Place of Birth: Albania;
Aldo Kobuzi was an average teenager in a forgotten village of central Albania before he took the fateful path towards Islamic radicalization and joined Islamic State, or ISIS.
Albanian citizen Aldo “Said” Kobuzi and his wife, Italian citizen Maria Giulia “Az Zahra” Sergio are also known to have attended Islamic centers in Italy, including in the Tuscany region. Kobuzi and Sergio seem to be linked to an interesting network that connects Italy to Albania for the departure of foreign fighters and whose main organizers are two imam currently in prison in Albania.
In the summer of 2013, Kobuzi, 23, and Sergio, 25, met in Milan through common contacts and married. The wedding photos, which made the rounds of Italian magazines, show the bride covered from head to toe from a white satin hijab.
In September, 2015 – the couple left Italy for Turkey and traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, the militant terror group that controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq and has proclaimed an Islamic caliphate ruled under Sharia law.
From a sociological perspective it is interesting to examine the Kobuzi family’s roots to Islamist extremism. The first one of the family to become radicalized was Aldo’s mother, Donika, who was abandoned by her husband in the early 90’s after he moved to Italy.
The woman also lived in Italy, in the Grosseto area (it is interesting to notice that an Islamic center in Grosseto hosted in 2013 a radical imam from Pristina’s great mosque, Shefqet Krasniqi).
Aldo Kobuzi’s sister, Serjola, married Mariglen Dervishllari, an Albanian from a village near Pogradec, who seems to have died while fighting in Syria.
Pandi Janko, the owner of garage where Aldo Kobuzi once worked, says he became an ardent Muslim following a three-month visit in 2012 to his sister’s family to Pogradec. “When he returned, he had beard down to his chest,” Janko recalled.
Fatjon, a neighbour and childhood friend of Aldo’s, agreed, noting that before the trip to Pogradec in 2012, Aldo was just an average teenager.
“We would ride a motorbike, work when we had the chance and drink a beer or two in the village bar,” Fatjon recalled.
Following the visit to Pogradec, Kobuzi changed into a different person, Fatjon said.
“He would talk about death and paradise,” he added. “He described paradise as a place with seven floors, and those who took a bullet in the forefront would occupy the highest floor,” Fatjon continued.
The register of the municipality of Scansano first lists Kobuzi as a resident at his uncle’s home in the spring of 2012. His residency permit was renewed in 2013.
At the time when Kobuzi moved to Italy, Sergio, originally from Naples, was living with a family in an area between Milan and Bergamo. She met Kobuzi in Milan in 2013 though the mediation of other Muslims. Kobuzi’s uncle says his nephew traveled from Grossetto to see her in Milan and they immediately liked each other.
In 2014 Kobuzi returned to his home village of Germenj in Albania, more radical than when he had left. Milan prosecutors believe Kobuzi went to Albania to reactivate contacts with radical Islamists in order to arrange his move to Syria.
A few weeks before he left through Rome airport, Kobuzi posted an ISIS flag and a note in his Facebook profile. “Death comes once in life, and so it should be in the path of Allah,” the note read.
Kobuzi and his wife were allegedly recruited to the Islamic State terrorist group by Haik Bushra and are believed to be in Syria.
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