As far as Croatia is concerned, its security and intelligence system have no doubt that, with regards to the threat of possible terrorist attacks, the greatest danger is coming from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, reports Večernji List on June 16, 2017.
Croatia has a land border stretching more than one thousand kilometers with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to secure it, it is clear that the primary objective is to protect the internal stability of the neighbouring country. For Croatian security-intelligence services, the problem is that the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can easily be crossed at many points.
Although there are hundreds of people from the Western Balkans who fought or are still fighting on the battlefronts in Syria and Iraq, it is expected that only a small number of them will ever return to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia. The reason is that their predecessors, after legislative changes in their home countries were passed, ended up in prison after their return, since taking part in the fighting has now become a criminal offense.
Those who did not go to the battlefields in Syria and Iraq could represent a greater danger since they got radicalised in some of the extremist and isolated Wahhabi communities in Bosnia.
In the meantime, Croatia has been actively involved in the comprehensive exchange of information with its intelligence partners. In the report for 2016, the Security Intelligence Agency mentioned for the first time that it was a member of the Counter Terrorist Group (CTG), which consists of the intelligence services of EU member states, and EEA members Norway and Switzerland. The SOA is also actively cooperating with the relevant NATO and EU bodies and has significantly increased the number of documents which it sends to EU intelligence agencies.
Terrorism is one of the main points of interest for the SOA. In last year’s report, the SOA noted that there were several dozens of supporters of a radical interpretation of Islam in Croatia, most of which were not advocates of terrorist methods of operation. However, it was reported that around 300 jihadists had returned to within close proximity of the Republic of Croatia.
Radicalisation in Croatia has not taken on the same scale of proportion seen in several other European countries. The reason for this, among other things, is likely due to the very good reputation, position and integration of the Islamic Community in Croatian society, something that has been the norm for a great many years owing to friendly ties with Bosnia, a nation with a large Muslim population. Although the level of the threat of radical Islamic terrorism in Republic of Croatia remains low, the general terror level has increased for Europe as a whole, as well as for Croatia.