'Bosnia tells Iranian spies to leave to no avail'

US counter-terrorism expert says Bosnian gov't has not implemented expulsion of two Iranian diplomats labeled persona non grata.

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May 9, 2013 04:10
2 minute read.
Fahrudin Radoncic minister of security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Fahrudin Radoncic minister of security of Bosnia 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic)

 
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The government of Bosnia- Herzegovina declined to deport two alleged Iranian spies working as diplomats from its territory, after last month ordering the eviction of the two men.

News organizations in Bosnia reported in April that Fahrudin Radoncic, minister of security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, declared the Iranians persona non grata because their conduct violated diplomatic rules.

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“Bosnia tells Iranian spies to leave to no avail,” John Schindler, a US counter-terrorism expert, wrote in his blog on Tuesday.

In his blog (The XX committee), Schindler wrote that the Glas Srpske daily, based in the city of Banja Lukam reported on Friday that the two Iranians – Hamzeh Dolab Ahmad and Jadidi Sohrab – were still in Bosnia.

In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Schindler said Iran’s network was established in Bosnia more than 20 years ago. “It is deep in the institutions” and the minister of security did “the right thing but is being stymied by the establishment,” he said.

“Given the worrying extent of Iranian subversion and espionage in Bosnia, including direct links to terrorism – ... Sarajevo had done nothing of substance to diminish Iranian espionage and support for terrorism in Bosnia since the mid- 1990s, and even that consisted of half-measures,” Schindler wrote.

Asked why the alleged spies were allowed to stay in Bosnia beyond the end of April deadline set by the security minister, Jasmin Gagula, a spokeswoman for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Foreign Ministry, wrote the Post on Wednesday, “This case is in the procedure. Because of the sensitivity and diplomatic nature of the case we can not give you more information.”



Schindler, a top expert on Iranian activities in the Balkans, wrote that “Bosnia’s security minister Fahrudin Radoncic is the first person in that job to take Iran’s misdeeds seriously. He seems to have been pushed to action by revelations that Iranian ‘diplomats’ in Sarajevo were making regular trips to known mujahidin camps in the country, bringing cash and best wishes.”

Israeli intelligence officials apparently warned Bosnian officials about an “unnamed Iranian diplomat” who was present in Thailand, Georgia and India, where Israelis faced terrorist attacks in 2011. It is unclear if one of the two diplomats believed to be spying in Bosnia is the unnamed envoy of concern to Israeli intelligence because of links to terrorist operations.

Schindler wrote that “the Ministry of Security’s order, conveyed to Tehran through Foreign Ministry channels, stated that Hamzeh Dolab Ahmad and Jadidi Sohrab, the second and the third secretaries in the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sarajevo, were to leave Bosnia by 30 April. Ahmad and Sohrab had been identified as Iranian intelligence officers by Bosnian security officials beyond any reasonable doubt, with connections to known extremists in Bosnia.”

Glas Srpske’s investigation reported that Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina’s joint presidency, intervened to advance the interests of the Iranians.

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