Albania holds Syria jihad recruiters

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iol pic wld Mideast Syria Peace Talks AP In this 2012 file photo, Syrian rebel fighter Tawfiq Hassan poses for a picture, after returning from fighting against Syrian army forces in Aleppo. Picture: Muhammed Muheisen, File

Tirana - Albanian police arrested seven people on Tuesday, including two Islamic preachers, on charges of recruiting followers to fight in Syria and seized a cache of bullets and weapons.

Despite the peaceful co-existence of its majority Muslim population with its Christians, the NATO member has seen a small number of its citizens join those fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We have today arrested seven people suspected of being involved in recruiting Albanian citizens to fight in Syria,” prosecutor Eugen Beci told a news conference.

The Serious Crimes Court has issued arrest warrants for six other people on the same charges, Beci added.

Beci said the two imams were suspected of trying “actively to indoctrinate various persons with radical ideologies to fight later as members of organisations blacklisted by the United Nations”, without specifying which those organisations were.

He said 15 bullets of various sizes and a military camouflage bag had been found, among other items, in the mosque where one of those arrested preached at a village near Tirana.

An AK-47 machinegun with four magazines, an offensive grenade, 320 bullets and two radios were found in the house of another member of the group.

The seven are to face charges of “recruiting persons to commit terrorist acts” and the “incitement of hatred or quarrels between nations, races and religions”.


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