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Four jihadi suspects charged in Kosovo over terror plots

  • Published at 04:46 pm October 13th, 2018
A Kosovo Security Force (KSF) member stands guard prior to a farewell ceremony of the German NATO led-peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, in the town of Prizren on October 3, 2018 AFP

According to prosecutors, a planned attack against a Serbian Orthodox church in Mitrovica was the most advanced and 'halted by the arrests'

Four suspected jihadists have been charged in Pristina on suspicion of planning a series of attacks including at a church in Kosovo, two discos and unspecified assaults in France and Belgium, judicial sources told AFP on Saturday.

The three men and a woman, all from Kosovo and linked to the group Islamic State (IS), were arrested earlier this year and charged on October 4, according to an indictment seen by AFP.

The plot leader, named as 26-year-old Bujar Berhami, is also accused of being an organiser of a thwarted attack on the Israeli national football team during a World Cup qualifier in Albania in 2016.

"The idea was to start the attack with a drone against the Israelis, then with Kalashnikovs," Berhami is quoted as saying in the indictment.

Eight men were already sentenced in May to up to 10 years in prison for the foiled attack.

According to prosecutors, a planned attack against a Serbian Orthodox church in Mitrovica was the most advanced and "halted by the arrests". 

"The idea was to attack groups of people meeting for their religious holidays," Berhami is quoted as saying.

The group were also accused of planning to attack the NATO-led security force KFOR and to bomb two discos in the Serbian enclave of Gracanica.

They had began recruiting volunteers, according to prosecutors, and planned to "put explosives in the discos and trigger them remotely" or to organise "suicide attacks".

The group also considered a commando-style attack with automatic weapons and hand grenades, "modelled on the 2015 attacks in Paris", the prosecution said.

Unspecified attacks on public places in France and Belgium were also planned, according to the indictment.

Berhami, who also has Belgian citizenship, was arrested in September and is also accused of discussing recruitment for suicide attacks with Balkan jihadists fighting with IS in Syria and Iraq.

Gramos Shabani, 26 -- who also holds Belgian citizenship -- Resim Kastrati, 26, and Edona Haliti, 25, were arrested in June. 

According to official estimates in Kosovo, around 300 Kosovo nationals have gone to Syria to fight for IS, and more than 50 have been killed. 

Kosovo remains ethnically divided since unilaterally declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.

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