“I feel very sad, as if they were my kids,” he said.
Iraq and Syria are holy lands, “blessed lands,” and the fighters think if they will go there and die, they will become heroes, he said.
“I ask you to forgive me, I choose this path alone, no one imposed it on me,” he wrote on the last night of Ramadan in August 2013.
“I know that you won’t be happy about this, but you can only find happiness with Allah!
“He’s dead to me.” Lika worries that more youths from Kaçanik will join ISIL.
He recently told his teenage cousin to stop going to the mosque to avoid being brainwashed by those drawn to the group.
“But after a couple of months, we saw that in Syria, nobody knows who fights against whom, and unfortunately many of them take part in different kinds of terrorist organizations.” Many here see youth unemployment, which is about 70 percent, as one of the major factors motivating young Kosovars to fight abroad. Rexhepi said the Kosovo Assembly is likely to soon pass a law prohibiting Kosovar citizens from joining foreign armed conflicts. Since gaining independence from Serbia in February 2008, Kosovo has received assistance from international organizations and cooperated with the FBI and with Interpol to gather intelligence on fighters and recruiters in Kosovo. Photos and slick videos showing ISIL fighters from around the world urging their countrymen to join them in Syria abound on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.
Like other nations that are seeing a rise in fighters, Kosovo is ramping up efforts to intercept citizens preparing to fight abroad for ISIL and other groups such as Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda. 11, after months of investigation, the Kosovo police arrested 43 suspected ISIL members. “Social media is the perfect tool to spread terror, and it’s really terror,” said Hoxha, referring to videos showing ISIL fighters shooting and beheading people.He had become a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Qaeda splinter group that has seized control of much of northern Iraq and eastern Syria.It is believed he was the first suicide bomber from the Balkans.“We know that he joined [ISIL],” said Suad Sadulahi, Abazi-Zena’s cousin, because of photos of Erion that have been circulating on the Internet showing him surrounded with ISIL flags and fighters.(Arben Zena does not appear in any of the photos.) “Never in a million years did she think that he would do that,” Sadulahi said of Arben’s decision to go to Syria with their son.After the service, a diverse group of men streamed out of the mosque — from clean-shaven teenagers clad in baggy jeans and T-shirts to elderly men wearing plis, the traditional white hats worn by Albanian men throughout the Balkans.