Bomb used to assassinate Maltese journalist came from Albania, government failed to investigate – Exit
In October 2017, a bomb exploded in Malta, killing journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The bomb, allegedly supplied by Robert Agius and Jamie Vella, came from Albania. Further details emerged which showed that Agius had visited Albania three times before the murder.
Speaking to The Shift at a quiet cafe in central Tirana, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew explained that Albanian authorities had done nothing to establish how an Albanian bomb had ended up under his car. mother in Malta.
âThe bomb used to assassinate my mother came from Albania, via Italy, it was supplied by Albanian organized crime, you can practically buy them in the shops here. The Albanian government has not carried out any investigation into how a bomb was supplied by Albanians and then used to assassinate a journalist in Malta. They didn’t do anything. he said.
He further questioned how Maltese criminals could so easily obtain a bomb from Albanian organized crime and so that there would be no repercussions in Albania.
Bombs in the streets of Albania
In the early evening at September 2020, a car bomb exploded in broad daylight in central Tirana, Albania.
As crowds of people filled the streets, shopping, walking home from work or going to meet friends, a loud bang emanated from a vehicle on the road, followed by the fire.
Police reported that a remote controlled explosive was placed in the car and then detonated when the targeted victim, Taken Gjini, boarded and left. Gjini survived the attack, as did the various passers-by, hit by shrapnel and burning debris.
It was later revealed that the attack was part of an ongoing criminal gang conflict, likely involving drugs.
But this was by no means an isolated case.
In december 2019, a prosecutor’s car exploded during a remote demolition in Vlora. In May 2020, a TNT bomb exploded in an alley between a hotel and a bar linked to previous gang activity. In July 2020, a TNT explosion was reported in an apartment in Laprake, Tirana. In October 2020, TNT was placed in front of the home of journalist Elidon Ndreka in Lezhe. In December 2020, TNT detonated a worksite belonging to a man from Senhengjin. In February 2021, a hotel was targeted by a remote control TNT bomb in Sarande. At March 12, 2021, TNT was placed inside the car of prosecutor Arjan Muca in the family neighborhood of Kommuna Parisit. On March 16, police arrested two men for fabricating remotely detonated explosives in Tirana.
Other cases have occurred on a semi-regular basis across the country, so much so that they hardly make the headlines anymore.
A fight against organized crime
Car bombs, TNT and explosives are often used by the vast Albanian criminal network to attack, silence and intimidate.
Now an EU candidate country whose official membership negotiations are due to start shortly, Albania is trying to shake off its bad image. While Albanian politicians have been successful in wooing Brussels, the reality is that there is still a long way to go.
The minimum wage is only â¬ 213 per month, 40% of households are deprived of sufficient material income and nearly a quarter could sink into poverty within a month. Extreme poverty mainly affects people living in rural areas with little education or skills or those unable to find work. This poverty, combined with a weak rule of law and ineffective governance, means that organized crime may have flourished.
The economy of Albania is mainly based on cash and informal. The country has also become a privileged location for national and international money launderers. It’s a source and transit country for human trafficking, one of the main exporters of cannabis, a transit country for heroin and cocaine, a central human trafficking route, and known for arms trafficking. Despite promised reforms and political cleanups, little seems to change.
The public consensus is that the government allow these things keep going as long as they get a cut.
But the reasons behind Albania’s problems with crime and criminality are complex. For nearly 500 years, the country was under Ottoman rule before being plunged into one of the most repressive and isolated communist regimes in the world. Left there in 1990, he took his first steps towards democracy before finding himself involved in a Ponzi scheme which has ruined the country and many of its citizens.
In 1997, Albania was on the verge of civil war and had sunk into anarchy. Armed gangs roamed the streets, assassinations and executions took place in public, and you could go for coffee in central Tirana, count the people drinking coffee with an AK47 slung over their shoulders.
During these years, many state armories were looted and looted for firearms, ammunition and explosives. Years later, it is estimated that there are 210,000 illegal weapons still in the country, despite various attempts at amnesty.
The Albanian underworld continues to thrive, with the Albanian Mafia seen as odo not the most powerful in Europe, responsible for the lion’s share of drugss, humans, and even arms trafficking. Fostering links with notorious Italian criminal clans, they also engaged in money laundering, extortion and even online gambling, reaching the shores of Malta.
Bombs On Shelf
The Shift contacted a former policeman who explained how easy it is to get explosives in Albania.
“If you want TNT, I can get it for you tomorrow,” he told The Shift.
âThere are two kinds – one that you light with a fire like a cigarette, the other with electricity from the telephone. You just have to call the phone and “BAM”.
The Shift asked how long it would take to make one of these bombs to order and what the price was.
âIf you buy directly from the manufacturer, it’s â¬ 600; if you buy through one middleman, or two, or three, it increases in value, âhe said.
âOn average, it will take four days to a week. If you are lucky you can find some already made and have them the same day, âhe added.
He said TNT is everywhere on the black market. There are many leftovers from 1997, but he adds that some are acquired from the country’s mining industry.
TNT is the same compound used in the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The north of the country is full of chrome and mineral mines, many of which use TNT for detonation. The people involved in the racketeering simply say they used more TNT than they did and sell the rest to contacts in the underground world. He could also be taken in the same way by those who work in construction, a market known for its Mafia ties.
As for getting them out of the country, that poses little or no problem. Hundreds of Albanians cross borders illegally every month. Additionally, the export of drugs, people and weapons means that slipping in a bomb or two poses little additional risk.
After all, the Albanian Mafia is now one of the main partners of the Italian Mafia. Several high-profile drug seizures have highlighted the growing collaboration between Italian, Sicilian and Albanian organized crime groups.
In june 2020, for example, 3.5 tonnes of cannabis, hashish and cocaine were seized by police in Italy and Albania. The cargo was valued at over 40 million euros. An additional EUR 4 million was seized in Albania.
It is widely believed that the Albanian mafia is becoming so strong that it takes power in certain places from the Italians.
But in some cases Italians and Albanians team up. Sources suggest the infamous Malta-linked Santapaulo-Ercolano clan has begin to work with Albanian gangs in the southern town of Vlora. Italian investigators implicated in the hash traffic believe the relationship was it’s been going on for years. During this time, chefs and key figures from Ercolano traveled to Albania, sometimes for months.
Regarding the bomb that killed his mother, Matthew said with anger in his voice: âThere is no way Prime Minister Edi Rama would know there is this problem. If he does not know that the bomb supply to Albania is not a problem, he must fire absolutely everyone in his intelligence services. There’s no way he couldn’t find out.
Despite questions from The Shift emailed and sent directly to the Deputy Home Secretary’s number, no questions about opening an investigation were answered.
âThere was no statement from the government. Nothing. Absolutely nothing, âMatthew added.
This is a joint investigation between Exit.al and The Shift News