The only thing I will tell you about where this series is going is this: whether you are Democrat or Republican, Muslim or Infidel, crook or cop; whether you are a proud American or a card-carrying charter member of the hate-America-first crowd... you will not like the destination. ;)
We will begin by reviewing the background of the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA. The KLA was the main armed group on the ethnic Albanian side in the fighting that resulted in the province of Kosovo declaring its independence from Serbia; this fighting was supported by NATO, and Kosovo's independence was widely recognized by the international community. (As of 1999, as part of the internationally-sponsored end to hostilities in the area, the KLA was transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps, which was disbanded in early 2009, with many of its personnel becoming part of the Kosovo Police.)
KLA, Terrorism, Organized Crime
An article entitled Heroin Heroes, from January/February of 2000, provided extensive background on the KLA. One key excerpt is this one:
For hundreds of years, Kosovar Albanian smugglers have been among the world's most accomplished dealers in contraband, aided by a propitious geography of isolated ports and mountainous villages. Virtually every stage of the Balkan heroin business, from refining to end-point distribution, is directed by a loosely knit hierarchy known as "The 15 Families," who answer to the regional clans that run every aspect of Albanian life.
The Kosovar Albanian traffickers are so successful, says a senior U.S. State Department official, "because Albanians are organized in very close-knit groups, linked by their ethnicity and extended family connections."
The clans, in addition to their drug operations, maintained an armed brigade that gradually evolved into the KLA. In the early 1990s, as the Kosovar uprising in Yugoslavia grew, ethnic Albanian rebels there faced increased financial needs. The 15 Families responded by boosting drug trafficking and channeling money and weapons to the rebels in their clans. As traffickers started taking bigger risks, drug seizures by police across Europe skyrocketed from a kilo or two in the early 1980s to multimillion-dollar hauls, culminating in the spectacular 1996 arrest at Gradina, Yugoslavia, of two truckers running a load of more than half a ton of heroin worth $50 million.
Though the article Heroin Heroes put many pieces of the puzzle together, the story was hardly hidden previously. Two years earlier, the UN published Resolution 1160 (1998), which had this to say regarding the KLA:
The Security Council,
Conndemning the use of excessive force by Serbian police forces against civilians and peaceful demonstrators in Kosovo, as well as all acts of terrorism by the Kosovo Liberation Army or any other group or individual and all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training,
2. Calls also upon the Kosovar Albanian leadership to condemn all terrorist action, and emphasizes that all elements in the Kosovar Albanian community should pursue their goals by peaceful means only;
About this time, the matter was being addressed in Washington, though, since the Democrat Clinton Administration was siding with the KLA, it was up to Republicans in the Senate to try to get the story out.
A press release entitled Bosnia II: The Clinton Administration Sets Course for NATO Intervention in Kosovo, by the United States Senate Republican Policy Committee and dated August 12, 1998, had this to say:
Whitewashing the KLA
But in order to make the case for U.S./NATO intervention, the Clinton Administration, as in Bosnia, must rely on the ethnic justification of one side in the conflict to the exclusion of the other side's case. Contributing to the success of this strategy to date has been the negligible attention given to the KLA's ties to organized crime elements in the Albanian diaspora [See: "Speculation plentiful, facts few about Kosovo separatist group," Baltimore Sun, 3/16/98; "Germany 'can take no more refugees'," The Guardian (London), 6/17/98; "My plan to save Kosovo now," by Paddy Ashdown, The Independent (London), 8/5/98] and indications that the KLA may be receiving assistance (as did the Muslim regime in Bosnia) from Iran [See: "Radical groups 'arming Kosovo Albanians'," Financial Times (London), 5/8/98; "Italy Become's Iran's New Base for Terrorist Operations," Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy (London), February 1998].
In addition, there are media reports that the recent embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania may be connected to the deportation from Albania of several members of an Islamic terrorist cell connected to Saudi expatriate Osama Bin Laden; questions are now being raised as to the activities of radical Islamic groups in Albania, particularly in the region around the town of Tropoje, a known KLA staging area ["U.S. Blasts Possible Mideast Ties: Alleged Terrorists Investigated in Albania," Washington Post, 8/12/98]. This possible connection raises serious implications for the Clinton Administration's regional policy: "One of the most disturbing aspects of the present [terrorism] crisis is that it may have been triggered by our own inept foreign policy in Bosnia and Kosovo. There, beyond all common sense, we find ourselves championing Muslim factions who draw support from the very Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups who are our mortal enemies elsewhere" ["Bringing terrorists to justice," by Col. Harry G. Summers (USA-Ret.), Distinguished Fellow, U.S. Army War College, Washington Times, 8/12/98].
Less than a year later, more information was out about the developing situation in the Balkans; from The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties?, from March 31, 1999:
The KLA: from 'Terrorists' to 'Partners'
The Kosovo Liberation Army "began on the radical fringe of Kosovar Albanian politics, originally made up of diehard Marxist-Leninists (who were bankrolled in the old days by the Stalinist dictatorship next door in Albania) as well as by descendants of the fascist militias raised by the Italians in World War II" ["Fog of War -- Coping With the Truth About Friend and Foe: Victims Not Quite Innocent," New York Times, 3/28/99]. The KLA made its military debut in February 1996 with the bombing of several camps housing Serbian refugees from wars in Croatia and Bosnia [Jane's Intelligence Review, 10/1/96]. The KLA (again according to the highly regarded Jane's,) "does not take into consideration the political or economic importance of its victims, nor does it seem at all capable of seriously hurting its enemy, the Serbian police and army. Instead, the group has attacked Serbian police and civilians arbitrarily at their weakest points. It has not come close to challenging the region's balance of military power" [Jane's, 10/1/96].
The group expanded its operations with numerous attacks through 1996 but was given a major boost with the collapse into chaos of neighboring Albania in 1997, which afforded unlimited opportunities for the introduction of arms into Kosovo from adjoining areas of northern Albania, which are effectively out of the control of the Albanian government in Tirana. From its inception, the KLA has targeted not only Serbian security forces, who may be seen as legitimate targets for a guerrilla insurgency, but Serbian and Albanian civilians as well.
In view of such tactics, the Clinton Administration's then-special envoy for Kosovo, Robert Gelbard, had little difficulty in condemning the KLA (also known by its Albanian initials, UCK) in terms comparable to those he used for Serbian police repression:
"'The violence we have seen growing is incredibly dangerous,' Gelbard said. He criticized violence 'promulgated by the (Serb) police' and condemned the actions of an ethnic Albanian underground group Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Serb targets. 'We condemn very strongly terrorist actions in Kosovo. The UCK is, without any questions, a terrorist group,' Gelbard said." [Agence France Presse, 2/23/98]
Among the most troubling aspects of the Clinton Administration's effective alliance with the KLA are numerous reports from reputable unofficial sources -- including the highly respected Jane's publications -- that the KLA is closely involved with:
The extensive Albanian crime network that extends throughout Europe and into North America, including allegations that a major portion of the KLA finances are derived from that network, mainly proceeds from drug trafficking; and
Terrorist organizations motivated by the ideology of radical Islam, including assets of Iran and of the notorious Osama bin-Ladin -- who has vowed a global terrorist war against Americans and American interests.
Reports on KLA Drug and Criminal Links
Elements informally known as the "Albanian mafia," composed largely of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, have for several years been a feature of the criminal underworld in a number of cities in Europe and North America; they have been particularly prominent in the trade in illegal narcotics. [See, for example,"The Albanian Cartel: Filling the Crime Void," Jane's Intelligence Review, November 1995.] The cities where the Albanian cartels are located are also fertile ground for fundraising for support of the Albanian cause in Kosovo. [See, for example, "Albanians in Exile Send Millions of Dollars to Support the KLA," BBC, 3/12/99.]
The reported link between drug activities and arms purchases for anti-Serb Albanian forces in Kosovo predates the formation of the KLA, and indeed, may be seen as a key resource that allowed the KLA to establish itself as a force in the first place:
"Narcotics smuggling has become a prime source of financing for civil wars already under way -- or rapidly brewing -- in southern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, according to a report issued here this week. The report, by the Paris-based Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues, or Geopolitical Observatory of Drugs, identifies belligerents in the former Yugoslav republics and Turkey as key players in the region's accelerating drugs-for-arms traffic. Albanian nationalists in ethnically tense Macedonia and the Serbian province of Kosovo have built a vast heroin network, leading from the opium fields of Pakistan to black-market arms dealers in Switzerland, which transports up to $2 billion worth of the drug annually into the heart of Europe, the report says. More than 500 Kosovo or Macedonian Albanians are in prison in Switzerland for drug- or arms-trafficking offenses, and more than 1,000 others are under indictment. The arms are reportedly stockpiled in Kosovo for eventual use against the Serbian government in Belgrade, which imposed a violent crackdown on Albanian autonomy advocates in the province five years ago." ["Separatists Supporting Themselves with Traffic in Narcotics," San Francisco Chronicle, 6/10/94]
Reports on Islamic Terror Links
The KLA's main staging area is in the vicinity of the town of Tropoje in northern Albania [Jane's International Defense Review, 2/1/99]. Tropoje, the hometown and current base of former Albanian president Sali Berisha, a major KLA patron, is also a known center for Islamic terrorists connected with Saudi renegade Osama bin-Ladin. [For a report on the presence of bin-Ladin assets in Tropoje and connections to anti-American Islamic terrorism, see "U.S. Blasts' Possible Mideast Ties: Alleged Terrorists Investigated in Albania, Washington Post, 8/12/98.]
The Clinton Administration's decision to support Islamic terrorists was not by chance; it was pre-meditated. The reason was simple: Islamic terrorists were closely connected to the big money of the narcotics traffickers; this money went in one direction to fund jihad, and in the other to buy political influence in Washington.
Stay tuned for more...