By Dr. Gordon N Bardos
American Center for Democracy
Friday, September 16th, 2016 @ 5:53PM
The individuals involved with the January and the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the June 2016 attack at Atatűrk International Airport in Istanbul, and the July 2016 Ansbach suicide-bombing in Germany had one thing in common; all spent time in or transited through the Balkans in the preceding period.
None of this is surprising. Already in May 2007, an American observer of Balkan Islam had noted that “a visitor to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia encountered unmistakable evidence that extremist intruders are opening a Balkan front in the global jihad.” In January 2010 Israeli officials warned that the Balkan region “is global jihad’s next destination for creating an infrastructure and recruiting activists.”
Consequently, as intelligence and security services grapple with the ISIS threat, a key challenge will be dealing with ISIS’s Balkan networks. One aspect of this problem that has already received considerable attention is the large numbers of foreign fighters originating in the region; according to a number of studies, Bosnia and Kosovo provide more jihad volunteers per capita than any other countries in Europe.