Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Why Kosovo is taking back more IS returnees than any other country in Europe | DW News

Why Kosovo is taking back more IS returnees than any other country in Europe | DW News


Up until about half a year ago, Ana was still
living with the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria. And although she is now back home
in Kosovo, Ana insists on wearing her niqab, or full-body veil. While 90 percent of the population in Kosovo
are Sunni Muslim, few women wear the niqab. Most people here practise a more liberal form
of Islam. Anytime I go outside they look at us like
a UFO. Aliens. For me it is not a problem. But it’s normal for them because in this time
when they see so much (unintelligible) I can see it’s bizarre for them to see us like this.
But for me it’s not a problem… Ana stayed until IS lost its last holdout,
Baghouz, in a military strike. With approval from federal authorities, we
meet Ana at a lake outside Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. Like all returnees, she lives under house
arrest — awaiting trial. Ana is the first Kosovo returnee to speak
on-camera about her experience. We wanted to know what she thought about the
beheadings and other reported crimes against humanity committed in the name of the Islamic
State, but Ana avoided our questions and focused instead on her own suffering. But the airstrikes, when they came, they just
bombed a house, you know, a big building. There were kids (there), there were women,
mothers, everything in it. At the Pristina airport, one night in April,
Europe’s youngest country — and one of its poorest – brought 32 women, 74 children
and four male fighters back home. All of them had been imprisoned in Kurdish
camps in Northern Syria after the military defeat of the Islamic State. The operation was a strategic move for the
Kosovar government. And was based on the belief that back home,
under official observation, the returnees pose less of a security risk than if they
remained abroad. The aim is to reintegrate all of them into
society. Including the men, who were sent to prison right away. Meanwhile, the authorities are closely monitoring
the women and children, and offering them counselling. We didn’t see any resistance from them to
be part of our programmes. and maybe this also is due to the fact that they know, that
it was Kosovo authorities who took the decision to repatriate them to Kosovo. Otherwise they
would have remained in the conflict zone. The Kosovar approach is unique – no other
European government has undertaken similar steps. Rich Western democracies such as Germany,
France and Britain have so far rejected any organized return of their citizens who joined
the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The fear of not being able to control the
returnees appears to be too great. Ana tells us she didn’t know what she was
getting herself into when she followed her husband to Syria in 2014. I was going go somewhere else with my husband.
And I didn’t know that I’m going there. My husband prepared everything to go there but
he didn’t tell me. Suddenly I found myself in Syria. After her husband died in battle, she married
another fighter whose fate remains unclear. Early this year, after the military defeat
of the Islamic State, Ana surrendered. Like thousands of others, she ended up in
the Al Hol refugee camp. ‘A living hell,’ she says. Ana cannot understand why other European countries
are refusing to take their citizens back. Because we are human, we are people. If someone
will do a mistake one time, we shouldn’t just leave them like that. The women, they are
so sensitive. The kids: what is their fault, you know? So we should help them. Friday prayer in a mosque in central Pristina. After the ethnic wars of the 1990s, religious
organizations and charities from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states had a growing influence
in Kosovo. With them came a much more conservative school
of Islam. One that taught the supremacy of the Sharia law and ideas of violent jihad. More than 400 young Kosovars joined extremist
groups in Syria and Iraq between 2012 and 2017. The highest rate per head in Europe. The Authorities are convinced that the Saudi
influence was the driving force behind their radicalization. I believe that the idea of the NGOs and the
extremists that brought ideology here, was to change the very core value of the society,
to introduce political Islam in Kosovo and also to establish a network that one day they
may have also political power and become a political factor. The Iman of this mosque in central Pristina
– which itself is considered to be rather conservative – points to other reasons: In our country, many young people didn’t
have any future perspectives in the last 20 years. The main reasons are: Poor economic
situation, the social state of the country, lack of prospects. But we should not deny
the role Youtube played in radicalisation. I would like to point out that these people
have not been radicalised by their religious representatives. We are on our way to another of the 32 female
returnees. Vlora agreed to an interview only on the condition
of total anonymity. We are not allowed to show where and how she
lives. Her first two husbands are dead, the third
imprisoned in a camp. Like Ana, Vlora spent several years in Syria. I was very young. I didn’t think, I just
followed my husband. Ich expected something totally different in life. That is why I feel
betrayed. It was a mistake. War is not a place for women
and children. War is bad for everyone. I would never go there again. So far, Vlora doesn’t have any concrete
plans for the future. Just hopes. I want to live as a free person, integrated
into society. I hope that the people will accept me as I am – even with my hijab. Vlora, Ana and the other women – psychiatrist
Valbona Tafilaj knwows them all. The psychiatrist is in charge of the government’s
rehabilitation and reintegration programme for the female returnees and their children. Due to doctor-patient-confidentiality Tafilaj
won’t say whether she thinks some of the women might possibly be dangerous. She and
her team talk to the returnees on a regular basis — in the clinic and in their homes. All the children and women who returned from
Syria were traumatized. They came back from a war zone, where they witnessed cruel crimes
and heavy bombing – which has led to trauma and post traumatic stress disease. There have been a number of activities specially
designed to help the children cope with what they have been through. Young, innocent victims of a war their parents
dragged them into. Back in a safe environment, they can finally
play like other children. The older kids just started regular school
after the summer holidays. It is too early to talk about greater improvements,
but we are seeing some progress back to a normal life in Kosovo. Kacanik. About 50 kilometres
south of Pristina. The small town of about 10,000 inhabitants
at the border to Macedonia was considered one of the hotbeds of radicalization. About two dozen people are said to have left
for the war zones in Syria and Iraq from Kacanik and the surrounding area alone. On the streets, people seem supportive of
taking them back. They have made mistakes. We have
to help them reintegrate into our society. They are our people.
It was a good decision to bring them back, I support this initiative. These people
shouldn’t have gone to Syria. We are in Kosovo, on the Balkans, we don’t need wars.
We have been through war ourselves. I don’t think these people have
come back to do harm here – like they did there. That is why we should not exclude them. Ana wants to leave the past behind. She says she feels accepted by her family
and neighborhood. No one talks to her about her time in Syria. Ana is still making sense of why she is under
house arrest. We came from a war place. It is very normal
they are investigating us. But in the end they will understand that we don’t have any
fault. We didn’t do nothing. Maybe our mistake is that we were there, we lived there. Ana is still convinced that she didn’t do
anything wrong. But ultimately, that’s up to Kosovo’s
authorities to decide.

24 comments on “Why Kosovo is taking back more IS returnees than any other country in Europe | DW News

  1. @6:50
    Why fail this hard at a translation? Even I who doesn't speak the language knows she is saying Niqab and not Hijab.
    It's quite the difference, since people in Kosovo wouldn't even blink if she used the Hijab. So it doesn't even work with anything she is saying.

  2. Counseling? Bwahaha. Didn’t know what she was getting into. If you believe that I have a bridge in New York I would like to sell you.

  3. Your mistake was supporting a regime that committed genocide. Being a terrorist who would not being allowing the same thing things that has happened to you to the rest of us, you would murder us. You must understand that you are a terrorist and must beg forgiveness with your actions from now on, denying your own sins against humanity makes you look so guilty.

  4. „If someone made mistakes we should not leave them like that“
    What about countless people who died becouse of those mistakes ?

  5. A very difficult but important topic.
    Thank you Kosovo for taking the lead on behalf of all of Europe. VERY courageous for such a small country.

  6. This is not a big problem in Kosovo, the real problems are unemployment, corruption, political crisis,etc…
    Religion is a problem in the Middle East…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *