By Muhamet Brajshori
Reactions to the verdict of Kosovo-born German citizen Arid Uka, 22, for the murders of two US airmen bound for Afghanistan at Frankfurt airport last year have been overwhelmingly supportive. Many in Kosovo say that the country needs to increase its vigilance to prevent such acts of terrorism.
Uka, who was born in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo but grew up in Germany, apologised to the victims’ families this summer, saying he had been influenced by online Islamist propaganda before his March 2nd attack on a US Air Force bus.
“What I did was wrong, but I cannot undo what I did,” he said on August 31st in a statement after the indictment was read at his trial at a state superior court in Frankfurt.
Uka was sentenced to life in prison on Friday (February 10th).
The court in Frankfurt convicted him of two counts of murder. He was also found guilty of three counts of attempted murder and serious bodily harm for wounding two other servicemen and taking aim at a third before his 9mm pistol jammed.
“I’m satisfied. I’m at peace. There’s a huge weight off our shoulders,” Joe Alden, the brother of victim Nicholas Alden, said in the courthouse after Friday’s sentencing, according to Fox News.
Nexhmije Hasani-Gashi, head of the Inter-Faith Dialogue Initiative in Kosovo, a local NGO in Prizren, told SETimes that there is a message in the act.
“Terrorism has no borders — it is part even in the smallest nations. This act will not have any impact on [Kosovo’s] relations with the US, [nor] in the attitude of the people here, but more measures must be taken to fight fundamentalism inside Kosovo,” says Hasani-Gashi.
Ferdie Bajraktari, 35, a teacher in Pristina, told SETimes that she was happy with the length of the sentence.
“It is bad to hear that a countryman kills innocent people because he might have been motivated by propaganda. The most absurd [part] is that those American soldiers have contributed [to Kosovo’s peace today],” Bajraktari said.
“[Institutions] have to look to prevent such acts,” Sahit Krasniqi, 66, a retired policeman from Pristina, told SETimes.
The US State Department Terrorism Country Report for 2010 said that Kosovo has made progress in its fight against terrorists, but more is needed.
While the Kosovo Police Counter-Terrorist Unit is still under developing its capacity to conduct effective counterterrorism operations, there needs to be effective co-operation and co-ordination between departments within the Kosovo police, the report noted.