Home inContext Kosovo Busts Plot to Attack Israeli Soccer Team

Kosovo Busts Plot to Attack Israeli Soccer Team

Michael Johnson
Albanian special police guarded the hotel where Israel's national soccer team. (Photo: AP)

Police in Kosovo announced this week they arrested 19 suspected terrorists for planning an attack on the Israeli national soccer team at World Cup qualifier in Albania last Saturday and other targets in Kosovo. Authorities say the group’s ringleaders had traveled Syria to join Islamic State.

During a November 4 raid at the suspect’s homes, officers uncovered explosives, small arms, and even a drone, along with “religious material and literature from well-known authors recognised for their extremist ideology.” Police said the plot was in the final stages of planning with the extremists planning to attack multiple targets simultaneously. Two other countries also took part in raids against Islamic State sympathizers connected with the plot. Albania and Macedonia detained six people.

Authorities also changed the venue for a game, moving it closet to the Albanian capital, Tirana, and away from the Macedonian border. Albanian special police, equipped with body armor and sub-machine guns, were also deployed to guard the Israeli soccer team’s hotel.

This weeks’ foiled attacks mirror another bombing against a group of Israeli civilians visiting Eastern Europe. In 2012, a terrorist working for Hezbollah killed five Israelis and injured more than 30 other people, after setting off a suicide bomb on a tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria.