Macedonian police arrested nine people on Thursday believed to have fought alongside Islamist insurgents in Syria and Iraq and recruited others from the Balkan country, the interior minister said.
In a security sweep in four towns, the police forces searched 21 houses, an internet cafe and a mosque in the capital Skopje, Mitko Cavkov told reporters. An imam was among those arrested.
“According to our information he could be seen as the main ideological leader,” Cavkov said, adding that charges would be brought against a group of 36 who had violated Macedonian law by “fighting for another army or paramilitary organisation”.
Of the 36, 27 are believed to be out of the country, most of them still fighting in Syria and Iraq.