Investigation 07 May 16

Mysterious ‘Terrorist Organisation’ Haunts Kosovo Judiciary

Despite a Pristina court’s recent conviction of two Kosovo Albanians for joining an alleged terrorist group in Syria called ‘Harausham’, no Kosovo institution can provide proof of its existence.

Ervin Qafmolla, Labinot Leposhtica
BIRN
Pristina
Unidentified milita at guard in a Syrian town | Photo from ISIS propaganda material

The case of two Kosovo Albanians convicted of terrorism-related crimes after pleading guilty earlier this year may not be over yet.

Arben Livoreka and Nexhat Behluli each received three-and-a-half year sentences from a first-instance court in Pristina in January after being found guilty of ‘participation and organising for a terrorist group’.

The two were arrested in September 2014 on suspicion of joining a terror organisation called ‘Harausham’ that is allegedly affiliated with the militant group Al Nusra in Syria in November 2013 - July 2014.

However, a BIRN investigation found that ‘Harausham’, the group the men are alleged to have joined, may only exist in the prosecution’s indictment and in other related court documents.

‘Harausham’ does not appear in detailed searches of official lists of groups fighting in Syria and Iraq. The suspects’ statements contained in court documents are the only direct evidence of the organisation’s existence.

The Special Prosecution indictment, which BIRN has seen, refers to ‘Harausham’ and says Al Nusra controls the fighting group. The indictment continues that the defendants chose to leave the organisation and return to Kosovo after ISIS sought to take control of the group.

However, the document compiled by Chief Special Prosecutor Reshat Millaku contains no evidence of ‘Harausham’s’ existence, nor does it detail its alleged ties to Al Nusra.

Millaku declined BIRN’s interview requests about the case, and the Special Prosecution Office also failed to provide any explanation on this particular indictment.

When asked by BIRN if they could prove, or had any evidence at all for the existence of ‘Harausham’, Ekrem Lutfiu, a spokesperson from the General Prosecution Office said the proof was in the suspects’ statements.

“The ‘Harausham’ organisation, according to the statements of the suspects, is a group that acts in the frame of Al Nusra terrorist organisation,” Lutfiu said.

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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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