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Bosnians deported from Croatia for 'refusing to spy on Muslims'

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Dozens of Bosnian citizens have reported that Croatia has revoked their working permits, deported them and labelled them as national security threats after they refused to work as spies and provide information on Muslims in Bosnia, reports said.

Al-Jazeera reported that Zurnal, an independent Bosnian news website wrote that Croatian intelligence officials have been trying to recruit Bosnian collaborators to plant weapons and explosives in mosques, according to documents provided by Bosnia's security agency.

In one case, it is claimed that Croatian intelligence requested a Bosnian known as HC to transfer a bag full of weapons to a mosque in central Bosnia in April 2018. Prior to that, a Croatian official had reportedly ordered him to create a fake Facebook profile praising the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), and use it to spy on Muslims in Bosnia.

Dragan Mektic, Bosnia's security minister told local media following the news that the "false flag" operation was intended to prove allegations made by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a "terrorism haven".

He said that for the past two years, Croatian agencies have tried to exhort Bosnian citizens connected with ‘Salafis’ to transport weapons to mosques in Bosnia, where they would later be "discovered".

Goran Kovacevic, professor at the University of Sarajevo's criminology and security studies faculty, said Croatia is "certainly leading a special type of warfare against Bosnia".

"We've seen this with their propaganda directed against Bosnia by way of Croatian politicians, other officials and media," Kovacevic told the source.

Damir Becirevic, a former member of the monitoring committee for Bosnia's security agency, told Al-Jazeera that the case exemplifies Croatia's years-long attempt to discredit Bosnia.

"Outside [the region], Croatia pretends to be a friend to [Bosnia]," he said. "But with concrete moves, it attempts to do everything it can to bring about Bosnia's destabilization."

Three Bosnians told sources that Croatian intelligence had summoned them for several interrogations over the past two years in an attempt to recruit them as collaborators. While the exact number of Bosnians working in Croatia is not known, 6,733 people were registered in Croatia as having only Bosnian citizenship, according to Croatia's 2011 census.

Also, according to Emir Suljagic, professor of international relations at the International University of Sarajevo and former deputy minister of defense, Croatia's goals haven't changed since the war - either formally divide Bosnia or create a proxy entity which would allow it a stake in running the country.

"[Croatia's] policies have roots in the ideology of [first Croatian President] Franjo Tudjman, himself found to be the leading member of a joint criminal enterprise [during the war in Bosnia] aimed at destroying Bosnia and Herzegovina [as ruled] by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)," Suljagic said.

"Equally important is the deep-seated belief in both political and Church corners that Bosniak-Muslims represent the Asian 'Other' - that they are successors of the Ottoman invader and as such barbaric and in need of 'emancipation'.