Kosovo arrests three for terrorism, alleged connections with ISIL

30/06/2014

People from Kosovo have joined radical Islamic groups, terrorising portions of the Middle East, security analysts said.

By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 30/06/14

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Kosovo citizens are accused of being affiliated with terrorist groups in the Middle East, including ISIL. [AFP]

Police in Kosovo have arrested three people on terrorism charges amid a crackdown against home-grown extremists who are accused of joining and recruiting for terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Kosovo police told SETimes that the arrests on Thursday (June 26th) are the result of several months' investigation by the directorate against terrorism, under the supervision of the Kosovo Special Prosecutor's Office.

The suspects are accused of participation in a terrorist group, recruitment for terrorism and inciting hatred, national, racial, religious or ethnic intolerance.

Police did not release the full names of the suspects, but said two are from Kacanik and the other is from Hani I Elezit. Authorities searched their homes and seized military uniforms, electronic devices, propaganda material, passports and binoculars.

"The police units are continuing the investigation of this case [focusing] on the possibility of the inclusion of any other potential suspect involved," Kosovo police said.

Kosovo media reported that the three arrested are suspected of being related to terrorist groups in some Islamic countries. The Kosovo daily Express reported that authorities had received a list of five people to be arrested for being affiliated with the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but the group had fled the country.

According to Express, the group returned to Kosovo on Wednesday and the police made their arrests early Thursday. It was not immediately clear if the three people arrested were on the original list of suspects.

The arrests come as a video circulated in the Albanian media showing members of the Albanian Mujahideen celebrating ISIL's overtaking of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

There are hundreds of foreign fighters from southeast Europe who have travelled to fight in Syria and other Middle East countries. Often fighters are recruited in the name of religious jihad, although Muslim leaders have urged citizens to stay home and have repeatedly said that terrorism and extremism has no place in Islam. Abit Hoxha, a senior researcher of the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies, told SETimes there are confirmed links between Kosovo and foreign fighters who are recruited for ISIL, "especially after the video published on YouTube by such a group inviting fellow countrymen to join the cause that he himself is fighting for." "Kosovo is getting more and more into the line of states that are threatened by such activities mainly due to the local knowledge these people fighting for ISIL possess on Kosovo and because such people can have support of their families and relatives to come back and operate under current circumstances in Kosovo," Hoxha added. "In reality, serious threats have never been realised in Kosovo but still, it is important to recognise that such individuals and groups do have the potential, knowledge and means to make these threats come true."

Kosovo police did not give further details on the arrests as the case is being followed from the anti-terrorist unit in Pristina. Police spokesperson Baki Kelani told SETimes the investigation is searching for other people that might have been involved.

Mentor Vrajolli, a security analyst for the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies, told SETimes that radical elements have begun to spread in different parts of Kosovo.

"Different individuals from Kosovo, even openly, have joined different radical Islamic groups which are terrorising different regions in the Middle East. It is the last time to stop this trend," Vrajolli told SETimes.

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Vrajolli added that Kosovo institutions should take responsibility for the actions of Kosovo citizens.

"The latest actions of the police, if they are successful, should be treated as attempts to take the responsibilities that belong to them," he told SETimes.

Vrajolli added that it is necessary to take immediate measures not only because Kosovo citizens are being manipulated and recruited by terrorist groups, but also because these measures are important to preserve the religious tolerance in society.

How can countries in southeast Europe best urge their citizens to avoid terrorist organisations from the Middle East? Add your thoughts in the comment area below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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