Hours after Albania arrested four terror suspects accused of plotting bomb attacks at an upcoming soccer game against Israel’s national team, Jerusalem on Tuesday issued an official travel warning to the Balkan state citing “credible threats” of attacks by the Islamic State jihadist group.
The Counter Terrorism Bureau, a branch of the Prime Minister’s Office, urged Israelis not to attend Saturday’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game in Albania.
“In recent days, individuals identifying with the Islamic State group have been arrested in the Balkans. Those suspects and their associates planned to carry out several terror attacks on a range of targets in the Balkans… including the Israel-Albania game on November 12,” the statement said.
“The assessment of the situation indicates a credible threat of attacks… and accordingly have issued a travel warning to Albania over the concrete threat level, and urge Israelis not attend the game,” the Bureau said.
Earlier Tuesday, Albanian officials relocated the game from a stadium in the city of Shkoder to a venue in the city of Elbasan, citing unspecified terror threats.
Local security forces said they could guarantee the security of the Israeli team in Shkoder, prompting the relocation.
Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev said she was monitoring the situation in Albania, and the safety of the Israeli athletes was the most important consideration in making security arrangements for the team, Channel 10 reported.
“I wish the team great success in the game against Albania,” she said.
Israel’s national team on Tuesday held talks with their security detail and were given strict instructions restricting their movements during their trip.
The security team protecting the Israelis is reportedly three times the usual size for such events.
Israel won its previous qualifying game, with a 2-1 result against Liechtenstein in a match at the Kollek stadium in Jerusalem last month.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.