Police in Kosovo say they have arrested 19 people and thwarted simultaneous Islamic State attacks in Kosovo and neighboring Albania, including a planned assault on the Israeli national soccer team during a match.
The suspects, who were planning “synchronized terror attacks,” were rounded up over the past 10 days in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, police said in a statement Wednesday.
The suspects were receiving orders from Islamic State member Lavdrim Muhaxheri, the self-declared “commander of Albanians in Syria and Iraq,” police said.
The statement said officers searching the suspects’ homes and premises found explosive devices, weapons and electronic equipment, including “religious material and literature from well-known authors recognized for their extremist ideology.”
The groups in the three countries, coordinated by two Albanians who are part of the Islamic State terror group in Syria, had “clear targets” on who should be attacked and when, police said.
“They were planning to commit terrorist attacks in Kosovo and also (an attack) against (the) Israeli football team and their fans during the Albania-Israel match,” Kosovo police said, according to Reuters.
The Nov. 12 match, part of the qualifying round for the 2018 World Cup group, was moved from the northern Albanian city of Shkoder to Elbasan, south of the capital of Tirana, for security reasons, the Associated Press reports. Saturday’s event included heavy police presence, but there were no incidents.
Most of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority are nominally Muslim, but largely secular. Kosovo, backed by the West, declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
SOURCE: Doug Stanglin