Bosnain U.S. embassy
The U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Image: brian395/Flickr/CC BY

A man, suspected to be a radical Islam terrorist, opened fire Friday on the U.S. embassy in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The attack lasted about half an hour until the man was wounded and taken into custody.

Believed to be conservative Muslim sect

The bearded man wore the high-water pants common to followers of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi branch of Islam. According to Alija Behmen, the mayor of Sarajevo, the gunman “got off a tram with a Kalashnikov (automatic rifle) and started shooting at the American Embassy.” Behmen also said the gunman waved pedestrians away, making it clear that his only target was the embassy.

Gunman surrounded and wounded

The standoff lasted about 30 minutes. One officer was severely wounded before the gunman was finally surrounded. Witnesses say a single shot was heard and then the gunman fell. Nobody was hurt in the embassy.

The shooter was arrested and taken away in an ambulance with a minor gun wound to his leg. A hospital spokesperson said he would be kept overnight before being handed over to police. Two hand grenades were also found on the man, according to prosecutor Dubravko Campara.

The gunman was later identified as 23-year-old Mevludin Jasarevic, a Serbian follower of Wahhabi. He is known to police, having been deported to Serbia following a 2005 robbery in Austria. Bosnian officials remain unsure if he was acting alone or if he is part of a bigger plot.

“Whatever it was, it is not just an attack on the U.S. Embassy or the U.S., it is also an attack on Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Zeljko Komsic, chairman of Bosnia’s presidency.

‘White al Qaeda’

Serbia and certain sections of Bosnia have large Muslim populations. Islamic extremists joined in the Bosnia’s revolution and so were largely tolerated by U.S. for their opposition to Serbian despot Slobodan Milosevic. Now, however, the regions are suspected to be a recruiting-ground forĀ  terrorists with Western features to create a so-called “white al Qaeda.” With their lighter skin, they are better able to blend into Western cites and carry out attacks.

Many feel that Muslim extremists resent the strong ties Bosnia has with the U.S.

“The United States is a proven friend of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” said Bakir Izetbegovic, one of Bosnia’s three presidents. “Its government and its people supported us in the most difficult moments in our history and nobody has the right to jeopardize our relations.”


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