ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Macedonian police on Tuesday arrested seven people suspected to have fought with the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, the Interior Minister said.
The age of those arrested range from 23 – 41 and they have been charged in connection to one of two separate cases dating from 2015 and 2016. All are accused of taking part in IS insurgent attacks, Reuters reported, quoting Macedonian police.
The police added that, if the suspects are found guilty, they will face 10 years in prison.
Albanian Muslims make up about one-third of Macedonia’s total population of two million, the majority of which practice a moderate form of Islam.
More than 100 Macedonian citizens have joined the jihadist group, say to the country’s authorities. So far, they say, about 20 of them have been killed.
Following the emergence of IS in Iraq and Syria in 2014, thousands of foreign fighters from Europe joined the jihadist group. According to a 2016 report by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague (ICCT), a total of 3,922-4,294 foreign fighters from EU member states traveled to Iraq or Syria to fight with IS, 30 percent of whom have returned to their home countries.
Many who joined IS have been reported killed in the two Middle Eastern countries while fighting, with others suspected to be still at large or having returned to their home.
Editing by John J. Catherine