Bosnia And Kosovo High On List Of Citizens Joining Islamic State

SOURCE B92, BETA

BELGRADE – Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is “the fourth in the world” when it comes to the number of its residents who have joined Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL), Beta is quoting British media.
According to this, this year 92 citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina joined the terrorist organization, B92 reports.

“Kosovo is in fifth place with 83 fighters,” said the reports, adding that Jordan, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia were all “in front of Bosnia” on this list, while Belgium was ranked the highest among EU members.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has been marked as a country through which weapons are smuggled, Security Minister Dragan Mektic has confirmed, saying he received this information come after the attacks in Paris. Bosnia is also mentioned as a place for money laundering, although it has a law in force to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

On the other hand, regional N1 broadcaster said it learned from the country’s law enforcement agency SIPA there was no information that any members of IS were located in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The money raised in mosques in Britain and used to finance IS is laundered trough accounts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to media reports.

Kosovo: 20 Families Join The Islamic State

RTS, ZERI Jul 19, 2015

Pristina daily “Zeri” writes that about 20 families from Kosovo joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Poverty is the main reason for the defection to the Middle East, says the Pristina daily.

Photo: telegrafi.com
Photo: telegrafi.com

Three brothers from the village of Klina – Arben (38), Adnan (34) and Ekrem (29) ran to Syria earlier this year and took their wives and children, of which the oldest is 8 years old.

One of the brothers told his mother that he was “bored enough and that he has to go to fight in the name of Allah”.

Shortly after the flight to Syria, Ekrem Hasani was killed and it is still unknown what happened to his wife and children.

None of them ever worked before fleeing to Syria, said brothers’ mother to “Zeri”.

According to the daily, because of poverty, people of Kosovo are forced to join the Islamic State, which causes violent polemics in public.

Imam from Podujevo Bekim Jasari, who has been fighting against Wahhabism since the beginning and blames them for the situation in Kosovo, said that some of preachers are dealing with “brainwashing”.

Poverty, education, failure, isolation from others, says Jasari, are gaining momentum.

“These Wahhabis come from Saudi Arabia, which is anti-American. Those who were educated there, return in the same spirit,” said Jasari.

Muslim Imam criticizes religious schools, teachers, the Academy of Sciences, adding that Albanians can no longer raise their voice against this evil.

“God said that the knowledge is more valuable that worship,” concluded Jasari.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Pristina (Kosovo), Vidovdan Holiday Riots/Civil Unrest Europe

United States Department of State Pristina 6/26/2015

U.S. Embassy Pristina strongly encourages U.S. citizens in Kosovo to maintain a high level of vigilance during a heightened time of security due to crowds expected for the St. Vitus Day/Vidovdan events this weekend, as well as the potential increased threat from foreign fighters returning to Europe, and in light of terrorist attacks today in Kuwait, France, and Tunisia.

Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings and local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of situational awareness and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.

• Avoid large crowds and public gatherings. • Review the Worldwide Caution. • Please use your lights, locks, and alarms available in your residences. • Be vigilant when walking on the streets. Stay alert for traffic and for anything suspicious. • Be aware of your surroundings at cafés, restaurants, or locations where large numbers of people congregate. If something or someone looks suspicious leave the area immediately and contact the police. Take care to avoid large crowds. • Celebratory gun fire is common in Kosovo. If you hear gun fire, step inside a building or seek overhead cover. • If you plan to travel, limit whom you tell and never post your intended travel plans on social media. • If you live in Kosovo, but frequently travel in the region, please also register your trips with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or check for regional messages here before you depart. • If you become a victim of a crime or need police assistance, please call the Kosovo Police at 192.

We encourage U.S. citizens to follow local media for up to date information on demonstrations and potential disruptions of traffic. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and Page 2 of 2 exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Updated demonstration and security messages from the Embassy are available 24/7 here. We recommend U.S. citizens ensure they have at least 6-12 months validity left on their passports. Click here to make an appointment to renew your passport here.

For further information: See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Kosovo Country Specific Information. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. Contact the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo located at 30 Nazim Hikmet St. Arberia/Dragodan, 10000 , +(381) 38-5959-3000, open between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is + (381) 38-5959-3000. Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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Kosovo Rejects Special Court to Prosecute Organ Harvesting and Other Alleged War Crimes

Vice News By Arijeta Lajka June 27, 2015

Kosovo lawmakers rejected the creation of a special court that would have tried Albanian ex-guerrilla leaders for alleged crimes that were committed during the war against Serbia in 1998 and 1999.

The measure fell five votes short in Kosovo’s Parliament on Friday. The proposed EU-backed establishment would have amended the constitution and allowed a special court to review alleged crimes by Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders, including organ harvesting and other human rights violations. The West has long pressured Kosovo to address the allegations, which has heightened tensions among veterans’ organizations and opposition parties who found the proposed court disrespectful.

For years, allegations have swirled around the KLA, which is now disbanded. Human rights advocates, EU and NATO officials, and Serbia have continuously claimed that the KLA functioned like a mafia shortly after independence. In Kosovo, however, the KLA are mostly embraced as heroes for fighting against Serbia. Over the years, attempts to investigate or prosecute KLA members have drawn crowds of protestors. A crowd of about 1,000 Kosovars, mostly veterans, gathered in the capital Pristina last week to protest against the proposed war crimes court. Many of the accused KLA members have made their way up the ranks of the Kosovo government.

Related: Strange Border Kidnappings in Kosovo: Correspondent Confidential

Former prime minister and ex-KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj felt that the court would have meted out selective justice, since Belgrade has not established a similar tribunal.

“This is not happening to other republics of the former Yugoslavia. This is not happening to Serbia. This is not happening to all the others that were parties in war,” Haradinaj said, according to Balkan Insight.

Haradinaj was detained last week in Slovenia on a Serbian arrest warrant. His arrest sparked outrage, with protestors rallying outside the Slovenian embassy with signs that read “Shame on Slovenia,” and calling for a boycott of Slovenian products. Some supporters even threatened to burn “everything that is Slovenian,” according to reports

Clint Williamson, chief prosecutor of the Special Investigative Task Force (SITF), released a statement last year accusing KLA leaders of murdering a “handful” of people. The report follows the investigation of an earlier Council of Europe inquiry led by Dick Marty, a Swiss politician, in 2010. According to the investigation, senior officials led a “campaign of persecution” toward Serbs, Roma, other minority groups in Kosovo, as well as Albanians who either worked with Serbs or opposed the KLA.

“If even one person was subjected to such a horrific practice, and we believe a small number were, that is a terrible tragedy and the fact that it occurred on a limited scale does not diminish the savagery of such a crime,” Williamson said in the report. “As long as a few powerful people continue to thwart investigations into their own criminality, the people of Kosovo as a whole pay the price as this leaves a dark cloud over the country,”KLA members certainly still hold influence in Kosovo, and they have threatened witnesses in the past.

Kosovar journalist Artan Haraqija told VICE News that the atmosphere surrounding the proposed court has been “too tense.”
Related: Kosovo Leaders Have Been Accused of Killing and Harvesting Organs

“We are caught between the interest of ordinary citizens who want to move on and the interests of former KLA commanders who remain strong and very corrupt,” Haraqija told VICE News, noting that KLA commanders “will lose a lot if this court happens.”

Hashim Thaci, another former KLA commander who is currently Kosovo’s foreign minister, stressed that the court would have preserved the KLA’s legacy and strengthened Kosovo’s ties with foreign powers. “We will prove that we have nothing to hide and preserve the historical and strategic alliance with our partners the United States of America, the European Union, and NATO,” he said. “We have to establish this independent and international institution.”

Thaci, who was known as The Snake when he served in the KLA, continues to deny allegations that he was involved in corruption and killings. Serbia has threatened to arrest Thaci if he shows up in Belgrade.

The failure to establish the court is a blow to the US and Western European governments who backed the KLA during the war. In the past, the US along with the European Union have warned that if Kosovo does not establish the court, the UN Security Council and Russia, a main Serbian ally, who also does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, will become involved.

Follow Arijeta Lajka on Twitter: @arijetalajka

Report Finds Alarming Outflow Of Kosovars To Islamic State

By Joanna Paraszczuk
April 15, 2015

Ethnic Albanian Kosovar Lavdrim Muhaxheri (holding microphone) appears in an IS video calling on Albanian Muslims to join militants fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

At least 232 Kosovo citizens are fighting alongside militants in Syria and Iraq, making Kosovo rank eighth overall (and first per capita) among the 22 Western states with citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq, a new report has found.
The Kosovar Center for Security Studies (KCSS), a nonprofit think tank established in 2008 in Kosovo to research security issues, has found that, as of January 2015, there are 232 confirmed cases of Kosovo citizens fighting alongside militant groups in Syria and Iraq, including Islamic State (IS).
The first Kosovo citizen to be killed fighting alongside opposition forces in Syria was a militant named Naman Demolli from Pristina, whose death was announced in a video uploaded to YouTube in November 2012.
Demolli’s death “raised some eyebrows” in Kosovo, the report said, because it became apparent that he was not the only person from Kosovo who was fighting alongside militants in Syria.
The majority of Kosovars fighting in Syria and Iraq are thought to have joined militants there in 2013. During that year, the recruitment of Kosovars intensified as IS and other foreign fighter factions strengthened their positions in the country, the report said.
In October 2013, another Kosovar — 24-year-old ethnic Albanian Lavdrim Muhaxheri — appeared in an IS video calling on Albanian Muslims to join the militants fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Muhaxheri appears alongside other ethnic Albanians from Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania in an IS propaganda video, Clanging Of The Swords Part 4. In the footage, Muhaxheri is shown brandishing a sword and vowing to conquer both Rome and Spain. He and his fellow Albanians then burn their passports.
Muhaxheri, who hails from the town of Kacanik in Kosovo, gained even more notoriety in July 2014, when a news report published graphic photographs of him apparently cutting the head off a young man. Muhaxheri went on to explain his actions in an interview with Tirana daily Dita on August 2, 2014, saying that he had decapitated the teenager because he suspected him of being a spy and that he had done “nothing more than what members of the KLA [the Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian paramilitary organization] did during the war [in Kosovo].”

A Kurdish television station reported that Muhaxheri had been killed in August 2014, but a man claiming to be a friend of the militant denied the report on social media.
Rooted In Poverty, Corruption
Shpend Kursani, one of the authors of the report, told RFE/RL’s Balkan Service that poverty, corruption, and weak state institutions are among the reasons driving Kosovars to join IS and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.
However, the outflow of Kosovars to join IS and other extremist groups is not a phenomenon that occurred in a vacuum.
After the Kosovo War ended in 1999, religion became more popular in the country thanks to societal disorientation and weak economic and political conditions, the report says.

The KCSS accuses international and local government structures of neglecting Kosovo’s rural communities after the war, which the report says created space for “Middle Eastern charity organizations to massively penetrate these areas.”
The poor economic conditions experienced after the war have continued, the report says, and have meant that religious and political Islamic groups have gained more credibility than the government, state institutions, and the secular elite.
Kursani told RFE/RL’s Balkan Service that those in Kosovo who embrace the IS ideology are opposed to state institutions.
“They are against all the state institutions, police and army, they’re against voting, against handshaking with a police or a soldier for that matter, because in such a case, you would be immediately regarded as infidel,” Kursani said.
Despite this, those who have fought and died in Syria are treated with caution or even rejection by local people.
“For instance, when we met a brother of a person who was killed in Syria, he was very isolated, neighbors kept calling him a ‘terrorist’,” Kursani told RFE/RL.

The report recommends that efforts to deradicalize those who have embraced the IS ideology be stepped up.
As part of those efforts, the report says that secular institutions must join efforts by religious leaders to tackle radicalization.
According to the KCSS report, Kosovo has already taken a number of steps to fight radicalization. In a wave of arrests in January, the republic’s security services detained over 80 individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist groups. However, police have lacked evidence to file indictments against over 60 percent of those arrested, who have been released in house arrest or freed completely, the report said.
IS Ideology
Just as in the former Soviet Union — particularly in the Chechen Republic and Russia — the KCSS report to some degree blames what it describes as “Wahhabism” for the phenomenon of Kosovars becoming radicalized and joining foreign extremist groups like IS.
While in Russia the term “Wahhabism” is used as a derogatory term to refer not only to the radical brand of Islam practiced by Islamic militant groups such as the Caucasus Emirate but also to other Islamic activist groups, the word’s original meaning refers to an Islamic revivalist movement that emerged on the Arabian peninsula in the 18th century.
The KCSS report said that while “Wahhabi” influences were an “enabling factor” for “schisms within and between Kosovo’s Islamic community and…. the secular part of society,” the ideology that pushed Kosovars to join IS was “much more complex.”
According to the report, the ideology embraced by Islamic State is a “Takfir radical extremist ideology,” which focusses on Koranic verses dealing with “punishment” while ignoring those referring to “mercy and rewards.”
The IS ideology came to Kosovo via a “number of Skopje based imams who have visited and studied in the Middle East,” the report said.
In terms of recruiting Kosovars to fight in Syria and Iraq, Kosovar militants fighting alongside militants in the Middle East are targeting uneducated people back home, the report found.
The report says that the majority of Kosovo citizens in Syria have only completed a secondary education.
One former militant named as A.A. and who spent about a month in Syria told the KCSS that notorious militant Lavdrim Muhaxeri had asked recruiters in Kosovo, including an imam named Zekirja Qazimi, not to send educated people. Uneducated people were better able to follow orders without asking questions, Muhaxeri reportedly said.

‘EU foreign missions open to abuse, bribery, financial crime’ – Kosovo prosecutor

The EU’s biggest foreign crisis mission, expected to tackle corruption in troubled Kosovo, has itself become a target of bribe-taking allegations. Maria Bamieh, the prosecutor who shed light on the crimes within the EULEX program, is on SophieCo today, to talk about who’s to blame and why the EU still hasn’t properly investigated her revelations.
Follow @SophieCo_RT
Sophie Shevarnadze: Prosecutor, member of the EU Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo Maria Bamieh. Welcome to the show, it’s great to have you with us. Now, you accused top officials who were part of the EULEX mission in Kosovo of corruption and taking bribes. Did you confront them right away?

Maria Bamieh: No, I didn’t. I confronted one of them in 2012 as I was reporting the evidence that I’ve found to the Head of Justice. Myself and my direct manager, line manager both went to see him as a result of the interceptions that I came by innocently, and one of the perpetrators was in his room and I was made to confront her directly. The main perpetrator, Judge Florit (former chairman of EULEX’ Assembly of Judges – RT), I didn’t confront directly. I thought EULEX were investigating the matter, but I subsequently found out they weren’t, but recently on KTV in Kosovo I confronted the other perpetrator directly.

SS: But you voiced your corruption concerns back in 2012. Why is it only getting attention now?

MB: It’s only getting attention now because following my report of corruption I suffered victimisation by one of the persons involved who continued to be my second line manager. Then it came to the point where I was being interviewed for my own position and she was sitting on the panel. And with the greatest of respect, if she was innocent she would have hated me, and if she was guilty she would have hated me. So she shouldn’t have been on the panel at all. I objected, and then there was a second selection exercise where two of senior colleagues who worked closely to her were on the panel. Now, on this panel some of the candidates apart from myself were very strong candidates with tons of prosecution experience, but then they just selected a few friends which they had gone on holidays with, which they had gone to visit the Pope with, just a week before my interview. And I was not selected. There were some hard-hitting American DAs who had applied – they were not selected, it was only the friends. I accepted that, I was ready to go, and then they came and frog-marched me out of the building as if I were a criminal, with two security staff, and said that I committed an act of gross misconduct. I hadn’t done anything. Then I discovered they were alleging that I leaked documents to a newspaper, which I had never done: the journalist has confirmed to everybody that I just never was his source. Furthermore, in EULEX documents are being leaked on a daily basis that had nothing to do with me. So there’s obviously someone within EULEX who’s leaking information, but they just jumped to a conclusion that it was me, without a shred of evidence. Kosovo is a small place and everybody talks, everybody would have thought that I’ve done something terribly wrong, and the only way I could explain my position was by going public about what had happened within EULEX. It was not done out of revenge, it was not done out of maliciousness, it was done to protect my own reputation.

SS: But back then, when you actually said that there was something wrong, did you know why the case wasn’t moving along, or did you perhaps not realize?

MB: Well, no, I didn’t know that the case was not moving along. I drafted my indictment in that case in the firm belief that there was an internal investigation going on. My first line manager believed that they were investigating. It was only till some time later that I realized nothing had been done about the first case. And then, when I discovered the bribes that the family were claiming that bribes had been paid to this judge, my officers went to see head of mission, and initially he refused to investigate. Then my two police officers, one from America, one from Belgium, told them in no uncertain terms that it would look bad for EULEX if they did not investigate, so in 2013 they opened preliminary investigation into the judge, half-heartedly, because then the judge was under investigation by a task force. But the line managers invited him in for a quiet chat – I don’t know why they needed to speak to him while they were investigating him, the investigated should’ve only been spoken to by the investigating officers – and then when I looked on the act in the Kosovo programme, he quite clearly had been given confidential investigation documents. I could not believe that they had passed this information to him.

SS: Tell me something – were highly placed EU officials covering the case? How far up did that go?

MB: I think this scandal goes all the way to the Civilian Commander’s Office. Because there is no way…

SS: Hm. And what’s in it for them?

MB: Oh no, I don’t say that the Civilian Commander was corrupt. The hiding of the complaint and the failure to deal with it goes up to the Civilian Commander’s Office. In relation to the officials, I believe that there was a scam that just didn’t involve my two cases, but involved a number of cases under investigation whereby they were just milking suspects and defendants for money for manipulating the judicial process.

SS: But why didn’t you take your concerns to Brussels straight away, or at least now, instead of going to the press?

MB: Because they wouldn’t listen.

SS: How do you know?

MB: I wrote to the Civilian Commander, I sent e-mails to Alexis Hupen, I sent e-mails to a number of people in the Civilian Commander’s Office. I believe that they just covered this up and they did not pass it in the chain of command. Although I cannot say what they did or didn’t do, it’ll be a matter for them to answer you as to what they actually did with the information I gave them.

SS: Tell me something, have you been intimidated? Has anyone tried to intimidate you?

MB: Have I been intimidated? Of course, I have! They brought a parking investigation against me. When everyone just gets a little warning on the e-mail, “Please don’t do it again”, I went through a full-scale investigation. There is evidence of people from Brussels under the influence of alcohol overturning cars, and they didn’t investigate them. There is evidence that the mayor of Pristina wrote to EULEX about an illegally parked vehicle, which happened to belong to a very senior member of staff close to the head of mission – nothing happened. But for me, I had to have a full-scale investigation when I parked outside my house, no inconvenience to anybody – it just did not make sense. Then I was attacked constantly by the second line manager I had complained against.

SS: Do you believe there are other cases of corruption other than the bribes that you witnessed?

MB: Yes, there are. I hope that this is not widespread.

SS: Do you feel the media attention to the case will help bring about justice?

MB: Well, I certainly hope that some lessons can be learned from all of this. I don’t know what the terms of reference of the new EU investigator are and whether they are wide enough to cover all the issues surrounding the conduct of high EULEX officials, but that is something that I have to wait and see.

SS: EULEX was planned to stay for two years, but it’s been in Kosovo for seven years. Now, you’ve been there all the time. Is it working?

MB: I think, having EULEX in Kosovo is important. It does create stability and it is one of the mechanisms, I hope, that will help Kosovo to develop and help the various communities living and working in Kosovo. But there is another side to EULEX, which appears to me to be a bit totalitarian in a manner which I have been treated.

SS: Like you’ve said, it does seem like EULEX is behaving like it thinks it is above the law.

MB: Absolutely.

SS: And some would argue that EULEX is now part of the problem, rather than solution in Kosovo.

MB: The problem really is that they haven’t been open and transparent, and people just don’t trust them. When it comes to their own staff, they treat them appallingly. They do not recognize the rights of staff, they preach rule of law and don’t practice rule of law. And when you behave in that manner, you lose credibility with the people, because you cannot give a message that it’s OK to hide corruption, not in Kosovo, anywhere. But you cannot give a message that people who report corruption, that you can penalize them or dismiss them, or treat them appallingly, because you believe they have no legal rights. You cannot behave like that, not in this day and age, no.

SS: Moreover, Kosovo opposition politicians, they insist that corruption has only grown under EULEX. Do you feel the same?

MB: I don’t think it’s grown and I don’t think it’s diminished. There is still tons of corruption. You have to understand, in Kosovo, it’s almost endemic in the culture. In order to get a contract, you have to pay a percentage, in order to do business with THIS person, you have to pay THAT. If you want to win a tender, you get friends to intermediate, to get a percentage or to win the tender. I mean, it’s in the Kosovo health system with the drugs, it’s everywhere you look. There is corruption in every sector of life. But the ordinary people live very poor and frugal lives. And, quite honestly, the corruption in Kosovo… EULEX being there to deal with corruption in Kosovo hasn’t improved the lives of the ordinary people.

SS: From what you’re saying, it seems to me that EULEX mission is kind of useless.

MB: Well, it’s not as effective as it could be, and really is not effective as it should be.

SS: In volatile regions like Kosovo, corruption is often part of the culture, it’s part of the mentality. So can a rule of law mission change that around?

MB: I believe, a rule of law mission can change that around, but it will not be just through prosecutions and convictions, although those will be an important part, but it would be by looking at other areas, where you encourage people to come forward and report. By making sure you have proper witness protection schemes, by making sure that people who do come forward are not penalized if they happen to work in one of the government institutions, by huge media campaigns, education in the schools and in the universities to help future generations break out of that culture. It’s the whole system change…

SS: Is it happening within the EULEX mission?

MB: I don’t believe so, but you’re welcome to ask them.

SS: But since you worked with them.

MB: Well, I work in the judicial side, I’ve seen some media campaigns, but they have a central bank, they don’t have the kind of regulation, internal regulation like we do in the UK or the US, or Germany, or France. So, a lot of corruption goes behind the scenes through the banking system. And also I don’t know what programmes, if any there are, in the schools to change the mentality of accepting corruption as the price of living in Kosovo.

SS: The EU has also missions similar to the one in Kosovo, in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Palestine, number of African countries. How big is the danger of corruption in all these schemes? You know the system from inside, that’s why I’m asking.

MB: Well, I think, the EU is open to abuse, and I’ll explain to you why. And this would apply to all the missions. They are liable to have abuses in any one of these missions, because there is no oversight and there is no accountability beyond their respective Civilian Commanders.

SS: But how come, why is there no accountability? Why is there no public oversight of those?

MB: Well. That’s the way the EU planned these missions, that’s the way they did the structure. It’s never made sense to me, that anyone can hide information. Say, a colleague of mine wrote to the Member State Committee, the permanent social committee at the EEAS, their demission came and took his letter, said: “No, no, no, internal matter, not for you to deal with, leave it with me, I’ll sort it out.” So, whilst the Member States agree the direction of the mission and the various missions carry out the direction the Member States want, the Member States do not get to hear of the day-to-day matters that occur in the various missions, and therefore matters can hidden from them and from the Parliament. There is no independent oversight that maybe could report directly to the Parliament or directly to the head of the EAS, the External Action Service. Even the ombudsman, the EU ombudsman has difficulties finding anyone to accept responsibility when issues arise. The External Action Service says ‘no assets to Council’, the Council says ‘no assets to External Action Service’, nobody provides documents to enable the ombudsman to do his job. Even basic data protection – I asked for documents they had that contain my name, which I’m entitled to by law. They didn’t respond, I’m going to have to go court to have these documents, but that’s the kind of thing that’s lacking within the structure.

SS: But also, all the money that’s being spent on these missions, I know Kosovo mission is about one billion dollars. Is it worth it, does anyone even know where it all goes? I mean, as a taxpayer are you willing to fund this?

MB: Personally, I do believe there is considerable wastage within this mission. For example, these downsizing exercises that they’ve had – they had one two years ago, they had another one this time. Everybody spends the first month sitting on interviews for their own jobs. Then they spend the next three months being on panels for interviews for other people’s job. Why that could not be done as a paper exercise based on performance, I do not know. Another example. We had a case of medics, which involved organ trafficking – very important case. I do not detract from that, but the prosecutor went to Israel so many times, to America a number of times, to Turkey, globe-trotting in order to make this case succeed. This case ended up with a conviction of a six month sentence. That is all. So value for money, the amount of they went in the case, compared to the sentence that was achieved, whereas other people within the unit, for example, myself, I’ve never taken a duty trip to gather evidence. Yeah, I’ve got sentences of 25 years, 15 years, 5 years, without having to waste money on travelling round the world to get evidence. And they should be in audit of how we investigate our cases or whether the resources are properly applied to the cases. There is just two examples of it, you sit with me for another hour – go through many more, where there is wastage within the EU.

SS: Maria Bamieh, thank you for this interview, we were talking about EU mission scandal in Kosovo. Thanks a lot for this interesting insight. That’s it for this edition of SophieCo, we’ll see you next time.