Crossfire War: Southeast Europe – Balkans – Wahabism Expands into Macedonia and

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Night Watch: SKOPJE – Disputes between pro-Arabic radicalism and the traditional one, advocated by young Imams based in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, are behind armed incidents within the Islamic community of Macedonia.

Sources have informed the news service Vreme that the reason for the violence and tension are that while young muftis from Skopje are trying to maintain the Islamic Community’s independence and the foundations of secular Islam they are being challenged by a more radical faction financed through Saudi Arabia. That faction is led by Skopje Mufti Zenun Berisha whose aim is to strengthen the base of radical Islam. He is being assisted by Islamic theologians and imams who have studied in Saudi Arabia where Wahabism is a state religion.

Other areas of Macedonia where radical Islam has an active base is Kumanovo-Lipkovo, Gostivar and Tetovo. In other parts of Macedonia Islamic radical groups are still developing. It is feared that their increased popularity will mirror Bosnia-Herzegovina. Besides following conservative Islamic behavior, they will be instructed to boycott US and west European brands and promote products coming from the Arab world, especially from Saudi Arabia.

Intelligence reports have discovered that one of their main objectives is the unification of Islamic religious communities in Macedonia, Kosovo, Sandzak and Montenegro under the control of Sarajevo-based Bosnia-Herzegovina Islamic Community, where pro-Arabic Islam has long had its strongest base. This was one of two areas Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami visited in March. They have also shown an interest in infiltrating Bulgaria, which has over 3 million Muslims mostly Turks.

Intelligence reports have indicated the main base for the spread of radical Islam into Macedonia is B-H and Sandzak under the direction of imam Zuhurgic, dean of the Novi Pazar School of Islamic studies just 90 miles to the north-west of Skopje. Working with him are extreme radical Islamists from Prizren and the Kosovo Islamic Relief office of Kosovska Mitrovica, led by Ekrem Avdiu. The Wahabi group in Macedonia is supposedly sheltered by their military faction known as “Protectors of Islam.” They are suspected to be directly connected to the imams of Prizren, where the main instructions are said to be originating from.

The funding from Riyadh is being channeled through Islamic humanitarian and non-governmental organizations. They have been used in the construction of religious facilities in Macedonia, centers of inspiration.

Some of the Wahabis participated in the 2001 crisis as members of the OVK’s (Kosovo Liberation Army – UCK in Albanian) “Ilmi Elezi” Brigade that was active in the Kumanovo area. Some of them and former fighters with UCK, in the Mujihidin “Abu Bakr Sadik” Brigade were the main leaders of the Kosovo demonstrations in March last year.

It was either very late in 2000 or early 2001 that one of the wire services reported that Iran and Turkey were comparing intelligence information but it didn’t say concerning where. In February 2001 was when fighting begain in Macedonia between Skopje and the Albanian community that had long claimed of being oppressed.

This is the ideal situation for Riyadh-Ankara-Teheran to take advantage of in order to keep the West busy in the Balkans so it reduces the West’s military presence in the Mediterranean and Central Asia. That is why I have always maintained that the most regressive decision I have ever witnessed, led by Vienna, was the agreement that divided Yugoslavia in 1991 and in the name of the New World Order.

It created another front in this crossfire war.

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Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.