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Macedonia: Existence of ethnic Albanian nationalist or extremist groups; their numerical and political strength; their treatment of community members (of all ethnic groups); state protection for individuals harassed by these groups (January 2005 - December 2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 13 February 2006
Citation / Document Symbol MKD100790.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Macedonia: Existence of ethnic Albanian nationalist or extremist groups; their numerical and political strength; their treatment of community members (of all ethnic groups); state protection for individuals harassed by these groups (January 2005 - December 2005) , 13 February 2006, MKD100790.E , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/45f1477d20.html [accessed 22 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Albanian National Army (ANA)

According to the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) of the United States (US), the Albanian National Army (ANA) has been operating in Macedonia since at least 14 September 2002 (22 Sept. 2002). The MIPT, which was founded in April 1995, is a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City and funded by the United States Department of Homeland Security's Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (OSLGCP) (MIPT n.d.).

The MIPT qualifies the ANA as a "nationalist/separatist" organization which, "despite its name" is not an army but rather a "loosely-organized terrorist group" which calls for the unification of ethnic Albanian areas of the Western Balkans (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005), including part of Macedonia and southern Serbia (AFP 14 July 2004). The ANA, which was said to be active in certain ethnic Albanian parts of Macedonia (AP 30 June 2004), also opposes the peace process that followed Macedonia's 2001 conflict between ethnic Albanians and Macedonians (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005).

Leadership

While the MIPT stated in September 2005 that the ANA was headed by Dilaver Bojku (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005), an August 2004 article by the Associated Press (AP) said Idajet Beqiri, head of Albania's Party of National Unity, had "links" to the ANA (AP 16 Aug. 2004); a 14 July 2004 Agence France-Presse (AFP) report refers to Beqiri as "[a]n alleged leader of the Albanian National Army" (see also Albanian TV 14 July 2004); and a December 2004 article by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) stated that Gafur Adilli was the commander of the "Albanian National Army," but used the acronym AKSH to refer to that organization (13 Dec. 2004; see also MIA 16 Feb. 2003).

In June 2004, Idajet Beqiri was extradited to Albania after being charged with inciting ethnic hatred in Macedonia (AP 30 June 2004; AFP 14 July 2004). An AP article of 30 June 2004 stated that Beqiri was "suspected of being involved in the underground Albanian National Army." The following month, Beqiri was sentenced to 18 months in jail by a Tirana court (AFP 14 July 2004; Albanian TV 14 July 2004) before being promptly released (ibid.) because he had already served several months in detention (AP 16 Aug. 2004). Beqiri was eventually cleared of charges of inciting ethnic hatred (ibid. 22 Dec. 2004).

In December 2004, RFE/RL reported that authorities in Albania had placed Gafur Adilli, commander of the ANA, under house arrest, after he had allegedly encouraged followers to take up arms in Macedonia (13 Dec. 2004).

Number of Members

The MIPT reported that the number of members in the ANA was unknown (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005). However, in a 16 August 2004 article, AP said there were some 87,000 people in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, who were members of political parties that supported the Idajet Beqiri-led "Greater Albania movement."

Designation

The ANA is reportedly considered a "terrorist group" by at least two organizations: the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (AP 30 June 2004) and the MIPT (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005). However, the most recent sources consulted showed that the ANA was not designated a "foreign terrorist organization" (FTO) by the US government (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005; US 14 Nov. 2003). Instead, the ANA was viewed by the US as a "criminal" group which posed a threat to peace in the Western Balkans: as such, the group's assets are frozen in the US, and it is illegal for US citizens to have any dealings with it (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005; US 14 Nov. 2003). According to the MIPT, neither Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), nor the United Kingdom (UK) lists the ANA as a government specified or proscribed "terrorist group" (22 Sept. 2005).

Incidents

Of the four incidents involving the ANA since its inception, the MIPT noted that two occurred in Macedonia and two in Kosovo (MIPT 22 Sept. 2005). In all, the ANA was responsible for two injuries and two fatalities, all in Kosovo (ibid.). In Macedonia, both incidents were directed against the government: one took place on 14 February 2003 and the other on 14 September 2002 (ibid.).

On 14 February 2003, a remote-controlled bomb exploded outside the Court of Original Jurisdiction in the town of Struga, 170 kilometres southwest of Skopje (MIA 16 Feb. 2003; MIPT 22 Sept. 2005). The ANA later claimed responsibility for the bombing (MIA 16 Feb. 2003; AP 18 Feb. 2003; SRNA 18 Feb. 2003), which ANA said was in response to arrests of ethnic Albanians by Macedonian authorities (MIA 16 Feb. 2003). While the bombing "severely damaged the court building" (AP 18 Feb. 2003), it did not result in any casualties (ibid.; MIPT 22 Sept. 2005).

On 14 September 2002, it was reported that members of the ANA opened fire on the convoy of outgoing Interior Minister Ljube Boskoski, as he was returning to Skopje after attending his father's funeral in the western Macedonian village of Celopek (AFP 17 Sept. 2002; AP 17 Sept. 2002). Neither the interior minister nor his entourage were hurt in the incident, but one of the attackers was killed, and two others were injured (ibid.; AFP 17 Sept. 2002; MIA 17 Sept. 2002). ANA later allegedly claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt (ibid.).

Future

The ANA is not perceived by US authorities as garnering extensive support among Macedonia's ethnic Albanians (US 14 Nov. 2003), and, according to the MIPT, "[i]nternational officials ... stress the supposed criminal motives of the group, and do not expect the group to grow stronger. Many of the group's rebels surrendered their weapons to NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] as part of the 2001 peace settlement" (22 Sept. 2005).

National Liberation Army (NLA)

Without specifying any names, Amnesty International (AI) reported that in September 2004, the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued an arrest warrant for a former "local commander of the ethnic Albanians" accused of abducting a number of ethnic Macedonians in 2001 during a conflict between Macedonian security forces and the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) (2005).

The 2002 issue of Extremist Groups described the NLA as a nationalist organization that operated along the northern border Macedonia and sought "[a] greater independent Kosovo, rather than a greater Albania." Founded in 2001, the NLA was said to be a rival of the ANA (Extremist Groups 2002, 443), and, though comprising mainly Macedonian citizens, it also included former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (ibid.; Europa 2005 2005, 2765). The NLA claimed to "respect the territorial integrity of the Macedonian state" while at the same time calling for the "equal rights" of ethnic Albanians in the country (Extremist Groups 2002, 443).

Ethnic Albanian parties reportedly denounced the NLA for its violence, which consisted of "[l]ow level guerrilla warfare" (ibid., 443-444) and the targeting of law enforcement installations in 2001 (ibid., 444; Europa 2005 2005, 2765) as well as peacekeepers (Extremist Groups 2002). Information on any casualties resulting from the hostilities between the NLA and Macedonian security forces could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within time constraints. However, when a peace treaty was signed between ethnic Albanian rebel groups and the Macedonian government in September 2001, the 2,500 to 3,000 members of the NLA (Europa 2005 2005, 2765-2766) reportedly agreed to surrender their weapons to NATO troops (ibid.; AFP 13 Dec. 2001). In September 2001, the NLA was officially dissolved (ibid.; Europa 2005 2005, 2766).

Other Groups

Despite allegations of the presence of Islamic extremists in Macedonia (Gazeta Shqiptare 10 Aug. 2005; Dan 14 Jan. 2004), including uncorroborated claims that al-Qaeda had a base in the country (ibid.), the leader of a rebel ethnic Albanian group in Kondovo, Macedonia, Agim Krasniqi, denied such a presence in Macedonia (Gazeta Shqiptare 10 Aug. 2005). Krasniqi was reported to have led a group of armed men in a shoot-out with police outside Skopje on 5 June 2005, although no one was injured in the attack (RFE/RL 8 June 2005). Krasniqi allegedly occupied Kondovo for several weeks near the end of 2004, before disarming following negotiations with two major ethnic Albanian parties (ibid.). However, these reports could not be corroborated by the Research Directorate within time constraints.

In August 2005, Dow Jones noted the arrest by Macedonian law enforcement officers of two ethnic Albanians accused of planning a dynamite attack against a police station in an ethnic Albanian neighbourhood of Skopje (Dow Jones 17 Aug. 2005). Dow Jones did not indicate whether the accused belonged to an organized group, but did report that the incident did not result in any casualties (ibid.).

Security Situation

By not completely disarming elements of the ethnic Albanian community three years after the armed conflicts in 2001, human rights groups claimed, the government was "contributing to a worsening of the security situation in areas populated predominantly by Albanians" (HRW 13 Jan. 2005; see also MHC 2004). Further and more recent references to specific extremist ethnic Albanian groups operating in Macedonia could not be found by the Research Directorate within time constraints.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 14 July 2004. "Albanian Extremist Gets 18-Month Jail Term." (Dialog)
_____. 17 September 2002. "Assassination Bid on Macedonia Minister." (Factiva)
_____. 13 December 2001. "Ethnic Albanian Villagers Block Return of Macedonian Police." (Factiva)

Albanian TV [Tirana, in Albanian]. 14 July 2004. "Albanian Court Sentences Nationalist Leader for Ethnic Incitement." (Dialog/BBC International)

Amnesty International (AI). 2005. "Macedonia." Amnesty International Report 2005. [Accessed 18 Dec. 2005]

Associated Press (AP). 22 December 2004. "Albanian Extremist Politician Cleared of Ethnic Hatred Charges." (Dialog)
_____. 16 August 2004. "Albanian Politician Convicted of Inciting Ethnic Hatred in Macedonia is Released." (Dialog)
_____. 30 June 2004. "Trial Begins for Albanian Politician Accused of Inciting Ethnic Hatred in Macedonia." (Dialog)
_____. 18 February 2003. "Bombing Suspect in Macedonia Charged with Terrorism." (Factiva)
_____. 17 September 2002. "Shootout Foiled Assassination Plot." (Factiva)

Dan [Podgorica, in Serbian]. 14 January 2004. D.P. "Albanians Forming Units in Montenegro, Planning Muslim State in Balkans." (Dialog/BBC International)

Dow Jones International News. 17 August 2005. "Two Ethnic Albanians Arrested over Bombing in Macedonia." (Factiva)

The Europa World Year Book 2005. 2005. Vol. II. "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." London: Routledge.

Extremist Groups: An International Compilation of Terrorist Organizations, Violent Political Groups and Issue-Oriented Militant Movement. 2002. Sean D. Hill et al. "National Liberation Army." Huntsville, Texas: Office of International Criminal Justice (OICJ) and Institute for the Study of Violent Groups.

Gazeta Squiptare [Tirana, in Albanian]. 10 August 2005. "Ethnic Albanian Rebel Leader in Macedonia Denies Presence of Islamic Extremists." (Factiva/BBC Monitoring)

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 13 January 2005. "Macedonia." World Report 2005. [Accessed 17 Dec. 2005]

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia. 2004. Report of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia on the Human Rights Situation in 2004. [Accessed 17 Dec. 2005]

Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) [Skopje]. 16 February 2003. "Albanian National Army Claims Responsibility for Courthouse Blast in Macedonia." (Factiva/BBC Monitoring)
_____. 17 September 2002. "Macedonian Interior Ministry Spokesman Views Elections, Attempt Against Minister." (Factiva/BBC Monitoring)

National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) [Oklahoma City, OK]. 22 September 2005. "Albanian National Army (ANA)." [Accessed 6 Jan. 2006]
_____. N.d. "About MIPT." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2006]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 8 June 2005. Vol. 9, No. 108, Part II. "Another Armed Incident Outside Macedonian Capital." (RFE/RL Newsline)
_____. 13 December 2004. Vol. 8, No. 232, Part II. "Albanian Authorities Reportedly Place Extremist under House Arrest." (RFE/RL Newsline)

Srpska Republika News Agency (SRNA) [Bijeljina, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian]. 18 February 2003. "Macedonian Police Detain One Suspect in Struga Courthouse Blast."

United States (US). 14 November 2003. Department of State. "Status of Albanian National Army (Taken Question)." [Accessed 6 Jan. 2006]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia did not respond to requests for information within time constraints.

Internet Sites, including: Courrier des Balkans [Arcueil, France], European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), European Union (EU) Enlargement Report, Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), International Crisis Group (ICG), International Helsinki Federation (IHF), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), United States Department of State.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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