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How Radical Islam Infiltrates Kosovo

8:35 AM, Aug 30, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Sogojeva told the investigative reporters he did not favor a sudden shift to fundamentalism, but, rather, “after some time, after having worked with the congregation, in order to properly explain the religion. Albanian Muslims in Kosovo currently are in the first grade,” he added patronizingly. Kosovar Albanians have been Muslim for more than 600 years, a matter Wahhabis disregard.

The reporters also reviewed the 2009 assault on Osman Musliu, a moderate cleric in the region of Drenas, known for its strong Albanian nationalism. Musliu characterized the Wahhabis at the time as “sick, psychotic people, who aim to destroy the Islamic Community of Kosovo.” The attack on Musliu was one in a spate of such incidents.

In the second part of their series, posted on August 18, Haraqija and Duriqi noted that Kosovo was defined as a secular republic in a legislative decision approved at the end of Ramadan last year. Atifete Jahjaga, president of the republic, is a woman of Muslim origin who does not wear an Islamic headscarf (hijab) or otherwise indulge in “religious” dress. As she told a Warsaw regional summit audience in May 2011, “Islam is a relationship of the individual with God, and not of the individual with the state.”

Wahhabis, of course, disagree loudly. Shefqet Krasniqi, imam of the main, Imperial Mosque in Pristina, and infamous for his vulgar attacks on Mother Teresa, has called for the Islamic formula “There Is No God But God” to be inscribed in Arabic on the Kosovo flag, as it is on the Saudi national banner and the Taliban equivalent. His cohort in Kosovo complain that, with Kosovo governed by a woman who does not wear hijab, the populace is destined to “hellfire.”

Similarly, a radical imam, Mazllam Mazllami from the major city of Prizren, who was expelled from the Islamic Community and then reinstated at the order of ICK chief Ternava, has warned that men and women should not go to the beach together, since they may socialize in swimwear.

The third article in the Haraqija-Duriqi investigative series disclosed that Kastriot Duka, alias Xhemajl Duka, a self-anointed cleric from Elbasan in Albania proper, had defied Kosovo law by returning to the republic after he was deported in 2010. Duka founded a mosque in the village of Marina near the north-central Kosovo city of Skenderaj in 2002 with money from a British-based Islamist charity, Rahma-Mercy. Established in 1999, Rahma-Mercy has targeted Albania and Kosovo specifically but is a paramilitary organization made up of South Asian British Muslims following Deobandism, the Wahhabi-aligned sect that inspires the Taliban. In Skenderaj, however, 6,000 citizens of the district signed a petition calling for closure of Duka’s mosque because of features including an Islamic primary school in which small girls were required to wear the Saudi-style face-veil (niqab) and full body covering (abaya).

Duka has, nevertheless, returned to Kosovo several times, while Rahma-Mercy continues to convey money to his admirers, through bank transfers as well as private couriers. One of Duka’s disciples, identified only as H.K., admitted, “Halil, with an Arab family name, came first from England. . . . There were times when the deposits passed through the bank . . . or were delivered in Kosovo.”

The work of Artan Haraqija and Visar Duriqi also includes a dismaying survey of Islamist indoctrination in the “new style” of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party in Turkey. But above all, they have made a valuable and courageous contribution in tracing the influence of Islamist money in a vulnerable community.

According to the reporters, Kosovo judicial investigators have monitored Wahhabi activities to preempt terror plots, following the assaults on moderate clerics and other violent incidents over the past three years. The Kosovo police have prepared a three-page memorandum, to which the journalists gained access, warning, “Wahhabis can kill any Muslim that does not join their sect, and they are spreading across the republic.”

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