Back in the 1990s something happened in central Bosnia-Herzegovina that inspired people to this day and helps explain why that country now has more men fighting in Syria and Iraq (over 300), as a proportion of its population, than most in Europe.
The formation of a “Mujahideen Battalion” in 1992, composed mainly of Arab volunteers in central Bosnia, was a landmark. Today the dynamic of jihad has been reversed and it is Bosnians who are travelling to Arab lands.
“There is a war between the West and Islam,” says Aimen Dean, who, as a young Saudi Arabian volunteer, travelled to fight in central Bosnia in 1994. “Bosnia gave the modern jihadist movement that narrative. It is the cradle.”