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Islam’s footprint in Kosovo dates back to the time of the Ottoman conquest. Although much of the ethnic Albanian-majority population practices a moderate form of Islam, the slow pace of social, political, and economic development since the 1999 NATO intervention has created fertile soil for Islamic radicalization. The post-intervention period (even after national independence in 2008) has seen amorphous and unaccountable UN and EU missions linger, with wide authority and influence. Kosovo Force (KFOR), a smaller NATO detachment led by the United States, also remains, though it has handed over most security duties to local governments. 

 

While most Kosovars are still moderate, the highest number of foreign fighters per capita among European countries joining ISIS and al-Nusra Front have historically hailed from Kosovo.1 While numbers dropped sharply with ISIS’ territorial defeat in 2018, homegrown terrorists continued to be arrested in Kosovo throughout that year. As such, the issue of countering violent extremism (CVE) and the potential for attacks by returning fighters are prominent concerns for the government and its Western backers today. While the Kosovar government has tended to downplay the threat, it continues to deal with radicalization, passing laws against foreign fighters and arresting terrorists with the help of European governments and Europol.

 

In the long term, the development of education, health and work opportunities for local youth probably represents the greatest challenge Kosovo faces in countering violent extremism. However, throughout 2018, authorities admitted to media that chosen CVE strategies have not had the desired effect, and that re-orienting Islamic radicals has proven more difficult than expected. At the same time, ethnic linkages between Kosovars at home and those in Western European countries have resulted (and will result) in police actions elsewhere on the Continent against Kosovo-related terror cells linked to ISIS.


Level of Islamist Activity: 
Low
Islamist Activity: 

Modern Islamist activity in Kosovo was shaped by two factors: the use of neighboring Albania as a safe haven by Al-Qaeda, and the 1999 NATO intervention that replaced Serbian rule with a porous international administration. The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was preoccupied with restoring basic services, addressing inter-ethnic violence and organized crime, and institution-building – rather than with fighting Islamic extremism. This created ideal conditions for extremism to take root (especially given the large youth population and high rate of unemployment) at a time when foreign Islamic charities were lavishing millions on the aspiring statelet. The narrative of an ethnic Albanian nationalist liberation struggle, meanwhile, was perceived to preclude a real danger of Islamic radicalism.

 

In this permissive environment, foreign Islamic donors created a new Islamic infrastructure, funding Saudi-style mosques, Islamic schools, and NGOs. Although most foreign sponsors have since left, they provided indoctrination and financial support for generations of impoverished Kosovars at a key post-conflict moment. Their lingering influence created a still present extremist fringe in the country, which has taken on a leading role in the long-running Syrian conflict.

 

The key Islamist charity to accompany NATO and UNMIK into Kosovo in 1999 was the Saudi Joint Commission for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya (SJCRKC). Its official Kuwaiti counterpart, the Kuwaiti Joint Relief Committee (KJRC), also set up shop there. These organizations entered Kosovo along with Kosovar refugees returning from Albania. The Saudis initially allocated over $22.5 million for the construction (or reconstruction) of mosques and schools for Kosovar war orphan support.2 However, Kosovo investigators of the now-closed charity found in 2016 that the Saudi money was mostly unaccounted for. 3

Although the number of UNMIK personnel gradually diminished as the mission was progressively downsized, Kosovo remained vulnerable to foreign radical Islamist penetration. Kosovo’s uncertain international status also meant a no-visa policy for incomers, and with essentially open borders, Kosovo became Europe’s primary “safe zone” for foreign radicals. In 2013, the EU pressured Kosovo to impose visas on over 80 countries. But, as of August 2016, citizens from over 100 countries (including most of the Gulf states) still did not need visas to enter Kosovo.4

 

Although the Syrian conflict and rise of Al Nusra and ISIS after 2011 gave Kosovo’s aspiring jihadists a cause to fight for, the government only acknowledged the problem once it began to garner international interest in 2015. Statistics that year claimed some 232 Kosovo-born fighters had joined the ranks of jihadist groups.5 However, a December 2016 U.S. Institute of Peace study and a State Department country assessment from 2017 each put the total number of foreign fighter from Kosovo at 314.With the defeat of ISIS in 2018, jihadists have largely stopped traveling to the Middle East.7

 

The USIP analysis noted that “no correlation is readily observable between income and educational levels and vulnerability to mobilization.”While most Kosovar foreign fighters were men aged 17-30, they had relatively higher educational levels than did similar foreign fighters from Bosnia. Also, while in absolute terms urban areas (like the capital, Prishtina, and Prizren) were sources for Islamist fighters, the regular tours of Albanian extremist preachers from Macedonia created jihadpockets in tiny municipalities near the border which turned out a disproportionate number of fighters bound for Syria and Iraq.9

 

In addition to the Syrian conflict, Kosovar extremists have exploited the large Albanian diaspora spread throughout Western Europe, as indicated by several arrests in Italy since 2015. In March 2017, three Kosovar Albanian ISIS devotees were arrested by Italian police after their plan to blow up Venice’s historic Rialto Bridge was uncovered.10 According to police wiretaps, the aspiring terrorists (one of whom had returned from Syria) had been inspired by the contemporaneous terrorist attack on London’s Westminster Bridge. As with other cases, these men were living legally in Italy.11

 

Kosovo continues to be an exporter of instability and also faces the threat of domestic terrorism from returning fighters. Given the high rate of economic migration both during and after the 2015 European migration crisis, the potential for radicalization is growing among both embittered forced returnees and new diaspora members attracted to radical organizations in Western Europe. 

 

Further, radical elements have infiltrated Kosovo’s criminal networks. Cooperation between ethnic Albanian drug cartels and ISIS was concerning for local authorities while ISIS was at the peak of its power in the Middle East. This was for good reason, as Kosovars and Albanians have historically been involved in international heroin and cocaine smuggling.12 As with Albania, Kosovars are known to be most active through their extensive diaspora networks in Western Europe. After a large-scale police operation destroyed vast cannabis plantations in southern Albania, the business became fragmented, with older clans replaced by more violent Islamists. Kosovo’s most infamous ISIS member, the late Lavdrim Muhaxheri, was the key link between Albanian drug operations and ISIS recruitment for several years.13

 

Muhaxheri had previously worked for both UNMIK and NATO in Afghanistan, before allegedly being radicalized in the southern village of Kacanik in 2012. 14 He thereafter became infamous worldwide—and a source of great embarrassment to state authorities—by appearing in propaganda videos for ISIS, including one showing him beheading a captive.15

 

In August 2014, Interpol issued a red notice for Muhaxheri’s arrest, and two months later then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry identified the Kosovar jihadist as a threat to American national security.16 Muhaxheri’s death was confirmed on June 8, 2017; he had been killed during an airstrike in Syria. Kosovar authorities estimated that another 50 of their citizens had also been killed in Syria by that point.17 Muhaxheri had led ISIS’ ethnic-Albanian brigade and oversaw its Albanian-language propaganda campaign. He was also an ideological protégé of the (now jailed) radical Kosovar imam Zekerija Qazimi, as was another field commander, Ridvan Haqifi.18 

 

In June 2017, authorities charged nine men for plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in Kosovo and other regional countries, including a thwarted attack on an international soccer match between Israel and Albania. From Syria, Muhaxheri had been funding and guiding these radicals, investigators claimed. Some had learned to make homemade explosives similar to those used in terrorist attacks in Belgium and France.19

 

The participation of Kosovar Albanian women in ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria has been another unique concern. In July 2017, Qamile Tahiri allegedly ran a jihadi training camp for women, making her one of the most radical Kosovar women in Syria. Along with another Kosovar woman, she was reportedly recruiting newcomers to the terrorist cause, using personal and online channels. While media coverage of the Syrian conflict focused on the role of women as “jihadi brides,” Tahiri’s case, among others, indicates a more complex and active role for radicalized women.20

 

According to a New York Times report, 314 Kosovars joined militant groups in Syria and Iraq between 2014 and May 2016. The report found that the training and mobilization of Kosovar jihadists had been accomplished by a “corps of extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab gulf states using an obscure, labyrinthine network of donations from charities, private individuals and government ministries.”21 While Kosovo’s Interior Ministry stated in August 2016 that no new recruits had departed in the past year, some 50 Kosovars had died in battle and another 120 had returned. At the time, more than 100 people were under investigation by Kosovar authorities for fighting or recruiting on behalf of the Islamic State.22

 

Both before and during the Syrian war, Kosovar Albanians have been involved in terrorist cells and organized crime. Despite the 1999 NATO liberation of Kosovo from Serbia, attacks targeting the U.S. military have occurred. In 2015, Ardit Ferizi, a Kosovar citizen, hacked into a U.S. company’s database and harvested the personal information of over 1,300 military and civilian personnel. Ferizi was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a U.S. district court on September 23, 2016. Freizi admitted to providing this data to ISIS in hopes that the group would target the U.S. personnel and “hit them hard,” a U.S. State Department report recounted in 2017.23 Earlier foiled attacks by Albanians against the U.S. military include the 2008 plot against Fort Dix in New Jersey,24 and another against the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.25 In 2012, the shadowy “Kosovo Hackers Security” group infiltrated the U.S. National Weather Service’s computer networks as part of “a protest against the U.S. policies that target Muslim countries.”26

 

There are renewed fears that Western targets—and local Balkan communities—could fall victim to a new breed of ISIS-inspired terrorists. In the June 2017 issue of ISIS’s magazine, Rumiyah (formerly, Dabiq) Bosnian jihadists threatened to bring their war to the Balkans, targeting Christian Serbs and Croats (allegedly, in revenge for the wars of the 1990s); insufficiently devout Muslims. Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania were other stated targets.27 Although as of 2018 no such attacks have occurred, police continue to make arrests.28 In June, Kosovo police arrested three local extremists in Prizren and Skenderaj during an operation coordinated with German police.29 One month later, a Prishtina court convicted seven others of terrorism-related offenses, while two were on the run and a third was claimed to have been killed in Syria.30

 

Today, a major future concern is that new deradicalization programs are failing, as incarcerated and then released jihadis are showing “contempt for rehabilitation and strengthened radical beliefs,” experts found in 2018.31


Islamism and Society: 

The most recent estimate, from 2015, pegged Kosovo’s population at almost 1.9 million.30 Ethnic Albanians comprise 92 percent of this population, which is on average one of the youngest in any European country. However, the country’s poorly-performing economy has led many Kosovars to look for options abroad, and there is a large Kosovar diaspora in Western Europe. Kosovars and Albanians sought to take advantage of the 2015 migrant crisis for economic reasons, comprising one of the largest numbers of asylum-seekers by nationality. Their asylum attempts, however, generally failed, and the individuals in question were returned to their homelands. Germany alone received 102,000 ethnic Albanian migrants in 2015.31 Despite Kosovo’s location in the Balkans, it did not receive a significant influx of migrants during the migrant crisis, because it was off the path that most migrants took to enter Europe, known as the Balkan Route. The Balkan Route runs in from Greece through the Vardar Valley corridor in central Macedonia and northwards through Serbia, reaching Hungary and Austria. Since Kosovo was not on the Balkan Route, it was never really impacted by migrant flows that passed through neighboring Macedonia and Serbia. (However, human trafficking gangs from all three countries have been active in facilitating illegal migration, according to the author’s interviews with Macedonian and UN officials).

Muslims (who include small populations of Roma, Turks, Gorani and Bosniaks) in total are estimated to comprise 95 percent of Kosovo’s total population.32 Approximately three percent of Kosovo’s Albanians are Catholic, though this population seems to be increasing, while various foreign Protestant denominations have tried (so far, with less success) to convert Kosovo’s Muslims. The beleaguered Serbian Orthodox minority of 120,000 persons is largely concentrated in a few scattered central enclaves, and in more compact northern municipalities around the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica. However, there is also a small Serbian-speaking Slavic Muslim minority, the Gorani, who primarily inhabit the mountainous southwestern area around Dragas, nestled between Macedonia and Albania. The small Roma minority is mainly Muslim as well, but it is less active, limited by the Roma lifestyle on the margins of society.

The officially recognized Muslim organization in the country is the Islamic Community of Kosovo (in Albanian, Bashkësia Islame e Kosovës, or BIK).33 It is intended to represent the totality of Islam in the country, though there are traditional Bektashi Sufi communities, particularly in western Kosovo, that have certain differences in doctrine and practice. Nevertheless, both the Bektashi and Hanafi Sunni Muslims generally get along and are united by a strong sense of ethnic Albanian nationalism, however, Wahhabi Muslims influenced by foreign ideologies fall outside the structure of the BIK and its control. Their numbers are notoriously difficult to calculate, as there is no strict doctrine or separate institutions governing them; they simply consider themselves “better,” more committed Muslims than the rest.

Of Kosovo’s approximately 800 mosques, some 240 were built following the 1999 NATO intervention—part of “a deliberate, long-term strategy by Saudi Arabia to reshape Islam in its image, not only in Kosovo but around the world.”34 This mosque-building program and other Islamic activities have been driven not only by the Saudis but by other competing actors like Turkey and Iran. Cumulatively, this rivalry between external powers has damaged social cohesion and led to increasing conservatism. A 2016 study revealed that 57% of Kosovars had greater trust in religious institutions than in state ones, while “Kosovar youth are also becoming increasingly conservative, with their main reference points for spiritual and intellectual guidance being local imams.”35

An indication of the government’s concern over religious polarization has been attested to by a new inter-faith body (led by Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic leaders) that meets regularly to discuss better cooperation and references Mother Teresa; though she was born in neighboring Macedonia, the famed nun of Calcutta is considered an ethnic Albanian national hero.36The Interfaith Kosovo initiative also holds annual conferences featuring high-profile international speakers, with a common aim of promoting interreligious harmony and confronting extremism; for example, its 2016 event was dedicated to the role of women in countering violent extremism.37

Overall, the social and political trends toward increasing Islamic conservatism in Kosovo are not surprising to anyone who has paid close attention to the country since NATO’s intervention. Protecting the legacy and righteousness of that intervention has long led U.S. and NATO officials to downplay the presence of Islamism in Kosovo. Western governments in recent years tried to depict Kosovo’s brand of Islam as harmless, a sort of “Islam-lite.”38 This narrative has, however, increasingly been challenged by the reality of Kosovar participation in the Syria conflict and related radicalization.

Naturally, the Kosovo government—which aspires to join the EU someday—also wishes to downplay any association with radical Islam. However, as of 2017 contemporary developments and anecdotal evidence point to a new trend toward using Islam as a way to define social identities, ideological beliefs, and cultural choices, and no longer simply as a way of making income, as had been the case with the initial Arab “investment” in Kosovo’s people.39


Islamism and the State: 

Kosovo’s disputed independent status continues to hamper its ability to cooperate in formal international law enforcement bodies. For example, Kosovo was not admitted to Interpol in 2017 due to Serbian efforts to lobby China, which hosted the annual Interpol General Assembly meeting.40 Although Kosovo successfully lobbied to get on Interpol’s admission agenda in March 2018, the Serbian Interior Minister stated in a press conference with a Chinese official that his government would try to block Kosovar membership at the UAE meeting in November 2018.41

 

There have of course been some successes, even without formal Interpol membership, due to strong support for Kosovo from the West. In August 2014, Kosovo police arrested 40 people suspected of supporting jihadists in Syria and Iraq.42 In March 2015, the country passed a “foreign fighters” law at the request of the United States,43 criminalizing the act of traveling to another country to participate in a foreign conflict. The law is designed to deter people from joining jihadi groups. In May 2016, police “charged 67 people, arrested 14 imams and shut down 19 Muslim organizations for acting against the Constitution, inciting hatred and recruiting for terrorism,” according to the New York Times.44 One of the key radical clerics associated with ISIS, Zekerija Qazimi was found guilty of recruiting for the terror group and of inciting hatred, and was jailed for 10 years.45In a rare move, Kosovar police further targeted a Shiite organization in 2016 run by an Iranian cleric reportedly linked to Iran’s ayatollahs and accused of funding terrorism.46

 

However, the government’s success in arresting returned fighters and other radicals has also created a new problem: prison radicalization. Inspections by state authorities through 2017 indicated the presence of more radical (if often, unattributed) works of theology. An RFE/RL study in 2017, quoting the country’s justice minister, stated that radical Islam was drawing adherents from convicts who had been arrested for other crimes, and who had shown no previous signs of religious radicalization. To help remedy the situation, the state and prison system began a program with Kosovo’s official Islamic community, to send moderate imams and religious content to the prisons.47

 

This and other CVE and deradicalization programs remain works in progress. A combination of governmental and NGO outreach efforts had been made in Kosovo to attempt to reintegrate foreign fighters and to empower women, who, in traditional Albanian society, have generally been kept in subservient positions.48 The U.S. State Department’s 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism noted that the country’s CVE program includes a “referral mechanism in the municipality of Gjilan that will bring together local officials, religious leaders, and civil society to address community concerns of radicalization to violence. Kosovo’s CVE strategy includes the preparation and promotion of counter-narratives to weaken the legitimacy of violent extremist messages.”49

 

Foreign governments are cooperating with Kosovar CVE efforts. In November 2015, Italian authorities arrested four Kosovars in the Brescia region, where they had been running an ISIS logistics network linked with Lavdrim Muhaxheri.50 At home, the Kosovar government is exploring complimentary CVE strategies. One plan (in line with similar programs elsewhere in Europe) would offer “jihad rehabilitation” opportunities for some of the arrested men involved in the Syrian conflict.51

 

Kosovar-EU relations have been rocky in recent years, with allegations that Kosovo’s top leaders profited from wartime organ trafficking and drug smuggling met by allegations of corruption leveled at the EU’s Kosovo delegation in 2014.52 The relationship between Kosovo’s government and its Western partners has also been troubled because of internal political infighting (rival Kosovar parliamentarians attacked each other with tear gas in 2015 and 2016).53 The combination of internal political feuding, the unresolved international status of Kosovo and Serbia’s non-recognition of the country, and endemic economic and social challenges all negatively affect the country’s institutional capacity to manage challenges like Islamic extremism. However, as of 2018, Kosovo had still avoided any sort of political transition, with former wartime allies Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj remaining key state leaders.

 

Amid the turmoil, Turkey has sought to increase its presence in Kosovo. Unlike Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states, Turkey has a significant historic and cultural legacy in Kosovo. Since 1999, the Turkish government has funded impactful development projects, capital investment, and Kosovar diplomatic missions. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party was the model for Kosovo’s Justice Party (Partia e Drejtësisë). Although it was not significantly represented in parliament, its leader held a cabinet minister post in the previous government. In 2010, the party attempted to pass legislation calling for religious education and an end to the state ban on hijabs in public schools. While these attempts failed, close voting results indicate that individual parliamentarians from a wide range of parties sympathize with Islam on social grounds.

 

Kosovo’s relationship with Turkey was complicated by the failed July 2016 military coup against President Erdoğan. As elsewhere in the Balkans, Kosovo’s government was asked by Ankara to close schools linked with the alleged coup mastermind, U.S.-based cleric Fethulah Gülen. The Turkish government also demanded that Kosovo punish a local journalist who made satirical comments about the coup attempt. The Kosovo government did neither, and many Kosovars bristled against the perceived intrusiveness. However, the quashed coup has only increased Erdogan’s popularity among average Muslims in the Balkans. Additionally, Turkey runs Kosovo’s airport and electricity supply, while Turkish companies are heavily involved with its road infrastructure development. Kosovo thus faces a delicate balancing act in preserving relations with Turkey, the West and the Islamic world in the years ahead.

 

Indeed, the German MP Sevim Dagdalem upbraided her government in May 2017 over its perceived unwillingness to tackle Islamic extremism funded by Arab states in Kosovo, despite maintaining a German KFOR brigade there. She also noted that the Erdoğan-Gülen rift has given the former “a free hand” to win support for his government among Kosovars. A German parliamentarian of Turkish background, Dagdalem charged that "it is scandalous that, thanks to the presence of German troops, Saudi preachers of hate and violence have been able to, unimpeded, set up the ideological foundation” for radical Islam.54 The hands-off attitude of Kosovo’s international minders has been brought up repeatedly since 1999, who initially tolerated Albanian violence against Serbs; since then, they increasingly turn a blind eye to Islamic radicalization trends.

 

A major issue going forward will be whether Kosovo can develop the economic and educational conditions to retain its young people. While a strong spirit of optimism characterized the country following the February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence, this spirit has long since waned as the reality of economic torpor remains. Kosovo Albanians (along with their kin from South Serbia, Macedonia and Albania proper) comprised a significant number of asylum-seekers in Western Europe during and after the 2015 migration crisis. While many were sent home immediately, official Pew research data suggests that, by the beginning of 2017, some 77% of Kosovar asylum applicants were still awaiting a decision on their asylum applications in countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden.55

 

Kosovo’s major challenge is creating an economically- and educationally-developed society, one in which a large young population can feel a sense of belonging and purpose. National and international authorities have identified social, economic and educational shortcomings as main drivers of radicalization; we can expect future counter-terrorism programs will continue to have this wider scope. At the same time, Kosovo-born radicals in Western Europe can plan and operate freely; as a result, they will pose a significant hard security challenge to Europe and the U.S.


Citations: 

[1] Joanna Paraszczuk, “Report Finds Alarming Outflow Of Kosovars To Islamic State,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 15, 2015, http://www.rferl.org/content/islamic-state-kosovars-fighting-syria-iraq/26957463.html.  
[2] A detailed contemporaneous description of the specific Kosovar refugee relief operations undertaken by Arab groups in Albania, and their subsequent entrance from there into Kosovo, is found in Hussein Saud Qusti, “Unsung Heroes,” Saudi Aramco World, July/August 1999. Regarding the role of U.S. and Albanian authorities targeting Islamist groups in Albania during the mid-1990s, see the World Almanac of Islamism chapter on Albania. 
[3] Carlotta Gall, “How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS,” New York Times, May 21, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/world/europe/how-the-saudis-turned-kosovo-into-fertile-ground-for-isis.html?_r=0.
[4] See the official list, which is updated periodically, here: http://www.mfa-ks.net/?page=2,157
[5] “Kosovo Hails Sharp Drop in Middle Eastern Fighters,” Balkan Insight, October 24, 2016, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/kosovo-plegdes-to-work-closer-to-islamic-comunity-to-fight-radicalism-10-24-2016. [6] Paraszczuk, “Report Finds Alarming Outflow Of Kosovars To Islamic State.” 
[6] Adrian Shtuni, “Dynamics of Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Kosovo,” United States Institute of Peace, December 19, 2016, https://www.usip.org/publications/2016/12/dynamics-radicalization-and-violent-extremism-kosovo
[7] Adrian Shtuni, “Dynamics of Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Kosovo,” United States Institute of Peace, December 19, 2016, https://www.usip.org/publications/2016/12/dynamics-radicalization-and-violent-extremism-kosovo
[8] Adrian Shtuni, “Dynamics of Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Kosovo,” United States Institute of Peace, December 19, 2016, https://www.usip.org/publications/2016/12/dynamics-radicalization-and-violent-extremism-kosovo
[9] Adrian Shtuni, “Dynamics of Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Kosovo,” United States Institute of Peace, December 19, 2016, https://www.usip.org/publications/2016/12/dynamics-radicalization-and-violent-extremism-kosovo
[10] Nick Squires, “Italian police break up alleged jihadist cell that planned to attack Venice's Rialto Bridge,” The Telegraph, March 30, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/30/italian-police-break-alleged-jihadist-cell-planned-attack-venices.
[11] Nick Squires, “Italian police break up alleged jihadist cell that planned to attack Venice's Rialto Bridge,” The Telegraph, March 30, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/30/italian-police-break-alleged-jihadist-cell-planned-attack-venices.

[12] O'Kane, Maggie (13 March 2000). "Kosovo drug mafia supply heroin to Europe, World news". The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/mar/13/balkans
[13] Allan Hall and Dan Warburton, “ISIS seizes £4bn drug ring from the Mafia to fund its brutal terror campaign,” Daily Mirror (UK), January 17, 2016, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/isis-seizes-4bn-drug-ring-7191800.

[14] "Ekskluzive: Biografia e Lavdrim Muhaxherit" [Exclusive: Biography Lavdrim Muhaxheri]. KosovaPress.com, January 28, 2014. http://www.kosovapress.com/sq/lajme/ekskluzive-biografia-e-lavdrim-muhaxherit-9749/

[15] "K. Albanian Who Committed Gruesome Crimes "is Dead"." Online Post. August 19, 2014. B92. Accessed April 10, 2019. https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2014&mm=08&dd=19&nav_id=91333.
[16] In the Matter of the Designation of Lavdrim Muhaxheri, also known as Ebu Abdullah el Albani, also known as Abu Abdullah al Kosova, also known as Abu Abdallah al-Kosovi, also known as Abu Abdallah al-Kosovo as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Pursuant to Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224, as Amended, FederalRegister.gov. October 2, 2014, https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/10/02/2014-23534/in-the-matter-of-the-designation-of-lavdrim-muhaxheri-also-known-as-ebu-abdullah-el-albani-also

[17] Fatos Bytyci, “Kosovo Islamic State Commander Killed, Police and Family Say,” Reuters, June 8, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-06-08/kosovo-islamic-state-commander-killed-police-and-family-say.

[18] Labinot Leposhtica, “Kosovo Jails Hard-line Imam for 10 Years,” Balkan Insight, May 20, 2016, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/kosovo-hard-line-imam-sentenced-to-10-years-in-prison-05-20-2016

[19] Fatos Bytici, “Kosovo charges 9 men with plotting attacks at Albania-Israel World Cup match,” Reuters, June 14, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kosovo-israel-security/kosovo-charges-9-men-with-plotting-attacks-at-albania-israel-world-cup-match-idUSKBN1951PZ.

[20] Sputnik News, "One of most radical Islamic State women comes from Kosovo," B92, July 17, 2017, http://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2017&mm=07&dd=17&nav_id=101825 

[21] Carlotta Gall, “How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS,” New York Times, May 21, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/world/europe/how-the-saudis-turned-kosovo-into-fertile-ground-for-isis.html?_r=0.

[22] “Kosovo Says No New Cases Of Citizens Joining IS In Iraq, Syria,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 24, 2016, http://www.rferl.org/content/kosovo-islamic-state-iraq-syria/27943383.html

[23] Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, U.S. Department of State, July 2017. Available at: https://www.state.gov/reports/country-reports-on-terrorism-2016/

[24] Geoff Mulvihill, “Man pleads guilty in Fort Dix plot case,” Associated Press, October 31, 2007. 

[25] See Gerry J. Gilmore, “FBI, Navy Foil Alleged Terror Plot on Quantico,” American Forces Press Service, September 25, 2009. See also U.S. Department of Justice, “Kosovar National Charged with Terrorism Violations,” June 17, 2010.
[26] “Kosovo Group Claims Hack of US Weather Service,” Agence France-Presse, October 19, 2012.
[27] “ISIS threatens terror campaign in the Balkans,” Balkan Insight, June 8, 2017, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/isis-wows-to-wreak-vengeance-on-balkans-in-new-threat-06-08-2017.
[28] ‘Hapšenje na Kosovu: Uhapšeni Albanci pripremali TERORISTIČKE napade.’ (‘Arrests in Kosovo: Albanians Preparing Terrorist Attacks Arrested,” Srbija Danas, May 25, 2017, https://www.srbijadanas.com/vesti/info/hapsenje-na-kosovu-uhapseni-alban....

[29] Die Morina, “Kosovo Arrests Three Terrorist Suspects,” Balkan Insight, June 29, 2018. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/terrorist-suspects-arrested-in-k...

[30] Die Morina, “Kosovo Arrests Three Terrorist Suspects,” Balkan Insight, June 29, 2018. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/terrorist-suspects-arrested-in-k....

[31] Naddaff, A.J. "Kosovo, Home to Many ISIS Recruits, Is Struggling to Stamp out Its Homegrown Terrorism Problem." August 24, 2018. The Washington Post. Accessed April 10, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/08/24/kosovo-home-many-isis-re....
[32]See https://countrymeters.info/en/Kosovo
[33] Sewell Chan, “How a Record Number of Migrants Made Their Way To Europe,” New York Times, December 22, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/world/europe/migrant-crisis-europe-million.html
[34] "The World Factbook: Kosovo." Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed March 28, 2019. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print_k....
[35] The official web site of the BIK is www.bislame.net
[36] Gall, “How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS,” op. cit.
[37] Ebi Spahiu, “Jihadist Threat Persists in Kosovo and Albania Despite Government Efforts,” Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor 14, iss. 13, June 24, 2016, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=45551&no_cache=1#.V77LZ6KgA3j
[38] Linda Karadaku, “Inter-faith Dialogue Expected To Advance Reconciliation,” SETimes.com, August, 14, 2013. 
[39] The group’s official website is https://www.facebook.com/Interfaith-Kosovo-403629399719855/
[40] This could be seen in media pieces printed immediately after the independence declaration, such as “Kosovo Touts ’Islam-lite,’” Associated Press, February 21, 2008.

[41] We'll tell everyone, Kosovo can't join Interpol," B92, September 11, 2018. https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2018&mm=09&dd=11&nav_id=1...
[42] Violeta Hyseni Kelmendi, "Kosovo mobilizes to fight religious radicalism and terrorism," Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, August 25, 2014, http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Kosovo/Kosovo-mobilizes-to-fight-religious-radicalism-and-terrorism-155153
[43] Una Hajdari, “Kosovo to Jail Fighters in Foreign Conflicts,” Balkan Insight, March 13, 2015, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/kosovo-law-to-punish-fighting-in-foreign-conflicts
[44] Gall, “How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS,” op. cit.
[45] Leposhtica, “Kosovo Jails Hard-line Imam for 10 Years,” op. cit.
[46] Frud Bezhan, “Charges Against Cleric Put Iran's Balkan Activities Under Spotlight,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 1, 2016, http://www.rferl.org/content/kosovo-iran-cleric-arrest/27886917.html
[47] Pete Baumgartner, “Kosovo Seeks To Root Out Radical Islam In Prison System,” RFE/RL, March 7, 2017. https://www.rferl.org/a/kosovo-root-out-radical-islam-from-prisons/28356290.html
[48] Nina Teggarty, “Kosovo Looks To ISIS Wives In Order To Fight Extremism,” Huffington Post, March 9, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kosovo-looks-to-isis-wives-in-order-to-fight-extremism_us_58c1ae33e4b054a0ea6900dd
[49] Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, Nina Teggarty, “Kosovo Looks To ISIS Wives In Order To Fight Extremism,” Huffington Post, March 9, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kosovo-looks-to-isis-wives-in-order-to-fight-extremism_us_58c1ae33e4b054a0ea6900dd
[50] Matteo Albertini, “Italy and Kosovo Intensify Actions against Another ISIS-linked Group,” Balkanalysis.com, December 6, 2015, http://www.balkanalysis.com/kosovo/2015/12/06/italy-and-kosovo-intensify-actions-against-another-isis-linked-group/
[51] “‘Offer Kosovar Fighters ‘Jihadi Rehab’ to Combat Extremism,’” Balkan Insight, March 24, 2016, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/offer-kosovar-fighters-jihadi-rehab-to-combat-extremism--03-23-2016
[52] Julian Borger, “EU accused over its Kosovo mission: ‘Corruption has grown exponentially,’” Guardian (London), November 6, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/06/eu-accused-over-kosovo-mission-failings.
[53] “Opposition MPs let off tear gas in Kosovo parliament,” BBC, February 19, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35616745
[54] "Arabs are Islamizing Kosovo before KFOR's eyes," B92, May 18, 2017, http://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2017&mm=05&dd=18&nav_id=101302
[55] Phillip Connor, “Still in Limbo: About a Million Asylum Seekers Await Word on Whether They Can Call Europe Home,” Pew Global, September 20, 2017, http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/09/20/a-million-asylum-seekers-await-word-on-whether-they-can-call-europe-home