The village's 600 residents include 60 to 100 former mujaheddin, Islamic guerrillas from the Middle East and elsewhere who came to help Bosnia's Muslims during the 1992-95 war. Since the conflict ended, they and their families have organized a community that stands apart from the rest of Bosnia, whose Muslim majority largely follows a relaxed version of Islam. Bocinja Donja's affairs, in contrast, are governed by strict Islamic law. Women wear veils and long black robes; men have long beards. They do not smoke or drink--or speak to visitors.
Among them was Karim Said Atmani, who was identified by authorities as the document forger for a group of Algerians accused of plotting the bombings. He is a former roommate of Ahmed Ressam, the man arrested at the Canadian-U.S. border in mid-December with a carload of explosives, according to authoritative Western sources. Atmani has been a frequent visitor to Bosnia, most recently a few days after Ressam's arrest.
A third suspect, an Algerian named Abu Mali who was regarded as a community leader in Bocinja, was asked to leave the country with his family last spring after Washington accumulated evidence that he worked for what it described as a terrorist organization, U.S. and Bosnian officials say. Another former resident, Mehrez Amdouni, was arrested by Turkish police last September in Istanbul, where he arrived on a Bosnian passport, and charged with counterfeiting and possessing stolen goods.
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