Thursday, January 16, 2014

Islamists Are Threat to Albania, Security Expert Says

16 January 2014

Albanian security expert says that although Albanian Muslim extremists may be few in number, they still pose a distinct threat to national security.

Even if only a tiny number of Albanians are being drawn into the ranks of the Islamist militants, they could still pose a very real danger to society, a security expert has told Balkan Insight.

Facebook pages seen by Balkan Insight show that Islamists are using the net to recruit fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

A Facebook page, Krenaria Islame (Islamic Pride), which has more 2,500 followers, is posting pictures and propaganda on behalf of Albanians reported to be fighting for the ISIS in Syria.

“If all the followers of this page were identified as terrorists, they would make a small army and pose a major problem,” Arjan Dyrmishi, a Tirana security expert, said.

“Such a large number of followers would a pose a concern, even if these people were to be identified only as supporters of political Islam,” he added.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, was founded in the early years of the Iraq war. It pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2004, becoming known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The group, made up of a number of insurgent groups, at first aimed to establish a Sunni caliphate in Iraq but has since expanded its goals to include Syria.

The Islamic Pride Facebook page features jihadist videos translated into Albanian, praise for mujahedeen of Albanian descent who have died fighting in Syria and videos attacking democracy as incompatible with Islam.

The same Facebook page invites Albanian Muslims to join the organization, while lavishing praise on the former Al Qaeda leader, and terrorist mastermind, Osama Bin Laden.

Dyrmishi noted that, under pressure from the US and Western powers, terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda are these days having to focus on softer targets, and on work with small groups.

However, even small group of radicalized men could present a major challenge to national security, he noted.

He recalled the shocking murder in the streets of London of a British soldier by "lone" Islamists, and the wounding of a French soldier on patrol in Paris last year.

“All veterans returning from the Syrian conflict are a threat because of their ideological views as promoters of political Islam, but also due to the fact that any moment one of them singlehandedly could carry out attacks similar to those seen in London and Paris,” Dyrmishi concluded.

by Besar Likmeta

16 January 2014

Balkan Insight

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