The Times: Network of fanatics threatening Balkans

The example of Fitim Lladrovci, a Kosovo Albanian, who fought for ISIS in Syria on two separate occasions and then came back home where he still preaches about his radical views, demonstrates that the Pristina authorities cannot curb the problem that is terrorism.

In this article called “Jihadists Back in Kosovo and Ready to Die for Caliphate”, Anthony Lloyd, the journalist from the British Times, investigates Lladrovci’s case.

Lloyd writes:” Four years have passed since a young Islamic State fighter from Kosovo witnessed one of the organisation’s most abhorrent killings. Fitim Lladrovci was 24 when he saw a Syrian tied to a stake and blown up with a rocket-propelled grenade. “It was certainly not the worst thing I saw among many executions, beheadings and burnings,” he said, reflecting in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, on his continued loyalty to ISIS. “Even kids got used to seeing such things”, Lladrovci added”.

Lladrovci was not put on trial after his first trip to Aleppo in 2013, where he was part of the al Nusra Front. He was questioned for 11 hours after which he was released. Only after the second departure to the battlefield (in 2015) – where he fought in the Albanian unit of ISIS with Lavdrim Muhaxher, who was subsequently killed by a drone, Lladrovci was sentenced to prison. However, the problem was not solved there.

“The caliphate is not over,” he said this week, four months after his release. “Its story has only just begun. I want to create an Islamic State in Kosovo and I’d gladly die in support of it.”

“We don’t have a problem putting Islamic State members in prison,” said Fikrije Krasniqi, one of two prosecutors dealing with new terrorist cases in Kosovo. “It is changing their minds that is difficult. We find that most ISIS members are beyond repair.”

“Kosovan judges often struggle to pass lengthy sentences against ISIS members because of a lack of evidence from Syria, so most are given short terms whatever the gravity of their crimes. In addition, a lack of stringency in the bail system leaves many terrorist suspects at large.

Lloyd reminds that Kosovans have been involved in several recent terrorist plots. Six Kosovan Albanians, men and women, were arrested at home and in Germany last June for involvement in two plots targeting Nato troops in Kosovo and civilians in Belgium and France. A month earlier eight were jailed in Kosovo for a plot to kill Israeli footballers.

At least 384 Kosovo fighters fought in Syria

other European or Balkan nation.

The Kosovo authorities know of 348 adults who travelled to join Isis in Syria from 2012. Many died there but many have returned. In the absence of a coherent deradicalisation programme, prisoners such as Lladrovci are emerging from jail still loyal to ISIS. Out of Balkan nations, Albanians are the only ones that have their own unit inside ISIS.

(Blic, 11.10.2018)

Photo credits: RAS / Srbija

This post is also available in: Italiano

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