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news 14 Nov 16

Kosovo Terror Threat 'Serious' but Manageable, Ministry Says

Kosovo top official admits the recent arrest of more than dozen suspected terrorists was a serious matter, while an expert says the risk facing the country remains real.

Die Morina BIRN Pristina
Kosovo Police | Photo: BIRN

A government official said Kosovo confronted serious security cases after last week's police operation, which ended with 14 suspected members of a pro-ISIS group in detention.

The police sweep came after Kosovo institutions for months tried to calm public fears, saying the number of Kosovo citizens who had joined terrorist organizations in the Middle East lately had fallen fast.

Deputy Interior Minister Valdet Hoxha told BIRN that the country's institutions were dealing with serious cases.

“The security situation is generally calm and stabile. The recent cases are serious, but the security and law institutions are working on this,” Hoxha said, adding that the recent arrests showed the proactive stance of the Kosovo Police and of local and international institutions. 

Hoxha said the police took all measures deemed necessary to guarantee security and prevent criminal activity.

However, Kosovo security expert Burim Ramadani said the risk of violent extremist ideologies spreading in the country remains present.

Ramadani said it takes time and social and institutional commitment to prevent this trend.

“The presence of terrorist organizations in the region and in Kosovo started with the spread of an ideology which can be translated into concrete terrorist acts," Ramadani recalled.

He added that Kosovo and regional institutions should prevent this - but arrests alone would curb either the ideology and the process of indoctrination.

“Generally, the risk is not reduced," Ramadani warned.

Last week, the Kosovo prosecution decided to keep in detention 14 persons suspected of preparing terrorist acts against the country's constitutional order.

The prosecution says the suspects, under the instructions from former Albanian fighters in Syria, planned terrorist attacks in Kosovo and other Balkan countries during September and October.

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".

Around 100 people have been arrested in Kosovo since September 2014 on charges of active membership of, or affiliation to, Islamist groups including ISIS and Al-Nusra.

More than 50 are currently on trial. The latest estimates from the authorities are that about 300 Kosovo Albanians have joined ISIS and Al Nusra in total.

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