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Eight men sentenced to jail for planned attacks on Israel at World Cup qualifier

Kosovo police officers stand near five suspects convicted of plotting a terror attack against Israel in a World Cup qualifier in 2016.
Kosovo police officers guard five of the nine people sentenced for planning an attack on Israel in 2016.

A Kosovo court sentenced nine Albanians, eight to jail, on Friday for planning an attack against Israel's football team during a World Cup qualifier in Albania in 2016.

Pristina court judge Hamdi Ibrahimi sentenced the leader of the group, Visar Ibishi, to 10 years in jail, and seven others received between 18 months and six years in prison. The ninth was given a €2,500 fine.

"There is no place for extremism on this land," Ibrahimi said. "Such defendants' acts have aimed to create both in Kosovo and Albania a climate of uncertainty, let the extremist elements get in and destabilize the country with terror acts."

The attack, planned for Israel's game against Albania on Nov. 12, 2016, was foiled after Kosovo police received a tip regarding the plot. Albanian authorities responded by moving the game from the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder, near the border with Kosovo, to the Elbasan Arena, nearly 150 kilometres south.

Two Albanians fighting with the Islamic State in Syria are said to have coordinated the attack. Kosovo authorities say about 180 citizens are still active within extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Both Kosovo and Albanian authorities claim that no more of their citizens have joined the rebel groups in Syria and Iraq in recent years.

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