AP NEWS

Bosnia: Citizens who fought for IS in Syria can return

November 11, 2019 GMT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnia on Monday said it will take back the country’s citizens who have been captured while fighting for the Islamic State group and who will face legal proceedings upon return to the Balkan country.

About 260 Bosnian citizens remain in the camps in Syria, including approximately 100 men and 160 women and children, said Security Minister Dragan Mektic.

Mektic insisted that only confirmed Bosnian citizens will be taken in. He said DNA tests will be used as part of the procedure.

“We will accept only those for which we can undoubtedly confirm that they are citizens of Bosnia Hercegovina,” he said. “We are obliged to do that by international conventions.”

Bosnia has introduced prison terms of up to 10 years for its citizens who fight in conflict abroad or recruit others. Mektic said women who cooked or cleaned for the Islamic State would be treated as “active members” just like the men who took part in the fighting.

Nine former fighters and a 3-year-old child whose entire family was killed were due back in Bosnia last month, but their return was delayed by the renewed fighting in Syria, Mektic said.

Turkey on Monday deported a Danish and U.S. citizen and announced plans to expel numerous other foreign nationals as the government began a new push to send back captured foreign fighters to their home countries.

Officials in Bosnia last week expressed outrage after French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview described the country as a “ticking time bomb” because of “returning jihadists.”

In 2014, Bosnia became the first country in Europe to introduce prison terms for its citizens who fought abroad. Fighters who have since returned to the country were tried and, in most cases, sentenced to prison.