Weapons exported from Bosnia and Serbia in 2005 and 2006 may have ended up in Isis’s hands, according to a new report.
Assault weapons and small arms sent from Bosnia and Serbia to Britain may have ended up in the hands of the militant Islamic group, research carried out by human rights organisation Amnesty International says.
“Between March 2005 and December 2006, a variety of small arms and light weapons were exported from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to the UK, and then re-exported to Iraq,” the report said.
The report, titled “Taking Stock: The Arming of Islamic State,” released by the human rights organisation on Monday, was based on the expert analysis of thousands of images of the extremist group, which has proclaimed a caliphate in the conflict-ridden region.
The report blames poor regulations over arms trading in the region as the key cause of Western weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists.
Most of the weapons in ISIS’s arsenal were from the armouries of the Iraqi army, which the militants obtained by force. Almost all of those arms were supplied by various Western nations when they were engaged in a war between 2003 and 2007.
It also concluded that ISIS/ISIL fighters have access to a “substantial arsenal” of arms and ammunition designed or manufactured in more than 25 countries. Their weapons include US military issue M16 rifles, Austrian and Russian sniper rifles and Chinese and Belgian machine guns, it says.
ISIS fighters are currently using ammunition manufactured in a 21 countries, including Serbia. Reffering to the types of small arms in ISIS’s arsenal, the report said they also use Iraqi-manufactured “Tabuk” M70s, based on the Serbian Zastava M70 series.
“In early 2008 the Iraqi government signed a contract for the supply of a range of weapons and military equipment worth US $236 million from Serbia, which included assault rifles, M-21 and older M-70 models,” such as sub-machine guns, pistols, anti-tank rockets, mortar shells, ammunition and explosives, the report said.
Meetnig in Sarajevo 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.
Reuters news agency on Monday reported that some of the assault rifles used by the perpetrators of the November 13 attacks in Paris, claimed by Islamic State and in which 130 people died, were traced to the former Yugoslavia.
Bosnia’s Security Minister, Dragan Mektic, said France had proposed that the states of the Western Balkans and Albania join forces to curb the trade.
“These weapons have been increasingly used in terrorist attacks, and our colleagues from France have proposed that an expert network be formed in the Western Balkans to crack down on smugglers,” Mektic said after a conference of security officials from the region.
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Serbia had been cooperating with France in investigating the origin of the weapons used in the Paris attacks.
Three officials and two gun experts with information on the earlier attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in January confirmed to TIME magazine on Monday that the weapons used in the attacks came from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
Some were deactivated weapons from Slovakia, converted to be live-firing. Other arms are believed to have come from Croatia and Serbia, while some ammunition has been traced to Republika Srpska, the Serbian-dominated entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Source: Balkan Insight