Overview: Counterterrorism efforts in Macedonia include the passing of a law criminalizing fighting for, aiding, or abetting foreign terrorist groups. Dozens of Macedonian citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq as foreign terrorist fighters in recent years, although there are indications that the foreign terrorist fighter law passed in September 2014 may be having some deterrent effect.
Macedonia is a member of the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Macedonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that UN Security Council Resolution 2178 has been provided to all relevant government ministries for implementation. Completed or ongoing actions that further the resolution's objectives include the passage of Macedonia's revised foreign terrorist fighter law, the government's hosting of a conference for European law enforcement and intelligence officials to discuss addressing the foreign terrorist fighters threat, the creation of an interagency foreign terrorist fighters-focused body, and the development of a counterterrorism action plan.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: There were no major terrorist incidents in Macedonia. A government building housing the Prime Minister's office was damaged in the middle of the night on October 28 by unknown perpetrators. Although no one was injured, two rounds, possibly rocket-propelled grenades, were fired at the empty and closed building. According to a letter published in local media, a group calling itself the "National Liberation Army" (NLA) claimed responsibility for the attack. Some analysts dismissed the letter as not credible because it was released almost one week after the attack and did not make any demands. A letter, allegedly from the same group, also claimed NLA responsibility for two minor explosions outside police stations in Tetovo and Kumanovo on December 9.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Macedonia's criminal code, criminal procedure code, and law on prevention of money laundering and terrorist finance contain comprehensive counterterrorism provisions. Domestic and international acts of terror are proscribed, and in September, the country's counterterrorism law was modified to include a provision criminalizing participating in a conflict outside Macedonia's borders as a foreign terrorist fighter.
The U.S. government is engaged in numerous efforts to strengthen criminal justice institutions and promote the rule of law. These include a number of Department of State-funded assistance projects that focus on the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) Public Security Bureau, as well as justice sector projects that support the implementation of the recently adopted Criminal Procedure Code.
Macedonia's security sector is well equipped and disposed to deal effectively with terrorism within its borders. Primary responsibility for detecting and investigating terrorism falls to the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence within the MOI. Interdiction and arrest capabilities lie primarily with the Special Units, namely the Rapid Deployment Unit and the Special Task Unit, also within the MOI. The "Alpha" units of the Skopje Police Department (also MOI) respond to kinetic activity within Skopje (approximately half of Macedonia's citizens live in Skopje); however, this unit is also deployed outside of Skopje. Since all of these entities are within the MOI, there are generally no problems in coordination among them.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Macedonia is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and has completed its fourth evaluation. Macedonia is also a member of the Egmont Group, a global association of financial intelligence units.
Macedonia is not an offshore financial center, and the Law on Banks does not allow the existence of shell banks in Macedonia. Banks do not allow opening of anonymous bank accounts and bearer shares are not permitted.
With the latest changes to the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism law from September 2014, non-profit organizations were taken off the list of obliged reporting entities.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Macedonia is an enthusiastic counterterrorism partner both regionally and internationally, although Greece's unwillingness to recognize Macedonia's name sometimes limits Macedonia's ability to fully participate in multilateral fora. Foreign Minister Poposki participated in the Foreign Terrorist Fighters roundtable for Balkan countries hosted by the State Department on the margins of the UNGA. In October, Macedonia hosted a regional conference for European law enforcement and intelligence officials to discuss counterterrorism and foreign terrorist fighter issues.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Macedonian government is developing a formal strategy to counter violent extremism (CVE) and has appointed a national CVE coordinator. There have been no significant efforts by the Macedonian government to create strategic communication or counter narratives, and there are no existing programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate terrorists into mainstream society.
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