacher Husein Bosnic to seven years in prison for inciting terrorism and recruiting fighters for the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.

"Defendant Husein Bosnic is guilty of…consciously, during 2013-14, from the position of religious authority, publicly inciting and recruiting people and organizing a terrorist group," announced Judge Amela Huskic.

Bosnic was arrested last year after preaching in several towns in Bosnia Herzegovina's northwest region, urging Bosnians to join IS in Syria.

"After his public sermons, a large number of Bosnian citizens who are members of the Salafist community left Bosnia and joined terrorist groups such as the 'Islamic State' group and committed terrorist acts," prosecutors said, according to AFP news agency.

'Politically motivated'?

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According to Bosnian authorities, at least 94 citizens joined militant groups in Syria. Prosecutors said that 56 of them returned to the Muslim-majority country, while 26 died fighting in Syria.

"At least six Bosnian citizens, who attended Bosnic's lectures, were killed in Syria, while others stayed there to fight, representing a threat to Bosnian security when they return," Huskic said during the sentencing, citing witness testimonies.

The 43-year-old Bosnian was known for preaching a strict interpretation of Islam, and being the unofficial leader of a group following Wahhabism, an ultraconservative strain of Islam practiced by the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia.

The preacher's defense lawyer Adil Lozo said the trial was "politically motivated," adding that he would appeal the verdict.

Bosnic maintains that the court is persecuting a certain interpretation of Islam, and has vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

ls/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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