Islamic State touts jihadists from the Balkans

An Islamic State video that highlights fighters from the Balkans who serve in its ranks.

The Islamic State released a new English-language video that focuses on jihadists from the Balkans who are fighting in Iraq and Syria. Jihadists from Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo, as well as some of their families, are featured in the propaganda film.

The presence of Balkan fighters in Syria has been recorded since 2013. They have joined both al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State.

The new video, which was released by Al Hayat Media, begins with an unidentified narrator who seems to be the same one that was featured in the infamous “Flames of War” propaganda film released last year. The narrator gives a brief overview of the history of the Balkans. After this, several fighters appear on the screen in which the narrator says, “The ranks of the Khilafah [caliphate] that are blessed with muhajireen (immigrants) from around the world, are bolstered by our brothers from the Balkans.” The title of the video, “Honor is in Jihad,” is then seen as the narrator explains how these fighters will bring the Balkans “out of darkness and into the light.”

A fighter identified as “Abu Jihad al Bosni” then speaks to the camera. “We also want either with good deeds, or by force, to bring our people out from the darkness and into the light,” he says. Other fighters discuss how jihadists from the Balkans should travel to Syria and join the Islamic State.

Another fighter, identified as “Salahuddin al Bosni,” says to the camera, “Many of you back there are always complaining…Well here is your chance now. Make hijrah (migration). If it is that hard for you and you want it so much, then make Hijrah.”

In the video, the Islamic State also presents its version of what happened during the UN and NATO intervention in Bosnia in the early 1990’s. The narrator claims that after the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina was accepted into the UN, Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic, who were both charged with war crimes, “led the onslaught of the kuffar (unbelievers).” The narrator then accuses the “Crusaders,” referring to the UN and NATO forces, of attempting to “eradicate” Islam from the Balkans and of killing “thousands upon thousands” of Muslims. Another Bosnian fighter appears on screen to elaborate on this story before the narrator exclaims that the Bosnian mujahideen and foreign fighters were able to “repel the Crusaders.”

A  fighter identified as Abu Muhammad al Bosni then tries to incite Bosnian Muslims into fighting the Bosnian government. “If you as a people, as a big group, stand against that filthy government, you can crush them.” An Albanian fighter appears with his wife and child and they walk through Islamic State-held territory while telling other Albanians to “come taste the sweetness of faith in the Khilafa.”

A Kosovar fighter threatens the governments of Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia, saying that “black days are coming to you.”

“You will be terrorized,” he continues, “We will put fear in you…We will do to you what we have done to the Rawafid (rejectors) in Iraq.” The video then ends with an elderly Bosnian fighter again calling on other Balkan fighters to join the Islamic State.

The Islamic State routinely issues videos focusing on a particular nationality or nationalities in an attempt to recruit more fighters or to show its international reach. Just two days ago, the Islamic State released a video highlighting an 80-year old Chinese Uighur fighter within its ranks. Another recent video showed Algerian fighters in Damascus congratulating an Algerian group on pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and calling on more to do so. A video released last week showed the commander of Tajikistan’s elite police force who defected to the jihadist group.

The Islamic State has produced similar videos for fighters from Somalia, Yemen, France, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mali, Libya, Tunisia, and many other countries. Additionally, the group also regularly showcases foreign suicide bombers conducting attacks in Syria and Iraq. For instance, two French suicide bombers were used in an assault on Haditha, while many foreign suicide bombers were used in Ramadi.  The new video featuring the Balkan fighters is just the latest propaganda effort by the Islamic State to highlight its many foreign fighters and incite others to join it.

Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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  • Birbal Dhar says:

    The scene of the battles on the video comes from a Turkish film call Fetih 1453

  • James says:

    Make it loud and clear to both them and the world as a whole, if they nuke US, we will nuke them in return, beginning with Raqqah, Syria and possibly also Dabiq, Syria.

  • James says:

    I say nuke them. What else can be done? If we don’t nuke them, someone else will have to (hopefully, before they nuke US and/or them). This is a war by them against civilization. This is a war against our right to exist. Who will have the courage to nuke this filth (beginning with Raqqa and/or Dabiq) out of existence. Will it take Israel? Will it take Putin? Will it take Beijing? Will it take Great Britain and/or France? Will it take India? Or, are we going to show the courage and take the lead to do what absolutely needs to be done.

    • irebukeu says:

      As to the question ‘who will have the courage?’ (to drop a nuclear weapon on Raqqa). Only a monster would have the courage to drop a nuclear weapon on Raqqa. This is why Ronald Reagan wanted a nuclear free planet.
      “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in … … nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”
      Two statements and a question spoken by Ronald Reagan in 1984. The answer to Reagans question is an obvious no, but he was dead right about the second statement

      As to the question ‘what else can be done?’ Well, Raqqa is in Syria, the leader of which is Bashar al Assad, who so it happens is fighting a civil war against radical islamic militants who have taken advantage of the help being offered them by the Saudis, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, UAE and openly by the American government to destabilize Syria. This intervention in Syria’s affairs, this support for destabilization, has created a vacuum of power which the islamic state filled quickly, inflicting itself on the Syrian people in Raqqa with its headquarters.
      That is the first thing to be done before resorting to nuclear weapons., IMO.

      Instead of dropping American nuclear weapons to kill tens of thousands of women and children and elderly, along with a only few fighters while at the same time contaminating the entire Euphrates river, potentially giving cancer to millions who would drink from that river, I have an idea. How bout the US government stops intervening in the interior business of Syria. How about we stop trying to destabilize Syria and let that government re-establish SYRIAN government authority over Syria. saving the lives of tens of thousands of women, children and elderly.

      Its just a thought.

      • James says:

        Your statement just amazes me. A$$ad is a tyrant, plain pure and simple as that. You see, the current sorry state of Syria is because of people that think similar to you. Had we helped the Syrian moderates (when there were Syrian moderates) in a timely manner (and, had we left just a residual force in Iraq) this sorry situation the Syrian people now find themselves in would have never developed.

        Aren’t you the one that said ‘there’s no one to declare war on’? Well, the US Constitution quite clearly states that Congress shall have power to declare war (it doesn’t have to be ‘on’ anybody or anything).

        As far as your claim about so-called ‘innocents’ being in Raqqa, that is just another piece of crap and propaganda. If there were any [so-called] ‘moderates’ in Raqqa, they have either left or are all dead now.

        I’ve read your other comments. You sound like the Geraldine Ferraro ‘there’s always a way to negotiate your way out of a conflict’ type. Well, irebukeu, head on over there. Let’s see you do it. I dare you to. I’m sure that bedridden closet-case baathist baghdoggy and his ilk will find some use for you (like they did James Foley and ‘Johny Can’t Lie’, etc.).

        • irebukeu says:

          OK James Here is my reply. Sorry for the length.
          First, I’d like to avoid ad hominem in our discussion if we are to have one, either in making them or in responding to them. I find it very unbecoming of adults to act like children, Especially as I am raising a child to act like an adult. We must set good examples. The only good use of ad hominem is when someone uses ‘argument from authority’

          In the first paragraph you state that ‘A$$ad is a tyrant, plain pure and simple as that.’
          I’m not sure why the dollar signs but, OK. I mentioned him only because he is the leader of the nation you want to drop nuclear weapons upon. In a more recent comment to another article you spread that fan of nuclear death across almost the entire region.
          I will agree that Assad is a tyrant who dominates the Sunni population with somewhat of an Iron fist. I will agree that it is simple, pure and plain.
          His father was a butcher as well but would pale in comparison to the man or woman that would have the “courage” to drop nuclear weapons on ar Raqqa or across the entire region.
          You are calling for more barbarism in the form of nuclear death than both of the assads were capable of together and yet call him the tyrant. OK.
          You then make a statement with two points ,(skipping the ad hominem) you say –
          ‘Had we helped the Syrian moderates (when there were Syrian moderates) in a timely manner (and, had we left just a residual force in Iraq) this sorry situation the Syrian people now find themselves in would have never developed.’
          I see that James, as a faith based claim as there is no evidence to support any of that postulation. If you have evidence to support that claim please present it. Iraq is the perfect example. Will you admit that we were in Iraq with troops BEFORE the insurgency started up in 2004 and that we DID support MODERATES ( not jihadist moderates mind you-as they don’t exist) in Iraq BEFORE the insurgency started up in 2004 ? Yet the al qaeda came. They killed many of the 4500 Americans lost and some 300,000 wounded depending how you count wounded. They came and now dominate the sunni heartland and yet we were supporting moderates before they arrived.

          Lets evaluate the strength of these people or groups that you say are moderates that should have been supported.
          Could you name any of these groups, who they are or what became of them? I assume it was a couple of loser groups in the FSA (FSA being an umbrella name for multitudes of actual groups). Please correct me if I am wrong. You imply they don’t exist any longer. It would be fun to have a discussion about these groups starting with the names of the groups. The groups never seemed to have names and always seemed very ethereal. details were lacking. They would refer to them as “moderates” just as you did and for the same reason ( to claim we should have supported them). I think the northern storm front was one. Take some mystery away from the subject James and lets talk about those groups first by the very names of the groups. If you only respond to one thing make it this one please. harakat al hazm ( movement of steadfastness) isn’t one of them as this was a late group and no early group.
          If you can’t do any of that at least tell us when the moderates stopped existing as it appears you implied?

          You quote me in the second paragraph using the words Aren’t you the one that said ‘there’s no one to declare war on’? I certainly don’t recall using those words and you are using quotations marks to ask if I used those words so I will answer ‘NO’ I did not say that. NEVER SAID THAT.
          Perhaps you can provide something to help remind me (like the link where I said it). If you can locate that remark I can read the comments again and will retract my denial. Good luck. The quote does not exist.

          Congress certainly authorized the use of force against a group of unnamed individuals that attacked us on Sept 11, so it would seem very, very odd for me to say “there is no one to declare war on”
          I did however ask the question of someone (someone named AZ) who asked when we were going to declare war, here on the LWJ, I asked them the questions “declare war on who? Then do what?” you James, came along later and said my comment amazed you. I thanked you for the comment and I asked you the same question in my response to you. There was no reply.
          The people that want war and want it declared never seem to state how that declaration should be phrased or even who should be declared upon. the posts I just mentioned are perfect examples of them. Ill ask you again here James
          Declare war on who?- as in what would this so called declaration declare? I hate to ask this of you but could you perhaps provide a paragraph about how this declaration might be phrased. I’d be very interested to see what the material effect of this declaration would be. In your earlier comment and yet again you seem to say congress has the power and should declare war, but not against anyone. Just for the sake of being at war.
          Then do what? as in What would be the next action. I jokingly asked you James if
          “After we declare war on whoever, should we issue ration cards or induction notices?”

          Im not joking now. What should happen to the average 18 year old boy and girl in this nation after such a declaration takes place?
          Should I sort my tin pots for boy scouts to collect?
          Will I be able to buy tires for my car?
          How many pounds of flour will the government allow me to buy each month considering I have a family of three?
          Will I be free to post like I am now James, expressing my opinion and concerns about current events and the future course of the nation of my birth or would I come under some new sedition act? What would be the penalty James for being against your invocations as I appear to be?.
          What happens to Obamacare ( I couldn’t resist)?

          You comment about a residual force in Iraq. The deal to leave was already signed and in place when Bush left office. Obamas hands were pretty much tied and he had almost zero leverage. Iraq was happy to have some Americans to stay behind so that they could give fight to the ISI but only if the Americans came under IRAQI law. It was a sticking point and Iraq would not budge. Iran was willing to step into the security picture replacing America. They (Iran-Iraq) signed security agreements in 2005. Iran is already there. We left and they stepped in. If you are ok with an American president putting troops under Iraqi law then you are right to speak as you speak. but you should at the same time declare your comfort with Iraqis deciding the fate of American soldiers accused of crimes by Iraqi civilians police and soldiers.
          James. Are you Ok with Iraqis deciding the fate of American soldiers sent by the American government. If you are don’t cry about what happens the next time a koran shows up burned in a trash pile outside a US base. As for myself I wish to see NO US TROOPS EVER UNDER THE LAW OF ANOTHER NATION WHILE IN COMBAT.
          The rest of your post seems to be all ad hominem so I will wrap up my reply to your comment. I will for a few days James, look for a response. I look forward to a more pleasant conversation in the future, on points of disagreement.

          Below is a link to my. comment I made that I think you have mis-remembered

 link to LWJ article.

      • James says:

        And oh, irebukeu, (I almost forgot to add), concerning those quotes you claim were made by Reagan, do you have any citations (or other proof) to back those up?

        • irebukeu says:

          Jame,s I will respond to your above first comment in greater detail as time allows. please give me a day or two.
          This second comment was pretty easy to respond to before work.
          I have no idea how old you are, if you remember Reagan or saw him make the remarks. I watched him say the actual words on the Tele. Perhaps you were not interested in this stuff before a certain date, were working that day or whatever, I don’t know
          Here is a more complete paragraph from his speech

          ‘People of the Soviet Union, there is only one sane policy, for your country and mine, to preserve our civilization in this modern age: A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?’
          The speech was his 1984 state of the union address. Im sure you have heard or seen clips from them A link is provided below. in case you want to hear him, a youtube link is provided below.
          look for my response to the first comment in a day or two.
          Cheers mate!

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Abu Muqatil Al-Kosovi is Ridvan Haqifi, born in 1990 from a village in Kosovo.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Good stuff!
    Interesting article outlining the amount of US equipment IS captured in Iraq.

    However, the author’s claim that 1000 IS troops took Mosul and 400 took Ramadi is not credible. IS success points to much larger numbers. I do believe that the foreign elements (Balkans, Chechnya, Central Asian countries) are a force multiplier in this theater. They definitely have enough ordinance to create havoc for a long time.

    • James says:

      From the article you cited:

      “The return on these training investments? The Iraqi army had 30,000 soldiers in Mosul, who ran away in the face of about 1,000 Islamic State fighters. The same thing happened just a few weeks ago in Ramadi, where 10,000 Iraqi soldiers, collapsing faster than a cardboard box in the rain, fled ahead of only 400 Islamic State fighters. The Iraqis left behind more weapons.”

      Are you naive enough to believe that garbage put out by this Reuters reporter Peter van Buren? The only ones who ‘lack the will to fight’ are people like this guy and Ashton Carter. Do you consider yourself among them? There’s no way in the world a group that size could subjugate and control a city that size with a force that small.

      There should be hearings held. Ashton Carter should be held to answer as to why the Iraqis weren’t supplied with antitank weapons and/or spotters which would have easily prevented this problem from occurring.

      It’s should be plain and obvious to anyone but a fool that this Reuter’s reporter Peter van Buren doesn’t have any idea what the hell he is talking about.

      And to think that he is just the type that would be whining “WAAA. Why didn’t the government do something? WAAA” while those ISIS thugs are sawing his head off.

      They have managed to put together a propaganda machine the likes of which Goebbels would envy. But oh, I guess they’ve got plenty of pusillanimous box cutter boys like this guy to toe the line for them.

  • Rasputin says:

    It is frightening how dedicated these fighters are. The West really has nothing to counter their Jihad.

    Most Western men are too busy with on-line porn and smoking pot to care about anything.

  • Arjuna says:

    Birbal Dhar, I’m glad someone is paying attention. It’s a long film and I ran out of popcorn a long time ago. Now I just catch bits and snatches. The cancer is in remission as regards America, but it will roar back. Beyond the will to kill (and, most importantly, die) this enemy has a long-term strategy (functionally divorced from its human leaders) and many nodes working to achieve it. We have no such unity of purpose or mission. When they finally use WMD on the West, we’ll wake up, but by then it may be too late.
    James, if/when they nuke us all options are on… until then, pinpricks. It’s an international law thing; we are leading from behind with a bunch of procurement specialists, spin doctors and law professors. We haven’t even acknowledged we’re at war yet.

    • James says:

      Arjuna, thank you for the response. As I’ve pointed out on many occasions on LWJ, this is going to take an international and concerted effort to subjugate this enemy we (as well as the rest of civilization) are up against.

      We can not ‘invade and occupy’ 30 or 40 different countries simultaneously or even in tandem (i.e., one by one) or in any combination thereof. We need to be ‘driving the bus’; not sitting in back of the bus (which is what the current Administration is having US do).

  • Corto Maltese says:

    Have to enlighten some commentators here. As one said, ISIS went out in vacuum of power that was created by US government and it’s allays, UAE, Saudis etc. Since US intelligence was backing up Sadam against Iran, bin Laden in Afghanistan, the love story with fanatic Islamists goes trough Chechenia, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Egypt, Tunisia, Gaddafi in Libya up to these Islamic fruit cakes in Syria. When the US government stop making problems in order to rule instead of solving ones you can all relax, take a bag of popcorn, some of you pills, and enjoy the show. God bless America.


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