Israel, Albania World Cup qualifier moved due to ‘ISIS threat’

The Israeli military has issued a travel warning regarding Israel’s upcoming World Cup soccer qualifier match against Albania.

Albania moved the match from the Balkan country’s town of Shkodra to its capital, Tirana, due to warnings of a possible terrorist attack during the game, scheduled for Saturday.

People identified with the Islamic State were arrested recently in the Balkans, according to a statement by the Israel Defense Force’s Counter-terror Warfare School (LOTAR).

Local media in Albania, a Muslim country, report that several arrests have been made. Albanian security said it would be more difficult to protect the Israeli team in Shkodra.

“In recent weeks, the detainees and others tied to them, planned to carry out terror attacks against a variety of targets in the Balkans, such international soccer games, including the match between Albania and Israel on November 12,” LOTAR announced. “Despite the arrests, and in conjunction with an assessment of the situation, there remains a significant threat of attacks being carried out in the area.”

LOTAR announced that in light of the threat it was issuing a travel warning, labeling the situation a high concrete threat (level 2) and recommended Israelis to avoid attending the World Cup qualifier match.

Israeli security officials have issued strict security guidelines to the team. Players will not have any free time while in Albania and three times as many security guards as normal will accompany the team.

Remarking about the game, Albanian coach Gianni De Biasi said: “We are always ready to win the game. But even a draw with Israel would be alright if we play well. I know the Israelis have a good team, apparently better than ours.”

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