On June 17, the anti-terrorism unit of the Kosovo police, acting by request from the U.S. Department of Justice, arrested 29-year old Bajram Asllani, a Kosovar Albanian and one of two suspects who fled North Carolina after law enforcement action 10 months ago against a jihadist conspiracy based in Raleigh.
On Friday, the next day, the European Union police agency in Kosovo, known as EULEX, ordered Asllani’s release, though he remains under house arrest and is required to report to police every two weeks. The decision was based, according to EULEX judge Agnieszka Kolowiecka-Milar, on the lack of an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Kosovo. EULEX spokesperson Kristiina Herodes said, “The prosecutor will have a close look at the written decision by the judge and then will decide to appeal against the decision or not.”
The release of Asllani was alarming. After all, he had previously been held under house arrest by Kosovo authorities, based on a 2007 terrorism charge, and had come originally to North Carolina to escape.
The handling of Asllani’s case exposed a serious rift between the local Albanian police and European personnel charged with law enforcement in the Balkan republic, which reflects the wider conflict between American and European attitudes towards terror suspects. The Kosovar Albanians, however, have taken the American position, favoring detention and extradition. Kosovo Albanians have supported local officers in a series of arrests of preachers and propagandists representing the Saudi-financed ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi Muslim sect. Most recently, two Kosovar Albanians and three Bosnian Muslims were arrested in the southern Kosovo district of Prizren.
A revised criminal complaint, prepared in April and unsealed two weeks ago, added Asllani’s name and eight other participants to a Raleigh network of jihadists. Asllani is charged with providing material aid to terrorists and conspiracy to commit violent acts.
The North Carolina jihad group seems to have been led by three American-born converts to Islam, Daniel Boyd (39), and his sons Dylan (22), and Zakariya (20). Boyd and another Kosovar Albanian and legal resident of the U.S., Hysen Sherifi (25) were joined in the original indictment by three more U.S. citizens: Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan (22), Ziyad Yaghi (21), and Anes Subasic (33), who is a naturalized American but Bosnian by birth. Boyd and Sherifi are charged with planning an attack on the U.S. Marine base in Quantico, Va., among other jihad-related actions.
The most recent caught-and-released jihadist, Asllani, with his 2007 arrest, was not the only member of the North Carolina cell with a past that bears closer scrutiny. Daniel Boyd, as was barely noted at the time of his arrest last year, had gone to Gaza with one of his sons in 2006, and was prevented by Israel from travelling there again in 2007, which he intended to do so that he introduce his sons to battle.
The ninth wanted individual, Jude Kenan Mohammad (20) is believed to have escaped to Pakistan.