A more holistic policy that examines the stagnation of EU integration efforts and addresses Kosovar identity as it relates to empathy with Syrians is necessary to approach the issue of foreign fighters in full.
Type “Syria” and “Kosovo” into an internet search engine and the results produce a predictable medley of opinion pieces comparing Western involvement in the Kosovo conflict of the late nineties to hypothetical Western involvement in the Syrian conflict of the 2010s. These articles, the bulk of which were penned in 2013, do not surprise me.
More alarming are the other headlines, appearing with increasing frequency in recent months: headlines detailing a worrisome phenomenon of men and women traveling from Kosovo to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIL.
As of January 2015, the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS) reported more than 232 instances of fighters from Kosovo joining militant organizations in Syria and Iraq. That number places the country highest amongst other countries in the Balkans region, an area that has been referred to as ISIL’s “new recruitment hotspot” by media and intelligence sources.
The statistics are troubling: 125 foreign fighters per capita for every 1 million citizens, and reports of a growing radical Islamist trend in Kosovo, particularly among the country’s youth. Kacanik, a southern town of less than 40,000 occupants, has been branded “Kosovo’s jihadist capital” and has gained notoriety as the home of ISIL leader and recruiter Lavdrim Muhaxheri, designated by the US Department of State as a terrorist after photos of a graphic beheading surfaced on social media in 2014 [underlined in bold by Vladislav B. Sotirovic].
It is difficult to reconcile these reports with the Kosovo I know from my experience in the region. Studies paint a portrait of a country shifting rapidly towards religious conservatism; I remember passionate discussions of atheism with Muslim-identifying youth. Articles focus on instances of fanaticism and fundamentalism, on burqas and beards; I remember bustling shopping malls, lively coffee shops, and robust political dialogue.
Alongside these darkly prophetic reports are accounts of the government’s efforts to halt the flow of potential fighters to ISIL. Recently, Kosovo made news with its arrest of Arben Livoreka and Nexhat Behluli on terrorism charges. Kosovo courts have ordered jail sentences for offenders conducting propaganda for ISIL through social media. Arrests were made over an alleged ISIL plot to poison Pristina’s water supply made headlines in July 2015.
But these heavy-handed reactions may prove counterproductive in the face of religious extremism, driving those most susceptible to ISIL recruitment into a defensive, threatened mindset. Reactionary law enforcement needs to be coupled with proactive societal efforts to address the root causes of the phenomenon and to transform the energy of Kosovar citizens eager for action in Syria.
Anger and poverty certainly play roles in driving extremism, and both are present in Kosovo. Frustration born from economic stagnation, high unemployment rates – particularly youth unemployment rates – and weak governmental structures are certainly present in the region. The nuances of Wahhabism and its role in radicalization may also play a part, and have been examined at length.
However, additional factors specific to Kosovo may be exacerbating this phenomenon. Identity-related narratives and anger over the prospects of EU integration need to be further examined and continuously addressed in the discussion of Kosovo’s fighters in Syria.
I first visited Kosovo in 2012, more than a decade after the establishment of the UN Mission there, and memories surrounding the 1999 conflict were still integral to the identities of those around me. Stories of small-town heroism in the face of ethno-religious oppression were something to be celebrated as a community, and local fighters something to be continuously honored. Stretching back beyond the 1990s, generations of struggle in the Balkans pre-date the conflicts of WWI; residents of Pristina stress the importance of the 14th century Battle of Kosovo to their present day identity.
In the land of blood and honey, the idea of shedding blood for a noble cause remains attached to the historic identity of many citizens: particularly to their youth, who have yet to fight in such a conflict. For this reason, participation in the Syrian conflict may appeal to certain individuals as an expression of this identity. Though cases vary, for some fighters, participation in the Syrian conflict is viewed as an honorable means of defending the Syrian people. This stems from the desire to help a civilian population that many in the Balkans view as victims, reminiscent of the victimhood that they have experienced historically.
Understanding and addressing the relationship between Kosovars’ historic identities and their parallels to civilians in Syria could be an important step in exploring alternatives such as greater participation in Syrian aid programs and refugee initiatives in Kosovo.
A second factor unique to the country is frustration with the prospects of EU integration. International travel for Kosovars is difficult, and I remember the palpable sense of entrapment experienced by Kosovars eager to leave their country, whether for travel or for job opportunities abroad, yet unable. Delays in visa liberalization and setbacks within the EU integration process have left a sense of hopelessness, augmented in the wake of the “Brexit”. Radicals may play on the sentiment that the West simply does not want Kosovo, while highlighting the sense of belonging and involvement that comes from participation in ISIL. For this reason, continued efforts at integration would prove useful in thwarting the growth of radicalization and recruitment in Kosovo.
Reading articles designating Kosovo the new “hotbed” for ISIL activities deeply concerns me, but what concerns me equally is the fact that these articles sometimes paint a picture of Kosovo as a nation of angry, religiously fundamental radicals. And while arrests and jail sentences may curb the problem on a case-by-case basis, a more holistic policy that examines the stagnation of EU integration efforts and addresses Kosovar identity as it relates to empathy with Syrians is necessary to approach the issue in full.
About the author:
Brenna Gautam is currently a student at the Georgetown University Law School, hoping to specialize in international law and nonproliferation.
Note and all illustrations by Vladislav B. Sotirovic:
This is a Western pro-Albanian propaganda article for the sake to support and legitimate Albanian Kosovostan jihad terrorism in Kosovo and Syria. Nevertheless, the basic truth was unavoidable to be mentioned in the text that is underlined in bold. The rest is up to the readers to understand and interpret correctly if they want.
Revelations of fascistic crimes carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) prior to, during and after NATO’s war against the former Yugoslavia should provide a salutary lesson whenever Washington again cites humanitarian concerns to justify its predatory war aims. A new report prepared by Swiss Council of Europe deputy Dick Marty slams Kosovo leader Hachim Thaci for organ trafficking and other abominable crimes, deftly shaded by the U.S. in pursuit of their own self-interests.
A report by the Council of Europe describes Kosovo today as a country subject to “mafia-like structures of organised crime”. It accuses KLA commander and current ...
The Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija
The Historical and Spiritual Heartland of the Serbian People
Published by SEBASTIAN PRESS • BLAGO Fund • Serbica Americana • The Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America
ORDER THE BOOK
Source (official book's website): http://christian-heritage.eserbia.org/
Because the request for its membership is a serious breach of the international law, the Constitution of UNESCO, the legally binding UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the Charter of the UN whose Article 25 says that „The Members of the UN agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter”.
Because according to the UN Security Council resolution 1244, which reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of the Republic of Serbia, under the administration of ...
Greater Albania under Nazi Germany
During World War II, 35,000 to 40,000 Kosovo Albanians were recruited by Nazi Germany as part of the German occupation forces and security formations in Greater Albania, a state created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini that included Kosovo-Metohija, western Macedonia, and territory from Serbia and Montenegro. In Albania, there were 30,000 Albanians who were in the German occupation forces. In 1941, the German occupation forces created a Kosovo Albanian Gendarmerie with headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica. In 1944, these forces were incorporated into the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division. In 1942, Balli Kombetar organization battalions were established ...
The group of suspected terrorists arrested near Pristina in July will go on trial charged with preparing terrorist acts - but not with attempting to poison the city's water supply.
Kreshnik Gashi, Labinot Leposhtica BIRN Pristina
Terror suspects on the lake case are escorted by the Kosovo police. Photo: BIRN
Six men arrested in Kosovo at a reservoir near the capital in July will shortly go on trial in connection with terrorist acts.
However, initial allegations that the men intended to poison the water supply for the city of Pristina - claims that provoked a media frenzy in the country - do not feature ...
Peace TV, an enterprise directed from India, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai by a fundamentalist Islamist preacher, Zakir Naik, has established a 12-hour daily program in Kosovo, a country 90% Muslim.
The entry into Kosovo of Naik’s Peace TV, broadcasting each day in Albanian from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., appears to be an element in a novel campaign by South Asian Islamists to establish a foothold among Europe’s indigenous Balkan Muslims. Peace TV’s message is hard-line Wahhabism, which insults, in aggressive terms, spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, non-fundamentalist Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Hindus, among others. Radical Islamist interlopers and their financiers, mainly ...
Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahideen (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest has become an integral part of US foreign policy.
A 1997 Congressional document by the Republican Party Committee (RPC), while intent upon smearing President Bill Clinton, nonetheless sheds light on the Clinton administration’s insidious role in recruiting and training jihadist mercenaries with a view to transforming Bosnia into a “Militant Islamic Base”.
In many regards, Bosnia and Kosovo (1998-1999) were “dress rehearsals” for the destabilization of the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen).
With regard to Syria, the recruitment of jihadists (according to Israeli intelligence ...
U.S. air strikes continue against the terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State” — formerly the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or ISIS — in the borderlands of Iraqi Kurdistan. American military action has been impelled by the genocidal ISIS threat to Christians and various small Kurdish and other religious minorities, including Yazidis, whose faith is linked to Zoroastrianism, and the ancient monotheistic community of Mandaeans. Meanwhile, questions about the extremist movement and its foreign recruits have spread throughout the Muslim lands and the Muslim minority communities in the West, from Belgium to Australia.
On Monday, August 11, authorities in the ...
Nestling in a wooded valley that its citizens laid their lives down to defend, the town of Kacanik in southern Kosovo is fiercely proud of its war dead.
Well-kept cemeteries include nearly 100 victims of Serb-led ethnic cleansing in 1999, while in the town centre, a statue clutching an RPG honours fallen members of Brigade 162 of the Kosovan Liberation Army.
But a decade and a half on from the war that brought about Kosovo's independence, there is rather less pride in Kacanik's new crop of warriors.
Infamous son: Lavdrim Muhaxheri, from Kacanik, in Syria
In the last three years, some 24 local menfolk ...
An inquiry by the EU has found "compelling indications" that ten Serb captives had their body organs harvested for illegal trafficking during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. However, it wasn't widespread and there will be no trial, the lead investigator said.
The chief prosecutor Clint Williamson, who led the investigation, said there was no evidence of widespread organ harvesting, but that the crime had occurred a number of times.
"There are compelling indications that this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs," he told ...
Noel Malcolm - Kosovo - A Short History
A history written with an attempt to support Albanian territorial claims in the Balkans
A Short History of Kosovo by Noel Malcolm is usually considered as one of the prime historical sources on the history of the province. In fact, this book is an example of the History with a political attitude because it is not by chance that Malcolm who attacks the "myths" of Serbian history is at the same time a president of the Anglo-Albanian Association and one of the strongest supporters of independence of Kosovo. Being far from an objective scientific ...
Michigan-based filmmaker Michael Moore makes the connection between Kosovo and the Columbine shooting in his Academy Award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine (2002). Moore puts Kosovo in the context of a broader U.S. foreign policy agenda and a domestic culture of violence. Moore asks: “Are we a nation of gun nuts or are we just nuts?”
In the first scene, Moore walks into the North Country Bank in Michigan to open an account. He saw an ad in the newspaper that the bank would give out free guns to those who open accounts there. Moore walks into the bank and tells the ...
We must be clear on the meaning of Albanian autochthony, anthroponymy and ethnogenesis. Actually, the question is: have the Albanians lived without interruption in the present-day “ethnic” territories of the Albanians (Albania, the Eastern Montenegro, Kosovo and Metohija, the Southern Central Serbia, the Western Macedonia and the Northern Epirus in Greece) since the ancient Greek and Roman times? In the other words, are the Albanians really the indigenous people of the Balkans as they claim or just newcomers to their present-day ethnic territories? It is true, however, that the question of the Illyrian ethnic and cultural background of present-day Albanians ...
In March 1999, at the direction of the United States of America, NATO engaged in its first act of illegal aggressive war, beginning what can be called the “dark age of intervention” in which we are living today.
One of the bombed sites in Serbia by NATO in 1999 – Photo: Novosti
The fact that NATO was allowed to get away with the aggression on Serbia and Montenegro emboldened US/NATO and the US military industrial intelligence banking complex and since that day, under a doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, Humanitarian Interventionism, Preventive War and then the all encompassing “War on Terror”, US/NATO have ...
Miloš Zeman said in an interview for the Serbian newspaper Večernje novosti, that recognition of Kosovo’s independence has opened a Pandora’s Box and called the Kosovo deputy Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi a war criminal.
Zeman, among other things, confirmed that he will travel to Moscow for the celebrations of the end of the Second World War because the Soviet army liberated most of the former Czechoslovakia.
The Czech president has openly expressed himself on Kosovo in the past, for example he labeled the country a very strange state with a strong narco-mafia influence.
This article originally appeared at Hospodářské Noviny. Translated for RI by Anthony Grulich
The recognition of ...
Albanian-U.S. sponsored Kosovo Liberation Army in august 1998 with the heads of local Serb civilians
The following research is a review around the theme of Southeastern European organized crime, mainly in the period 1995-2007, highlighting the emergence of powerful regional “Mafias” with an actual global presence.
The main focus is the Albanian criminal syndicates centered on Kosovo. The research is composed by previous material of the writer, some of which was presented in international workshops. Moreover the issue of radical Islam is being overviewed in a second part,for the same period, along with information regarding the state of affairs of the ...
Today the Old (dying out) Continent is under multi-faced crises pressure some of them having older roots but the others are product of current political decisions and moves by the European decision makers (and those who are behind them across the Ocean).
The European oldest and mostly painful crisis-problem is a biological declination of the whole continent what from the economic point of view means, at least for the western countries, an import of a huge number of the „outsiders“ in order just to keep the same level of the economic production and national GDP. This solution of course produce as ...
True, the majority of investors are Americans who bore a relation to the “democratization” of Yugoslavia that was carried out at the end of the 90s of the last century. Among them is the former commander of NATO forces in Kosovo retired general Wesley Clark, who is determined to invest more than 5.5 billion dollars in the former Yugoslav republic. Experts say that Washington’s strategy could be characterized by the following slogan: “Conquer and plunder”.
His closest supporters say that Wesley Clark is a great strategist. He wrote the book “Winning Modern Wars” that was published in 2001. In his fundamental ...
NEW YORK – Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) welcomed the announced resumption of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina scheduled to take place on February 9 and 10 in Brussels, while expressing concern over the violence that broke out during the recent protests in Kosovo.
“With respect to the protests, let’s be clear: All citizens have the democratic right to protest, but violence is illegal and unacceptable. We condemn all acts of vandalism to public and private property and the intimidation of journalists and TV crews,” United States Ambassador to the United Nations David Pressman said during the debate ...
The struggle for peace and the struggle for full respect of universal human rights, as defined by UN Declaration on protection of human rights, are interdependent and non-separable. Violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, military interventions, aggressions and occupations go hand in hand with massive violations of the basic human rights.
It is clear that there are no humanitarian military interventions.
NATO military aggression against Yugoslavia ( Serbia ) which started March 24rth, 1999 was launched to allegedly protect human rights of Kosovo Albanians. It was carried out in blatant violation of the basic principals of International Law and without approval of ...
Washington’s “humanitarian” war and the KLA’s crimes
Book: “The Christian heritage of Kosovo and Metohija: The historical and spiritual heartland of the Serbian people”, 2015
Why Kosovo is ineligible for membership in UNESCO?
Kosovo under Nazi Germany: Nazi-created Albanian security forces in Kosovo during the World War II
Kosovo drops poisoning from terrorist charges
Islamic extremists establish foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
Bill Clinton worked hand in glove with Al Qaeda: “Helped turn Bosnia into militant Islamic base” (A prelude to creation of Kosovo ISIL in 1999)
ISIS and the Kosovar Albanians
Inside Kacanik, Kosovo’s jihadist capital
Western intelligence operation “Kosovo Liberation Army” harvested Serbs’ organs – EU inquiry
Noel Malcolm: “Kosovo – A Short History”, 1999. A history written with an attempt to support Albanian territorial claims in the Balkans (First part)
Kosovo: The US “psyche”, US culture and US foreign policy
The Albanian Origin: The main challenges of research
15 years since NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro
Czech President Zeman: Deputy PM of Kosovo is a war criminal
Southeastern European organized crime & extremism review
Europe between “Kosovization” and “Jihadization”
Investment opportunities in Kosovo, America’s “Mafia State” in the Balkans
UNSC concerned over violence in Kosovo, US: What we saw in Djakovica unacceptable
Violation of human rights of Serbs in the province of Kosovo and Metohija