Albanology and political claims of the Albanians



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The interest of European scholars, primarily German and Austrian, in research on Albanian ethnical origin rose gradually during the second half of the 19th century.[1] Their interest in Albanian and Balkan studies came later in comparison with the study of other ethnic groups and regions in Europe. The reason was that Euro-centrism of the late 19th century and the early 20th century defined the Balkans and its nations as the territory and peoples of obscure identity. In contrast to the  “real Europe”, the Balkans was seen as the “Orient”, not part of Europe at all, and above all it was considered as an “uncivilized” part of the world.[2]

Nonetheless, when the studies of the Albanians began the research was focused on the relationships of  the Albanian language to other European languages. However, the first hypothesis with respect to Albanian ethnic origins was quite indistinct and very soon discarded by the majority of scholars. According to a nebulous hypothesis proposed by A. Schleicher, the Albanians originated from the Pelasgians who were supposed to be the most indigenous Balkan population, settled not only on the entire territory of the Balkan Peninsula, but also inhabited a major portion of the Mediterranean basin in pre-historic times.[3] Moreover, it was erroneously believed that Indo-European languages such as Greek, Latin and “ancient” Albanian (i.e., the Illyrian language) were derived from the ancient Pelasgian language. However, some of Albanian scholars at present still believe that this hypothesis has real scientific foundations regardless of the fact that later 19th century linguists and researchers in comparative philology undermined the “Pelasgian” hypothesis and finally at the beginning of the 20th century overturned it.[4]

The German linguist Franz Bopp was first to claim (in 1854) that the Albanian language had to be considered as separate branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The scientific foundation of the hypothesis that the Albanians derive their ethnic origin from the Balkan Illyrians based on language criteria was laid out by the late 19th century Austrian philologists Gustav Meyer. He claimed that  the contemporary Albanian language was a dialect of the ancient Illyrian language. His claims initially were based on the results of the analysis of a few hundred basic Albanian words, tracable to their Indo-European origin. Later, Albanian national workers transformed Meyer’s hypothesis into the “Illyrian” theory of the Albanian ethnic background. Meyer’s hypothesis was based on the results of his linguistic investigations and comparisons of ancient Illyrian language to contemporary Albanian. Meyer argued that the modern Albanian language had to be considered as the last phase of the evolution of the old Illyrian language. Specifically, according to him, the 19th century Albanian language was a dialect of the ancient Illyrian language.[5] However, the critical problem with Mayer’s methodology was the fact that we do not have any evidence of the ancient Illyrian language as the Illyrians were illiterate. The reconstruction of this ancient language is a matter of the science of fantasy. Nevertheless, G. Meyer, a professor at Graz University from 1880 to 1896 wrote several works in which he opposed A. Schleicher’s Pelasgian theory of Albanian origin. Mayer claimed in his works (Albanesischen Studien, Albanesische Grammatik, Etymologische Wörterbuch der Albanesischen Schprache) that Albanian language was nothing more than a dialect of the ancient Illyrian language.[6]

Meyer’s hypothetical claims were taken up by a majority of Albanian authors, primarily from Italy, who made use of them for the propaganda directed to the realization of Albanian territorial claims, especially by the Albanian nationalist movement in the coming decades. The final aim of this propaganda work was to prove, using the evidence derived from scholarly research, that the Albanians were not members of ethnic Turk, Greek or South Slavic populations, but rather members of a totally different ethnic group, which had its own language. In other words, they fought for international recognition of the existence of separate Albanian nationhood which had certain national rights, including the basic right to create their own national independent (Albanian) state. Such a national state of the Albanians would embrace all Albanian populations of the Balkan Peninsula. For instance, on May 30th, 1878 the Albanian Constantinople Committee proclaimed their desire for  peaceful coexistence between the Albanians and their Slavonic and Greek neighbors, but only under the  condition that the Albanian ethnographic lands would be included into a unified Albanian national state.

The so-called Italo-Albanians, or Arbereshi, whose predecessors emigrated from Albania after the death of Scanderbeg in 1468 to the southern Italian provinces of Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, formulated this political program for the  unification of  Albanians into a united or Greater Albania. The program underlined that the achievement of national unity and the liberation of the Albanians required their territorial unification, joint economy, joint standardized language and a pervasive spirit of patriotism and mutual solidarity. The Albanian national leader from the end of the 19th century, Naïm Frashëri (1846–1900), described what it meant to be Albanian: “All of us are only single tribe, a single family; we are of one blood and one language”.[7] It is obvious that on the question of national unification at the turn of the 20th century Albanian workers would seek an Albanian ethnic and cultural identity primarily in common language since in Albanian case religion was a divisive rather than unifying factor. Additionally, and for the same purpose of national unification, they demanded that Albanian language be written in the Latin alphabet in order to distinguish themselves from the neighboring Greeks, Serbs, Montenegrins and Ottoman lords. This was totally irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of Albanians who could read neither the script.[8] However, the national unification of Albanian people on the basis of language was not completely successful, and even today it is still difficult for the Gheg Albanians to fully understand the Tosk Albanian dialect.[9]

Endnotes:

[1] The question of Albanian ethnogenesis was first examined by Johan Thunmann (1746−1778) in 1774 (Research on history of the East European peoples, Leipzig) and Johan Georg von Hahn (1811−1869) in 1854 (Albanian studies, Jena). Both were of the opinion, but not based on any source, that the Albanians lived in the territories of the ancient Illyrians and they were natives and Illyrian in essence. Hahn thought that ancient names like Dalmatia, Ulcinium, Dardania, etc. were of Illyrian-Albanian origin. This hypothesis is fully accepted by modern Albanian linguists. For example, “The name of Ragusium (present-day Dubrovnik), which in the mouth of the Albanians was Rush Rush, shows that the Adriatic coast was part of the territory inhabited by the ancestors of the Albanians beyond the present ethnic borders. The adoption of this name by the Albanians belongs to the time since 614 B.C… I conclude that there is a continuity of the Albanians in their present territories since ancient times. The old place-names in their present form indicate that this population has continuously inhabited the coasts of the Adriatic from that time until today” [Çabej E., “The problem of the autochthony of Albanians in the light of place-names”,Buletini i Universitetit Shteteror te Tiranes, № 2, 1958, pp. 54–62]. This standpoint is usually unquestionably recognized as truth by Albanian and German researchers like Peter Bartl in his book: Albanian. Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Regensburg, Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1995 [Serb language edition: Бартл П., Албанци од средњег века до данас, Београд: CLIO, 2001, p. 15]. However, the Illyrian theory of  Albanian origin (the Albanians were considered even as the oldest European people) was created by German and Austrian scholars for the very political purpose: to unite all ethnic Albanians around the central political ideology and national consciousness [Батаковић Т. Б., Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, Друго допуњено издање, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, pp. 66−67; Екмечић Е., Стварање Југославије 1790−1918, II, Београд, 1989, pp. 450−455]. At that time, like today, the ethnic Albanians were divided into three antagonistic confessions (Islam, Roman-Catholicism and Orthodoxy) and many hostile clans based on the tribal origin. In fact, the German scholars invented for the Albanians both artificial tradition and artificial “imagined community” in order to be more scientifically stronger in their territorial claims against the Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks. In this context, we cannot forget that the first Albanian state was created and supported exactly by Austria-Hungary and Germany in 1912−1913. In the other words, the Albanians have been the Balkan clients of German political expansionism in the region.   

[2] Mishkova D., “Symbolic Geographies and Visions of Identity: A Balkan Perspective”, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2008, pp. 237−256.

[3] On ancient Balkan Pelasgians as the Greek tribes, see [Zorzos G., Greek Pelasgian Tribes Textbook, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2009 (in Greek)].

[4] However, even today there are many non-Albanian scholars who believe in a theory of Albanian Balkan origin as one of the oldest European nations. See, for instance [Jacques E. E., The Albanians: An Ethnic History from Prehistoric Times to the Present, Jefferson, N. Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2009].

[5] Regarding the contemporary scientific results on this question, see [Hamp E. P., “The Position of Albanian”, Proceedings of Conference on Indo-European Linguistics, Los Angeles, 1963].

[6] Батаковић Т. Д., Косово и Метохија. Историја и идеологија, Друго допуњено издање, Београд: Чигоја штампа, 2007, p. 66.

[7] Gut Ch., “Groupe de Travail sur l’Europe Centrale et Orientale”, Bulletin d’Information, № 2, June 1878, Paris, p. 40.

[8] The international political aspect of the Albanian struggle for a pan-Albanian national unification into a Greater Albania is evidenced by the fact that Albanian national workers tried to obtain the support of Western Europeans by claiming that Greater Albania would be the crucial bulwark against Russian penetration to the Balkans via Russian client (Orthodox) nations and states – the Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks. For instance, Montenegro was presented by the Albanians as “the Russian outpost at the Adriatic Sea”. The Albanian Sami Frashëri published an article in Istanbul newspapers Tercüman-i şark on September 27th, 1878 in which the borders of Greater Albania were defined by the borders of four “Albanian” provinces (vilayets) of the Ottoman Empire – Scodra, Bitola, Ioanina and Kosovo. These four provinces would be united into the so-called “Albanian Vilayet” (see figure 1). The First Prizren League, as the first organized Albanian political organization, accepted this concept in autumn of 1879 as the programe of the organization [Бартл П., Албанци од средњег века до данас, Београд: CLIO, 2001, pp. 96, 100−101].

[9] Hobsbawm E. J., Nations and Nationalism since 1789. Programme, Myth, Reality, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 52, 115. About the language basis of (non)identification among the Albanians from the beginning of the 20th century see: Durham E., High Albania, London, 1909, p. 17. On Albanian modern history, see [Vickers M., The Albanians: A Modern History, London−New York: I. B. Tauris, 2006].


2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Understanding Albanian nationality and regional political-security consequences



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The Albanian nationhood as understood in the 19th century was part of a romanticist notion of nationality, i.e., the Albanians were the Balkan people whose mother tongue was Albanian regardless of any confessional division of Albanian people into three denominations (Moslem, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox). Within the north Albanian tribes, especially among the Miriditi, the Roman Catholic Church was very influential. The Roman Catholic Church became the main protector of the Albanian language and cultural heritage and the main protagonist of the national identity of the Albanians in the Northern Albania.[1] The expression of common notions of the Albanian nationhood were expressed by the Albanian political leadership in the years of the Balkan Wars 1912–1913 in slogans such as: “Neve Shqiptar nuk jemi Greke, Sllav, or Teerk, neve jemi Shqiptar” (“We Albanians are not the Greeks, Slavs, or Turks, we are the Albanians”).

The Albanian political “methodology” from the time of the First Prizren League in 1878 until the Balkan Wars was applied in preparation for unification of all “ethnically Albanian territories” in the Balkans into (a “Greater”) Albania – a single national state of all Albanians, i.e., within the ethnic borders demanded by the League in the years of its existence from 1878 to 1881. Essentially similar national-state concepts were also included in the political programs of the Albanian Peja (Pejë) League, from 1899, the Greater Albanian Kosovo Committee, from 1920, and the Second Prizren League, from 1943. This included preservation of the traditional, common law and local community[2] as the organizational basis of the national movement followed by the demand for unification of all territories populated by the Albanians became Albanian primary national interest from 1878 onward.

Clearly, the process of creation of Albanian nationality was not yet completed at the end of the 19th century. The Albanian nation was not considered a political reality in Europe by many politicians at that time. The Albanian people were among the last ones in Europe to build up their own national identity and national community.[3] When during the sessions of the Congress of Berlin in 1878 the question of Albania and the Albanians was put on the agenda, the German Chancellor (Kanzzelar) Otto von Bismarck decisively rejected discussing it with the explanation that there was no Albanian nationality.[4] For him, the Albanians were the Turks. At the same time, the Serbs (either from Serbia or from Montenegro) and the Greeks considered themselves as a nation (i.e., ethnic groups which had their own state organizations), and as such were understood by Europe, while the Albanians were understood as the Balkan ethnic group (i.e., the group of people who did not have its own state). Consequently, the ethnic group of Albanians could live only as an ethnic minority included into some of the Balkan national state(s) and could not expect more than the right to autonomy within it (them). At the turn of the 20th century many politicians in Serbia, Montenegro and Greece shared the opinion that the ethnic group of the Albanians was culturally and politically incapable of a modern national development and above all unable and  insufficiently competent to establish and rule their own national state.[5] The backwardness of the development of Albanian society at the beginning of the 20th century was evidenced by the fact that the initiation of a  process of modernization shook the Albanian tribal society, but failed to replace it with a modern industrial, parliamentary and civil society. The Albanian national movement was seen as an archaic social movement that could not reach a level of national cohesion in modern terms. This movement produced among the Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks a feeling of jeopardization of the political and territorial integrity of Serbia, Montenegro and Greece.[6] For them, the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian continuity was in essence a nationalistic ideological construction which became a driving politically-ideological force for Albanian politicians to create, from the Albanian point of view, their ethnic borders according to Albanian acquired rights.[7] Geopolitically, this project, from 1878 to the present, demands not only the territories which ethnically and historically belong to the Albanians, but goes beyond them and encompasses the entire Illyrian-Albanian ethnic population, dispersed in different areas over the neighboring Balkan regions: Kosovo and Metohija, southern parts of Central Serbia, Çameria (Greek Epirus and Greek Western Macedonia), the western portion of the Republic of Macedonia (the FYROM) and the Eastern Montenegro.[8]

Albania ISIL flag

However, contrary to the theory of the backwardness of Albanian social development, the Albanian political and intellectual leadership from the turn of the 20th century has argued that the Albanians met all conditions required by contemporary political science to be recognized as a nation: 1) they have their separate ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity; 2) the Albanian settlements in the Balkans are compact; 3) the Albanians have a very precisely defined national program; and 4) they possess the abilities to build up a community and their own independent state which would be self-governed.[9]

The Albanian political and intellectual leadership often stressed that the Albanian people with their own national idea would never be successfully integrated either into Serbian, Montenegrin or Greek societies and states. That is, in addition to numerous and diverse causes, also due to the fact that the Albanians do not belong to the Slavic or Greek linguistic and cultural groups. There is also significant divergence of national development of the Serbs, Montenegrins, Greeks, on the one hand, and the Albanians, on the other. These nations had a different kind of national movements and distinctly different political elite and national ideology. However, the Albanian national ideology of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis was created and still exists as a pure myth in the form of a quasi-scientific political propaganda for the sake of the creation of a “Greater” Albania.

Finally, the Albanians surely were among the very few Balkan peoples who managed to find an internal balance between three faiths and to build up the national identity associated with each one as Islam is followed by 70% of Albanian population (primarily from Albania proper, Kosovo and Metohija, the Western Macedonia and the Eastern Montenegro), Eastern Orthodoxy is professed by 20% of the Albanians (chiefly from the Southern Albania and the Greek Northern Epirus) and Roman Catholicism is adhered by 10% of the Albanians (mainly from the Northern Albania proper and Kosovo and Metohija).[10] In one word, the Illyrian theory of the Albanian ethnogenesis played a crucial role in forming a common Albanian identity regardless on confessional division of the Albanians.

The 19th century movement of the Albanian national awakening started half a century later in contrast to a similar process of other Balkan nations and an entire century after similar movements in Central Europe. The cause of this delay was a general national-cultural underdevelopment of the Albanian people who lived under the Ottoman Empire for centuries without cultural and ideological connections to Western Europe where the ideology and movement of nationalism emerged and spread throughout the European continent. Subsequently, the ideas of national identification, national statehood and the concept of historical-ethnic territorial boundaries was realized by Albania’s neighbors (the Greeks, Serbs and Montenegrins) well in advance of the Albanian people. When Albanian intellectuals during and after the Great Eastern Crisis 1875–1878 theoretically shaped the thought and concept of the Albanian national idea related to the question of fixing Albanian national territories and creating an Albanian national state, they faced, and had to struggle with, Serbian, Montenegrin and Greek national aspirations towards the realization of their own national statehood. This ideological, political and military fight was focused primarily on the question upon certain “national” soils on the Balkans which would be included either into a united Serbia, united Montenegro, united Greece or united Albania: Kosovo and Metohija, Northern Epirus, Western Macedonia, Skadar (Skutari) region in the Northwest Albania and the territories around the city of Ulcinj and the Bojana river in the Eastern Montenegro.

The national program of the First League of Prizren set up the following two ultimate national goals of the Albanians: 1) the national liberation of all Albanians, of whom a majority lived within the Ottoman Empire and a minority in the independent states of Serbia and Montenegro; and 2) the creation of a national state of the Albanians in which the entire Albanian historical and ethnic territories would be incorporated into Greater Albania. This second requirement led the Albanians in subsequent decades into open conflict with the neighboring Christian states: Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. The national awakening of the Albanian people in the years of 1878–1912 resulted in the establishment of an ideology of nationhood and statehood that was, to a greater or lesser extent, challenged and opposed by all  of Albania’s neighbors today – the Serbs, Greeks, Montenegrins and the Macedonian Slavs.

Endnotes:

[1] Draškić S., “Nadmetanje Austro-Ugarske i Italije koncem XIX i početkom XX veka u Albaniji”, Albansko pitanje u novoj istoriji, III, Beograd: Marksistička misao, 2-1986, pp. 129–132. See also: [Starova G., “The Religion of the Albanians in the Balkan European Context”, Balkan Forum, Skopje, vol. 1, № 4, 1993, pp. 201–204].

[2] On Albanian traditional common law, see [The Code of Lekë Dukagjini, New York: Gjonlekaj Publishing Company, 1989; Salihu V., Qerimi I., Social Organization and Self-Government of Albanians According to the Costumary Law, GRIN Verlag, 2013 (in German); Gjeçovi Sh., Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014].

[3] On this issue, see more in [Schwandner-Sievers S., Fischer J. B., Albanian Identities: Myth and History, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002].

[4] Logoreci A., The Albanians. Europe’s Forgotten Survivors, Colorado, 1977, p. 41.

[5] Such approach can be understood as an old theory, which was used during the Balkan Wars 1912–1913 to justify Serbian conquest of the Northern Albania, Greek occupation of Southern Albania and Montenegrin military taking of the city of Skadar/Scutari [Туцовић Д., Србија и Албанија, један прилог критици завојевачке политике српске буржоазије, Београд, 1913, pp. 177–118].

[6] The Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonian Slavs and Greeks accuse Albanian intellectuals and politicians of using the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnic, linguistic and cultural continuity for the sake of realizing the political concept of a “Greater Albania” in the Balkans (see figure 2). This concept cannot be realized without a radical change of the borders of the Balkan states established in 1912–1913, following two Balkan Wars. Such a change in the borders would violate the territorial integrity of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. In conclusion, the concept of a “Greater” Albania, based among other ideological constructions and on the theory of the Illyrian-Albanian ethnogenesis, may serve as a prelude to a Third Balkan War. Regarding the concept and consequences of creation of a “Greater” Albania at the Balkans, see [Čanak J. (ed.), “Greater Albania”. Concept and possible Consequences, Belgrade: the Institute of Geopolitical Studies, Belgrade, 1998; Borozan Đ., “Greater Albania”-Origins, Ideas, Practice, Belgrade: the Institute of Military History of the Yugoslav Army, Belgrade, 1995]. It should be stressed that in addition to Orthodoxy and the so-called St. Sava’s spiritual legacy, the province of Kosovo and Metohija (i.e., Serbia proper) is the third pillar of Serbian national identity. Contrary to the Serbian case, Kosovo and Metohija are not of any significance for Albanian national identity. Regarding the (crucial) importance of Kosovo and Metohija for the Serbs from historical perspective, see: [Самарџић Р. и други, Косово и Метохија у српској историји, Београд: Српска књижевна задруга, 1989].

[7] See more in: [Илири и Албанци, Научни скупови, књ. XXXIX, Београд: САНУ, 1988].

[8] According to the map of United Albania, composed by Ali Fehmi Kosturi and distributed since 1938. Historically, there were two attempts to create a “Greater” Albania: first in 1912 supported by Austria-Hungary, and second in 1941 with the direct intervention of fascist Italy and the logistic support of the Third Reich. In both cases the concept of “Greater” Albania reasserted the demands of the 1878–1881 Albanian First League of Prizren to create an Albanian state inside alleged Illyrian-Albanian historical-ethnic borders.

[9] Similar arguments referring to Kosovo and Metohija were presented by the Albanian Kosovo intelligentsia in the 1990s during the Kosovo crisis and the war. See, for example: [Maliqi S., “Strah od novih ratnih uspeha”, Borba, Beograd, September 16th, 1993].

[10] To date, the Albanian Muslims are the main corps of the Albanian national movement and nationalism. The concept of “United”, or “Greater”, Albania, in its original form (from 1878), was under the strong influence of conservative, political Islam.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2017

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Albanian terrorists as official NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo members – photo evidence



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Remember watching ancient Orthodox Christian monasteries in flames in Kosovo dozen times.
Old, noble constructions, spiritual and historical testimonies of past times.
I also remember that majority of Orthodox Christian monasteries, churches and relics has been attacked and destroyed after NATO forces (officially: KFOR) took full control of the Serbian province.
It amazed me to see how Western soldiers, under full equipment and heavy armament, often didn’t make a single move to stop Albanian violence; over 200 000 Serbs had to flee, in order to save their bare lives, bearing whole their lives in few suitcases if they were lucky enough. 264960_193007560748613_8317034_n
Photo: NATO peacekeepers calmly observe Albanians destroying Christian heritage

It turned out that indeed, Albanian terrorists WERE  (stil are?) part of NATO, so called peacekeeping forces in the province of Kosovo and the evidences are here. There’s the Albanian nationalist guy, wrapped in Greater Albania flag, certain Lami, who is at the same time – a Swiss peacekeeper!
Incredible.
Lami Lami KLami KF Lami KFOLami Kfor
So this opens more questions: How many ISIS members have been deployed in Iraq as peacekeepers?
ISIS in morning, anti ISIS in the afternoon?
I
SIS uses the same method Albanians applied in the province of Kosovo Metohija – destroying and removing every trace of Christianity (the picture below are from Kosovo province): 

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KFOR / NATO in Kosovo observed all, allowing it to happen. When Serbs tried to complain, addressing both international community and global media, nothing ever happen.
I was told that that there were the KLA terrorist wearing KFOR uniforms, and that people often heard the ‘peacekeepers’ speaking -Albanian language.
I heard that there are plenty of KLA terrorists under the USA, Belgian, German, Danish flag operating as part of their peacekeeping forces.

LON50D:YUGOSLAVIA-NATO-DEPLOYMENT:KACANIK,YUGOSLAVIA,14JUN99 - Capt. Vicki Wentworth from Swansea, in the United Kingdom, views the site of a possible mass grave of nearly 100 ethnic Albanians in southern Kosovo June 14. If confirmed, it would be the first uncovering of such a grave since NATO forces entered the province two days ago it is reported. The site is located near the graveyard in Kacanik village some 50km (30 miles) south of Pristina. jb/Photo by Russell Boyce REUTERS

Reuters says: A young (Albanian !?) captain from the British KFOR contingent pays her respects at the site of a possible mass grave of Kosovar Albanians in the village of Kacanik, Kosovo, on 14 June 1999. 
(Reuters photo – 32Kb)

The same Reuters have never apologized since SIXTEEN years we know that there was no  Albanian mass grave in Kacanik area.
(meanwhile there are still over 3000 Serbs missing; but who is going to investigate and search for them, Albanian nationalists disguised as peacekeepers?)
Who is going to take responsibilities for all the consequences of such lies (i.e. mass grave, over hundreds of thousands dead Albanians, etc) ?
I can’t even imagine what kind of stories have been served to real and honest peacekeepers by Albanian Trojans among them.

And here we got, In August anno domini 2015 (16 – 17 years later) repetition of the same Albanian propaganda. The Telegraph, in article titled  Inside Kacanik, Kosovo’s jihadist capital  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/kosovo/11818659/Inside-Kacanik-Kosovos-jihadist-capital.html)  speaks about Kosovo Albanian terrorist groups, (what a surprise. We have been writing about the Albanian terrorism here in TMJ for years) but pushes the old proven to be false, stories.

The caption of the photo bellow says (quote):
Captain Andy Phipps from the British Army holds his head in hands as he looks over the site of a possible mass grave of nearly 100 ethnic Albanians in southern Kosovo  Photo: Reuters

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Even though Kosovo Metohija province has been under NATO and Albanian rule since 1999, and, despite all their investigations and research – no mass graves containing murdered Albanians have been discovered ( at the same time no serious search for still missing 3000 Serbs ever occurred; no officials mourns near and around Klecka, or Radonjicko lake, no Reuters to target these locations as places of mass murder of Serbs!)  – we go it in British Telegraph!
There must be a place in hell for corrupted journalists, for sure.

Whenever Serbs civilians complained about the alliance between Albanian nationals and NATO forces,  local HQ -es ignored the complains.

Meanwhile over one hundred Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries has been completely destroyed (That’s the same method ISIS implements nowadays in Syria).
Another interesting question rises, after so called Kosovo PM, Hasim Taci, attempts to list all the  Serbian Orthodox heritage, bulid and raised by medieval Serbian kings and emperors, as ‘Kosovo’ heritage; could we expect similar request from Albanian Middle eastern alter ego, ISIS. the same request concerning Malaua and Palmyra, just to mention the two?
crkve-kim-c-vDestroyed Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches by Albanians in Kosovo in March 2004

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Obama ignorance exposed: States Kosovo left Serbia only after referendum, but there was NO referendum at all!



 

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Barack Obama’s speech on Ukrainian crisis seems to have left the public confused as he claimed that Kosovo broke away from Serbia “after a referendum”. But attentive listeners quickly pointed Obama’s gaps in history – there was no referendum in Kosovo. Video here.

President Obama was speaking Wednesday at The Center for Fine Arts in the heart of Brussels, Belgium, and was telling the youth crowd mostly about Russian-Ukrainian conflict over the strategic Crimean Peninsula.

He lashed out at Russia for “violation of international law, its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Obama recalled the conflict around Kosovo and NATO’s involvement, making a counter-argument to Russia officials’ statements, in which they cited Kosovo independence from Serbia in 2008 as the precedent.

He said: “And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

In fact, “none of that even came close to happening” in Kosovo either.

What DID happen in Kosovo

Following a three-month NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia in June, 1999, Kosovo was placed under administration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and a NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, were authorized to enter the province.

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Two years after UNMIK and KFOR arrived there, in May, 14, 2001, the UN approved a “constitutional framework for a provisional Self-Government in Kosovo.”

It called for a 120-seat Parliament, which would elect a president and a prime minister.

In November that year Kosovo held its first parliamentary elections that the UN hailed as a huge “success”.

The year of 2005 also became no less significant for Kosovo as the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Martti Ahtisaari to lead the Kosovo status process, thus, giving the province “a green light” to fight for its independence.

After numerous talks with both Serbia and Kosovo officials, in 2007 Ahtisaari came up with the plan that included “ten guiding principles,” which outlined the broad governing authority and structure of the Kosovo government.

The so-called “Ahtisaari plan” represented a compromise between both sides. It gave broad provisions for Kosovo autonomy, including the ability to enter into international agreements and become a member of international organizations.

Kosovo children wave Kosovo and British flags during celebrations marking the 6th anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, in Pristina on February 17, 2014. (AFP Photo / Armend Nimani)

Backed by the Contact Group (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia) and by Kosovo, the plan still lacked Serbian agreement. Russia eventually rejected the plan along with Serbia and, as a result, negotiations reached a deadlock.

However, despite the stalemate within the Contact Group, Kosovo’s authorities still decided to declare independence in February, 2008.

On February 17, 2008, the Kosovo assembly adopted a declaration of independence “in full accordance with the recommendations of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari.” On the same day, the US and four European states recognized Kosovo as an independent country.

‘You can’t just make up facts’

“I honestly don’t know what President Obama is talking about,” Serbian historian Nebojsa Malic told RT. “There was never such a referendum. It never took place. It did not exist. I am completely baffled.”

Meanwhile, on Twitter Obama’s faux-pas also did not pass unnoticed.

People accused the US President of “lying about the referendum”.

Obama further claims there was referendum in Kosovo. I dnt remember that happening. I remember the US bombing frm yugoslavia for 2 months

– Tefo O Kelobonye (@TKelobonye) March 27, 2014

Dear Obama, where was the universal mandate for Kosovo secession? If it doesn’t exist then why support it and not Crimea referendum? Bye.

– Q (@Qpalestine) March 27, 2014

Some have pointed out that the US media chose just to “ignore” Obama’s mistake.

American News Media Ignores “Bogus Information” Given by Obama in Speech on Crimea & Kosovo http://t.co/rsPNlWaiHx #gapol@BreitbartNews

– gaunfiltered (@gaunfiltered) March 27, 2014

Speaking to RT, Nebojsa Malic suggested that it could be the case that Obama’s speechwriter just “mistook the non-existent referendum in Kosovo with the referendum in Montenegro that took place in 2006.”

“If that is the referendum they were referring to, first of all, it is just baffling that they can’t tell apart Kosovo and Montenegro. Secondly, that is not exactly a paragon of democracy in international laws either,” Malic said, stressing that that referendum was held under “very murky circumstances when people were being bought openly.”

“I am really not sure what sort of point they were trying to make, but you can’t just make up your own facts to boost your own argument. That is ridiculous,” he concluded.

Were there absolutely no independence referendums in Kosovo? Well, there was one in 1991 – its results were recognized by just one UN member, Albania.


 

Source: https://www.sott.net/article/276401-Obama-ignorance-exposed-states-Kosovo-left-Serbia-only-after-referendum-but-there-was-NO-referendum-at-all

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Southeastern European organized crime & extremism review




Bagra Kosova
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 Muslim communities in the region.

Narcotics and the emergence of crime syndicates in the Balkans

The main threat to the Balkans nowadays, is the existence of well organized criminal groups that to an extent are an integral part of the world wide “Crime Syndicates” that for the most part control the narcotics trade in our époque.  The infamous Balkan drugs route is the main path by which narcotics and specifically heroin; are smuggled to European countries. It is actually a network of contrabands, corrupted public officials and war lords that make sure that the heroin produced in Afghanistan is smoothly transferred to the European addicts.

According to the Council of Foreign affairs, Afghanistan has almost tripled its heroin production and in 2005 32,000 acres were reserved for poppy cultivation, out of 12,000 acres in 2004. This fact shows first of all failure by the NATO Forces in that country to create the necessary framework for the reconstruction process. As far as the ramifications for the Balkans are concerned, the increased profits by criminal gangs have boasted them with tremendous riches and political influence.

There are mainly two organized ethnic groups that deal most of the arrangements concerning the organized crime in the Balkans. The so-called Albanian mafia and the Turkish crime syndicates. The Albanian organized crime is very active since the collapse of the Communist rule in this country that opened the way for various indigenous gangs to spread their wings further  and take part in one of the most profitable commerce of all times, namely drugs.  A leading French criminologist Xavier Raufer has extensively dealt with the issue of the Albanian mafia. He considers the Albanians as the only true “Mafia” in the Balkans due to the peculiar social structure of their society in the Northern parts of the country “The land of the Genghis”.

An isolated society with very firm beliefs in issues of honor and manhood pride coupled with severe social problems and a culture of vendetta; has been transformed into a huge international crime network. Various reports indicate that roughly 70-80% of the heroin distributed in European is under Albanian control, a really impressive percentage for a nation of just 6 million people. Moreover in the Balkan route –In reality three distinct routes-, the Albanian mafia plays a vital role in safeguarding the interests of the world drugs trade by having its “Soldiers” and “Capos” along the way and protecting shipments from police and official interruption.

Furthermore Albania as a country is a major producer of Cannabis, which is mainly exported to neighboring Greece and Italy. The narcotic traded is placed along the trafficking and illegal immigrant smuggling operations that have seen the Albanians gaining the fame as the most powerful and dangerous criminal group in South Eastern Europe. In Greece alone the revenues from prostitution run at around 7.5 billion USD, a large portion of that being controlled by Albanian criminal groups. Trafficking of women from Albania is one of the main ways to establish a “War chest” for the organized crime, in order to invest its wealth in the drugs trade.

In essence the first stage for every respectable organized crime unit, is to establish a prostitution ring, make easily large amounts of cash, and then invest them for the drugs trade by constructing the expensive logistics bases, fake companies, pay corrupted officials and so on. Therefore when looking into the different aspects of organized criminal activity, one should note that all forms of that activity are interconnected and that each one leads to the other. That actually is one of the differences of organized crime from the other forms of criminality.

Back to the activities of the Albanian criminal groups, the recent history illustrates the existence of a hybrid criminal form, meaning the interconnection between criminal activities and terrorism. The Albanian groups that are mostly active in the North of the country have been associated with the preparations of the U.C.K guerilla forces in the late 90’s, as well as, with their arming and training. The troubling 90’s in South Eastern Europe saw the convergence of the drugs trade along with the formation of radical Islamic groups and the pervasion of corruption in the upper echelons on the countries involved. In the Albanian case the past decade it is assumed that the country is facing a virtual take over of its institution by the organized crime that in its turn has been linked with international terrorism, with Al Qaeda withstanding.

The main role of the Albanian Mafia in the narcotics trade is the one of wholesale distributor of Afghan heroine. Along the Balkan route and especially the one passing through Southern Bulgaria, FYROM; the Albanians import heroin and then dispense it to Italy, or Bosnia- Croatia to Austria and Central Europe. After 1999 and the consequent Albanian dominance in Kosovo, Pristina has become the unquestionable narcotics capital of Europe. A traditionally provisional city in the midst of the Balkans is nowadays the epicenter of all drugs deal of an area encompassing Central Europe, Balkans, and Middle East.

The lack of law coupled with the existence of a society reluctant to pursue organized crime, has created a “black hole” in the centre of the Balkans that primarily lives on criminal activities and the remittances of the Kosovo-Albanian Diaspora. The latter is strategically located in countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Denmark and dominates the European heroin trade. Despite the fact that Albanians are relatively newcomers to the European organized crime scene-Like the old-timers Sicilians, Corsicans – they have already taken over the entire European heroin market and make large advances in the sectors of trafficking, racketeering, arms smuggling and illegal gambling.

The infamous Albanian mafia is a formidable criminal network, but the existence of another one, influential as well, should be added in order to examine the whole spectrum of drugs trade in the Balkans. The Turkish crime syndicates are the undisputable partner of the Albanians. It would not be possible for the Albanians to become distributors in the first place if the weren’t able to acquire their goods from the East, and that is where the role of the Turks begins.

Turkey is a country strategically located between the East and the West. Apart from its importance in political and military level, it is also an integral part of the international narcotics smuggling. It would just be very hard for heroin to travel from Central Asia to Europe without being able to trespass Turkey, the only Asian country bordering with Europe. Turkey is a state traditionally producing Opium, for pharmaceutical purposes. In the early 70’s international pressure –Mostly from Nixon administration in the USA- obliged Turkey to enforce stricter rules for Opium production in 1974. Up until then heroin was produced in Turkey as an Opium derivative and quantities were sold to the West with the assistance of the Sicilian and Corsican mafias.

The heroin to be sold was transported with ships to Sicily, and then to Marseilles were the Corsicans had created labs for the fabrication of the commercial product. From then onwards it was transferred to New York and other USA ports where the American-Italian mafia would assure its allocation in the end-users, the heroin addicts. The forceful USA administration at that time declared a war against narcotics and obliged the Turks to seek other sources of the lucrative opium. Soon enough Turkish operational production bases were established in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. The war in the former during the 80’s, as well as, the resurge of the Kurdish guerilla fighting after 1984 and the Iraq-Iranian war the same period; created a convergence of political, criminal and military operations based in heroin trade.

Events such as the Iran-Contra scandal illuminate how far the heroin trade has penetrated the higher echelons of the world’s decision-making process and how it interacts with the international affairs. Moreover the effective destruction of Beirut during the 80’s collapsed the cities ubiquitous reputation as the prime port for narcotics trade and this role was overtaken by Istanbul.  The situation after the end of the Cold War in 1989, found the Turks financially strong from their trade in the previous decades and also ready enough to pursue stronger ties with the countries of Central Asia.

Furthermore the appearance of the Albanians and the civil wars in former Yugoslavia, provided ample of human resources in the Balkans, eager in getting involved in the drugs trade so as to survive financially or gain capital to achieve their political aims. Europe now already hosted considerable Turkish minorities-Especially Germany – and individuals from those Turkish communities were used to act as local retail agents for the heroin distribution in Europe.

In 1996 the Susurluk accident revealed to Turkey the extent where the Drug –Lords have penetrated the upper crust of the society and they were able to conduct their businesses untouched by the law. Even the spouse of the then Turkish Prime Minister Tancu Tsiller was  accused by the local media  for close interactions with notable underworld figures. Furthermore the accusations that the Turkish security forces were conducting drugs trade in South Eastern Turkey were in relation to the civil strife in that region because of the Kurdish fight and that presents once more that politics and criminal groups seem to go hand in hand.

The modus opperandi of the Turkish organized crime in drugs trade follows the role of the coordinator and distributor. Large amounts of heroin shipments enter Turkey each month and then delivered through the Balkan route mostly, to all over Europe. It has to be noted that the country with the largest Turkish community-Germany- is being used also as a redistribution centre. That means that when heroin reaches Germany, it is being handed out from there to the other major European markets, especially UK and Scandinavia. Moreover some of the strongest “Capo” of the Turkish syndicates resided in Germany and generally speaking this country has become the centre of gravity for the Turkish drug barons, as far as, their posture in the European narcotics scene is concerned. Further the impact of the Turkish drug lords has alarmed European security agencies due to the importance of their overall contribution in the narcotics market in the Continent. For instances since the 1970s, Turkey has accounted for between 75 and 90 per cent of all heroin in the UK. The key traffickers are Turks or criminals who operate along that route using Turkish contacts.

16 uck sa srpskom glavom

Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998

The alliance of Turkish and Albanian crime groups can be explained at first glance by the cultural, religious and ethnic links –A large percentage of Turks in W. Turkey has Albanian ancestry-. Also, the tradition of the Albanians to join and serve larger ethnic groups with whom they feel to have a kind of affinity might have its explanation. The same was he case in USA and New York especially where for decades the Albanian crime syndicates tended to operate under the aegis and influence of the much stronger American-Sicilian crime corporations.

A 2006 article in Balkanalysis revealed interesting facts for the interrelation between USA domestic politics, the role of the Turkish lobby and the American foreign policy. Even though it is extremely delicate to draw conclusive explanations about the real roots of cover the organized crime activities are given; it is beyond any reasonable doubt that in the case of the Balkans the West has dramatically failed to check the narcotics flow. Despite the fact that thousands of troops, intelligence officers and police ones are based in the Balkans assigned by NATO and the EU, there has been no real confrontation with the realities of criminal syndicate pervasion in the Balkans. On the contrary in the areas where the Western presence is more powerful like in Pristina, it is exactly the stronghold areas of the mafias and their collaborators.

It is more than certain that if Western societies along with their partners in the Balkans; cannot control the narcotics trade their incompetence will certainly spill over to the overall antiterrorist security framework that they are trying to enforce. The Hybrid forms that modern crime is currently experiencing will most certainly ensure the continuous flow of capital to terrorist enterprises along with the recruitment of loyal assistants and the corruption of public officials in sensitive sectors of the public sectors. The initiatives by the heads of state of the Balkans to curb on organized crime should give the opportunity for further decisive measures. Balkans have already being developed as Europe’s soft underbelly-Not quite as Churchill imagined-  and one of the top priorities of the EU has to be the unquestionable joint effort to “close down” the Balkan route, achieving thus a real advance against terrorism in a worldwide level.

Since the end of the Communist era in the Balkans in the early 90’s, organized crime activities have soared, by expanding their activities in fields such as narcotics, trafficking, racketeering and goods smuggling. The civil wars in Yugoslavia and the continuous strife in Albania provided an excellent framework on which crime syndicates became stronger and gained political and societal clout.

The first and foremost criminal group that can be to an extent classified as a “Mafia” is the Albanian organized crime. Its geographical spread is in and between the triangle Pristina (Kosovo) – Tetovo (FYROM) and Tirana (Albania). During the 1999 and the NATO campaign against Serbia, it was a common secret amongst the members of the international community that the KLA army was financed and assisted by the organized crime that hoped to achieve a safe haven in the Kosovo area. The importance of Pristina is mainly associated with its use as a transit point in the infamous Balkan drugs route. Moreover the capital of Kosovo is a massive hideout for heads of crime syndicates across the Balkans and beyond.

Furthermore the high unemployment rate in the region along with the chronic industrial decay, have forced masses of the population to remain tolerant –at beast- in the practices of illegal activity. The capital flowing from heroin trade mostly, have helped towards the revitalization of the local economies. To that point it is interesting to note that 4/5 of the heroin flowing to Europe from Asia (Afghanistan) is being transferred by Albanians that have established bases all across Europe from Oslo to Barcelona and from Budapest to Rome. The Albanian organized crime as Xavier Raufer has pointed out operates on a dual basis. That means it has also the function of a strong societal force that virtually governs peripheral areas of Albania, mostly in the North, as well as, Kosovo currently. The Albanian crime syndicates work in close contacts with their American-Albanian counterparts that are mainly located in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Since 1991 quite a few Kosovo-Albanians have managed under not-so-legal ways, to immigrate to USA and act as liaison with the European community.

This highly sophisticated criminal network has been able to control much of the drugs trade in Europe and also the trafficking of women and children from the Balkans to Western Europe. Both of these activities are complementary to each other and frequently criminal groups switch from one activity to the other.

The ethnic conflicts in Former Yugoslavia, provided ample opportunities for weapons smuggling that reached unprecedented proportions in 1997. The same year a civil unrest in Albania, led to the overthrow of the government and the lack of the rule of law for almost 6 months. During this period 700,000 Kalashnikov and about 200,000 Albanian passports were stolen. Consequently a large portion of the above was sold to criminal groups in the Balkans and in Europe, whilst there are many allegations of terrorist connection whereby Al Qaeda members were able to obtain Albanian passports and an easier access to the European Continent.

The Kosovo experience has been up to date, a great disappointment for the international community. The UN administered territory has not been able to withstand the all-pervading influence of the organized crime. Despite numerous acts of violence and a very high homicide rate; very few convictions have been handed out to culprits, none of those was a member of the organized crime either. Nowadays the existence of regular heroin supply from Afghanistan, and the control by the “Albanian Mafia” of the Balkan route, has enabled it to obtain a large capital base that is laundered mainly though the construction centre in Albania and the use of offshore financial centers. Actually the largest enterprise in terms of sales and profits in South Eastern Europe is the Albanian organized crime.

In the case of Greece, there is not a national organized crime network that can be classified as a national mafia one, although that does not mean that crimininal network are not indeed quite influential. Nevertheless, the perils of Balkan crime have surely affected the country in numerous ways. Apart form the current crime statistics –that show a stronger pervasion of organized crime related activities- money laundering is a present and clear danger. The spread of the Greek banking system in S.E Europe will certainly address in the near future the issue of capital transfer of criminal activities through those financial institutions.

Also the interstate relations between Greece and the other Balkan states should always take into consideration the influence of organized groups that are the 21st century non state actors. For that reason it is of outermost importance to construct in the Greek territory “An observatory of organized crime” that will act as a counselor for the Greek government-Perhaps for the EU as well- and will be compromised by experienced analysts, law enforcement agents, criminologists and international relations experts. The use of this foundation or institute would be to detect, collect, analyze relevant Balkan crime information and produce consultation. In essence an intelligence unit that will be able to predict future trends in organized activities.

Islamic terrorism and the Balkans: The perfect training ground

The emergence of radical – militant Islam during the 90’s is a very complicated issue that involves worldwide actors, social dynamics and a deep knowledge of the religious realm of the Islamic world. This article aims to present and inform for the events that shaped Islamic terrorism in the Balkans. In this corner of Europe, the past 15 years, the roots of Islamic radicalism have deepened and it is of the outermost importance to comprehend this phenomenon, so as to be able to combat it.

The beginning of the Yugoslavian civil strife in 1991 presented an excellent chance for the Mujahedin to get into Europe via the ethno-cultural conflict between Christians and Muslims in Bosnia. These religious mercenaries had proved their aptitude in war from the early 80’s when they fought the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, and managed to inflict great damages to it using Western assistance.

The West at that period, along with its regional allies, promoted the creation of the so-called “Green Arch”. That meant the creation of strong Islamic pockets in areas of Soviet influence, or in border countries that deemed important for the strategy of the West against the Soviets. Thus Afghanistan, Pakistan, Caucasus, and in Turkey (through the use of the Turkish “Hezbollah”), became radicalized during the 80’s.

What the West could not comprehend and predict at that period, is the “Genie out of the bottle” effect. Once these radicals groups gained access to armaments and training, they became autonomous and sought to create their own agenda. Therefore the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the trial test of their newly founded role.

In mid-1992 some 3000 -3500 Mujahedin were already present in the ranks of the Bosnian Army as volunteer forces. They retained their operational autonomy and in essence became an army within an army. Most of their forces were under the command of General Shakib Mahmouljin and their area of operations was Zenica. Soon the Mujahedin acquired the aura of the elite force within the Bosnian Muslim Army and were accounted for many atrocities against the civilian Christian population. There were instances where the guerillas didn’t hesitate in presenting publicly beheaded corpses with the heads of the victims in baskets, a tactic often used in the Ottoman period as a part of psychological warfare against the enemy.

During the Bosnian war, the Al-Qaeda was beginning to emerge as a world wide Islamic force that intended to strike the West with all means possible. One of the key elements in its success would be to get a hold of “safe havens” in Europe. The situation in Bosnia was the opportunity wanted, and soon logistic bases were established within the Bosnian territory. Moreover a campaign of recruiting Bosnian Muslims to the Al –Qaeda cause, resulted in the creation of “Islamic pockets” in the middle of the Balkans. By the end of 1995 and the subsequent Dayton treaty that ended the war; hundreds of Mujahedin fighters were permanent residents of the established Bosnia-Herzegovina state, and acquired the citizenship of that country.

The USA security agencies have revealed that two of the hijackers in 9/11 attacks, had toured the Balkans and were trained in an Al-Qaeda camp in Bosnia. In addition the explosives used in the 7/7 attacks in London came from the Balkans, an event that portrays the tremendous lack of perspective that the West had when it tolerated the emergence of such networks.

The sensitive issue of the Kosovo status is also interlinked with the presence of terrorism –Of an Islamic nature- and its ramifications are much more extended than conventionally thought. Moreover the impact of Islamic driven terrorism in the Balkans is not only restrained in the region but has global consequences, thus it needs multiparty intelligence cooperation in order to be dealt with. Worries about Kosovo morphing into a safe haven for terrorists are not without merit. After all, radical Islamic elements aided some Kosovars–and earlier, Bosnian Muslims–in the ethno-religious warfare that destroyed Yugoslavia in the 1990s. For example, Australian al-Qaeda fighter David Hicks traveled to the Balkans to join the notorious Kosovo Liberation Army. Hicks completed military training at a KLA camp and later fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces apprehended him.

The Albanian nationalism and the Islamic terrorism

As in the case of Bosnia, the Albanian Muslims (70% of the population) proved to be a magnet for the Islamists that sought to regain a foothold in Europe. The conditions by which Albania was freed by the Communist regime in the early 90’s, revealed the existence of a backward isolated country with no interaction with the rest of the world. The transition from a central command structure to that of a free market; ensured the development of multiple societal forces within the much repressed Albanian society.

In early 1994 the infamous Osama Bin Laden, paid a visit to Tirana, presumably to oversight the networking of his activities there. He came back in 1998 to oversight Al-Qaeda training camps in the Northern part of Albania, just across the borders with Kosovo. The trainers –of Arabic origin mostly- were assigned to train the newly recruits of the Usthria Climirtare e Kosoves –U.C.K- units for the forthcoming guerilla warfare against the Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

The then Albanian Director of the Albanian secret service-SHIK-named Fatos Klosi admitted the training that took place in these camps and the existence of “Jihad warriors” from Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that were responsible for the instruction of the UCK army. To this point it is important to add to the above, the existence of the Albanian Arab Islamic Bank, that was used for the financing of terrorist activities throughout the Balkans. Various sources indicate the existence of Bin Laden’s backing in the bank’s capital, with the sum of 11 million USD.

In 1997, the financial collapse of Albania by an economic scandal that shook the country; had as a result the social unrest throughout the territory and the collapse of the rule of law. An uncounted number of armaments were stolen during the period of the riots from the Albanian’s Army caches, and the bulk of it ended in the hands of the UCK and its Islamist collaborators. Until early 1998 USA characterized UCK as a terrorist organization, due to its connection with well-known figures of the extremist elements of the Islamic world. Nevertheless, the American policy changed its direction since it deemed the existence of Milosevic more threatening at that period than the Islamic movement. During the skirmishes and fights before the NATO bombings in March 1999, the Yugoslav Army managed to inflict great damages to the Mujahedin fighters that were combating along the UCK lines. In Urocevac the bulk of them was eliminated by the Serbian Army and was obliged to retreat back in their safe havens in Northern Albania.

After the end of the 1999 war, the Mujahedin networks regrouped and started to infiltrate the Kosovo area in great numbers. That included the mushrooming of Islamic charitable funds across the region, the construction of Mosques and the radicalization of the local Albanian population and the wider Muslim populations of the ex-Yugoslavia.

It is interesting to note that the Albanian population in its majority cannot be conceived as a fundamentalist Islamic nation and the extremists are for the time being a forceful minority of that nation. The Islamic expansion in the Balkans is coupled with the existence of the criminal syndicates that are all prevalent in the Balkan Peninsula. Since the terrorist activities cannot be financed through the use of the legal free market economy, the use of narcotics and trafficking illegal trade has enabled the flourishing of the terrorist networks. The “Hybrid” organizations as the merged terrorist and criminal are named, has created the necessary framework for the Balkans to enter in one of the worst periods of their modern history. The leading criminologist Loretta Napoleoni has researched articulately the issue and offers illuminating approaches as to the extent of the infiltration of crime & terrorism in world economy.

According to her recent interview for balkanalysis.com, some 1.5 trillion USD are the revenue of the organized crime worldwide. A fair portion of that is being achieved by controlling the “Balkan drugs route” a geographical area that encompasses Kosovo, Northern Albania and Tetovo. More or less the Islamic terrorism network has located some of its bases, along the way of some of the most lucrative criminal areas of Europe. Therefore it is able to increase its revenues and finance its monstrous acts.

In spring 2001, the Mujahedin forces, once again, were brought to day-light by joining the National Liberation Army in its fight in Western FYROM. The NLA was a composition of various Albanian fractions that along with the Islamic extremists sought to prepare the basis for the disintegration of FYROM. There is a large Albanian minority in the country, which also happens to be located right in the centre of the Balkans and where the “Balkan drug route” passes by. The Mujahedin formed the majority of the 113 brigade of NLA, and were accused of many atrocities against innocent civilians of Slavic descent.

On August 2001 the Ohrid accord was signed and the conflict ceased without any real gains by the Albanian side. A month later, the attack on the twin towers revealed to the world the spread and the power the terrorist organizations have amassed, thus the “War on terror” begun and to a great extent dismantled the world wide Islamic terrorist web.

SEVEN KEY AL-QAEDA MEMBERS WHO DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TOOK PART IN 9/11 AND ARE LINKED TO BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Nawaf al Hazmi, a Saudi.  He was a September 11th hijacker.  He fought in BiH in 1995.

Khalid al-Mihdhar, from Yemen.  He also was a September 11th hijacker.  He also fought in BiH with the foreign mujahideen battalion in Bosnia in 1995

Sheikh Omar abd-al Rahman (convicted of the 1993 attack on the WTC) was connected with the so-called humanitarian organization TWRA, which was a cover for terrorists. Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic made personal guarantees for TWRA’s general director and personal friend Elfatih Hassanein, so he could open an account with Die Erste Osterreich Bank in Vienna, Austria in 1993.

Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who recruited Mohamed Atta into Al-Qaeda, had a terrorist base in Bosnia. Zammar is also responsible for recruiting two of Atta’s lieutenants, Ramzi Binalsahib and Said Bahaji.

Osama bin Laden received a Bosnian passport from the Embassy in Vienna, Austria. Many other Al-Qaeda members were issued B-H passports, which enabled them to continue their terrorist activities.

Abu al-Ma’ali (Abdelkader Mokhtari), a senior Al-Qaeda operative, was stationed in Bosnia until recently. Just a few years ago, US officials used to call him “Osama Bin Laden, Jr.”

Bensayah Belkacem was arrested in Bosnia in October 2001. Numbers saved in his cell phone connected him with at least one top-rank associate of Bin Laden

The “White Al-Qaeda” in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Information available to experts on international terrorism indicate that B-H is at this time one of the most dangerous countries in Europe, as it represents a nursery for potential Islamic terrorists – the so called “white” or “European” Al-Qaeda. Money from Islamic countries that is laundered through “humanitarian” organizations finances the religious education of at least 100,000 young Bosnian Muslims. In addition to such education, which follows the interpretations of Wahhabi Islam, there is another type of “training” in various officially registered camps throughout the B-H Federation. There, the young and carefully selected Wahhabis attend “additional courses” in marksmanship, explosives and martial arts. Organizations such as “Furqan,” the “Active Islamic Youth,” the “Muslim Youth Council” and others – differing only in name and primary donors, but otherwise interchangeable – teach young Muslims computer and Internet skills, so they could establish contacts with their coreligionists worldwide. Knowing all this, the former head of UN Mission in Bosnia Jacques Paul Klein recently said that some 200 mujahid’din in Bosnia did not represent a danger, because they can be easily controlled.Klein knew it would be a lot more difficult to stop the spread of young Bosnian Wahhabis throughout Europe, youths who consider Osama Bin Laden and the mujahid’din role models. Nowadays there is still a strong presence of a variety of extremist Islamic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the pretext of charity funds and related philanthropic establishments. Thus it is not of surprise that the U.K Foreign Office still warrants concern safety for every British national traveling there, especially in relation to potential terrorist incidents.

Foreign intelligence involvement in the Balkans

Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavor between the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia). The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money”. According to Whitley, the CIA was, subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.

The covert activities of Germany’s BND were consistent with Bonn’s intent to expand its “Lebensraum” into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favored (although not officially) the formation of a “Greater Albania” encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of FYROM. According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of “Mitteleuropa.“

An interesting twist in the sector of intelligence operations and especially the ones described as “ Covert operations”, is the abundance of  material available and the easiness by which the USA in particular have provided access to their operational tactics. Todd Stiefler has documented that “In Kosovo, the Agency was extremely eager to publicize its covert operations”. In contrast with other similar incidents in Latin America or the Middle East; the CIA was confident enough to inform the public of operations that are not to be announced and that is an intriguing and not well answered topic.

The emergence of “Balkan Jihad” and its progress in the region

After the 9/11, a worldwide “War on terror” begun in order to disband and neutralize Islamic terrorist networks across the globe. The main focus of the largest anti-terrorist campaign in history is focused in the Middle East area, as well as in Afghanistan.

The Balkan Peninsula is the European area where this campaign has also taken place, with numerous arrests and a continuous effort into riding the fundamentalist out of the area. The question arising though, is how did the extremists gain a foothold in South Eastern Europe in the first place, and what was the reaction of the international community over the previous years.

The presence of Islam in the Balkans dates back in the 13th century.

In order to create the much needed mercenary armies, against the then archenemy, the Francs, Byzantine Emperors allowed Muslim Turks into modern day Bulgaria. They were used mainly as cavalry forces due to their excellent techniques in that kind of war. Over the coming decades the antagonism between the Francs and the Vatican from one side and the Byzantium from the other, led to the final conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Gradually virtually the whole of the Balkans came under Muslim dominance and were included in the Dar al Islam territory stretching from the Hindu river and up to Gibraltar.

In Bosnia in particular the sect of Vogomils –Eastern Orthodox sect-, converted to Islam for a variety of societal and spiritual reasons. Since the Vogomils were the affluent class of the central Balkans they soon became the ruling class over millions of Christians of mostly Slavic descent.

In Albania the Islamic takeover had a dramatic effect and in a matter of 150 years 2/3rds of the population converted from the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholicism into Islam. The main reason for such a large proselytism in Albania had been the traditional adherence towards the stronger ruler that the mountainous Albanians have showed since their early history. During the Roman Empire times, the Albanians served as elite corps in the Armies of the Emperors Empires –i.e. Diocletian was of Albanian descent- and tended to absorb the cultural and religious norms of their regional superintendents. The same was the case in the more or less Greek dominated Byzantium. As soon as the “Eastern Roman Empire” waned in favor of the Western one; there was a mass conversion to Catholicism in the early 13th century.

The historical collective path of the Albanian people can be compared with that of the mountainous Swiss that have eloquently absorbed influences and norms by the much larger and influential neighbors (Germany, France, and Italy).

It is against this historical background that the Islamic fundamentalist drama in the Balkans evolved in the 1990s. Evan F. Kohlmann, author of Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network argues that “key to understanding Al Qaida’s European cells lies in the Bosnian war of the 1990s”. Using the Bosnian war as their cover, Afghan-trained Islamic militants loyal to Osama bin Laden convened in the Balkans in 1992 to establish a European domestic terrorist infrastructure in order to plot their violent strikes against the United States

So, the outbreak of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992 presented an unparalleled opportunity for the international Mujaheedin to storm Europe, establish safe havens in the area and thus initiate re-conquest of regions they previously ruled. The leader of Bosnia, Alia Izebegovic was eager to obtain as much assistance as possible and didn’t hesitate in providing the necessary framework by which the Islamic ties were forged. In the same year, a variety of Islamic mercenaries flocked into the Balkans in order to support the “Holy cause”, meaning the establishment of the first Islamic state in Europe. The end of the war in 1995 saw quite a few of those mujahedin, acquiring Bosnian citizenship and establishing the first Islamic community in the village of Bocinja Donja. During 2006 and 2007, hundreds of citizenships were revoked by Islamists residing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nevertheless the whereabouts of most of them remain unknown, raising fears for potential terrorist acts by them in the future and in an European soil. What is more, the Novi Pazar town in Sanjak area in Southern Serbia; has become a core for Islamic fundamentalism, linked with Al-Qaeda cells. Novi Pazar is the focus of the Islamist attempt to build a landbridge from Albania and Kosovo to Bosnia. Further to the East, in southern Serbia’s Raška Oblast, are three other concentrations of Muslims: Sjenica and Pester area (lightly populated but mostly Muslim), Prijepolje (some 50 percent Muslim) and — very close to the Bosnia border where Republica Srpska controls the slender Gorazde corridor — Priboj (also some 50 percent Muslim). The land between is Serbian farmland, but the Islamist goal is to link the cities as “evidence” that the entire region is, or should be, Muslim territory. The same strategy worked successfully in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Serbian farmers were driven off their lands during the civil war.

Just south of the Serbian area of Raška Oblast is the Montenegrin part of Raška region, where, for example, Bijeljo Polje is some 60 to 80 percent Muslim, and Pijevlja, close to the Bosnian border, is about 40 percent Muslim. These Montenegrin towns, like those of the Western Serbian Raška region, are the key to the illicit arms and narcotrafficking across the Gorazde Corridor to Bosnia

A new Islamist university has opened in Novi Pazar, ostensibly a normal college, but led by an Islamist mufti of little formal education. This modern institution — whose officials proclaim it a normal educational institution — reveals its character in its symbol: the Wahabbi/Salafi Dawa symbol, an open Q’uran surmounted with a rising sun. The university, in a renovated former textile factory, is a known center of radical Islamist thinking. A book fair held there in early October 2003 distributed very radical Islamist literature, specifically advocating conflict with the West.

The Dawa sign indicates that the university is predominantly Saudi-funded, although some Western funding is known to have been pumped into the institution, reportedly largely to undermine Serb interests in the region.

Western tolerance of Islamic radicals, however, was one of the gravest mistakes of modern times. In addition, a well organized criminal network has already been established in Sarajevo that in a large extent facilitates illegal immigration from Asia to Europe. That activity is coupled with the narcotics trade that is being supplemented by the infamous “Balkan Drug route”. It is illuminating to note that the areas from where this route is passing are under Muslim influence mostly.

The Albanian factor

Albania was under the Communist rule during the Cold War, the most isolated country in Europe. The break of the Soviet Empire unleashed forces that were kept dormant in the society for decades, and resulted to some very interesting developments. In 1992 Albania becomes a member of the Islamic Conference, an international Islamic organization. The same year as well the government of Sali Berisha, currently also a Prime Minister, signed a military agreement with Turkey, thus enacting a series of discussions in the neighboring states, around the possibility of an Islamic arch from Istanbul to Sarajevo.

One of the main reasons the Albanian officials were eager to form strong ties with the Muslim world was the hope that large investments from the Gulf would ensure the uplifting of the decaying Albanian economy. Therefore the religious sentiment of the majority of Albanians, mostly in the North, was overplayed in order to gain capital from the Islamic world. Unfortunately no serious investment initiatives were undertaken; instead the Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, found another state to expand their illegal activities. Many different and respectable sources have indicated two visits by Bin Laden in Tirana that aimed into creating an Islamic platform for the country and the construction of terrorist networks within the territory.

An Albanian called Naseroudin Albani played an instrumental role in spreading extremist Islamic values into the Albanian society. He was a fugitive from Albania since 1963 and resided in Amman-Jordan. Sources from Albania point out that Albani organized radical Sunni sects back in the 70’s in the Middle East that became the nucleus of the modern day Mujahedin. Another Albanian, the then head of the Albania’s Secret service, SHIK, called Bashkim Gazidente assisted into implementing radical Islamic agenda in Albanian domestic policies. During the 1997 Albanian riots Gazidente fled from Albania and he is said to be an instrumental part in global Islamic networks. He fled presumably to a Middle Eastern country and currently he resides in Rome-Italy treated in a local hospital due to chronic illness; according to reliable regional sources.

The Al Qaeda factor in Albania was consolidated by the creation of the Arabic-Albanian bank, in which Bin Laden allegedly invested the sum of 11.4 million USD. This financial institution acted as a front cover for the transfer of capital for Islamic activities within the country. Just before Berisha’s political overturn in 1997, another Islamic institution called “El Farouk”, acted as a recruitment agency for young Albanians, under the pretext of a charity. One of the most dramatic indicators of the degree of Islamic presence in Albania is the militant Islamic training camp just outside Tirana, the same camp on which Berisha relied in his unsuccessful 1998 coup of his rival Fatos Nano.  At this point it is interesting to note that it was a well known fact around the international community of the nexus between organized crime syndicates, terrorist cells and the KLA, operating under and with Albanian assistance. Actually Albania was mainly used as springboard to neighboring Kosovo. In April 1999, some 500 Arab Mujahedeen were smuggled into the capital of Tirana. Their mission was to conduct special operations against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. They entered Kosovo from Northern Albania. The whole operation was led by Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Nairobi and Tanzania bombings of 1998 shocked the US administration into taking some action, for the first time, do dismantle terrorist’s networks. Soon, the pressure fell on Albania and in the October of the same month individuals of Middle Eastern origin were rounded up and deported. The head of SHIK, Fatos Clozi, admitted for the first the existence of extremists in Albania and promised the eradication of the terrorist nucleus.

The 9/11 attacks proved to be a fatal blow for the radicals in Albania and the USA forces have more or less neutralize any remaining cells. The government of Albania, which is more than willing to become inducted in the Euro-Atlantic security framework, has ceased to seek Islamic assistance and the current Berisha’s administration has refaced its Islamic outlook into a modern European one.

Nevertheless, the Albanian-Islamic connection is now concentrated in Kosovo, the very same province NATO forces are stationed! There is an overwhelming variety of sources and reports that indicate a well established fundamentalist presence in that area. It is a common secret in the international community that the West kept a blind eye during the 1998-1999 Winter where hundreds of Mujahedin joined the UCK forces and helped it expand.  Shaul Shay describes “The [Kosovo Albanian] KLA enjoyed the support of former Albanian President Sali Berisha, who regarded the war in Kosovo as a Jihad and issued a call to all Muslims to fight for the protection of their homeland”.

At that period the means justified the end which was the disbandment of the Russian influence in the Balkans, as the Clinton administration viewed the Milosevic one. The result was a resurge of Islamic radical networks in the region, thus eliminating the beneficial results of previous actions against it. Moreover Russia managed to regroup and it is still viewed as a great player in South Eastern Europe.

The newly independent Montenegro nowadays faces a long term Islamic population bomb and it is certain that should current trends continue, in 2050 half of the population would be Muslim That is not of course a prelude of terrorism action per se, but the overall turbulent Balkan history and the existence of terror networks in nearby Kosovo do not assure a tranquil political future for the newest Balkan state.

The FYROM is also another terrain where the delicate balance between radicalism and Muslim secularism is taking place. Back in 2001, an Albanian uprising nearly resulted in the disintegration of the state although nowadays there is an uneasy stability. However any negative developments in Kosovo will affect directly the country which is also the epicenter of the Balkans by a geopolitical point of view.

Lastly the Sanjak area in Southern Serbia is a territory to watch, where the Wahhabi strain of Islam has gained tremendous influence in the local Muslim population. On March 2007 a terrorist cell was disbanded by the Serbian authorities and a terrorist plan was dwarfed at the last minute .Again Kosovo as the centre of radicalism in the Balkans could play the role of the powder keg for any developments in Sanjak, against the Serbian population in the region.

The EU strategists, whoever they may be, must become aware of the complicated Balkan reality: the region is a mostly secular one, but it has the peculiarity of hosting safe havens of terrorists and organized crime related Islamists. Most of these areas are under international protection a paradox that ridicules the entire Western anti terror campaign. Another worrying fact is the real danger of proliferation of chemical or biological weapons into the hands of terrorists, especially in the case of Albania.  Already this threat is one of the top priorities for the security services across Southeastern Europe, and Greece along with the USA, Italy, Switzerland, and the European Union; assists Albania in destroying the stockpiles of its chemical weapons. It is worthwhile to mention that the Albanian authorities had discovered 16 tons of chemicals in 2002, stored in an underground cache, but there are no verified accounts if any amount had been stolen during the 1997 riots, thus raising a question as to whether terrorist organizations already have taken hold of quantities of chemicals.

Lastly, the attack on the USA Embassy in Athens-Greece in January 2007 with an RPG weaponry, is assumed to have a Balkan-Albanian connection, meaning source it came from, the “Weapons black market” vividly active in the borderlines between Kosovo and FYROM.

Only a coordinated pan European operation would be able to eradicate this perilous condition. The bombings in Madrid and in London had a Balkan flavor in them, namely the explosives used, according to many, came from those very same Muslim pockets in the Balkans that are protected by Western armies. For the future then, Islamic radicalism in the Balkans is an X factor. What is certain though is that this factor will not be used for the benefit of the West and the only way of neutralize it is by disrupting its logistic and financial base.

The only obstacle so far for the successful inaction of a “Balkan war on terror” are the careers in various world capitals, that are related on the perception of half truths and half lies about the West’s involvement in the Yugoslav wars and the use of the Islamic X factor on them. Political ambitious, international reputations and the all pervading political correctness, hinders the right actions to be taken. Unfortunately the implications of the Western involvement have spilled-over worldwide and with dire consequences regarding the global anti-terror campaign. Shaul Shay states that “In the course of 1999-2000, several terror cells were discovered in the U.S. and Canada. Some of their members lived in Bocinja [Bosnia] or were connected to radical Islamic entities that resided there”. The West followed a contradictory stance in the Balkans where it promoted the advance of radical Islamic elements linked to terrorism, in the same period -1999- it enacted the attacks against Serbia, thus empowering the former.

A great leader once said “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. That surely sums up the mentality of the international officials around this Balkan “X factor”.

The Muslim minorities in the Balkans

In contemporary Europe there is a great debate on the role of Islam in modern societies and the path that the European-Muslim relationship will lead into the 21st century. The Balkans is a European area where considerable Muslim communities reside, some of them for over 700 hundred years and since the era of the Ottoman Empire.

The Balkan Peninsula was always an area characterized by continuous population arrivals and exodus due to the turbulent history of the region and because of its geopolitical disposition in the midst of three continents. Sine the fall of the Roman Empire immigration and conquest waves have over the centuries shaped the population composition of this European soil. The Slavs in the 6th Century AC, the Bulgarians in the 7th and the Turks in the 14th one, have all constructed more or less modern ethno-diversity in the Balkans.

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

Two Muslim Kosovo Albanians as the members of the ISIL in Syria in 2015

The former were able –after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 AC- to create the Ottoman Empire stretching from modern day Saudi Arabia and North Africa, right up to the infamous “Gates of Vienna” or more specifically in Klagenfurt and the Styria province. During much of the previous 6 centuries, there have been massive conversions to Islam that formatted the existing Islamic enclaves in the Balkans. The fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989 and the civil wars in Ex-Yugoslavia; brought the remembrance of the religion wars that were a part of the Balkan history for the better part of the last Millennium.

Nowadays, all Balkan states-Bar Rumania- have Muslim minorities that are part of the social and political life of the respective states and most importantly have been often accused as acting like a “Trojan Horse” from powers seeking to exercise influence in the area.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia was already a part of the Ottoman realm, back in 1463 and a mass conversion of the Bogomil Christian sect, endured the existence of a large and influential Islamic community in the state. This area was for centuries the epicenter of the Balkan Muslim life, since it was ideally placed in the centre of South Eastern Europe and had a viable and vibrant Muslim community. In this point it has to be noted that the Bogomils were the most affluent class of Bosnia and their adherence to Islam constituted an initiative from their part to retain their privileges and rights under the newly formed dominion.

In 1908 Bosnia-Herzegovina was annexed by the then Austria-Hungarian Empire, at the same period the idea of a united confederation of the Southern Slavs –Serbs, Croats, Slovenians- was gaining hold. The creation of Yugoslavia after WW1 didn’t resolve the wide religious and cultural gaps between Catholics, Orthodox and Sunni Muslims. The Second World War saw the alliance between the Fascist, pro-German Croatian regime of Andre Pavelic and the Muslims in Bosnia.

Actually in 1943 the latter created the 13th Mountainous SS Brigade –Waffen Gerbings Division der SS- that committed atrocities against the civilian Serbian population in a classic ethnic cleansing fashion. In 1944 a similar brigade was to be formed by the Kosovo Albanians -21st Skanderberg Brigade- that sought as well the elimination of Serbians from Kosovo-Metohija.

During the 90’s Mujahedeen from various Islamic states, fought along the Bosnian Muslims against both the Croatians and the Serbs. Numerous allegations and documents reveal a strong Jihad connection between the then Izebegovic administration and Al Qaeda operatives that sought a safe have in the centre of the Balkans and close to mainland Europe. Stephen Schwartz  notes “Muslim Bosnia and neighboring territories also face growing Islamist extremism. Wahhabi missionaries, promoting the ultraradical cult financed by Saudi Arabia, have come back to the Balkans after their expulsion from Sarajevo in the aftermath of September 11. Bosnian authorities acted then with admirable speed in cracking down on the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a center of al Qaeda activity”. Currently 40% of Bosnia’s population is Muslims, mainly populating the urban centers.

Serbia-FYROM-Montenegro

Serbia’s largest Muslim minority is to be found in Kosovo where over 90% of the population is of Albanian descent and Muslim in denomination. The situation after the 1999 NATO intervention has revealed a massive destruction of the Serbian Christian Orthodox heritage. Kosovo has been since the early Middle Ages a traditional Serbian pilgrimage and state epicenter. The negotiations in action concerning the status of the province have come to a halt and there is a great debate within the international community on which direction Kosovo should move on within the coming months.

The percentage of the Muslims in Kosovo was traditionally 50-60% from the Ottoman period and up until the 1950’s. The mass immigrations of Albanians from Northern Albania, the immigration of Serbians to Europe and the very high birth rate of the former; resulted in the creation of an almost homogenized Albanian-Muslim Kosovo in the course of the second half of the 20th century.  The importance of Kosovo to the Serbian psyche, stems amongst other by the greatness of its artistic, literature and architecture grandeur during the Middle Ages and under the Serbian Nemanjia Kingdom, most probably the most highlighted era in the history of the Serbian Kingdom.

Another Serbian province with large numbers of Muslims is Sanjak –Close to Kosovo borderline- that is also a habitation of Wahabbi strings as recent investigations point out.

FYROM is a state that can be characterized as a hub between Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. Due to its unique placement it always attracted various ethnic and religious minorities, amongst them the largest would be the Muslim one. It is mainly composed by Albanians, Turks and Roma. After the 1999 war, scores of Kosovo Albanians sought refuge in FYROM thus increasing the total percentage of Muslims in the country. The 2001 conflicts between the Slavic majority of the country and the Albanian minority revealed a cultural chasm between them, as well as, he fear of the Slavs that the high birth rates of their Muslim compatriots will lead them to majority levels in the course of the 21st century. Already, grossly 30% of the citizens claim Muslim religion.

Montenegro always had a small Islamic community that has risen up considerably due to the continuous influx of refugees because of the Yugoslavian wars in the 90’s. Roughly 20% of the population is Muslim, and their vote was crucial during the independence referendum in 2006, that broke Montenegro’s ties with Serbia.

Albania

Albania is the only Balkan country that has an absolute majority in terms of Muslim citizens. Officially 70% of the population is Sunni Muslims, even though there are considerable segments of non-practicing secular ones. The main reason for such a large Muslim impact in the state is the mass conversion during the Ottoman Empire that saw a considerable stratum of the Albanian population exchanging their Christian religion for Islam in order to gain considerable advantages in the Ottoman bureaucracy and army. Actually many Turkish historical figures were Albanians, and one of them rose to become the first Pasha of Egypt; Mehmet Ali Pasha.

Albania since 1992 is a member of the Islamic conference, an intergovernmental Muslim organization and it has often become a country focused by the international community because of links by fundamentalists and members of the state apparatus.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has a considerable Muslim minority in the southern regions bordering with Greece and Turkey. The Communist regime in Bulgaria after 1945, initiated measures that forced Muslims –Of Turkish descent mostly- to immigrate to Turkey. In the 1980’s alone 300, 000 of those were to flee Bulgaria. Nevertheless the percentage of Muslims in the country is well over 10% and they exercise significant influence in the political climate of Bulgaria. The existence of a well established Turkish-Muslim minority in Bulgaria has proved to be one of the main reasons for the Greek-Bulgaria rapprochement that enacted in the mid-70’s and continues up to date, bringing the two states with a colorful history of rivalry together; along with excellent bilateral relations.

Greece

Greece’s Muslim minority is to be found in Western Thrace, the province neighboring with Bulgaria and Turkey. The first Muslim coming from Anatolia, settled there in 1363 along with the Ottoman Turks in the first European conquest Endeavour.

In 1923 Greece and Turkey agreed to a mass exchange of populations and consequently Greeks resettled from Minor Asia to mainland Greece and vice versa. The Muslim minority in Thrace along with the Greek-Orthodox in Istanbul remained as a counterweight to its other and as a symbolic remembrance of the oldest Muslim settlement in Europe and the historical Byzantine – Christian presence in the East respectively.

The course of events though revealed a systematic extinction of the Greek-Orthodox Christians in Istanbul that number some 5,000 people down from 200,000 in the 1920’s. In Western Thrace 110,000 Muslims reside and constitute a 1% of the total population in Greece and a Quarter of the Western Thracian populous.

Future trends

In all Balkan states excluding Greece the overall Muslim population is set to increase because of very low birth rate of the Christian population –Especially in Bulgaria- and the reverse trend by the Islamic communities. Moreover an immigration movement from the Balkans towards Western Europe has actually lowered population like in Bulgaria, over the past decade or so.

The Balkans has always constituted one of the fiercest terrains of ethnic – Cultural enmity in Europe. The reasons for the above are the placement of the Peninsula close to Asia that reserved the role of the “European gatekeeper” for the whole of South Eastern Europe. One has to remember of the Kraijna border area created by the Austrians in the 17th century in order to counterweight the Ottoman forces [89. Moreover the Venetians were active in recruiting Greeks as “Stradioti” in order to combat all along the Aegean Archipelagos and the Greek coastline.

Future seems to have elements of repeating this situation due to the ongoing rivalry between West and East, a phenomenon that one can easily retrieve by reading Homer’s Iliad or by comprehending the Persians wars dated in the 5th century BC, as they were recorded by Herodotus historiography. The Balkans are the borderline area between the West and the East, where the two either meet or contest and in any case synthesize or degenerate.

In lieu of a conclusion

The overall challenges for the security and intelligence services, oriented in the Balkan region seems overwhelming, judging by the multitude of the challenges involved and the tasks needed to overcome them. The current époque has brought –Especially to Greece- the re-engineering of security policies, in order to combat non- symmetrical threats such as the ones of organized crime and terrorism. Taking into account the globalization process, the interrelation between societies and the breathtaking advancements in telecommunications and transport; it is fair to assume that certain issues should be seriously reflected upon, on a different perspective than the traditional mode.

A multiparty approach to organized crime should be form here upon the core of any intelligence activity in the Balkans. Organized crime –Along with the rest of the perils for modern societies- need measures that are up to the modern way of life and communication of ours. A parallel and well constructed method of Open Source Intelligence gathering and the operation of specialized crime intelligence units will certainly help towards the aim of curbing crime and its calamities. In addition a conclusive analysis and synthesis of the available information, without any bias; should be the core of any serious attempt into reaching viable prognosis and stall malicious situations such as terrorists incidents and further empowerment  of organized crime.

In order for the aforementioned to become a custom reality, there has to be a constructive and significant replenish of the human resources involved and an upgrade of the present era technical equipment. Therefore decisions should be taken soon enough so as to foresee any positive results, before events surpass the ability of the intelligence community to react and function properly.  The Balkan Peninsula remains more than ever “The soft underbelly of Europe”, apart from the other more conventional menaces in the wider Eastern Mediterranean area.

Bibliography:

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Footnotes for : “Islamic terrorism and the Balkans: The perfect training ground”

Strategic Culture Foundation Journal (03/04/2007), By Mikhail Yambaev, ” Kosovo-2007: Russia’s Moment of Truth”. Web Site: http://en.fondsk.ru/article.php?id=643

Congressional Research Service – The Library of the USA Congress- (26/07/2005), Report by Steven Woehrel, Specialist in European Affairs; Foreign Affairs, Defense & Trade Division. “Islamic Terrorism & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL33012.pdf

Strategic Insights Journal, Volume IV, Issue 5 (05/2005), By CPT Attanassoff; Bulgarian Armed Forces, “Bosnia Herzegovina: Islamic Terrorism”. Website: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2005/May/attanassoffMay05.asp

Ibid.

MSNBC News Service (16/06/2004), “9/11 Commission Staff Statement”. Website: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5224099/

The Irish Examiner Newspaper (14/07/2005), “Explosives used in London bombings originated in the Balkans”. Website: http://archives.tcm.ie/irishexaminer/2005/07/14/story664838892.asp

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USA TODAY Newspaper (2002), “Bin Laden linked to Albania”. Website: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/bomb162.htm

The center for Peace in the Balkans (09/2001), “Bin Laden’s Balkan connections”. Website: http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=/content/analysis/a09.incl

New York Times Newspaper (10/06/2000), “Stolen Albanian weapons”. Website: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A00E3DC1F3FF933A25755C0A9669C8B63&n=Top%2fNews%2fWorld%2fCountries%20and%20Territories%2fAlbania

USA TODAY Magazine; Society for the advancement of education (05/2002), By Ivan Eland, “Provoking terrorist groups”. Website: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1272/is_2684_130/ai_86062103/pg_1

Novi Sad weekly Newspaper “Nezavisni” (11/09/1998), By Slobodan Inic, “Defeat of KLA in Kosovo”. Website: http://mediafilter.org/Monitor/Mon.66/Mon.66.nezavisni1.html

Balkanalysis News Agency; Security & Intelligence Brief-Part 1 (26/06/2006), By Christopher Deliso, “Dragas pocket worries terrorism experts”. Website: http://www.balkanalysis.com/security-intelligence-briefs/06262006-dragas-pocket-worries-terrorism-experts/

The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor Journal, Volume 4, Issue 12 (15/06/2006), By Anes Alic. “Al Qaeda’s recruitment operations in the Balkans. Website: http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370031

The USA Embassy in Rome-Italy Publications , CRS Report (06/01/2006), By Kristin Archick (Coordinator), John Rollins, and Steven Woehrel, “ Islamic extremism in Europe”. Website: http://www.italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RS22211.pdf

RAND Institute Publications, Monograph (04/1998), Chapter 3, By Phil Williams, “Transnational Criminal Networks”. Website: www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1382/MR1382.ch3.pdf

Balkanalysis News Agency (17/04/2006), Interview of Loretta Napoleoni by Balkanalysis, “Terrorist finance & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.balkanalysis.com/?p=667

Official Journal the European Communities; Council Common Position (16/07/2001), “Concerning a visa ban against extremists in FYROM”. Web site: eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2001:194:0055:0055:EN:PDF

Axis Global Research Corporation (11/10/2005), By Can Karpat, AIA Balkan section, “Political Solution and Terrorism in F.Y.R.Macedonia”. Website: http://www.axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=430

University of Buffalo; Listserv Buffalo (04/03/2002), By MILS News, “Seven terrorist killed near Skopje”. Website: http://listserv.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0203a&L=maknws-l&T=0&P=298

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (04/2002), By Lt. Col. Harry Dinella, Policy Advisor, Western Policy Center, “Uncertainty in the Slav-Albanian Partnership”. Website: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=109941&fuseaction=topics.documents&doc_id=119929&group_id=115869

University of Belgrade; Faculty of Security Studies Publications (2002), By Prof. Drako Trifunovic, “Terrorism and Bosnia and Herzegovina – Al-Qaeda’s Global Network and its influence on Western Balkans nations” P. 9-11.

Washington Post Newspaper (01/12/2005), By Rade Maroevic and Daniel Williams, “Terrorist Cells Find Foothold in Balkans”. Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/30/AR2005113002098.html

Ibid.

The Jamestown Foundation; Terrorism Monitor Journal; Volume II; Issue 20, (21/10/2004), By Stephen Schwartz, “Wahhabism and al-Qaeda in Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

PfP Consortium; Study Group Crisis Management in South East Europe; Vienna and Sarajevo (12/2002), By Alfred C. Lugert, “Preventing and Combating Terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina”

University of Belgrade; Faculty of Security Studies Publications (2002), By Prof. Drako Trifunovic, “Terrorism and Bosnia and Herzegovina – Al-Qaeda’s Global Network and its influence on Western Balkans nations” P. 16-17.

Kokalis Foundation; Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University, Paper presentation by Teodora Popesku, “Tackling Terrorism in the Balkans. Website: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/kokkalis/GSW9/Popescu_paper.pdf

United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Current as of 13/05/2007), “Bosnia & Herzegovina travel advice”. Website: www.fco.gov.uk/…/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390590&a=KCountryAdvice&aid=1013618385675

Quoted in Truth in Media news broadcast in  Phoenix; USA( 02/04/1999)

Covert Action Journal; No. 56.  (Spring 1996), By Michel Chossudovsky, professor at the Department of Economics at University of Ottawa, “Dismantling Yugoslavia; Colonizing Bosnia”. Website:  http://www.lbbs.org/yugoslavia.htm

Association of Breton & Celtic journalists (21/09/1998), By Roger Faligot, “How Germany backed KLA”. Website: http://www.bretagnenet.com/reporter-breton/archives/germany.htm

Geopolitical Drug Watch Journal; No 32 (06/1994). P. 4

Covert Action Quarterly Journal; No. 43, (Winter 1992-93), By Sean Gervasi, “Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis”

Intelligence and National Security, Volume 19, Number 4 (12/2004), pp. 632-654(23), By Todd Stiefler, ” CIA’s Leadership and Major Covert Operations: Rogue Elephants or Risk-Averse Bureaucrats?”

Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Illinois Institute of Technology (1996), ” Nationbuilding in the Balkans-History of Albanians”. Web Site: http://pbosnia.kentlaw.edu/resources/history/albania/albhist.htm

Evan F. Kohlmann, “Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe“,Berg Publications, Preface, Oxford-UK, September 2004.

Kokalis Foundation; Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University, Presentation paper by Xavier Bougarel, “Islam & Politics in the Post-Communist Balkans. Website: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/kokkalis/GSW1/GSW1/13%20Bougarel.pdf

Foreign Military Studies Publications (02/1995), By LTC John E. Sray, U.S. Army, “Mujahedin Operations in Bosnia”. Website: http://leav-www.army.mil/fmso/documents/muja.htm

Department of the USA Navy; Naval Historical Centre Publications (26/07/2005), By Steven Woehrel, “Islamic terrorism & the Balkans”. Website: http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/islamic_terrorism.htm

Ibid.

Reuters, Alert Net Service (11/04/2007), By Daria Sito-Sucic, “Bosnia revokes citizenship of Islamic ex-soldiers”. Web Site: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L1151505.htm

Information was provided by a variety of ISSA Reports, informal journalist sources from Serbia, Albania & FYROM. The material has been made publicly else were and has not been contended for its reliability.

For extensive and sensitive information on the subject see: ISSA Special Report (17/09/2003). Web Site: http://128.121.186.47/ISSA/reports/Balkan/Sep1703.htm#App1

Council on Foreign Relations; Open Edition (13/02/2002), By David L. Phillips, “Keeping the Balkans free of Al-Qaeda”. Website: http://www.cfr.org/publication/4344/rule_of_law.html?breadcrumb=%2Fregion%2F385%2Fbalkans

European Commission; External Affairs Service (2004), “The Contribution of the European Commission to the Implementation of the EU-Central Asia Action Plan on Drugs”. Website: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/drugs/hero.htm

Organization of Islamic Conference (2007), memberships. Website: www.oic-un.org/about/members.htm

Center for Contemporary Conflict; Strategic Insights; Volume V; Issue 4 (04/2006), Anouar Boukhars, “ The challenge of terrorism in Jordan”. Website: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2006/Apr/boukharsApr06.asp

ISSA Research & Analysis Corporation; Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis (16/01/2006), “Kosovo SHIK Directly Linked With Albanian SHIK Intelligence Organization”.

According to Stavro Markos, acclaimed Albanian journalist, correspondent for UK, French and Greek media.

Global Research Organization Publications (22/10/2003), By Michel Chossudovsky, “Regime rotation in the USA”. Website: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO310B.html

Federation of American Scientists Publications (1998), By Milan. V. Petkovic, “Albanian terrorists”. Website: http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/980000-kla-petkovic-terror.htm

Alessandro Politi, “European Security: The New Transnational Risks,”Chaillot Papers, No. 29, October, 1997. This paper discusses analytically the strong evidence around the KLA’s tendencies towards criminal actions well before the U.S. intervention in Kosovo and with the suffice knowledge by the international bodies. ALSO see an article by the Independent newspaper (25/09/2002), “Bin Laden linked to Albanian drug gangs”. Website: http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/Web%20Pages/INDEPENDENT_Bin%20Laden%20linked%20to%20Albanian%20drug%20gangs.htm

Der Spiegel, 24 September 2001, p. 15

Federation of American Scientists Publications; Patterns of global terrorism (1998), “Europe overview”. Website: http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/terror_98/europe.htm

International Herarld Tribune (22/12/2006), “Albania seizes assets of alleged bin Laden associate”. Web Site: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/22/europe/EU_GEN_Albania_Terror_Financing.php

Voice of America News Service (08/05/2007), “Albania supports War on terror”. Website: http://www.voanews.com/english/About/2007-05-08-albania-foreign-minister.cfm

Anti War Article & Analysis Organization (19/09/2001), By Christopher Deliso, “How Islamic terrorism took root in Albania”. Website: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/deliso5.html

Shay Shaul “Islamic Terror and the Balkans”,P. 82, Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, December2006

For detailed information on terrorist sympathizers in the Sanjak area ( Names, locations), see a GIS Security Briefing: http://www.slobodan-milosevic.org/news/dfasa040307.htm (Reprint)

ISSA Research & Analysis Corporation; Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis (03/2007), By Darko Trifunovic, “Terrorism: The case of Bosnia, Sanzak & Kosovo”.

United Nations Information Service in Vienna (01/10/2004), Press Release SOC/CP/311, “UN warning on terrorism in the Balkans”. Website: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/soccp311.doc.htm

Washington Post (20/01/2005), By John Stilides, “Albania’s Dangerous Past”.

Boston Globe (o1/05/2006), By Jonathan B. Tucker and Paul F. Walker  , “A long way to go in eliminating chemical weapons”. Web Site: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/05/01/a_long_way_to_go_in_eliminating_chemical_weapons/

Kathimerini Newspaper (07/02/2007), “ Kosovo link to Embassy strike”. Web Site: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100012_07/02/2007_79818

Shay Shaul “Islamic Terror and the Balkans”,P. 70, Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, December2006

Of course there were interactions of a great scale between the Byzantines and the Arab Muslims well before the arrival of the Ottomans in the Balkans. For more see: H.T. Norris “Islam in the Balkans: Religion and Society Between Europe and the Arab World”, P. 43-50, C. Hurst & Co, London, Jan 1994

Nexhat Ibrahimi, “Islam’s first contacts with the Balkan nations”. Web site: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/6875/nexhat.html

The USA Pentagon Library; Selected bibliography on Balkan conflicts. Website: http://www.hqda.army.mil/library/balkans.htm

Wikipedia (2007), “Bogomils”. Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogomil

For an articulate description of the “ Bogomils” and their impact in the Pan-European history see: Medieval Cathares History:Short History of Bosnian Bogomils. Web Site: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/9892/bhhisto.html

Serbianna News Agency (11/04/2006), By Carl Savich, “The role of the Bosnian Muslims in WW2”. Website: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/077.shtml  & http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/006.shtml

The Counterterrorism Blog (17/08/2005), “Jihadist found a convenient base in Bosnia”. Website: http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2005/08/jihadists_find_.html

Schwartz Stephen, “The failure of Europe in Bosnia and the Continuing Infiltration of Islamic Extremists”, The Weekly Standard, 20 June 2005

CIA Publications; Factbook; Bosnia-Herzegovina (2005). Website: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bk.html

Serbianna News Agency (23/10/2006), By Russell, Gordon “Behind Kosovo’s façade”. Website: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/gordon/004.shtml

Radio Free Europe; Background Report/253 (31/10/1983), By Louis Zanga, “Albanian Population Growth”. Reprinted by the Open Society Foundation Archives. Website: http://files.osa.ceu.hu/holdings/300/8/3/text/3-13-10.shtml

Kaplan, Robert D. “Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History”,P. 95-98 St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1993. The chapter of Kaplan on Serbia, extensively and articulately grasps the importance of Kosovo-Metohija for the Serbian nation and the consequences of a potential loose of that territory.

USA AID Organization Publications (2002), “Wahhabi presence in Sanjak”. Website: www.pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADC982.pdf

Indian Ministry of External Affairs Publications (2003), “Assessment of FYROM”. Website: www.meaindia.nic.in/foreignrelation/macedonia.pdf

BBC News (32/12/2005), “Muslims in Europe: Country guide”. Web Site: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4385768.stm

Wikipedia (2007), “History of Ottoman Albania”. Website: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ottoman_Albania

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Publications (11/2003), “The human rights of Muslims in Bulgaria in law and politics since 1978”. Chapter 2, Paragraph 2. Web site: www.bghelsinki.org/special/en/2003_Muslims_fm.doc

Hellenic Resources Network Organization, “Presentation of the Lausanne Treaty”. Website: www.hri.org/docs/straits/exchange.html

London School of Economics; Hellenic Observatory Annual Symposium; Paper presentation, By Giorgios Niarchos Ph.D Candidate, “Continuity & Change in the minority policies of Greece & Turkey”. Website: www.lse.ac.uk/collections/hellenicObservatory/pdf/symposiumPapersonline/Niarchos.pdf

Ibid. AND Saudi Aramco Corporation Publications (08/1976), By Pamela Roberson, “Islam in Greece”. P. 26-32

BBC News (23/12/2005), “Muslims in Europe: Country guide”. Website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4385768.stm

Wikipedia (2007), “Kraijna”. Web Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krajina, ALSO for an in-depth analysis of the ethno-religious lines during the era of the Ottoman Empire in the Northern Balkans: Blumi Isa,”Contesting the edges of the Ottoman Empire: Rethinking ethnic and sectarian boundaries in the Malesore”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 35:P. 237-256, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003

M. E. Mallet and J. R.Hale, “The Military organization of a Renaissance State: Venice ca. 1400 to 1617″,Cambridge University Press,London, 1984


Footnotes for: “Narcotics and the emergence of crime syndicates in the Balkans”

Interpol official publication (2006), “Heroin production”, Website: http://www.interpol.int/Public/Drugs/heroin/default.asp

Council of Foreign Affairs (09/2006), by Lionel Beehner; “Afghanistan’s role in Iran’s Drug problem”. Website:  http://www.cfr.org/publication/11457/

BBC News Europe (03/08/2000), “Albanian mafia steps up people smuggling”. Website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/863620.stm

Federal Research Division, Library of Congress (12/2002), By Glenn E. Curtis & Tara Karacan. Website: http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/WestEurope_NEXUS.pdf

Website of  Xavier Raufer: http://www.xavier-raufer.com/

The Washington Quarterly Journal (09/1999), By Frank Cilluffo & George Salmoiraghi. Website: http://www.twq.com/autumn99/224Cilluffo.pdf

EUROPOL Publications (2005), “EU Report on drug production and drug traffiking 2003-2004. Web site : http://www.europol.europa.eu/publications/SeriousCrimeOverviews/2005/SC2Drugs-2005.pdf

CEMES Institute (2004), “Balkan trafficking report”.  Website: http://www.cemes.org/current/ethpub/ethnobar/wp1/wp1-d.htm

Sisyphe Organization (02/2005), By Prof. Richard Poulin, “The legalization of prostitution and its impact in trafficking of women and children”. Website: http://sisyphe.org/article.php3?id_article=1596

Maltz D. Michael , “Defining Organized Crime”, in: Robert J. Kelly et al. (eds.), Handbook of Organized Crime in the United States, Westport/London 1994, 21-37. ALSO for the particular Modus Opperandi of the Albanian criminal groups see: Raufer, Xavier avec Stéphane Quéré. “La Mafia Albanaise, une Menace pour l’Europe: Comment est née cette Superpuissance Criminelle Balkanique” P. 12-124, Lausanne, Favre, 2000.

United Nations Information Service in Vienna (09/2004), “Nexus between drugs, crime & terrorism”. Website: http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2004/uniscp500.html

Xavier Raufer (2002), “At the heart of the Balkan chaos: Albanian mafia”. Website: http://www.xavier-raufer.com/english_5.php

BIA -Security Information Agency- (09/2003), “Organized crime in Kosovo & Metohija”. Website: http://www.decani.org/albterrorism.html

National Post (04/2000), By Patrick Graham, “Drug wars: Kosovo’s new battles”. Website: http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=article&articleid=7582

Wikipedia (2007), “Albanians”. Website: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanians

Observatoire Geopolitque des Drogues Foundation; Annual Report (1996) “The World Geopolitics of Drugs”.Page 61-75.

Wikipedia (2007), “Opium”. Website: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium

FBI Publications (2002), “Report on transnational narcotics trade”. Website: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/orgcrime/lcn/ioc.htm

Drug Text organization, Reference library, By McCoy, “Marseille: America’s heroin labatory”. Website: http://www.drugtext.org/library/books/McCoy/book/11.htm

Federation of American Scientists briefing, “Kurds I Turkey”. Website: http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/turkey_background_kurds.htm

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed. (2001-2005), “Iran-Iraq war”. Website: http://www.bartleby.com/65/ir/IranIraq.html

Charles R. Grosvenor Jr. (2007), “The Iran-Contra scandal”. Website: http://www.inthe80s.com/scandal.shtml

Lobster Magazine; Issue 30 (1995), “Persian Drugs: Oliver North, the DEA and Covert Operations in the Mideast”

German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (10/2006), “Profile of Turkey”. Website: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/en/Laender/Tuerkei.html

DHKC Information Bureau (01/1997), “The Susurluk accident”. Website: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/289.html

BBC News (06/10/2005), By Sarah Rainsford, “ Turkey at the drugs crossroads”. Web site: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4305692.stm

West Network organization (1998), “Corruption in Turkey”. Website: http://users.westnet.gr/~cgian/cillermurder.htm

Le Monde Diplomatic (07/1998), By Kendal Nezan, “Turkey’s pivotal role in international drugs trade”. Website: http://mondediplo.com/1998/07/05

Centre for Drugs Research-University of Amsterdam- (1998), By Tim Boekhout Van Solinge, “Drugs use & trafficking in Europe”. Website: http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/boekhout.drug.pdf

Ibid

Journalismus Nachrichten Von Heute (11/12/2006), “The Highjacking of a Nation”, Quoting Mark Galeotti, a former UK intelligence officer and expert on the Turkish mafia. Web Site: oraclesyndicate.twoday.net/stories/3049459

Centre for European Reform (07/2006), By Hugo Brady, “Organized crime & punishment”. Web Site: http://www.cer.org.uk/articles/brady_esharp_july_aug06.html

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Publications, “Open Edition on Albanian people”. Web Site: http://www.thefellowship.info/Global%20Missions/UPG/Albanian.icm

CNN (26/10/2004), By Eric Pearce, “Albanian crime rings suspects arrested”. Website: http://www.mfa.gov.yu/FDP/CNN-261004_1.html

Balkanalysis news agency (30/11/2006), By Christopher Deliso, “The hijacking of a nation, part-2”. Website: http://www.balkanalysis.com/2006/11/30/the-hijacking-of-a-nation-part-2-the-auctioning-of-former-statesmen-dime-a-dozen-generals/

American Council for Kosovo organization (28/08/2006), “Text of report in English by Belgrade based Radio B92”. Website: http://www.savekosovo.org/default.asp?p=5&leader=0&sp=118

Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (11/05/2005), “Bucharest Declaration”. Website: http://www.mvpei.hr/seecp/docs/7_BUCHAREST_DECLARATION_11_MAY_2005.pdf

Subcommittee on European Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate (30/10/2003), Testimony by Grant D. Ashley, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division, FBI, “Eurasian, Italian, and Balkan Organized Crime”. Website: http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress03/ashley103003.htm ALSO see more on: Galeotti, Mark. 2001. “Albanian Gangs Gain Foothold in European Crime Underworld.” Jane’s Intelligence Review 13(11, November): 25-7.

CIAO organization, interview of Mark Edmond Clark in CIAO, “Terrorism and organized crime”. Website: http://www.ciaonet.org/special_section/iraq/papers/clm10/clm10.html

The Center for Peace in the Balkans (06/2003), “Humanitarian bombing vs. Iraqi freedom”. Website: http://www.balkanpeace.org/index.php?index=/content/analysis/a14.incl

Global Policy Forum (2004), “Kosovo”. Website: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security//issues///ksvindx.htm

Gus Xhudo. (1996) “Men of Purpose: The Growth of Albanian Criminal Activity.” Transnational Organized Crime. 2(1). Spring: 1-20

Website of  Xavier Raufer: http://www.xavier-raufer.com/

Wikipedia (2007), “Albanian Mafia”. Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanian_mafia

USA Department of State (2006), Trafficking in person’s reports”. Website: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/

Albanian-Canadian organization (2006), “Dateline of Albanian history”. Website: http://www.albanian.ca/datehistory.htm

Serbianna News Agency (19/04/2005), By M. Bozinovich, “Al-Qaeda in Kosovo”. Website: http://www.serbianna.com/columns/mb/035.shtml

Interpol official publication (2006), “Heroin production”, Website: http://www.interpol.int/Public/Drugs/heroin/default.asp

Italian Parliament Publications (29/03/2006), Report by Senator Alberto Maritati, “Organized crime in the Balkans with a reference to Albania”. Website:

www.cespi.it/Rotta/Ascod-criminalità/maritati.PDF

Open Democracy Foundation (16/08/2006), By Ilija Trojanow, “Bulgaria: The Mafia’s dance to Europe”. Website: http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/bulgaria_3825.jsp

Information acquired through various reliable journalistic sources in Bulgaria

Robert Schumann Foundation (17/10/2006), By Corrine Deloy, “Presidential election in Bulgaria”. Website: http://www.robert-schuman.org/anglais/oee/bulgarie/presidentielle/default2.htm

Xenakis Sappho, “International Norm Diffusion and Organised Crime Policy: The Case of Greece”,  Global Crime, Volume 6, Issue 3 & 4 August 2004 , pages 345 – 373, London.

Business Week Journal (20/06/2005), BY Alkman Granitsas, “Digging for gold in the Balkans”. Website: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_25/b3938161_mz035.htm


19-05-2013

By Ioannis Michaletos

Source: Modern Diplomacy

terorista-pripadnik-ovk-uck

A member of terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (the U.S.-sponsored) during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War

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Albanian jihadist’s easy passage to Syria’s brutal war



ISIL Army

A former Islamist fighter in Syria recalls why he went to Syria, how easy it was to get there – and why he would go again, if he could.

Aleksandra Bogdani, Flamur Vezaj BIRN Tirana

90 Albanians went to Syria between 2012 and 2014 to take part in what they believed was a holy war. Photo: BIRN

On his first trip abroad, he left with 400 euros in his pocket, a printed map from the internet and the belief that he was fulfilling his destiny in eyes of Allah. The destination was the frontline of the war in Syria, but his jihad ended faster than it started.

Two years later, in a bar full of people in his hometown in northern Albania, Ebu Merjem stands out with his long beard and his trousers cut short above the ankle.

He does not like the attention he attracts and chooses a half-empty corner of the bar to explain what that pushed him towards a far-away war.

 “If I had the chance, I would go even today and fight in Syria,” Ebu Merjem says. “It was God that created jihad and you have to love something that God loves,” he added.

The 37-year-old unemployed father-of-two has been a practicing Muslim for 17 years.

He is one of 90 Albanians who went to Syria between 2012 and 2014 to take part in what they believed was a holy war.

Since the Syrian conflict began, ten Albanian jihadists have lost their lives there. Thirty others returned home before the adoption of a law that criminalizes participation in conflicts abroad.

According to documents obtained by BIRN, nearly 50 Albanian jihadists identified by the security services are still fighting in Syria.

Albania is a Muslim majority country with a long tradition of interfaith coexistence, and few understand why local Muslims like Ebu Merjem have traveled to fight in Syria.

Merjem has lived all his life in Albania, but believes his homeland is wherever there are Muslim believers. If his Muslim brothers are being attacked, even if they are thousands of kilometers away, he feels it his duty to protect them.

 “My brother is the American, Syrian or French Muslim. My enemy may even be my brethren,” he says.  “This has nothing to do with nationality or blood. I went there for my faith and my biggest regret is that I couldn’t experience war,” he added.

The road to Syria

The majority of the Albanian jihadists became part of the Jabhat al-Nusra front, a branch of Al-Qaeda. Photo: BETA/AP

Syria was the last country in the Middle East to be engulfed by the wave of anti-government protests in spring 2011 known as the Arab Spring. The conflict there soon took the nuances of a civil war.

The involvement of militant Islamic organizations in this war and its geographical proximity to Europe soon turned Syria into a hub for jihadists from all over the world.

The use of the internet and social networks directly from the battlefield popularized calls for jihad, especially in Europe where a considerable number of second-generation immigrants from the Middle East have embraced religious extremism.

From the beginning of the conflict until now, over 12,000 foreigners from 81 countries have joined militant organizations fighting in Syria. Nearly 3,000 are believed to have come from Western countries.

Ninety of these fighters are Albanian followers of the Salafist brand of Islam, preached on the fringe by imams, often in isolated mosques whose legal standing the official Muslim Community of Albania questions.

These believers started to show up in force at Tirana airport in the autumn of 2012, where they declared they were travelling to Turkey for health reasons. From Turkey, the jihadists jumped the border illegally into Syria and landed in the war.

The head of Albanian League of Imams, Justinian Topulli, lists several reasons for the involvement of Albanian Muslims in the war in Syria.

He says they felt a form of religious solidarity with the Syrian Muslims in their struggle against Bashar al Assad’s dictatorship, but it was also a way of escaping the Albanian reality, in which many Muslims do not feel comfortable.

Another no less important reason, according to Topulli, is the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of religious texts about the Apocalypse, which some preachers mistakenly tie with current events in Syria.

In contrast to Topulli, Ebu Merjem believes that a Muslim’s highest purpose is the sacrifice of jihad.

“A man must seek the eternal. One day we will all die, but to die as a Muslim martyr is the highest death of all,” says Ebu, sounding very convinced.

This is what he was looking for when he went to Syria on November 17, 2012, with three other believers from Albania.

For three months he went from one camp to another, but he never got the opportunity to go to the front even for a day, which disappointed him deeply.

He returned on February 2, 2012, a few days after two of his other comrades also returned home. The fourth member of the group, Denis Jangulli, was killed on the first day he went to fight against the government forces of Assad.

Many things have changed since then, both in Albania and Syria. The Albanian police have either arrested the religious leaders of the Albanian fighters in Syria or they are on the run.

After turning a blind eye to the Albanian jihadists traveling to Syria for a long time, the authorities opened an investigation in December 2013.

On March 11,a joint operation by the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, the National Intelligence Service and the police resulted in eight arrests and warrants being issued for five others.

On August 19, Albania passed a law that mandates jail sentences of up to 15 years for anyone who gets involved in the Syrian conflict or who recruits people to take part in the war.

Two of the suspects detained in the joint operation were imams, accused of organizing the recruitment of the jihadists.

Genci Balla and Bujar Hysa used to preach jihad in two mosques; one located in a suburb of Tirana and the other in the village of Mezez, a few kilometres from the capital. Some more isolated cells were identified in Leshnicë, near Pogradec, the city of Elbasan, the town of Cerrik and the village of Dragostunje, near Librazhd.

The third organizer was Gerti Pashaj, a student radicalized in Turkey, who is thought to have acted as a guide for the Albanian jihadists seeking to reach the war front.

Ebu Merjem denies having been recruited or paid by any of them. He says he went to Syria of his own free will and adds that Denis Jangulli helped him only with the details of the trip.

He describes Jangulli, who was killed, as a brother and as a devoted believer who spoke four foreign languages and had strong connections in Kosovo and Macedonia.

Ebu Merjem cannot speak any foreign language and only embraced Islam after getting in touch with two Albanian students who had studied religion in Saudi Arabia.

The cleric Justinian Topulli says a lack of understanding of Islamic text is the main reason why so many Albanians that have gone to fight in Syria, believing they are engaging in holy war.

Topulli explains that while a good Muslim must fulfill the commandments of the Koran, armed jihad is not one of them.

“Armed jihad is not an individual obligation either for Albanians or for the others, but for communities and countries if they have the possibility to do something in this case,” he said. “Our jihad is to help our country and family to deal with the problems of our common home, called Albania,” Topulli added.

Forced oath of allegiance

The journey to Syria for jihadists is a simple one. Photo: BETA/AP

According to Ebu Merjem, the journey to Syria for jihadists is a simple one. They travel to Istanbul, buy a bus ticket worth 80 euro to the border town of Rehanlia and find a man there to jump the border.

He describes the region between Turkey and Syria as easy terrain for would-be jihadists; dozens of young people from France, Sweden, America or Belgium go in and out from a fence, which is the only barrier between the two countries.

Smuggling jihadists from one side of the border to the other is no different from the other kinds of human smuggling.

Ebu Merjem says he gave a Turkish shepherd a few euros to help him cross the border mostly because he was afraid he would spy on him rather than show him the way.

After they crossed the border, Ebu Merjem and his comrades sought the city of Aleppo, which has been the scene fierce fighting between government forces and rebels since the start of the conflict.

However, the Albanians got stuck for a long time in the camps in Tal Rifat, a town in the Aleppo region controlled by the Al-Nusra front, a branch of al-Qaeda.

The Albanian jihadist were eager to reach the front but underwent a series of background checks by leaders of the foreign jihadists. “They looked at as with suspicion and gathered our passports in order to verify us. We didn’t like this but they were afraid of infiltration,” Merjem says.

The Albanian jihadists stayed for the first 10 days in a house and were then sent to a real training camp. The camp was also in the region of Tal Rifat. This time, they stayed in a luxury home occupied by the radical Islamic group, a phenomenon that the media call the “5-star jihad”.

They spent their days studying the Koran and were trained to use Kalashnikovs or snipers. “We also used to run a little but it was no big deal. The lack of weapons was the main problem and none of us had 1,500 dollars to buy a Kalashnikov,” he said.

According to the Albanian prosecution file obtained by BIRN, the majority of the Albanian jihadists became part of the Jabhat al-Nusra front, a branch of Al-Qaeda. Some arrived there as part of a Turkish extremist group, Murat Gezenler, while the Albanians from Macedonia fought under Chechen fighters.

However, in a chaotic civil war this configuration changed over time. By 2013, most of the Albanians had gathered in a brigade of 45 to 50 persons on the outskirts of Aleppo led by Numan Demolli, from Kosovo, and, after he was killed, by Lavdrim Muhaxheri.

Until ISIS emerged, they stayed under the protection of Al-Nusra. Today, most of the 50 Albanians remaining in Syria are fighting with Islamic State.

In his interview for BIRN, Merjem says they couldn’t stay in the camp unless they swore an oath to Al-Nusra. If they had not done so, their presence there would have become even more suspicious and unwanted.

“The people from Jabhat al-Nusra came and asked us to swear an oath to them but we didn’t do that,” he says.  “We told them that we were sworn to Allah and were there to help the Syrian people,” he added.

During his three months stay in Syria, Merjem had another problem. He had not got his mother’s permission to engage in holy war. This is a big concern for believers, because jihad is seen as invalid if it is undertaken without a parent’s permission.

After his mother refused to give her permission, Ebu Merjem decided to return to Albania. During this period, his fellow Albanian jihadist, Jangulli, was killed in an attack outside Aleppo.

“I was saddened because I would miss a friend; at the same time I was also happy because God received him as a martyr,” Merjem recalled.

Merjem returned to Albania on February 2, 2013. Since then, the authorities have not allowed him to leave the country.

He keeps informed about everything happening in Syria and now question some of the actions of the Islamic State.

Merjem says that the war is causing death on all sides, endless atrocities, including the crimes that “the Muslim brothers” of ISIS are displaying with pride in social media. But still he does not like it when their crimes are judged by non-believers.

“They are shedding a lot of blood in the name of religious misunderstandings and misinterpretation of the Koran,” he says. “Even scholars have talked about this. But we don’t want their mistakes being judged by anyone else except Muslims,” Merjem added.

European Union countries and Europol suspect that former jihadists like Merjem pose a threat to European security.

In the West, the de-radicalization of the jihadists is often compared to the rehabilitation of alcoholics or drug addicts.

Albania’s authorities are uncertain how to best respond to this threat. Since adopting the law that penalizes involvement in the war in Syria, the government has set up a massive antiterrorism structure to monitor its citizens that have returned home.

But Prime Minister Edi Rama believes that Albania is no more exposed to Islamic radicalism than other countries. “This risk is everywhere, just like Ebola,” said Rama in an interview.

The Albanian police told BIRN that jihadist returning from Syria do not pose a particular threat to the country, although their social isolation may become problematic in the future.

Topulli, from the League of Imams, agrees, arguing that the integration of these people back into society is the challenge lying ahead. He urges the authorities to show caution and avoid using repressive measures that could add to tensions.

“The people who returned from Syria are part of us and must be treated like all normal people so that they do not feel like strangers in this society,” Topulli said.

Merjem confirms that he doesn’t quite fit into Albanian society. Because of his faith, he has had to quit one job after another and he often finds it difficult to support his family.

He does not believe in the Muslim Community, the state or the international community. He thinks they collaborate all to interfere with his Muslim brothers in Albania and the world.

He would rather live in a remote land than Albania, if he could find spiritual peace there. “If they established a good Islamic state in future, I would choose to live there. People like us feel despised here,” he concluded.


Ebu Merjem is the religious name of the interviewee after he returned from Syria. Mejrem agreed to give this interview to BIRN in November 2014, without revealing his real identity.

Original Source of the article: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/albanian-jihadist-s-easy-passage-to-syria-s-brutal-war-11-25-2015

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Making Balkan Caliphate: The Wahhabies – A new danger for the Balkan and European security



isis

“God is our objective, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way, and death for sake of God is the highest of our aspirations”

Jihadi credo

The West Europe before the 2014 Christmas became once again a target of several mini-terrorist acts by the radical Islamists among whom the Wahabbies are the most active and dangerous. On Tuesday, December 23rd, Germany’s security service warn of highest terrorist threat in decades as the German participation in the anti-ISIS struggle became the reason for potential terrorism. However, it turned that the Balkans became a center of their activities and recruitment either for the radicalization of Islam in Europe or for the Jihad war at the Middle East. For the reason of high concentration and not properly control activities by the Islamic radicals, the Balkan Keg can explode once again.

In the mid-December 2014 a Prosecutor’s Office in Bosnia-Herzegovina ended the investigation against Bilal Bosnic, informal leader of the Wahabbi community in this country, and several tens of his followers who have been arrested three months ago within a police action „Damask“ under the accusation of urging young men to join Islamic State and recruiting local Muslims for the holy war in the Middle East. Police has a video record of one of his public lectures in the region of Cazinska Krajina in the North-West Bosnia-Herzegovina in which he is praising the ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) that is as organization close to the Al-Qaeda. It is expected that a court procedure against this Wahabbi group will start soon in the next 2015.

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The issue became in fact quite serious as it is already only one step to do a bloody terror act with a mass death-toll by such radical Islamic groups operating at the Balkan regions under supervision of the western countries or their marionette governments – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and the FYR of Macedonia. We have to remember two cases from the recent years as a warning that the things can go soon out of control.

The 2011 Terror Act in Sarajevo

At about 4 p.m, October 28th, 2011, a young man Mevlid Jasharevic (23) from the city of Novi Pazar (a city and municipality located in the South-West Serbia, in the Rashka District), armed with an assault rifle (“Kalashnikov”) with three spare rounds opened fire near the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, a capital of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He fired shots at the building with five boxes of ammunition (each containing thirty 7,2 mm caliber bullets), but finally was wounded in the leg and arrested. During the shooting the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar!” („God is Greatest!“), as did the same on December 21st, 2014 in Dijon (France) a car driver (born in 1974) who ploughed into a group of people (a city pedestrians) with a clear intention to kill as much as of them. In the 2011 Sarajevo case, at least one police officer was injured in the shooting spree before the gunman was taken down.

A young attacker Mevlid Jasharevic was related to the terrorist group, which was trained in the village of Gornja Maocha in the Muslim-Croat part of Bosnia-Herzegovina (the Croatian-Bosniak Federation accounting for 51% of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina; 49% belongs to the Republic of Srpska, according to the Dayton Accords signed on November 21st, 1995). This terrorist group was led by a Muslim Nusret Imamovic from Kalesija, a town in the North-East Bosnia-Herzegovina, before the group was destroyed in February 2010 when the Bosnian-Herzegovinian security forces took action and detained Imamovic and six others suspected of subversive activities. According to the police, Jasharevic had two hand grenades. It turned out that Jasarevic is a member of the Wahhabi movement in Novi Pazar. He was detained (together with Fatmir Muratovic), by Serbia’s police in December 2010 for possession of a large knife outside a meeting of the foreign ambassadors in the city. The US Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick was present at that meeting as well.

The terrorist attack in Sarajevo once again demonstrated at that time that the Wahhabi movement was a serious issue in Bosnia-Herzegovina regarding the radical Islamist threat, and that it was necessary to consolidate police and security forces in the region against the organized Islamic terrorism.[I] However, this terror act in Sarajevo organized and committed by the Balkan Wahhabi group was not the first and probably not the last. On January 15th, 2008, for instance, the court procedure against a group of militant Muslims from Rashka commenced in Belgrade, in the Supreme Court of Serbia. The Court convicted the group of planning terror acts in Belgrade in an Al-Qaeda style.[II]

The 2007 Planned Terror Act in Belgrade

On December 5th, 2007 a Serbian security forces arrested 15 members of an Islamic Wahhabi terror group in Rashka (a district populated by mixed Serb-Orthodox and Boshnjak Muslim inhabitants).[III] This group originated in Saudi Arabia fighting for transformation of the Balkans into an Islamic Caliphate or even into Talibanistan.[IV] The above people have been charged by the Serbian authorities for planning terror attacks in various locations of Belgrade, including the bombings of the US Embassy too. According to the Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, the Wahhabies established a close network with their peers, commanders, ideologues and mentors abroad, namely in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria and Saudi Arabia. They communicated by phone, e-mail and the CD-recorded commands.

These 15 Muslims were led by a Muslim Bosniak Senad Ramovic from the city of Novi Pazar where rival Muslim groups have been for many years engaged in a mutual violence. The authorities in Serbia at that time accused Senad Ramovic of conspiring to kill the Muslim leader Mufti Muamar Zukorlic. One of the accused, Senad Vjeselovic, also from Rashka, recognized that the group was in close contact with various radicals in Mecca and Medina (in Saudi Arabia), who were passing the orders from Sheiks on whether Mufti Zukorlic should be assassinated or not. The Serbian authorities have also found maps in the confiscated computer owned by Mehmed Koljshija, a member of this terrorist group. The maps identified locations inside the city of Belgrade such as the National Theatre, Beogradjanka building (highest building in the Balkans), Hotel Park (all buildings in the down town) and the US Embassy (in Knez Milosh Street). Serbian state security forces have also seized various weapons that can fully arm from 30 to 40 individuals.

The Wahhabies at the Balkans

The Wahhabi movement first emerged in the Balkans during the 1992−1995 civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, when around 5.000−8.000 of the Mujahedeen fighters from the Islamic countries came to fight on the side of local Muslims (Slavic Bosniaks)[V] against the Christian Orthodox Serbs and Roman-Catholic Croats for the spreading of Islam by sward following the Prophet and the holy book of Quran[VI] taking into consideration a basic political principle of Islam that all Muslims in the world are the members of a single (Islamic) nation.[VII] Many of those Wahhabies and other Jihad fighters have remained in the country since the very beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (April 1992), taking active part in the holy war against infidels as members of the Mujahedeen groupings under the command of the Muslim government of Bosnia-Herzegovina.[VIII]

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Many of those Arab Mujahedeens received after the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina a citizenship and passports of this country as a grant for their active participation in the war on the Allah’s side including and the Wahabbies from Saudi Arabia.[IX] The most infamous and cruel Muhajedeen military unit in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the “El Mujahedeen”. However, after the pressure by the US and British governments passports issuing policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina is radically restricted for the former Mujahedeens and today Wahabbies. After the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina they have been active in Kosovo, the South-East Serbia’s district of Rashka (Novi Pazar in Turkish) and the West Macedonia and now the Wahabbies are running, for instance, about 30 Quran’s schools in the US created quasi-state of the Republic of Kosovo(a)[X] taking an active part together with the local Muslim Albanians in a systematic policy of destruction of the Christian (Serbian) cultural inheritance transforming Kosovo into a new Islamic State.[XI] An Albanian language media in Kosovo several times reported that due to its unimpeded activity, after the Kosovo War of 1998−1999, the nature of Muslim Albanian community in Kosovo experienced serious trials influenced crucially by the Wahhabies as they are against any foreign cultural influence and impose their „exclusive teachings“ at funerals, circumcision rites and religious gatherings, contest the theory of natural or social occurrences and offer in return their interpretation of the Sharia or the Quran. According to the Prishtina media, for instance, a young man from Peć (Pejë in Albanian or Ipek in Turkish in the western part of Kosovo) Elvis Goga is referred to as the chief Mujahedeen in Kosovo, and that the NGO’s are still active under the umbrella of the Joint Saudi Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya – an organization that contributed very much to the expansion of the Wahhabism in Kosovo.[XII] The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rashka or the West Macedonia is quite similar to the Kosovo case. From all of these regions the local Muslims are recruited for the holy war in the Middle East today including females.

A fact is that many Islamic NGO’s emerged in Kosovo after the war in 1999 and tackled poverty issues in Kosovo’s suburbs and surrounding villages. They must respect the Saudi government’s stand to stay active on the ground „as long as there is a need for that“. According to recent statements of Serbian political and security analysts, Kosovo Albanians and international Mujahedeens, including the ones who are members of the Al Qaeda’s network and the Wahhabi movement, are getting prepared for a possible „Kosovo Spring“ given that international/western KFOR and EULEX institutions in Kosovo are not able to bring the northern part of Kosovo under full political control and governance of the central authority in Prishtina (with expected cleansing of the local Serbs as it was already done in the rest of Kosovo). How much the situation with the Wahhabi movement at the Balkans is seriuos today can illustrate a real fact that in November 2014 was arrested in Vienna a chief organizer of the transfer of Jihad soldiers from the region of the Balkans to Syria and Iraq was a native Slav Bosniak, a member of the Wahhabi movement. According to September 2014 report, Bosnian children attended the ISIS summer camp in Syria – a report covered by an ISIS video footage on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s kids with the guns in one of the ISIS training camps.

Kosovo after mid-June 1999, when the NATO occupied this South Serbia’s province, became mostly exposed to the Wahabbi influence, but not Bosnia-Herzegovina.[XIII] According to some western sources, only in Kosovo there are today around 50.000 adult male radical Muslims in the age of fighting who are in fact led by the Saudi Wahabbies. These Islamic radicals are extremely anti-Christian destroying the Christian shrines and attacking even the Christian Albanians for whom the Albandom is not providing any umbrella of protection. Even the Roman-Catholic nun, saint, Nobel peace prize winner, Mother Theresa (1910−1997), who was of the Albanian ethnic origin,[XIV] is not exception from the Wahabbi and other radical Muslims’ persecution. But what is of the most important concern is the fact that the Wahabbies are destroying at the Balkans and old Ottoman-time Islamic monuments including and the mosques announcing them as a non-Islamic in essence. However, the local Muslim authorities, either in Kosovo or in Bosnia-Herzegovina, are usually presenting to the global (western) mainstream mass-media such cases as a consequence of the 1990’s wars in ex-Yugoslavia, i.e., as a Serb-Christian cultural genocide against the Yugoslav Muslim population.

A crucial question is why the West (the USA) is closing the eyes to the process of Islamization of the Balkans and extermination of the Cristian population in the regions administered by the Muslim majority or better to say, by the Islamic regimes installed exactly by the western „democracies“ on the ruins of ex-Yugoslavia?

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Notes:

[I] On Islamic terrorism at the Balkans, see [Shay Sh., Islamic Terror and the Balkans, Transaction Publishers, 2008]. On radical Islam today, see [Pargeter A., The Muslim Brotherhood: From Opposition to Power, London: Saqi Books, 2013; Wickham R. C., The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013].

[II] On the Afghan Taliban-Bosnian Bosniak connections, see [Kohlmann F. E., Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network, New York: Berg, 2004]. On the Al-Qaeda’s network in Bosnia-Herzegovina, see [Schindler R. J., Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad, St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press, 2007].

[III] On the national identity of the Rashka’s district (Sanjak of Novi Pazar) Slavic Muslims, see [Fridman F., The Muslim Slavs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (With Reference to the Sandzak of Novi Pazar): Islam as National Identity, Nationalities Papers, 2000].

[IV] On the radical Islam at the Balkans and its ideology and doctrine, see [Deliso Ch., The Coming Balkan Caliphate: The Threat of Radical Islam to Europe and the West, Westport, Connecticut−London: Praeger Securiti International, 2007; Bergem P. (ed.), Talibanistan: The Borders Between Terror, Politics, and Religion, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2013].

[V] On historical development and identity of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Muslim community, see [Donia J. R., Fine Jr. J., Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994; Pinson M. (ed.), The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996]. On dissolution of ex-Yugoslavia, see [Woodward L. S., Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution After the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995; Owen D., Balkan Odyssey, London: Indigo, 1996; Finlan A., The Collapse of Yugoslavia 1991-1999, Ospray Publishing, 2004; Sotirović B. V., Emigration, Refugees and Ethnic Cleansing: The Death of Yugoslavia, 1991−1999, Vilnius: Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences Press, 2013; Mikasinovich B., Yugoslavia: Crisis and Disintegration, Plyroma Publishing Company, 2014].

[VI] See [Lings M., Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, Inner Traditions, 2006; The Quran, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008; Husain E., The Islamist, New York: Penguin Group, 2008; Euben L. R., Zaman Q. M. (eds.), Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from Al-Banna to Bin Laden, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009; Spencer R., Islam: Religion of Bigots, Sherman Oaks, CA: David Horowits Freedom Center, 2013].

[VII] Јевтић M., „Исламска суштина албанског сецесионизма и културно наслеђе Срба“, Национални интерес (National Interest), vol. 17, no. 2, Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2013, 231−252; Davidson L., Islamic Fundamentalism: An Introduction, Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2013.

[VIII] There is a short documentary movie (8 min.) made by the British “SKY News” after the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina about the Arab Mujahedeens fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the side of the Army of Bosnia- Herzegovina led by the Muslim government in Sarajevo and about the impact of the Wahabbies on the Muslim society in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. The movie is available on [http://vimeo.com/8482257]. On the holy war of Jihad, see [Firestone R., Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 1999; Cook D., Understanding Jihad, Berkley−Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 2005; Kepel G., Jihad: The Trial of Political Islam, London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2006; Bonner M., Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008; Bostom G. A., The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, New York: Prometheus Books, 2008; Lindsey H., The Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad, Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2011; Kemp A., Islam’s 1,300 Year War on Western Civilisation, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013].

[IX] On Wahhabies and their mission, see [Algar H., Wahhabism: A Critical Essay, Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2002; DeLong-Bas J. N., Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; Bradley R. J., Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom of Crisis, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; Allen Ch., God’s Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad, Da Capo Press, 2007; Ayoob M., Kosebalaban H. (eds.), Religion and Politics in Saudi Arabia: Wahhabism and the State, Lynne Rienner Pub., 2008; Commins D., The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia, London−New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2009; Hegghammer Th., Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010; Lacroix S., Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Contemporary Saudi Arabia, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2011; Dillon R. M., Wahhabism: Is It a Factor in the Spread of Global Terrorism? Kindle edition, 2012; Salvato F., The Muslim Brotherhood & Wahhabism in America, Virginia Beach, VA: BasicProject, 2012; Peskes E. (ed.), Wahhabism: Docrine and Development, Critical Surveys in Islamic Denominations Series, 2014; Crawford M., Ibn‘Abd Al-Wahhab, London: Oneworld Publications, 2014; Subhani J. A., Wahhabism, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014].

[X] About Wahabbies, Al Qaeda, Jihadists and Mujahedeens in Kosovo see [“Al Qaeda in Kosovo” at http://www.serbianna.com/columns/mb/035.shtml].

[XI] On destruction of the Serbian Christian property and pogrom of the Serbs by Kosovo Muslim Albanians see, for instance [March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija. March 17-19, 2004 with a survey of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia-Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004].

[XII] For example, on the Jihad in Bosnia-Herzegovina, see [http://www.nspm.rs/komentar-dana/dzihad-u-sarajevu.html]. About the CIA and Al Qaeda at the Balkans, see [http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1394711/posts].

[XIII] See more in [Потежица О., „Вахабити придошлице на Балкану“, Политикологија религије, № 1, Београд, 2007].

[XIV] On Mother Teresa, see [Spink K., Mother Teresa: An Authorised Biography, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011; Scot D., The Love That Made Mother Teresa: How Her Secret Visions and Dark Nights Can Help You Conquer the Slums of Your Heart, Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013; North W., Mother Teresa: A Life Inspired, North Wyatt, 2014].

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2015

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