Macedonian security services have staged a series of raids on Islamic State targets in their country following reports that terrorists have been secretly buying land for training grounds in the Balkans. Kosovan police sources have warned Islamic State is also preparing a huge attack on mainland Europe.
The Sunday Mirror reports the police raids took place in the Macedonian capital of Skopje as well as four other cities across the country. The police hope the raids will smash Islamic State recruiting networks and organisational structures throughout the region, which is on red alert for Islamic terror activity.
Targets of the raids so far identified include 25 homes, the Yaya Pasha and Tutunsuz mosque in Skopje, an internet cafe and the offices of two Islam-linked NGOs – Spark of Grace and Islamic Youth. Nine arrests were made, with suspects aged between 19 and 49. All nine have been detained for 30 days during which time police will continue their investigations, including the hunt for 27 more identified suspects.
The presence of Islamic Youth in the region has previously been identified by Washington-based think tank the Center for Islamic Pluralism, as an “indicator of the bad situation in the Macedonian Muslim communities.” Speaking of that country’s situation in 2013 Stephen Sulejman Schwartz, Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, said:
“The Balkan Muslims have been targeted, clearly, by radicals in the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as representatives of the Wahhabi movement. This is obvious to anybody who visits the region and knows the situation there.
As the most outrageous example, I would cite the terroristic campaign against the Bektashi Sufis of the Harabati Baba teqe in Tetova, conducted by Wahhabi radicals with the complicity of the official Islamic Community of Macedonia.
This situation has been recognized and criticized by the U.S. State Department for 10 years.”
A senior police source in Kosovo warned the Sunday Mirror that Islamic State is preparing a huge attack on mainland Europe. He told the newspaper:
“There are thousands of Kosovo Albanians, and those saying they are from Kosovo, who are in the Great Britain, Germany and Austria and involved in terrorism.
“They get permits and visas and say they are religiously persecuted to hide their real activities. There are literally thousands of them.
“When the attack comes it will come from Europe, not Syria.”