The Skopje Prosecution has charged seven Macedonian nationals with participating in foreign armed forces, police, paramilitary or para-police formations.
“The defendants as foreign terrorist fighters actively took part in war conflicts in Syria and Iraq. With an intention to become part of paramilitary formations, they had left Macedonia and traveled to Syria, where they were trained to become ISIS fighters. In addition to taking part in paramilitary formations abroad, the defendants also provided and collected finances for the people taking part in these formations while by using social media and other types of communications they had been recruiting and coercing others to participate in paramilitary formations abroad. The defendant charged with both ‘participation in foreign armed forces, paramilitary and para-police formations’ and ‘terrorist organization’ was a member of the Islamic State terrorist organization,” the Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Thursday.
Of those, five defendants, it noted, have been investigated as part of the police operations, commonly known as Cell 1 (August 2015) and Cell 2 (July 2016), but they were at large. National and international warrants for their arrest have been issued.
In August 2018, the defendants were handed over to Macedonian authorities after being apprehended in cooperation with the partners from the Global Coalition against International Terrorism and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
“Estimating that there are still legal grounds to order detention for the defendants, the prosecutors in Skopje alongside the indictments has also filed a motion on extending the detention order for the defendants,” read the statement from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.