by Sasha Uzunov
The time is for people to stay cool and not allow passions to rule them. For those not aware, last month during Orthodox Easter, five ethnic Macedonians in The Republic of Macedonia were murdered. News has come that suspected 'Islamic terrorists' were arrested in connection with the slayings. Before we jump to conclusions, we need to allow all the facts to emerge.
A perceptive American writer Chris Deliso has warned in his book "The Coming Balkan Caliphate" of Islamic terrorists gaining a foothold in the Balkans region of Europe and using it as a base for operations against the West.
However, Deliso has also quite correctly observed that nothing happens by chance or coincidence in the Balkans region of Europe.
There may be an obvious Islamic connection, Macedonia's soldiers fighting in Afghanistan alongside its American allies. There may not be. Or it may have been a stage managed event with the intention of creating instability by groups unknown or neighbouring hostile states who may not be connected to worldwide Islamic Jihad but with their own political agenda. Some might say it may have been the work of Greater Albanian separatists and extremists, who do pose a serious threat; some might counter claim by saying it was the Macedonian security forces. The never ending list of conspiracy theories in this neck of woods goes on.
However, at this stage we have to temporarily give the benefit of the doubt to the Macedonian Interior Ministry (MVR) which controls the police and security forces. Likewise, we should not be pointing fingers at particular ethnic groups.
As The Republic of Macedonia is desperately trying to join the European Union and NATO, the whole world is watching and scrutinising.
We can only hope that calm, wise heads can get all the facts before passing judgment or condemnation. The rule of law must prevail. MVR must prove the case for the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt.
Islamists arrested in Macedonia fishermen deaths
By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - Police arrested 20 radical Islamists for the murder of five ethnic Macedonian fishermen in an early morning raid Tuesday, authorities said. The killing last month fueled tension in the tiny Balkan country between majority Macedonians and the mostly Muslim Albanian minority.
The suspects have been charged with terrorism, Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska said. She did not specify whether they all belonged to the same ethnic group, saying simply that they were all Macedonian citizens.
The victims were not directly connected with the suspects, Jankuloska told reporters.
"The intention of this crime was to create a sense of insecurity and fear among the general population," she said.
Tensions between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians have simmered since the end of an armed rebellion in 2001, when ethnic Albanian rebels fought Macedonian government forces for about eight months, seeking greater rights for their community. The conflict left 80 people dead, and ended with the intervention of NATO troops.
Ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia's population of 2.1 million. Most Macedonians are Christian Orthodox.
About 800 police were involved in Tuesday's operation, called "Monster," raiding 26 houses around the Macedonian capital of Skopje and seizing weapons, bullet proof vests and Islamic literature, Jankuloska said.
All of the suspects had fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan, she said.
The suspects were followers "of radical Islam, which is generally a danger for Christianity," she said. "They all have the capacity to commit such a horrible act."
She did not offer more details, saying the investigation is not yet complete.
Police posted a video of armed policemen raiding a house, arresting at least two suspects, one of them sprawled on the floor, and displaying a number of cellphones and SIM cards.
The title of the video describes the arrested as "Wahhabis," a fundamentalist branch of Islam.
The five fishermen, all but one in their 20s, were found dead, shot with at least three different firearms, north of Skopje on April 13.
Rumors spread quickly that the killings were ethnic-related, forcing authorities to appeal for calm.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.