Hundreds of Balkan Jihadists Have Joined ISIS, CIA Says

17 Sep 14
Hundreds of Balkan Jihadists Have Joined ISIS, CIA Says

The latest CIA report says several hundred jihadists from a number of Balkan countries have joined the extremist group Islamic State in the Middle East.

Dusica Tomovic

Car bomb explosion in Iraq | Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania are the main recruiting grounds in the Balkans for radical Islamists seeking fighters for the wars in Syria and Iraq. In terms of numbers, they come just behind Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, Radio Free Europe, RFE, reported on Tuesday.

Quoting a new CIA report from September, RFE said that more the 40 jihadists from Kosovo and nine from Macedonia had been killed in the fighting so far.

About 30 volunteers from Montenegro are fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which places the ex-Yugoslav republic in the rank of countries “with a small number of radical fighters”.

According to a graphic map which was presented on the RFE website, only three militants from Serbia are known members of ISIS. However, Serbian media have reported that at least 350 jihadists from mainly Muslim southwest region of Sandzak have left for the wars in the Middle East.

More than 350 fighters come from Bosnia, the RFE analysis said, 150 from Kosovo, 140 from Albania, while 20 volunteers have come from Macedonia.

Referring to the CIA report, but also to data of the French and British governments, RFE said that among the countries leading in terms of the number of Islamist fighters are France, Britain and Jordan, with more than 600 fighters each.

On Tuesday, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that Serbia supported “the global alliance of the fight against terrorism.” He told the Belgrade-based daily Blic that this global union of forces was also important for the Balkan region, “because there are many jihadists from our region”.

The governments of Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo have all stated their determination to fight Islamic radicalism.

On Monday, a conference was held in Paris to devise a strategy against the Islamic State, bringing together representatives from 30 countries who agreed to offer “adequate military assistance to Iraq in its fight against jihadists,” media reports said.

The CIA has estimated that there are between 20.000 and 31.500 militants of the Islamic state, twice more than it was previously assumed.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)