On Thursday, Kosovo police revealed that they had thwarted multiple Islamic State terror attacks, including an attempt on the Israeli national team during a World Cup qualifying match in Albania.
Police acted in cooperation with the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (KIA) to detain 19 people in the week leading up to the match. 18 were citizens of Kosovo, while the other was from Macedonia. The suspects were allegedly plotting simultaneous attacks across the Balkans, including last Saturday’s football match between Israel and Albania. They had received orders from Lavdrim Muhaxheri, the self-declared “commander of Albanians in Syria and Iraq.”
According to a police statement, raids took place at suspects’ homes yielded “281 grams of explosives of the type TATP, considered to be one of the most dangerous explosives, as well as about 2.5 kg of substance mixed with explosives; a semi-automatic rifle caliber 7.62mm; a hunting rifle; ammunition; 719 bullets of different calibers; a drone; a radio; cordless phones; some materials and religious literature from authors notorious for their extremist ideology.”
Prior to the contest, Israel had publicly shown concern for the security of their players in Albania. The match was eventually relocated from a city near the border with Montenegro, to Elbasan nearer the capital. The match took place as scheduled and resulted in a 3-0 victory for Israel.