Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Kosovo

The UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) administered Kosovo under the authority of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1244 of 1999 until June 15, when Kosovo's constitution came into effect. With the promulgation of the Kosovo constitution in June, the Kosovo Government assumed growing responsibility for the country's civil administration and law enforcement, including counterterrorism. The EU's Rule-of-Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) started operating on December 9 and replaced UNMIK Police throughout the country. EULEX's primary role is to provide advice and mentoring to Kosovo rule-of-law institutions.

The Kosovo government and UNMIK continued to monitor suspected terrorist activity throughout the year. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) suspected that a few of the more than 1,000 NGOs operating in Kosovo were involved in suspicious activities and sought to prevent extremists from using non-governmental organizations to gain a foothold in Kosovo. Some NGOs used public facilities for religious gatherings but Kosovo authorities and municipalities attempted to prevent misuse of facilities for events that had no consent from the relevant religious community.

The Kosovo Police (KP) and UNMIK Police Counterterrorism Units (CTUs) were primarily responsible for Kosovo's counterterrorism efforts but were small and lacked resources. In December, the UNMIK CTU transferred its responsibilities to EULEX. Prior to that, the UNMIK Police CTU monitored, mentored, and advised its KP CTU counterparts. While UNMIK possessed executive authority over the KP, in practice it was not exercised. The KP and UNMIK received information and analysis support from the UNMIK Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) and the KP CTU's intelligence, surveillance, and investigations units. The KP CTU, currently manned at half its intended strength, continued to focus on building up its unit, training and equipping its officers, and collecting information on potential terrorist threats.

Porous boundaries that were easily crossed by individuals trafficking in persons, weapons, and narcotics hampered Kosovo's counterterrorism efforts. Traffickers took advantage of numerous roads and trails leading into Kosovo that lacked border controls. Poorly paid border and customs officials were susceptible to corruption. The lack of full customs enforcement on two northern posts along the Kosovo-Serbia border hampered counterterrorism efforts further. These two posts were destroyed by Serb hardliners following Kosovo's February 17 independence declaration. For security reasons, UNMIK and EULEX have not acted to re-establish customs enforcement at these posts.

The Kosovo Police with UNMIK's Department of Justice continued its Witness Protection Task Force to ensure that witness intimidation did not resurface as a problem in other areas. The Task Force completed constructing its safe house, encouraged the use of video conferencing equipment in Kosovo's district courts, and increased its efforts to secure relocation agreements with other jurisdictions.

One incident of suspected terrorism occurred during the year. On November 14, an explosive device detonated in front of the headquarters of the International Civilian Organization (ICO), the institution charged with supervising Kosovo's independence. There were no injuries. Kosovo Police continued to investigate the incident at year's end. There was one unverified claim of responsibility from a previously unknown group, but Kosovo authorities had insufficient evidence to bring charges against any perpetrators.

The UNMIK Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted additional terrorism investigations independent of Kosovo authorities. During the year, the UNMIK DOJ obtained two terrorism-related convictions. International prosecutors and the Kosovo Special Prosecutor's Office (KSPO) also initiated four terrorism-related investigations. One trial, handled by the KSPO before a panel of local judges, and two cases handled by International Prosecutors were pending trial at year's end. The Government of Kosovo with UNMIK DOJ made no indictments in terrorism cases during 2008.

The Albanian National Army (AKSH), which UNMIK designated as a terrorist organization in 2003, continued to intimidate Kosovo citizens. On January 26, three men were arrested for shooting at a KP police officer in Pristina. After their arrest, the three claimed AKSH membership, as did a fourth, who was arrested on April 25. In a separate incident on September 17 in the town of Vushtrri/Vucitrn, a bus carrying people to work at the KEK Power Plant was stopped at a "checkpoint" manned by 12 to 13 men wearing AKSH insignia and carrying weapons. The men examined the identification of all present and then released the workers. The case remained under investigation at year's end with no arrests made.


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