|The Kosovar defendants in their May 2018 trial |
[Image Source: Balkan Insight]
the Iranians are suspected of illegal activities related to a World Cup qualification soccer match between Albania and Israel two years ago. About 20 people were arrested in Albania and Kosovo following that match, which was threatened with an alleged terrorist attack. Albanian officials would not confirm that report. The planned attack in November 2016 was said to have been coordinated by two Albanians in Syria fighting with the Islamic State group.
|Albania's capital city, Tirana [Image Source]|
The prosecution said the group had planned to attack the Israeli team with explosives and automatic rifles. Police found explosive devices, weapons, electronic equipment and extremist literature at their homes. The plan was thwarted when Kosovo police got wind of the plot and tipped off Albanian authorities who moved the game from a stadium in Shkoder, near the border with Kosovo, to a town closer to the Albanian capital, Tirana. The prosecution said some of the defendants received orders to carry out an attack from Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a prominent Daesh member from Kosovo and the self-declared “commander of Albanians in Syria and Iraq.” Muhaxheri was killed in Syria, police and family members say...
has been confronted with hundreds of its citizens waging jihad in Syria and Iraq. It has subsequently strengthened legislation and attempted to root out radical Islamist networks [Times of Israel].What do we know about the expelled Iranians? Not much at this stage except that another Associated Press report [here] says
A tweet from President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, provided the first report that Albania had expelled the Iranian ambassador. Bolton praised Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama for expelling "the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran's leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated." "We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran's reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe," he wrote.An anti-Iranian-regime source [here] suggests Iran has been targeting Albania for some time with diplomats who happen to be intelligence operatives.
If we learn more, we will update this post.