Balkans: War Crimes and Islamic Terrorists

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May 16, 2006: Macedonia believes that Islamic terrorists are setting up shop among Macedonian Moslems. There is something of a religious revival among Albanian Moslems living in Macedonia, and conservative clerics are welcome. Whether this translates to active cells of Islamic terrorists is another matter, and still unproven.

May 11, 2006: Terrorists attacked the Istanbul offices of Turkey's leading secularist newspaper, Cumhuriyet. This was the third bomb attempted attack on the paper's offices in the last ten days. In the two prior attempted attacks the bombs failed to go off. The May 11 blast was caused by a "percussion bomb" (small bomb designed to make noise). Turkish authorities said the attackers were "unknown." However, radical Islamists were suspected. Cumhuriyet opposes the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is currently the majority party in Turkey. The AKP is very moderate as Islamist parties go, but some of its more radical supporters are not moderate.

Republican Turkey remains very touchy about the alleged genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey in World War One. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently mentioned the massacre of Armenians and called it a genocide. On May 11 a senior Turkish spokesman said that Turkey's air force would pull out of a NATO air training exercise scheduled to take place in Canada.

May 10. 2006: An Albanian charged with committing several war crimes in Kosovo in 1998 was arrested in Germany. European sources identified the suspect as Xhemail Gashi. He is accused of running a POW camp for the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) and killing and torturing prisoners. UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) says Gashi will be extradited to Kosovo.

Meanwhile in Kosovo, NATO said that it will formally modify the command structure of the KFOR peacekeeping force. KFOR is reorganizing into five "task forces." Previously, KFOR had four brigades operating in brigade areas. A NATO spokesman said the new organization reflects changes that began at the end of 2005. The new organization will allow commanders to reposition and maneuver forces with greater flexibility

May 9, 2006: Serbia announced that Serb police had arrested a former army non-commissioned officer who worked for war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic. Serb media said that Blagoje Govedarica worked as Mladic's driver. On April 30 the European Union broke off political talks with Serbia because Mladic has not been arrested. Since then the noose has been tightening a bit.

May 8, 2006: China asked Albania to return five ethnic Uighurs that the US released to Albania. The Muslim Uighurs were held in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. Albanian accepted the men as "a humanitarian gesture." The US said that the men might face prosecution in China. The Chinese request to Albania refers to the men as terrorists. The Uighurs were captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

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