While driving a friend to Zagreb airport, Omer Duric from Bosnia was allegedly stopped twice by the Croatian spy agency who asked him to spy for them in one of the local masjids.
I was driving a friend to Zagreb airport when I was first stopped at the Zupanja border crossing (western Croatia) for more than an hour and then at the airport,” Omer Duric told N1’s Milica Vucetic.
Police officers at the airport asked for his ID and called him in for questioning. He said he did not remember the plain-clothed officer’s exact function, but he remembered his first name – Ivan.
“He asked why my beard was like this,” he said.
According to him, the police asked about Salafis, a Sunni Muslim branch known for their strict interpretation of Islam, in a masjid in Gracanica (northern Bosnia) which is not controlled by the Islamic Community in Bosnia, and the so-called Islamic State.
He told them he did not know anything about that. Duric did not report this questioning to the Bosnian police, but he is now ready to do so.
Asked if “Ivan” offered him anything, Duric said yes.
“He offered me money in exchange for cooperation. I was supposed to spy for them who comes and goes and what was happening in the masjid where I pray. He said Croatia was ready to pay for all my efforts, but I refused,” Duric noted. “He knew what my occupation was and he asked me how my business was doing. He knew I was into trade and he said my profits were probably slim, which is why Croatia was ready to compensate me for my cooperation.”
“I said I don’t see why they should pay me for anything and added that what I told him was true and that it’s all free. I don’t need any money, this is the truth, and there are no two ways around it.”
A month later, he claims Ivan asked him to come to Zupanja for another meeting to give him some € 700.
“I told him to come to Orasje (a northern-Bosnian town near the Croatian town of Zupanja), but he told me couldn’t come to Bosnia because he can't operate outside Croatia,” Duric noted.
Last week, investigative news outlet Zurnal from Bosnia published a story claiming alleged plot by the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) to use Bosnian citizens as spies and try to make the country look like a terrorist hub.
In their story, several Bosnian Muslims said the SOA agents approached them and asked to provide information for them.
After they refused, they were all told to leave Croatia and were banned from entering their territory for several years.
Other Bosnians who were expelled from Croatia spoke for N1 and said they were told they represent a national security risk, which is why Croatia expelled them.
Zurnal's story contained an interview with an alleged member of the Salafi movement with the initials H.C., who said he cooperated with Croatian intelligence for four months. He said they threatened to ban him from entering Croatia and even with prison time for posing a threat to Croatia’s national security.
H.C. told Zurnal he refused to continue to cooperate when he was told to transport a backpack with firearms from Doboj in Republika Srpska, Bosnia's Serb-majority semi-autonomous entity, to masjids in central Bosnia.
Bosnian Prosecution created a case on March 14, saying they “would take urgent measures to determine all the circumstances and allegations published by the media, relating to the recruitment of Salafis for the smuggling of arms into Bosnia.”