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Albania’s Abstention on Palestine U.N. Vote and the Islamist Response

7:21 AM, Dec 14, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Turkish foreign ministry official Mehmet Hasan Gogus told the Tirana media, “We have so much in common, historical ties exist between the two countries and peoples, and there are no political problems whatever between Ankara and Tirana.”

At the same time, the Turkish authorities emphasized their friendly view of Serbia. Gogus stipulated, in an idiom treated with suspicion by many Albanians, that Islamist Turkey has no ambition to “unite the Balkans under a Turkish umbrella. . . . [A] Pax Ottomanica has never been mentioned.”

Erdogan and his colleagues, however, have frequently admitted their expansive attitude toward the former Turkish possessions in Europe, and the Turkic cultural sphere in Central Asia as the basis of a revived dominion.

On December 10, Albanian media described a visit by Saudi officials, headed by the president-general of the Saudi Youth Welfare and Olympic Committee, Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal Bin Fahd Bin Abdulaziz. The Saudis were praised by Berisha for their assistance to Albania through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Islamic Bank. At the same time, a leading Saudi business figure, Fawaz Alkohair, arrived and celebrated Albania’s “geographical location . . . low fiscal burden, business services, labor and cultural flexibility,” while promising new investment projects.

Arab and Islamic interests cannot resist the temptation of an economic and ideological colonization of the Muslim Balkans. But while the business benefits of such penetration may appear benevolent for both sides—given extremely high rates of poverty and joblessness in southeastern Europe—other consequences, intended or not, are extremely dangerous. Business ties may also bring the infiltration of Wahhabi and other Muslim extremists in Balkan Islamic communities with a history of religious moderation. In Sarajevo in October 2011, a Serbian Muslim named Mevlid Jasarevic fired at the U.S. Embassy with an automatic weapon, injuring no Americans but wounding a Bosnian guard at the facility. Jasarevic was shot by Bosnian police, which ended his rampage.

After hospital treatment, Jasarevic, who had gone from Novipazar, Serbia, to live in the Wahhabi-controlled hamlet of Gornja Maoca in northeast Bosnia-Herzegovina, was tried by the Bosnian State Court. Before loading up his weapon and heading for the American diplomatic compound, he had made the typical terrorist video demanding that the United States leave Afghanistan and that the Bosnian authorities end efforts to suppress Wahhabi activities.

Facing the judges, Jasarevic promised further attacks and claimed his trial and impending sentence would not deter others like him. Bosnian prosecutor Dubravko Campara charged Jasarevic with participation in a terrorist conspiracy, abetted by two accomplices, Emrah Fojnica and Munib Ahmetspahic. Defense attorney Senad Dupovac pleaded that Jasarevic acted alone and sought martyrdom rather than harm to Americans. Dupovac averred, at the same time, that Jasarevic aimed his weapon at U.S. agents.

On December 6, Jasarevic was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison for terrorism. His associates, Fojnica and Ahmetspahic, were acquitted. But Judge Branko Peric commented that the prison term was the longest the court had yet imposed in a terrorism case and expressed his hope that it would caution others against committing similar crimes.

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