Lavdrim Muhaxheri, known by his nom de guerre Abu Abdullah al Kosovo, is the ISIS leader behind the terrorist organization that sought to attack Israeli players at the World Cup qualifying soccer game in Albania on Saturday.
In recent years, he has been active in Syria and Iraq with different terrorist organizations, and he recently has been planning a series of attacks in the Balkans.
Israel’s Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a travel warning on Tuesday urging Israelis not to attend a World Cup qualifying game in the city of Elbasan in Albania on Saturday after four ISIS-affiliated suspects were arrested in the country who were allegedly targeting the game.
Four Muslim terrorists were arrested last week in the city of Shkodër, which was the original host city of the Israel-Albania World Cup qualifying game. According to Albanian security forces, the four terrorists were arrested following a tip from the Israeli Mossad.
Intelligence researcher Ronen Solomon from the Intellitimes blog traced the terrorist infrastructure that, according to him, is headed by Muhaxheri, a Kosovo citizen who went to Syria for the first time in 2012 after having earlier served in NATO in Afghanistan. There he joined Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
A year later, he returned to Kosovo, where he joined the activities of the local Islamist community and began recruiting terrorists. Later, like many others, he left al-Nusra and joined ISIS. There, according to assessments, he is a commander of Albanian fighters. Many hundreds of terrorists have come to ISIS from the Balkans.
This week, Kosovo prosecutors revealed that security forces arrested seven Muslims on Friday on suspicion of planning to carry out terrorist attacks on Balkan soil on instructions from Syria. Prosecutors also claimed that the terrorists, who were arrested in three different cities, had connections in neighboring countries that include Albania and Macedonia.
What is common amongst all seven is their connection to Muhaxheri. “During September and October, he gave them instructions for the attacks,” the prosecution claimed.
They added that the attacks were supposed to be carried out in the Balkans but were to start in Kosovo. “They wanted to create a foothold in the region for ISIS, and one of them had already spent some time fighting for the organization in Syria.”
Solomon’s investigation revealed that in October 2013, Muhaxheri was documented for the first time in ISIS operations and appeared in their videos, including beheading ones. In one video, he is filmed saying, “We will conquer Jerusalem, Jews.”
In August 2014, his name was added to Interpol’s wanted list, and since then he has been wanted for terrorist acts and belonging to the organization. In 2015, he was seen in Mosul, and his current location is unknown.
It seems that the arrest of the four members of the Albanian organization took place at the height of their planning, according to assessments, for an operation that was to be carried out simultaneously in different locations in the Balkans.
According to the investigation, another major player in the organization is a local radical cleric who is also under arrest. He has made videos that he posted to YouTube and Facebook accounts in Albanian that are identified with ISIS.