Mevlid Jasarevic was indicted by the US on charges of attempted murder and other violations connected with his alleged attack on the embassy in Sarajevo.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 26/04/12
Security forces guard suspect Mevlid Jasarevic after he was wounded by a police sniper outside the US Embassy in Sarajevo on October 28th 2011. [Reuters]
Three people face 20 years in prison for a terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Sarajevo last year, but experts agree that more needs to be done to elminate terrorism from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Mevlid Jasarevic, 23, of Serbia is one of three people charged on Monday (April 23rd) for the attack on October 28th 2011. Prosecutors say Jasarevic fired an automatic rifle at the building for more than an hour, striking it more than 100 times before he was wounded by a sniper and arrested. A police officer was injured in the attack, but there were no fatalities.
Boris Grubjesic, spokesman for the BiH prosecutor's office, told SETimes that the three suspects are members of a terrorist group that was organised in the framework of the Wahhabi community in village of Gornja Maoca.
"There will be over 100 [pieces of] evidence presented, and prosecutors will seek the maximum penalty. For this offence, the BiH's law provides a prison sentence of 20 years," Grubjesic said.
Authorities have long connected the Wahabbi movement to the attack. The day after the shootings, Serbia police arrested 15 Wahabbis in Sandzak, Serbia, confiscating telephones, computers and laptops as they investigated the embassy shooting.
Jasarevic was also indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in the US on charges of attempted murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting.
Dusanka Majkic, president of parliament’s Committee for Defence and Security of BiH, said that the prosecution has partially solved this case, but much must be done to eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism.
"Police and secret service agencies in BiH have been tasked to provide all operational data related to this and previous terrorist attacks. Parliament will analyse all the documents, and in May will adopt conclusions that will clearly define a strategy on how we can continue to fight against terrorism," Majkic told SETimes.
Dzevad Galijasevic, director of the Southeast Europe Expert Team for the Fight Against Terrorism and Organised Crime, a regional NGO, said that while this undoubtedly was a classic terrorist attack, the people who ordered it remain unknown.
"The investigation should focus on those who ordered this crime and those who financed it. If they only punish Jasarevic, it will achieve nothing because he just an executor. In BiH, there is a strong network of Wahhabi movement and it is certainly associated with this attack," Galijasevic told SETimes.
"I think the prosecution should not insist on the punishment of 20 years because Jasarevic injured only two policemen. [Norwegian] Anders Brejvik killed 77 people and will receive the same punishment. A little bit unrealistic, don't you think?" Galijasevic said.
This is the third terrorist attack that has occurred in BiH in the last four years. The first was in September 2008 when Suvad Djidic and Amir Ibrahimi detonated a bomb in a shopping centre in the municipality of Vitez, killing one policeman and injuring six people. Djidic was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2011.
The second attack occurred in Bugojno, when the police station was firebombed. Two policemen were killed and six seriously injured. Police arrested six people and the trial is still ongoing.
Irena Femic, a student of Law Faculty in Banja Luka, thinks that the government act decisively and prevent such attacks from recurring.
"I hope this event will affect the BiH politicians to forget the daily political differences and unite in the fight against terrorism. All in BiH need to live without fear, no matter what nationality they are. I think this is a real opportunity to show unity and determination," Femic told SETimes.