Comment: This is to be seen against the background of the revival of the Hanjar (13th Waffen SS) Division in Bosnia, the growth of the Nazi Bosniak Union in that same state, and the resurrection of fascist fighting formations in Kosovo.
“Saudi Arabia is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.
According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.
Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans.
Government sources in traditionally secular Macedonia (official title the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), said they were monitoring up to 50 Al-Qaeda volunteers recruited to fight in Afghanistan.
Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that Macedonian officials are also investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.
One of the groups under scrutiny is the International Islamic Relief Organisation from Saudi Arabia, which is on a United Nations blacklist of organisations backing terrorism. It did not respond to inquiries, but has previously denied involvement in terrorist activities, calling such claims “totally unfounded”.
According to its website, it works in 32 countries to provide relief to the victims of natural disasters and to carry out humanitarian, health and educational projects.
“Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a government source. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.” . . .