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Bosnian US embassy attacker gets 15-year jail term

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

In a retrial a Bosnian court on Wednesday sentenced a Muslim to 15 years in prison for an "act of terrorism" after firing dozens of shots at the US embassy in Sarajevo in October 2011.

Jasarevic, his head bowed as he listened to the verdict being read out, had sprayed the embassy with a total of 105 bullets using an automatic weapon for almost an hour before he was shot by the police.

One police officer was injured in the attack.

In December 2012, Jasarevic had been sentenced to 18 years in prison but the verdict was annulled after his legal rights were found to have been infringed. The retrial opened in September.

"The court has decided that Mevlid Jasarevic committed an act of terrorism... thus committing a criminal act of terrorism," judge Hilmo Vucinic said Wednesday.

"This court [now] sentences him to 15 years in prison."

The judge said the court "took into consideration his remorse" as Jasarevic claimed he was a "victim of those who were telling me it was necessary to fight for Islam, to lead jihad".

"The court however wanted to show the international community that Bosnia is determined in its fight against terrorism and protection of its citizens," he said.

Jasarevic, "as a member of the Wahhabi movement and aiming to express his dissatisfaction with the position of Muslims in the world, demanded a withdrawal of NATO, the US and Germany from Afghanistan" in a video message recorded before the act, he added.

The video message contained "direct threats to the governments of the United States and Germany because of the commitment of both countries in Afghanistan", Vucinic said.

Jasarevic aimed "to intimidate the local population and exert pressure on the governments of other countries", he said.

He cannot appeal the verdict but his lawyer Senad Dupovac has said that he will take the case to the country's constitutional court, as his client's "defence was not fully taken into a consideration".

The verdict is "too harsh", Dupovac said.

Under Bosnian law "acts of terrorism" carry prison sentences of between five and 20 years.

Jasarevic, originally from Serbia, told the court how he had adopted a radical interpretation of Islam while he was in an Austrian prison, after taking part in a Vienna bank robbery in 2005.

After being released from prison, Jasarevic joined a group of Islamists in Gornja Maoca, a hamlet in northeastern Bosnia considered the headquarters of the Bosnian Wahhabi movement, the ultra-conservative branch of Islam that dominates in Saudi Arabia.

In Gornja Maoca, "they told me about the suffering of Muslims throughout the world", Jasarevic said at the retrial.

"I was told I should do something that the whole world will talk about," he said.

During the first trial, shaggy-looking Jasarevic had been dressed in ankle-long trousers speaking very little.

But during the retrial, he was freshly shaven, wearing jeans and a white shirt, and openly talking about his experiences.

The Bosnian Wahhabi movement has been targeted in several police operations in the last few years.

During Bosnia's 1992-1995 ethnic war between Croats, Muslims and Serbs, a large number of volunteers from Muslim nations took up arms in the Balkans country.

Many of them stayed on after the war and obtained Bosnian citizenship.

Bosnia's Muslims, who make up 40 percent of the country's 3.8 million inhabitants, mostly practise a moderate form of the religion.

According to security estimates, the Wahhabi movement counts 3,000 members.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131120/bosnian-us-embassy-attacker-gets-15-year-jail-term-0