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News 25 Jun 15

Kosovo Police Raid NGOs Linked to Iran

Kosovo police have raided NGOs whose activities are tied to Iran, as a part of a strategy to counter religious extremism.

Una Hajdari

Kosovo Police raided five NGOs on Wednesday on suspicions of money laundering and financing terrorism, as a part a strategy to crack down on radical islamic practices and supporters.

"The raids are tied to a case that is being investigated by the Special Prosecution, with the goal of preventing and fighting terrorism in the Republic of Kosovo," the prosecution said.

The locations raided were in Pristina and Prizren. The NGOs raided in Pristina were Nisa, Bregu i Diellit, and Ibni Sina, while those ones raided in Prizren were Kurani and Ehli Bejti.

The Kosovo daily newspaper Express said the NGOs all have ties to Iran and to Shiite groups there.

The newspaper claimed that the founders of Kurani, Ikballe Huduti-Berisha and her husband Asllan Berisha, owners of a real estate businesses, have ties to Iran and had been recruiting Kosovars to fight for Iranian interests.

Ikballe Huduti also has a public photo on her Facebook account with Iran's former hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Her daughter, Zehra, visited Iran three years ago and gave a statement to Iran's Nasr TV, saying that she was there to help the fight against Israel and America.

The NGO in question was registered in 2002 and one year amassed a turnover of more than 100,000 euro.

Ibni Sina, another of the NGOs that was raided by the police, declares itself an educational and research body  with the aim of studying Islamic culture and civilization, especially "Iranology and Persian literature".

The other NGOs have similar activities, with Bregu i Diellit serving as a dormitory in Pristina, and the others publishing propaganda material, spreading the teachings of the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

The NGOs linked to Iran are separate and indeed in opposition to supporters of the Islamic State in Kosovo, who were arrested in previous raids, most notably in August 2014.

Iran and Islamic State are mortal enemies, battling each other in the wars in the Middle East and representing the Shia and Sunni banches of Islam respectively.

Fears about the advance of Islamic State, or ISIL, in Iraq and Syria have indeed prompted a degree of rapprochement between the West and the US on one side and Iran on the other.

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