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News 08 Nov 16

Albania, Kosovo Keep ISIS Suspects Behind Bars

After a combined police anti-terror sweep in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia, courts in Kosovo and Albania have ordered a dozen suspected members of a pro-ISIS group to be kept in detention.

Fatjona Mejdini BIRN Tirana
An ISIS member in Syria. Photo: Beta/AP.

The Court of Serious Crimes in Tirana on Monday decided to keep in jail four Albanians suspected of terrorism, who have refused to be represented by lawyers.

It came after Albanian police on Saturday announced the results of a regional anti-terrorist police operation conducted in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, and said investigations are still continuing.

On November 4, Albanian police nabbed four Albanians arrested from 30 to 46, two in the northern city of Shkodra on the border with Montenegro and the two others in the northeastern one of Peshkopi, on the border with Macedonia.

Police announced that the four collaborated with each other and other citizens outside Albania and propagandized hate and the recruitment of fighters to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Police said the four citizens supported ISIS with logistics and funding and had all travelled in the conflict areas of the Middle East.

However, the mother of one of the arrested in Shkodra, Jetmira Faslija, said on TV that her son had nothing to do with ISIS as far as she knew.

"He has never spoken in our house about ISIS and was arrested while he was sleeping," she said.

On the same day, seven others were arrested in Kosovo in Mitrovica, Ferizaj and Prishtina, also suspected of engaging in terrorist activities.

Two new suspects as part of the same operation were arrested in Kacanik and Mitrovica in Kosovo on Monday.

Kosovo investigators said the arrested men supported ISIS's terrorist activities and had planned attacks first in Kosovo and other countries of the region.

The Kosovo Prosecution said that the suspects acted on the orders of Lavdrim Muhaxheri, the former leader of Albanian ISIS fighters.

On Sunday, the Basic Court of Pristina decided to keep the seven suspects accused of terror in custody. Their defending attornies objected to the decision.

The prosecution had no proof support of the allegations, a lawyer for one of the suspects said.

"The allegations ... stain the image of Kosovo as a state," he said.

In Albania, nine people are now in prison having been found guilty of recruiting some 70 Albanians to fight in the conflict in Syria. They are serving 126 years in jail in total.

Around 70 people have been indicted for terrorism within the last three years, but not official data has been published concerning their final verdicts.

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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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