Security agencies in Macedonia staged multiple raids on Islamic State targets after reports indicated the terrorists are secretly acquiring land in the country. The land bought is being used for radicalization, training and planning new attacks, the latest of which is targeting mainland Europe.
The tiny Bosnian settlement of the Balkans is situated at the very center of Europe. There, the black flag of ISIS flies firmly, nestled between thick forests and towering hills. The village is among the few that have been reported to be hosting IS radicals in Europe.
High profile ISIS members are said to have bought land in the Bosnian region. Ismar Hadrovic, a Salafist reported to have led an attack on the popular Queer Festival in Sarajevo in 2008 is one of the buyers.
Harun Mehicevic, a Wahhabi preacher and one of Australia’s most dangerous men, settled in Melbourne and also owns land in Gornja Maoca.
The spate of terror linked land acquisitions have prompted the Macedonian police raids in Skopje, the country’s capital.
Identified targets of the raids include 25 homes, the Tutunsuz mosque in Skopje, the Yaya Pasha mosque, the offices of two Islam linked NGOs- Islamic Youth and Spark of Grace, and an internet café.
Nine arrests have been made so far. The suspects are aged between 19 and 49. They will remain detained for 30 days while police conduct investigations. Up to 27 more suspects are being hunted down by police.
The Center for Islamic Pluralism, a Washington based think tank, had reported the rising threat of radicalization through the group Islamic Youth in the region. A report by the group had labelled their presence as an “indicator of the bad situation in the Macedonian Muslim communities.”
According to Stephen Sulejman Schwartz, Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, “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.”
Police are now warning that the terror groups may be planning an attack on mainland Europe and have urged their European counterparts to keep vigil.
The land purchases by the ISIS in Europe, right under the noses of authorities, show how widespread the insurgents are spreading. Authorities are working closely with each other to detect such activity before more youth are radicalized and let loose on innocent civilians.