Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a 25-year-old jihadist from Kosovo, who recently posted a photo on social networks where he is seen beheading a young Syrian, said that he did nothing more than what KLA did during the war, writes Pristina daily “Express”, Tanjug reports…
In an interview with the Albanian daily “Dita” … Muhaxheri, who fights on the side of the rebels in Syria, said the 19-year-old who was beheaded was “caught as a spy, and according to Quran, the one who betrays the Muslims” should be executed. “They accuse me of cutting the head of a man? I did not do anything less or more than what KLA soldiers did during the war. Photographs of these crimes committed by the KLA I posted on the Facebook, for the whole world to see,” he said, according to “Express”.
Meanwhile, no sooner did I post a year-in-review about Balkans jihadists in Syria than late Monday night the item below dropped into my inbox (and I found that Pamela Geller was already on the case):
Kosovo police on Monday arrested at least 40 people in a major operation targeting Islamic radicals suspected of fighting alongside extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Spokesman Baki Kelani said weapons, ammunition and explosives were seized as hundreds of police officers and special police units raided 60 locations across Kosovo, including makeshift mosques believed to have served as recruiting centers.
The police operation is the largest ever against suspected Islamic radicals in Kosovo. Authorities have been on alert [after our prodding and after years of trying to get them to police their own ‘country’] as a growing number of ethnic Albanians have joined militants in Syria and Iraq and appeared on social media in attempts to lure more followers.
The thorny issue of religion has often brought conservative Muslims at loggerheads with secular Kosovars as the two groups struggle to set up a functioning country in the aftermath of the 1998-99 separatist war against Serbia.
Police said the arrests Monday were the result of two years of surveillance and investigations and that some of the arrested are suspected of being involved in terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group, or Jabhat Al-Nusra.
They estimated at least 200 Kosovars have joined the ranks of Islamic militants as volunteers and at least 16 have been killed in battles with Syrian and Iraqi authorities.
Kosovo’s government welcomed Monday’s operation and warned it will fight religious extremists in Kosovo.
Most of the suspects come from central Kosovo’s Ferizaj municipality, which is also home to the U.S. military installation Camp Bondsteel, where some 700 American peacekeepers are stationed.
Maj. Mike Wallace, a spokesman for the U.S. peacekeepers, declined to give details about security arrangements in the U.S.-led command, but said troops remain alert.
In an attempt to distance itself from extremists, the country’s largest Muslim group, Kosovo’s Islamic Community, praised the arrests and urged young faithful to steer clear of “groups calling themselves upon a so-called jihad.”
Kosovo police officers guard the entrance of a makeshift mosque after raid in Kosovo capital Pristina on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014…hundreds of police officers and special police units raided 60 locations across Kosovo, including makeshift mosques believed to have served as recruiting centres. Sign in background “Xhamia” in Albanian is for mosque. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Police tape seal [incidentally in the language of their chief sponsor] is seen at the entrance of a makeshift mosque after raid in Kosovo capital Pristina on Monday, Aug. 11…
AFP also carried the item, complete with all the requisite disclaimers:
…The raid followed a months-long investigation and efforts by the authorities to root out suspected Islamist networks in Kosovo.
Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country, although religion plays only a minor part in public life and tends to take a very moderate form.
… In June, three ethnic Albanians — who make up more than 90 percent of Kosovo’s 1.7 million population — were arrested on suspicion of setting up a “terrorist organization” as media alleged they were recruited by ISIS, which has since renamed itself Islamic State, while fighting in Syria.
The three were arrested upon their return to Kosovo where intelligence agents intercepted their communications and plans to carry out suicide attacks in public places…Police say at least 16 have been killed in Iraq and Syria so far.
…Kosovo is an overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian country where the main religion is Islam, although lifestyles are largely secular.
The 40 men were being questioned on suspicion of engaging in acts against Kosovo’s constitutional order and endangering the safety and security of the state, a police statement said.
Local media said an 18-year-old man from eastern Kosovo was killed in fighting in Syria last week, raising the total number of Kosovo Albanians killed in fighting in Iraq and Syria to 16.
“Those arrested are being questioned, and we are looking to arrest others not found at their homes,” Kosovo police spokesman Baki Kelani said. He could not say many were still at large.
Many in Kosovo were shocked [shocked!] when pictures circulated on social media last month of Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a self-styled leader of Kosovo Albanians fighting with Islamic State militants, apparently decapitating a teenager in Iraq. [Syria, I think.]
A Kosovo government statement on the arrests said: “(Our) state … will firmly defend civilized Euro-Atlantic values, individual freedom, secularism, constitutional and legal rights of all communities in Kosovo.” [After doing everything in contradiction to those when creating Kosovo in the first place, showing the more radical among this society of patchwork radicals how it’s done.]
President Atifete Jahjaga, who has helped coordinate security agencies in moves against militants heading to Iraq and Syria, said Kosovo would never be a “shelter for extremism”. […]
She should get to know her ‘country’ a little better. A related update came on Thursday:
Kosovo police say they have arrested two suspected Islamic radicals including a cleric considered by the authorities to be the main recruiter for Kosovo’s jihadi fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Police said the cleric is believed to be “one of the main sources of inspiration for jihad” among Kosovo’s faithful. He was identified by Kosovo media as Imam Zekerija Qerimi, the leader of prayers in city of Gnjilane, eastern Kosovo.
Both of those arrested are suspected of recruiting followers for terrorist activity and participating in terrorist organizations.
Gnjilane? You don’t say! First we had an Albanian saying the ISISniks are doing no different from the “secular/moderate/reasonable” U.S. partners, the KLA. Now, we have the main recruiter — a religious Muslim Albanian — having led prayers in Gnjilane, a 1990s KLA stronghold, hotbed of violent separatism, and Serb-torture Central.
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