Jihadist wanted by FBI lives openly in Kosovo
The United States considers lumberjack Bajram Asllani one of its most wanted men but, because of Kosovo’s unusual international status, it is unable to extradite ands interrogate him.
Unlike others on the “most wanted” list, Asllani is not hiding out in a distant desert or rugged mountain range.
The 30-year-old lives openly with his family in Kosovo, a pro-American Balkan country where about 800 U.S. soldiers help preserve a fragile peace between majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs, formerly the territory’s rulers.
A friendly local policeman even pointed the way to his street when a journalist recently tried to find Asllani’s home in Mitrovica, one of the country’s largest cities.
Asllani’s case is caught up in the hybrid legal system of
Kosovo, whose own weak judicial system leaves European Union judges and prosecutors to handle major cases involving terrorism and war crimes.
Kosovo, whose independence nearly three years ago has been recognised by many countries, wants to join the European Union one day but remains an international protectorate more than a decade after its war for liberation from Serbia.
The FBI “Wanted” poster on the internet (here) has complicated life for Asllani, who lives on state unemployment benefits for his wife and three children of just 75 euros ($100) a month.
“I lost my job and there are times when I don’t have enough to feed my children,” he said after offering a guest a glass of strawberry juice in his ramshackle house.
“No one is hiring me. They tell me: you are a terrorist, you have attacked the Americans.”
The FBI wanted poster reads: “Bajram Asllani is an alleged co-conspirator with a group of eight individuals in the United States who were allegedly co-conspiring to engage in violent jihad, or holy war, and to raise money for mujihadeen, or warriors engaged in violent jihad.”
Asllani, a Kosovar Albanian, was arrested in June but released after EU judges rejected a U.S. request for his extradition.
The EU judges found that the United States had not provided sufficient grounds for believing that Asllani had committed the offences, and also cited the absence of an extradition accord between Washington and Pristina.