Jihad “Made in Kosovo”

Deutsche Welle (Germany) Aug 24, 2014

Over the span of two days, 43 Islamic extremists were arrested in Kosovo. Dozens more are under watch, both at home and in the Middle East. As fears of terror attacks grow, Kosovo is clamping down.


The act that triggered the largest police action in Kosovo since the war in 1999 was terrible and barbaric. The Kosovar jihadist Lavdrim Muhaxeri posted before and after photos of the beheading of a 19-year-old in Syria, where the jihadist is currently fighting for the Islamic State (IS). Those images were published in nearly every Kosovo newspaper and Internet portal and sparked outrage and deep shock among Kosovars.

The president of Europe’s youngest nation, Atifete Jahjaga, immediately announced her response.
“Kosovo will be no safe haven for terrorists,” she said.

Fear of terrorist attacks

An exact count of the number of Kosovar extremists and terrorists in Syria and Iraq does not exist. The Kosovo police estimate the number could be between 100 and 200. It is only known officially that in the last few weeks at least 16 bodies from Iraq and Syria were returned to Kosovo. It is also alleged that there could be a few hundred radical extremists within Kosovo.

“Over the last few weeks, we have arrested 43 suspected extremists. We are in the middle of the investigation, but there are more arrests expected to be made in the next few days,” Kosovo police spokesperson Baki Kelani told DW.

Kosovo media report that at least 56 further suspects will be arrested shortly.

“The security situation in Kosovo is stable,” Kelani said, adding that the danger posed by terrorists can never be fully ruled out. “The police and other security structures in Kosovo are in the position to ensure order and security in the country.”

There is growing fear in Kosovo and Albania of possible attacks by radical Islamists and terrorists. According to Kosovar media, there were threats of a possible Islamist terrorist attack during the film festival “Dokufest,” which ran for ten days in late August in the city of Priyren, home to a military base for 700 German soldiers.

Uninvited “guests”

Islam has more than 500 years of history in Kosovo. More than 90 percent of the 1.8 million residents of the country are Muslim – nearly all of them Sunni. Prior to the 1999 war in Kosovo, there were 560 mosques; today there are nearly 700 Muslim houses of worship.

The Islamic community of Kosovo (Bashkesia Islame e Kosoves – BIK) is very well organized. “With full responsibility I say, ‘We have all mosques and imams under control,'” said the the chairman of BIK, Naim Trnava, in an interview with DW.

Still, he says, there are many “guests” coming in from the outside because the country’s border is very open.

“After the war, anyone could come and go as he pleased. This is the reason a part of our youth have been indoctrinated,” Trnava said.


Analyst Haki Abayi, chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation in Prishtina, believes the difficult economic situation has made youth particularly vulnerable to radical Islamic propaganda. The unemployment rate in Kosovo is estimated to be 40 percent, and many people live in poverty, without prospects of improving their situation.


Foreign influence

The unemployment situation leaves many vulnerable to Arab countries’ influence. Since the Kosovo war in 1998-9, Arab countries have established and funded many NGOs in Kosovo. According to recent media reports, the newly-estabished organizations have received more than 25 million euros ($33 million) of financial assistance from Libya, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia alone. Security agencies believe, however, that these organizations could be funding radical extremist groups.

Kosovo police arrest a man alleged to have fought for Islamists in Syria and Iraq
Moreover, in Kosovo there were, until a short while ago, four so-called houses of worship – privately-rented houses – that served as places of prayer. Islamic community chairman Trnava believes radical groups and their supporters assembled there. This is likely the reason police recently closed one of these houses in Prishtina.

That closure is part of the “uncompromising fight” the government of Kosovo has declared against all extremists.

“In Kosovo there will be no place for extremism, radicalism, and terrorism. Kosovo is a free and independent country that will, with the help of the European Union and the USA, continue to fight for good and against evil,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told DW.




The Hidden Growth of Islamic Extremism in Kosovo

New Eastern Europe Published 22 August 2014

The recent arrest of 40 alleged Islamic radicals in Kosovo together with the arrest of one of the Kosovo Imams suspected of being an inspirer of jihad in the region brought serious questions about the radicalisation of Islam and terrorism in Kosovo, in the Balkans and in Europe. Even though the issue of Kosovo Albanian volunteers or mercenaries fighting alongside the anti-Bashar forces in Syria and supporting the radical leadership of the Islamic State (earlier the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has been present in the public debate in Kosovo for at least a year, the debate itself was rather shallow and trivial.
Kosova independence Vienna 17-02-2008 b

The constant development of Islamic influences in Kosovo remained unnoticed for a long time by most observers. But it was not invisible. The ignorance perfectly represents the power of discourse and clichés in the politics in the Balkans. Kosovo has always been perceived as a secular state with a liberal Muslim majority. Kosovo Islam was meant to be moderate. Kosovo was supposed to be the example of a Muslim state in the middle of Europe that does not struggling with religious and cultural challenges. Kosovo may have problems with trafficking, organised crime and corruption; but not Islam.

Kosovo Albanian Islam is different both from the Arab Gulf Islam, the Islam of the East Bank of the Mediterranean See and Islam in the other Balkan states. It was strongly influenced by the Yugoslav ideas and values, evolved under both socialism and cosmopolitism and is deeply mixed with the Albanian culture, a culture very different from the surrounding Slavic cultures in the region. Until the 1980s, religion in Kosovo was a private thing. Under pressure from the Slobodan Miloševi? regime, it transformed into a nation-building and freedom-fighting issue.

Finally after 1999, and especially after the 2008 independence, Kosovo Albanian Islam once again became private and non-political. The evolution makes the Kosovo Islam very difficult to frame and control, the changes are happening at the kitchen tables inside homes, just as – in Jeffrey Goldfarb’s words – the dismantling of the Soviet bloc was run by “the politics of small things” initiated in discussions around kitchen tables in Warsaw, Prague and Bucharest.

The growth of importance of religion in Kosovo is happening casually en passant and on a very grassroots level; and so is the social base for recruitment of potential Islam fighters. Several years ago, the holy month of Ramadan was unnoticeable in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. Today the group of people fasting from dawn to dusk is clearly visible in the city. The usually full cafeterias and restaurants in the main boulevard, boulevard of Mother Theresa, are empty during the day, the city becomes peaceful and quite until the Iftar dinner time comes. The status of traditional Albanian national heroes like Mother Theresa or Skandenberg is now being questioned, as they were Catholics not Muslims. Unlike just a few years ago covered women and men with a beard wearing pants above his ankles is a common sight nowadays in Pristina, not to mention the conservative cities and regions such as Kaçanik or Hani i Elezit.

It’s becoming common practice to pay people in their initial phase of religiosity for regular visits to mosques, wearing a hijab or a beard. Several hundreds of euros are frequently donated to parents, or even more preferably to single mothers, for their daily expenses or education of their kids as a payoff for making the children follow the ahadith, the traditions.

As fasting and hijabs are clearly apparent, the recruitment of volunteer freedom fighters to Syria and the Islamic State remains out of sight. The recruitment and indoctrination is happening deep in the society, mostly in its lower classes and among people who are often unaware of the process they are participating in. Recent arrests show that the authorities are capable of identifying individuals who have already been actively involved in the Middle East conflicts, but they do very little in order to fight the cause of the problem. In March 2014, the Kosovo Assembly passed a draft law on the prohibition of Kosovo citizens of joining armed conflicts outside Kosovo; however the dissolution of the Parliament in May, early elections held in June and the inability of the political parties to form a new government undermine the future of the bill.

The specific number of Kosovo Albanians fighting in Iraq and Syria is unknown, the authorities claim to have information about several dozen of them, but most analysts suggest that the number definitely exceeds 100. Until now 16 of them died in combat. The ones arrested last week are accused of supporting the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front, and together with the arrests a significant number of weapons, explosives and electronic equipment have been confiscated. Even though these are men who constitute the vast majority of “freedom fighters”, women are sent from the Balkans to the Middle East in order to “fulfil their duty in Jihad Al-Nikah – thesex jihad”.

The recruitment process itself is rather flexible and also therefore difficult to track down. The crucial part of the process is the selection of potential candidates and identification of individuals vulnerable and susceptible to influence. Even though the economic situation in Kosovo is bad and the unemployment rate is almost 50 per cent of the whole population, and over 70 per cent among the youth, the economic promises seem not to be a decisive factor.

The bad economic situation should be regarded, rather, as an indirect factor which creates an advantageous environment for recruitment. The lack of opportunities, lack of occupation and simply an excess of free time are some of the reasons that push young people into the radicals’ arms. Another crucial reason – an identity crisis – is a more complex one. Kosovo Albanians, or Kosovars, experience trouble with defining who they are. They are not emotionally attached to the blue and yellow Kosovo flag, so they use the Albanian red flag with a silhouetted black double-headed eagle in the centre. They are Albanians but they feel distinguished from the Albanians in Albania. They fought for independence and sovereignty, but they feel their country is run by foreign embassies. Religion offers a clear identity and a sense of belonging.

There is still a strong belief in the Kosovo society that religion and state should be separated. When the Macedonian Albanians were protesting in July against the authorities in Skopje, the protests enjoyed strong support from the Kosovo Albanians, but faced a critique regarding the strong religious component of the protest, including the use of the green Muslim flags and organisation of the demonstrations in front of mosques. At the same time, terrorism has a long tradition in Kosovo and it is difficult to distinguish Islamic terrorism from the general phenomenon of terrorism in the country executed by paramilitary organisations or other politically driven groups.

The unexpectedness of the developments is personified by the self-declared commander of the ethnic Albanian fighters in the Islamic State, Lavdrim Muhaxheri, who used to work in Camp Bondsteel, the Kosovo base for the US Military, and later joined the American mission in Afghanistan. Today, he is fighting in the Middle East, streaming his call for jihad in Arabic on YouTube and posting photos of him cutting off a man’s head on Facebook.

So far, this is a phenomenon in the Kosovo society. The role of the new government and the international community in Pristina will be to not let it turn into a widespread societal process of religious radicalisation. “This land has been created by warriors and poets, and various gods,” sang Bajaga, a famous Yugoslav singer, back in 1993. There is a space in Kosovo for various gods, but there cannot be space for extremism.
Ida Orzechowska is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Political Science of the University of Wroclaw, Poland, obtaining a degree in political science. Her main research interests relate to international security, the Western Balkans and conflict studies.




The UAE’s shadowy dealings in Serbia

By Rori Donaghy

Friday 15 August 2014 17:00 BST



Over the past two years the UAE has invested billions of dollars in Serbia.

The Emirati leadership has agreed lucrative deals to develop the Serbian arms industry; bought a significant stake in its national airline; and handed out multibillion dollar loans to the government.

The reasons for UAE investment in Serbia are shrouded in secrecy, although Serbian sources have revealed to MEE that they go far beyond any potential financial rewards.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has been accused of acting as a proxy for the US and Israel in Eastern Europe while also attempting to exploit a loosely regulated Serbian arms market to distribute weapons across the Middle East.

Behind the huge investment lies the shadowy figure of exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan. He is said to be at the centre of a web facilitating communication between the UAE with American and Israeli intelligence figures while also aiding corrupt Emirati investments in Serbia that have lined the pockets of their political leaders.

UAE investments in Serbia

An agreement worth up to $200mn was signed between the Serbian arms company Yugoimport SDPR and the UAE’s Emirates Advanced Research and Technology Holding (EARTH) at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi last year.

A source in Serbia told MEE the investment relates to the Serbian missile system ALAS (Advanced Light Attack System), which is a “multipurpose anti-armour weapon with effective range up to 60km”. The source said the UAE is interested in these missiles because “they should be able to destroy all existing models of tanks in the world”.

The UAE is the fourth largest arms importer in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and spent over $19bn on military equipment in 2012. With a national population of fewer than one million the UAE, in terms of arms per capita, is now widely viewed as being the most heavily armed nation on the planet.

The UAE-Serbian defence relationship is becoming increasingly close, according to the Serbian source, who said “initial forms of cooperation have been established at the level of military security agencies, military police and special units, and in the fields of information and communication technologies and cyber defence”.

While the source said the UAE is primarily interested in Serbia’s burgeoning defence industry, the Emiratis have also made numerous other investments across several industries.

One of the most prominent deals has been Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways buying a 49 percent stake in Serbia’s lossmaking JAT Airways in August 2013. A new company was born out of that investment, Air Serbia, with the stated aim of creating an eastern European transportation sub-hub.

The deal, however, has been criticised as corrupt by a former economic advisor to the Serbian government.

“Etihad provided a credit note, not a direct investment, in the JAT deal that will later be converted to shares,” Dusan Pavlovic, who served as advisor to the Minister of Economy in Serbia from September 2013 to January 2014, told MEE. “The Republic of Serbia is the guarantor of this credit note and if the new company goes bust it is the Serbian people who will have to pay up the 40 million euros.”

“If this were to happen an additional two million euros would have to be paid in legal fees to a company involving people close to the Serbian prime minister,” he added.

Deals involving UAE investments in Serbia are kept secret from the public because of a condition in an agreement signed between the two governments in March 2013, according to Pavlovic.

“This agreement included provisions to overrule some domestic law in Serbia. For example, any investment that comes from the UAE is given priority over local deals,” he said.

“The agreement for UAE investments in Serbia stipulates that the details of all deals must remain secret.”

Pavlovic slammed many of the most high-profile Emirati investments and criticised the Serbian government for lying to their people.

He described a proposed multibillion dollar property investment by the Emiratis in Belgrade as “totally absurd”, saying “there simply isn’t the market for luxury apartments” in a country as poor as Serbia.

He criticised the sale of agricultural land to the UAE worth hundreds of millions of dollars as preventing local Serbians from accessing huge farming areas, condemning the government’s claim that the land was derelict as a “complete lie”.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic presents the Emirati funded ‘Belgrade on Water’ project (AFP)
Reasons behind UAE involvement in Serbia

Serbian officials have proudly proclaimed the UAE interest in Serbia as evidence of the country emerging as a key regional player.

“The UAE believes in the political stability of Serbia, in our human capital and it [the investment] is the result of friendship and understanding between [Serbian Prime Minister] Aleksandar Vucic and Sheikh Mohammed [bin Zayed the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi],” Sinisa Mali, economic advisor to the prime minister and candidate for the mayor of Belgrade, told Bloomberg in March this year.

While there is understood to be good personal relationships between Serbian and Emirati leaders, MEE’s Serbian sources have said geostrategic goals lie behind the UAE’s involvement in Serbia.

“The UAE may be using its close ties and investment strategies in Serbia to thwart its rival Turkey from establishing a firm foothold and spreading its economic and geopolitical influence in the Balkans,” the source told MEE. “The strategic positioning of the UAE against Turkish regional influence in the Balkans is probably the main underlying reasons for strategic cooperation between the UAE and Serbia.”

“This is probably done on the advice of the US and Israel.”

The source said the Serbians are naturally keen to counter any Turkish influence in the Balkans due to “fears Turkey may later use their power to recolonize Serbia”.

Analysts have said that Serbia is openly hostile to Turkey, pointing to their cancelling of a trilateral meeting with Turkey and Bosnia last year.

“One should keep in mind that orthodox Serbia was never too keen on Turkey’s renewed influence in the Balkans, unlike predominantly Muslim Bosnia,” Vladimir Pekic, a Serbian journalist and analyst, told MEE.

Pekic also suggested that the UAE may be investing in Serbia’s defence industry in order to counter Russian influence in the Balkans.

“What might be possible as well is that the UAE is finding a way of employing Serbia’s defence industry – as Serbia is a country that refuses to join NATO – in a way that is seen as favourable by the US and EU,” he said. “Serbia is constantly balancing between the EU and Russia in its foreign policy and the West may be keen to prevent Serbia from aligning itself too much with Vladimir Putin’s Russia in the defence sector.”

It isn’t just political manoeuvring in the Balkans that is driving UAE interest in Serbia, however, with investment in the Serbian defence industry a potential route to amplifying their power within the Middle East, according to senior banking figures.

“Last year in Belgrade I was told by a government official that the UAE want to source arms supplies to give to their ‘friends’ in the region,” Timothy Ash, head of emerging markets at Standard Bank, told MEE. “Serbia has a large arms industry and a lot of surplus military equipment. Obviously there is a market in the Middle East for high quality kit.”

“There is a very sophisticated arms sector in Serbia, with far more flexible arms export rules, and the UAE are taking advantage of that,” he added.

The UAE has run into trouble in the past for re-exporting arms in the Middle East. In 2012 Switzerland briefly suspended all arms export licenses to Abu Dhabi after reports emerged that Swiss-manufactured hand grenades, sold to the Emiratis, had been found in the hands of rebel groups in Syria.

The Swiss lifted the ban after UAE officials “assured…in writing that apart from the hand grenades, no other war material imported from Switzerland has been re-exported.”

Another area of controversy in the UAE arms industry has involved the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi himself. The New York Times revealed in 2011 that Sheikh Mohammed had charged Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with establishing a private mercenary army for the crown prince.

The army was established for various reasons, including “to put down internal revolts” in the UAE. Prince has recruited hundreds of Columbian mercenaries to the army, avoiding the hire of any Muslims as they “could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims”.

The opportunity to explore a new arms market that is loosely regulated is clearly a draw for the UAE, Standard Bank’s Ash explained, going on to state that while the Kosovo war had caused issues in the Serbian-Emirati relationship these problems have been resolved by politicians able to see mutual benefit in restoring positive ties.

“Former Yugoslavia has historically close ties into the Middle East so there are a lot of long-dated relationships there and [Prime Minister] Vucic has taken advantage of that,” he said. “He’s cultivated those relationships and for Abu Dhabi there is the opportunity to build some nice investment opportunities.”
Mohammed bin Zayed visits Red Star Football Club with Vucic and Dahlan (Tanjug News Agency)
Mohamed Dahlan: the UAE fixer

Aleksandar Vucic was elected as prime minister of Serbia in April this year. He was previously known for his vitriolic hatred of Muslims, in 1995 he is reported as having said that Serbia “would kill 100 Muslims for every Serb who died” during the civil war.

Vucic now enjoys what he described as a “close personal friendship” with Sheikh Mohammed of Abu Dhabi.

This friendship and subsequent heavy UAE investment in Serbia was only possible because of one man: Mohammed Dahlan.

Dahlan, the former Palestinian spy chief in Gaza, has been living in exile in the UAE since he was chased out of the West Bank in June 2011. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused him of financial embezzlement and acting as an Israeli agent involved in assassination attempts on the late Yasser Arafat.

He is now widely reported as serving as a security advisor to Sheikh Mohammed in Abu Dhabi.

Dahlan was the linchpin in improving ties between Serbia and the UAE in 2012, after relations had soured four years earlier when the Emiratis became the first Arab country to recognise Kosovo as an independent and legitimate state.

Dahlan’s mediation role hinged on his own interests in Eastern Europe, which centre on Montenegro. He was given Montenegrin citizenship in 2012, despite what Serbian analyst Pekic describes as “a very restrictive policy” that does not allow double citizenship.

Montenegrin officials have not disclosed why they gave Dahlan citizenship, but MEE’s Serbian source has suggested it could be to do with his lucrative business dealings in Montenegro, claiming “there is strong evidence Dahlan has used Montenegro to launder Palestinian money he has embezzled”.

Dahlan has numerous companies registered in Montenegro including the Levant International Incorporation, which is registered for consulting and management, and Manarah Holding, established for developing real estate projects.

There are no publicly available details about the financial dealings of these companies, although The Richest website, which calculates the wealth of public figures, has estimated Dahlan’s net worth to be in the region of $120mn.

Mohammad Rashid seems to be Dahlan’s key partner in Montenegro, appearing on the business registry of at least four of his companies. Rashid is a Kurd from Iraq who was formerly an economic advisor to Yasser Arafat.

Rashid has several companies registered in Montenegro and has received loans amounting to 13 million euros from the Djukanovic brothers, one of who, Milo, is the Montenegrin prime minister.

One of his companies, Monte Mena Investments, is also registered in Panama where his partner, according to a Serbian source, is Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris. In 2011 Sawiris obtained Montenegrin citizenship and is reported to be planning a billion euro investment in Montenegro’s Lustica peninsula.

Dahlan is said to have used his Montenegrin connections to facilitate a visit by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to the UAE last year. Serbian Prime Minister Vucic later referred to that visit as being key to improving his own previously sour relations with Montenegro when he said: “we were very pleased when Djukanovic said a few nice words about Serbia in his talks with UAE officials. He was decent enough to advise them to invest in Serbia’s defence industry.”

That advice is what led to the UAE investments in Serbia’s weapons industry in recent months.

In April 2013 the Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic – a key Vucic ally in Serbia – awarded Dahlan with the Medal of the Serbian Flag “for his contribution to peaceful cooperation and friendly relations between Serbia and the UAE”.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikoli? decorates Mohammed Dahlan (Tanjug News Agency)
Dahlan could also be called upon to give advice on the arms trade as he himself is said to have experience of covertly working within it. He is accused by the Palestinian Fatah Party of being involved in shipping Israeli made arms to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He has connections to Libya, as revealed by a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 that detailed a meeting he held in Spain with Gaddafi’s son Saif.

As well as aiding the UAE’s investments in Serbian arms, Dahlan could also be playing a key role in the alleged Emirati goal of fulfilling American and Israeli interests in Eastern Europe. A Serbian intelligence source, who asked to remain anonymous, told MEE that Dahlan has a “warm relationship” with former CIA Director George Tenet and “ties” to Amnon Shahak from the Israeli army and Yaakov Perry from Mossad.

The source said that Dahlan has connections to exposed Israeli agents in Eastern Europe too, through the Palestinian Adnan Yasin who is currently living in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Yasin is a former employee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation who was arrested in Tunisia in 1993 after French security agencies “expressed concern at his activities”.

Yasin is reported as having confessed to working for Mossad in 1991.

The UAE itself has direct dealings with Israel, according to the Intelligence Online website. A report in 2012 stated that “trade between the two countries, principally in the area of security, amounted to nearly $300mn last year [2011].”

While Israel does not have an official presence in the Gulf it recently opened a “virtual embassy” on Twitter, in order to promote “dialogue with the people of the GCC region”.

Gulf monarchs are particularly sensitive to being publicly linked with Israel. Last month Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK released a statement refuting claims his country, along with Egypt, were coordinating with Israel over a deadly assault on Gaza that has left nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead.

News of the UAE’s shadowy dealings in Serbia and the key role played by Mohammed Dahlan will do little to help the Gulf States in their struggle to keep dealings with Israel a secret.

As for the powerful Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed he has described his relationship with Serbia in ambiguous terms. He has praised the “honesty of Serbian friends” and stated: “We [the UAE] believe in Serbia, we believe in our friendship.”

Due to the secretive nature of the UAE’s bilateral agreement with Serbia it is impossible to say with certainty what the goals of this relationship are. It is clear, however, that for some analysts at least, there is far more than meets the eye when it comes to the Emiratis newfound love affair with Eastern Europe.


Kosovo: 40 Muslims arrested for waging jihad

Kosovo: 40 Muslims arrested for waging jihad in Iraq and Syria; mosques used for recruiting; explosive devices, weapons and ammunition seized





Every day it becomes terribly clear how vicious it was of President Clinton to send US troops to fight alongside Albanian Muslims and defeat the Christian Serbs in the cause of Islam.

Not only are Muslims from Kosovo going to Iraq and Syria to wage jihad. They are also waging jihad against non-Muslims in Kosovo. Their successful and continuing ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims from parts of the former Yugoslav Republic is owed largely to Bill Clinton’s war in Bosnia, sold to the clueless Clinton administration by the notorious EU dhimmis.

The Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, once a symbol of ethnic diversity, has become an entirely Muslim city.
The operation by special police forces was carried out early on Monday at some 60 locations throughout Kosovo, including make-shift mosques suspected of serving as recruiting sites.
Forty people “suspected of taking part in the war in Syria by supporting the terrorist organizations ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and (Al-Qaeda affiliate) Al-Nusra” were arrested, police said in a statement.

“Explosive devices, weapons and ammunition were seized,” it added.

Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country, although religion plays only a minor part in public life and tends to take a very moderate form.

President Atifete Jahjaga welcomed the arrests, insisting that Kosovo “will not be a haven for extremism.”

In June, three ethnic Albanians — who make up more than 90 percent of Kosovo’s 1.7 million population — were arrested on suspicion of setting up a “terrorist organization” as media alleged they were recruited by ISIS, which has since renamed itself Islamic State, while fighting in Syria.

The three were arrested upon their return to Kosovo where intelligence agents intercepted their communications and plans to carry out suicide attacks in public places.

Local media say as many as 150 Kosovans are thought to have volunteered to fight in the Syrian civil war against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Police say at least 16 have been killed in Iraq and Syria so far.

Kosovo police detain 3 terrorism suspects

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo police say they have detained three people for allegedly forming a terrorist group and recruiting followers.

In a statement Thursday police said they found military uniforms and propaganda material when they searched the suspects’ homes in southern Kosovo.

A police officer, who was speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing, said the three allegedly plotted to carry out an attack inspired by radical Islamist teachings.

Local media reported the suspects were ethnic Albanians with suspected links to radicals in Syria, where at least one of them allegedly fought alongside Sunni rebels.

Prompted by the surge of volunteers joining militants in Syria, Kosovo lawmakers recently passed legislation with prison sentences of up to 15 years for those joining armed groups abroad.


Russia Says Serbia Ready to Start South Stream Construction

Jun. 17 2014 14:03


InSerbiaNetwork / TwitterConstruction of the Serbian South Stream is due to begin in July.
BELGRADE — Russia said on Tuesday it expected Serbia to begin building its leg of the Gazprom-led South Stream gas pipeline as planned in July, saying Belgrade and Moscow were ready to move forward with the project.

Against a backdrop of conflict in Ukraine, the pipeline plan has become a focus of tension between Russia and the European Union, with Serbian neighbor Bulgaria this month suspending construction at the behest of Brussels pending a ruling on whether the project complies with EU law.

Serbia finds itself caught between its ambitions to join the EU, with which it has started accession talks, and historical ties with Russia. Gazprom’s oil arm, Gazprom Neft, owns 51 percent of Serbia’s main oil company, NIS.

Construction of the Serbian leg is due to begin in July.

“We confirmed our readiness for South Stream and the need to carry it out as it is the only realistic project for gas security in southeastern Europe,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic in Belgrade.

“All agreements remain in force and no changes have occurred,” he said. “We consider that everything will proceed as planned.”

Dacic, who heads the junior partner in Serbia’s ruling coalition, said: “All economic projects that have been started will be continued. It is in our national interest for South Stream to be built.”

South Stream is designed to pipe 63 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Russia via the Black Sea into central and southern Europe, bypassing Ukraine as Russia seeks to cement its position as Europe’s dominant gas supplier.

Moscow on Monday cut gas supplies to Ukraine in a row over prices but insisted Kiev must let Russian gas flow across the country through international pipelines to clients in the EU.