DE RUEHBW #1460 2541419
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111419Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9333
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS BELGRADE 001460
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PTER CASC PGOV PREL MW SUBJECT: MONTENEGRO ARRESTS 14, INCLUDING THREE U.S. CITIZENS, IN CONNECTION WITH TERRORISM
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
This is a Podgorica cable. It has not been cleared with Embassy Belgrade.
1. (SBU) Summary: On the morning of Saturday, September 9, at about 10:00 local time, Montenegrin police raided dwellings in the locality of Tuzi, to the southeast of the capital Podgorica, in a largely ethnically Albanian community. Fourteen persons were taken into custody, including three U.S. citizens. Five others, including at least two reportedly with U.S. visas, are fugitive. Post was promptly informed of the arrests by the Government of Montenegro and by concerned relatives and neighbors of those arrested. Chief of Montenegro's Police Veselin Veljovic told post officers that the raid was directed against a group of Albanian extremists that included American-Albanians, and seized a large cache of weapons. Those detained are being arraigned before the local magistrate on September 11. Opposition parties have called the timing of the arrests politically-motivated, coming the day before the parliamentary vote. End summary.
Warning, Surveillance and Prevention
2. (SBU) On September 9, Montenegrin Police Chief Veselin Veljovic told post officers that his force had acted that morning to prevent imminent attacks in the Tuzi (Podgorica) region by Albanian extremists. Police raids on several dwellings in and around Tuzi had resulted in the seizure of a large cache of weapons and explosives, reportedly including Chinese-made automatic- and semi-automatic weapons, sniper scopes, explosives, bombs, antitank weapons, Albanian and UCK (Kosovo Liberation Army) flags, maps, full-face masks, protective vests, and other military equipment. Material hostile to pro-Government Albanian politician Ferhat Dinosa was also found. Fourteen persons, including three U.S. citizens, were arrested; consular access to the U.S. citizens has been requested, and will be reported septel. Police said five others, including two reportedly with U.S. residence permits, fled; post will forward details as available on the fugitives through U.S. law enforcement channels. Note: Our information is that all arrested were Catholic Albanians, not Muslims; about 30% of Montenegro's Albanians are (nominally) Catholic; 70% are (nominally) Muslim. End note.
3.(SBU) Veljovic said the raid was the culmination of several months of surveillance, under warrant from the Supreme State Prosecutor, and informed by data from several friendly foreign intelligence services. Veljovic said the group planned to attack police and other Montenegrin government facilities in and near Tuzi, on Sunday September 10, which was the date of Republic-wide parliamentary elections in Montenegro.
4. (SBU) After detention in Podgorica's Security Center (police station), those arrested (including the Americans) are being arraigned before the Basic Court of Podgorica on September 11. Charges will be reported septel. After arraignment, they will be held in the main detention facility at Spuz, Montenegro.
5. (U) Local opposition politicians reacted harshly to the raid. Leader of the Opposition Predrag Bulatovic (Socialist People's Party- SNP) criticized the raid's timing, one day before Republic-wide parliamentary voting. Movement for Changes (PzP) leader Nebojsa Medojevic voiced similar sentiments. The new Albanian Alternative party said the raid was an unjustified failure and an attempt to intimidate Albanian voters. The GoM rejected allegations that the action was politically motivated.