Former ISIS Fighter Coordination Center Planned in Albania

A coordination center for former ISIS fighters returning to the Balkans will be built in Albania.

The news was made public not by the government, but by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov during a conference against violent extremism, which took place in Tirana with the support of the King of Jordan.

“A coordination center for former ISIS fighters returning to the Balkans will be built in Albania,” Borissov stated in a joint press conference held yesterday alongside Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The Bulgarian PM added that he had “proposed that every country send an officer so that the joint fight will be more organized.”

This will not be the first institution focusing on terrorism located in Albania.

In May 2017, Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka announced that a research center aimed at studying the phenomenon of foreign fighters in Albania would created.

The idea of opening a research center has been discussed before.

In a BalkanInsight article from June 2016, journalist Fatjona Mejdini quotes colonel Bardhyl Kollcaku, head of the Intelligence and Security Agency, as saying “Albania has undertaken this initiative after noticing a vacuum in NATO.”

Kollcaku explained that the phenomenon has existed for decades before reaching the levels it has during these last few years:

We have the appropriate experience to contribute in the study and addressing the phenomenon of foreign fighters.

Albania’s geographic position as part of the Western Balkans has transformed it into a country of origin for many foreign fighters and we have pledged to share our knowledge and experience.

Besides the former ISIS fighters expected to arrive shortly, Albania is also sheltering the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian resistance group of about 3000 fighters, previously living at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. A 4-story residence in Babrru, that cost around €950,000, was built to host them.