Amid growing concern about the arms flow from the region, police in Montenegro say they have reinforced security along the border to prevent arms smuggling.
Police in Montenegro have tightened security on the border to prevent arms smuggling after a new report said that some weapons used by ISIS come from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
“The Police Administration has raised the level of its activities in coordination with other security and intelligence services to undertake concrete actions… relating to the prevention of terrorism,” police spokesperson Tamara Popovic told BIRN on Tuesday.
Research carried out by the human rights organisation Amnesty International says that assault weapons and small arms sent from Bosnia and Serbia to Britain may have ended up in the hands of the militant Islamist group.
The report released on Monday said that ISIS fighters are using ammunition manufactured in 21 countries, including Serbia.
In November, The New Yorker magazine published analysis suggesting that the preferred weapons of European terrorists, Kalashnikovs, came from Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
It said that after years of war in the Balkans, gunrunners began to transport leftover explosives and rocket-propelled grenades to Western Europe, where they could be sold at higher prices.
Police reports after the Paris terror attack on November 13, which killed 130 people, said the terrorists used a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Monday, Western Balkan officials said they are looking at creating a network of experts to help tackle the illicit trade in weapons from the region, amid
concerns after the Paris attacks that guns are falling into the hands of militant Islamists.
Popovic said that Montenegrin police already communicate with partner agencies of other countries to “exchange relevant information” on allegations relating to arms smuggling.
However, she said that arms smuggling is not one of the primary activities of Montenegrin criminals and that in the past years police had investigated only “individual cases”.
“Although Montenegro is not recognized as a problematic country in the region, we must bear in mind that the smuggling of weapons is the type of crime that normally takes place on the territory of more than one country,” she explained.
Popovic also said that last month the police in cooperation with police in several countries in the region carried out actions against illegal arms trafficking.
Referring to the Montenegrin citizen who was arrested in Bavaria in November carrying a large amount of weapons and ammunition, mostly Russian-made, Popovic said that she could not reveal details of the ongoing investigation.
The premier of the German region, Horst Seehofer, said he suspected that the Montenegrin national, known as V.V., was linked to the Islamist terrorists in Paris. The Montenegrin authorities have disputed such claims.
“Given that V.V. was arrested abroad, and that the investigation in this case is in the hands of another country, we are not able to reveal details of communication with partner agencies from other countries, as well as details of the concrete measures and actions taken by officials of the Police Administration and carried out in Montenegro,” Popovic said.
The opposition in Montenegro has demanded more detailed checks on the operations of companies with permits for arms export.
It claims that the goverment avoids releasing precise details of what is being exported, what company is doing what and where arms are produced.
What also worries the opposition is that the final destinations for most arms shipments are Vietnam, Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh and Ukraine.
During last week’s discussion of the parliamentary committee for security and defence, it was said that 37 companies were registered for arms trading in 2014 and that ten new companies gained permits this year.
Over the past few years Montenegro was often mentioned in the context of illegal arms exports to conflict-affected areas.
In 2009 and 2012, the former state-owned arms company, Montenegro Defence Industry, MDI, was accused of illegally exporting arms to Libya and Syria. The company denied the claims.
EU representatives have told Montenegro to harmonize its legislation on the arms trade to match the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Export, which defines common rules on the exports of military technology and equipment.
Source: Balkan Insight