Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Moldova a safe 'transit' country for wannabe ISIS Fighters?

ISIS-Related Arrests Pose Challenge for Moldova’s Muslims.(eurasianet).

Four years ago, Moldova’s Muslims, a tiny minority in this overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian country of 3.56 million, won the legal right to organize. But now, following the arrests of suspected collaborators with Islamic State, they face another daunting challenge – fighting the stereotype that Moldovan Muslims are terrorists.

On May 30, two Moldovan men were sentenced to 30 days of pre-trial detention in the Moldovan capital, Chișinău, on charges of allegedly offering refuge to “mercenaries” from Islamic State and “creating a criminal organization.” Only one of their names (Abu Israfil) has been released.

The charges came three days after Moldovan police detained two men and two women suspected of intending to travel with three children to Syria via Moldova.

One of the men, a native of Dagestan, and a 16-year-old girl originally from Chechnya were deported to Russia. A second man, a native of Chechnya with a Tajik passport, is in the custody of migration and refugee officials. The Chechnya-born woman accompanying him, who traveled to Moldova from France, remains in police custody. The status of the three children is unknown. Names for the group have not been released.

Despite these arrests, the country’s risk for ISIS activity generally has not attracted international notice. At least one ISIS militant, Abdullah al-Moldovi (Abdullah the Moldovan), is believed to hail from Moldova, RFE/RL has reported, but the country was not included in the US Department of State’s recently released world report on terrorism.

Muslim Moldovans, estimated by believers to number several thousand, have reasons to be sensitive about the ISIS arrests, however. Until 2011, the government denied them official registration as a group. Drop-ins by police on worship services were regularly reported, as well as alleged harassment.
Imam Wahhab says that Moldova’s Islamic League tries to guard against radicalism by building ties with other countries’ Islamic associations that focus on “religious knowledge, away from extremes and extremism.”Wherever we feel that fanaticism is beginning, we must stop it before it generates into something worse, as is the case of ISIS,” he commented.

The government was not available to comment about its own approach for warding off ISIS recruiters.

The group’s alleged interest in Moldova, however, is not unusual for such cases. In early May, British citizens Arif Malik and Sara Kiran, traveling with their four children, requested to be deported to Moldova from Turkey after being stopped in Ankara under suspicion of travel to Syria. Reasons for the request and the family’s current whereabouts are not known. Despite repeated attempts by, representatives of the General Police Inspectorate did not respond to requests for further comment. Hmmm.........Run deep? Read the full story here.

RelatedReport: More than 100,000 fake Turkish passports given to ISIL

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