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  The New American
 

Danger! KLA in the U.S.A.

By William Norman Grigg
The New American
Vol. 15, No. 11
May 24, 1999


The New American "Backing the KLA is simply insane...

It's the same old story. Ten years ago we were arming and equipping the worst elements of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan - drug traffickers, arms smugglers, anti-American terrorists. We later paid the price when the World Trade Center was bombed, and we learned that some of those responsible had been trained by us. Now we're doing the same thing with the KLA, which is tied in with every known middle and far eastern drug cartel...

These guys have a network that's active on the streets of this country. The Albanian mob is a scary operation. In fact, the Mafia relied on Albanian hitmen to carry out a lot of their contracts. They're the worst elements of society that you can imagine, and now, according to my sources in drug enforcement, they're politically protected."

Michael Levine,
a highly decorated former undercover agent
for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),
author of Deep Cover and The Big White Lie

For fair use only
Published under the provision of
U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.

 * * * 

When Bill Clinton stopped in Detroit on April 17th on a fundraising visit, he met with a small group of Albanian-Americans at the Roseville Recreation Center. According to the Detroit News, a banner at the Roseville speech bore the logo of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Two days earlier, during an address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Mr. Clinton offered an oblique reference to the KLA when he insisted that Serbian ruler Slobodan Milosevic had "not destroyed the armed opposition among Kosovars; indeed, [its] numbers and determination are growing." NATO spokesman Jamie Shea, offering a more poetic take on the establishment line, reported that the KLA is "rising like a phoenix from the ashes."

Part of the reason why the KLA's ranks are growing, reported the Chicago Tribune on April 1st, is forced conscription: Shortly after NATO began its bombing campaign, the KLA ordered all Albanian men of fighting age "to join its ranks within one month or face unspecified consequence."

Many male refugees, who had been driven from their homes at gunpoint, "made it to the Albanian border only to encounter checkpoints of the KLA," reported the Tribune.

"Travelers who slipped through said they saw men being pulled from buses by armed guerillas and sent to KLA training camps in the rugged hills nearby." There the conscripts are given one month of crude training before being thrust into battle.

Showcase Volunteers

Although the KLA has had to rely on press gangs to draft Kosovo Albanians into its ranks, it has attracted thousands of ethnic Albanian volunteers from Europe and the United States. Throughout émigré communities worldwide, reported the April 20th Washington Times, the call to enlist in the KLA "is considered obligatory for all men ages 18 to 55. Only those who are sick or who can contribute financially to the KLA are considered exempt." Albanian émigrés from Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, Chicago, and other U.S. cities have repaired to the KLA banner, joining thousands more from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and other European nations.

The KLA's recruit army has little military value; the shopkeepers, waiters, teenagers, and middle-age professionals who have volunteered will not turn the tide of battle against Milosevic's well-equipped paramilitary squads.

As with the Communist-organized "Abraham Lincoln Brigade" in the Spanish Civil War, the KLA's émigré army is a propaganda exercise intended to confer an air of romantic idealism to a movement dominated by corrupt terrorists.

The KLA's founders, reported Balkans correspondent Chris Hedges in the March 28th New York Times, were "diehard Marxist-Leninists (who were bankrolled in the old days by the Stalinist dictatorship next door in Albania) as well as descendants of the fascist militias raised by the Italians in World War II."

Hedges fleshes out his portrait of the KLA in an essay published in the May-June 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs. "The KLA fighters are the province's new power brokers," Hedges writes. "Whatever political leadership emerges in Kosovo will come from the rebel ranks, and it will be militant, nationalist, uncompromising, and deeply suspicious of all outsiders."

The KLA's leadership cadres, according to Hedges, are "given to secrecy, paranoia, and appalling mendacity when they feel it serves their interests, which is most of the time."

The KLA's ideology displays "hints of fascism on one side and whiffs of communism on the other," continues Hedges, and its leadership includes the heirs and descendants of "the Skanderbeg volunteer SS division raised by the Nazis [who] took part in the shameful roundup and deportation of [Kosovo's] few hundred Jews during the Holocaust."

Such is the character of the group that, in Hedges' view, "represents the aspirations of most Kosovar Albanians," which is to create "an independent Kosovo now and a Greater Albania later." A map circulated among KLA supporters, including the Albanian-American Civic League (AACL), depicts a "Greater Albania" that includes not only Kosovo, but a slice taken from Serbia proper, in addition to portions of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece.

Despite repeated assertions from NATO that the war against Yugoslavia is intended to contain ethnic conflict, the alliance with the KLA effectively guarantees that the conflict will spread throughout the Balkans and beyond. Were Milosevic to relent and allow international "peacekeepers" to occupy Kosovo, the occupation force would be required to disarm the KLA, as specified by the Rambouillet framework.

The KLA has made it clear that it has no intention of relinquishing its arms or renouncing its irredentist aims. Indeed, the terrorist group has already expanded its campaign in Macedonia, which has been overrun by Albanian refugees. On April 22nd, Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov reported that KLA arms caches totaling 4.5 tons of firearms, grenades, and ammo have been discovered in several Macedonian locations.

The KLA has also reportedly recruited more than 1,000 "volunteers" from that country's refugee population.

Unless the Clinton Administration decides to support the KLA's drive for a "Greater Albania," a NATO "victory" over Milosevic would almost certainly presage another conflict with the KLA, which - as the success of its international fundraising and recruiting efforts illustrates - has a disciplined and tightly organized international network at its disposal. The KLA would be well positioned to bring its war home to America in the form of terrorism.

Narco-Revolution

As previously reported in these pages (see "Diving into the Kosovo Quagmire" in our March 15th issue [included here immediately following this article -Ed.]), the KLA is allied with Osama bin-Laden's international terrorist network and funded, in large measure, by Albanian organized crime - particularly heroin trafficking.

In 1994, when the insurrectionary KLA was still in its larval stage, France's Observatire Geopolitique Des Drogues, a counter-narcotics bureau attached to the European Commission, reported that "heroin shipment and marketing networks are taking root among ethnic Albanian communities in Albania, Macedonia, and the Kosovo province of Serbia, in order to finance large purchases of weapons destined for the brewing war in Kosovo."

A 1995 report from Kosovo published in the left-wing journal Mother Jones described how Kosovo Albanians committed to insurrection would work as "camels": "By the hundreds, they cross the mountains, lakes, and seas that comprise affluent Europe's outer frontiers - usually in the dead of night - carrying the mob's narcotics in one direction and its laundered money in the other."

"Here and in a half-dozen other Western countries," declared Pascal Auchlin, a criminologist with Switzerland's National Center for Scientific Research, "there is now an ant's trail of individual drug traffickers that leads right to Kosovo." In 1995, nearly 500 Kosovo Albanians were in Swiss prisons on drug-related charges, and more than 1,000 others were under indictment.

Many other "camels" were not so fortunate, noted Mother Jones: "Empty boats wash up, after howling Mediterranean storms, on the Spanish and Sicilian coasts. Decomposed bodies are discovered each spring in the Alps, when the seasonal thaw opens snowbound passes."

In the United States, wrote criminologist Gus Xhudo in the Spring 1996 issue of Transnational Organized Crime, Albanian mobsters have been involved in "drug and refugee smuggling, arms trafficking, contract killing, kidnaping, false visa forgery, and burglary."

Between 1985 and 1995, wrote Xhudo, "authorities estimated that 10 million U.S. dollars in cash and merchandise had been stolen from some 300 supermarkets, ATM machines, jewelry stores, and restaurants" by Albanian gangsters, a healthy cut of which was sent to fund "Greater Albanian" ambitions.

In Albanian gangs, reported Xhudo, "the basic command structure, reliant upon their politico-cultural experiences with communist rule, is one rooted in community party apparatus." A Leadership Council (whose membership, according to law enforcement officials, includes several leading Albanian politicians) directs the syndicate's international efforts through a decentralized chain of command.

Recruits into Albanian gangs "swear an oath of allegiance and secrecy, an omerta or besa (literally, promise or word of honor in Albanian)," Xhudo explained. The executive committee of each Albanian bajrak (or crime "family") provides "the requisite tactics and training necessary for conducting arms and drug smuggling, as well as sophisticated burglaries."

The hands-on work of the crime syndicates is performed by "crews" made up of four to ten members: "A-team" units trained in the use of sophisticated tools and communications gear, and "B-teams" who, "while lacking in sophistication make up for it in brutality and cunning."

In the mid-1990s, law enforcement officials in New York and New Jersey noticed that Albanian gangsters had dramatically improved their surveillance and counter-surveillance skills. This led some officials to suspect that former agents of the Sigurimi, the Communist Albanian secret police, had begun to train "crews" in this country.

Even without the Sigurimi's help, however, the Albanian mob had established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of narcotics smuggling. Xhudo wrote that "by the mid-1980s, Albanians were already gaining notoriety for their drug trafficking," playing a predominant role in the "Balkan Connection" through which passed up to 40 percent of the heroin sold on U.S. streets.

Narcotics Network

Asked by The New American about accusations that the KLA is implicated in drug smuggling and terrorism, Shirley Cloyes, the Balkan affairs adviser for the Albanian American Civic League (AACL), dismissed the charges as "absolutely preposterous" products of "Serb propaganda."

"These reports are quite baffling, and it is very, very disturbing that such propaganda has been given wide currency in the press," Cloyes declared. "As the atrocities of Milosevic's regime have been exposed to the public, the Serb propaganda machine has stepped up its rhetoric about the supposed connections between the KLA and drug traffickers and Islamic fundamentalists. There is simply no merit to any of these charges."

Former counter-narcotics agent Michael Levine, author of the exposés Deep Cover and The Big White Lie, begs to differ with Cloyes' assessment. "Backing the KLA is simply insane," Levine protests. Levine, a highly decorated former undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told The New American, "My contacts within the DEA are quite frankly terrified, but there's not much they can say without risking their jobs.

These guys [the KLA] have a network that's active on the streets of this country. The Albanian mob is a scary operation. In fact, the Mafia relied on Albanian hitmen to carry out a lot of their contracts. They're the worst elements of society that you can imagine, and now, according to my sources in drug enforcement, they're politically protected."

"It's the same old story," Levine notes. "Ten years ago we were arming and equipping the worst elements of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan - drug traffickers, arms smugglers, anti-American terrorists.

We later paid the price when the World Trade Center was bombed, and we learned that some of those responsible had been trained by us. Now we're doing the same thing with the KLA, which is tied in with every known middle and far eastern drug cartel.

Interpol, Europol, and nearly every European intelligence and counter-narcotics agency has files open on drug syndicates that lead right to the KLA, and right to Albanian gangs in this country."

In early April, the FBI announced that an anonymous fax had been sent to Serbian Orthodox churches across the country urging Serbian-Americans to carry out terrorist acts against members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Although the FBI subsequently dismissed the message as a "rant" rather than a terrorist threat, the incident still served to misdirect public attention, according to Levine.

"It's possible that a Serb might commit an act of terrorism, but the KLA's got a whole network up and running in this country, and they're in bed with Osama bin-Laden, who's shown that he intends to kill Americans and has the means to do it," Levine declares.

Robert Gelbard, the Clinton Administration's former special envoy for Kosovo, told Agence France Presse in February 1998 that the KLA "is, without any questions, a terrorist group." After this remark provoked criticism from the KLA's American partisans that it amounted to a "green light" for Milosevic to carry out repression against Kosovo's Albanian population, Gelbard clarified his point by telling the House Committee on International Relations that while the KLA had committed terrorist acts, it had never "been classified legally by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization."

In light of the fact that the KLA has been embraced by Osama bin-Laden, who has been identified by the Administration as the kingpin of global terrorism, this omission is a curious one indeed.

On August 24th of last year, shortly after U.S. cruise missiles struck supposed assets of bin-Laden's network in Sudan and Afghanistan, the Saudi terror chieftain's World Islamic Front (WIF) issued a communiqué urging its followers to "direct your attacks to the American army and her allies, the infidels."

Kosovo was listed among the locales in which the communiqué claimed the WIF had "achieved great victories" in recent years. In a November 30th dispatch from Pristina, Kosovo, The Scotsman reported that bin-Laden's operatives were active in Albania.

In addition, intelligence officials reported that "Mujahadeen units from at least a half dozen Middle East countries [are] streaming across the border into Kosovo from safe bases in Albania."

Complement to Bloodshed

As preparations for NATO's war in Kosovo proceeded, according to The Scotsman, the Clinton Administration asked the KLA "to distance themselves from so-called Mujahadeen fundamentalists." In exchange, the Administration held out the promise of political and military support.

According to the February 24th New York Times, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright promised the KLA leadership that in exchange for its signatures on the Rambouillet peace accord, "Officers in the Kosovo Liberation Army would be sent to the United States for training in transforming themselves from a guerilla group into a police force or a political entity, much like the African National Congress did in South Africa."

"We want to develop a good relationship with them as they transform themselves into a politically oriented organization," declared deputy State Department spokesman James Foley. "We want to develop closer and better ties with this organization."

Military cooperation between the KLA and NATO is already a reality in Kosovo. The Times of London reported on April 20th [1999] that KLA guerillas, using satellite communications systems, have been target-spotting for NATO bombing runs over the province.

"The intelligence is passed to Western `handlers' who relay the targets to the alliance, enabling NATO to claim that it has no `formal links' with the rebels," continued the Times. Some of those "handlers" are commandos from the British SAS Special Forces; others reportedly are from the U.S. Delta Force.

One British report suggested that Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), the Virginia-based private military training firm, had been retained by the Albanian government to train and equip the KLA. MPRI spokesman Ed Soyster told The New American that while the firm has ongoing programs in Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia, "we've not been contacted by the Albanian government, and we're not going to get in the middle of that thing in Kosovo." Alluding to the KLA's background in drug smuggling and terrorism, Soyster said that "this group is something that we simply don't want to associate with" - an interesting assessment, given the firm's willingness to contract with unsavory elements in both Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Some KLA partisans in the U.S. are urging the Administration to dispense with "handlers" and arm the KLA directly. On April 21st, Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the "Kosova Self-Defense Act," which would (in McConnell's words) "provide $25 million to arm and train members of the KLA" and "equip 10,000 men or 10 battalions with small arms and anti-tank weapons for up to 18 months."

McConnell told his colleagues, "Given Administration reluctance to deploy U.S. troops, there is only one option - the KLA must be given the means to defend their homeland." Congressman James Traficant (D-OH) has introduced a complementary measure in the House.

Not surprisingly, the AACL supports the proposal to arm the KLA - but only in combination with the deployment of U.S. troops, rather than as a substitute for such a deployment.

"Mr. President, how many Albanians must die before we do the right thing - namely arm the KLA, as we did the Croats in Bosnia - and committing NATO ground troops to stop the genocide and finish the job we started?" pleaded AACL director Joseph DioGuardi in a letter to Bill Clinton. Asked by The New American why American troops are necessary if the KLA can recruit Albanians from the diaspora to fight on the ground, the AACL's Shirley Cloyes replied, "Our position has always been that we should start with arming the KLA before we send in ground troops."

This is to say that the AACL - which is essentially the KLA's public relations organ - does not see arming the KLA as an alternative to shedding American blood on the ground in Kosovo, but as a complement to a ground campaign: The KLA gets U.S. arms to continue its irredentist campaign, and U.S. servicemen get the dubious privilege of dying on behalf of "Greater Albania" and, of course, the new world order.

KLA Map of "Greater Albania"

A "Greater Albania"

When the conversation turned to the question of the KLA's larger designs, Cloyes stuck close to her scripted talking points. "I have no time for talk about `Greater Albania,'" Cloyes emphatically told The New American. "The only quest for hegemony in the Balkans is Milosevic's quest for a `Greater Serbia.' You have only one land grab, and that's Serbia's grab of Kosovo." When asked if it is the KLA's intention to change existing borders in the Balkans, as the map distributed by the group suggests, Cloyes once again parried the inquiry by condemning "Serb aggression": "There are no borders to change. The only borders that have been changed were changed by Serbia." It will be interesting to see how this line of reasoning plays with those residents of Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece who live within the KLA-defined boundaries of "Greater Albania."

"In the end, it will come to this: Led by the KLA, Kosovo will separate from Serbia, whether by negotiations or by violence," concluded Christopher Hedges in his Foreign Affairs essay. "The grim reality is that we had better get to know the KLA - because it is not going away." It must be remembered that Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves to define policy alternatives for America's foreign policy elite. Thus, Hedges' essay could be taken as a summary of the official Establishment line.

"Why quit our own to stand on foreign ground?" asked George Washington in his Farewell Address. "Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?" The wisdom of Washington's warning to eschew damaging entanglements is underscored by the utterly demented determination of our ruling Establishment to knit our destiny with that of the KLA.

End quote.


   

  The New American
 

Diving Into the Kosovo Quagmire

By William Norman Grigg
The New American
Vol. 15, No. 6
March 15, 1999


For fair use only
Published under the provision of
U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.

 * * * 

According to the Clinton Administration, U.S. military intervention in Kosovo is necessary to bring an end to a yearlong civil war, prevent a monumental ``humanitarian crisis,'' and prevent the conflict from spreading to Albania, Greece, Macedonia, and perhaps even Turkey. As we shall show, the Administration's public pronouncements are at odds with the truth.

The chief beneficiary of U.S. military intervention, the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), is a terrorist criminal syndicate, Maoist in its ideological bent, hard-wired into the international heroin trade, and tightly allied with Osama bin Laden. Additionally, American servicemen deployed in Kosovo would serve under the operational command of foreign military officers. In brief, the mission would advance the cause of international narco-terrorism, help entrench the European network of the world's most notorious Islamic terrorist, and accelerate the erosion of U.S. sovereignty.

As representatives of Kosovo's Albanian population - including delegates from the KLA - and Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic met in Rambouillet, France to discuss "autonomy" for the province, Clinton Administration officials made it known that the President was prepared to deploy 4,000 U.S. servicemen to Kosovo as part of NATO's "Operation Joint Guardian." They also made it clear that they did not consider it necessary to obtain congressional authorization for the deployment.

In testimony offered on February 10th before the House International Affairs Committee, Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering defended Bill Clinton's unilateral decision to commit troops to Kosovo, claiming that "there is ample constitutional precedent for this type of action." While it is true that Congress on many occasions has abdicated its constitutional responsibilities in the face of presidential usurpation, such delinquencies do not constitute "constitutional precedent." Congressman Tom Campbell (R-CA) underscored that fact, pointedly informing Pickering that "previous constitutional violations do not justify subsequent ones."

Congressman Pat Danner (D-MO) also found Pickering's presentation unconvincing, predicting, "We are indeed going into a second Bosnia" - and few congressmen on either side of the aisle are eager to deploy U.S. troops into another Balkan morass. "Three years ago, the President sent troops into Bosnia, promising they would be home in six months," observed Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) in his February 15th newsletter. "The years have passed, more than $20 billion has been spent, and our soldiers are still there. Very few seriously ask anymore when these troops are coming home - or even what it is they are supposed to be accomplishing."

In November 1995, as a means of compelling congressional acquiescence in his Bosnia deployment, Bill Clinton inserted a small advance contingent before unilaterally dispatching a force of 20,000 GIs as "peacekeepers." By doing this, Mr. Clinton was essentially using U.S. servicemen as hostages: Congress was unwilling to de-fund the Administration's unconstitutional venture lest it be accused of abandoning our soldiers in the field. A report in the February 12th Washington Post indicated that the Administration was prepared to pursue that strategy once again by kidnaping a 2,200-man Marine expeditionary unit deployed in the Adriatic and deploying them in Kosovo in advance of the main body of NATO "peacekeepers."

Using such time-honored tactics, Bill Clinton is recreating the circumstances that led to the Somalia debacle in 1993: U.S. troops assigned to a UN-supervised "peacekeeping" mission, under foreign command, deployed to a region in which no "peace" exists to be kept.

Maoist Movement

If there is a tract of land anywhere on the earth's surface less relevant to America's national interest than Kosovo, its name does not readily come to mind. Possessing an area roughly the same as that of Connecticut, the Serbian province displays, on a miniaturized scale, all of the characteristics of Bosnia. Serbs regard the province to be the spiritual home of Serbian nationalism, and many sites deemed sacred by the Serbian Orthodox Church are found in Kosovo. Of the province's two million inhabitants, roughly 90 percent are ethnic Albanians, of whom approximately 90 percent are Muslim.

As in Bosnia, ancestral grudges and grievances are a palpable reality in Kosovo, and have been inflamed by generations of social engineering by various ruling elites - Ottoman, Nazi, and Communist. Many within the ethnic Albanian majority favor independence from Serbia, with some seeking unification into a "greater Albania."

[NATO created] The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) did not exist before November 1997, when KLA guerillas disguised with ski masks appeared at the funeral of a teacher killed by Kosovo Serbs in the village of Drenica. The movement that coalesced into the KLA "was made up of militants who were fascinated by the unadulterated Marxism of [late Albanian dictator] Enver Hoxha," reported the French journal Liberation on January 21st. The KLA is "opaque in its structures [and] totalitarian in its methods," explained the French publication, and its commanders have "remained largely true to the Maoist origins of its founders." KLA frontman Adem Demaci is an unabashed disciple of Mao, and KLA cadres greet one another with an upraised fist - the universal Marxist salute.

However, as military affairs analyst Ben Works, director of the Strategic Research Institute of the United States (SIRIUS), observed, the KLA is not rigidly ideological. "The Maoist ideology is an important element, but the selling point for recruits is the group's militant Albanian nationalism," Works informed The New American. "Its chief appeal is to the ethnic Albanian Muslim population, and so its nationalism is couched in Islamic terms." The KLA's Islamic veneer helps explain the group's alliance with renegade Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, the notorious financier of anti-American terrorism.

"There's no doubt that bin Laden's people have been in Kosovo helping to arm, equip, and train the KLA," Works declared. "Bin Laden's the monster du jour, and here we are coming to the aid of his allies in the Balkans. There is a monster being created here, but in important ways it's a monster of our own making. Hardly a day goes by without a terrorism alert at some U.S. embassy that has been targeted by bin Laden's people, and the Administration's policy in Kosovo is to help bin Laden, through the KLA, extend his reach in Europe. It almost seems as if the Clinton Administration's policy is to guarantee more terrorism."

In his syndicated column for August 12, 1998, retired U.S. Army Colonel Harry G. Summers wrote that in Bosnia and Kosovo "we find ourselves championing the very Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups who are our mortal enemies elsewhere." The Washington Post noted that the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania might be connected to Albania's deportation of several members of an Islamic terrorist cell run by bin Laden. Several respected European journals, including London's Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, have reported that Iran is actively arming and supporting the KLA, and Iran's terrorist network has extended its reach into Italy by way of KLA-aligned ethnic Albanians residing there.

KLA Narco-Mafia

The KLA's baneful impact has already been felt in Italy, particularly with regard to narco-terrorism. "In just the first two weeks of January, there were nine murders carried out by KLA assets in Milan," Works informed The New American. "This is nothing new, by any means. The KLA is tightly connected to the Albanian mafia, which is one of the major sources of heroin in Europe, and is also heavily involved in all aspects of the vice industry."

As Ben Works pointed out in a February 4th analysis, the Clinton Administration-crafted plan to grant "partial autonomy" to a KLA-dominated Kosovo all but guarantees that the province "will find itself controlled by the gunmen of an international drug-dealing mafia masquerading as an idealistic liberation army." The narco-mafia from which the KLA was spawned has been deeply involved in drug trafficking since the early 1980s as a means of fueling political insurrection.

A 1994 report compiled by France's Observatire Geopolitique Des Drogues, which carries out counter-narcotics investigations on behalf of the European Commission, found that "heroin shipment and marketing networks are taking root among ethnic Albanian communities in Albania, Macedonia, and the Kosovo province of Serbia, in order to finance large purchases of weapons destined not only for the current conflict in Bosnia but also for the brewing war in Kosovo." The Kosovo headquarters of the Albanian drug network was identified in that report as Tropaja - a village on the Serbian-Albanian border that is a KLA stronghold. Large quantities of heroin from the embryonic KLA's narco-network were seized in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Greece, and profits reaped from drug dealing were used to buy weapons. The report noted that "Russian army barracks constitute an almost inexhaustible source of hardware for these networks."

Until his recent arrest, 35-year-old Agim Gashi, an ethnic Albanian from the Kosovo city of Pristina, was Milan's ruling drug lord. The Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on January 19th that Gashi "supplied his brothers in Kosovo with Kalashnikov rifles, bazookas, and hand grenades. He controlled the heroin market, and at least part of the billions he made from it was used to buy weapons for the `resistance' movement of the Albanian Kosovo community."

In one telephone conversation intercepted by Italian police, Gashi was overheard admonishing his Turkish heroin suppliers to continue shipments during Ramadan - "a violation of religious rules for the sake of a more important cause: `To submerge Christian infidels in drugs.'" Despite Gashi's recent arrest, the KLA's narco-allies remain atop Milan's underworld, and are accepting the homage of the older, established syndicates: "The old 'Ndrangheta families, the Mafia and the old Egyptian `lords' depend on the new masters of the drug market, acknowledging their authority."

U.S. soldiers called upon to enforce a "peace" accord that turns Kosovo over to the KLA might be interested to know that they are risking their lives on behalf of a criminal syndicate that for years has pumped heroin into the U.S. and threatened the lives of American law enforcement officials. The international Albanian drug syndicate that spawned the KLA played a prominent role in the "Balkan connection" heroin network. According to the Wall Street Journal for September 9, 1985, ethnic Albanian Mafiosi residing in New York City, the terminus of a heroin pipeline reaching back through Belgrade to Istanbul, were responsible for moving "25% to 40% of the U.S. heroin supply." Law enforcement officials also believed that the Albanian expatriates were "involved in everything from gun-running to counterfeiting."

Unlike other ethnic criminal syndicates - such as the Italian-American La Cosa Nostra - the Albanian narco-mafia was willing to make war directly on U.S. law enforcement officials. One U.S. Attorney active in prosecuting "Balkan connection" gangsters learned that a contract had been taken out on his life by an ethnic Albanian defendant, as well as upon Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Cohen and Drug Enforcement Administration agent Jack Delmore. This was in harmony with the "Kanun of Lek Dukamejin," the 15th-century social and ethical code that defines Albania's culture. In the Albanian blood feud, "honor is cleansed by killing any male member of the family of the original offender, and the spirit of that victim cries out to its own family for purification," explains British historian Noel Malcolm in his 1998 study Kosovo: A Short History. Thus the contract applied not only to the law enforcement officials, but to the male members of their extended families as well.

Even after the Albanian mobster was convicted and sent to prison, an attempt was made to fulfill the contract, much to the puzzlement of the targeted U.S. Attorney. "After you have been convicted," he observed, "there is no rational reason to kill a prosecutor, except revenge." So spoke future New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose experience with the Albanian mob may influence his view of the wisdom of handing Kosovo to the KLA.

Waiting for an Alibi

The developments leading up to the Administration's announcement of a U.S. mission to Kosovo were projected with uncanny prescience in an August 12, 1998 analysis by the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC). The report noted that "planning for a U.S.-led NATO intervention in Kosovo is now largely in place.... The only missing element seems to be an event - with suitably vivid media coverage - that would make the intervention politically salable, in the same way that a dithering Administration finally decided on intervention in Bosnia in 1995 after a series of   'Serb mortar attacks' took the lives of dozens of civilians - attacks which, upon closer examination, may in fact have been the work of the Muslim regime in Sarajevo, the main beneficiary of the intervention."

"That the Administration is waiting for a similar `trigger' in Kosovo is increasingly obvious," observed the RPC report. Last July, the Administration had already described the "trigger" event it was seeking as a pretext for intervention. The August 4th Washington Post quoted "a senior U.S. Defense Department official" who told reporters on July 15th that "we're not anywhere near making a decision for any kind of armed intervention in Kosovo right now." The Post observed that the official "listed only one thing that might trigger a policy change: 'I think if some levels of atrocities were reached that would be intolerable, that would probably be a trigger.'"

The "trigger" was pulled on January 16th, when William Walker, the Administration official assigned to Kosovo with a team of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), announced that a "massacre" of more than 40 ethnic Albanian peasants by Serbian security personnel had taken place in the village of Racak. The January 20th New York Times observed that the Racak "massacre" followed "a well-established pattern: Albanian guerillas in the Kosovo Liberation Army kill a Serb policeman or two. Serb forces retaliate by flattening a village. This time they took the lives of more than 40 ethnic Albanians, including many elderly and one child."

However, as the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on the same day, there was ample reason to believe that Walker's assessment of the situation was made in "undue haste." Walker, the U.S. official who headed a 700-man OSCE "verification" team monitoring a cease-fire in Kosovo, accused Serbian police of conducting a massacre "in cold blood." According to Le Figaro's account, Serb policemen, after notifying both the media and OSCE officials, conducted a raid on a KLA stronghold. After several hours of combat, Serbian police announced that they had killed ten KLA personnel and seized a large cache of weapons. Journalists observed several OSCE officials talking with ethnic Albanian villagers in an attempt to determine the casualty count.

"The scene of Albanian corpses in civilian clothes lined up in a ditch which would shock the whole world was not discovered until the next morning, around 9:00 a.m.," reported the French newspaper. "At that time, the village was once again taken over by armed [KLA] soldiers who led the foreign visitors, as soon as they arrived, toward the supposed massacre site. Around noon, William Walker in person arrived and expressed his indignation." All of the Albanian witnesses interviewed by the media and OSCE observers on January 16th related the same version of events - namely, that Serbian police had forced their way into homes, separated the women from the men, and dragged the men to the hilltops to be unceremoniously executed.

The chief difficulty with this account, according to Le Figaro, is that television footage taken during the January 15th battle in Racak "radically contradict[s] that version. It was in fact an empty village that the police entered in the morning.... The shooting was intense, as they were fired on from [KLA] trenches dug into the hillside. The fighting intensified sharply on the hilltops above the village." Rather than a pitiless attack on helpless villagers, the unedited film depicts a firefight between police and encircled KLA guerillas, with the latter group getting by far the worst of the engagement. Further complicating things for the "official" account is the fact that "journalists found only very few cartridges around the ditch where the massacre supposedly took place."

"What really happened?" asks Le Figaro. "During the night, could the [KLA] have gathered the bodies, in fact killed by Serb bullets, to set up a scene of cold-blooded massacre?" Similar skepticism was expressed by Le Monde, a publication whose editorial slant is decidedly antagonistic to the Serbian side in any Balkan conflict.

"Isn't the Racak massacre just too perfect?" wondered Le Monde correspondent Christophe Chatelot in a January 21st dispatch from Kosovo. Eyewitness accounts collected by Chatelot contradicted the now official version of the "massacre," describing instead a pitched battle between police and well-entrenched KLA fighters in a nearly abandoned village. "How could the Serb police have gathered a group of men and led them calmly toward the execution site while they were constantly under fire from [KLA] fighters?" wrote Chatelot. "How could the ditch located on the edge of Racak [where the massacre victims were later found] have escaped notice by local inhabitants familiar with the surroundings who were present before nightfall? Or by the observers who were present for over two hours in this tiny village? Why so few cartridges around the corpses, so little blood in the hollow road where twenty-three people are supposed to have been shot at close range with several bullets in the head? Rather, weren't the bodies of the Albanians killed in combat by the Serb police gathered into the ditch to create a horror scene which was sure to have an appalling effect on public opinion?" ...

[T]he KLA is a Maoist insurgency well versed in classic urban warfare strategy. As urban warfare theorist Carlos Marighella explained in his Mini-Manual for the Urban Guerilla, the purpose of terrorism is "to intensify repression," resulting in draconian measures that "make life unbearable" for the subject population. When crackdowns come, wrote Marighella, terrorists must "become more aggressive, and violent heightening the disastrous situation in which the government must act...." The French newspaper Liberation described the KLA's tactics in nearly identical terms, pointing out that "for several months, the [KLA] guerillas have been pushing the Serbs across the fault line by multiplying their attacks against individual police officers. Thus, it tries to provoke a massive reaction by the forces of [Serb dictator Slobodan] Milosevic." Noted Liberation, "This strategy is classical" - and the staging of a phony "massacre" is a logical extension of that classic strategy.

None of this mattered once Walker had decreed that Serb police were guilty of "the most horrendous" massacre he had ever witnessed, and NATO warplanes were revving up for retaliatory strikes against targets in Serbia. The desired trigger incident was seized upon as a pretext for intervention. On January 30th, the NATO Council authorized NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana to use armed force to compel Serbian and ethnic Albanian delegates to "peace" negotiations in France to discuss a framework for Kosovo "autonomy."

Good for Business

Although public declarations by both the Clinton Administration and NATO officials have bristled with condemnations of, and threats directed at, the Serbian dictator Milosevic, he actually stands to benefit from U.S. intervention on behalf of the KLA. "Milosevic pretends to be a Serbian nationalist when it suits his interests, and he was actually propelled to power by exploiting the grievances of the Serb minority in Kosovo," a Senate analyst told The New American. "But he has been willing to sell out Serbs in Bosnia and in Krajina [in Croatia] when it has been necessary to cut a deal with the West. In fact, it has been to his advantage to do so, since it has helped him consolidate power by eliminating potential rivals."

In every Clinton Administration initiative in the Balkans, observed the August 12th RPC paper, "the key figure upon whose word the United States relies is none other than Slobodan Milosevic." In fact, some observers of the Balkan region describe Milosevic as both an "arsonist" and a "fireman" - giddily igniting fires that he volunteers to subdue. At least one moderate ethnic Albanian leader has referred to the Maoist, dope-running KLA as "a creation of Milosevic's security forces." The RPC paper asserted that "Milosevic has created a political symbiosis with the Kosovo Albanians"; they provide him with a convenient foil when he needs to posture as a Serb nationalist, just as intermittent threats of NATO air strikes give the dictator an ominous external enemy whose menace can rally his subject population and justify internal repression. Bill Clinton, after all, is not the only corrupt demagogue who knows how to "Wag the Dog."

The submerged entente between the KLA and the Milosevic regime is illustrated by the former's role in helping to elude NATO-imposed sanctions on Serbia. Noted the RPC paper: "Milosevic, as the distributor of scarcity, for years has relied heavily on Albanian organized crime operations based in Kosovo, which has long been a center of sanctions-busting. The fact that some of these same syndicates are no doubt funding the KLA has given Milosevic no reason to disrupt their mutually lucrative business interests." There is also no reason to doubt that deploying U.S. servicemen in Kosovo, however injurious to American interests, would, from the perspective of the KLA/Milosevic axis, be very good for business.

The Aztlan Factor

No assessment of the potential damage of the Kosovo mission would be complete without examining the precedent it would set. NATO - which is a military and political component of the UN - is preparing to intervene in a sovereign nation in order to carve out what will almost certainly become a new nation-state. The justification for this intervention is a particularly lurid specimen of alleged police brutality. Over the next few decades, as unchecked immigration from Mexico changes America's demographic realities, and as Mexican insurgents - many of whom are aligned with Mexican narco-traffickers - assume a militant posture akin to that of the Albanian KLA, the precedent set by U.S. intervention in Kosovo may become increasingly relevant to America. An independent "Kosova" (the preferred spelling for ethnic Albanian separatists) will almost certainly embolden Mexican radicals seeking to create an independent "Aztlan" in the U.S. Southwest.

"In 2020, Southern California will be predominantly Hispanic," noted retired U.S. Army Colonel David Hackworth in his January 29th syndicated column. "Imagine if California-born Hispanic leaders following the Kosovar rebel scenario convinced their followers that the home of the Rose Bowl Parade was theirs. They could argue, `This land belonged to our forefathers long before the English settled in Jamestown. They came with guns and took it from us. We're taking it back.'" A governor of California, or a U.S. President, who chose to deal forcefully with Hispanic radicals, would run squarely into the Kosovo precedent. Complicating things further would be the fact that America's military assets, if present trends continue, will be badly depleted from ongoing garrison duty in the Balkans, and wherever else our servicemen have been deployed on "peacekeeping" missions - thus leaving America at the mercy of the UN or its successor organization to keep the peace, on its terms, within the borders of our once sovereign republic.

End quote.


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First posted: November 24, 2006