A concerted police operation in North Macedonia on Friday foiled the perpetration of a large-scale terrorist attack. The North Macedonian Interior Ministry argued that the attack was averted during its final preparation stage and attributed the criminal activity to local cells of the Islamic State (IS). Police authorities raided several criminal hideouts even though no actual locations were reported to the press.
The ministry’s statement acknowledged that a foreign country provided crucial intelligence about the local cell’s plans to carry out a looming attack in North Macedonia. The ministry nonetheless did not identify the partner country which dispatched sensitive information. The operation resulted in confiscation of light weaponry, explosive material and improvised bomb devices. Interestingly, in anticipation of the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Skopje had issued on Friday a security alert for U.S. residents and visitors in North Macedonia, to take protective measures against the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack.
The North Macedonian security authorities have calculated that more than 150 nationals fled the country to reach the Middle East and side with IS militias in previous years. Security reports associate these national as being members of the local Muslim and ethnic-Albanian communities. Ethnic Albanians are a formal minority in North Macedonia and roughly represent the 35% of the 2.1 million population.