Croatians In Shock For Their “Scotsman” David Haines Held By Islamic State Terrorists

Screenshot from video posted online by  Jihadist extremist group Islamic State  showing US journalist Steven Sotloff (left)  who is said to have been executed in a video  uploaded September 2, 2014.  The group has threatened  to behead UK national  David Cawthorne Haines (right)  if its demands are not met.

Screenshot from video posted online by
Jihadist extremist group Islamic State
showing US journalist Steven Sotloff (left)
who is said to have been executed in a video
uploaded September 2, 2014.
The group has threatened
to behead UK national
David Cawthorne Haines (right)
if its demands are not met.

Dragana, the Croatian wife of the British (Scottish) hostage David Haines has described him as “everything to us” in her first comments since IS terrorists threatened to behead him, last Tuesday.
David Haines, father of two Croatian born children, is described by his wife as a “fantastic man and father”. To the people of Sisak (near Zagreb) where David settled with his new family and to the people of nearby Petrinja where he worked tirelessly in helping people rise from the aftermath of the brutal war, is fondly known as “the Scotsman” ever since he wore his Scottish kilt at his wedding there in 2010.
He made his home in Croatia after spending five years helping local people, including Muslim families, rebuild their homes after the 1990’s war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the town of Petrinja, where he helped put up 800 houses, are in shock over his seemingly hopeless plight.
David Haines, who was born on Humberside but raised in Scotland, has a 17-year-old daughter in Scotland by his first wife Louise and a four-year-old daughter by his second wife Dragana, who is Croatian.

Dragana and David Haines at their wedding in Croatia - 2010

Dragana and David Haines
at their wedding in
Croatia – 2010

Speaking at the family’s home in Sisak near Zagreb to British media Daily Mail and Telegraph, Friday 5 September, Dragana Haines, said: “He’s everything to us. He’s our life. He’s a fantastic man and father.
“Nobody can understand how we are feeling. My daughter keeps asking about him every day. She hasn’t seen her father for a year and a half. She has gone through so much. She sees me crying all the time”.

Sisak, Petrinja … Croatia … where David Haines earned immeasurable amounts of respect and love are in shock since Tuesday when the Islamic State (IS) terrorists published the video threatening to behead him after they had beheaded the two US citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
David Haines helped “thousands” of local people in Croatia as he led efforts to build new homes and schools for refugees returning to their shattered villages.
The whole town of Petrinja is shocked. People cannot believe it is true. We were hoping it must be someone else.
“Last night I woke up with the image of him kneeling in the desert wearing that orange suit. I can’t get that picture out of my mind,” said Nena Skoric, Haines’ former landlady where he lived while working for the German aid agency Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund.
Mrs Skoric’s house is in an area of Croatia where landmines left by Serbs still lie hidden in the soil, lethal relics of the war.
After leaving Croatia David Haines worked for aid organisations in Libya and South Sudan. He was working for a French aid agency at the Atmeh refugee camp in northern Syria when he was abducted on March 12, 2013.
If I could, I would gladly swap places with him. I am old, I have lived my life. He is young and he helped thousands of people. He didn’t deserve this,” Nena Skoric said with a heavy sigh.

During the past week the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency SOA released some of it documents that allow the public an insight into the agency’s work. SOA listed the question of “Jihadists” from the neighouring countries as one of its security challenges.

“There had been more than a hundred fighters from the neighbouring countries going to Syria, later Iraq, since 2012. Some of them are members of the most radical Islamic groups fighting in those areas,” the SOA document says. SOA further reports that till now there had been no such persons identified that come from Croatia but that Jihadists use the Croatian territory as transit areas.

Croatian TV news 3 September reported that a police operation dubbed “Damascus” in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Zenica, Kiseljak, Maglaj, Zvornik …places known as centres for radical Islamists) arrested 16 Islamists charged with inciting terrorism and the organising of volunteers to fight in Syria and Iraq. Some of them have participated in fighting in Syria on several occasions, the news report said.

Croatia needs to tighten its border controls with Bosnia and Herzegovina even more, despite the rather lukewarm risk assessment by its very own national security agency SOA. While Bosnian Jihadists have been known to use the route Sarajevo-Istanbul then to Syria/Iraq this became too obvious to the world so they started going into Croatia and then easily to the rest of the European Union from where the routes to Syria and Iraq are many and less visible. So far official statistics from Bosnia and Herzegovina say (Croatian TV news 3 September 2014) that 160 men and 20 women from Bosnian Islamic communities have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq and that some of these had actually contributed to the logistics used by the ISIS! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Further reading on David Haines story:

The Telegraph, UK

The Daily Mail, UK

The Independent, UK

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