Albanian police say they foiled Iranian ‘terrorist’ plot

Members of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) waving Iranian flags at a camp in Manza, Albania. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

Albanian police say they foiled Iranian ‘terrorist’ plot

  • The cell had planned, among other things, a terrorist act foiled in March 2018 targeting a religious celebration of the Bektashi, a Sufi group, in Tirana
  • The ceremony was attended by members of the exiled Iranian opposition group the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK)

TIRANA: Albanian police said Wednesday they had thwarted a planned attack by a Tehran-backed “terrorist cell” against opponents of the Tehran regime in the Balkan country last year.

In a statement, police said the group belonged to the elite Quds force which runs foreign operations for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

This cell “had planned, among other things, a terrorist act foiled in March 2018” targeting a religious celebration of the Bektashi, a Sufi group, in Tirana, the statement said.

The ceremony was attended by members of the exiled Iranian opposition group the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), according to police.

In 2013 Albania agreed to take in some 3,000 members of the MEK at the request of Washington and the United Nations.

They currently live in a compound in the northwest of the country.

On Wednesday police published photos of three Iranians and one Turkish national allegedly involved in the “terrorist cell.”

The leader “resides in Turkey” and another “has an Austrian passport,” according to the police statement.

Police declined to confirm whether international arrest warrants had been issued.

Authorities also did not say whether the incident had any connection to Tirana’s decision last year to expel two Iranian diplomats who the US accused of plotting “terrorist attacks” in the Balkan country.

In January the European Union sanctioned Iran’s intelligence services after accusing Tehran of being involved in plots to assassinate regime opponents in the Netherlands, Denmark and France.

Paris accused Iranian intelligence of being responsible for plotting a planned attack on a MEK rally north of Paris in June 2018.


New Filipino military chief vows to enforce controversial anti-terror law

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay. (Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

New Filipino military chief vows to enforce controversial anti-terror law

  • Gapay said his priority would be to bring an end to the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, based primarily in rural areas

MANILA: The new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, on Monday assumed office with a vow to enforce the country’s recently enacted anti-terrorism law.
The controversial legislation took effect last month, despite legal challenges at the Supreme Court to stop its implementation.
It criminalizes acts that incite terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations.” The new law also grants authorities broad powers to wiretap and tag individuals and groups as terrorists and detain them without charge for up to 24 days.
“We will capitalize on this very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive, and it is geared to prevent occurrence of terroristic acts,” Gapay said in his first speech as army chief.
He called on Filipinos to support the military because beside dealing with terrorism and communist insurgency, the country now faced an unseen enemy in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The army, he said, was helping the government contain the deadly virus which had infected more than 100,000 people in the Philippines and claimed at least 2,100 lives.

We will capitalize on this very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive, and it is geared to prevent occurrence of terroristic acts.

Lieutenant General Gilbert I. Gapay, Commanding general, Philippine Army

Gapay said his priority would be to bring an end to the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, based primarily in rural areas — and local terrorist groups — Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and factions of the Daulah Islamiyah — that operate mainly in the country’s south.
“There will be no let up as we continue to be at the forefront confronting all these threats. We are trained for this but still we need the support of other agencies; we need the support of our fellow Filipinos,” Gapay added.
He said the army would continue to collaborate with partner agencies and foreign counterparts in addressing domestic and regional threats, adding that it would suggest provisions to the rules and regulations of the new law to enhance intelligence sharing and strengthen maritime security to deter foreign terrorists from entering the country through its porous sea borders.
Prior to his appointment, Gapay, who replaces the retiring Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., served as the 61st army commander.