Albania

Overview: Albania continued its strong support of international counterterrorism efforts in  2021, repatriating 19 of its citizens (five women and 14 children) from displaced persons camps  in Syria and engaging in the process of reintegrating and rehabilitating them throughout the year.

The country has adopted national strategies on counterterrorism and countering violent  extremism through 2025 and is in the process of drafting a new CVE strategy. The terrorism  threat in Albania consists of FTO attempts to radicalize Albanian youth to violence, as well as  Iran’s state-sponsored activity directed against the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e Khaleq, members of whom resettled in Albania.

2021 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Albania in 2021.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Albania’s counterterrorism laws  criminalize terrorist acts. It is illegal to join a terrorist organization, receive terrorism-related  training, provide material support (including financing) to a terrorist organization, travel or intend to  travel to fight on behalf of a terrorist organization, or participate in a foreign army. On June 1, pursuant to an amendment to the Albanian constitution, the Special Anti-Corruption and Organized  Crime Structure received sole jurisdiction over terrorism offenses.

The Albanian State Police Counterterrorism Unit (CTU) worked closely with U.S. agencies to  align Albanian government training and equipment requirements with U.S. expertise and  resources, ensuring the Albanian government develops focused counterterrorism capabilities.  The CTU received extensive amounts of training and equipment throughout the year from the  Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program. The Albanian government has  developed, in conjunction with international partners, contingency plans and capabilities to  prevent and respond to terrorist attacks against soft targets.

On August 1, Albania repatriated 19 citizens — five women and 14 children — from displaced  persons camps in Syria. The Albanian government’s CVE Center directed the rehabilitation and  reintegration of these individuals and coordinated the efforts of various ministries, international  donors, civil society members, and non-governmental organizations to support these efforts.

Corruption and barriers to information sharing among government agencies, insufficient intra agency coordination, and weak judicial systems continued to hinder Albania’s law enforcement  efforts at all levels. Implementation of deep reforms in the judicial sector continues, which  began with the vetting of Albania’s 800 judges and prosecutors for corruption, competence, and  ties to organized crime.

Albania has committed to enhancing its border security and screening efforts to interdict terrorist  travel, in line with international standards, and with support from U.S. experts and  programs. Albanian law enforcement services cooperate extensively with INTERPOL and other  international law enforcement bodies. Albania continues work to implement UNSCR 2396  regarding Advanced Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Records (PNR) data,  which enhances screening of air passengers entering the country. The country has adopted a  national law on API/PNR, and the United States and Albania solidified commitment to deepen  cooperation in support of implementing this law. Albania sustains a port security oversight  system to comply with requirements under the International Maritime Organization’s  International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Albania has implemented a stricter prison  regime for dangerous convicts, called Article 41-bis of the Prison Administration Act. The country also is an active bilateral partner on watchlisting development through the CT Bureau funded WASP.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Albania is a member of the Council of Europe’s  Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing  of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body.  Albania’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the General Directorate for the Prevention of Money  Laundering, is a member of the Egmont Group.

Albania’s FIU works to prevent and combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.  Because of deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing of Terrorism  (AML/CFT) regime, Albania has been on MONEYVAL’s “enhanced follow up status” since  2018. In 2020, FATF added Albania to its gray list of countries with strategic deficiencies in  their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.

The country continued to work with FATF and MONEYVAL to address these deficiencies, but  MONEYVAL reported in May that Albania has not significantly improved measures to combat  money laundering and terrorist financing in line with FATF recommendations. MONEYVAL  decided that Albania should remain in the enhanced follow-up procedure and report back on  further progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures annually.

Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Albania has a national CVE strategy  through 2025 and is in the process of drafting a new strategy. The National CVE Center  coordinates and manages CVE programming among international donors and seeks to ensure all  ministries cooperate effectively and avoid duplication of efforts. The capital Tirana, as well as  the cities of Bulqizë, Cërrik, Elbasan, and Librazhd are members of the Strong Cities Network.  The Albanian State Police has incorporated CVE into the portfolios of 26 community police  units around the country. The chiefs of these units received training from the U.S. government  and implement projects with local government counterparts aimed at detecting and countering  terrorist radicalization efforts.

Embassy Tirana supports CVE efforts with a wide range of assistance programs and diplomatic  engagement, including to local community groups that identify and mitigate factors underlying  violent extremism. Albania is on the board of GCERF, which has three local partners in the  country that work on CVE issues: the Institute for Democracy and Mediation, the Counseling  Line for Women, and Terre des Hommes.  

Embassy Tirana oversees the implementation of the fourth iteration of a CVE grant to the  Muslim Community of Albania, which includes engagement by Islamic clergy with at-risk  youths and their parents to steer youths away from paths to radicalization to violence and  informing them about democratic principles, human rights, civic duties, and tolerance.

International and Regional Cooperation: Albania is a member of the Adriatic Council, the  Council of Europe, NATO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the OSCE, the Regional  Cooperation Council for Southeast Europe, the United Nations, and the International Center of  Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Hedayah). In 2021 it served as a nonpermanent

member of the UN Security Council. Albanian criminal-justice officials participated regularly in  various regional associations, conferences, and other counterterrorism information-sharing  exchanges.

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