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Lavdrim Muhaxheri, ISIS Warrior, Remains Threat to Kosovo

Lavdrim Muhaxheri, commander of Albanian ISIS fighters, has been named a serious threat for Kosovo once again after 19 suspected terrorists were arrested within days.

Die Morina BIRN Pristina
Ridvan Haqifi (left) and Lavdrim Muhaxheri (right), two ISIS Kosovo Albanian commanders. | Photo: ISIS propaganda video

Lavdrim Muhaxheri, the Kosovo Albanian foreign fighter for ISIS operating in Syria and Iraq,  re-appeared as a serious threat to Kosovo last week after the police there arrested 19 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Kosovo and Albania.

The arrested suspects were all being coordinated by Lavdim Muhaxheri and fellow ISIS warrior Ridvan Haqifi, police said.

Muhaxheri made international headlines in July 2014 after uploading graphic photos of himself beheading a young man on Facebook.

On 24 September 2014, the US State Department of State added Muhaxheri to its list of global terrorists.

Also known as Ebu Abdullah el Albani, Abu Abdullah al Kosova, Abu Abdallah al-Kosovi and Abu Abdallah al-Kosovo, he was described as a threat to US national security and blacklisted from the US. 

Originally, from Kacanik in Kosovo, a town near the border with Macedonia, Muhaxheri was reported killed in 2014, but this was denounced on social media by a man claiming he was Muhaxheri’s friend.

The arrests of 18 Kosovo Albanians and one citizen of Macedonia were carried out between November 4 and 16, the police said.

They did not give details about their identities except that the arrests were carried out in Pristina, Mitrovica, Ferizaj/Urosevac, Kacanik and Vitia/Vitina.

“These persons were planning terrorist acts in Kosovo and [in Albania] against the Israeli football team and their fans who participated in the Albania-Israel match,” Kosovo police said in a statement.

However, Kosovo Interior Ministry officials told BIRN that the police took all measures deemed necessary to guarantee security, and the security situation remained stable.

Police said they prevented the attacks in cooperation with the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, AKI, and the Kosovo Special Prosecution, as well as authorities in Macedonia and Albania.

According to the prosecution, their targets were international and security institutions, aiming to intimidate the population, destabilize the country and destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic and social order in order to establish an "Islamic State".

Media reports have mentioned Kosovo government institutions and Serbian Orthodox Church sites as possible Islamist targets.

Daut Hoxha, spokesperson of the Kosovo Police, told BIRN only that the authorities are working continuously with great vigilance but could not give other details.

During the arrests, substantial explosives, including 281 grams of TATP, 2.5 kg of other explosive substance, as well as personal weapons and radio-communication devices were found. 

As high-ranking members of ISIS in charge of Kosovo and Albanian fighters in the Middle East, Muhaxheri and Haqifi have both threatened Kosovo and Albania via video because of their governments' adherence to the international coalition against ISIS.

Reports say around 300 Kosovo Albanians have joined ISIS since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011.  

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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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