After a three-hour session of the Croatian parliament’s Home Affairs and National Security Committee, which discussed and adopted security services’ reports for 2018, Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) head Daniel Markić told reporters that he believed that he would clarify, together with the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s security-intelligence agency OSA, accusations that Croatian agents had recruited and armed radical Islamists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Markić resolutely dismissed the accusations by Bosnia and Herzegovina Security Minister Dragan Mektić that SOA had recruited members of the Salafi movement to plant weapons in Muslim places of worship so that they could be discovered by police following tip-offs as evidence of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović’s earlier claims about thousands of radical Islamists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“It is interesting, even shocking what is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina…. So far, we have cooperated in the fight against terrorism with OSA, and SOA has only one interlocutor in Bosnia and Herzegovina – OSA… I hope we will clarify the matter,” Markić told reporters.
He dismissed accusations that Croatian services had recruited and armed radical Islamists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “That definitely did not happen and I dismiss the accusations. SOA has naturally talked with those people and will continue to talk with them for the sake of our own and our neighbours’ security, and the security of the EU and NATO,” he said.
“We pointed to a person that was suspicious and said what that person was doing. We talked with H.C., we know who it is, and we informed the partner agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina about it.
“We received a clear answer from OSA but I leave it to them to comment,” he said, declining to reveal OSA’s answer and noting that he was willing to declassify SOA’s findings if necessary.
He also dismissed accusations that SOA had sought cooperation from a number of persons in Croatia, threatening to deport them to Bosnia and Herzegovina if they refused.
Markić said that he would not meet with Mektić, who is in Zagreb for medical treatment. “We do not cooperate with Mr Mektić, he does not seem to have control over the intelligence community in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said, adding that he was worried by the return of people who had fought on ISIL’s side to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SOA estimates that around 1,000 Bosnia and Herzegovina nationals have fought on the side of ISIL. “Maybe 35% of them have returned, 30% have possibly been killed but we will check everything with our partners,” said Markić.
Speaking of a recent terror attack on New Zealand, Markić said that there was no need to fear far-right radicalism in Croatia. “I don’t believe that scene is active here,” he said.
Regarding information that the killer from New Zealand had stayed in Croatia, Markić said that Croatian services cooperated with New Zealand’s services and were exchanging information. “We do not, however, have any information that could indicate that he was involved in any negative activities in Croatia or that he had contacts that could have indicated what he would do,” said Markić.