The six are suspected of organising “suicide bombings with car bombs”. The Islamists were sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison by a court in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, reported French daily Le Figaro. Two of them have Belgian nationality.
The terrorists planned to attack KFOR soldiers, the NATO force in Kosovo, but also Serbian Orthodox churches in Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo with a Serbian majority and two discos in Gracanica. The same men had also planned “suicide attacks in places frequented by citizens, in Belgium and France,” according to a judicial source.
They were arrested in June and September 2018, and charged in October of the same year. The jihadist group “undertook to recruit volunteers” and wanted to “put explosives in the discotheques and trigger them remotely” or organise “suicide attacks” based “on the model of the attacks of 2015 in Paris”, according to the indictment. An attack on a Serbian church was “foiled by the arrests”.
The leader of the group, Bujar Behrami, a Belgian citizen, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for planning attacks on the Serbian community in Kosovo between December 2017 and June 2018. Another Belgian, Gramos Shabani, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for planning attacks in Belgium.
His wife, Edona Haliti, was sentenced to one year for organising a suicide attack against NATO forces. This group called “Auxiliary of the Islamic State in the Land of Eagles” wanted to “attack groups of people gathering for their religious holidays,” said Bujar Behrami. He was in contact with Balkan jihadists fighting in the ranks of ISIS in Syria.
In all, according to the country’s authorities, between 300 and 400 Kosovars, mostly young people, have joined the ranks of the terrorist group in the Middle East since 2012. “In proportion to its population of 1,8 million, Kosovo is probably the most important source of jihadists in Syria and Iraq,” according to the Combating Terrorism Center, a US think tank at the West Point Military Academy.