The recent arrest of 40 alleged Islamic radicals in Kosovo together with the arrest of one of the Kosovo Imams suspected of being an inspirer of jihad in the region brought serious questions about the radicalisation of Islam and terrorism in Kosovo, in the Balkans and in Europe. Even though the issue of Kosovo Albanian volunteers or mercenaries fighting alongside the anti-Bashar forces in Syria and supporting the radical leadership of the Islamic State (earlier the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has been present in the public debate in Kosovo for at least a year, the debate itself was rather shallow and trivial.
The constant development of Islamic influences in Kosovo remained unnoticed for a long time by most observers. But it was not invisible. The ignorance perfectly represents the power of discourse and clichés in the politics in the Balkans. Kosovo has always been perceived as a secular state with a liberal Muslim majority. Kosovo Islam was meant to be moderate. Kosovo was supposed to be the example of a Muslim state in the middle of Europe that does not struggling with religious and cultural challenges. Kosovo may have problems with trafficking, organised crime and corruption; but not Islam.
Kosovo Albanian Islam is different both from the Arab Gulf Islam, the Islam of the East Bank of the Mediterranean See and Islam in the other Balkan states. It was strongly influenced by the Yugoslav ideas and values, evolved under both socialism and cosmopolitism and is deeply mixed with the Albanian culture, a culture very different from the surrounding Slavic cultures in the region. Until the 1980s, religion in Kosovo was a private thing. Under pressure from the Slobodan Milošević regime, it transformed into a nation-building and freedom-fighting issue.
Finally after 1999, and especially after the 2008 independence, Kosovo Albanian Islam once again became private and non-political. The evolution makes the Kosovo Islam very difficult to frame and control, the changes are happening at the kitchen tables inside homes, just as – in Jeffrey Goldfarb’s words – the dismantling of the Soviet bloc was run by “the politics of small things” initiated in discussions around kitchen tables in Warsaw, Prague and Bucharest.
The growth of importance of religion in Kosovo is happening casually en passant and on a very grassroots level; and so is the social base for recruitment of potential Islam fighters. Several years ago, the holy month of Ramadan was unnoticeable in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. Today the group of people fasting from dawn to dusk is clearly visible in the city. The usually full cafeterias and restaurants in the main boulevard, boulevard of Mother Theresa, are empty during the day, the city becomes peaceful and quite until the Iftar dinner time comes. The status of traditional Albanian national heroes like Mother Theresa or Skandenberg is now being questioned, as they were Catholics not Muslims. Unlike just a few years ago covered women and men with a beard wearing pants above his ankles is a common sight nowadays in Pristina, not to mention the conservative cities and regions such as Kaçanik or Hani i Elezit.
It’s becoming common practice to pay people in their initial phase of religiosity for regular visits to mosques, wearing a hijab or a beard. Several hundreds of euros are frequently donated to parents, or even more preferably to single mothers, for their daily expenses or education of their kids as a payoff for making the children follow the ahadith, the traditions.
As fasting and hijabs are clearly apparent, the recruitment of volunteer freedom fighters to Syria and the Islamic State remains out of sight. The recruitment and indoctrination is happening deep in the society, mostly in its lower classes and among people who are often unaware of the process they are participating in. Recent arrests show that the authorities are capable of identifying individuals who have already been actively involved in the Middle East conflicts, but they do very little in order to fight the cause of the problem. In March 2014, the Kosovo Assembly passed a draft law on the prohibition of Kosovo citizens of joining armed conflicts outside Kosovo; however the dissolution of the Parliament in May, early elections held in June and the inability of the political parties to form a new government undermine the future of the bill.
The specific number of Kosovo Albanians fighting in Iraq and Syria is unknown, the authorities claim to have information about several dozen of them, but most analysts suggest that the number definitely exceeds 100. Until now 16 of them died in combat. The ones arrested last week are accused of supporting the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front, and together with the arrests a significant number of weapons, explosives and electronic equipment have been confiscated. Even though these are men who constitute the vast majority of “freedom fighters”, women are sent from the Balkans to the Middle East in order to “fulfil their duty in Jihad Al-Nikah – thesex jihad”.
The recruitment process itself is rather flexible and also therefore difficult to track down. The crucial part of the process is the selection of potential candidates and identification of individuals vulnerable and susceptible to influence. Even though the economic situation in Kosovo is bad and the unemployment rate is almost 50 per cent of the whole population, and over 70 per cent among the youth, the economic promises seem not to be a decisive factor.
The bad economic situation should be regarded, rather, as an indirect factor which creates an advantageous environment for recruitment. The lack of opportunities, lack of occupation and simply an excess of free time are some of the reasons that push young people into the radicals’ arms. Another crucial reason – an identity crisis – is a more complex one. Kosovo Albanians, or Kosovars, experience trouble with defining who they are. They are not emotionally attached to the blue and yellow Kosovo flag, so they use the Albanian red flag with a silhouetted black double-headed eagle in the centre. They are Albanians but they feel distinguished from the Albanians in Albania. They fought for independence and sovereignty, but they feel their country is run by foreign embassies. Religion offers a clear identity and a sense of belonging.
There is still a strong belief in the Kosovo society that religion and state should be separated. When the Macedonian Albanians were protesting in July against the authorities in Skopje, the protests enjoyed strong support from the Kosovo Albanians, but faced a critique regarding the strong religious component of the protest, including the use of the green Muslim flags and organisation of the demonstrations in front of mosques. At the same time, terrorism has a long tradition in Kosovo and it is difficult to distinguish Islamic terrorism from the general phenomenon of terrorism in the country executed by paramilitary organisations or other politically driven groups.
The unexpectedness of the developments is personified by the self-declared commander of the ethnic Albanian fighters in the Islamic State, Lavdrim Muhaxheri, who used to work in Camp Bondsteel, the Kosovo base for the US Military, and later joined the American mission in Afghanistan. Today, he is fighting in the Middle East, streaming his call for jihad in Arabic on YouTube and posting photos of him cutting off a man’s head on Facebook.
So far, this is a phenomenon in the Kosovo society. The role of the new government and the international community in Pristina will be to not let it turn into a widespread societal process of religious radicalisation. “This land has been created by warriors and poets, and various gods,” sang Bajaga, a famous Yugoslav singer, back in 1993. There is a space in Kosovo for various gods, but there cannot be space for extremism.
About the author:
Ida Orzechowska is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Political Science of the University of Wroclaw, Poland, obtaining a degree in political science. Her main research interests relate to international security, the Western Balkans and conflict studies
Several years ago two very distinguished American scholars wrote a book, The Israel Lobby.
The book made a very understated case that the Israel Lobby has far more power over the US government and media than is good for America or Israel, as it silences constructive critics who are Israel’s friends. The two scholars were demonized by the Israel Lobby as advocating the return of the Holocaust.
The Israel Lobby presented itself as just a poor little weak thing unable to stand up to all the Nazis assailing Israel. Meanwhile the US Congress was unanimously passing outrageous resolutions handed to it by ...
Political discourse of American mass media is inundated with another wave of Russophobia and fear mongering. Besides the obvious military threat (Russia’s nuclear arsenal), or the challenges to the US foreign policy (the conflicts in Ukraine or Syria), a new fear has been introduced into the news: the US political system is endangered by Russia’s computer hacking, informational warfare, and its support of Donald Trump.
The newspaper titles sound like a commercial for the upcoming Invasion of the Body Snatchers sequel. The Washingon Post announces: “Russia Is Now a Threat. The US Should Treat It Like One.” Time magazine raises the ...
The United States, Germany, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom launched "Operation Jericho"
Once again, the Obama administration has tried to force the change of a political regime that resists it. On February 12, an Academi (formerly Blackwater) plane disguised as an aircraft of the Venezuelan army was supposed to bomb the presidential palace and kill President Nicolas Maduro. The plotters had planned to place former MP María Corina Machado in power and have her immediately acclaimed by former Latin American presidents.
President Obama with his advisor for Latin America, Ricardo Zuñiga, and the National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
If Trump can defeat the oligarchy and save America, he can go down in history as Trump the Great.
Liberals, progressives, and the left-wing (to the extent that one still exists) are aligning with the corrupt oligarchy against president-elect Trump and the American people.
They are busy at work trying to generate hysteria over Trump’s “authoritarian personality and followers.” In other words, the message is: here come the fascists.
Liberals and progressives wailed and whined about “an all white male cabinet,” only to be made fools by Trump’s appointment of a black male and two women, one a minority and one a Trump ...
Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old Mexican national, was shot to death by police in Pasco, Washington last Tuesday as he was backing away from officers with his hands up. A video of the shooting clearly corroborates claims by Zambrano-Montes’s family that he was killed “execution style.”
Police claimed that Zambrano-Montes, who had lived in the city for ten years and worked as an orchard picker, may have been “armed with a rock” before he was shot multiple times. Protests erupted over the weekend, with more than a thousand demonstrating in Washington state on Saturday against the killing.
The United States has invaded, bombed ...
The role of the United States in the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is often overlooked by people who are critical of Washington’s intervention in the internal affairs of independent, sovereign countries.
For it was in the former Yugoslavia that the precedent was set for future American intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo provided the launch pad for the West’s concept of humanitarian intervention, which, in reality, is a pretext for safeguarding and enhancing US global hegemony.
However, intervention by Washington in the Balkans in the 1990s served a more immediate objective for the ...
The U.S. public loves fascists; they elect them, constantly. Donald Trump, who “says he would raise the minimum wage and stop the endless efforts at regime change,” is called a fascist by some. But Hillary Clinton “is happy to bomb Libya or Syria or any other country,” and played a major role in mass Black incarceration. Barack Obama is the war-maker and deporter-in-chief. “All of the major party candidates fit the F word description in some way.”
“No one comes into office with any intention of undoing America’s leadership as the world’s worst jailer.”
Donald Trump is the ill spoken, boorish, graceless ...
Led by the US and NATO, the clash of imperialist powers accounts for the absence of stability not just in the Middle East and Africa, but also the Ukraine and parts of Asia. Behind the rhetoric of democracy, national security, and anti-terrorism there are direct diplomatic and indirect diplomatic efforts through government-financed and pro-business NGO’s. There are overt and covert military operations carried out by the US, EU, China, Russia and their less powerful allies motivated by aggressive intentions for spheres of influence and markets. Behind the “war on terror” and regional conflicts around the world rests the reality of ...
Yet another scandal is exploding on the Internet. The administration of free encyclopedia Wikipedia removed an article by a Russian researcher, devoted to assessing the loss of US citizens as a result of the Great Depression of 1932-33. Outraged bloggers began mass distribution of articles in the Russian segment of the popular blogging service Live journal. The material led to heated debates, while the so-called historical flash mob continues.
Russian researcher Boris Borisov touched a really hot topic in his material on the estimated number of victims of the American Great Depression, which in turn, apparently caused a very strong reaction ...
There is less talk about the rump-Ukraine in the news these days, especially in the western corporate media, and there is a good reason for that: that short-lived Urkonazi “Banderastan” is falling apart. This is hardly surprising since the entire concept was never viable in the first place. Let’s remember how it all began.
It is crucial to remember that there was no spontaneous revolution or insurrection in the Ukraine, the Euromaidan had nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with the USA. Oh sure, the Ukrainian people were told that it was about “joining the EU”, but that ...
President Obama’s final foreign policy speech at MacDill air force base in Tampa, betrayed its purpose through the venue. The Tampa, Florida, base is home to Special Operations Command and Central Command — Special Operations playing an ever increasing role in counter terrorism.
The gist of the speech seemed to assert that the US is and should stay true to its values when fighting terrorism. An assertion when at the same time Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, has written a letter to Secretary John Kerry warning him the US could be charged with war crimes in aiding Saudi Arabia’s bombing ...
Chances are, if a story about Russia appears on the cover of a major Western magazine, it’s not good news. Most likely, there’s been an international scandal, a breakout of geopolitical tensions, the resumption of Cold War hostilities, or some nefarious Russian plot to bring the entire free world to its knees.
Russophobia — or the unnatural fear of Russia — generally leads magazine editors to choose the most over-the-top images to convey Russia as a backwards, clumsy, non-Western and aggressively malevolent power. Unfortunately, that’s led to a few rules of thumb for anyone trying to create a magazine cover featuring Russia. You can think ...
On July 9, 2006, the U.S. Army charged five US soldiers with the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, and the murder of her parents and 5-year-old sister. This brutal and senseless war crime raises the issue of rape in war. The lynchpin of US propaganda and infowar spin is that Soviet troops raped German women when the Red Army took Berlin in 1945. This was meant to take away from the Russian military achievement in taking Berlin. The Russian soldiers were “rapists” while US soldiers were “liberators”, handing out chocolate bars, chewing gum, ...
The German occupation forces were those who have been the first to create and recognise a short-lived state’s independence of Ukraine in January 1918 during the time of their-own inspired and supported anti-Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917−1921. As reoccupied by the Bolshevik Red Army, the eastern and southern parts of the present-day territory of (a Greater) Ukraine joined in 1922 the USSR as a separate Soviet Socialist Republic (without Crimea). According to 1926 Soviet census of Crimea, the majority of its population were the Russians (382.645). The second largest ethnic group were the Tartars (179.094). Therefore, a Jew V. I. ...
Whilst Da’esh are constantly being compared to the Nazis, the real parallel – the West’s willingness to build up fascism in order to cripple Russia – is often forgotten.
The recent debate in the British House of Commons on bombing Syria saw the comparisons coming thick and fast. “Daesh are the fascists of our time”, said Labour MP Dan Jarvis; “this is the fascist war of our generation” opined Sarah Wollaston; whilst Hillary Benn rounded off the debate by explaining that “we are faced by fascists” and “what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated”.
The parallels are ...
VIDEO: German documentary film about the false pretext and German propaganda used to exert and sustain public support for illegal NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro
Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
The U.S. government’s plan to conquer Russia is based upon a belief in, and the fundamental plan to establish, “Nuclear Primacy” against Russia — an American ability to win a nuclear war against, and so conquer, Russia.
This concept became respectable in U.S. academic and governmental policymaking circles when virtually simultaneously in 2006 a short-form and a long-form version of an article endorsing the concept, which the article’s two co-authors there named “nuclear primacy,” were published respectively in the world’s two most influential journals of international affairs, Foreign Affairs from the Council on Foreign Relations, and International Security from Harvard. (CFR got the more popular ...
Zionist Israel Hides Its Crimes Behind Its Smears Of Truth-Tellers
Russia Or The Neocons: Who Endangers American Democracy?
Obama Failed His Coup In Venezuela
The Human Rights Disaster In America
The US-NATO plan for Macedonia: Keep Serbia down and Russia out
Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton: Who’s the Fascist?
John Fire Lame Deer to the American people
Clash Of Imperialists: 21st Century Competition And Confrontation By The Great Powers
Lincoln Ordered The Greatest Mass Hanging In America’s History
Holodomor in the United States
The Ukraine Between Fascism, Ochlocracy and Breakup
Is The U.S Fighting Terrorism Or Manufacturing It?
Trump is racist? What is about Obama!
Russophobia And The Dark Art Of Anti-Russian Magazine Covers
Rape and War: The US Experience
On Which Principle Ukraine’s Borders Are Formed?
Back To The 1930s: Hitler, Da’esh And The West
German Documentary Film On NATO’s War Against Yugoslavia In 1999 (English Subtitle)
America’s Secret Planned Conquest Of Russia