Times: Jihadis are back in Kosovo - "caliphate is not dead"

British daily the Times has published an article under the headline, "ISIS jihadists back in Kosovo ready to die for caliphate."

Source: Tanjug
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(Getty Images, file, illustration)
(Getty Images, file, illustration)

It states that according to what is known to authorities in Pristina, since 2012, 348 adults had gone from Kosovo to Syria to join Islamic State.

The newspaper says that "many have died there, but many have returned," and that "in the absence of a coherent program of de-radicalization, (Islamist) prisoners get out of jail and remain loyal to Islamic State."

Among those who are now free is Fitim Lladrovci, who, as a 24-year-old, watched a Syrian man get tied up to a stake and blown up with a missile launcher. It is alleged that the killer was Lavdrim Muhaxheri, "a notorious Kosovo Albanian who was flagged as an international terrorist threat before he was killed with a drone."

The Times writes that Kosovo Albanians have also participated in several recent terrorist attacks and that "six Kosovo Albanians, men and women, were arrested in June last year in Kosovo and in Germany for participating in two conspiracies targeting NATO troops in Kosovo and civilians in Belgium and France," and recalls that "a month earlier eight people were arrested in Kosovo over a plot aimed at killing Israeli footballers."

The paper estimates that the case of Fitim Lladrovci, a Kosovo Albanian who has twice fought for Islamic State in Syria, and then returned to his home where he continues to preach radical ideology, shows that the Pristina authorities cannot curb the problem of terrorism.

The author of the article, Anthony Loyd, describes Lladrovci's case:

"Four years have passed since a young Islamic State fighter from Kosovo witnessed one of the organization’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," Loyd writes.

"It was certainly not the worst thing I saw among many executions, beheadings and burnings. Even kids got used to seeing such things," Lladrovci is quoted as saying - "reflecting in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, on his continued loyalty to ISIS."

Lladrovci was not put on trial after his first trip to Aleppo 2013, where he was part of the al-Nusra Front: he was questioned for 11 hours and then released. Only after the second departure to the battlefield in 2015 - where he served in the Albanian unit of Islamic State executioner Lavdrim Muhaxheri - was he sentenced to prison. However, that did not come even close to solving the problem of his activities.

"The caliphate is not finished," Lladrovci said this week, four months after his release. "I want to create an Islamic state in Kosovo and I will be happy to die for it," the Times quoted the jihadist as saying.

Prosecutor Fikri Krasniqi, meanwhile, told the British outlet says that the Kosovo authorities have no problem convicting terrorists, but struggle with de-radicalization - removing the consequences of the indoctrination the jihadis went through in Syria and in the training camps. The de-radicalization program is not obligatory, and most terrorists are irreparable anyway, said the prosecutor.

Kosovo judges often find it difficult to pass judgments against members of ISIS because of the lack of evidence from Syria, and they mostly give short sentences, regardless of the gravity of the crime. In addition, the insufficiently strict system of probation leaves many terrorists free to continue with the spread of extreme ideology.

According to some security assessments, "the number of Kosovo jihadists is equal to the total number of extremists from all other Balkan countries put together." In addition, the Albanian unit is "the only one from the Balkans that exists independently within ISIS, which shows that the number of fighters from the ranks of Albanians is quite large."

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