Bosnian police arrest 16 suspected Islamic militants in targeted raids

Bosnian police have arrested 16 people suspected of recruiting, financing and fighting for Islamic State, IS, a radical militant group formerly known as ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

In a statement released by the State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA, some 200 Bosnian police officers arrested the suspects across 17 targeted locations within the country. Officials found and seized weapons, telephone cards computer equipment and other materials.

“The suspects are connected to financing, organizing and recruiting Bosnian citizens to depart for Syria and Iraq, and taking part in armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq, fighting on the side of radical terrorist groups and organizations,” SIPA spokeswoman Kristina Jozic said in a news conference on Wednesday.

This is the first police raid since the Balkan country announced a prison sentence of up to 10 years for citizens found guilty of fighting or recruiting fighters for conflicts abroad. The move was made to deter young Bosnians from traveling to Iraq or Syria and joining ISIS, the Associated Press reports.

Western countries such as the U.K., Australia and the U.S. have also witnessed a rise in the number of radicalized young European and American citizens leaving their countries to join extremist groups in the Middle East.

Last month, U.S officials discovered that 33-year-old Douglas McAuthur McCain was killed while fighting for Sunni militants in Syria. The FBI warned there were others, like McCain, fighting for terrorist groups abroad.

IS is notorious for committing gruesome acts against civilians and minority groups such as the Shiites and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. IS recently beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the terrorist group.