The threat of violent Islamist extremism has been growing in Kosovo, the US State Department said in its latest annual report on global terrorism.
This development in Kosovo is assisted in part by funding from foreign organizations that preach extremist ideologies and violent extremist groups actively using social media to spread propaganda and recruit followers, the report said.
“Approximately 315 foreign terrorist fighters from Kosovo have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS or al‑Nusrah Front (al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria), of which approximately 58 have been killed,” the document also states.
According to the State Department, the government of Kosovo is implementing “a comprehensive strategy and action plan for countering violent extremism” and has “continued counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States” as well as with NATO and EULEX (in northern Kosovo).
Referring to Kosovo and “neighboring Serbia,” the report noted that Belgrade and Pristina “do not usually cooperate on counter-terrorism issues,” but that “the governments have had an Integrated Border Management plan since 2013 and have participated in joint US‑sponsored training.”
The report said Pristina’s measures in combating terrorism include “passing and enforcing laws, introducing biometric passports, border controls, and equipping the border police” – while the fact that Kosovo is not a member of the UN, Interpol, or Europol is described as “an obstacle to better cooperation with international organizations.” UNMIK and EULEX act as intermediaries, “which slows down procedures and cooperation.”
It is also stated that Kosovo has “demonstrated political will to address threats related to terrorism,” and that “the state possesses the legal framework to do so.”
“National institutions also strengthened the capacity of their investigative and prosecutorial elements, but limited capacity, resources, and experience continued to limit their ability to handle terrorism cases more effectively,” said the US State Department.
The report observed that – as Kosovo’s membership in many regional and international organizations, including the UN, has been blocked by “countries that do not recognize its independence” – lack of membership and non-recognition “impedes cooperation on many issues, including counter-terrorism.”