Kosovars busted in Ft. Dix terror plot: xenophobe fodder

The conservative Washington Times exploits the arrest of four Kosovar Albanian youth in the apparent Ft. Dix terror conspiracy, raising once again Slobodan Milosevic’s specter of a Balkan jihad. Good timing, just as Kosova is poised to become Europe’s first Muslim-led state. Perhaps the WT’s perverse glee will be shared by their counterparts on the “left”—like Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky. Bill Gertz writes May 9:

Plot illustrates Balkans’ role as Islamist foothold
The six foreign-born Muslims accused of planning a shooting attack at the U.S. military base included four ethnic Albanians, and U.S. officials say their arrests highlight how Islamist groups are using the Balkans region to help in recruiting and financing terrorism.

Prosecutors described the men as “radical Islamists,” with four coming from the province of Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia, where the ethnic Albanian population of Muslims fought one of the several wars that grew out of the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Suspect Agron Abdullahu, who faces only weapons violations in the case, was described in court papers as a “sniper in Kosovo.”

U.S. officials said the Islamists were motivated by al Qaeda sympathies and that ringleader Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, who was born in Jordan, had copies of the wills of two September 11 terrorists on his laptop computer.

The other suspect in the group — accused of seeking to kill hundreds of soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J. — was born in Turkey.

U.S. officials said intelligence reports from the Balkans have identified a support structure for several terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, among the Muslim communities in Albania and in the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia.

“When it comes to extremists, we’re talking about very, very small pockets in Albania, as well as among the ethnic Albanian populations in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and other parts of the Balkans,” said one official with access to intelligence reports.

The official pointed out that the Albanian government has been supportive of U.S. efforts to counter Islamic terrorist activities, including curbing logistics and financial aid, and working to prevent terrorists from receiving training and weapons.

But a Congressional Research Service report produced in 2005 said instability in Albania during the 1990s gave al Qaeda a “foothold” there.

“Poor internal security, lax border controls, and high rates of crime produced an environment conducive to terrorist activity,” said the report by CRS specialist Steven Woehrel. “Some foreign Islamic extremists used Albania as a safe haven and gained Albanian citizenship.”

Balkan Muslims also have been targets of al Qaeda recruitment efforts because they have an easier time blending in or evading U.S. and European security measures and border controls, which often are geared to identifying Middle Eastern extremists.

The State Department’s latest annual report on international terrorism said the Albanian government has taken steps to stop terrorism financing but noted that “government and police forces faced substantial challenges to fully enforce border security and combat organized crime and corruption.”

The Albanian government identified seven financial holdings by terrorist groups last year that were frozen.

Israeli government sources have said that agents for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, as well as the Shi’ite Hezbollah, have been actively buying weapons from organized-crime groups in the Balkans.

Bosnia also has a large Muslim community that in the past has provided a base of support for al Qaeda and other terrorists. After the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, most Islamic radicals, who were helping Bosnia’s Muslims fend off the Orthodox Christian Serbs, left the Balkans, but some remained behind.

“It is estimated that several hundred former fighters stayed behind in Bosnia after the war and became Bosnian citizens by marrying Bosnian women,” the CRS report said. “Some al Qaeda operatives in Bosnia reportedly had connections to members of Bosnia’s intelligence service.”

European intelligence agencies estimate that as many as 750 Muslim former fighters remain hidden in Bosnia and have acted as a supply network to send guns, money and documents to terrorists passing through the region.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders often mention Bosnia as an important example of jihad, or holy war.

“Terrorist recruiting videos often include footage of combat in Bosnia,” the CRS report said.

According to the Associated Press, a joint U.S.-Croatian intelligence report produced last year stated that Algerian extremists were active in the Balkans. Bosnia’s intelligence service last year published information on 15 extremists living in that country: eight Algerians, two Syrians, two Tunisians and an Egyptian, Kuwaiti and Yemeni.

Officials also said the nongovernmental organization Revival of Islamic Heritage Society remains active in the region and spreads the radical Wahhabi form of Islam that animates al Qaeda.

Note all the purely gratuitous name-dropping here. There has been not a shred of evidence these kids had any contact with al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah or any of the rest. Rather an irony in light of all the purely specious terror cases of late.

See our last posts on Kosova and the Balkans.

  1. We’re surprised…
    …that none of these loudmouths have picked up on this. From the Italian news agency AKI, April 20:

    Fundamentalist Muslim Wahabi militant leader Ismail Prentic, for whom Serbian police issued a warrant in March as “armed and dangerous,” was killed on Friday in a clash between police and Wahabis near Novi Pazar in southern Serbia, police confirmed. Group member Senad Ramovic was injured and fellow Wahabi Safet Becovic was detained according to the police statement.

    Police on Friday carried out a dawn search of three houses in the village of Donja Trnava, seven kilometers of Novi Pazar, capital of the Sandjak region, after receiving a tip that a Wahabi leader was hiding there, police said in a statement. Hidden from view in a forest, police had believed the dwellings were unoccupied. They are owned by another Wahabi, Adem Becirovic.

    As they were approaching the houses, a pack of dogs attacked policemen, who came under fire. Hand grenades were also thrown at the police officers, injuring one of them and Becirovic, the statement said. The clash between police and the group followed after the blast, in which the group leader Prentic was killed and Ramovic was injured.

    Prentic had reportedly been hidden by his fellow Wahabis in villages around Novi Pazar in the Sandjak region – which has a predominantly Muslim population – during the past few days.

    On 2 April, at the request of the Serbian authorities, police in the breakway Kosovo province issued an arrest warrant for Prentic who, they said, may have fled to the UN administered province. So far, it is not known if and when Prentic went to Kosovo.

    Prentic escaped when on 17 March Serbian security officials raided a base 30 kilometers north of Novi Pazar which they believe was a training ground for radical Islamists. Serb authorities believe Wahabis operating the camp were recruiting potential terrorists and planning attacks on members of the local Muslim community.

    Four men were arrested in the 17 March raid and two were arrested three days later in connection with the camp, which consisted of a series of tents hidden in a pine forest. All the men arrested were from Novi Pazar. The police said they also uncovered weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, 10 kilogrammes of plastic explosives and automatic assault rifles hidden in a small cave at the camp.

    Serbia’ Radio B92 also reports that a photographer for the Belgrade daily Glas Javnosti was surrounded by a hostile crowd who tried to confiscate his camera when he tried to take pictures of Ismail Prentić’s funeral procession.