Bilal Bosnic
Bilal Bosnic in his pro-Isis speech in northern Bosnia

The leader of the Salafi movement in Bosnia Herzegovina, one of the largest Islamist communities in the country, has called on young Muslims to join the ranks of Isis (known as the Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria.

Bilal Bosnic was filmed in the area of Cazinska Krajina in northwestern Bosnia preaching beneath an Isis black flag that "the truth and the Islamic State survive despite so many attacks of those who are confused and those who fight against the truth". He then urged fellow Muslims to join the jihadists fighting to establish a caliphate between Syria and Iraq.

But when interviewed by the Avaz news site, the cleric retracted his comments, claiming that journalists misinterpreted his words.

Hundreds of Muslims from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia are reported to have gone to pursue jihad in Syria and Iraq.

At the end of July, a leading Albanian jihadist fighting in Syria posted photos of himself on social media in which he beheads a young man who he claims was a spy. A recent IS video showed a Kosovo jihadist along with other Balkans fighters destroying their passports after vowing to extend the caliphate to Rome and Spain.

Salafism was imported in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War with Saudi financing. A fringe and marginalised movement, it is nonetheless very vocal and organised, with websites, Facebook pages and public gatherings.

Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) have become increasingly frustrated in the country for economic, social and political reasons. Radical Islamists have exploited the frustration among the youths to foster the appeal of Sharia law.

The other leader of Bosnia's Wahhabi community, Nusret Imamovic, was reported as saying to a crowd of 500 people in Tuzla earlier this week: "Unlike secularism and democracy, we say there is only one truth - law of Allah and Shari'a," according to Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe. He was joined by Bosnic who criticised democracy with harsh words.

Many Bosniak fighters reportedly joined the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra front in Syria in the struggle against Assad. In June, Bosnia passed a law to ban their citizens fighting in foreign wars. Joining jihad now constitutes criminal offence in the country with 10 years in jail, and Kosovo is reported to planning to implement the same.

According to some estimates, about 50 young men travelled to Syria from Bosnia and 32 have already come back.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) called Islamism and nationalism in Bosnia "a dangerous tango", although Wahhabist movements in the country are still "small and fragmented".