I came across an interesting article on MEMO concerning Kosovo (Albanian) stance towards ISIS/IDIL, since ‘Kosovo’ is as local Albanians claim ‘the youngest republic in Europe’, which unilaterally proclaimed itself to be independent of Serbia in 2008.
Today it seems that so-called Kosovo has become fertile recruiting ground for ISIS. During 2014, dozens of people were arrested for suspected terrorist activity and more than 300 (officially) left for the Middle East to join ISIS and Al-Nusra Front; more than 30 have been killed, according to government figures. The strong presence of foreign fighters from the Balkans and Kosovo was suggested when Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s speech declaring himself to be the “caliph” was translated into English, French, German, Turkish, Russian and Albanian.
The process of indoctrination and religious politicisation, as well as the recruitment of young ”Kosovars’ (i.e. Albanians) to become “soldiers of Allah”, has been observed by Kosovo’s (Albanian) and foreign intelligence agencies. One insider in Kosovar ( i.e. Albanian) intelligence said that the government has been at various stages both an actor in and spectator of the jihad recruitment process.
Late last summer, ‘Kosovar’ (i.e. Albanian) police began a massive operation against people suspected of having fought for or supported either ISIS or Al-Nusra Front. The police claimed that during a series of about 60 raids across the country they confiscated many weapons, including AK-47 rifles, various electronic equipment, ammunition and explosives.
The relatives of those arrested tell a different story. Qamil Hyseni, whose son Musli was arrested in November, described the police claims as “a total hoax” and part of a “political agenda” of the government. “The police raided my home and seized my licensed hunting rifle and chemical fertiliser used for our crops,” he revealed. “They wanted to ‘prove’ my son’s involvement in ‘terrorist’ activity.”
Genc Selimi is a young Albanian who was arrested in November 2013 on charges of being involved with ISIS. His family claim that Kosovo (Albanian) special police force beat him “brutally” during the arrest and subsequently in prison. Press photographs claiming that Selimi was with Al-Qaeda in 2004 are nonsense say his family. “He was just 10 years old at the time,” they protest, “but the media doesn’t take any notice of this.” They complain about the lack of justice for their son.
There are dozens of such people being detained by the Kosovar (i.e. Albanian) authorities, without any evidence; their families are kept in the dark and they can’t afford lawyers’ fees of around €300 a week.
All of this masks the direct involvement of the so-called Kosovo government in the enlistment of ‘Kosovar’ Albanians in ISIS. Many Albanians have travelled from Pristina and Tirana to Istanbul even though they have no visa for Turkey; they leave the country without the necessary documentation. Some ‘Kosovars’ (i.e. Albanians) fighting in Syria have no stamps in their passports. There is thus much confusion – and many questions – about the way young Albanians aged between 18 and 30 could enter and leave a NATO country and get to Syria, suggests that the government in Pristina has a very different private stance on the issue of foreign fighters.
The official policy is reflected in the wave of arrests intended to stop Islamic radicalism and terrorism. This has involved some senior religious leaders who are accused of indoctrination and inciting young people to go for jihad.
Imam Nehat Hyseni is being accused by local media of encouraging young people to join the Kosovo Albanian forces in the Middle East. “About two years ago,” he explained, “the Islamic Council of Kosovo asked us to talk about the importance of Al-Sham [Greater Syria]. I preferred not to, since we have more serious problems at home to discuss, including unemployment and the lack of a good education system.” It was his understanding that the council supported the idea of sending fighters to Syria.
At least one member of the Islamic Council has been arrested. Imam Enis Rama spent ten days in jail on charges of suspected terrorist activity by recruiting young fighters for Syria and Iraq. He insisted that the Kosovo government would have to invite its citizens to return home before passing a law criminalising those who have gone to Syria to fight against the Assad regime.
‘It is reasonably clear that it was not religious fanaticism which prompted young Kosovars to go to Syria but solidarity with the rebels fighting against the government in Damascus. In 2012, Kosovo’s (i.e. Albanian) Foreign Minister, Enver Hoxhaj, expressed his “strong support” for the Syrian rebels.’
As a part of the police crackdown, a number of Islamic NGOs thought to have “links” with terrorist groups have been closed down. Such humanitarian organisations arose during the wars in the Balkans. Now they are accused of recruiting people for terrorist activities.
Ndjeshmeria is one such NGO which has been accused of terrorist activity and closed down. According to Imam Samir Salihu, one of its founders, the government is thus guilty of leaving 300 orphan children without food. “We were the bridge for humanitarian aid for the orphans,” he pointed out, “but the day that our organisation was closed we could not do anything. We are now trying to reopen so that the children are not left without support.
Still, there are (officially) around 150 Albanians from Albania and Kosovo, who are well known among ISIS jihadists in the Balkan. According to the investigations, Genci Balla and Bujar Hysa, two people who have been self-declared as imams, have been key figures for the recruitment activity during the time spent in prison.
They had contacts with funders in Albania, Kosovo and FYROM and among them is Ebu Usejd, from Elbasan, who along with other funders from Elbasan and Tirana, have funded Balla and Hysa and facilitated their objective of sending to Syria Albanian citizens, Italian citizens and citizens of other nationalities. And even in Italy, at the moment, four bases of the jihadist network have been identified: In Milan, in Lucca, Siena and Rome. According to Italian anti-terror agents, “the main difficulty consists of the identification of the quarters where these groups operate.
”Hear what they speak, but observe what they do.’ – anyone believes in a sincere and honest anti-jihad stance of the Albanians after their authorities have been supporting jihad and terrorism in Serbian Kosovo for decades? Albania provided training camps, safe zones, arms, etc. for Al Qaeda and mujaheddin which trained KLA Islamist terrorist! Remember the same things IDIL/ISIS is doing now, Albanians were doing for years in Kosovo. Burning ancient monasteries, butchering, beheading, kidnapping, organ harvesting – all is the same.
,Kosovo’ is a state which arouses a lot of interest from the various world powers. It has a Turkish community, mainly in the city of Prizren. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited in 2013 and declared, “Turkey is Kosovo; Kosovo is Turkey.”
The US also has strategic interests in Kosovo, which is home to its largest military base in Europe. Despite its majority Muslim population, Kosovo supported the US-led military action against Iraq in 2003.
It is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with widespread corruption and 30 per cent unemployment. Almost 50 per cent of Kosovars (i.e. Albanians) , 1.8 million people, live below the poverty line.
With this sort of disastrous social situation at home, about 50 000 Kosovo Albanians tried to enter the EU illegally through Serbia and Hungary last month alone. As the young people (i.e. Albanians) of Kosovo find the doors of Europe closed to them, the doors to the Middle East appear to be wide open.”
So it’s the old story again – the West (including Gulf states and Turkey) fights terrorism verbally, condemns legal government anti-terrorism activities (Syria), meanwhile, at the same time, arms and trains them. Like in Kosovo (and Bosnia), like in the Middle East.
The Albanian governments (in Albania and in ‘Kosovo’) act the same way. As for them, I am not surprised, it’s al taqqia; but what, on Earth did happen to the West?