In front of socialist era high-rise blocks, Bill Clinton waves to the Kosovars. Kosovo Albanians built the statue in the capital, Pristina, in gratitude for the bombing of then Yugoslavia by NATO in 1999, which a few years later led to independence.
U.S. and Albanian flags flutter alongside each other on the rooftops. In no other Muslim country in the world is the United States as popular as here in Kosovo. On the square in front of the statue, young women stand around in their skirts and head scarves.
This is one facet of the young state. The other is only a few meters away in a back-alley mosque. In front of the building are two men with long beards who react angrily to our camera: “Put it away immediately or there will be trouble!” A third bearded man comes by and mollifies them. “Don’t be rude to the guests,” he says, leading us into the mosque.
The three Salafists begin praying with many other men congregated in the mosque. Some say they come here because it is near. When asked, they say they were unaware that the building once housed the headquarters of the Saudi Joint Relief Committee, which experts say served as a front for Saudi aid organizations that brought a particularly radical form of Islam into the country.
Kosovo was transformed into a Salafist stronghold in Europe within a few short years.
The worshipers also deny knowing that one of the committee’s leaders, Wa’el Hamsa Julaidan, was not only a co-founder of al-Qaeda but also a confidante of Osama Bin Laden.
The spread of Salafism originated in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, when thousands of jihadists fought alongside Bosnian Muslims during the war. Many received Bosnian passports as tokens of gratitude after the war ended in 1996. Saudi Arabia invested millions of dollars in the country, which prompted the spread of Salafist teachings in the Balkans. The Salafists gained a foothold in Kosovo in 1999, after the NATO bombed the rest of then Yugoslavia.
Saudi Arabia has been exporting its extreme interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, ever since the founding of the Muslim World League in 1962. The royal family, the state and rich private individuals have been financing the spread of this variant of Islam, which is nearly identical to Salafism. With Saudi Arabia’s money, previously secular Kosovo was transformed into a Salafist stronghold in Europe within a few short years.
Even if Saudi Arabia is officially fighting the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, the monarchy and the terrorist group often agree on the fundamental interpretation of Islam. Which is why, according to experts, Saudi Arabia’s money also laid the foundations for the Balkan-based militias.
Kosovo has the highest per capita density of ISIS fighters in Europe. There are 316 confirmed cases of Kosovars who joined Jihadi groups in Syria or Iraq, out of a total of 1.8 million Kosovars. At the moment, there are still 75 Kosovar jihadists in Iraq and Syria, along with 40 women and 29 children who joined them. According to the security services, 57 Kosovar men died fighting for ISIS.
For a long time, the Kosovar government did not want to acknowledge the dangers posed by the Saudi Arabian associations. They were happy to receive funds, and with corruption in Kosovo rife, much of the money lined the pockets of civil servants. At the same time, the United States and Europe also invested billions in the young democracy.
Only in 2004 were some Saudi groups banned, after U.S. authorities had established their ties to al-Qaeda. One of these was the al-Haramain Foundation. But the radical Islamist group did not leave Kosovo and continued working under a different name: As the Salafist organization al-Waqf-al-Islami, they built more than 20 mosques in the Balkan state.
But Salafism and ISIS recruiters are not only to be found in small back alley mosques. Imam Shefqet Krasniqi is currently being prosecuted for allegedly calling in his sermons and on social media to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq. Krasniqi is not unknown in Kosovo: He was the imam of the country’s largest mosque and a lecturer at the Islamic Studies faculty in Pristina, one of the country’s top religious educational institutions. He is also a close confidante of the grand mufti of Kosovo.
Salafist teachings are spreading less in Pristina than in villages and small towns in regions forgotten by the international community and the Kosovar government.
Researchers attribute the spread of radical Islam in rural regions to youth unemployment of up to 60% and to extreme poverty. People barely trust the state, and the extremists address their material and religious needs. Also, the fact that Kosovo Albanians in the former Yugoslavia tended to be more religious helped radical Islam to spread. Their ignorance about Islam made them more vulnerable to indoctrination.
The wave of radicalization can only be stopped within Kosovo’s Muslim communities.
Some 115 ISIS fighters have now returned to Kosovo and a total of 300 Islamic potential offenders are on the authorities’ watch lists. The threat they pose extends beyond Kosovo’s borders, but the security services of the Balkan states have had a hard time coordinating their investigations. Still, so far they have miraculously been able to prevent large terrorist attacks.
Kosovo has responded to the current situation with new laws: Those who return now face up to 15 years in prison, and recruiting jihadists is punishable with up to five years in prison. Since Kosovo joined the international alliance against ISIS in 2014, the offices of 10 foundations and associations, including the Al-Waqf al-Islam Mosque, have been closed for alleged connections to terrorism or anti-constitutional activity. But the strict security measures have only led the Salafists to move their activities underground.
Visar Duriqi, an imam and journalist, believes the wave of radicalization can only be stopped within Kosovo’s Muslim communities. In his opinion, the state, society and the international community, on which Kosovo depends, should support moderate imams. They should also tackle the many problems plaguing the region, such as extreme poverty, corruption, unemployment, a lack of justice and democratic inequality.
But with the Saudi groups now banned, the flow of money into the country has become even more opaque. It is impossible to verify whether money is still entering Kosovo and who receives it. But at this point, it looks like radical Islam can continue spreading even without it.
Originally published on 2017-07-13
Author: Krsto Lazarević
Source: Die Welt
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations.
Since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the nineties, its former constituent republics have been mired in a state of perpetual conflict.Nowhere is this more apparent than the contested state of Kosovo.In 1998, Albanian separatists in the Serbian province of Kosovo i Metohija began a campaign of attacks, with the express objective of creating a unified, ethnically homogenous, Greater Albanian state. Spearheaded by an organization known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which is widely regarded by many nations, including the United States, as a terrorist organization, ethnic Albanian militants attacked Serbian security forces, and terrorized civilians in a brutally violent ...
Vladimir Putin has harmed no American. Russia has not stood in the way of any American’s dream. As for the billionaires though, those American and British money bags, the Russians are posing an insurmountable hurdle for their investments. And we all know nothing can stand in the way of their progress. Unfortunately for the human race, mediocrity cannot rule either. Here is a prophesy as real as any newsreel you will view today, the “end all” conclusion for American “exceptionalism”.Do you know where Crimea is? Seriously now, a gaff by presidential hopeful Gary Johnson the other day proved once and ...
Despite claims made during NATO Summit Warsaw 2016, that “NATO remains a fundamental source of security for our people, and stability for the wider world,” it is clear that the threats and challenges NATO poses as existing to confront are in fact threats of its own, intentional creation and continued perpetuation.
From the ongoing refugee crisis triggered by NATO’s own global-spanning and ongoing military interventions, invasions, and occupations, to its continued expansion along Russia’s borders – violating every convention and “norm” that existed during the Cold War to keep it “cold,” NATO has proven that it is to the populations it poses as protector over, ...
"If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible…”Harry S. Truman, 33rd POTUS, 1941Since the end of the Second World War, the bourgeois historiography has tried to distort various incidents in order to vilify Socialism and the USSR. One of these incidents- which has been a “banner” of imperialism’s apologists and other anticommunists- is the so-called “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact“* which was signed in 1939. In it’s unscientific, unhistorical effort to equate Communism with Nazism, the bourgeois propaganda presents ...
What could possibly go wrong? Refugees welcome! Not to allow these enemy combatants to return would be “Islamophobic”!
“Disguised as refugees and able to cross borders without being identified: ISIS general who blew up a hostage with a rocket and decapitated another prisoner is ‘back in Europe with 400 soldiers’ after fleeing Syria,” by Julian Robinson, MailOnline, December 29, 2016:
An ISIS general once pictured decapitating a prisoner is back in Europe with up to 400 of his most trusted soldiers after fleeing the war zone in Syria, it has been claimed.
Ex-NATO soldier Lavdrim Muhaxheri and his men are among thousands who ...
Throughout the past decade, the UN General Assembly Third Committee has adopted the resolution: “Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”Every year the resolution is adopted by an overwhelming majority of UN member states, while the European Union, which, as the battleground of Nazism should have supported the resolution, merely abstains, and their fence-straddling raises disturbing questions about their actual tendencies. Japan’s abstention raises equally disturbing questions. The United States has consistently, and shockingly, opposed this resolution.The resolution is sponsored by the Russian Federation, which ...
Donald Trump, influential billionaire and a candidate for the president of United States, back in the 1999, as a guest of the famous host Larry King on CNN, spoke about that time ongoing topic of the bombing of Serbia.
Asked by Larry King, what does he think and what would he do if he was in Clinton’s place, Trump criticized the decision to bomb Serbia.
“So, I would do something different and I know it will sound ghastly to everybody. But, look at the chaos which we created in Kosovo. I think, we can say that we lost only few people. Of ...
The Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was a World War II puppet state of Germany and Italy, which was established in parts of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers.A poster from the WWII Nazi Ustashi Independent State of Croatia with the state flag (Source: Instagram)The NDH consisted of modern-day Croatia and most of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as some parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia. The regime targeted Serbs, Jews, Roma people and anti-fascist or dissident Croatians and Muslims, as part of a large-scale genocide campaign ...
ISIS has new turf, this time in Europe. The German magazine Der Spiegel reports that there are now remote villages in the mountains of northern Bosnia where where the ISIS flag flies, and residents live under Sharia law. Roughly half of Bosnians are Muslim, and the radical ultra-devout make up a very small percentage. But it appears that percentage is growing — and growing violent — as extremists are gaining a foothold in rural Bosnian society.There are between 200 and 300 Bosnians fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, more than from any other European nation besides Belgium. The Der ...
The official end of the Cold War era in 1989 brought during the first coming years a kind of international optimism that the idea of the „end of history“ really could be realized as it was a belief in no reason for the geopolitical struggles between the most powerful states. The New World Order, spoken out firstly by M. Gorbachev in his address to the UN on December 7th, 1988 was originally seen as the order of equal partnership in the world politics reflecting „radically different international circumstances after the Cold War“.
Unfortunately, the Cold War era finished without the „end ...
There are more questions than answers to the Crimean ‘question’.After more than two decades belonging to an independent Ukraine, the Crimean peninsula has become part of Russia, which has thereby gained an extra 27,000 km2 of territory and over two million new citizens. Ukraine and the West see this unprecedented event as annexation and a sign of the Kremlin’s neo-imperial ambitions. To countries not directly involved in the Ukrainian crisis, it is a dangerous violation of the Eurasian status quo that could cause widespread destabilisation in the area, while in Moscow’s eyes it is ‘the return of Crimea and Sevastopol ...
The reports that black Africans are being sold at slave markets in "liberated" Libya for as little as $400 is a terrible indictment of the so-called "humanitarian intervention" carried out by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.In March 2011 virtue-signaling Western "liberal" hipsters teamed up with hardcore neocon warmongers to demand action to "save" the Libyan people from the "despotic" leader who had ruled the country since the late 1960s. “Something has to be done!” they cried in unison.Something was done. Libya was transformed by NATO from the country with the highest Human Development Index in ...
RT: Kosovo wants to establish an army and has received several Humvee armoured vehicles from the USA. Although there was official NATO restraint, how much is the establishment of a Kosovo Army a fixed development?Marcus Papadopoulos: Kosovo is, effectively, a NATO protectorate today – and has been ever since Belgrade lost control of this Serbian province in 1999. It follows, therefore, that the illegal entity which is the Republic of Kosovo will begin the process of creating its own armed forces so that, in time, Kosovo will gain entry into NATO.RT: The EU has rejected the introduction of Kosovo sanctions ...
World War II started, at least as far as the “European Theatre” was concerned, with the German army steamrolling over Poland in September, 1939. About six months later, even more spectacular victories followed, this time over the Benelux Countries and France. By the summer of 1940, Germany looked invincible and predestined to rule the European continent indefinitely. (Great Britain admittedly refused to throw in the towel, but could not hope to win the war on its own, and had to fear that Hitler would soon turn his attention to Gibraltar, Egypt, and/or other jewels in the crown of the British ...
I will not dwell either on the prehistory nor early history of the region of Kosovo-Metochia (KosMet) in this article.The Montenegrins and medieval SerbiaIt used to pass from one state to the other, until Stephan Nemanja (1166−1196), a nobleman from Zeta (present-day Montenegro), founded the state of Serbia, whose center very soon later became exactly in today’s KosMet. First a Byzantine vassal dukedom, Serbia became soon an independent state, to become an empire under the rule of Stephan Dušan (1331−1355), the first Emperor of Serbia.Serbia’s Nemanjić’s dynasty ended with Dušan’s son, Uroš, disintegrating into many feudal possessions. In the epic ...
The West has a black history in the middle east that must be recognised. In 1916, Arabs joined the allied forces but deceived.The victorious western powers divided the region as they wished without any consideration to the peoples’ will. Then completed this crime by planting the state of Israel, which since day one spread state terrorism throughout the region.The West supported Israel and defied the international law set by the West. Our part of the world continued to live in a climate of war, militarisation and tension because of this. In this respect, the West practised and still the most ...
The US, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and the Gulf monarchies have all in the recent past supported al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State (ISIS) with arms, money, and/or manpower.
The first example of this was in 1979 when the United States began covert operations in Afghanistan, six months before the Russians arrived, promoting Islamic fundamentalism across the southern tier of the Soviet Union against “godless communism”. All the al-Qaeda/Taliban shit then followed.
In addition to Afghanistan, the United States has provided support to Islamic militants in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, the Caucasus, and Syria.
The United States overthrew the ...
The recent resolution of the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE fully equalizes the role of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, except that it had the purely pragmatic purpose of extorting money from Russia on the contents of some of the bankrupt economies, intended to demonize Russia as the successor state to the USSR, and to prepare the legal ground for the deprivation of her right to speak out against revision of results of war. But if we approach the problem of responsibility for the war, then you first need to answer the ...
BALTOPS 16 is a military exercise now taking place between June 3 and June 18 in the Baltic Sea region which is in close proximity to Russia. The U.S. Naval Institute (www.usni.org) released an article titled ‘Analysis: Larger NATO Baltic Sea Exercise Sends Important Message to Russia’ stated what BALTOPS 16 will consist of:Over the next three weeks BALTOPS 16 will draw together some 6,000 personnel, 45 warships, and 60 aircraft from 17 nations, including the United States, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, along with the littoral states of the Baltic States who are NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, ...
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 ...
The Continued Conflict in Kosovo: The Outright “Criminalization” of the Pristina Government
The Empire of Mediocrity and the End of the World
NATO: Lying All the Way to Barbarossa
The 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact & Imperialist Propaganda
Islamic State Top Dog from Kosovo Returns to Europe with 400 Jihadis
UN Anti-Nazi Resolution 10 Year Anniversary: Syria, Israel and North Korea Support It, US Adamantly Opposes It
Donald Trump: We Created Chaos, We Should not have Attacked Serbia!
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic Photographed Holding Nazi-Fascist Flag
How the Bosnian War paved the way for ISIS in Europe
Did the Cold War Ever Really End?
Slave Markets in ‘Liberated’ Libya and the Silence of the Humanitarian Hawks
Kosovo Wants to Establish its Own Armed Forces
The Battle of Moscow (December 1941): Turning Point of WWII
Kosovo: A Short History – A Contribution Which Noel Malcolm Will Never Tell You
Confronting the West With its Responsibilities is Essential!
Are You Confused by the Middle East?
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
Provoking the Russian Bear: NATO is “Cannon Fodder” for the American Empire
Back to the 1930s: Hitler, Da’esh and the West
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS