February 1, 2016
This is what Abbot of Visoki Decani Sava Janjic told Tanjug on Sunday, adding that an investigation was under way.
The suspects - four ethnic Albanians from various parts of Kosovo- Gnjilane, Urosevac, Prizren and Djakovica- were arrested at around 21:00 CET on Saturday in front of the main gate of the monastery in a car with Urosevac license plates, he specified.
In a joint operation, Kosovo police and KFOR members asked the men to show their IDs and searched the car. They found a Kalashnikov rifle with ammunition and a pistol, as well as some extremist Islamist books the abbot added.
This incident is another indicator that the presence of KFOR troops is vital for the security of this monastery which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, he emphasized.
Two of the suspects wore beards and had shaved heads, and their style of dress was "characteristic of Wahhabis," Janjic noted.
In October 2014, graffiti reading ISIS and AKSh ("Albanian National Army") was sprayed on buildings belonging to the monastery. Four months earlier the acronym UCK (Albanian for KLA - "Kosovo Liberation Army") was also painted there.
The police investigation into the incident produced no results but KFOR's presence was beefed up in its wake, with the monastery and the area around it considered "a high risk zone."
Since the end of the war in Kosovo in 1999, Visoki Decani came under armed attack four times - only one of these has been investigated. In 2007 a Kosovo Albanian was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for attacking the monastery, the abbot noted.
"No link to terrorism"
The Kosovo police on Monday denied that the four suspects had been detained on terrorism charges, or because they planned to attack the monastery.
Instead, spokesman Baki Kelani said, they were arrested for illegal possession of weapons, "and cannot be linked to any kind of attack on the monastery."
Local Albanian language media are meanwhile accusing Abbot Sava Janjic of "using the arrests for propagandistic reasons."