Serbia arrests Islamic extremists

Police arrested three suspected Islamic extremists on Thursday in a continuing crackdown in a southern region with a sizable Muslim community.

The three men, identified as Aladin Pulic, 22, Erhan Smailovic, 32 and Husein Culjak, 29, were apprehended in the southern city of Novi Pazar, 175 kilometers (110 miles) south of Belgrade, police said. Six others were detained in the city in March, allegedly in possession illegal weapons and accused of plotting terror attacks, police said.

All are believed to be followers of the extreme Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam.

The six arrested in March used a mountain cave as a terrorist training ground, packed with plastic explosives, masks and machine guns, police said. Authorities said they believed they were planning attacks in Serbia or elsewhere, in cooperation with other Islamic terrorist groups.

A  leader of the local Wahhabis was killed in April while resisting arrest.

According to some Western intelligence reports, the southern region of Sandzak, and Muslim-dominated regions in neighboring Bosnia, could be a recruitment spot for the so-called “white al-Qaida”, Muslims with Western features who could easily blend into European or U.S. cities and execute terrorist attacks.

There have been no terrorist attacks by the alleged militants in Sandzak, authorities said, but they allegedly assaulted moderate Muslims in the area, disrupted their prayers and accused them of failing to practice “true” Islam.

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