Kacanik: Jihadist Capital Of the Balkans.
Kacanik, Kosovo - A town in southern Kosovo has gained the unwanted reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans. The small, sleepy town of Kacanik boasts only 30,000 people. But in the last few years, at least 24 local men have left the town to fight for extremist groups like the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The government estimates that at least 300 Kosovans have gone to fight jihad in the Middle East, making Kosovo the biggest contributor per capital in Europe.
One of those men has gained notoriety – Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a 25-year-old from Kacanik who is now an Islamic State recruiter fighting in Syria. Last year, Muhaxheri sent shock-waves around Kosovo when he posted photos on Facebook of himself beheading a prisoner in Syria. In response, Kosovo authorities have arrested radical religious figures and shut down Islamic charities in Kacanik that have been accused of radicalising young men.
The Middle Eastern-funded charities have penetrated poor, rural communities that have been neglected by the government and where unemployment is soaring above 50 percent, making young men easy targets for indoctrination.