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News 18 Aug 16

Albanian Police Arrest ‘Terror Attack’ Suspect

Police said the 29-year-old suspect from Mitrovica in Kosovo attacked three people in the coastal city of Vlora while trying to kidnap them and shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

Fatjona Mejdini BIRN Tirana
Vlora's main boulevard. Photo: Wikimedia  

The suspect, Dijar Xhema, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of committing acts of terrorism and calling for acts of terrorism in the Albanian city of Vlora.

Police said Xhema tried to pull three people into his car over a two-hour period.

"These actions in public places were accompanied with cries of 'Allahu Akbar', 'I've been sent by Allah' and 'I will kill you all'," a police statement said. 

The police published pictures of Xhema and the car that he used while allegedly threatening passers-by. They also said that he physically resisted arrest.

In his car, police said they found cannabis but no weapons.

Xhema has previously been arrested in Kosovo for illegal gun possession and other criminal charges, they said.

"This person presents a high level of danger to society," the police statement alleged.

The case will now be further investigated by Albania’s serious crimes prosecutor.

If it is established that Xhema was motivated by religious radicalism, it would be the first time an Islamist attacker has targeted people inside Albania.

Albania has been successful in reducing to zero the number of people leaving the country to join ISIS and other radical groups in Syria and Iraq, a recent report said.

The report in March by the Albanian Institute of International Studies said the number of people going from Albania to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq peaked in 2014, when between 90 and 150 people departed, 31 of whom were children and 13 women.

After this period, no other cases of Albanians joining ISIS have been reported, although researchers believe that this has come as a result of the low demand from Middle Eastern countries for foreign fighters.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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