Police Mount Operation against Probable Islamic State Supporters in Four Bulgarian Cities

Sofia, November 25 (BTA) – Police assisted by gendarmerie mounted an operation at the Roma neighbourhood of Pazardjik, as well as in Plovdiv, Smolyan and Haskovo (in the same part of the country), acting on a pre-trial proceeding instituted in connection with the dissemination of an anti-democratic ideology and propagandizing war, the prosecuting magistracy said on Tuesday.
According to unconfirmed reports, the pre-trial proceeding was launched by the Pazardjik District Prosecution Office on an alert about propagandizing idea of the Islamic State organization.
According to local media, the operation involves some 300 officers of the police, the gendarmerie, the State Agency for National Security and investigators. The prosecution service said that more than 40 homes have been searched so far as part of the operation. Local media reported that patrol cars blocked the streets and access to the neighbourhood in Pazardjik, and classes in the schools in the area were cancelled.
Several persons, including Ahmed Moussa Ahmed, were taken to the police station for questioning. According to Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Moussa and another supporter were arrested at the Abu Bekir Mosque in Pazardjik. Before being led off, Moussa spent more than three hours in the mosque together with his supporters. Witnesses say police raided the mosque after morning prayers.
The BNR specified that Moussa and an unknown number of persons
are charged under Article 407 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes
propagandizing war and inciting to war, as well as the distributing of video materials with anti-democratic ideological content.
Moussa was among the defendants in what the media dubbed a “radical Islam trial”, which ended in Pazardjik on March 19, 2014 after 18 months of court proceedings. In the case, 13 persons, including one woman, were charged with disseminating an anti-democratic ideology and participating in an unregistered branch of the Islamist organization Al-Waqf Al-Islami. The organization was active in the southern Bulgarian regions of Pazardjik, Blagoevgrad and Smolyan and preached the Salafi strain of Islam, considered to be antidemocratic.
The court imposed one enforceable prison sentence, two conditional sentences and ten administrative penalties. Moussa was given deprivation of liberty for one year and a 5,000 leva fine for participating in an unregistered organization, disseminating an anti-democratic ideology and inciting hatred on religious grounds. He was supposed to serve another three-year term as well because the offences were committed while an
earlier conditional sentence was running. However, he appealed the sentence and remained at large. LG