U.S. expert on involvement of Albanians in the Islamic State (IS)

 Involvement of Albanians in the Islamic State (IS) reinforces negative stereotypes about Albanians, according to US expert Stephen Sylejman Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz is the author of several books and is often cited for his views on a range of issues in leading media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post.

GENEVA, February 27, 2015 – The US expert Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, Executive Director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism headquartered in Washington, US, states to the news agency Presheva Jone that the involvement of ethnic Albanians in the Islamic State (IS) negatively affects the reputation of Albanians.

“It contributes to evil stereotypes and false claims that the Kosova liberation war was a jihadist effort.

“As in other instances, Islamist radicals are doing the work of Serbia in undermining the reputation of Albanians.”

SSSKosovo and Albania are one of the few countries in Europe where the majority of the population belongs to the Islamic faith.

Following the emergence of IS, several Albanians have joined the ranks of IS seeking to establish a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

In relation to Albania’s and Kosovo’s close relationships with the US, the US expert points out the involvement of Albanians “is disastrous and dangerous for the future of all Albanians.”

Despite that the IS is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, Canada, Indonesia and Turkey, as well as the United Nations (UN), around 250 Albanians have joined the IS in Syria and Iraq.

Furthermore, the US expert underlines the support for IS among the Muslims in the Balkans is a mix between radical ideology, economic stagnation and the desire to avenge the crimes committed by Syria’s Assad regime.

“The pattern emerging among indigenous Muslims in the Balkans, regarding support for IS, seems to involve a fusion of radical Islamist ideology (rarely), personal aimlessness and desperation caused by economic disadvantage, especially high unemployment, adventurism, and criminality.

“At the same time, one cannot ignore the deeply shocking nature of the massacres by the Al-Assad regime and the desire of many Sunni Muslims around the world to respond to such atrocities.

“The failure of the world powers to act against the Damascus regime helped create the IS. I warned publicly against this in Washington some years ago.”

With regard to the peculiarities surrounding the possible re-integration of returning fighters from the Middle East, Mr. Schwartz believes re-integration is not an option as both Kosovo and Albania should take measures to criminalize the involvement of Albanians in the IS.

Intelligence experts have on several occasions warned returning fighters may carry out attacks when returning to their native countries.

“I do not see reintegration as an option. Involvement in fighting in Syria and Iraq should be condemned by the Islamic ulema in the Balkans and criminalized by the governments of Kosova and Albania,” Mr. Schwartz said to Presheva Jone. / Blerim Mustafa

Photo credit: Centre for Islamic Pluralism

* This article was written by the author in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the view of Leidar

Link to original article (Presheva Jone, also available below): http://www.preshevajone.com/u-s-expert-on-involvement-of-albanians-in-the-islamic-state-is/

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Stephen Schwartz

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