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Analysis of the US-led Assault on Yugoslavia

Fun Facts About Our New Allies
Sam Smith
June 22, 1999

The Progressive Review
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-- Hashim Thaqi, now mildly referred to in media like the Washington Post as 
the leader of the provisional Kosovo government, is a 29-year-old precocious 
KLA warlord known in the field as "Snake." Putting him in charge of the 
reconstruction of Kosovo is a bit like having let General Patton run the 
Marshall Plan or having a Contra leader coordinate post-hurricane aid to 
Central America. 

-- Thaqi, a radical university student who helped to organize the KLA, rose 
to the top in early March by liquidating the more democratic and moderate 
government-in-exile of the moderate reconciliationist, Ibrahim Rugova. 
Rugova had been elected shadow president during a 1992 rump election but 
received little support from the US or NATO and was not recognized by 
Yugoslavia. While there is no evidence of direct American involvement in 
Thaqi's elevation, Madeline Albright quickly hailed him with a State 
Department announcement declaring KLA's support of the Rambouillet surrender 
terms "a welcome development and an important step forward in the 
negotiating process, one that furthers prospects for a peaceful resolution 
to the Kosovo conflict."

-- Thaqi had been a regional commander in the rebel army and was convicted 
in absentia by Yugoslav courts and sentenced to 22 years in prison. He has 
vowed to fight for Kosovo's independence although he is quite close to 
Albania. According to one regional news report this spring,  Albania 
spokesman Sokol Quoka said that "Tirana had established contacts with the 
[KLA] long ago and that the organization was steering its activities to the 
political sphere. Quoka went on to say that Tirana had already given its 
support to Hasim Thaqi, the head of the Kosovo negotiating team in Paris, 
Adem Demaqi, Blerim Shala and Yakup Krasniqi."

murky at best. Some say it was founded in 1993. Others put the 
organization’s beginnings in 1996, when a letter was sent to the media 
announcing its formation. The letter took credit for a February 1996 
massacre of Serbian refugees from the Krajina region of Croatia who had fled 
to Kosovo for safety. Throughout 1996 and 1997, most of the KLA attacks were 
on Albanians who it called "collaborators." These were Albanian opponents of 
the separatist movement in Kosovo.

The KLA was never an organization like the liberation armies well known 
around the world. It never had a recognized leadership. It never even had a 
spokesperson until last year. It never issued any documents or statements of 
purpose. It doesn’t even have a newspaper or magazine.

The grouping that called itself the KLA at first was actually an odd 
assortment of various opponents of the Yugoslav government who joined 
together with gangsters, mercenaries and other opportunists. Those who 
called themselves KLA ranged from people claiming to be followers of 
Albania’s former Marxist leader, Enver Hoxha, to those who claimed roots in 
the fascist, nationalist Greater Albanian organizations of the 1940s. It was 
a combination of convenience, with no central agreement on anything but 
their hatred of the Yugoslav government.

.... In late 1997 and early 1998, there was a sudden shift. The KLA went 
through a "rapid and startling growth," according to a report in the April 
25, 1998, New York Times. Foreign mercenaries, money and arms started to 
pour in to the KLA. The erstwhile KLA bands were quickly overwhelmed by an 
influx of mercenaries coming from Germany and the United States, who quickly 
took over command. It took a year before a representative from Kosovo could 
be produced to represent the KLA publicly. The new KLA began serious 
military operationsnot only killing isolated Albanian and Serbian 
individuals but attacking government buildings and police stations. This 
open warfare could only be stopped by strong police measures. But when the 
government forces responded, the U.S. and NATO powers accused them of 
repression. This became the excuse for their war on Yugoslavia.

-- CHRIS HEDGES, FOREIGN AFFAIRS: [The KLA inside Kosovo is] "led by the 
sons and grandsons of rightist Albanian fighters [from the]Skanderbeg 
volunteer SS division raised by the Nazis, or the descendants of the 
rightist Albanian kacak rebels who rose up against the Serbs 80 years ago. 
Although never much of a fighting force, the Skanderbeg division took part 
in the shameful roundup and deportation of the province’s few hundred Jews 
during the Holocaust. The division’s remnants fought Tito’s Partisans at the 
end of the war, leaving thousands of ethnic Albanians dead. The decision by 
KLA commanders to dress their police in black fatigues and order their 
fighters to salute with a clenched fist to the forehead has led many to 
worry about these fascist antecedents." 

-- FRANK VIVIANO, MOTHER JONES: The Kosovo Albanians ~~ are part of an 
immense tidal wave of desperation that will fuel organized crime recruiting 
long into the next century. Put simply, the world's stateless nations -- 
Kosovan Albanians, Kurds from Turkey and Iraq, Tamils from Sri Lanka, 
Chechens from Russia, Ibos and Ogoni from Nigeria, and hundreds of other 
tribes and ethnic groups whose names are not yet in the headlines -- are the 
army-in-waiting of the new criminal super state. Or the army already in the 
field, altering its composition at a rate that befuddles law enforcement 

-- SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: I don't think we have to do a background check 
[on the KLA] any more than we did on the Contras.

-- Raymond Bonner of New York Times has written that Albania has become a 
major hub for the movement of heroin and cocaine into Western Europe. As for 
the KLA's politics, one European diplomat told Bonner, "We really don't know 
what they are. There is an Islamic component, a left-wing component and 
there are those who are just guerillas." Said another diplomat, "They are 
not a people we would feel comfortable getting too close to. It is not like 
they are the military wing of a democratic resistance movement."

-- While the CIA's role in the Balkan disaster is not clear, it appears 
certain that NATO's chief military ally in the war against Yugoslavia, the 
KLA, is deeply involved in the heroin trade. And as late as last year, the 
KLA was still listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization. 

-- Jerry Seper has reported in the Washington Times that some members of the 
KLA, which has financed its war effort through the sale of heroin, were 
trained in terrorist camps run by international fugitive Osama bin Laden -- 
who is wanted in the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in Africa that killed 
224 persons, including 12 Americans. Seper wrote:

"Recently obtained intelligence documents show that drug agents in five 
countries, including the United States, believe the KLA has aligned itself 
with an extensive organized crime network centered in Albania that smuggles 
heroin and some cocaine to buyers throughout Western Europe and, to a lesser 
extent, the United States....

"The Greek representative of Interpol reported in 1998 that Kosovo's ethnic 
Albanians were 'the primary sources of supply for cocaine and heroin in that 
country.' .... France's Geopolitical Observatory of Drugs said that the KLA 
was a key player in the rapidly expanding drugs-for-arms business and helped 
transport $2 billion worth of drugs annually into Western Europe. German 
drug agents have estimated that $1.5 billion in drug profits is laundered 
annually by Kosovo smugglers, through as many as 200 private banks or 
currency-exchange offices."

-- In July 1998, PBS Newshour reported that U.S. Vietnam War veterans were 
training KLA mercenaries in Albania. 

-- Jane's Defense Weekly reported April 20: "Special forces involvement 
confirmed." The report also said that that special units from Britain, the 
United States, France "and other NATO groups'' were working undercover in 

-- The April 18 London Sunday Telegraph reported that SAS, a unit of the 
British special forces, was running two KLA training camps near Tirana, the 
Albanian capital. The same report said that the KLA also has contact with 
the Virginia-based MPRI, a corporate supplier of mercenaries set up by top 
US military officers. MPRI also trained the Croatian Army that carried out a 
vicious campaign against Serbs in 1995. For more on this see the July 
28,1997, Nation magazine.

-- On April 8 the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany, an opponent of 
the war, issued a report describing an alleged CIA covert operation named 
"Operation Roots" aimed at sowing ethnic divisions in Yugoslavia to 
encourage its breakup. The report claimed that this operation has been going 
on "since the beginning of Clinton's presidency." It was supposedly a joint 
operation with the German secret service, which also sought to destabilize 
Yugoslavia. The final objective "is the separation of Kosovo, with the aim 
of it becoming part of Albania; the separation of Montenegro, as the last 
means of access to the Mediterranean; and the separation of the Vojvodina, 
which produces most of the food for Yugoslavia. This would lead to the total 
collapse of Yugoslavia as a viable independent state." The report also 
asserts that the KLA was founded by the CIA with funding was funneled 
through drug-smuggling operations in Europe. 

so-called Kosovo Liberation Army is Agim Ceku, a brigadier general who took 
a leave from the Croatian Army in February .... In August 1995 Ceku presided 
over "Operation Storm," the massive bombing and displacement of hundreds of 
thousands of Serb farmers from the part of Croatia known as the Krajina .... 
 Ceku’s military career began in the Yugoslav Army. But after Croatia became 
a separate state under the reactionary leadership of Franjo Tudjman, he 
defected to the Croatian Army. Ceku, an ethnic Albanian, was then trained by 
the United States. He is closely tied to Military Professional Resources, 
Inc .... Jane’s Defense Weekly describes Ceku as "one of the key planners of 
the successful ‘Operation Storm.’" Many reports have shown in detail that 
MPRI planned and directed this operation in the Krajina. "Operation Storm" 
was, until the current U.S. bombing, the bloodiest and most brutal military 
campaign in the Balkans since the Nazi invasion during World War II ....  
This March 21, the New York Times carried a front-page story about a report 
from the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague that characterized 
this attack as probably the most brutal event in the Balkans in the last 
decade. But no commentators picked up on this. The report was quickly 


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