PRISTINA - The father of the gunman who shot dead two US airmen on a US Army bus at Frankfurt airport said on Thursday…”I am still in shock; I can not believe what has happened,” Murat Uka told Reuters by phone from his home in Germany. “I am really, really sorry about what has happened.
“I express my deep condolences,” said Uka, whose voice betrayed his emotion.
“The American people are the best friends of Albanians,” he said.
One really has to ask at this point: Do most Americans — whom we’re told are so bound to these people — even know who Albanians or ‘Kosovars’ are? I usually have to repeat and then explain the word “Kosovo” to them — because, as they tell me all too often, they’ve never heard of the place. And they’re not sure who or what lives there. Indeed, most Americans don’t even remember that Clinton had a war. Of course, during times like this they know the word for a day, and have a brief revelation (”Oh, is that that place that Clinton bombed back then?”). And within 1.5 weeks, they’ve forgotten it again.
Indeed, it’s not the American people who are obsessed with Albanians, it’s the American Government that’s worried about it. Very worried.
…German police said he was born in Kosovo…A cousin, Behxhet Uka…said he would be shocked if Arid Uka was behind the shooting, saying that like the vast majority of Kosovo Albanians, the family is pro-American.
The northern town of Mitrovica is best known for the ethnic division between majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs. The former mining town has also been the focus of reports that it breeds Islamic extremists. […]
Which, we’ve been assured, Albanians are impervious to.
Relatives of the alleged Kosovar gunman who killed two US soldiers in an attack in Frankfurt on Thursday said they were astonished about his reported extremist views.
“He himself only knows what he has done. I would never believe that he could do something like that,” the suspect’s grandfather, Avdullah Bejta, an imam in Mitrovica told Kosovo radio.
The killing of two US airmen “has touched all of us in the heart,” he said, stressing that “the Muslim religion does not preach killing and violence.” [Note here that the religiosity that Albanians regularly profess a revulsion toward is being defended as a good in and of itself.] […]
It feels like a day of mourning in Pristina. Shock, anger, and dismay are palpable in the streets of Kosovo’s capital against the backdrop of today’s headlines: “Kosovar Kills Two U.S. Army Men At Frankfurt Airport.”
The suspect in yesterday’s tragedy is Arid Uka, a 21-year-old Kosovo Albanian, born and raised in Germany, where his family has lived for four decades.
Police claim he is not registered in any database on alleged terrorist acts within Kosovo, while information on his family is limited and his profile remains unclear.
What is clear, though, is the anger and revulsion that Kosovars felt and continue to feel.
Upon hearing the news, a group of young students from Pristina University gathered in the center of the city to light candles in memory of the U.S. soldiers killed in the shooting.
Candles were lit in Mitrovica, too, Arid Uka’s city of origin, where young people gathered and expressed their condolences to the American people.
The authorities were quick to react, claiming it was “a macabre act against the values of civilization and against the tradition of Kosovo people, to endlessly show gratitude toward the U.S. for its role in freedom of Kosovo.”
When the news came out on RFE/RL’s Albanian-language website www.evrropaelire.org, the flow of the commentaries was unbelievable.
More than 100 commentaries poured in from Kosovo and around the world, and the flow continued with expressions of condolences and demands of capital punishment for the perpetrator.
“He cannot be an Albanian,” one went. Another equated shooting at the U.S. with “being a traitor.” “How can one shoot against a helping hand?” asked another. All seemingly bringing the grim atmosphere dominating Kosovo society today into sharp relief.
The president of the Albanian-American Democratic Club in New York, Alban Dega, wrote an open letter to Kosovo’s highest authorities suggesting that the suspect be stripped of his Albanian nationality and Kosovo citizenship.
“We are the most pro-American and most pro-Western nation on Earth. The Albanian Pro-Americanism is not only a value, but a national cult which honors the Albanians wherever they are on Earth”, Dega proclaims.
“God bless U.S. men and women in uniform and the USA! Amen!” Dega concludes.
Similar expressions of solidarity can be heard today all over Kosovo.
Kosovo’s parliament held a moment of silence today to express condolences to the U.S., its people, its army, and to the families of the victims.
And they’ll do it again next time!
Why, oh why, does this music sound so familiar? I think I’ve heard that song before. Let’s travel back to just under four years ago…to May, 2007…
Three Muslim brothers who allegedly helped plot to kill soldiers at a U.S. Army base have roots in one of Europe’s most pro-American corners — a region that remains grateful to the United States for ending the Kosovo war.
Dritan Duka, 28, Shain Duka, 26, and Eljvir Duka, 23, who were arrested in New Jersey this week in what U.S. authorities said was a bungled scheme to blow up and gun down soldiers at Fort Dix, were born in Debar, a remote town on Macedonia’s rugged border with Serbia’s Kosovo province.
Relatives in the ethnic Albanian-populated town of 15,000 said they had not seen the brothers in more than two decades, but expressed disbelief Wednesday that the three would attack the United States.
“We all have been supporters of America. We were always thankful to America for its support during the wars in Kosovo and Macedonia,” a cousin, Elez Duka, 29, told The Associated Press.
“These are simple, ordinary people and they’ve got nothing to do with terrorism. I expect their release and I expect an apology,” he said, waving his hands. “I see injustice. These are ridiculous charges.”
His indignation captured the mood among Slavic Muslims in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania — places that have repeatedly expressed gratitude to the United States for intervening in the 1998-99 Kosovo war and a 2001 ethnic conflict that pushed Macedonia to the brink of civil war.
Albania was among the first countries to answer Washington’s call for troops to help support U.S.-led military offensives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, which many expect to gain independence from Serbia later this year, U.S. flags are commonplace. The main avenue is Bill Clinton Boulevard, renamed to honor the president who ordered airstrikes that halted former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s brutal crackdown in the province.
Like many Europeans, ethnic Albanians staged a big demonstration after the U.S. led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but theirs was a pro-America rally, not an anti-war protest.
In and out of Debar, people struggled to reconcile those feelings with the indictment of the three brothers and a fourth ethnic Albanian suspect, Agron Abdullahu, 24. Two other men also were arrested: Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 22, a Palestinian born in Jordan, and Serdar Tatar, 23, born in Turkey.
It was unclear whether Abdullahu also came from Debar, but U.S. authorities said he served as a sniper during the Kosovo war, which pitted ethnic Albanian separatists against Serbian troops loyal to Milosevic.
… Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku wrote a letter to the U.S. mission in Pristina on Wednesday expressing the “extraordinary feeling that Kosovo’s people have for the U.S.” Ceku also denounced what he called “the disgusting idea” that Albanians could be involved in an attack “against a nation that has been very generous so far.”
The Duka brothers’ grandmother, Naze Duka, was visibly upset as word of their arrests spread….“America is good — you work, you earn money there,” the 88-year-old said. “I have no idea where this all came from. How did this happen?”
He said the brothers occasionally phoned. Over the past two years, Elez Duka said, his cousins told him they had grown long beards and had become more devoted to Islam, but he insisted they were incapable of involvement in a terrorist plot.
“They live in America and grew up in the American culture. How can you say they are anti-American? These accusations are totally unfounded,” he said.
Few ethnic Albanians embrace militant Islam. Most are moderate or secular.
Even those in Debar who described themselves as devout Muslims denounced the Fort Dix plot.
“They must have been crazy. They shouldn’t dare throw a stone at America,” said Rrahmi Duka, 70, a distant relative of the brothers, as a loudspeaker blared Muslim prayers in Debar’s main square.
“Who saved us? America,” he said. “We are in America’s hands.”
The National Albanian American Council (NAAC) strongly condemns the planned attack on Fort Dix Army Base by a group of people who reportedly plotted to attack the base, and we congratulate the law enforcement authorities for their swift apprehension of the conspirators, thereby preventing a possible tragedy.
“…[A]s Albanians, we remain the most pro-American people in the world,” NAAC Executive Director Avni Mustafaj said in an official statement… “[Albania] even represented the only nation in Europe that saved 100 percent of its people of Jewish faith during World War II. Furthermore, we provided safe haven for all the Jews that fled the Holocaust to Albania.”
Mr. Mustafaj further stated that, “Fort Dix is a uniquely special place for Albanians for this is where refugees who fled ethnic cleansing from Kosova into Macedonian refugee camps were brought to the US. The refugees were registered and provided numerous services and assistance to begin their new life in America. We are all relieved that this tragedy was avoided and ask that those who sought to harm innocent American service men and women be brought to justice immediately.” […]
I’m not saying they’re not genuine. I do believe they’re sincere, and very upset. So then next time this happens, they’ll be sincerely sad again. And the next time…and the time after that.
The Arid Uka type IS a minority among Albanians, especially while we’re still their chief patrons. Their orientation is not symptomatic of Albanians, but it’s even less symptomatic of, say, Serbs.
Notice that Serbs aren’t lighting candles and affirming their cultish love for America, or apologizing. Because Christian Serbs don’t kill Americans.
Isn’t it better to have friends whose people are not vulnerable to inclinations such as those that Uka and the Dukas fell victim to? By virtue of not being Muslim? And therefore the more obvious friends to have cultivated?
Ah, but U.S. bureaucrats and generals know the Serbs aren’t a threat to us, so that’s why they can afford to pour barrel upon barrel of kerosene onto U.S.-Serb relations in pursuit of the Albanian-Muslim “friendship.”
“He cannot be an Albanian,” said the one comment to RFE/RL. Well what is he more likely to be? Serbian? Those people whom Albanians had us kill on their behalf but who were not American-killers and who otherwise had little to do with us — aside from, of course, being useful against Stalin and, earlier, Hitler?
But by all means, let’s be fair and publish all the standard defenses of Albanians that always gush forth after incidents like these. Even though Albanians weren’t very fair to the Serbian reputation, whose demolition was — in contrast — not based on facts but on fabrications. Frankfurt, Ft. Dix and others, however, are very real.
Amid this rush to defend Albanians and warn the public against generalizing or tainting the wider community, let’s note a strikingly similar dynamic to when more typical jihadists attack. Only in this case, joining the choir to make sure all are on board the “tiny minority”/”they’re not all like that” train — which is otherwise led by leftists and Muslim groups — are conservatives and anti-jihadists. But that contention is only a little less beside the point.
The Albanian-American Democratic Club’s Mr. Dega, meanwhile, certainly nailed the idea of Albanian pro-Americanism as a “national cult.” Again and again I ask, does that fact strike anyone as normal? As not conspicuous? As having no subtext underlying it?
There was much chortling across the Balkans last year when Mr Pacolli [the Albanian billionaire who is now Kosovo’s president] took a large party of Kosovars to Libya as part of his attempt to get Mr [G]addafi to abandon his pro-Serbian stance and to recognise the country. At one point the whole party was flown to the middle of a desert to meet the Libyan leader.
On arriving, Mr Gaddafi ordered them to sing and dance. When they ran out of tunes they were reprimanded by an aide. Eventually the good colonel told them they could stop, before dismissing them with words to the effect that he would never recognise Kosovo as long as their leaders remained American poodles. With that, the humiliated Kosovars were sent home.
One is confident that being thus reprimanded by a lunatic, it will reinforce the Albanian resolve to stay American poodles, rather than having the opposite effect. The Albanians otherwise havebeenlobbying the Araband Muslimworldsuccessfully.
Also the same week as the Frankfurt attack was a little noted arrest in Maryland, of what sounds like an even more atypical Albanian:
GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo has been sentenced to five years in prison for visa fraud.
Fifty-one-year-old Brahim Lajqi, who lives in Silver Spring, was sentenced Monday. U.S. District Judge Roger Titus granted the government’s request for an enhanced sentence because of statements Lajqi made about engaging in terrorist activity.
Prosecutors say Lajqi was angry about U.S. involvement in the Kosovo conflict, which he believed led to the deaths of several relatives.
According to his guilty plea, Lajqi made false statements on immigration documents.
Sentence Enhanced Based on Statements and Conduct Indicating a Desire to Attack the U.S.
GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus, sentenced Brahim Lajqi, age 51, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo residing in Silver Spring, Maryland, today to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for visa fraud. Judge Titus granted the government’s requested sentence enhancement based on Lajqi conducting activities to fulfill his pledge to retaliate against the United States for its involvement in the Kosovo conflict, which Lajqi believed had led to the deaths of several family members.
“The evidence showed that Mr. Lajqi repeatedly and consistently made statements and took actions indicating that he planned to engage in terrorist activity,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to Lajqi’s guilty plea, he made false statements on immigration documents. Lajqi admitted that on his application to become a permanent resident in the United States he stated that he had been granted asylum status, when in fact, he had not. Lajqi further admitted that he forged his mother’s signature on a petition for an alien relative that was purportedly filed by her on his behalf.
According to court documents and testimony at today’s sentencing hearing, Lajqi is a self-described extremist militant trained by Bosnian rebels, who on several occasions expressed a desire to “get even” with the United States and discussed obtaining weapons and explosives for an attack on Washington, D.C. According to court documents, Lajqi drove around Washington, D.C. on two occasions to discuss and view potential targets, including Capitol Hill, the courthouse where his immigration proceedings were being held, the White House, the Treasury building, and a Metro train stop during rush hour. Lajqi also stated that he was in the process of renewing his commercial drivers license (CDL) in South Carolina so that he could transport weapons from Canada. Lajqi actually traveled to West Virginia in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a CDL there. […]
A Silver Spring man convicted of falsifying immigration documents had threatened to blow up the White House, the U.S. Treasury building, a federal courthouse and a Metro stop, vowing to “slaughter the enemies of Islam,” federal prosecutors said Monday in court.
Brahim Lajqi, 51, was not charged with attempting to carry out any terrorist threats, but prosecutors outlined the allegations in an effort to persaude U. S. District Judge Roger W. Titus to impose a penalty harsher than the six months in prison recommended by sentencing guidelines.
Lajqi, an ethnic Albanian who came to the United States through Mexico in the mid-1980s, is a self-described “extremist militant,” who said he was trained by Bosnian Muslim rebels, according to court papers. He was angry about American military involvement in Kosovo in the 1990s, and “blamed all Albanian deaths in Kosovo on the United States,” the court papers said. He also talked about targeting Jews, court papers say.
Lajqi’s attorney, Gary W. Christopher, a federal public defender, said Lajqi was a “talker” and a “blowhard” who never planned to carry out any attack. He said Lajqi has lived in the United States for 27 years and has had no trouble with the law. [Note: The same thing was said about the Ft. Dix plotters.]
According to court papers, Lajqi and a confidential informant rode around the Washington area to scout out potential targets. Lajqi said the White House was his “number one spot” but also talked about targeting a Metro train at rush hour, the papers say.
During another trip, the documents state, he suggested blowing up the Treasury building to “make them bankrupt and broke,” and noted that a dump truck would be a good place to hold explosives.
Lajqi told the informant that he knew of weapons suppliers in Montana and Canada, and that one of his brothers had connections, authorities said.
The court papers say that Lajqi told the informant they “deserve a good bomb in Capitol Hill…and White House. Maybe Capitol Hill more because lots of Jews live there.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Welsh said in court that authorities arrested Lajqi when they became concerned he might try to seek weapons. “He’s not just a talker,” Welsh said, “he’s also an actor.”
The Washington Examiner also carried the story, which apparently stayed local:
…Lajqi was recorded by a “confidential human source” saying he wanted to carry out terrorist attacks in retaliation for the United States rejecting his requests for asylum and for its role in the deaths of family members in Kosovo in the 1990s.
Lajqi also spoke of blowing up the Treasury building, the D.C. courthouse where Lajqi’s immigration proceedings had been held and military bases, Welsh said. Lajqi took two trips to the District to scope out the places he wanted to bomb and spoke of having connections that would help him get weapons, he said.
But Christopher said Lajqi, who told the judge he was innocent of wanting to blow up landmarks, turned down the chance to meet an arms dealer, which he said shows Lajqi wasn’t serious in his statements.
[Asst. U.S. Attorney Gregory] Welsh said Lajqi used racial slurs in describing Jews and talked of wanting to “slaughter the enemies of Islam.” He also discussed getting a D.C. hotel room where he could watch the landmarks blow up, the prosecutor said.
Three of Lajqi’s siblings were in the courtroom Monday, telling The Washington Examiner after the hearing that Lajqi is not a terrorist but instead a garrulous man who never intended to carry out attacks.
“He’s a dreamer,” said Richard Sica, a friend of Lajqi’s from New York. “He’s a talker.”
On the subject of Jews and Albanians — mentioned in a semi-accurate historical context in the National Albanian-American Council’s press release above — we got the following update on the Frankfurt Albanian jihadist yesterday:
THE airport worker who allegedly killed two US soldiers is claimed to have told police: “I did it for Allah.”
Kosovan Arid Uka, 21, is accused of shooting dead the airmen and wounding two others after attacking their bus outside the main airport in Frankfurt, Germany, earlier this week.
He allegedly shouted Islamic slogans and opened fire, later telling police he “wanted to do my bit for Jihad”. Officers said further deaths were only avoided as his pistol jammed.
Last night it was revealed that Uka’s Facebook page contained hate-filled rants against Jews. He was listed on the social networking site under his real name but had changed it to Abu Reyann, his “warrior” title.
The page is littered with references to a Holy War and attacks on “non-believers”…He calls German Chancellor Angela Merkel an unbeliever, claiming she has sided with Israel, which he described as “a declaration of war”….
A bank has sparked outrage by handing over a 100 per cent mortgage to an Al Qaeda terrorist who smuggled himself into Britain.
Albanian Krenar Lusha, 30, was given £93,000 after NatWest failed to complete full checks on his UK status. He used the cash to buy a house in Derby, where he stored bomb-making equipment and information on how to carry out attacks.
… A jury heard how he boasted to a string of women on dating websites of being a ‘terrorist’ and a ’sniper’ and how he ‘loved’ to see Jews and Americans killed.
Lusha was convicted of possessing 71.8 litres of petrol, computer documents called Ragnar’s Detonators and The Bomb Book, and video films called the Hezbollah Military Instructions Manual and Mobile Detonators.
He was cleared of possessing nearly 4.5lb of potassium nitrate, and documents entitled The Car Bomb Recognition Guide, Middle Eastern Terrorist Bomb Design, Improvised Radio Detonation Techniques, and The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook.
The Mobile Detonators video gave instructions on how to turn a mobile phone into a bomb trigger, the jury heard. Lusha had 14 mobile phones at his address when police called at about 7.30am and found him in bed…there was also gruesome footage of live beheadings by extreme Islamic groups.
He settled in Derby and worked long shifts as a factory machinist at HL Plastics in nearby Denby, which enabled him to send money back to his parents in Puke, Albania.
… Police sources said his claim for asylum, on the grounds that he was a Kosovan in fear of persecution by the Serbian authorities, was rejected by the UK authorities.
… Lusha also told police that because he and his four brothers didn’t fight in the Balkans war he was persecuted by those that did. […]
And this is all of course without mentioning Bajram Asllani, part of the North Caroline Eight arrested in 2009 with plans to commit terror abroad, including Israel.
But back to the Albanian terrorist of the day, about whom there are some updates:
Boris Rhein, the interior minister of the German state Hesse, tells reporters that the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, was apparently radicalized over the last few weeks and acted alone, the DAPD news agency reported.
The suspect’s family says he worked at Frankfurt airport and was a devout Muslim, but Rhein said he did not belong to a wider terrorist network or cell, the Associated Press reports. […]
Notice the last sentence was correctly written as if presenting a contradiction.
As for “…apparently radicalized over the last few weeks…” where does one even find out a factoid like that? Was he on some kind of accelerated track or something? Does overlaying Albanianism with Islamism perhaps produce a spontaneously combustible reaction? In case that just sounds like a gratuitous insult (and I don’t care if it does, since gratuitous insults against Serbs, for example, never bothered anyone), let me point out that it’s based on this:
By concentrating on these centers of Albanian nationalism, the foreign Islamists are banking on the idea that any sort of extremism is just extremism and can simply be redirected, like a stream, as and when needed. Indeed, as one active global charity, the Birmingham, UK-based Islamic Relief makes a point of noting, Skenderaj is “a place with a long history of Albanian defiance of Serbian authority.” Eventually, hopes the foreign Islamic movement, that defiance can be redirected toward the West.
Media and policymakers in the West, however, have always blindly assumed that since the KLA and its supporters were once “pro-American” any Albanian extremists remaining among them will always remain eminently controllable nationalists. However, as has been noted, the end of the national question in Kosovo is the beginning of the religious one…
– Chris Deliso, The Coming Balkan Caliphate
In Kosovo analysts said the suspect, born and raised in Germany according to Kosovo media, was not a product of Kosovo’s fiercely nationalist but moderately Muslim society.
“He is not a product of the Kosovo society. If he was an extremist he took that identity there, where he was born and has lived, and not here,” religious expert Isa Ukella told AFP.
According to Ukella in this society “the national identity dominates over the religious one.”
Indeed — and like I keep saying — Albanians don’t have to be Islamicized to be terrorists. They’re already radicals.
But that’s never bothered us, so I think our policy toward Albanians should remainconsistent in the face of this attack: Let him go. After all, that’s what we pressure Serbia to do with its Albanian terrorists, whose prosecution by Belgrade we label as necessarily “political.” So just pretend that all Uka did was kill Serbs rather than Americans, and release him.
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