70 ISIS fighters returned to Macedonia

The information about the thwarted terrorist attack in the country has upset the citizens. The few details that were announced this weekend left many unanswered questions. The police action was realized shortly after getting a pass for NATO membership, which in itself could be a challenge for the terrorists of the phantom “Islamic State” to attack the small Balkan country. The Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office yesterday briefly stated that they are recruiting the seized items of the radical members of ISIS who returned to Macedonia after the fighting in Syria and Iran. The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, informs that after having received information from the services of one partner country that a terrorist act is being prepared in the country, they have taken actions to detect the organizers, logisticians and the potential attackers. Searches were carried out on several locations across the country, whereby objects and devices connected with the possible attack were seized.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs continues to implement actions, measures and activities that are working to ensure the safety of citizens,” the Ministry of Internal Affairs said, not wanting to get into details.

According to information from the security services, about 150 Macedonian citizens went to fight for ISIS, and about thirty were killed. Seventy have returned and they are a ticking bomb, despite the fact that the Middle East conflicts, as well as the attacks in Europe, are no longer as intense as they were until three years ago, when the power of the Islamists was at a much higher level.

“They were heavily armed and strongly indoctrinated, so everything depends on how they will experience the real situation in the country, because under the influence of their previous backgrounds they can express their extremism and radicalism at any given moment, especially if they feel victimized or they cannot adapt in our system,” warn experts.

According to them, “the threes, “the fives” and “the sevens”, that is, the groups that operate with that many people, are the biggest danger to the European countries. These are “frozen” terrorist cells, people who are among us, who cannot be distinguished by their behavior, who are actually trained to commit attacks when they get their orders to do so.

According to the way they operate, they first record the terrain, observe the people, build logistic support and as soon as they complete all the preparations – they carry out the attack. They are formed in a group of smaller number of people so they can be more flexible, more dynamic, and have easier communication with each other. They are impeccably organized, they only contact one person of the higher circles who, on the other hand, do not know those who are above him. Communication is conducted in codes, using pseudonyms or nicknames, as well as colloquial language, and even if monitored by services, it is difficult to recognize.

ISIS has repeatedly threatened that it will organize a series of terrorist attacks in Macedonia, as well as in Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, calling on Muslims from the Balkans to follow the “call of the caliphate”, that is, to establish an Islamic system. So far, Macedonia was not considered to be a target to Islamists, but it is primarily the countries that are part of the coalition that is carrying out military operations against them.
“But now that our country is practically a NATO member state, we must be more cautious,” alert the security services.

The US Embassy in Skopje, as well as Bulgaria, warned their citizens who are staying in Macedonia to be vigilant.

“There is a heightened risk of terrorist attacks inspired by extremist ideology in North Macedonia.  Terrorist organizations and individuals inspired by extremist ideology are intent on attacking civilians, including U.S. citizens traveling abroad.  Terrorists increasingly use less sophisticated methods to target crowds in public places, including pistols, vehicles, and edged weapons.
Terrorist attacks and other security incidents often take place without any warning, and U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance.  Extremists increasingly aim to identify and attack “soft targets,” such as: shopping malls and markets, airports, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools,  parks, and high-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.), was in the message of the US Embassy in the country. ISIS practically suffered defeat in Syria and many of the fighters were captured or fled across Europe and beyond.

Goran Adamovski