Israel’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game in Albania was moved and Israelis have been warned not to attend the match on Saturday after four Islamic State suspects were arrested on suspicions of planning attacks at the event.
“In recent days, Balkan officials have arrested individuals affiliated with ISIS who have planned terror attacks against a range of targets in the Balkans, including the international soccer game between Albania and Israel,” read the the Counter Terrorism Bureau warning. “Despite the arrests, and depending on the situation, there is still a significant threat of attacks in the area. Therefore, the Counter Terrorism Bureau is issuing a travel warning to Albania, where there is a concrete threat (level 2), and recommends Israelis refrain from attending the national team game on November 12.”
Israel’s national team is slated to play Albania’s national team on Saturday to qualify for the next World Cup.
On Tuesday, Albanian officials relocated the game from a stadium in the city of Shkodër to another venue, in the city of Elbasan, citing unspecified terror threats. The fours suspects, all Muslim, were arrested last week in Shkodër by Albanian security forces, thanks to a tip from the Mossad.
Albanian officials said the four planned to bring explosives into the game in order to attack the Israeli soccer players.
Israel’s national players will go ahead with the game, but were given strict restrictions on their movement and will be carefully guarded during their trip.
A statement from Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport said, “The minister is closely following the security arrangements and clarified that the safety of players and other members of the delegation is the primary consideration.”