05 Jun 15
ISIS Video Urges Balkan Muslims to Kill Unbelievers
New video released by ISIS calls for more Balkan fighters to join their ranks – and to kill, poison and blow up unbelievers in their home countries.
Pristina, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Tirana, Podgorica
A video published by Al Hayati Media Center on Friday, known as the “media wing of the Islamic State,” features Balkan fighters currently within their ranks calling upon their “fellow Muslim brothers” in the Balkans to join the fight for ISIS or to “attack” non-Muslims in their respective countries.
“The ranks of the Filahfa that are blessed with Muhajedeen from around the world are bolstered by our brothers from the Balkans. Together they march, they are the soldiers of Allah, their honor is in Jihad,” the beginning of the video says.
The expertly produced video features a narrative of what they see as the “Christian subjucation” of the Muslims in the Balkan Penninsula, mainly during the 20th century.
Historical elements are interlaced with short speeches by the Balkan fighters, who each in their own language call for Muslims to “make Hijra” – to travel to the Islamic State – or if that isn’t possible, to attack non-Muslims in their respective countries.
“For those of you that can’t come here, fight over there. Fight against them over there. If you have to, put explosives under their cars. If you can, take poison and put it in their drinks and their food. Let them die. Kill them in every place, whenever you can. In Bosnia, in Serbia, in Sandzak,” a fighter who seems to originally be from Bosnia and who calls himself Salahuddin Al-Bosni, says.
Most of the fighters have rejected their previous citizenship, with videos often appearing of them ripping up or burning their passports. They are then placed under the care of the Islamic State in their camps, which are usually divided by language or ethnic group. This makes it hard for those who desert ISIS to travel back or re-integrate in their former countries.
Although most of those who join the fight on the side of the Islamic State are men, women and children also live in the camps with the fighters. The women’s role is to cook and take care of the men.
A fighter from Kosovo, who goes by the name “Abu-Muqatil Al Kosovi,” previously Ridvan Haqifi from Gjilan/Gnjilane, also addresses the public back home.
He is known to be close to Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a top ISIS fighter who has appeared in videos where he personally carried out beheadings.
“I send a message to the Tagut of Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and all over the Balkans. Do not think we have forgotten how you oppressed the Muslims,” Al Kosovi says.
“Dark days will come for you. You will be afraid to walk the streets. You will be afraid to work in offices. You will be terrorized even in your homes,” he threatens non-believers.
All over the region, respective governments have organized fresh efforts to counter the phenomenon.
Although the number of people from Kosovo fighting in the Middle East is small, around 200 out of 1.8 million citizens, it is significant because religion previously played no role in Kosovo politics and is usually practiced privately.
The government pledged in 2014 to join its Western allies in fighting radical Islam, which resulted in the arrest of more than 80 suspected Imams and other alleged extremists.
The Global Coalition is a US-led initiative to form a joint effort in the fight against ISIS, consisting of more than 60 countries, including some from the Balkans.
After the ISIS video was released, Serbia’s Interior Minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, said he would not allow terrorism to overflow into Serbia, adding that police were ready to take all required steps to protect people.
The minister said that the ISIS video was not a surprise and that the police had warned them that such threats may occur.
Military expert Aleksandar Radic told BIRN that the threat of terrorism in the Balkans was a reality, but no one need expect a “massive wave of terrorist attacks”.
He said the security services were vulnerable because they are “primarily aimed at the protection of political interests in the country and not at outside security threats.
“Our services are not strong enough to deal with the events in the Middle East. Therefore it is necessary to work closely with Western security services,” he said.
Only about 2 per cent of the 7 million people in Serbia are Muslims. Most declare themselves as Bosniaks and live in the southwestern Sandzak part of Serbia.
According to the security service, a small number of people from Serbia went to fight for the ISIS. “About 25 Serbian citizens went to the battlefields in Syria and the Middle East, which is almost negligible compared to Bosnia,” Aleksandar Djordjevic, head of the Serbian Security Information Agency, said in Belgrade on April 1.
Denis Hadzovic, acting director of Sarajevo-based Center for Security Studies, told BIRN that ISIS is making good use of the online spread of information – and that institutions aren’t able to deal with it properly.
“This technological improvement works in favour of ISIS. Those video messages were still available on certain websites. However, I don’t think this specific message will have much effect because for a long period now we have heard similar messages that call on people to join ISIS,” he said.
Hadzovic explained that among the countries of the region Bosnia and Kosovo are the most exposed countries to terrorist activities considering the numbers of people who have joined militant Islamists or support the Islamic State.
“In comparison to Mongenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, Bosnia is similar to Kosovo in terms of danger,” he noted, “Available information about how many people from Bosnia went to the battlefields or were connected somehow varies from 150 to 350 people. There is also old information by the intelligence agency chief that around 3,000 people pose a possible threat to terrorism in our country.”
The most recent attack took place in eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik on April 27 which left one policeman dead and two injured. The attacker, who was identified as Nerdin Ibric, a Bosniak born in 1991, was killed in the shootout with police officers.
Bosnia’s Foreign Minister, Igor Crnadak, told a security conference in Montenegro on Friday that agencies that combat terrorism need to coordinate work better, and that regional cooperation needed to be better, too.
“The terrorist attack in Zvornik… is just one confirmation that institutions have to work against terrorism even more strongly,” he said. The law in Bosnia already sanctions those who leave to participate in foreign battles, he noted.
The Islamic Community has condemned any kind of radicalism and distanced the official Muslim practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina from violent practices and terrorism activities.
Turning to Montenegro, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Montenegro, Charles Tannock, said Montenegrin security agencies were monitoring over 300 people suspected of links to terrorists.
The government later denied this, however, saying the intelligence agencies were monitoring an “insignificant number”. In October 2014 it said that only 13 citizens from Montenegro had gone to fight alongside ISIS in Syria.
Ten have since returned, one has been killed and two others are still on the battlefield, it is believed. A law has also been passsed punishing participants in foreign conflicts with up to 10 years in jail.
The leader of the junior governing Bosniak party in Montenegro, Rafet Husovic, called on the citizens of Montenegro, especially Muslims, not to fall for provocations by the Islamic state, stating that “some individuals are attempting to cause tensions.” Muslim Bosniaks and Albanians make up around 19 per cent of the population of the country.
According to the recent report by Croatia’s Security and Intelligence Agency, SOA, ISIS fighters are mainly using Croatia as a transit zone on their way to or back from conflict zones in the Middle East. A Croatian citizen, Dora Bilic, was wounded in air strikes near the Syrian town of Raqqa in October 2014, where she went to live along her husband who is fighting for ISIS. Other than that, no further participation of Croatian citizen for ISIS was recorded.
Croatia is a part of US-led international Coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In Albania, it is believed that 632 fighters that have joined the fighting on the side of jihadist groups in Syria.
Two imams and seven of their supporters are currently on trial in Albania, accused of recruiting dozens of fighters for ISIS and the al-Nusra front.
The indictment says imams Bujar Hysa and Abdurrahim Balla facilitated the recruitment of 70 fighters from Albania between 2012 and 2014 through their mosques on the outskirts of Tirana. According to documents obtained by BIRN more than 90 Albanian citizens have joined the Syrian civil war since 2012 and 13 are believed to have died.
The Intellectual Muslim Forum, a religious organization in Albania, condemned the video and called on imams in all Albanian-speaking areas in the Balkans to respond to it during their Friday sermons.
“There is nothing human in their speech. They don’t represent any religion, although they speak in its name,” it said.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)