The facts behind the "massacre"
in the village of Racak in Kosovo
Thanks to the report of a special team of journalists with the Kragujevac daily LID, Tiker News Agency reproduces a part of the report from a special issue of this newspaper.
THE RACAK FILE:
TRUTHS AND MANIPULATION
The events in the Kosmet village of Racak marked the beginning of the year in our part of the world. The stories from the Sarajevo marketplace of Markale and from Vase Miskina Street were repeated. The scenario was almost completely identical. The Serbs need to be accused of misdeeds and a massacre of civilians in order to find justification for their renewed punishment. In the first two cases, the world learned the truth too late, only after the Serbs had already been punished for something that they did not do. In the hope that we have learned something from previously lost battles in the media war, we have prepared for the readers of LID a special report, "The Racak File", in which we will attempt, on the basis of sources available to us, to unmask the initiators behind the new conspiracy against the Serbian people.
FIGARO QUESTIONS OSCE CLAIMS REGARDING EVENTS IN RACAK
A Film refutes Walker and terrorists
Eyewitness accounts by Albanians are refuted by film shot by reporters of Associated Press, the French paper stresses, stating that the gully where the bodies were was discovered only on the day after the fighting, even though observers were present in Racak within half an hour after the fighting ended. The French daily Figaro today [Jan. 23] casts doubt on the statements of OSCE regarding events in the village of Racak, asking the question whether terrorists of the KLA staged the so-called massacre in an attempt to turn their military defeat into a political victory.
In a text bearing the heading "Kosovo - Shadow of Doubt Falls on a Massacre", Figaro writes that the version offered to the world by OSCE regarding events in Racak should be re-examined and that, by analyzing available facts, an answer should be found to the question of what really happened in Racak. The available facts - film shot both during the fighting at Racak and yesterday on location by Renaud Girard, special reporter for Figaro - refute the claims of OSCE and of the Albanian separatists that Serbian security forces massacred 45 civilians on Friday, points out the French daily.
William Walker with his hands in his pockets conducting a so-called "investigation of the massacre". Walker refused to allow representatives of the domestic media to be present during his "investigation process" and personally selected the teams of reporters who could accompany him
Yugoslav experts in forensic medicine, who yesterday began to perform autopsies of the bodies of those killed in Racak, declared that "not one of the bodies showed evidence that the victim was executed," writes Figaro.
Since questions exist as to what actually happened in Racak, this paper felt that it was important to try to reconstruct the chronology of events on the critical date. According to Figaro, at dawn the Serb police surrounded and attacked the village of Racak, known to be a base of the separatist KLA. The police had nothing to hide, since at 8:30 a.m. they invited a television crew (two reporters of the American Associated Press) to film the operation. Members of the OSCE mission were also present: on location were two vehicles with American diplomatic plates. The OSCE observers stayed on location the whole day, situated in a valley from where they were able to observe the village, writes Figaro.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., a police report was made public via the International Press Center in Pristina, which stated that, during the course of fighting at Racak, 15 "KLA terrorists were killed and a significant quantity of weapons was confiscated". At 3:30 p.m. the police forces, accompanied by the television crew of Associated Press, left the village, taking with them a heavy artillery piece of 12.7 mm caliber, two hand-held artillery pieces, two sniper rifles and approximately 30 Kalashnikovs manufactured in China. At 4:30 p.m., a French reporter drove through the village, where he encountered three orange OSCE vehicles. The international observers were calmly talking with three adult Albanians in civilian clothes. They were looking for possible injured civilians. Upon returning to the village at 6:00 p.m., the French reporter saw the observers taking away two women and two old men, who were very lightly injured.
The observers, who did not appear to be too excited, did not say anything significant to the reporter. They only said that they "were not able to assess the outcome of the fighting".
The spectacle of bodies of Albanian civilians in a gully, which shocked the world, was not discovered until the next day, at about 9:00 a.m., when reporters appeared on location, who were soon followed by OSCE observers, writes Figaro.
The village at that moment was under the control of armed members of the KLA, who were directing foreign visitors toward the scene of the so-called massacre. Around noon, William Walker, the chief of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, appeared and expressed his indignation regarding what he had seen, the paper reminds us. All eyewitness accounts from Albanians, according to Figaro, confirm one version of the story: in the middle of the day, the police raided the village, separated women from men, and took the latter into the hills where they subsequently killed them.
It is disturbing, however, that these eyewitness accounts are in complete contradiction with the film shot by the Associated Press crew, stresses the French paper. The film shows an empty village which the police had raided in the morning, moving along the walls of the houses for protection. Shooting began because the police encountered resistance from the trenches which the KLA separatists had dug nearby. The fighting was more intense on the higher ground around the village. Standing in a sheltered place by the mosque, the AP reporters concluded that the KLA separatists, who were surrounded, were desperately trying to break out. About 20 of them succeeded in doing so, a fact which the police confirmed.
"What, in fact, happened? Did the KLA during the night collect the bodies of those killed in the fighting in order to prepare the spectacle of a so-called cold-blooded execution? Another disturbing fact is that on Saturday morning the reporters found very few cartridge shells around the gully where the so-called massacre took place", concludes Figaro.
The report by Figaro's journalist generated a great deal of interest in France: Girard was interviewed by Evropa-1 Radio and by France Info Radio, and many French and Swiss radio stations requested permission to retransmit the interview. Radio Frans Info today [Jan. 23] transmitted this interview every hour.
THE LONDON "GUARDIAN":
BODIES OF THOSE KILLED AT RACAK WERE MOVED
It is becoming increasingly clear that many details of events in the village of Racak, which have been the direct cause of the newest tensions in Kosovo and Metohija and the launching of a media campaign, did not happen as the world until now had been told that they happened, it is stressed in London. After the two French reporters, the London Guardian also leaves much room for doubt in the current version of those events. The paper quotes the statement of officials of the international verification mission, who wished to remain anonymous, to the effect that they were convinced that some of the bodies of the deceased at Racak were later moved.
Foreign and domestic experts have determined the unnatural position of the bodies of the victims and the absence of empty cartridge shells in the location where the victims were reportedly killed.
The verifiers, notes the Guardian, inspected 15 bodies of those killed at Racak and determined that some of them were moved. "We do not know who moved them or why," one of those officials stated. In addition to this, a reporter at the Guardian quotes the statement of a British member of the verification mission, Neal Strechan, who said he was officially invited to Racak, which represents the first public admission that the verifiers were duly informed.
Strechan says that a local Albanian, who was injured, told him that there were 20 bodies in the village. That was all he knew and, he emphasized, he "could not tell him any more than that".
All this promises to cast serious doubt upon the official reports of the verification mission in Britain, as well, and brings into question the true intentions of the very aggressive media and political campaign.
THE GREEK DAILY "EXUSIA":
WALKER DIDN’T "SEE" TERRORISTS
On January 19, the Greek daily Exusia, in article entitled "Serb killed by ‘unarmed’ Albanians”, notes that “in yesterday’s fighting near the village of Racak, William Walker again failed to ‘see’ the Albanian terrorists".
Terrorist weapons found close to the village of Racak after the intervention of security forces and documented by members of the international mission.
The reason for the latest fighting, writes Exusia, was an attack, according to Walker, by “unarmed” Albanians on a team of Serbian specialists who were attempting to investigate. The paper informs us that in yesterday’s fighting with Albanian terrorists, another member of the Serbian police forces was killed and two others were injured.
A member of the so-called KLA provides security for the “investigation mission” of William Walker.
“Regardless of the fact that the Albanian side is responsible for the latest fighting, warnings continue to be directed only to Belgrade, along with the threat that NATO forces will be activated for military intervention,” writes the daily Exusia.
A SERIES OF QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS
The French daily Le Monde, in the Thursday, January 21, issue, questions assertions of a “cold-blooded massacre” of Albanian civilians after the fighting between Serbian forces with the terrorists on January 15 in the village of Racak in Kosmet.
The accusation is irrevocable, writes Le Monde, but adds that unanswered questions remain nonetheless. How did the Serbian police manage to gather a group of men and to peacefully lead them to the place of execution when they were under constant fire by the terrorists?
How is it possible that the people living in the village, who returned before nightfall and the observers who spent over two hours in the village did not see the gully in which the bodies were found?
The residents of the abandoned village of Racak did not recognize among the victims of the so-called “massacre” any of their neighbors from the village
Why were so few cartridges found surrounding the bodies and why was there so little blood in the location where 23 people were found with multiple bullets in their heads?
Were the bodies of Albanians killed in the fighting with the Serbian police later gathered in a single place in order to create a horrific spectacle which was supposed to elicit the condemnation of public opinion?
Was the adamancy and speed of the reaction of the Belgrade government, which gave the head of the verification mission 48 hours to depart from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, indicative of its certainty in what it claimed, asks Le Monde. The French daily states that only an international investigation can establish the truth beyond all shadow of a doubt. In Pristina, the arrival of Finnish and Belorussian forensic experts is expected who will assist their Yugoslav colleagues in expert assessment of the bodies, writes the paper.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS IN THE VILLAGE OF RACAK
In the early morning hours of January 15, members of the police surrounded the village of Racak, district of Stimlje, with the goal of arresting a terrorist group which, five days before, had killed a policeman, Svetislav Przic.
That terrorist group had carried out multiple criminal acts of terrorism as per Article 125 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and was responsible for the murders of policemen Sinisa Mihajlovic, Nazmija Aluri and Svetislav Przic, members of the police reserve forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at Urosevac, PC Stimlje (killed in attacks on September 10 and October 29, 1998, and on January 10, 1999); Sasa Jankovic and Ranko Djordjevic, members of the police reserve forces of Ministry of Internal Affairs at Gnjilane (killed on August 2 and October 12, 1998); and the murder of civilians Miftar Reseni (on December 31, 1998) and Enver Gasi (January 2, 1999). The same terrorist group kidnapped members of the ethnic Albanian and Roma [Gypsy] communities in the districts of Urosevac and Stimlje, and set fire to the house of an ethnic Albanian, Djemalj Batici of Racak (on November 18, 1998).
Security forces informed officials of the international observation mission at the beginning of the campaign against the terrorists and it was watched by observers and reporters of foreign news agencies.
Upon entering the village of Racak, terrorist groups attacked the members of the police from trenches, barricades and fortifications using automatic weapons, and hand-held missile and grenade launchers. During the attack, policeman Goran Vucicevic was injured and many official vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia were damaged. Members of the police used weapons in order to fend of the attack and break up the terrorist groups. Several tens of terrorists were killed in the fighting, most of whom were in uniforms bearing the markings of the terrorist KLA. On this occasion, members of the police confiscated: a Browing heavy artillery piece of 12.7 mm caliber, two hand-held artillery pieces, 36 automatic rifles, two sniper rifles, and a large quantity of munitions and hand grenades, radio stations, and other military equipment and supplies.
During the course of this police action, terrorist Sadik Mujota (born in 1943) from the village of Malopolje, district of Stimlje, was killed, as well as his daughter who was an active member of the so-called KLA terrorist organization. Mujota, along with his brothers, three sons and a daughter, headed a terrorist group consisting of many people which participated in carrying out multiple terrorist attacks on members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia and the Yugoslav Army in the region of the district of Stimlje. The OSCE KVM was advised of the beginning of the action to arrest the terrorists and was present on location. Immediately following the police action, an investigative team headed by an investigating judge of the Pristina District Court, Danica Marinkovic, and by the Deputy District Public Prosecutor, Ismet Sufto, appeared on location but the terrorists who were on the surrounding highlands opened fire and made it impossible to conduct the investigation. The following day, January 16, 1999, the investigation was again rendered impossible because OSCE KVM insisted that the investigating judge conduct the investigation without the presence of the police, with the explanation that fighting might ensue.
During this (classic) police operation of finding and arresting a terrorist group which had committed terrorist attacks, murder and kidnapping of members of the police, and of civilians, in the regions of Urosevac and Stimlje, the head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, William Walker, immediately accused “Yugoslav security forces” of massacring 45 civilians in the village of Racak, an act of which he was “personally convinced” and sent an ultimative demand that investigators from the Hague Tribunal be permitted to come to Kosovo and Metohija within 24 hours. At the same time, Walker personally visited the village of Racak, without informing the Yugoslav authorities, accompanied by reporters whom he hand-picked.
By his behavior, his incorrect and malicious interpretations and disrespect for the authority of Yugoslav officials and laws, Walker overstepped his mandate of verifier and the agreement with OSCE in the worst possible manner. On January 17, 1999, the chairman of the Coordinating Team of the Federal Government’s Commission for Cooperation with OSCE Kosovo and Metohija Verification Mission, Dusan Loncar, sent a note of protest to the head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, William Walker, because of his inappropriate behavior and particularly because he made it impossible to conduct an investigation in the village of Racak by authorized, legally empowered authorities.
The investigation, which was scheduled for January 17, 1999, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and to which Walker (KVM) were invited to verify the process by which the investigation was performed, was never begun due to the fact that the Albanian terrorists opened fire from mortars and heavy artillery from the region of the villages of Rance and Petrovo. On that occasion, one of the fired mortar shells fell close to the investigating judge, Mrs. Danica Marinkovic, while other shells fired by the terrorists posed an immediate danger to the lives of the policemen protecting the investigating judge.
An official protest was sent to Walker due to the impossibility of performing the investigation by the investigating judge and it was asked that the verifiers limit their engagement to the function of verifying the process and the work of our investigating judge and her protection force.
THE NEW YORK TIMES:
THE AMERICANS ALREADY KNEW?
On Friday, the day before American ambassador William Walker sensationally “discovered” the so-called massacre in the village of Racak in Kosmet, State Secretary Madeleine Albright held a meeting behind closed doors in Washington, at which she revealed to a few members of the team close to her that the agreement on normalization of relations in Kosmet was due to fall apart at any moment, The New York Times wrote on January 19.
The New York paper cites the statement of an anonymous official in the American administration who pointed out that Albright, obviously, had reliable information regarding events in Racak and practically announced them.
Last Sunday, the American secretary of state, claims the same source, revealed to functionaries of the White House and the Pentagon that “the administration is facing a critical moment” with respect to reaching a decision on Kosmet and outlined that Washington had three options: to give up, to continue “wallowing in the mud” or to take “decisive action”. The secretary of state, claims the New York paper, told her colleagues that she favored “strong pressure”.
Today’s text in The New York Times clearly shows that Washington knew in advance of the whole scenario of the so-called massacre in the village of Racak, which is now being used to justify new pressures on Yugoslavia and Serbia.
America is prepared to punish the Serbs. Regardless of the facts, the threat remains intact.
More than symptomatic is the fact that Madeleine Albright, in warning the functionaries in the Pentagon and the White House that the climax of the Kosmet crisis was soon coming, delivered a series of compliments regarding the head of the OSCE verification mission in Kosmet, William Walker, who, only one day later, would take upon himself the key role in the realization of the scenario of the so-called massacre.
AUTOPSY OF FIVE BODIES SHOWED NO TRACE OF MASSACRE
The director of the Institute for Forensic Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine in Pristina, Dr. Slavisa Dobricanin, stated on Wednesday that a team of eminent pathologists had already performed autopsies of five bodies brought from the village of Racak, and that the bodies bore signs of injury caused exclusively by firearms.
In a statement before numerous domestic and foreign reporters, Dobricanin stressed that the bodies which had been autopsied bore no sign of injuries “which would support that they had been massacred or otherwise tampered with, except for injuries resulting from small rodents, most probably mice, and birds”.
He reminded that 40 bodies were delivered to the Institute for Forensic Medicine the day before yesterday, that a team of eminent forensic experts had been formed, among whom were two forensic pathologists from Belorussia, and that it had begun to work on autopsying the bodies upon the order of the investigating judge, Danica Marinkovic.
The work, added Dobricanin, was expected to last for several days, and the full results would be known after additional analysis, after which a public statement would be made. According to Dr. Dobricanin, two members of the OSCE verification mission in Kosovo and Metohija were constantly present at the autopsy and a team of Finnish pathologists, who were already in Belgrade, were expected to arrive the following day.
“We will continue working on the rest of the bodies together with them,” said Dobricanin and added that the Finnish experts would bring with them “all materials necessary for further work”. Besides Dobricanin, the team of pathologists consists of experts from the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Novi Sad, the Nis Institute, and the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Belgrade.
Vice-President of the OSCE Parlamentary Assembly,
REJECTS MANIPULATION BY TV PICTURES
Willy Weimer, vice-president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, told the private German television station NTV that he rejects with disgust manipulation by television pictures intended to provoke an intervention by NATO in Kosovo and Metohija. “Everything is directed toward causing a certain reaction so that, once we see certain pictures, we get the wish to immediately issue orders to our soldiers to go into action. I am deeply disturbed by these shameful manipulations of our feels of humanity,” declared Willy Weimer on Tuesday, in the contact program “Headlines” (“Schlagzeilen”).
Among the first proofs of manipulation, analysts noticed the fact that the “relatives” of the victims wore black with black mourning bands which is not a religious nor a traditional Muslim expression of mourning.
Answering a question with regard to events in the village of Racak, Willy Weimer said that he “knew full well the extent of the Serbs’ responsibility” but that he knew even better the responsibility of the Albanian terrorists who, he said “contributed significantly to OSCE’s not being able to perform its duties for the past several months”.
THE YUGOSLAV FEDERAL GOVERNMENT,
WALKER - UNDESIRABLE
The federal government, in a special session held on January 18 which was chaired by premier Momir Bulatovic, discussed the latest developments in Kosovo and Metohija and the increased pressures from abroad on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The federal government concluded that a new campaign was underway by the international community and decisively rejected as unfounded the untruthful and malicious declarations regarding events in the village of Racak, the implication of which was to accuse government officers. As a separate item, the federal government reviewed the activities of William Walker, the director of the OSCE verification mission in Kosovo and Metohija, and assessed that that they were in flagrant violation of the provisions of the Agreement regarding the OSCE mission. His activities far exceeded his mandate as director of the mission, as defined by the Agreement regarding the OSCE mission which he heads.
William Walker immediately determined who was guilty: the Serbs had carried out a “massacre”.
The agreement indicates (in section 8 of part one) that the responsibilities defined by the Vienna Convention regarding diplomatic relations of 1961 would be honored. Starting from the point of honoring the provisions determined by the Vienna Convention, the federal government, on the basis of the agreement regarding the OSCE verification mission for Kosovo and Metohija (part one, section 8) in which it is precisely defined that the mission has diplomatic status on the basis of the Vienna Convention and Article 9 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, decided to declare William Walker an undesirable person (persona non grata) which implies that he had the responsibility to leave the territory of FR Yugoslavia within 48 hours.
William Walker: The Serbs are to blame and
the world will believe what I say!
After this decision was reached, leaders of international organizations and numerous diplomatic representatives contacted the highest representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the federal government decided at a session held on January 21 to “freeze” the previous decision regarding the declaration of Walker to be persona non grata.
Since agreements were concluded between the President of the FRY, Slobodan Milosevic, and US special representative, ambassador Richard Holbrooke, during the period from October 13, 1998, and January 14, 1999, in the region of the autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija, Albanian separatists carried out a total of 599 terrorist attacks and provocations, of which 186 were against civilians, while 413 were against members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the republic of Serbia.
In these attacks, a total of 53 persons were killed (37 civilians and 16 policemen) and 36 persons suffered serious bodily injury (13 civilians and 23 policemen). A total of 43 persons were kidnapped (39 civilians and 4 policemen); of those, three were killed (one civilian and two policemen), while the fate of the other 22 civilians and one policeman remains unknown.
The investigating judge Danica Marinkovic on January 18 visited the place of the event, continued the investigation and collected evidence regarding the facts of the event. Within that framework, Yugoslav forensic experts working with Finnish forensic experts and Belorussian pathologists continue to work on the identification of the bodies and the determination of the cause of death under the constant observation of representatives of the international mission and while the process is being videotaped.
Every day several Serbian families leave their homes in the region of villages under the pressure and threats of the so-called KLA; in Kosovo we see the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from this southern Serbian province.
The Serbs are leaving ... the Albanians are staying...
WHO is really the victim in Kosovo?
Copyright 1999 by LID/Tiker. All rights reserved
Le Figaro, Paris 20. January 1999
English: "KOSOVO: OBSCURE AREAS OF A MASSACRE"
Le Monde, Paris 21. January 1999
French: "Les morts de Racak ont-ils vraiment été massacrés froidement?"
English: "Were the Racak dead really clodly massacred?"
Die Welt, Berlin 21. January 1999
German: "Der Krieg um die 40 Toten von Racak im Kosovo Massaker oder "nur" die Opfer eines Tages?"
Liberation, Paris 21. January 1999
French: "Neuf questions sur les morts de Racak"
English: "Nine questions concerning the Racak dead"
International Action Center, New York, Paris 21. January 1999
English: "Who is William Walker: "WARHAWK BEHIND U.S. KOSOVO POLICY -
AMB. WALKER COVERED UP REAL MASSACRES IN EL SALVADOR"
Last updated 99.02.06
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Welcome to Kosovo! The World's Newest Narco State
Last Sunday's unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, former warlord/commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), heralds the birth of a new European narco state.
The illegal dismemberment of Serbia, completing the U.S./EU/NATO destruction of Yugoslavia, is proclaimed by ruling elites and their sycophants as an exemplary means to bring "peace and stability" to the region. This provocative move, outside the framework of international law, threatens any sovereign state with similar treatment should they deviate from the "Washington consensus."
Far from bringing "peace" let alone "stability," an "independent" Kosovo will serve as a militarized outpost for Western capitalist powers intent on spreading their tentacles East, further encircling Russia by penetrating the former spheres of influence of the Soviet Union.
Led by dodgy characters and war criminals such as Hashim Thaci and Agim Ceku, "independent" Kosovo is a gangster state governed by thugs with ties to Albanian drug trafficking syndicates and al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda, the KLA and Western Intelligence
Al-Qaeda's service to the CIA and other Western intelligence services is well-documented. Beginning in 1998 and perhaps earlier, the London-based cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the "emir" of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Muhajiroun began a recruitment drive for aspiring mujahideen for the "holy war" in Kosovo at London's notorious Finsbury Park Mosque.
On Friday, March 13, 1998 a London rally for the jihad was backed by some 50 local Islamist organizations. According to Christopher Deliso,
...the Albanian Islamic Society of London, headed by Kosovar Sheik Muhammed Stubla, was lobbying and raising money for the KLA's campaign. ... In contradiction to the KLA leadership's claims about secularism, the Kosovar sheik specifically defined the militant group as "an Albanian Islamic organisation which is determined to defend itself, its people, its homeland, and its religion with all its capabilities and by all means." ... The chief bank account for fundraising was in the London branch of terrorist-linked Habibsons Bank of Pakistan. (The Coming Balkan Caliphate, Westport: Praeger Security International, 2007, p. 43)
In 2005, in the wake of the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London, it was revealed that Bakri, a probable asset of Britain's MI6, was the "spiritual" force behind the deadly attacks.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed reports that,
The reluctance to take decisive action against the leadership of the extremist network in the UK has a long history. According to John Loftus, a former Justice Department prosecutor, Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza, as well as the suspected mastermind of the London bombings Haroon Aswat, were all recruited by MI6 in the mid-1990s to draft up British Muslims to fight in Kosovo. American and French security sources corroborate the revelation. The MI6 connection raises questions about Bakri's relationship with British authorities today. Exiled to Lebanon and outside British jurisdiction, he is effectively immune to prosecution. ("Sources: August terror plot is a 'fiction' underscoring police failures," The Raw Story, Monday, September 18, 2006)
Before fleeing, Bakri defended the actions of his young dupes by proclaiming, "We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity."
The current "secular" Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, when he served as KLA warlord was identified in media reports as having operational links to the al-Qaeda network. Such reports are not surprising when one considers that for earlier U.S./NATO "service" in Bosnia, bin Laden himself was rewarded a Bosnian passport by the "democratic" government of former Nazi and Islamist ideologue, Alija Izetbegovic.
As the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets streamed into Kosovo, often from Albania with the active assistance of narcotrafficking gangsters under NATO supervision, they replenished the ranks of Thaci's terrorist army.
Michel Chossudovsky writes,
Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had been fighting in Bosnia. And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerrilla and diversion tactics. ... According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede. "Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year , is presently  being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations." ("Kosovo 'freedom fighters' financed by organised crime," World Socialist Web Site, 10 April 1999)
These links are hardly casual. On the contrary, as Peter Dale Scott avers,
The closeness of the KLA to al-Qaeda was acknowledged again in the Western press, after Afghan-connected KLA guerrillas proceeded in 2001 to conduct guerrilla warfare in Macedonia. Press accounts included an Interpol report containing the allegation that one of bin Laden's senior lieutenants was the commander of an elite KLA unit operating in Kosovo in 1999. This was probably Mohammed al-Zawahiri. (The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007, p. 169)
Agim Ceku another "Prime Minister," committed massive war crimes in the Croatian region of Krajina when employed by the Croatian army as a brigadier general. As a key planner of Operation Storm, Ceku's forces massacred Serbs and presided over the largest ethnic cleansing during NATO's Yugoslavian destabilization campaign. Some 250,000 Serbs fled for their lives as Ceku's black-uniformed shock troops, many adorned with symbols of the Nazi Ustasha puppet regime during World War II were driven from Croatia.
According to Gregory Elich,
The invasion of Krajina was preceded by a thorough CIA and DIA analysis of the region. According to Balkan specialist Ivo Banac, this "tactical and intelligence support" was furnished to the Croatian Army at the beginning of its offensive. ... Two months earlier, the Pentagon contracted Military Professional Resources, Inc (MPRI) to train the Croatian military. According to a Croatian officer, MPRI advisors "lecture us on tactics and big war operations on the level of brigades, which is why we needed them for Operation Storm when we took the Krajina." Croatian sources claim that U.S. satellite intelligence was furnished to the Croatian military. Following the invasion of Krajina, the U.S. rewarded Croatia with an agreement "broadening existing cooperation" between MPRI and the Croatian military. U.S. advisors assisted in the reorganization of the Croatian Army. Referring to this reorganization in an interview with the newspaper Vecernji List, Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic said, "We are building the foundations of our organization on the traditions of the Croatian home guard" -- pro-Nazi troops in World War II. ("The Invasion of Serbian Krajina," Emperors Clothes, no date)
Following on the heels of this sterling "victory," Ceku became KLA commander in 1999 and "Prime Minister" in 2006. There is an outstanding Interpol warrant for his arrest according to Michel Chossudovsky.
The KLA: "Trained-up fierce" by Germany's KSK
As in Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia, the Kosovo Liberation Army was secretly armed by America and Germany and remains what it has always been, a creature of Western intelligence services.
Christopher Deliso observes,
In 1996, Germany's BND established a major station in Tirana...and another in Rome to select and train future KLA fighters. According to Le Monde Diplomatique, "special forces in Berlin provided the operational training and supplied arms and transmission equipment from ex-East German Stasi stocks as well as Black uniforms." The Italian headquarters recruited Albanian immigrants passing through ports such as Brindisi and Trieste, while German military intelligence, the Militaramschirmdienst, and the Kommando Spezialkräfte Special Forces (KSK), offered military training and provisions to the KLA in the remote Mirdita Mountains of northern Albania controlled by the deposed president, Sali Berisha.
In 1996, BND Chief Geiger's deputy, Rainer Kesselring, the son of the Nazi Luftwaffe general responsible for the bombing of Belgrade in 1941 that left 17,000 dead, oversaw KSK training of Albanian recruits at a Turkish military base near Izmir. (The Coming Balkan Caliphate, Westport: Praeger Security International, 2007, pp. 37-38)
Hypocritically, while Washington had officially designated the KLA a "terrorist organization" funded by the heroin trade, the Clinton administration was complicit with their German allies in the division of the Serb province along ethnic and religious lines.
By 1998, the KLA took control of between 25 to 40 percent of the province before Serb forces wrested the KLA-held areas back. Facing imminent defeat, the Kosovo Liberation Army and allied mujahideen fighters appealed to Washington, citing the imminent danger of "ethnic cleansing" by the Serbs. Laughable on the face of it, Albanians constitute fully 90 percent of Kosovo's population, and in fact, it was the Serbs, Roma and Jews who were being brutalized by KLA hit squads, their homes torched, their churches and synagogues sacked. It was the dismantling of the KLA's terrorist infrastructure by the Yugoslav People's Army that was the trigger that prompted direct military intervention by NATO in 1999.
As in Iraq, the 78 day U.S. bombing campaign targeted critical civilian infrastructure in Serbia: bridges, factories, power plants, electrical transmission hubs, communications centers. Throughout Serbia and Kosovo itself, the U.S. scattered tons of radioactive depleted uranium munitions and tens of thousands of cluster bombs. The U.S. attack, ostensibly to "protect" Kosovo's population from Serb depredations caused some 800,000 civilians to flee NATO's devastating raids.
For Washington, drunk on the illusion that its policies had hastened the collapse of a bureaucratized and rotten Soviet system, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia would again represent the triumph of the so-called "free market" and "democracy" under the umbrella of a new international order administered by World Bank/IMF "reforms": Francis Fukuyama's short-lived "end of history." While on the opposite pole of the same ideological dead end, political Islam's tactical alliance with the West was a means to establish a bridgehead for penetration into Europe via dodgy Saudi, Kuwaiti and Gulf "charities" in pursuit of their quixotic quest of establishing a "divine" (Islamicized) capitalist order rising from the ashes of a decadent West.
Two heads, same poisonous snake.
The KLA's Links to the International Heroin Trade
In Kosovo, Hashim Thaci's KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose "15 Families" control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade. Kosovar traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Asia's Golden Crescent. At one end lies Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into "product" for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported,
Until the war intervened, Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.
Kosovar bosses "orchestrated the traffic, regulated the rate and set the prices," according to journalist Leonardo Coen, who covers racketeering and organized crime in the Balkans for the Italian daily La Repubblica.
"The Kosovars had a 10-year head start on their cousins across the border, simply because their Yugoslav passports allowed them to travel earlier and much more widely than someone from communist Albania," said Michel Koutouzis, a senior researcher at Geopolitical Drug Watch who is regarded as Europe's leading expert on the Balkan Route.
"That allowed them to establish very efficient overseas networks through the worldwide Albanian diaspora -- and in the process, to forge ties with other underworld groups involved in the heroin trade, such as Chinese triads in Vancouver and Vietnamese in Australia," Koutouzis told The Chronicle. (Frank Viviano, "KLA Linked to Enormous Heroin Trade," Wednesday, May 5, 1999, Page A-1)
It is hardly an accident that the meteoric rise of the Kosovar families to the top of the narcotrafficking hierarchy coincided with the KLA's sudden appearance in the area in 1997.
As Peter Klebnikov observed,
As the war in Kosovo heated up, the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package. It's therefore not surprising, say European law enforcement officials, that the faction that ultimately seized power in Kosovo -- the KLA under Hashim Thaci -- was the group that maintained the closest links to traffickers. "As the biggest contributors, the drug traffickers may have gotten the most influence in running the country," says Koutouzis. ("Heroin Heroes," Mother Jones, January/February 2000)
As is well-known, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan operations the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and provide them with targets.
The rest is history, as they say.
Has anything changed in the intervening years? Hardly. In fact, the vise-like grip of the Albanian mafia over narcotics, human trafficking and arms smuggling has cemented the "15 Families" place atop Europe's hierarchy of crime, an essential arm of the capitalist deep state.
Considering NATO and the UN's lofty mandate to bring "peace and stability" to the region through "democracy promotion" and "institution building," what does the balance sheet reveal?
According to regional experts the outlook for Kosovo is grim. The economy is in shambles, unemployment hovers near 50 percent, a population of young people with "criminality as the sole career choice" populate a society tottering on the brink of collapse where the state is dominated by organized crime.
According to former New York Times reporter David Binder, citing a 124-page investigation by the Institute for European Policy commissioned by the German Bundeswehr,
"It is a Mafia society" based on "capture of the state" by criminal elements. ("State capture" is a term coined in 2000 by a group of World Bank analysts to describe countries where government structures have been seized by corrupt financial oligarchies. This study applied the term to Montenegro's Milo Djukanovic, by way of his cigarette smuggling and to Slovenia, with the arms smuggling conducted by Janez Jansa). In Kosovo, it says, "There is a need for thorough change of the elite."
Fat chance that happening anytime soon! Binder reports:
In the authors' definition, Kosovan organized crime "consists of multimillion-Euro organizations with guerrilla experience and espionage expertise." They quote a German intelligence service report of "closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class" and name Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Thaci and Xhavit Haliti as compromised leaders who are "internally protected by parliamentary immunity and abroad by international law." They scornfully quote the UNMIK chief from 2004-2006, Soeren Jessen Petersen, calling Haradinaj "a close and personal friend." UNMIK, they add "is in many respects an element of the local problem scene."
The study sharply criticizes the United States for "abetting the escape of criminals" in Kosovo as well as "preventing European investigators from working." This has made Americans "vulnerable to blackmail." It notes "secret CIA detention centers" at Camp Bondsteel and assails American military training for Kosovo (Albanian) police by Dyncorp, authorized by the Pentagon. ("Kosovo Auf Deutsch," Balkan Analysis, November 18, 2007)
As we can readily observe in other climes, the interpenetration of the state by criminal elites serve as the preferred mechanism to cement a "public-private partnership" founded on corruption, maintained by brute force solely for purposes of resource extraction, pipeline politics, military bases and the geopolitical advantage gained over "market" rivals.
As the U.S. Embassy burns in Belgrade, all in all, its another "Mission Accomplished" moment for the United States.
Posted by Antifascist at 10:02 AM
Where Are All the Bodies Buried?
NATO commits acts of aggression
by Michael Parenti
Z magazine, June 2000
In March 1999, NATO forces launched an 11-week nonstop aerial attack upon Yugoslavia that violated the UN charter, NATO's own charter, the U.S. Constitution, and the War Powers Act. Yugoslavia had invaded no UN or NATO member. The Congress had made no declaration of war. No matter. The "moral imperatives" and humanitarian concerns were heralded as being so overwhelming that legalities would have to be brushed aside. Here were mass atrocities perpetrated by the demonic Serbs and their fiendish leader, Slobodan Milosevic not seen since the Nazis rampaged across Europe; something had to be done-so we were told.
Thus, a week before the bombings began, David Scheffer, U.S. State Department ambassador at large for war crime issues, announced that "we have upwards of about 100,000 [ethnic Albanian] men that we cannot account for" in Kosovo. A month later, the State Department claimed that up to 500,000 Kosovo Albanians were missing and feared dead. By mid-May U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen stated that 100,000 military-aged men had vanished and might have been killed by the Serbs. Not long after-as public support for the war began to wane-Ambassador Scheffer escalated the 100,000 figure to "as many as 225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" who remained unaccounted. He considered this to be one of the greatest genocidal crimes against a civilian population. Indeed it was, if true.
As the war dragged on and NATO officials saw press attention drifting toward the contrary story-namely that civilians were being killed by NATO's bombs-NATO stepped up its claims about Serb "killing fields."Widely varying but horrendous figures from official sources went largely unchallenged by the media and by the many liberals who supported the "humanitarian rescue operation." Just before the end of the air campaign, British Foreign Office Minister Geoff Hoon said that "in more than 100 massacres" some 10,000 ethnic Albanians had been killed (averaging 100 victims per massacre). Though substantially reduced from the 100,000 to 500,000 bandied about by U.S. officials, this was still a considerable number. A day or two after the bombings stopped, the Associated Press, echoing Hoon, reported that 10,000 Albanians had been killed by the Serbs. No explanation was offered as to how this figure was arrived at, given that not a single war site had yet been investigated and NATO forces were just beginning to roll into Kosovo. A few weeks later, the New York Times reported that "at least 10,000 people were slaughtered by Serbian forces during their three-month campaign to drive the Albanians from Kosovo." The story went on to tell of "war crimes investigators, NATO peacekeeping troops, and aid agencies struggling to keep up with fresh reports each day of newly discovered bodies and graves."
On August 2, another remarkable pronouncement, this time from the irrepressible Bernard Kouchner, the United Nations' chief administrator in Kosovo (and head of Doctors Without Borders and friend of KLA leaders), who claimed that 11,000 bodies had been found in common graves throughout the province. He cited as his source the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (ICTY). But the ICTY mass graves. Some weeks after its arrival, the FBI team returned home, oddly with not a word to say about their investigation. Months later, the London Financial Times reported that the FBI had found not thousands but 200 bodies at 30 sites. Forensic experts from other NATO countries had similar experiences in Kosovo. "French investigator denied providing any such information to Kouchner or anyone else. To this day, it is not clear how he came up with his estimate. The Kosovo-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, staffed in part by KLA officials, first promulgated the figure of 10,000 missing, purportedly based on interviews with refugees. The U.S. State Department and Western media echoed the council's estimate. But the number had to be taken on faith because the council would not share its list of missing persons.
As in the Croatian and Bosnian conflicts, the image of mass killings by vicious brutal Serbs was ceaselessly hyped. Humanitarian organizations, KLA militants, NATO and State Department officials, and the news media fed off each other. Through a process of unconfirmed assertion and tireless repetition, evidence became irrelevant. Unsubstantiated references to mass graves, each purportedly filled with hundreds or even thousands of victims were daily publicized as established facts. From June through August 1999, the New York Times alone ran eighty articles, nearly one a day, that made some reference to mass graves in Kosovo. Yet when it came down to hard evidence, the graves seemed to disappear, as the FBI discovered for itself. In mid-June, the FBI sent a team to investigate two of the sites listed in the war crimes indictment against Slobodan Milosevic, one said to contain 6 victims and the other 20. The team lugged 107,000 pounds of equipment into Kosovo to handle what was called the "largest crime scene in the FBl's forensic history," but it came up with no reports about were frustrated at Izbica," reported the New York Times (July 18), "when a widely publicized mass grave in which they expected to find about 150 bodies turned out to be empty." It must have been "dug up with a backhoe and the bodies spirited off, investigators said, between the indictment and the arrival of NATO troops." A Spanish forensic team was told to prepare for at least 2,000 autopsies, but found only 187 bodies, usually buried in individual graves, and showing no signs of massacre or torture, contrary to the stories bandied about by humanitarian groups and local residents. Most seemed to have been killed by mortar shells and firearms. As reported in the Times of London (October 31), one Spanish forensic expert, Emilio Perez Puhola, acknowledged that his team did not find one mass grave. He dismissed the widely publicized references about mass graves as being part of the "machinery of war propaganda."
That same edition of the London Times reported that Stratfor, a private research team, basing their analysis on reports from forensic teams involved in the exhumation of bodies, determined that the final total of those killed in Kosovo came to "hundreds not thousands." In July 1999, theWashington Post reported that 350 ethnic Albanians "might be buried in mass graves" around a mountain village in western Kosovo. Might be? Such speculations were based on sources that NATO officials refused to identify. Getting down to specifics, the article mentions "four decomposing bodies" discovered near a large ash heap, with no details as to who they were or how: hey died.
By late August 1999, the frantic hunt for dead bodies continued to disappoint NATO officials and their media minions. The Los Angeles Times tried to salvage the genocide theme with a story about how the wells of Kosovo might be "mass graves in their own right." The Times claimed that "many corpses have been dumped into wells in Kosovo...Serbian forces apparently stuffed...many bodies of ethnic Albanians into wells during their campaign of terror." Apparently? When the story got down to specifics, it dwelled on only one well in one village-in which the body of a 39-year-old male was found, along with three dead cows and a dog. Neither his nationality nor cause of death was given. "No other human remains were discovered," the Times lamely concluded. An earlier New York Times story (July 18) told of French investigators who pulled the decomposed bodies of eight women from wells in the destroyed village of Cirez, acting on reports from local residents. Unconfirmed reports, from 44 villages in the district around Decani, of 39 dead bodies in wells, had yet to be investigated. As far as I know, there were no further stories about bodies in wells, which would suggest that no more bodies were found. At one reported grave site after another, bodies were failing to materialize in any substantial numbers-or any numbers at all. In July 1999, a mass grave in Ljubenic, near Pec-an area of extensive fighting-believed to be holding some 350 corpses, produced only seven after the exhumation. In Izbica, refugees reported that 150 ethnic Albanians were executed in March. But their bodies were nowhere to be found. In Kraljan, 82 men were supposedly killed, but investigators discovered not a single cadaver. In Djacovica, town officials claimed that 100 ethnic Albanians had been murdered, but there were no bodies because the Serbs had returned in the middle of the night, dug them up and carted all of them away, the officials believed. In Pusto Selo, villagers claimed that 106 men were captured and killed by Serbs at the end of March, but again no remains were discovered. Villagers once more suggested that Serbian forces must have come back and removed them. How the Serbs accomplished these mass-grave disappearing acts without being detected is not explained.
Where was the evidence of mass grave sites having been disinterred? Where were the new grave sites now presumably chock full of bodies? And why were they so impossible to detect? Questions of this sort were never posed.
The worst allegation of mass atrocities, a war crime ascribed to Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, was said to have occurred at the Trepca mine. As reported by U.S. and NATO officials, the Serbs threw 1,000 or more bodies down the shafts or disposed of them in the mine's vats of hydrochloric acid. In October 1999, the ICTY released the findings of Western forensic teams investigating Trepca. Not a single body was found in the mine shafts, nor was there any evidence that the vats had ever been used in an attempt to dissolve human remains. Additional stories about a Nazi-like body disposal facility in a furnace "on the other side of the mountain" from the mine motivated a forensic team to analyze ashes in the furnace. "They found no teeth or other signs of burnt bodies." The war crimes tribunal checked the largest reported grave sites first, and found most to contain no more than five bodies, "suggesting intimate killings rather than mass murder." By the end of the year, the media hype about mass graves had noticeably fizzled. The designated mass grave sites, considered the most notorious, offered up a few hundred bodies altogether, not the thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands previously trumpeted, and with no evidence of torture or mass execution. In many cases, there was no certain evidence regarding the nationality of victims; and no report on cause of death. All this did not prevent the Associate Press from reiterating the charge, as late as November 30, 1999, that "10,000 people were killed in Kosovo."
No doubt there were graves in Kosovo that contained two or more persons-which was NATO's definition of a "mass grave." As of November 1999, the total number of bodies that theWestern grave diggers claimed to have discovered was 2,108, "and not all of them necessarily war crimes victims," according to a story in the Wall Street Journal (December 31). People were killed by bombs and by the extensive land war that went on between Yugoslav and KLA forces. Some of the dead, as even the New York Times allowed, "are fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army or may have died ordinary deaths"-as would happen in any population of over two million over the course of a year. No doubt there were despicable grudge killings and executions of prisoners and innocent civilians as in any war, especially a civil war, but not on a scale that would warrant the label of "genocide" or justify the death and destruction and continuing misery inflicted upon Yugoslavia by theWestern powers. No mass killings means that The Hague war crimes tribunal indictment of Milosevic "becomes highly questionable," argues Richard Gwyn, in the Toronto Star. "Even more questionable is theWest's continued punishment of the Serbs." In sum, NATO leaders used vastly inflated estimates of murdered Kosovo Albanians as a pretext to intrude on the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, destroy much of its infrastructure and social production, badly damage its ecology, kill a substantial number of its citizens, and invade and occupy a large portion of its territory in what can only be termed a war of aggression.
Michael Parenti's most recent books are History as Mystery (City Lights) and To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia (Verso, forthcoming)
The Culture of Impunity, NATO Style
Counterpunch, February 14, 2011
Coverup of the Kosovo Mafia: The Culture of Impunity, NATO Style
On January 25, the Council of Europe overwhelmingly endorsed the Report it had commissioned from Swiss Senator Dick Marty on longstanding but officially ignored indications that Kosovo Albanian separatist fighters extracted and sold vital organs from prisoners around the end of the 1999 NATO bombing war that detached Kosovo from Serbia. Specifically implicated was the Drenica section of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) led by post-bombing Kosovo’s first and current President, Hashim Thaci. The Council of Europe, whose main function is to defend human rights, called for a proper judicial investigation, notably by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX)
(For a thorough analysis of the Marty Report, see “Criminal Kosovo: America’s Gift to Europe”, by Diana Johnstone, CounterPunch newsletter, Vol. 18, no.1, January 1-15, 2011.)
The problem created by the Marty Report is the same as the one that gave rise to it. There is no clear judicial authority willing and able to undertake a criminal investigation of the organ trafficking charges. The charges first surfaced in the 2006 memoir of former Chief ICTY Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who complained that she was not allowed to pursue investigation of evidence in Albania. It was because of this judicial void that the Council of Europe mandated Senator Marty to make his report, hoping to stimulate some sort of legal procedure. But the problem remains. Most of the alleged crimes took place on the territory of Albania, where the KLA operated bases and prisons, but the Albanian authorities have so far refused to cooperate with investigators. EULEX was sent to Kosovo to try to fill the judicial void left by secession. However, like all the international protectorate structures set up to construct “independent” Kosovo, EULEX is afraid of arousing the wrath of Kosovo Albanians and has great difficulty gaining their cooperation in criminal investigation.
Media coverage of the organ trafficking charges implicating Hashim Thaci has been far too muted to build pressure from public opinion on reluctant Western governments to take the issue to court. Human Rights Watch has called for an independent European prosecutor to pursue the case, but there has been no audible response from the governments concerned. Mr. Marty’s expressed fear that his report will remain a “dead letter” seems quite plausible.
Even as the Marty Report appears fated to join the Goldstone Report on Gaza in the limbo of good intentions, the counterattack was launched. Oddly, the London Review of Books chose to publish a five-page review of the Marty Report by someone with a strong vested interest in discrediting it: none other than Geoffrey Nice, who as assistant prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, led the prosecution of Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Nice’s only real achievement in the five-year-long trial was to outlive both the presiding judge and the defendant. The monstrous dimensions of the prosecution, aimed at blaming Milosevic for virtually all the woes of the complex civil wars that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s, succeeded in sending Milosevic to his grave before he could present his defense, thus sparing the three judges the task of finding excuses to convict him, as they were hired to do.
The LRB review gave Sir Geoffrey (he was knighted in 2007 for his services) the opportunity to rehash the ICTY prosecution version of NATO’s Kosovo war (the “objective was to forestall a humanitarian catastrophe”) complete with the standard exaggerated figures (“at least 10,000 Kosovo Albanians killed”) and crucial omissions (Hashim Thaci “was chosen to go to Rambouillet in preferance to the Kosovan president, Ibrahim Rugova” – without saying by whom he was chosen, namely the U.S. State Department).
Nice’s main diversionary tactic was to center his attack on an unidentified “witness K144”. He titled his review “Who is K144?” and went on to answer the question by claiming that K144 was both the basis for the Marty Report accusations and non-existent creation of Serbian media propaganda. A hasty reader might overlook the parenthetical element in the following sentence: “Stories in the Serbian press suggest that many of these allegations came from a witness known as K144, although del Ponte never refers to this source in her book (and nor does Marty, directly).” In reality, there is no “witness K144” mentioned in the Marty Report. Nice’s citations from the Serbian press do not correspond to the Marty Report.
The Nice article was immediately echoed and amplified by an article in The Wall Street Journal, which enjoys a larger and more American audience. Under the title “Smearing Hashim Thaci: Are the organ-harvesting allegations part of a media campaign against Kosovo?” (conclusion: yes) British journalist and Member of Parliament Denis MacShane gave a rave review of Nice’s review. “Most troublesome, according to Mr. Nice, is that Mr. Marty’s narrative implicitly depends on an anonymous witness, ‘K144’, who Belgrade says has provided evidence of these atrocities, but who most likely does not exist.”
Denis MacShane is a prize attack dog from the kennel of Tony Blair’s poodle imperialism. He is a member of the Henry Jackson Society, a gathering of warmongers whose model is the “Senator from Boeing”, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who in the 1970s, with the aid of the Richard Perle, championed aggressive anti-Soviet policies under a supposedly liberal banner. MacShane’s claim to be “on the left” seems to rest almost exclusively on his championing of “the only democracy in the Middle East”, which allows him to make up for the shortage of communist threats with Islamic terrorism. His “European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism” issued a 2009 report which undertook to define which kinds of criticism of Israel constitute anti-Semitism. These included describing the state of Israel as a racist endeavor and comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. He is on the board of “Just Journalism” whose aim is to oversee UK media reports on Israel.
Mr. MacShane was Labour Minister for the Balkans and then for Europe, but was suspended from the Labour Party last October 14 pending investigation of expense account padding. He reportedly became the first British MP to be reported to the police by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards concerning his claims on taxpayer-funded office expenses. MacShane’s claims over seven years totaled about £125,000, including nearly £20,000 a year for an office located in his garage, eight laptop computers in three years and over a dozen bills for “research and translation” by an elusive “European Policy Institute” which turned out to mean, basically, his brother Edmund Matyjaszek (for his professional life, MacShane dropped his father’s Polish name for his mother’s Irish name surname). He has also been involved in numerous minor scandals involving distortion of facts. None of this seems to have harmed his self-confidence or his career, which includes regular essays for Newsweek. From his writings one can gather that the only Muslims he really trusts are the ones in former Yugoslavia.
Aside from the K144 diversion, the Nice-MacShane attack on the Marty Report zeroes in on two factors that to readers unfamiliar with the case may look like serious weakness. The report, they stress, gives no names of victims and no names of witnesses. The explanation for this is simple. There are indeed lists of potential victims: missing Serbs and ethnic Albanians who are presumed dead after being taken prisoner by the KLA. Without material evidence, it is nearly impossible to ascertain the precise fate of missing persons over ten years ago in a country, Albania, where local authorities have refused to cooperate and have had ample time to dispose of evidence.
As for the names of witnesses, Mr. Marty refuses to disclose them except to serious judicial authorities with a witness protection program. This caution is absolutely necessary given the record of witness intimidation and even murder, notably in the case of Thaci’s rival in the KLA hierarchy, clan leader Ramush Haradinaj. Sir Geoffrey refers to this politely as “accusations of witness tampering”.
Geoffrey Nice concludes his review in the LRB by conceding that the allegations against Thaci need to be dealt with, simply because they make a bad impression. Mr. Nice compares Thaci to the West’s man in Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, accused by Italian authorities of large-scale cigarette smuggling. “Montenegro, like Kosovo, can readily be trashed as a criminal state; and also like Kosovo, it seeks membership of the EU. Djukanovic has just announced that he will stand down and cease to hold political office. This, some say, is intended to ease Montenegro’s entry into organizations that are prepared to negotiate with the likes of Djukanovic or Thaci when their states are emerging from conflict but want afterwards to deal with someone less compromised. Thaci might well have to follow the same path as Djukanovic if the current rumors continue to circulate.”
Taking into account the habitual understatement employed by Geoffrey Nice concerning the wrongdoings of “our side”, this can be read as acknowledgement that both NATO protégés are crooks to some degree or other, who were useful in wresting their lands away from the Serbs, but now had best step back to make way for more presentable puppets. Being prosecuted for those wrongdoings, whatever they may be, is, however, out of the question.
Human rights campaigners in the self-righteous Western democracies are intransigent when it comes to ending what they call “the culture of impunity” so long as it involves, say, Africa. But their own impunity and that of their clients seems more secure than ever.
Diana Johnstoneis the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions
She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Kosta Savich
Albanian Skenderbeg SS Division
Second World War: Genocide in Kosovo
The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzhna Srbija (now part of Macedonija), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the axis powers and to the Third Reich in the Balkan.
On April 7, 1939, Italian troops invaded and occupied Albania forcing the Albanian ruler King Zog I Ahmed Bey Zogu, to flee to Greece. Italy formally annexed into the Kingdom of Italy under the Italian king Victor Immanuel and established a military government and viceroy. The Italian began a program to colonize the country when thousands of settlers emigrated to Albania. An Albanian Fascist Party was established with Albanian Black skirts based on Italian models. The Albanian Army consisted of three infantry brigades of 12,000 men.
On October 28 1940, Italy invaded Greece from Albania with 10 Italian divisions and the Albanian Army but were driven back.
Germany sought to assist the Italian-Albanian offensive by operation Alpine Violet, a plan to move a corps of tree German mountain divisions to Albania by air and sea. Instead German built up a heavy concentration of the German Twelfth Army on the northwest Greek Border with Bulgaria, from where the German invasion was launched.
On April 6, 1941, Nazi Germany and the axis powers invaded Yugoslavia, Operation Punishment, and Greece forcing the capitulation of Yugoslavia on the 17th, and Greece on the 23rd. Yugoslavia was subsequently occupied and dismembered. The Axis powers established a greater Albania or greater Shqiperia at the expense of Serbia and Montenegro. Territory from Montenegro was annexed to Greater Albania. From Serbia, the Kosovo and Metohija were ceded to greater Albania, along with the western part of Southern Serbia (Juzhna Srbija), now part of Macedonia, an area which was part of Stara Srbija (Ancient Old Serbia). This Kosovo and Metohija region and the surrounding territory annexed to Greater Albania was called “New Albania”.
To create an ethnically pure Shqiptar Kosovo, which Albanian called “Kosova”, the Shqiptari (Albanians) launched a widescale campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Ethnic Serbs in the Kosovo and Metohija regions were massacred, and their homes were burned, and survivors were brutally driven out and expelled in policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The Balli Kombetar (BK or National Union) was an Albanian nationalist group led by Midhat Fresheri and Ali Klissura whose political objective was to in incorporate Kosovo and Metohija into a Greater Albania and to ethnically cleanse the region of Orthodox Serbs.
The Abanian Committee of Kosovo organized massive campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo and Metohija. A contemporary report described the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Serbs as follows:
Armed with material supplied by the Italians, the Albanians hurled themselves against helpless settlers in their homes and villages. According to the most reliable sources, the Albanian burned many Serbian settlements, killing some of the people and driving out others who escaped to the mountains. At present other Serbian settlement are being attacked and the property of individuals and of communities is either being confiscated or destroyed. It is not possible to ascertain at the present time the exact number of victims of those atrocities, but it may be estimated that at least between 30,000 and 40,000 perished.
Bedri Pejani, the Muslim leader of the Albanian National committee, called for the extermination of Ortodox Serbian Cristians in Kosovo and Metohija and for a union of a Greater Albania with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Rashka (Sandhzak) region of Serbia, into a great Islamic state. The grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El Husseini was presented to Pejani a plan which he approved as a being in the interest of Islam. The Germans however rejected the plan.
On September 3, 1943, Italy capitulated by signing an armistice with the Allies. The German were now forced to occupy Albania with the collapse of the Italian forces. The Germans sent the 100th Jaeger Division from Greece and the 297th Infantry Division from Serbia and the German 1st Mountain Division to occupy Albania. These troops were organized into the XXI Mountain Corps which was under the command of General Paul Bader.
Additional security forces for the interior were needed, however, to free up Germans troops for defense of the coastline. The decision was made to form an Albanian SS mountain division for this purpose. In April in 1944, recruitment for the Albanian SS division began under direction of the newly formed Albanian Nazi party, which has been formed through the efforts of Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Acting upon instructions of Reichsfuehrer SS Henrich Himmler, the SS main office ordered the formation of an Albanian volunteer mountain division on April 17, 1944. SS Brigadefuehrern and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitzhum, who Headed the Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, oversaw the forming and training of the division.
The SS high Command planed to create a mountain division of 10,000 men. The Higher SS and Police Command in Albania, in conduction with the Albanian National Committee, listed 11,398 possible recruits for the Waffen SS mountain division. Most of these recruits were “kossovars”, shqiptar Ghegs from Kosovo and Metohija in Serbia. The Shqiptar Tosks were found mainly in southern Albania. Most of the Shqiptar collaborators with the nazi forces were theNazi forces were the so-called Kossovars, ethnic Shqiptars from the Kosmet of Serbia. The Nazi German-sponsored Albanian gendarmes, special police and para-military units were made up by Kossovars. The Kossovars were under the direct control of the Albanian Interior Minister Xhafer Deva.
The Skenderbeg Division was formed and trained in Kosovo and was made up mostly of muslim Shqiptar Kossovars. There were only a small number of Albanians from Albania proper in the division. The Skenderbeg Mountain Division of the Wafen SS was thus essentially a Kosovo or Kosmet Division. The Division was stationed and operated in Kosovo and other Serbian regions almost exclusively.
Of the 11,398 recruits listed for the Division, 9,275 were ascertained to be suitable to draft in the Waffen SS. Of those suitable to be drafted, 6,491 Albanian were chosen and inducted into the Skenderbeg Division. To this Albanian core were added veteran German troops primarily Reichdeutsche from Austria and Volkdeutcshe officers, NCOs, and enlisted men, transferred from the 7th SS Mountain Division “Prinz Eugen” which was stationed in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Kosovo Albanian 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skenderbeg” consisted in total of 8,500 — 9,000 men of all ranks. The 6,491 Shqiptar recruits were assembled at depots in Kosovo where the formation and the training of the division began.
The official designation for the division was 21 Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skenderbeg” (Albanische Nr 1). The SS Main Office designed a distinctive arm patch for the division, consisting of a black double-headed eagle on a red background, the national symbol of Albania. The word “Skenderbeg”, embroidered in white, appeared above the eagle and was warn on the left sleeve. The right collar patch consisted of a helmet with a goat's head on top, the helmet supposedly worn by George Kastrioti Skenderbeg, after whom the division was named. The Shqiptars recruits in the division wore a white skullcap, the national attire of the Shqiptar Ghegs. The SS main office also issued gray skullcaps with the Totenkopf (death's head) insignia sewn on the front below the Hoheitszeichen (the national symbol of Nazi Germany, consisting of a white eagle over a Nazi swastika).
Division was named after George Kastrioti, or Gjergj Kastriota, also as Kastriotis (1405-1468), national hero of Albania, who fought for the Ottoman Turks. As a child, Kastrioti was given as a hostage to Sultan Murat II to be brought as a Muslim at Adrianople (Edrine). Kastrioti became an officer in the Ottoman Turkish army and led the Turkish forces in many victories over Christian troops. Murat II was impressed with his valor and bravery in his battle for Islam and gave him the name Iskander Bey in Turkish, from “Iskander”, Aleksander the Great, or prince Aleksander, and “bey”, master. The name was shortened to Skenderbeg, beg being the local variant of bey. Later Kastrioti renounced Islam and converted to Christianity and attacked his former Ottoman Turkish masters. He captured the Albanian capital Kroja from the Turkish governor and proclaimed a revolt against the Turks in 1442. Sultan Mohammed II sent Turkish armies to defeat the renegade Kastrioti, but he was able to defeat Turkish forces, wich besieged Kroja but could not capture it. Kastrioti died in 1468. Kroja surrendered in 1479 and the Turks occupied Albania.
The Albanians in the Skenderbeg Division were mostly Muslims, of the Bektashi and Sunni sects of Islam. The division contained several hundred Albanian Catholics, followers of Jon Marko Joni.
The first commander of the Skandereg division was SS Brigadefuehrer Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Josef Fitshum, who commanded the division from April to June 1944. After the Juli 20, assassination plot against Hitler, Fitzhum was appointed supreme commander in Albania. In June, SS Stardentenfuehrer August Schmidhuber was appointed division commander, a post would hold until August 1944. On June 21, 1944, Schmidhuber was promoted to SS Oberfuehrer and later in the war, he would be promoted to SS Brigadefuhrer. SS Oberstrumbannfuhrer Alfred Graf commanded the reorganized remnants of the Skenderbeg Division from August 1944, to may, 1945.
The Shultzstaffel or SS was created in the period 1923-1925 and was initially known as the Stosstrupp (Shock troop) “Adolf Hitler”. On Januari 16, 1929, Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmler leader of SS, Reichsfuehrer SS. The SS was envisioned as an elite troop of the Party, a praetorian bodyguard to Hitler and the Nazi leadership. The SS was a formation ”composed of the best physically, the most dependable, and the most faithful men in the Nazi movement. In 1940, combat units of the SS were formed, collectively termed the Waffen SS. Approximately 30-40 Waffen SS divisions were formed during the war, divided into three groupings, Waffen divisions made by Germans, those made up of ethnic Germans outside the Reich, and those made up of non-Germans. “Divisions der SS”, Divisions of the SS.
On September 27,1939, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler as Chief of German Police consolidated the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD under an SS Main Office of Reich Security, or the RSHA. The RSHA was the actual body entrusted with the overall administration of the final solution at the Jewish Problem, what became known as the Holocaust. The SS Economic and administrative Main Office or WVHA, run the concentration camp system. Nazi concentration camp personnel and guards, althout not under the command of the Army or the Kommandoamt der Waffen SS, neverthless, wore Waffen SS uniforms and received Waffen SS paybooks. Reichfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler oversaw a program that resulted in the extermination of millions of men, women and children. Himmler was the Arhictect of genocide and of the Holocaust and the Wafen SS was his “private army”, the “black angels”.
In Jun,1944, The Skenderbeg Waffen SS Mountain Division engaged in large-scale field maneuvers in the area between the towns of Berane and Adrijevica in Monte Negro (Crna Gora). Garrisons of Skenderbeg division were established in Kosovo towns of Pech, Jakova, Prizren, and Prishtina. Further training of the division continued in August as new recruits were inducted in the division. An artillery battalion of the division, consisting of two batteries, was located in Gnjilane.
The first major action of the division occurred in August, 144 in Kosovo. In September, 1944, the Skenderbeg division occupied the Southern Serbia (Juzhna Srbija) region now part of the communist created republic of Macedonia, and helped to garrison the region. The Skanderberg division was ordered into the areas surrounding the towns Skoplje (or Skopje), Kumanovo Presevo and Bujanovac. Skenderbeg operated in Stara Serbija (old and Ancient Serbia) region, in the towns of Pech, Gnjilane, Djakovica, Tetovo Gostivar, and Kosovska Mitrovica, then part of Kosovo and Metohija and Southern Serbia.
In November, 1944, when the German armies in the Balkan were retreating from Yugoslavia and the Balkans, the Skenderbeg division remnants were reorganized into Regimentegruppe 21 SS Gebirgs “Skenderbeg” and was transferred to Skoplje, according to one account of the movements of the Battle group. This SS Kampfgrupe “Skenderbeg”, along with the prinz Eugen Divisin, defended the Vardar valley. The battle group “Skenderbeg” and Prinz Eugen held the Vardar area because it was the sole corridor of escape for the retreating German armies in Alexander Loehr's Army Group E, which was retreating from Greece and Aegean Islands.
The Skenderbeg Battle Group along with the Prinz Eugen Division retreated to the to the Brcko region of Bosnia-Herzegovina by mid-january 1945. At this time the remaining Skenderbeg personnel were incorporated into the 14th SS Volonteer Mountain Infantry Regiment of the 7th SS division Prinz Eugen. The remnants of the Skenderbeg Division fought in this formation until the end of the war, retreating to Austria in May, 1945.
The Skenderbeg division engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Serbian Orthodox Christian populations of the regions under occupation by the division in Kosovo and Metohija, Montenegro, and southern Serbia. Balkan Historian Robert Lee Wolff, in the “Balkans in Our time”, described the genocide committed against Kosovo Serbs by the Shqiptar 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Skenderbeg as follows:
In the regions annexed by the Albanians, their so-called Skenderbeg division, made up of members of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia, massacred Serbs with impunity.
Historian L. H. Stavrianos, in “The Balkan Since 1453”, described the genocide committed against Orthodox Serbs by the Shqiptar Skenderbeg Division in these terms: Yugoslav Albanians, organized in their fascist Skenderbeg Division, conducted an indiscriminate massacre of Serbians.
The Skenderbeg Division played a role in the Holocaust, the genocide if European Jewry, by rounding up scores of Kosovo Jews in a group roughly 500 persons deemed enemies of the Third Reich when the division occupied Prizren in Kosovo and Metohija. The division sought to create ethnically pure Kosovo, ethnically cleansed of Orthodox Serbs, Jews and Gypsies the untermenschen (subhuman), who were targeted for extermination.
The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal declared the Shutzstaffel or SS criminal organization and every individual member of SS was found to be a war criminal guilty of “planning and carrying out crimes against humanity”. The Shqiptar Kosovars in the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division “Skenderbeg” committed war crimes and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo. The Shqiptar planed and carried out crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Orthodox Serbians of Kosovo were the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This genocide would contribute in the Shqiptar goal and policy to create an ethnically pure, Shqiptar Kosovo, in an attempt to create a greater Shqiperia or greater Albania. Following World war II, the Yugoslav Communist dictatorship allowed the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbs to continue, and indeed, gave greater impetus and legitimacy to the policy.
During World War II, the Axis powers dismembered and occupied Yugoslavia and created a greater Albania by annexing the Serbian region of Kosovo and Metohija by Nazi Germany, Germany formed a Shqiptar “Kosovar” Waffen SS Division, the 21st Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Skenderbeg” which engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Orthodox Serbian population of Kosovo. The result was that the Shqiptars, with the help of Germany, were able to virtually exterminate the Serbian and Jews populations of Kosovo, thereby creating an ethnically pure, Nazi German-sponsored Greater Albania or Greater Shqiperia.
During the WW2 Albanian Nazi's destroyed many Orthodox shrines Ruins of Devic monastery. The nuns returned to the ruins of their shrine after the war in 1950.
Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo
Rapporteur Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Dick Marty, Council of Europe, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Restricted [provisional version]
AS/Jur (2010) 46
12 December 2010
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo*
Rapporteur: Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
A. Preliminary draft resolution
1. The Parliamentary Assembly was extremely concerned to learn of the revelations of the former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), who alleged that serious crimes had been committed during the conflict in Kosovo, including trafficking in human organs, crimes which had gone unpunished hitherto and had not been the subject of any serious investigation.
2. In addition, according to the former Prosecutor, these acts had been committed by members of the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA) militia against Serbian nationals who had remained in Kosovo at the end of the armed conflict and been taken prisoner.
3. According to the information gathered by the Assembly and to the criminal investigations now under way, numerous concrete and convergent indications confirm that some Serbians and some Albanian Kosovars were held prisoner in secret places of detention under KLA control in northern Albania and were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, before ultimately disappearing.
4. Numerous indications seem to confirm that, during the period immediately after the end of the armed conflict, before international forces had really been able to take control of the region and re-establish a semblance of law and order, organs were removed from some prisoners at a clinic in Albanian territory, near Fushë-Krujë, to be taken abroad for transplantation.
5. This criminal activity, which developed with the benefit of the chaos prevailing in the region, at the initiative of certain KLA militia leaders linked to organised crime, has continued, albeit in other forms, until today, as demonstrated by an investigation being carried out by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) relating to the Medicus clinic in Pristina.
6. Although some concrete evidence of such trafficking already existed at the beginning of the decade, the international authorities in charge of the region did not consider it necessary to conduct a detailed examination of these circumstances, or did so incompletely and superficially.
* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.
7. Particularly during the first years of their presence in Kosovo, the international organisations responsible for security and the rule of law (KFOR and UNMIK) had to cope with major structural problems and serious shortages of staff with the skills to take on the tasks they were entrusted with, all this being aggravated by rapid and constant staff rotation.
8. The ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation. The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania, have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses. No subsequent investigation has been carried out into a case nevertheless considered sufficiently serious by the former ICTY Prosecutor for her to see the need to bring it to public attention through her book.
9. During the decisive phase of the armed conflict, NATO took action in the form of air strikes, while land operations were conducted by the KLA, de facto allies of the international forces. Following the departure of the Serbian authorities, the international bodies responsible for security in Kosovo very much relied on the political forces in power in Kosovo, most of them former KLA leaders.
10. The international organisations in place in Kosovo favoured a pragmatic political approach, taking the view that they needed to promote short-term stability at any price, thereby sacrificing some important principles of justice. For a long time little was done to follow-up evidence implicating KLA members in crimes against the Serbian population and against certain Albanian Kosovars. Immediately after the conflict ended, in effect, when the KLA had virtually exclusive control on the ground, many scores were settled between different factions and against those considered, without any kind of trial, to be traitors because they were suspected of having collaborated with the Serbian authorities previously in place.
11. EULEX, which took over certain functions in the justice sector previously fulfilled by UN structures (UNMIK) at the end of 2008, inherited a difficult and sensitive situation, particularly in the sphere of combating serious crime: incomplete records, lost documents, uncollected witness testimony. Consequently, a large number of crimes may well continue to go unpunished. Little or no detailed investigation has been carried out into organised crime and its connections with representatives of political institutions, or in respect of war crimes committed against Serbians and Albanian Kosovars regarded as collaborators or as rivals of the dominant factions. This last-named subject is still truly taboo in Kosovo today, although everybody talks about it in private, very cautiously. EULEX seems very recently to have made some progress in this field, and it is very much to be hoped that political considerations will not impede this commitment.
12. The team of international prosecutors and investigators within EULEX which is responsible for investigating allegations of inhuman treatment, including those relating to possible organ trafficking, has made progress, particularly in respect of proving the existence of secret KLA places of detention in northern Albania where inhuman treatment and even murders are said to have been committed. The investigation does not, however, benefit from the desirable co-operation from the Albanian authorities.
13. The appalling crimes committed by Serbian forces, which stirred up very strong feelings worldwide, gave rise to a mood reflected as well in the attitude of certain international agencies, according to which it was invariably one side that were regarded as the perpetrators of crimes and the other side as the victims, thus necessarily innocent. The reality is less clear-cut and more complex.
14. The Parliamentary Assembly strongly reaffirms the need for an absolutely uncompromising fight against impunity for the perpetrators of serious human rights violations, and wishes to point out that the fact that these were committed in the context of a violent conflict could never justify a decision to refrain from prosecuting anyone who has committed such acts (see Resolution 1675 (2009)).
15. There cannot and must not be one justice for the winners and another for the losers. Whenever a conflict has occurred, all criminals must be prosecuted and held responsible for their illegal acts, whichever side they belonged to and irrespective of the political role they took on.
16. The question which, from the humanitarian viewpoint, remains the most acute and sensitive is that of missing persons. Of more than 6,000 disappearances on which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has opened files, approximately 1,400 individuals have been found alive and 2,500 corpses have been found and identified. For the most part, these were Albanian Kosovar victims found in mass graves in regions under Serbian control and in Kosovo. To the almost 1,900 persons who went missing during the conflict and whose fate has still not been established (approximately two-thirds of whom are Albanian Kosovars) must be added almost 500 persons who disappeared after the arrival of KFOR troops on 12 June 1999, about 100 of whom were Albanian Kosovars and close to 400 non-Albanians, most of them Serbians.
17. Co-operation is still clearly insufficient between international agencies on the one hand and the Kosovar and Albanian authorities on the other on finding out the fate of the missing persons. Whereas Serbia ultimately co-operated, it has proved far more complicated to carry out excavations on the territory of Kosovo, and has been impossible, at least so far, on Albanian territory. Co-operation by the Kosovar authorities is particularly lacking in respect of the search for the almost 500 persons who officially disappeared after the end of the conflict.
18. The working group on missing persons, chaired by the ICRC and the EULEX Office on Missing Persons, needs the full and wholehearted support of the international community in order for the reluctance on both sides to be overcome. Knowing the truth and enabling victims' families to mourn at last is a vital precondition for reconciliation between the communities and a peaceful future in this region of the Balkans.
19. The Assembly therefore invites:
19.1 the member states of the European Union and the other contributing states:
19.1.1 to allocate to EULEX the resources that it needs, in terms of logistics and highly skilled staff, to deal with the extraordinarily complex and important role entrusted to it;
19.1.2 to set EULEX a clear objective and give it political support at the highest level to combat organised crime uncompromisingly, and to ensure that justice is done, without any considerations of political expediency;
19.1.3 to commit all the resources needed to set up effective witness protection programmes;
19.2.1 to persevere with its investigative work, without taking any account of the offices held by possible suspects or of the origin of the victims, doing everything to cast light on the criminal disappearances, the indications of organ trafficking, corruption and the collusion so often complained of between organised criminal groups and political circles;
19.2.2 to take every measure necessary to ensure effective protection for witnesses and to gain their trust;
19.3 the ICTY to co-operate fully with EULEX, particularly by making available to it the information and elements of proof in its possession likely to help EULEX to prosecute those responsible for crimes within its jurisdiction;
19.4 the Serbian authorities:
19.4.1 to make every effort to capture the persons still wanted by the ICTY for war crimes, particularly General Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, whose impunity continues to constitute a serious obstacle to the process of reconciliation and is often referred to by the authorities of other countries to justify their lack of enthusiasm about taking judicial action themselves;
19.4.2 to co-operate closely with EULEX, particularly by passing to it all information which may help to clear up crimes committed during and after the conflict in Kosovo;
19.4.3 to take the necessary measures to prevent leaks to the press of information about investigations concerning Kosovo, leaks which are prejudicial to co-operation with other authorities and to the credibility of the investigative work;
19.5 the Albanian authorities and the Kosovo administration :
19.5.1 to co-operate unreservedly with EULEX and the Serbian authorities in the framework of procedures intended to find out the truth about crimes committed in Kosovo, irrespective of the known or assumed origin of the suspects and the victims;
19.5.2 in particular, to take action on the requests for judicial assistance made by EULEX concerning criminal acts alleged to have occurred in a KLA camp in northern Albania;
19.5.3 to start a serious and independent investigation in order to find out the whole truth about the allegations, sometimes concrete and specific, of the existence of secret detention centres where inhuman treatment was purportedly inflicted on prisoners from Kosovo, of Serbian or Albanian origin, during and immediately after the conflict; the investigation must also be extended to a verification of the equally specific allegations about organ trafficking said to have taken place during the same period, some of it on Albanian territory;
19.6 all the Council of Europe member and observer states concerned:
19.6.1 to respond without undue delay to the requests for judicial co-operation addressed to them by EULEX and by the Serbian authorities in the framework of their current investigations concerning war crimes and organ trafficking; the delayed response to these requests is incomprehensible and intolerable in view of the importance and urgency of international co-operation to deal with such serious and dangerous crime problems;
19.6.2 to co-operate with EULEX in its efforts to protect witnesses, especially when the persons concerned can no longer continue to live in the region and must therefore adopt a new identity and find a new country of residence;
20. The Assembly, aware that trafficking of human organs is now an extremely serious problem worldwide, manifestly contravening the most basic standards in terms of human rights and dignity, welcomes and concurs with the conclusions of the joint study published in 2009 by the Council of Europe and the United Nations Organisation. It agrees in particular with the conclusion that it is necessary to draft an international legal instrument, which lays down definitions of human organ, tissue and cell trafficking and lays out the action that shall be taken in order to prevent such trafficking and to protect its victims, as well as criminal law measures to prosecute the perpetrators.
B. Explanatory memorandum by Mr Dick Marty
1. Introductory remarks - an overview
2. Introductory commentary on sources
3. Detailed findings of our inquiry
3.1 The overall picture
3.2 KLA factionalism and the nexus with organised crime
3.3 Detention facilities and the inhuman treatment of captives
3.3.1. KLA detentions in wartime
22.214.171.124. First subset of captives: the "prisoners of war"
126.96.36.199.1. Case study on the nature of the facilities: Cahan
188.8.131.52.2. Case study on the nature of the facilities: Kukës
3.3.2. Post-conflict detentions carried out by KLA members and affiliates
184.108.40.206. Second subset of captives: the "disappeared"
220.127.116.11.1. Case study on the nature of the facilities: Rripe
18.104.22.168.2. Observations on the conditions of detention and transport
22.214.171.124. Third subset of captives: the "victims of organised crime"
Case study on the nature of the facilities: Fushë-Krujë
4. Medicus clinic
5. Reflections on the "glass ceiling of accountability" in Kosovo
6. Some concluding remarks
1. Introductory remarks - an overview
1. In April 2008 Madam Carla Del Ponte, the former Chief Prosecutor before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), published a set of memoirs, co-authored with Chuck Sudetic, on her experiences within the tribunal. The book initially came out in Italian ("La caccia - Io e i criminali di guerra"), then in translation, notably in French ("La traque, les criminels de guerre et moi"). In the book, almost ten years after the end of the war in Kosovo, there appeared revelations of trafficking in human organs taken from Serb prisoners, reportedly carried out by leading commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). These claims were surprising in several respects and have provoked a host of strong reactions. They were surprising, in the first place, because they emanated from someone who exercised the highest official responsibilities, at the very heart of the judicial system tasked with prosecuting the crimes committed in the course of the conflicts that ravaged the former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, and above all, they were surprising because they revealed an apparent absence of official follow-up in respect of allegations that were nevertheless deemed serious enough to warrant inclusion in the memoirs of the former Prosecutor could hardly have ignored the grave and far-reaching nature of the allegations she had decided to make public.
2. Having before it a motion for a Resolution (doc.11574), which demanded a thorough investigation into the acts mentioned by Madam Del Ponte and their consequences, in order to ascertain their veracity, deliver justice to the victims and apprehend the culprits of the crimes, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights appointed me as Rapporteur and accordingly instructed me to propose a preliminary draft resolution and to draw up a report.
3. The extraordinary challenges of this assignment were immediately clear. The acts alleged - by a former prosecutor of international standing, let us remember - purportedly took place a decade ago and were not properly investigated by any of the national and international authorities with jurisdiction over the territories concerned. All the indications are that efforts to establish the facts of the Kosovo conflict and punish the attendant war crimes had primarily been concentrated in one direction, based on an implicit presumption that one side were the victims and the other side the perpetrators. As we shall see, the reality seems to have been more complex. The structure of Kosovar Albanian society, still very much clan-orientated, and the absence of a true civil society have made it extremely difficult to set up contacts with local sources. This is compounded by fear, often to the point of genuine terror, which we have observed in some of our informants immediately upon broaching the subject of our inquiry. Even certain representatives of international institutions did not conceal their reluctance to grapple with these facts: "The past is the past", we were told; "we must now look to the future". The Albanian authorities intimated that their territory had not been affected by the conflict and that they had no reason to open an inquiry. The Serbian authorities did react, albeit rather belatedly, but so far without having achieved any significant results. For its part the ICTY carried out an exploratory mission to the site of the notorious "Yellow House", though proceeding in a fairly superficial way and with a standard of professionalism that prompts some bewilderment. In addition, the ICTY's mandate was restricted to a clearly defined timeframe and territory: the international tribunal was enjoined to try those suspected of crimes committed only up to June 1999, marking the end of the Kosovo conflict, and its jurisdiction does not extend to Albania, except in instances where Albania expressly authorises investigations to take place on its territory.
4. The acts with which we are presently concerned are alleged to have occurred for the most part from the summer of 1999 onwards, against a background of great confusion throughout the region. The Serbian security forces had abandoned Kosovo, and the troops of KFOR (NATO's international Kosovo Stabilisation Force) were making a rather slow start in establishing themselves; while tens of thousands of Kosovar Albanian refugees were originally trying to reach Albania and then to return home, with ethnic Serbs in turn seeking refuge in the territories controlled by the Serbian Army. It was chaos: there was no functioning administration on the part of the Kosovars, and KFOR took quite some time to gain control of the situation, evidently not possessing the know-how needed to cope with such extreme situations. The NATO intervention had essentially taken the form of an aerial campaign, with bombing in Kosovo and in Serbia - operations thought by some to have infringed international law, as they were not authorised by the UN Security Council - while on the ground NATO's de facto ally was the KLA. Thus, during the critical period that is the focus of our inquiry, the KLA had effective control over an expansive territorial area, encompassing Kosovo as well as some of the border regions in the north of Albania. KLA control should not be understood as a structured exercise of power, and it was certainly far from assuming the contours of a state. It was in the course of this critical period that numerous crimes were committed both against Serbs who had stayed in the region and against Kosovar Albanians suspected of having been "traitors" or "collaborators", or who fell victim to internal rivalries within the KLA. These crimes have largely gone unpunished and it is only years later that a rather diffident start has been made in dealing with them.
5. During this chaotic phase, the border between Kosovo and Albania effectively ceased to exist. There was no form of control in effect, and it would hardly have been possible to enforce rules anyway, considering the heavy flow of refugees towards Albania and their return in similar numbers after the end of the hostilities. During a field mission on behalf of the Swiss Parliament in 1999, I was able to witness for myself the scale of this phenomenon; I noted above all the singular solidarity shown by the Albanian population and authorities in receiving the Kosovar refugees. It was in this context that KLA militia factions moved freely on either side of the border, which, as pointed out, had by then become little more than a token dividing line. So it is clear that the KLA held effective control in the region during that critical period, both in Kosovo and in the northern part of Albania near the border. The international forces co-operated with the KLA as the local authority in military operations and the restoration of order. It was as a result of this situation that certain crimes committed by members of the KLA, including some top KLA leaders, were effectively concealed and have remained unpunished.
6. The crimes committed by the Serb forces have been documented, denounced and, to the extent possible, tried in courts of law. The frightful nature of these crimes hardly needs to be further illustrated. These crimes stemmed from a wicked policy ordered by Milosevic over a lengthy period, including at times when he was simultaneously being accorded full diplomatic honours in the capitals of many democratic states. These crimes claimed tens of thousands of victims and disrupted a whole region of our continent. In the Kosovo conflict, the ethnic Albanian population suffered horrendous violence as the result of an insane ethnic cleansing policy on the part of the dictator then in power in Belgrade. None of these historical events could be cast in doubt today. However, what emerged in parallel was a climate and a tendency according to which led to all these events and acts were viewed through a lens that depicted everything as rather too clear-cut: on one side the Serbs, who were seen as the evil oppressors, and on the other side the Kosovar Albanians, who were seen as the innocent victims. In the horror and perpetration of crimes there can be no principle of compensation. The basic essence of justice demands that everyone be treated in the same way. Moreover, the duty to find the truth and administer justice must be discharged in order for genuine peace to be restored, and for the different communities to be reconciled and begin living and working together.
7. Yet in the case of Kosovo, the prevailing logic appears to have been rather short-sighted: restore a semblance of order as quickly as possible, while avoiding anything that might be liable to destabilise a region still in a state of very fragile equilibrium. The result has been a form of justice that can only be defined as selective, with impunity attaching to many of the crimes that appear, based on credible indications, to have been directly or indirectly the work of top KLA leaders. The Western countries that engaged themselves in Kosovo had refrained from a direct intervention on the ground, preferring recourse to air strikes, and had thus taken on the KLA as their indispensable ally for ground operations. The international actors chose to turn a blind eye to the war crimes of the KLA, placing a premium instead on achieving some degree of short-term stability. In effect the new Kosovo has been built on the existing structures of the Kosovar Albanian homeland movement. It follows that the successive international administrations put in place, as well as the US Government, which is generally regarded as playing an important role in the affairs of the new Kosovo, have had to maintain good relations with their de facto allies on the ground, as the latter have become the new masters of the local political scene. This situation, as we emphasised above, has ultimately foiled the prospect of our getting to the bottom of the crimes committed, at least in cases where there is every indication that they were the misdeeds of persons in positions of power or close to those in power. An added problem is that the resources of the international administration under UNMIK were insufficient, both in quantity and in quality, for the task of prosecuting the crimes committed in an effective and impartial manner. The posting of most international staff to UNMIK on limited-term contracts, and the resultant perpetual rotation, caused a major hindrance to the administration of justice. International officials told us that it had been impossible to maintain confidentiality of their sources - an element considered essential to the success of a criminal investigation - in particular because of their reliance on local interpreters who would often pass on information to the persons being investigated. As a result, EULEX has had to bring in interpreters from other countries in order securely to conduct its most sensitive inquiries. The same sources told us that the approach of the international community could be aptly encapsulated in the notion of "stability and peace at any cost". Obviously such an approach implied not falling out with the local actors in power.
8. The EULEX mission, operational since the end of 2008, thus inherited an extremely difficult situation. Numerous files on war crimes, notably those in which KLA combatants were listed as suspects, were turned over by UNMIK in a deplorable condition (mislaid evidence and witness statements, long time lapses in following up on incomplete investigative steps), to the extent that EULEX officials stated their fears in quite explicit terms during our fact-finding visits that many files would simply have to be abandoned. Some of our contacts representing Kosovo's nascent civil society did not hold back in criticising EULEX itself: it had been widely expected that EULEX would at last go after the "untouchables", whose more than murky past was common knowledge. Yet these expectations were in vain: there had been many announcements and promises, but the tangible results remained to be seen. The case of Nazim Bllaca, the "whistle-blower" who admitted publicly to having carried out murders upon the orders of some of today's high-ranking politicians, is emblematic. Four days elapsed before the man was arrested and placed under protection. The way in which EULEX deals with his case will be an important test of how far it is prepared to go in pursuing its mission to promote justice.
9. One must nevertheless commend the remarkable dedication of many EULEX staff - at time of writing some 1,600 international executives and 1,100 local employees - and their determination to confront the extraordinary challenge handed to them. Their efforts are beginning to yield tangible results, notably with regard to the cases of the detention camp at Kukës and the Medicus Clinic in Pristina. Yet it is imperative that EULEX is given more explicit and more resolute support from the highest levels of European politics. There can be no lingering ambiguity as to the need to pursue all those suspected of crimes, even in cases where the suspects hold important institutional and political positions. Similarly, EULEX must urgently be given access to the complete sets of records compiled by international agencies that previously operated in Kosovo, including KFOR files that have since been returned to the troop-contributing countries, and files compiled by the ICTY. According to the key practitioners working on the ground, there ought to be a common, unified database comprising the archives of all the international actors, readily accessible to EULEX investigators. One is left to wonder what might possibly be the reasons put forward for failing to fulfil such a basic demand.
10. The Kosovo Police (KP), multiethnic in its make-up, is professionally trained, well-equipped and apparently effective in fighting petty crime or less serious forms of criminality. With over 7,200 uniformed officers and more than 1,100 support staff, the KP comprises representatives of 13 ethnic groups, including 10% of ethnic Serbs. According to recent surveys, the KP is second only to KFOR among all the institutions in Kosovo in the high levels of public trust it enjoys. Senior international officials have also confirmed that the police are "decent", whereas the judges are "problematic" - in the sense of being subject to intimidation, under political influence, or corrupt. Assessments of the police nevertheless varied among the observers whom we met. The KP still has to prove itself and to win the full confidence of its international partners, including its counterparts in the EULEX mission. We sensed lingering doubts among internationals as to whether or not all the leaders of the police force share the necessary political resolve to go after all forms of crime in the most robust fashion possible; especially where the police are called upon to combat organised crime, and / or crimes in which highly placed political figures are implicated; and notably in ensuring truly effective protection of witnesses, a very sensitive and vital tool in the prosecution of the most notorious and dangerous criminals.
11. Corruption and organised crime constitute a major problem in the region, as several international studies have shown. The problem is aggravated by the fact that criminality, corruption and politics are so closely intertwined. The massive presence of international staff does not appear to have made things any better, and indeed has given rise to some rather perverse anomalies; for example, a driver or a cleaner working for an international organisation or a foreign Embassy invariably earns appreciably more than a police officer or a judge, which is bound to upset the scales of societal values.
12. The most pressing priority from a humanitarian perspective is to account for the fate of missing persons in relation to the Kosovo conflict. The number of disappearances is extremely high when one considers the modest size of Kosovo's population. Out of a total of 6,005 cases of missing persons opened by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), some 1,400 persons have been found alive and it has been possible to discover and identify 2,500 bodies. Most of the deceased victims were identified as Kosovar Albanians, half of whom were exhumed from mass graves discovered on Serbian territory and the other half in Kosovo. In addition there are 1,869 missing persons who remain unaccounted for, about two-thirds of whom are Kosovar Albanians. 470 missing persons disappeared after the arrival of KFOR troops on 12 June 1999, 95 of whom were Kosovar Albanians and 375 non-Albanians, mainly Serbs.
13. In assessing these disappearances, it is apt to note that many Kosovar Albanian families who lost a relative after 12 June 1999 reportedly declared an earlier date of disappearance, before this "cut-off date", out of fear that their loved ones might be deemed to have been "traitors" to the cause, punished by the KLA. It is significant that Kosovo's law on compensation for the families of "martyrs" expressly excludes persons who died after the arrival of KFOR. As to the law on compensation for the families of missing persons, which is still under discussion, the stated position of the Kosovo authorities is that the law should cover only those disappearances that occurred after 1 January 1999 and before 12 June 1999. This position serves to demonstrate just how sensitive the matter of the missing Kosovar Albanians remains to the present day. According to several of our informants, the matter is still considered utterly taboo and continues to form a serious impediment to the discovery of the truth. The hunt for "traitors" has often overshadowed the bloody feuding between internal factions of the KLA, and served to cover up the crimes committed by KLA members and affiliates.
14. The current Office for Missing Persons and Forensics has cited great difficulties in working with the often poor-quality documentation handed down by its predecessors; it also apparently has trouble motivating and retaining its staff, who are said to be underpaid considering the qualifications required. Efforts to determine the fate of missing persons have also suffered from a clear deficit in co-operation between the various international agencies and the Kosovo authorities, not to mention with the competent authorities of Albania. While Serbia did co-operate, albeit not without initial misgivings, in efforts to excavate suspected mass graves in its territory, such investigative steps have proved far more complicated in the territory of Kosovo, and up to now have been impossible on the territory of Albania. The co-operation of the Kosovo authorities has been especially lacking in relation to the 470 cases of disappearances that officially occurred after the end of the conflict. The lack of co-operation by the authorities of Kosovo and Albania in determining the fate of the missing Serbs, and even Kosovar Albanians thought to have fallen victim to crimes committed by members of the KLA, raises grave doubts about the current level of political will to establish the whole truth concerning these events.
15. The Working Group on Missing Persons chaired by the ICRC, in conjunction with the OMPF, needs the wholehearted support of the international community to overcome the reluctance that exists on all sides. Such support should be offered not least in the interests of the missing persons' surviving relatives, whose anguish continues to form a significant obstacle to reconciliation.
16. We have already recalled the manner in which the allegations of organ trafficking were made public, assumed international dimensions, and prompt PACE to call for the preparation of this report. There was extensive discussion around the so-called "Yellow House", located in Rripe, near Burrel, in central Albania - to the point where this house appeared to have monopolised the public's attention. However, upon reflection, the house was merely one element among many in a far larger and more complex episode. It is true that the whole story seems to have begun with the revelations about the "Yellow House". In February 2004, an exploratory visit to the site was organised jointly by the ICTY and UNMIK, with the participation of a journalist. This visit cannot in fact be regarded as a proper forensic examination according to all the technical rules. Participants in the visit whom we interviewed explicitly condemned a certain lack of professionalism, particularly regarding the taking of samples and the recording of scientific observations. Nonetheless, the demeanour of some members of the K. family, who inhabit the house, raised a number of questions, notably about the differing and contradictory explanations they offered, one after the other, as to the presence of bloodstains (detected by use of Luminol) in the vicinity of a table in the main room. The family patriarch stated originally that farm animals had been slaughtered and cut up there. Another explanation given was that one of the women in the household had given birth to one of her children in the same place.
17. Neither the ICTY nor UNMIK, nor indeed the Albanian Public Prosecutor's Office, followed up this visit by conducting any more thorough inquiries. The Albanian investigator who took part in this site visit moreover hastened to assert publicly that no leads of any kind had been found. The physical samples collected at the scene were subsequently destroyed by the ICTY, after being photographed, as the current Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY confirmed to me in a letter. We must permit ourselves to express astonishment that such a step was taken.
18. Nor did the team of the Special Prosecutor for War Crimes in Belgrade come up with very concrete results in this matter, notwithstanding their considerable efforts. The media whirlwind that surrounded the inquiry certainly did nothing to enhance its effectiveness. We thank the special prosecutor for his co-operation and readiness to assist.
19. The teams of international prosecutors and investigators in the EULEX mission charged with investigating the allegations of inhuman treatment, including those relating to possible instances of organ trafficking, have made some progress, notably towards proving the existence of secret KLA detention facilities in northern Albania, where murders are also alleged to have been committed. However, EULEX's inquiries have so far been hampered by a lack of co‑operation on the part of the Albanian authorities, who have failed to respond to the specific, detailed requests for judicial assistance submitted to them. At the time of writing, EULEX has still not had access to the complete set of records compiled by the ICTY in this area of investigation.
20. A further investigation, also carried out by EULEX, into the case of the Medicus Clinic in Pristina, has been made similarly difficult by the delays on the part of the authorities of several Council of Europe member and observer countries in responding to EULEX requests for international legal assistance. Considering the gravity of the acts alleged - trafficking in human organs, no less - such delays are incomprehensible and unconscionable. It should be recalled that the initial investigation had led to several arrests of suspects in November 2008. Arrest warrants have since been issued in respect of other suspects currently at large. This investigation serves as further proof of the existence in the region of criminal structures and networks, in which medical practitioners are also implicated, operating in the region as part of an international traffic in human organs, notwithstanding the presence of international forces. We believe that there are sufficiently serious and substantial indications to demonstrate that that this form of trafficking long pre-dates the Medicus case, and that certain KLA leaders and affiliates have been implicated in it previously. Certainly the indications are too strong to countenance any failure, at long last, to conduct a serious, independent and thorough inquiry.
21. We have learned at first hand how difficult it is to reconstruct events in Kosovo during the troubled and chaotic period of 1999-2000. With the exception of a few EULEX investigators, there has been and remains a lack of resolve to ascertain the truth of what happened during that period, and assign responsibilities accordingly. The raft of evidence that exists against certain top KLA leaders appears largely to account for this reluctance. There were witnesses to the events who were eliminated, and others too terrified by the mere fact of being questioned on these events. Such witnesses have no confidence whatsoever in the protective measures that they might be granted. We ourselves had to take meticulous precautions in respect of certain interlocutors to assure them of the strictest anonymity. We nevertheless found them trustworthy and were able to establish that their statements were confirmed by objectively verifiable facts. Our aim was not, however, to conduct a criminal investigation. But we can claim to have gathered compelling enough evidence to demand forcefully that the international bodies and the states concerned finally take every step to ensure that the truth is ascertained and the culprits clearly identified and called to account for their acts. The signs of collusion between the criminal class and high political and institutional office bearers are too numerous and too serious to be ignored. It is a fundamental right of Kosovo's citizens to know the truth, the whole truth, and also an indispensable condition for reconciliation between the communities and the country's prosperous future.
22. Before going into further detail regarding our investigations, I should like to express my appreciation to all those who helped me in carrying out this difficult and delicate assignment. First and foremost I thank the Committee Secretariat, assisted by an outside expert, as well as the authorities of the states we visited, and the able, courageous investigative journalists who shared certain information with us. I also owe special gratitude to the persons who have trusted in our professionalism, not least in our earnest duty to protect their identities so as not to place them in any danger.
2. Introductory commentary on sources
23. In the course of our inquiry, we have obtained testimonial and documentary accounts from several dozen primary sources, notably including: combatants and affiliates of various armed factions that participated in the hostilities in Kosovo; direct victims of violent crimes committed in Kosovo and the surrounding territories; family members of missing or deceased persons; current and former representatives of international justice institutions with jurisdiction over the events in Kosovo [primarily the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)]; representatives of national justice systems, including prosecutors with jurisdiction over events related to Kosovo [Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor in Belgrade; Office of the General Prosecutor in Tirana; prosecutors, police officers and state security officials in Pristina and in three surrounding states]; humanitarian agencies [including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP)]; and various members of civil society and human rights monitoring bodies who have investigated and reported on events related to Kosovo in the material period [including the Humanitarian Law Centre].
24. Naturally we have tried wherever possible to take these testimonies directly ourselves, either through on-the-record meetings or through confidential interviews, in the course of visiting Pristina, Tirana, Belgrade and other parts of the Balkan region. However, for a variety of reasons - including their "disappearance", for security reasons, their relocation overseas, and the constraints of our official programme of meetings while on mission in the region - some of the sources who provided these testimonies have not been available to meet with us in person.
25. Moreover, we have faced the same obstacles to obtaining truthful testimony about the alleged crimes of Kosovar Albanians as have other investigative bodies throughout the past decade. The entrenched sense of loyalty to one's clansmen, and the concept of honour that was perhaps best captured in expert reporting to the ICTY in its deliberations in the case of Limaj et al., rendered most ethnic Albanian witnesses unreachable for us. Having seen two prominent prosecutions undertaken by the ICTY leading to the deaths of so many witnesses, and ultimately a failure to deliver justice, a Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur with only paltry resources in comparison was hardly likely to overturn the odds of such witnesses speaking to us directly.
26. Numerous persons who have worked for many years in Kosovo, and who have become among the most respected commentators on justice in the region, counseled us that organized criminal networks of Albanians ("the Albanian mafia") in Albania itself, in neighbouring territories including Kosovo and ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia', and in the Diaspora, were probably more difficult to penetrate than the Italian mafia; even low-level operatives would rather take a jail term of decades, or a conviction for contempt, than turn in their clansmen.
27. Thus, out of necessity and only where appropriate, we have relied on audio and video recordings of interviews with key sources conducted by others. In such instances we have undertaken every possible step to establish the identity, authenticity and credibility of the sources for ourselves; we have compared their testimonies with information from separate, independent sources of which they could have had no knowledge; and we have gained first-hand insights from the interviewers into the circumstances and conditions in which the interviews were conducted.
28. The interviewers who conducted these interviews include representatives of law enforcement authorities in several different countries, academic researchers, and investigative journalists of recognised repute and credibility. We have always insisted on corroboration of testimony.
3. Detailed findings of our inquiry
3.1 The overall picture
29. The overall picture that emerges from our inquiry differs dramatically in several respects from the conventional portrayal of the Kosovo conflict. Indeed, while there was certainly an intensely fought battle for the destiny of the territory of Kosovo, there were very few instances in which opposing armed factions confronted one another on any kind of military frontlines.
30. The abhorrent abuses of the Serb military and police structures in trying to subjugate and ultimately to expel the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo are well known and documented.
31. The evidence we have uncovered is perhaps most significant in that it often contradicts the much-touted image of the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, as a guerrilla army that fought valiantly to defend the right of its people to inhabit the territory of Kosovo.
32. While there were undoubtedly numerous brave soldiers who were willing to go to the warfront, in the face of considerable adversity, and if necessary die for the cause of an independent Kosovar Albanian motherland, these fighters were not necessarily in the majority.
33. From the testimony we have managed to amass, the policy and strategy of some KLA leaders were much more complex than a simple agenda to overpower their Serb oppressors.
34. On the one hand, the KLA leadership coveted recognition and support from foreign partners including, notably, the United States Government. Towards this end the KLA's internationally well-connected "spokesmen" had to fulfil certain promises to their partners and sponsors, and / or adhere to particular terms of engagement that were the de facto conditions of their receiving support from overseas.
35. On the other hand, though, a number of the senior commanders of the KLA have reportedly not failed to profit from the war, including by securing material and personal benefits for themselves. They wanted to secure access to resources for themselves and their family / clan members, notably through positions of power in political office, or in lucrative industries such as petroleum, construction and real estate. They wanted to avenge what they perceived as historical injustices perpetrated against the Albanian population in the former Yugoslavia. And many of them were seemingly bent on profiteering to the maximum of their potential while they had operational control of certain lawless territories (e.g. in parts of southern and western Kosovo), and leverage - especially in terms of financial resources - with which to negotiate footholds for themselves in other territories (e.g. in Albania).
36. The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA - prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict - took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed.
3.2 KLA factionalism and the nexus with organised crime
37. For more than two years after its initial emergence in 1996, the KLA was regarded as a marginal, loosely organised insurgency, whose attacks on the Yugoslav state were held by Western observers to amount to acts of "terrorism".
38. Our sources close to the KLA, along with the testimonies of captured KLA members gathered by Serb police, confirm that the main locations at which KLA recruits congregated and trained were in northern Albania.
39. It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania. Serb police attributed these events to criminal raids on the part of bandits who wanted to carry out terrorist acts against Serbian security forces. The Albanian Kosovars and Albanian citizens who were involved in the smuggling operations presented them as heroic acts of resistance in the face of Serb oppression.
40. The domestic strengthening of the KLA, in terms of its fighting capability as well as its credibility among the Kosovo Albanian population, seemed to play out, especially in the course of 1998, along the same trajectory as the escalating brutality of the Serb military and police clampdown.
41. Yet only in the second half of 1998, through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle.
42. This perceived pre-eminence was the KLA's most valuable, indispensable asset. It spurred the wealthiest donors in the Albanian Diaspora to channel significant funds to the KLA. It bestowed individual KLA representatives with an enhanced authority to speak and act on behalf of the Kosovar Albanians as a whole. And it cast the KLA's leading personalities as the most likely powerbrokers in the Kosovo that would emerge from the war.
43. Indeed, the perception of KLA pre‑eminence - largely created by the Americans - was a self-fulfilling prophecy, the bedrock upon which the KLA achieved actual ascendancy over other Kosovar Albanian constituencies with designs on power, such as Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Bujar Bukoshi's "Government-in-exile".
44. According to our insider sources, the KLA fought just as hard, and devoted arguably more of its resources and political capital, to maintain its advantage over its ethnic Albanian rival factions as it did to carry out co-ordinated military actions against the Serbs.
45. At the same time it should be restated, for emphasis, that the KLA was not a single, unitary combatant faction in the manner of a conventional Army. There was no formally appointed overall leader, or "commander-in-chief", whose authority was universally recognised by the other commanders and whose orders were met with compliance among all the rank and file.
46. Rather, as the struggle over Kosovo's future governance evolved, and a full-blown conflict approached, the KLA was divided by a deep-rooted internal factionalism.
47. Important sources of division included divergent political ambitions, as well as disparate notions of the acceptable parameters of violent resistance, on the part of the KLA's most prominent personalities and leadership contenders.
48. Thus there emerged in 1998 and 1999, and particularly in the wake of the death of the KLA's celebrated peasant commander Adem Jashari, several different KLA "splinter groups".
49. Each of these splinter groups was led by one of the KLA's self-proclaimed founder members. Each group comprised a loyal core of recruits and supporters, often drawn from among a few closely affiliated clans or families, and / or concentrated in an identifiable geographical territory of Kosovo. Each group identified their own leader as the brightest hope to lead the KLA's fight against the Serbs, and by extension, to achieve self-determination for the Kosovar Albanian people, whilst co-operating with the other KLA commanders on the basis of expediency.
50. Evidently it is the composition and leadership of these KLA "splinter groups", along with the pre‑existing popularity of the LDK, which carried over beyond the liberation struggle and have essentially shaped the post-conflict political landscape of Kosovo.
51. Incumbency of the highest executive offices in Kosovo has been shared among former leading KLA commanders for the last decade, and most political campaigns have been contested on the basis of the candidates' respective contributions to the liberation struggle, as well as the extent to which they are seen as being able to promote the interests of the Kosovar Albanian people on an ongoing basis against known and unknown adversaries.
52. The various KLA "splinter groups" I refer to have been found to have developed and maintained their own intelligence structures, among other forms of self-preservation. Through whatever means available to them, and clearly on the fringes of the legal and regulatory systems, the keenest purveyors of this de facto form of continued KLA warfare have conducted surveillance of, and often sought to sabotage, the activities of their opponents and those who might jeopardise their political or business interests.
53. Furthermore we found that the structures of KLA units had been shaped, to a significant degree, according to the hierarchies, allegiances and codes of honour that prevail among the ethnic Albanian clans, or extended families, and which form a de facto set of laws, known as the Kanun, in the regions of Kosovo from which their commanders originated.
54. Based on analytical information we received from several international monitoring missions, corroborated by our own sources in European law enforcement agencies and among former KLA fighters, we found that the main KLA units and their respective zones of operational command corresponded in an almost perfect mirror image to the structures that controlled the various forms of organised crime in the territories in which the KLA was active.
55. Put simply, establishing which circle of KLA commanders and affiliates was in charge of a particular region where the KLA operated in Kosovo, and indeed in certain parts of the Republic of Albania, was the key to understanding who was running the bulk of the particular trafficking or smuggling activity that flourished there.
56. Most pertinent to our research, we found that a small but inestimably powerful group of KLA personalities apparently wrested control of most of the illicit criminal enterprises in which Kosovar Albanians were involved in the Republic of Albania, beginning at the latest in 1998.
57. This group of prominent KLA personalities styled itself as the "Drenica Group", evoking connections with the Drenica Valley in Kosovo, a traditional heartland of ethnic Albanian resistance to Serb oppression under Milosevic, and the birthplace of the KLA.
58. We found that the "Drenica Group" had as its chief - or, to use the terminology of organised crime networks, its "boss" - the renowned political operator and perhaps most internationally recognised personality of the KLA, Hashim Thaqi.
59. Thaqi can be seen to have spearheaded the KLA's rise to pre-eminence in the lead-up to the Rambouillet negotiations, both on the ground in Kosovo, and overseas. He also did much to foment the bitter internal factionalism that characterised the KLA throughout 1998 and 1999.
60. On the one hand, Thaqi undoubtedly owed his personal elevation to having secured political and diplomatic endorsement from the United States and other Western powers, as the preferred domestic partner in their foreign policy project in Kosovo. This form of political support bestowed upon Thaqi, not least in his own mind, a sense of being "untouchable" and an unparalleled viability as Kosovo's post-war leader-in-waiting.
61. On the other hand, according to well-substantiated intelligence reports that we have examined thoroughly and corroborated through interviews in the course of our inquiry, Thaqi's "Drenica Group" built a formidable power base in the organised criminal enterprises that were flourishing in Kosovo and Albania at the time.
62. In this regard, Thaqi reportedly operated with support and complicity not only from Albania's formal governance structures, including the Socialist Government in power at the time, but also from Albania's secret services, and from the formidable Albanian mafia.
63. Many KLA commanders remained on Albanian territory, some even operating out of the Albanian capital Tirana, throughout the ensuing hostilities and beyond.
64. During the period of the NATO aerial bombardment, which lasted several weeks, perhaps the principal shift in the balance of power in Kosovo occurred as a result of the influx of foreigners into the region, in both overt and implicit support of the KLA cause. Unable to gain access directly to the territory of Kosovo, most of this foreign support was channelled through Albania.
65. In tacit acknowledgement of the safe harbour afforded to them by the sympathetic Albanian authorities, but also because it was more practical and more convenient for them to continue operating on the terrain with which they were familiar, several of the KLA's key commanders allegedly established protection rackets in the areas where their own clansmen were prevalent in Albania, or where they could find common cause with established organised criminals involved in such activities as human trafficking, sale of stolen motor vehicles, and the sex trade.
66. Notably, in confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaqi and other members of his "Drenica Group" as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics.
67. Similarly, intelligence analysts working for NATO, as well as those in the service of at least four independent foreign Governments, made compelling findings through their intelligence-gathering related to the immediate aftermath of the conflict in 1999. Thaqi was commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports, as the most dangerous of the KLA's "criminal bosses".
68. Several further known members of Thaqi's "Drenica Group" have been indicated to us in the course of our research to have played vital roles as co‑conspirators in various categories of criminal activity. They include Xhavit Haliti, Kadri Veseli, Azem Syla, and Fatmir Limaj. All of these men have been investigated repeatedly in the last decade as suspects in war crimes or organised criminal enterprises, including in major cases led by prosecutors under UNMIK, the ICTY, and EULEX. To the present day, however, all of them have evaded effective justice.
69. Everything leads us to believe that all of these men would have been convicted of serious crimes and would by now be serving lengthy prison sentences, but for two shocking dynamics that have consolidated their impunity: first, they appear to have succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets; and second, faltering political will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA. This also seems to have allowed Thaqi - and by extension the other members of the "Drenica Group" to exploit their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.
70. Thaqi and these other "Drenica Group" members are consistently named as "key players" in intelligence reports on Kosovo's mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a sense of moral outrage.
71. What is particularly confounding is that all of the international community in Kosovo - from the Governments of the United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities - undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica Group's crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and to hold the perpetrators to account.
72. Our first-hand sources alone have credibly implicated Haliti, Veseli, Syla and Limaj, alongside Thaqi and other members of his inner circle, in having ordered - and in some cases personally overseen - assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations in various parts of Kosovo and, of particular interest to our work, in the context of KLA-led operations on the territory of Albania, between 1998 and 2000.
73. Members of the "Drenica Group" are also said to have asserted control of substantial funds placed at the disposal of the KLA to support its war effort. In several instances this group was allegedly able to strike deals with established international networks of organised criminals, enabling expansion and diversification into new areas of "business", and the opening of new smuggling routes into other parts of Europe.
74. Specifically, in our determination, the leaders of the "Drenica Group" seem to bear the greatest responsibility for two sets of unacknowledged crimes described in this report: for running the KLA's ad hoc network of detention facilities on the territory of Albania; and for determining the fate of the prisoners who were held in those facilities, including the many abducted civilians brought over the border into Albania from Kosovo.
75. In understanding how these crimes descended into a further form of inhumanity, namely the forcible extraction of human organs for the purposes of trafficking, we have identified another KLA personality who apparently belongs to the leading co-conspirators: Shaip Muja.
76. Up to a point, Shaip Muja's personal biography in the liberation struggle of the Kosovar Albanians resembles those of other "Drenica Group" members, including Hashim Thaqi himself: from student activist in the early 1990s; to one of an elite group of KLA "Co-ordinators", based in Albania; to Cabinet member of the Provisional Government of Kosovo, and leading commander in the post-war Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC); reinvented as a civilian politician in the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK); and, finally, becoming an influential office-holder in the current Kosovo authorities.
77. The common thread running through all of Muja's roles is his involvement in the medical sector. We do not take it lightly that this individual presents himself, and is accepted in many quarters, as "Dr. Shaip Muja": purportedly not only a medical doctor and general surgeon, but also a humanitarian and progressive practitioner.
78. We have uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja's central role for more than a decade in far less laudable international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime.
79. These indications and elements of proof have prompted us to suspect that Muja has derived much of his access, his cover and his impunity as an organised criminal from having maintained an apparently legitimate medical "career" in parallel. There is an analogy to be drawn here with the way that Thaqi and other Drenica Group members have used their own roles in public office, and often in international diplomacy. The difference in Muja's case is that his profile in organised crime is scarcely known outside of the criminal networks he has worked with and the few investigators who have tracked them.
80. According to the testimonies of our sources who were party to KLA operations in Albania, as well as other military and political compatriots who know Shaip Muja intimately, Muja managed to acquire and retain crucial behind-the-scenes influence over the affairs of the KLA in the defining period in the late 1990s when it was garnering international support.
81. Then, in the period of hostilities in northern Albania and around the Kosovo border, coinciding with the NATO intervention in 1999, Muja, in common with most of his fellow KLA commanders, reportedly stayed well clear of the frontlines, maintaining the KLA's operational power base in Tirana.
82. Together with Haliti and Veseli, in particular, Muja became involved in finding innovative ways to make use of, and to invest, the millions of dollars of "war funds" that had been donated to the KLA cause from overseas. Muja and Veseli reportedly also began, on behalf of the "Drenica Group", to make connections with foreign private military and private security companies.
83. We found it particularly relevant that Thaqi's "Drenica Group" can be seen to have seized such advantage from two principal changes in circumstances after 12 June 1999.
84. First, the withdrawal of the Serb security forces from Kosovo had ceded into the hands of various KLA splinter groups, including Thaqi's "Drenica Group", effectively unfettered control of an expanded territorial area in which to carry out various forms of smuggling and trafficking.
85. KFOR and UNMIK were incapable of administering Kosovo's law enforcement, movement of peoples, or border control, in the aftermath of the NATO bombardment in 1999. KLA factions and splinter groups that had control of distinct areas of Kosovo (villages, stretches of road, sometimes even individual buildings) were able to run organised criminal enterprises almost at will, including in disposing of the trophies of their perceived victory over the Serbs.
86. Second, Thaqi's acquisition of a greater degree of political authority (Thaqi having appointed himself Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of Kosovo) had seemingly emboldened the "Drenica Group" to strike out all the more aggressively at perceived rivals, traitors, and persons suspected of being "collaborators" with the Serbs.
87. Our sources told us that both KLA commanders and rank-and-file members were exasperated by the heavy toll inflicted on the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo, particularly in 1998 and early 1999 before and during the NATO intervention. As the Serb police and paramilitary forces retreated from Kosovo in June 1999, KLA units from northern Albania were deployed into Kosovo with the ostensible objective of "securing the territory", but fuelled by an irrepressible anger, and even vengeance, towards anyone whom they believed had contributed towards the oppression of the ethnic Albanian people.
88. Serb inhabitants of predominantly ethnic Albanian communities quickly became targets for revenge. Other targets included anybody suspected - even upon the basis of baseless accusations by members of rival clans or persons who held long-standing vendettas against them - of having "collaborated with" or served Serb officialdom. In a door-to-door campaign of intimidation, KLA foot soldiers were ordered to collect names of persons who had worked for the ousted FRY authorities (in however trivial an administrative function), or whose relatives or associates had done so. Into this category of putative "collaborators" fell large numbers of ethnic Albanians, as well as Roma and other minorities.
89. Against this background, our account of abuses committed by KLA members and affiliates in Albania goes well beyond one-off aberrations on the part of rogue or renegade elements within an otherwise disciplined fighting force. On the contrary, we find these abuses widespread enough to constitute a pattern.
90. While certain acts speak to a particular brutality or disregard for the victims on the part of individual perpetrators, we find that in their general character these abuses were seemingly co-ordinated and covered up according to a premeditated, albeit evolving, overarching strategy on the part of the leadership of the Drenica Group.
91. In general terms, the abuses were symptomatic of the prevalence of organised criminality inside the KLA's dominant internal faction. Holding persons captive in makeshift places of detention, outside the knowledge or reach of authority, and contriving ways of silencing anyone who might have found out about the true nature of the illicit activities in which the captors are engaged, count as tried and trusted methodologies of most mafia structures - and the Drenica Group was no different.
92. The Drenica Group itself apparently evolved from being part of an armed force, the KLA (ostensibly engaged in a war of liberation), into being a conspicuously powerful band of criminal entrepreneurs, the Drenica Group (albeit one with designs on a form of "state capture"). In parallel we have detected a transformation in the Group's members' activities in one particular area of operations: detention facilities and the inhuman treatment of captives.
3.3. Detention facilities and the inhuman treatment of captives
93. In the course of our inquiry we have identified at least six separate detention facilities on the territory of the Republic of Albania, situated across a territory that spans from Cahan at the foot of Mount Pashtrik, almost at the northernmost tip of Albania, to the beachfront road in Durres, on the Mediterranean coast in the west of Albania.
94. The KLA did not have outright, permanent control of any part of this territory during the relevant time, but nor did any other agency or entity that might have been willing, or able, to enforce the law.
95. In particular, the lacuna in law enforcement was a reflection on the failure of the Albanian police and intelligence services to curb the mafia-like banditry and impunity of certain KLA units that had stationed themselves in northern and central Albania around the period of the conflict. The KLA's senior regional commanders were, in their respective areas of control, a law unto themselves.
96. The locations of the detention facilities about which we received testimony directly from our sources - corroborated by elements of proof gathered through the efforts of investigative journalists (some of which dates back ten years or more), and more recently through the efforts of EULEX investigators and prosecutors - included: Cahan; Kukës; Bicaj (vicinity); Burrel; Rripe (a village southwest of Burrel in Mat District); Durres; and, perhaps most important of all, for the purposes of our specific mandate, Fushë-Krujë.
97. We were able to undertake visits to the sites of two such detention facilities in Albania in the course of our inquiry, although we did not enter the facilities themselves. Additionally, in respect of at least four other such facilities that we know to have existed, we have heard first-hand testimony from multiple persons whom we have confirmed as having visited one or more of the facilities in person, either at the time that they were actively being used by the KLA, or on monitoring missions since.
98. The detention facilities in question were not resorted to independently or as self-standing entities. Rather, these detention facilities did exist as elements of a well-established, co-ordinated and joined-up network of unlawful activity, of which certain senior KLA commanders maintained control and oversight. The common denominator between all of the facilities was that civilians were held captive therein, on Albanian territory, in the hands of members and affiliates of the KLA.
99. The graphic map included in this report depicts the locations at which we know such detention facilities existed, along with the transport routes connecting them.
100. There were, nonetheless, considerable differences in the periods and purposes for which each of these detention facilities was used. Indeed, it is evident that each detention facility had its own distinct "operational profile", including with regard to: the manner of the relationships formed or deals made to enable detentions and related operations to take place there at different times; the character and composition of the groups of captives held there; the means by which the captives arrived there; and the fates awaiting those captives during and at the end of their respective periods of detention.
101. We shall begin by describing some of the general characteristics of KLA detentions in wartime (some of which seem to meet the threshold for war crimes), and post-conflict detentions carried out by KLA members and affiliates (which appear to constitute an organised criminal enterprise). Thereafter we will examine more closely what happened at each of the detention facilities on the territory of Albania.
3.3.1 KLA detentions in wartime
126.96.36.199 First subset of captives: the "prisoners of war"
102. In the period between April and June 1999, KLA detentions on Albanian territory were discernibly based on the perceived strategic imperatives of fighting a guerrilla war.
103. During the time of war and the attendant mass movements of refugees into Albania, the KLA reportedly implemented a policy under which all persons suspected of having the merest knowledge about the acts of Serb authorities, particularly those who were suspected of having been "collaborators", should be subjected to "interrogation".
104. We were told that this policy was supported actively on the territory of Albania by powerful elements within the Albanian national intelligence apparatus, including SHIK (now SHISH) and military intelligence, some of whose members even participated in asking questions of captives held at KLA detention camps. However, the driving force behind the policy was Kadri Veseli (alias Luli), a lynchpin of the Drenica Group.
105. The detention facilities at which the "interrogations" purportedly took place - particularly those closer to the border with Kosovo - doubled as military "bases" or "camps" at which training exercises were performed and from which frontline troops were dispatched, or re-supplied with arms and ammunition. They included disused or appropriated commercial properties (including one hotel and one factory) in or on the outskirts of larger provincial towns, which had essentially been given over to the KLA by sympathetic Albanians who supported the patriotic cause.
106. At times these wartime camps were used simultaneously as detention facilities and other purposes, such as: parking vehicles or storing caches of military hardware; stockpiling of logistics or supplies like uniforms and rifles; conducting repairs on broken-down vehicles; treating injured comrades; or for holding meetings between different KLA commanders.
107. For the most part, however, the captives were purportedly kept separate from what might have been considered as conventional "wartime" activities, and indeed the captives were largely insulated from exposure to most KLA fighters or external observers who might have visited the KLA's bases.
108. If all of the captives detained in KLA facilities on the territory of Albania were divided into subsets of the overall group according to the fates they met, then in our understanding the smallest subset of all comprises the "prisoners of war": those who were held purely for the duration of the Kosovo conflict, many of whom escaped or were released from Albania, returned home safely to Kosovo, and are alive today.
109. We are aware of there being "survivors" in this category, who have gone on to bear witness to the crimes of individual KLA commanders, who were held in facilities at one or more of the following three detention locations:
Cahan - KLA camp close to the Kosovo warfront, also used as a "jump station" from which to deploy troops;
Kukes - former metal factory converted into a multi-purpose KLA facility, including at least two "cellblocks" to house detainees; and
Durres - KLA interrogation site at the back of the Hotel Drenica, the KLA's headquarters and recruitment centre.
110. Based on source testimonies, along with material contained in indictments issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor for the Republic of Kosovo, we estimate that a cumulative total of at least 40 persons, each held in one or more of the three above-named detention locations, were detained by the KLA and have survived to the present day.
111. This subset comprised mostly ethnic Albanian civilians - as well as some KLA recruits - suspected of being "collaborators" or traitors, either on the premise that they had spied for the Serbs, or because they were thought to have belonged to, or supported, the KLA's political and military rivals, especially the LDK and the emergent Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK).
112. Persons in this subset were targeted primarily for interrogation, and several have described being asked questions while being treated roughly by KLA and Albanian intelligence officers. However, during further periods of detention that went on to last from a few days to more than a month, most of these captives were ultimately beaten and mistreated gratuitously by their captors, in what appeared to be measures of punishment, intimidation and terror.
113. The KLA commanders accused of having been in charge of these detention locations included Sabit Geqi, Riza Alija (alias "Commander Hoxhaj"), and Xhemshit Krasniqi. All three men featured prominently in previous UNMIK investigations into war crimes in northern Albania; all three have now been named in SPRK indictments, and should soon stand trial in the Kosovo District Court; and their properties have been extensively searched.
114. The evidence gathered in the course of these processes seem to indicate that these KLA operatives - along with their Regional Commander for Northern Albania, the now deceased Xheladin Gashi - were aligned with the "Drenica Group", under the direction of Hashim Thaqi, and were acting in concert with, among others, Kadri Veseli.
188.8.131.52.1. Case study on the nature of the facilities: Cahan
115. The camp in Cahan was the furthest north of all the facilities in Albania used by the KLA, and was accordingly most closely tied to activities at the warfront. We have found no indication that captives were taken out of Cahan to other detention facilities in Albania, although we cannot rule it out.
116. It seems that the deeper into Albanian territory a facility's physical location, the less directly it related to the KLA's war effort and the more entrenched its connection proved to be with the underworld of organised crime.
117. We found it telling that persons who described having been held captive and mistreated at Cahan had largely been apprehended in an arbitrary and relatively spontaneous fashion, often in the course of KLA patrols in the vicinity of the camp itself, or at checkpoints on the border crossing between Kosovo and Albania.
118. The persons in this first subset were apparently mostly released when warfront hostilities ceased and the Serb security forces had withdrawn from their positions inside Kosovo, in June 1999. The survival of these captives in significant numbers is demonstrated not least by the listing of more than a dozen named persons with the status of "injured parties / witnesses" in criminal proceedings against the commanders of the Cahan and Kukes sites.
184.108.40.206.2 Case study on the nature of the facilities: Kukës
119. Among the specific sites at which civilian captives were secretly detained in the custody of the KLA, we obtained extensive details about a KLA base at a disused factory building on the outskirts of the northern Albanian town of Kukes.
120. Two first-hand witnesses explained to us how prisoners had been brought to the Kukes site, where they were thrown into makeshift cellblocks, left in insanitary conditions without food and water, and were visited periodically by KLA soldiers to be questioned under harsh treatment, or indiscriminately beaten.
121. The extent of the ill-treatment suffered by prisoners at this facility has been meticulously documented, inter alia, by Kosovar and international personnel working in the Office of the Special Prosecutor of Kosovo. In statements given to prosecutors in 2009 and 2010, more than ten individuals - almost all of them ethnic Albanians - described having been detained indefinitely, struck brutally with sticks and other objects, and subjected to various forms of inhuman treatment at the Kukes site. Several witnesses stated that screams of agony from persons held in separate sets of cellblocks could be heard filtering through the corridors.
122. The Government of Albania has stated that there are no bodies of deceased persons related to the Kosovo conflict buried in the territory of Albania, and indeed that there never were. The case of Kukes proves that this claim is manifestly untrue.
123. First, there are bodies that were cast into rivers in Kosovo and have been carried downstream over the border into Albania. The exhumation of such bodies and the recovery of their remains by representatives of the OMPF in Kosovo would be relatively "uncontroversial" - but even intervention on these cases has been strongly resisted by the Albanian authorities.
124. Second, there are known individual cases in which the bodies of murdered Kosovars have been identified as having been interred in Albania. These cases have led - in instances documented by both Albanian and international journalists, and made known to us - to prolonged, albeit discreet, negotiations between the families of these Kosovars and the authorities administering the cemetery site(s) in Albania. Ultimately, and of particular note, in one case explained to us in detail by a first-hand source, bodies have been exhumed and repatriated to Kosovo for a proper burial by the families. The Albanian authorities told us that they knew of no such cases.
125. Third, there are allegations of the existence of mass grave sites on the territory of the Republic of Albania. The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutors' Office stated to us that they have in their possession satellite photographs of the areas in which these mass graves are located - but up to now, the sites themselves have not yet been found, despite a formal request made by the Serbian to the Albanian authorities to carry out searches.
126. We obtained records from the local cemetery in Kukes, which seem to carry a significant confirmation: bodies of persons from Kosovo had indeed been buried in Northern Albania. The most important document was a five-page "List of deceased immigrants from Kosovo, 28 March 1999 - 17 June 1999", which was prepared by the Supervisor of Public Services in the Municipality of Kukes, northern Albania.
127. The document has subsequently been admitted as evidence in the District Court of Mitrovica, Kosovo, upon submission of the Special Prosecutors' office of Kosovo. One of the deceased persons on the list - Anton Bisaku, featured at No. 138 - was found to have been among the known victims of secret detention and inhuman treatment at the KLA facility located in Kukes, Albania.
128. According to an indictment issued in August 2010, Bisaku and an unspecified number of other civilians held in detention in Kukes were "repeatedly beaten and struck with sticks and batons, kicked, verbally abused and tortured". In charging the defendant Sabit Geci with "War Crimes Against Civilian Population", including "the killing of a civilian at Kukes, one Anton Bisaku who was beaten and shot", the EULEX Special Prosecutor stated that Bisaku was "killed as a result of gunfire directed at him during a session of inhuman treatment, beating and torture which occurred on or about 4 June 1999".
3.3.2 . Post-conflict detentions carried out by KLA members and affiliates
129. After 12 June 1999, Kosovar Albanians continued to detain persons for a variety of motives, including revenge, punishment and profit. The perpetrators - all of whom were, according to our sources, KLA members and affiliates - thereafter fashioned their own novel means of apprehending and abusing civilians, and transporting them out of Kosovo to new detention facilities in Albania, distinct from those that been operated by the KLA in wartime.
130. On the months directly after the declared end of the Kosovo conflict in June 1999, members and affiliates of the KLA purportedly delivered scores of persons they had abducted into secret detention on Albanian territory.
131. It is of grave concern to us, and should be a priority for investigation and resolution on the part of the Albanian authorities, that the vast majority of the persons whom we found to have been so treated remain unaccounted for to the present day, including numerous ethnic Albanians.
132. According to our information, there was not just one facility in Albania at which this post-conflict form of secret detention took place - there was a whole ad hoc network of such facilities, joined up by frequent journeys between them on Albania's provincial roads, and across the porous, chaotic (especially at the time of the mass refugee movements in mid-1999) border between Kosovo and Albania.
133. We were able to access corroborated, first-hand testimony from former KLA fighters and auxiliaries who carried out multiple transports into and between the facilities named in our report, as well as transports of captives out of most of them.
134. On these journeys, KLA recruits and affiliates reportedly drove unmarked private vehicles, including trucks and vans, sometimes in convoys, between one facility and the next. They transported KLA personnel and logistics, provisions of food, alcohol or cigarettes, and groups of women who would be exploited for sex. Most significantly, in the months from July 1999 until as late as August 2000, they also transported captives.
135. The facilities in which captives were detained in the post-conflict period differed in character from the wartime facilities: we have found that they were primarily rustic private residences in rural or suburban areas, including traditional Albanian farmhouses and their storage barns.
136. There was, in addition, at least one custom-built element to the post-conflict network of detention facilities, which was unique in appearance and purpose. It constituted a state-of-the-art reception centre for the organised crime of organ trafficking. It was styled as a makeshift operating clinic, and it was the site at which some of the captives held by KLA members and affiliates had their kidneys removed against their will. According to our sources, the ringleaders of this criminal enterprise then shipped the human organs out of Albania and sold them to private overseas clinics as part of the international "black market" of organ-trafficking for transplantation.
220.127.116.11 Second subset of captives: the "disappeared"
137. The captives in this subset were victims of enforced disappearance: none has been seen, heard of or accounted for, since being abducted from Kosovo, in the weeks and months directly after 12 June 1999.
138. The orchestrators of this post-conflict criminal enterprise had apparently put in place a process of filtering, whereby a smaller number of captives was picked out selectively from each larger group of disappeared, and moved on to somewhere else. The evidence suggests that the rationale behind the process of filtering captives in this manner was linked to a determination of the suitability of the chosen captives for the use that awaited them.
139. Factors thought to have played into the filtering process, as recounted to us by multiple sources, included age, sex, health condition, and indeed the ethnic origin of the captives, ethnic Serbs having been targeted primarily.
140. We heard numerous references to captives not merely having been handed over, but also having been "bought" and "sold". It was as a result of these references that we tried to understand more clearly the intersection between the abductions and undeclared detentions in the context the conflict, and the activities of organised crime, which was prevalent in many sectors of daily life in the region.
18.104.22.168.1.1 Case study on the nature of the facilities: Rripe
141. In the course of our inquiry, we established that at least three sources whose testimonies we obtained unquestionably were physically present at the house of the K. family in Rripe near Burrel (the much-cited "yellow house") in the context of KLA criminal enterprises during which they were present.
142. Each of these sources was able to recount unique and specific details regarding the precise location and appearance of the house, the background of its proprietor, the KLA personnel posted there, and the character and commandership of the illegal activities that took place in the house in the period from 1999 to 2000.
143. Based upon these source testimonies, it can be concluded that the K. house was occupied by, and under the control of the KLA who were part of a network that operated throughout most of the northern half of Albania.
144. A small group of KLA commanders reportedly ordered and oversaw multiple deliveries of civilian captives to the K. house over a period of up to a year, from July 1999 until mid-2000. Most of these captives had been abducted from the provincial areas of southern Kosovo and brought into Albania using the methods of transportation described in this report. Unlike those held in Kukes, the captives brought to Rripe were predominantly ethnic Serbs.
145. In addition, sources close to the KLA spoke of a large number of trafficked women and girls being brought to the K. house, where they were exploited for sex not only by the KLA personnel, but also by some of the menfolk in the Rripe community.
146. During the period in which the KLA maintained a presence at the house, the silence of the inhabitants of Rripe as to the presence of KLA units and their activities was, according to our sources, obtained by threats, but also by "pay-offs" including significant sums of money, as well as free access to alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.
147. There are substantial elements of proof that a small number of KLA captives, including some of the abducted ethnic Serbs, met their death in Rripe, at or in the vicinity of the K. house. We have learned about these deaths not only through the testimonies of former KLA soldiers who said they had participated in detaining and transporting the captives while they were alive, but also through the testimonies of persons who independently witnessed the burial, disinterment, movement and reburial of the captives' corpses, both while the KLA was occupying the K. house, and in the period after the KLA had vacated the K. house and the family inhabitants had returned.
148. Our findings in relation to the K. house appear to corroborate, to a large extent, the findings made by a team of investigative journalists working for the US-based documentary producers "American Radio Works". These findings were summed up in a confidential internal memo submitted to UNMIK in 2003, which in turn gave rise to the investigative mission to the K. house referred to before.
149. Yet, the testimonies we gathered also revealed a dimension to the KLA's operations at the K. house that had not previously been reported, either by the ARW team, or in the memoirs of former ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, or in the successive "revelations" in the media.
150. KLA operatives in fact not only dropped off captives at Rripe, but apparently also picked up captives from Rripe, for transportation onwards to different detention facilities. According to the testimonies of drivers involved in transporting the captives, some of the persons they picked up at Rripe were the same persons they had brought from Kosovo, while others had arrived at Rripe from a different and unknown provenance, which the drivers never found out.
151. The K. house was therefore not the endpoint, or ultimate destination, in this joined-up network of detention facilities and captive transports. Its precise role, its importance to the whole operation, was perhaps previously misconstrued.
152. The K. house appears in fact to have had the character of more of a "way station", at which captives were held in transit to their ultimate fate, and according to certain sources, subjected to apparently strange forms of "processing" / "filtering", including the testing of their blood and physical condition.
22.214.171.124.2 Observations on the conditions of detention and transport
153. Captives were reportedly held incommunicado under constant armed guard at these detention facilities, either in rooms that were part of the main buildings, or in barns, garages, warehouses or other adjoining structures designed for storage.
154. During the transports between these buildings, captives were routinely bundled into vans and trucks, restrained by binding their hands behind their backs, and tied to internal fixtures of the vehicle.
155. The drivers of these vans and trucks - several of whom would become crucial witnesses to the patterns of abuse described - saw and heard captives suffering greatly during the transports, notably due to the lack of a proper air supply in their compartment of the vehicle, or due to the psychological torment of the fate that they supposed awaited them.
126.96.36.199 Third subset of captives: the "victims of organised crime"
156. The last and most conspicuous subset of captives in the post-conflict period, not least because its fate has been greatly sensationalised and widely misunderstood, comprises the captives we regard as having been the "victims of organised crime". Among this subset are a handful of persons whom we found were taken into central Albania to be murdered immediately before having their kidneys removed in a makeshift operating clinic.
157. The captives in this subset undoubtedly endured a most horrifying ordeal in the custody of their KLA captors. According to source testimonies, the captives "filtered" into this final subset were initially kept alive, fed well and allowed to sleep, and treated with relative restraint by KLA guards and henchmen who would otherwise have beaten them up indiscriminately.
158. The captives were, as we were told, each moved through at least two transitory detention facilities, or "way stations", before being delivered to the operating clinic. These "way stations", apparently controlled by KLA operatives and affiliates aligned to the "Drenica Group", were situated inter alia in the following detention locations:
Bicaj (vicinity) - an apparently privately-owned house in a small village south of Bicaj, in a rural setting not far removed from the main road towards Peshkopi;
Burrel - on the outskirts of the town of Burrel, a compound containing at least two individual structures in which captives were locked up, as well as a house in which operatives congregated and rested;
Rripe - the two-storey, self-standing farmhouse referred to as the K. house, or the "Yellow House", which was subject to a combined UNMIK / ICTY forensic site visit in 2004 after being identified by investigative journalists; and
Fushë-Krujë - another detached, two-storey farmhouse removed from the main roads and enclosed within a large compound, which reportedly served as a "safe house" not only for KLA affiliates, but for other groups of organised criminals involved in smuggling drugs and trafficking in human beings.
Case study on the nature of the facilities: Fushë-Krujë
159. It was in the last of the locations discovered in our investigations, Fushë-Krujë, that the process of "filtering" purportedly reached its end-point, and the small, select group of KLA captives who were brought this far met their death.
160. There are strong indications, from source testimonies we have obtained, that in the process of being moved through the transitory sites, at least some of these captives became aware of the ultimate fate that awaited them. In detention facilities where they were held in earshot of other trafficked persons, and in the course of being transported, some of these captives are said to have pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being "chopped into pieces".
161. At the latest when their blood was drawn by syringe for testing (a step that appears to have been akin to "tissue typing", or determining levels of organ transplantation compatibility), or when they were physically examined by men referred to as "doctors", the captives must have been put on notice that they were being treated as some form of medical commodities. Sources described such tests and examinations having been undertaken in both Rripe and Fushë-Krujë.
162. The testimonies on which we based our findings spoke credibly and consistently of a methodology by which all of the captives were killed, usually by a gunshot to the head, before being operated on to remove one or more of their organs. We learned that this was principally a trade in "cadaver kidneys", i.e. the kidneys were extracted posthumously; it was not a set of advanced surgical procedures requiring controlled clinical conditions and, for example, the extensive use of anaesthetic.
163. We learned from distinct and independent KLA insider sources about diverse elements and perspectives of the organ-trafficking ring in action: on the one hand, from the perspective of drivers, bodyguards and other "fixers" who performed logistical and practical tasks aimed at delivering the human bodies to the operating clinic; and on the other hand, from the perspective of the "organisers", the criminal ringleaders who, as alleged, entered business deals to provide human organs for transplantation purposes in return for handsome financial rewards.
164. The practical dimension of the trafficking enterprise was relatively simple. Captives brought as far as the Fushë-Krujë area (which entailed an arduous drive of several hours onwards from Rripe or Burrel) were first held in the "safe house" facility. The proprietor of this property was an ethnic Albanian who allegedly shared both clan ties and organised criminal connections with members of the "Drenica Group".
165. As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the "safe house" individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.
166. The surgical procedures thereupon performed - cadaver kidney extractions, rather than surgeries on live donors - are the most common means through which donor organs and tissues are acquired for transplant purposes - except for the criminal method of obtaining the cadavers. Eminent organ transplantation experts whom we have consulted during our inquiry described these procedures to us as efficient and low-risk.
167. Sources stated that the Fushë-Krujë axis was chosen to host these facilities because of its proximity to the main airport servicing Tirana. The facilities at the hub of this organ-trafficking ring - the "safe house" and the operating clinic - therefore offered accessibility for incoming international visitors and outgoing shipments alike.
4. Medicus clinic
168. In the course of our inquiry we have uncovered certain items of information that go some way beyond our findings as presently reported. This information appears to depict a broader, more complex organised criminal conspiracy to source human organs for illicit transplant, involving co-conspirators in at least three different foreign countries besides Kosovo, enduring over more than a decade. In particular, we found a number of credible, convergent indications that the organ-trafficking component of the post-conflict detentions described in our report is closely related to the contemporary case of the Medicus Clinic, not least through prominent Kosovar Albanian and international personalities who feature as co-conspirators in both. However, out of respect for the ongoing investigations and judicial proceedings being led by EULEX / the Office of the Special Prosecutor of Kosovo, we feel obliged at this moment to refrain from publishing our findings in this regard. Suffice to say, we encourage all the countries whose nationals appear in the indictment regarding Medicus to do their utmost to halt this shameful activity and assist in bringing its orchestrators and co-conspirators to justice.
5. Reflections on the "glass ceiling of accountability" in Kosovo
169. Our inquiry has found that there exists a "glass ceiling of accountability" with regard to the investigations currently being undertaken, and the indictments thus far issued, under the auspices of the Special Prosecutors' Office in Kosovo.
170. There seem to be two principal impediments to the quest for justice on behalf of the Kosovo people, as it is being led by the SPRK. The first problem is that the de facto reach of the investigations is carefully managed and restricted by the Kosovo authorities their collaboration with EULEX therefore suffers from a profound lack of confidence.
171. Second, these men would apparently rather accept justice in the courts for their alleged roles in the running of illicit detention camps and the trafficking of human organs, respectively, than implicate their former senior KLA commanders, upon whose authority they acted and who are now senior political figures.
172. The central impediment to achieving true justice for many Kosovars, therefore, seems to be the ancestral custom, which still prevails in some parts of society, of entrenched clan loyalty, or its equivalent in the sphere of organised crime. Even where the conspirators in question are not themselves members of the same clans or extended families, the allegiances they feel towards their criminal "bosses" are as unbreakable as any family bonds.
173. Therefore, Sabit Geqi will resolutely avoid implicating those truly responsible for the torture of civilian prisoners at Kukes, who have now become respectable public figures. Equally, Ilir Rrecaj will continue to accept the consequences of being a scapegoat for the irregular licensing and funding practices in respect of the Medicus clinic in Pristina, rather than point the finger at those who are truly responsible for this organised criminal activity in Kosovo's health sector.
174. The result is that political leaders can plausibly dismiss the allegations relating to KLA involvement in detention, torture and murder in Albania - serious allegations that deserve to be investigated, as we have seen, much more seriously than has been the case so far - as little more than a "spectacle" created by Serbian political propagandists.
6. Some concluding remarks
175. In concluding, we should once again recall that that this report has been drawn up in the wake of the revelations that appeared in the memoirs of the former Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY. Shocked by those disclosures, the Parliamentary Assembly entrusted us with the task of looking more closely into the allegations and the human rights violations said to have been committed in Kosovo in the material period. The elements reported in the former Prosecutor's book primarily concerned the alleged trafficking of human organs. Our difficult, sensitive investigations enabled us not only to substantiate those elements, but also to shed light on further, related allegations and to draw a very sombre, worrying picture of what took place, and is to some extent continuing to take place, in Kosovo. Our task was not to conduct an criminal investigation -we are not empowered to do so, and above all we lack the necessary resources - let alone to pronounce judgments of guilt or innocence.
176. The information we have gathered nonetheless concerns extremely grave events that took place in the very heart of Europe. The Council of Europe and its member states cannot remain indifferent to such a situation. We have shown that organised crime is a significant phenomenon in Kosovo. This is nothing new, and it is admittedly not exclusive to Kosovo. Organised crime is a dreadful problem in the region and also affects Serbia, Montenegro and Albania, to name but a few examples. There are also worrying, surprising links and affinities between the different groups involved. Moreover, such criminal groups seem to co-operate with each other far more effectively than the responsible national and international judicial authorities. We have highlighted and documented the shady, and in some cases open, connections between organised crime and politics, including representatives of the authorities; that too is nothing new, at least for those who have not sought to close their eyes and ears at all costs. The silence and the failure to react in the face of such a scandal is just as serious and unacceptable. We have not engaged in mere rumour-mongering, but have rather described events on the basis of multiple testimonies, documents and objective evidence. What we have uncovered is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors' respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of "political expediency". But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public? Everyone in Kosovo is aware of what happened and of the current situation, but people do not talk about it, except in private; they have for years been waiting for the truth - the whole truth, rather than the official version - to be laid bare. Our sole aim today is to serve as spokespersons for those men and women from Kosovo, as well as those from Serbia and Albania, who, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, simply aspire to the truth and to an end to scandalous impunity, with no greater wish than to be able to live in peace. Truth and accountability are absolute necessities if there is to be genuine reconciliation and lasting stability in the region. In the course of our mission we met with persons of great valour - both local and international actors - who are fighting to overcome indifference and build a fairer society. They deserve not only our expressions of solidarity, but also our full and active support.
 The United States of America has an Embassy endowed with impressive resources and a military base, Camp Bondsteel, of a scale and significance that clearly transcends regional considerations.
 The "UNMIK legacy" was described to us in the form of a vivid image that scarcely requires further comment, as "300,000 pages in disarray".
 We learned that certain KFOR contributors (for example the United Kingdom) took all their records away with them; and that these records were subsequently made accessible to EULEX investigators only on the basis of reasoned case-by-case applications, a complex procedure which considerably slows down the work of justice.
 At the time of our visit in January 2010, EULEX investigators were not always able to access to the ICTY's files, but the ICTY Prosecutor is more recently reported to have assured EULEX that access would be granted imminently.
 The figures quoted here were provided by the Office of Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF), with regard to cases still unresolved at the beginning of 2010. The ICRC speaks of about 1000 missing persons after KFOR's arrival, most of them Serbs but also Albanian Kosovars regarded as "traitors".
 The Office for Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF) is currently co-headed by a EULEX official and a Kosovar official; this body was created, we were told, "to clean up the mess left behind by UNMIK and the ICTY".
 This difficulty was said to be most acute with regard to cases that arose during the period of "chaos" from June to late October 1999. KFOR soldiers were evidently unqualified to carry out police work and their crime scene reports were said to be mostly unusable.
 An example with which we were confronted during our fact-finding visit to Pristina concerned excavations in a mineshaft where some thirty bodies of deceased Serbs were said to be buried. The local construction companies employed to do the work were threatened by members of the local community, which caused considerable delay in carrying out the explorations. According to what we have been told, the prevailing attitude among the Kosovar population is to regard as a "traitor" anyone who provides information regarding mass graves containing Serb victims.
 EULEX investigators informed us that the level of co-operation from the Albanian authorities was "nil". The reply, after several months, to a request for international legal assistance (concerning the camp at Kukës) was that the requested investigations were "delayed by a natural disaster". Other international officials also confirmed the "strong resistance" of the Kosovar authorities to co-operating in efforts to solve cases of missing Serbs or alleged Kosovar Albanian "traitors". The consistent refrain of the Albanian authorities towards Albania never allowed exhumations in its territory. "There was no war here, so there are no graves to look for".
 There is said to exist some degree of reluctance even within the OMPF concerning the disappearances that occurred after 12 June 1999.
 Serge Brammertz, ICTY Chief Prosecutor, in a letter to me dated 17 December 2009. In an interview I had with Madam Carla Del Ponte in 2009, the former Chief Prosecutor assured me that the materials in question should be stored in the ICTY's archives and that their destruction was simply inconceivable.
 Such requests were made in March 2009 to the following countries: Belarus, Canada, Israel, Germany, Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, and Turkey. At the time of writing, only Canada was said to have provided a satisfactory response.
 See the EULEX press release of 15 October 2010: http://www.eulex-kosovo.eu/en/pressreleases/0098.php; and the report by Nebi Qena (AP), 12 November 2010: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101112/ap_on_re_eu/eu_kosovo_organ_trafficking/print
 See Expert Report quoted in the Limaj judgement.
 Carla del Ponte herself said of the Limaj trial that "the impunity that feeds upon fear was allowed to prevail": see del Ponte and Sudetic, The Hunt, Chapter 11: Confronting Kosovo, at page 26.
 The KLA had grown domestically throughout most of the 1990s by rallying the support of volunteer fighters - men of all ages in their respective villages - to coalesce around leaders like Adem Jashari and form small armed units, or "brigades" across the territory of Kosovo. Many of the recruits to this "homeland KLA", effectively a peasant army, undertook guerrilla warfare training at camps in northern Albania, and smuggled arms into Kosovo with which to undertake acts of violent resistance. Our inquiry received more than a dozen testimonies of ethnic Albanian males who had taken part in this campaign of "resistance". With the killing of Jashari and scores of his family members and associates in a clampdown by Serb security forces in1998, this initial incarnation of the KLA was effectively ended, and has gravitated into folklore as a romantic notion of Kosovar liberation, with Jashari as its martyr.
 The main rival political parties in recent election cycles have included the Democratic Party of Kosovo (Partia Demokratike e Kosovës, or PDK), and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (Aleanca për Ardhmërinë e Kosovës, or AAK), both of which are led by commanders of former KLA "splinter groups" and count large number of former KLA operatives among their members.
 We have noted the remarkable confessions of a man named Nazim Bllaca, who came forward last year and testified as to the use of these intelligence structures in targeted killings and different forms of racketeering; Bllaca's depiction of this secret underworld is one we recognise from our own research.
 In this regard our findings correspond with those of international representatives of military and intelligence monitoring missions - from NATO's Kosovo Stabilisation Force (KFOR), to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - in reports published at various points over the last fifteen years.
 In Kosovo itself, the area of influence of the Drenica Group and its affiliates went on to extend far beyond that particular locale, however: they exercised firm control over criminal cartels active in municipalities including, but not limited to, Istok, Srbica, Skenderaj, Klina, Prizren and Pristina.
 See Le Monde 11 December 2010.
 Thaqi was, for example, named as head delegate of the Kosovar Albanians to the Rambouillet Summit.
 For example, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a report in spring 1999 that drug smuggling organisations composed of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians were considered "second only to Turkish gangs as the predominant heroin smugglers along the Balkan route".
 These are the German (BND), Italian (Sismi), British (MI6) and Greek (EYP) intelligence services.
 See, e.g., the report of the IEP (Institut für Europäische Politik, Berlin) of 9 January 2007 prepared for the German Federal Ministry of Defence ("Operationalisierung von Security Sector Reform (SSR) auf dem Westlichen Balkan - intelligente/kreative Ansätze für eine langfristig positive Gestaltung dieser Region"); document classified as secret and yet accessible on Internet; at page 57 the authors indicate that "Thaqi is considered, in security circles, as much more dangerous than Haradinaj, who as former head of KLA possesses a wider international network." (my own translation) Another report of the German secret service (Bundesnachrichtendienst/BND), similarly available on Internet (BND Analyse vom 22.02.2005), names Messrs Thaqi, Lluka and Haradinaj as key personalities of organised crime in Kosovo and explores in particular, in 27 pages of thorough analysis, the ramifications of the "Drenica Group". We did not limit ourselved to the study of these reports, and other sources, but we interviewed a number of persons who had been involved, at ground level, in the preparation of these reports.
 Fatmir Limaj, a former senior-ranking KLA commander, was indicted, tried and ultimately acquitted by the ICTY in a trial that encountered many problems with the integrity of evidence.
 In the course of the last ten years, intelligence services from several Western European countries, law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States, and analysts of several nationalities working within NATO structures have prepared authoritative, well-sourced, corroborated reports on the unlawful activities of this "Drenica Group".
 At a minimum, there is solid documentary evidence to demonstrate the involvement of this group, and its financial sponsors, in money laundering, smuggling of drugs and cigarettes, human trafficking, prostitution, and the violent monopolisation of Kosovo's largest economic sectors including vehicle fuel and construction.
 Primarily these funds had been generated through contributions from the Kosovo Diaspora, and were held in foreign bank accounts, including in Germany and Switzerland. The finances available to Thaqi's inner circle increased dramatically with the creation of a dedicated KLA fund known as Atdheu Thërret ("Homeland Calls").
 It is apt that I should acknowledge the excellent journalistic investigation of the Balkan Insight Reporters' Network (BIRN), which reported on elements of the KLA's network of detention camps in Albania in April 2009 (Altin Raxhimi, Vladimir Karaj, and Michael Montgomery).
 While Thaqi attended the University of Pristina and became identified as a leader in the Kosovar Albanian student movement, Muja studied cardiology at the University of Tirana and associated himself with the more militant elements of the Albanian resistance to Serb oppression in Kosovo.
 Muja was the overall "Medical Co-ordinator" for the KLA General Staff, a post in which he oversaw the provision of medical treatment for wounded KLA soldiers, as well as other emergency cases in KLA operational zones. Muja notably made use of the Military Hospital in Tirana, Albania, and administered extensive supplies and equipment acquired by the KLA through foreign donations. During 1998 and 1999, as the official representative of the KLA, supported by elements in the Albanian Army and the Albanian secret services, Muja also administered a diverse array of other infrastructure: at least one helicopter; several well-funded construction projects; and makeshift accommodation arrangements - including private houses and apartments - for KLA commanders, recruits and affiliates who travelled into Albania from overseas, including those en route to Kosovo.
 Muja acted both as the Health / Medical Co-ordinator for the Provisional Government of Kosovo, under provisional Prime Minister Thaqi, and as Commander of the 40th Medical Battalion of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC).
 At the time of writing, in December 2010, Shaip Muja serves in the administration of Hashim Thaqi as a senior Political Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility inter alia for the Health portfolio.
 Muja is widely credited, for example, with having played a role in the introduction of a "telemedicine" system to Kosovo, whereby health and surgical services can be administered with the assistance of doctors in remote locations, using Internet technology to link the participants.
 The combined influence of Muja and Veseli in this regard endured through the transitional phase of the Kosovo Protection Corps; both men were central to the design of the intelligence structures and strategic decision-making mechanisms inside the PDK party. Among the external parties they are reported to have engaged are members of the Albanian secret services, American private military and security companies, and Israeli intelligence experts.
 The estimated 40 persons does not include persons who were held at Durres on a basis so fleeting that their detention lasted only as long as it took KLA intelligence officers to conduct an interrogation.
 The military grouping styled as Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës, or FARK ("Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo"), was nominally fighting for the same cause of liberation as the KLA, but was treated by KLA commanders as an adversary, with contempt and suspicion. FARK was politically aligned with the LDK, and envisaged as the defence arm of the Government-in-exile of Bujar Bukoshi. Unlike the KLA, FARK was built around a core of experienced military officers, ethnic Albanians who had served in the Army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. KLA commanders were highly suspicious of FARK and sought to suppress its recruitment of new fighters and supplies of arms and ammunitions. The KLA detained numerous persons, especially civilians in northern Albania close to the Kosovo border, on the accusation that they supported FARK and were therefore disloyal to the KLA cause.
 Geqi and Alija were arrested, in May 2010 and June 2010 respectively, and have been indicted for war crimes against the civilian population. While there is also substantial evidence against the third suspect in this regard, Krasniqi, he remains a fugitive at the time of writing and therefore cannot be subject to charges under Kosovo criminal procedure. Pending Krasniqi's apprehension, and the efficient administration of justice, the trial of all three men should take place either in the District Court of Pristina or the District Court of Mitrovica in early 2011.
 Our KLA sources told us that Cahan was in fact an operational staging point for KLA advances over the mountainous border into Kosovo. KLA fighters stationed at Cahan are renowned for having launched "Operation Aero", a rare incursion into Serb-held territory in late May 1999.
 In the interests of balance, I should point out that some reporting of this fear on the part of the captives has tended to dramatise the facts unduly. For example, we have found no basis for the allegation that certain victims had one kidney removed before being "sewn up" again, detained for another period, and then finally having the second kidney removed.
 The proprietor's collusion with networks who trafficked sex workers, illegal immigrants to Europe, and contraband items including drugs and weapons eventually led him to be arrested by Albanian law enforcement officials; although there does not appear to have been any connection with crimes carried out in the KLA network.
 Contrary to the widespread scepticism as to whether the underlying operations involved in organ-trafficking could have been performed in Albania in the period 1999-2000, our experts whom we consulted directly not only found it perfectly plausible that this methodology had been used, but were aware of analogous, similarly illicit enterprises in which cadaver extractions were found to have been performed.
Libya: Is This Kosovo All Over Again?
March 8th, 2011
Another NATO Intervention?
Less than a dozen years after NATO bombed Yugoslavia into pieces, detaching the province of Kosovo from Serbia, there are signs that the military alliance is gearing up for another victorious little “humanitarian war”, this time against Libya. The differences are, of course, enormous. But let’s look at some of the disturbing similarities.
A demonized leader
As “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today. The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been at it for several decades. And Qaddafi is more exotic, speaking less English and coming before the public in outfits that could have been created by John Galliano (another recently outed monster). ;This exotic aspect arouses the ancestral mockery and contempt for lesser cultures with which the West was won, Africa was colonized and the Summer Palace in Beijing was ravaged by Western soldiers fighting to make the world safe for opium addiction.
The “we must do something” chorus
As with Kosovo, the crisis in Libya is perceived by the hawks as an opportunity to assert power. The unspeakable John Yoo, the legal advisor who coached the Bush II administration in the advantages of torturing prisoners, has used the Wall Street Journal to advise the Obama administration to ignore the U.N Charter and leap into the Libyan fray. “By putting aside the U.N.'s antiquated rules, the United States can save lives, improve global welfare, and serve its own national interests at the same time,” Yoo proclaimed. And another leading theorist of humanitarian imperialism, Geoffrey Robertson, has told The Independent that, despite appearances, violating international law is lawful.
The specter of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” is evoked to justify war
As with Kosovo, an internal conflict between a government and armed rebels is being cast as a “humanitarian crisis” in which one side only, the government, is assumed to be “criminal”. This a priori criminalization is expressed by calling on an international judicial body to examine crimes which are assumed to have been committed, or to be about to be committed. In his Op Ed piece, Geoffrey Robertson made it crystal clear how the International Criminal Court is being used to set the stage for eventual military intervention. The ICC can be used by the West to get around the risk of a Security Council veto for military action, he explained.
“In the case of Libya , the council has at least set an important precedent by unanimously endorsing a reference to the International Criminal Court. […] So what happens if the unarrested Libyan indictees aggravate their crimes - eg by stringing up or shooting in cold blood their opponents, potential witnesses, civilians, journalists or prisoners of war?” [Note that so far there are no “indictees” and no proof of “crimes” that they supposedly may “aggravate” in various imaginary ways.) But Robertson is eager to find a way for NATO “to pick up the gauntlet” if the Security Council decides to do nothing.]
“The defects in the Security Council require the acknowledgement of a limited right, without its mandate, for an alliance like NATO to use force to stop the commission of crimes against humanity. That right arises once the council has identified a situation as a threat to world peace (and it has so identified Libya, by referring it unanimously to the ICC prosecutor).”
Thus referring a country to the ICC prosecutor can be a pretext for waging war against that country! By the way, the ICC jurisdiction is supposed to apply to States that have ratified the treaty establishing it, which, as I understand, is not the case of Libya – or of the United States. A big difference, however, is that the United States has been able to persuade, bully or bribe countless signatory States to accept agreements that they will never under any circumstances try to refer any American offenders to the ICC. That is a privilege denied Qaddafi.
Robertson, a member of the UN justice council, concludes that: “The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can if they request our help, has crystallized to make the use of force by Nato not merely ‘legitimate’ but lawful.”
Twelve years ago, most of the European left supported “the Kosovo war” that set NATO on the endless path it now pursues in Afghanistan. Having learned nothing, many seem ready for a repeat performance. A coalition of parties calling itself the European Left has issued a statement “strongly condemning the repression perpetrated by the criminal regime of Colonel Qaddafi” and urging the European Union “to condemn the use of force and to act promptly to protect the people that are peacefully demonstrating and struggling for their freedom.” Inasmuch as the opposition to Qaddafi is not merely “peacefully demonstrating”, but in part has taken up arms, this comes down to condemning the use of force by some and not by others – but it is unlikely that the politicians who drafted this statement even realize what they are saying.
The narrow vision of the left is illustrated by the statement in a Trotskyist paper that: “Of all the crimes of Qaddafi, the one that is without doubt the most grave and least known is his complicity with the EU migration policy…” ; For the far left, Qaddafi’s biggest sin is cooperating with the West, just as the West is to be condemned for cooperating with Qaddafi. This is a left that ends up, out of sheer confusion, as cheerleader for war.
The mass of refugees fleeing Kosovo as NATO began its bombing campaign was used to justify that bombing, without independent investigation into the varied causes of that temporary exodus – a main cause probably being the bombing itself. Today, from the way media report on the large number of refugees leaving Libya since the troubles began, the public could get the impression that they are fleeing persecution by Qaddafi. As is frequently the case, media focuses on the superficial image without seeking explanations. A bit of reflection may fill the information gap. It is hardly likely that Qaddafi is chasing away the foreign workers that his regime brought to Libya to carry out important infrastructure projects. Rather it is fairly clear that some of the “democratic” rebels have attacked the foreign workers out of pure xenophobia. Qaddafi’s openness to Africans in particular is resented by a certain number of Arabs. But not too much should be said about this, since they are now our “good guys”. This is a bit the way Albanian attacks on Roma in Kosovo were overlooked or excused by NATO occupiers on the grounds that “the Roma had collaborated with the Serbs”.
Osama bin Laden
Another resemblance between former Yugoslavia and Libya is that the United States (and its NATO allies) once again end up on the same side as their old friend from Afghan Mujahidin days, Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden was a discreet ally of the Islamist party of Alija Izetbegovic during the Bosnia civil war, a fact that has been studiously overlooked by the NATO powers. Of course, Western media have largely dismissed Qaddafi’s current claim that he is fighting against bin Laden as the ravings of a madman. However, the combat between Qaddafi and bin Laden is very real and predates the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Indeed, Qaddafi was the first to try to alert Interpol to bin Laden, but got no cooperation from the United States. In November 2007, the French news agency AFP reported that the leaders of the “Fighting Islamic Group” in Libya announced they were joining Al Qaeda. Like the Mujahidin who fought in Bosnia, that Libyan Islamist Group was formed in 1995 by veterans of the U.S.-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Their declared aim was to overthrow Qaddafi in order to establish a radical Islamist state. The base of radical Islam has always been in the Eastern part of Libya where the current revolt broke out. Since that revolt does not at all resemble the peaceful mass demonstrations that overthrew dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, but has a visible component of armed militants, it can reasonably be assumed that the Islamists are taking part in the rebellion.
Refusal of negotiations
In 1999, the United States was eager to use the Kosovo crisis to give NATO’s new “out of area” mission its baptism of fire. The charade of peace talks at Rambouillet was scuttled by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sidelined more moderate Kosovo Albanian leaders in favor of Hashim Thaci, the young leader of the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, a network notoriously linked to criminal activities. The Albanian rebels in Kosovo were a mixed bag, but as frequently happens, the US reached in and drew the worst out of that bag.
In Libya, the situation could be even worse
My own impression, partly as a result of visiting Tripoli four years ago, is that the current rebellion is a much more mixed bag, with serious potential internal contradictions. Unlike Egypt, Libya is not a populous historic state with thousands of years of history, a strong sense of national identity and a long political culture. Half a century ago, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and still has not fully emerged from its clan structure. Qaddafi, in his own eccentric way, has been a modernizing factor, using oil revenues to raise the standard of living to one of the highest on the African continent. ;The opposition to him comes, paradoxically, both from reactionary traditional Islamists on the one hand, who consider him a heretic for his relatively progressive views, and Westernized beneficiaries of modernization on the other hand, who are embarrassed by the Qaddafi image and want still more modernization. And there are other tensions that may lead to civil war and even a breakup of the country along geographic lines.
So far, the dogs of war are sniffing around for more bloodshed than has actually occurred. Indeed, the US escalated the Kosovo conflict in order to “have to intervene”, and the same risks happening now with regard to Libya, where Western ignorance of what they would be doing is even greater.
The Chavez proposal for neutral mediation to avert catastrophe is the way of wisdom. But in NATOland, the very notion of solving problems by peaceful mediation rather than by force seems to have evaporated.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. She can be reached at email@example.com
Kosovo: Europe's Mafia State
Global Research, December 22, 2010
Kosovo: Europe's Mafia State. Hub of the EU-NATO Drug Trail
Kosovo's Prime Minister Accused of Running Human Organ, Drug Trafficking Cartel
In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, "Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo."
The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, "is the head of a 'mafia-like' Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe," The Guardian disclosed.
According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between criminal gangs and "political circles" in Kosovo who just happen to be close regional allies of the United States.
The investigation was launched by Dick Marty, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) special rapporteur for human rights who had conducted an exhaustive 2007 probe into CIA "black fights" in Europe.
The PACE investigation gathered steam after allegations were published by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte in her 2008 memoir.
After it's publication, Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation's ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor's "justice" to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.
A series of damning reports by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the BBC, confirmed Del Ponte's allegations and spurred the Council to act.
Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war "simply vanished without a trace" into a secret prison "in the Albanian border town of Kukes."
According to sources who feared for their lives, including former KLA guerrillas, the BBC revealed that disappeared civilians "were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed."
In an uncanny echo of Nazi practices during the period of the Third Reich, The New York Times reported that "captives" were "'filtered' for their suitability as donors, based on sex, age, health conditions and ethnic origin. "We heard numerous references to captives' not merely having been handed over, but also having been 'bought' and 'sold,'" the special rapporteur told the Times.
"Some of the guards told investigators," the Times reports, "that a few captives understood what was about to happen and 'pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being chopped into pieces'."
Mercy was in short supply however, behind KLA lines
The report states: "As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the 'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic."
Once organs were removed from the victims they were auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold by a global trafficking ring still operating today.
The former prosecutor further alleged, The Guardian reported, that "she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials" who she claimed had "smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested."
In a classic case of covering-up the crimes of low-level thugs to protect more powerful criminals, Del Ponte has charged that forensic evidence gathered by ICTY investigators at one of the northern Albania death houses was destroyed at The Hague.
This brisk underground trade didn't end in 1999 however, when the break-away Serb province was occupied by NATO troops; on the contrary, operations expanded and grew even more profitable as Kosovo devolved into a protectorate of the United States.
In fact, a trial underway in Pristina has revealed that "desperate Russians, Moldovans, Kazakhs and Turks were lured into the capital 'with the false promise of payments' for their kidneys," The Guardian reported.
It was a "growth industry" that fed on human misery. According to The Guardian, recipients "paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys [and] included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel," EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the British paper.
"Donors" however, were left holding the bag, lucky to escape with their lives.
At the center of the scandal is the Medicus clinic. Located some six miles from downtown Pristina, Medicus was allegedly founded by university hospital urologist Dr Lutfi Dervishi, and a former permanent secretary of health, prosecutors claim, provided the clinic with a false license to operate.
Two of the accused, The Guardian revealed, "are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, perhaps the world's most renowned organ trafficker."
Prosecutors believe that Harel and Sonmez are the brains behind Medicus and that Shaip Muja, a former KLA "medical commander" who was based in Albania, may have overseen operations at the "clinic."
Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi's and, in an macabre twist, he is currently "a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health," The Guardian reports.
Investigators averred they had "uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja's central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime."
Besides lining the pockets of Albanian, Israeli and Turkish criminals who ran the grisly trafficking ring, whose interests might also be served in covering-up these horrific crimes?
A Gangster State, but which One?
The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as "freedom fighters," during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
As in Albania years before NATO's Kosovo adventure, organized criminal activities and "the trade in narcotics and weapons [were] allowed to prosper," Michel Chossudovsky wrote, because "the West had turned a blind eye."
These extensive deliveries of weapons were tacitly permitted by the Western powers on geopolitical grounds: both Washington and Bonn had favoured (although not officially) the idea of a 'Greater Albania' encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia. Not surprisingly, there was a 'deafening silence' on the part of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. ("The Criminalization of Albania," in Masters of the Universe? NATO's Balkan Crusade, ed. Tariq Ali, London: Verso, 2000, pp. 299-300)
The consequences of this "deafening silence" remain today. Both in terms of the misery and impoverishment imposed on Kosovo's citizens by the looting of their social property, particularly the wholesale privatization of its mineral wealth which IMF economic "reforms" had spawned, and in the political cover bestowed upon Pristina's gangster regime by the United States.
In the intervening years NATO's "blind eye" has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.
Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE report states that "the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation."
"The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania" during that initial inquiry investigators wrote, "have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses. No subsequent investigation has been carried out into a case nevertheless considered sufficiently serious by the former ICTY Prosecutor for her to see the need to bring it to public attention through her book."
This is hardly surprising, considering that the ICTY was created at the insistence of the Clinton administration precisely as a retributive hammer to punish official enemies of the U.S.
Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America's imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals--the losers in the decade-long conflagration--it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.
The report averred that human organ trafficking was only a part of a larger web of crime and corruption, and that murder, trafficking in women, control over global narcotics distribution and money laundering networks were standard operating procedure for Thaçi and other members of the "Drenica group," the black widows at the center of the KLA spiders' web.
For his part, Thaçi has called the PACE report "libelous" and the Kosovo government has repudiated the Council's findings claiming that the charges "were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army."
While one can easily dismiss prevarications from Kosovo's government, the White House role in covering-up the crimes of their client regime should have provoked a major scandal. That it didn't only reveals the depths of Washington's own venal self-interest in preventing this sordid affair from gaining traction.
In all likelihood fully-apprised of the Council of Europe's investigation through any number of American-friendly moles implanted in European institutions as WikiLeaks Cablegate files have revealed, last summer Thaçi met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House.
Shamelessly, Biden "reaffirmed the United States' full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo," and "reiterated the United States' firm support for Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity," according to a White House press release.
Indeed, the vice president "welcomed the progress that Kosovo's government has made in carrying out essential reforms, including steps to strengthen the rule of law."
An all too predictable pattern when one considers the lawless nature of the regime in Washington.
The Heroin Trail
As I reported more than two years ago in "Welcome to Kosovo! The World's Newest Narco State," the KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose "15 Families" control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade.
Albanian traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Central Asia's Golden Crescent. At one end lies America's drug outpost in Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for processing and transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into "product" for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 1999, "Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network."
As the murdered investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov reported in 2000 for Mother Jones, as the U.S.-sponsored war in Kosovo heated up, "the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package."
Despite billions of dollars spent on failed interdiction efforts, these patterns persist today as more than 106 metric tons of heroin flow into Europe. So alarmed has the Russian government become over the flood of heroin penetrating their borders from Central Asian and the Balkan outposts that some officials have likened it to American "narco-aggression" and a new "opium war, researcher Peter Dale Scott reported.
Scott avers: "These provinces" in Afghanistan, "support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime (headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset), including the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former CIA asset. In effect America has allied itself with one drug faction in Afghanistan against another." Much the same can be said for CIA assets in Pristina.
As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in their 2010 World Drug Report:
Once heroin leaves Turkish territory, interception efficiency drops significantly. In the Balkans, relatively little heroin is seized, suggesting that the route is exceedingly well organized and lubricated with corruption. ... Another notable feature of the Balkan route is that some important networks have clan-based and hierarchically organized structures. Albanian groups in particular have such structures, making them particularly hard to infiltrate. This partially explains their continued involvement in several European heroin markets. Albanian networks continue to be particularly visible in Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Italy is one of the most important heroin markets in Europe, and frequently identified as a base of operation for Balkan groups who exploit the local diaspora. According to WCO seizure statistics, Albanians made up the single largest group (32%) of all arrestees for heroin trafficking in Italy between 2000 and 2008. The next identified group was Turks followed by Italians and citizens of Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Kosovo/Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to some extent Greece). A number of Pakistani and Nigerian traffickers were arrested in Italy as well.
As has been documented for decades, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan campaign the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and then provide them with targets.
When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia's heart during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved "success" without the connivance, indeed active partnership forged amongst Yugoslavia's nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny has shown,
Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by "a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web... Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27).
Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were "commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports," published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND "as the most dangerous of the KLA's 'criminal bosses'."
Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that "having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets," Thaçi's Drenica Group have "exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities."
Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy's SISMI, Britain's MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members "are consistently named as 'key players' in intelligence reports on Kosovo's mafia-like structures of organised crime."
As the Council of Europe and investigative journalists have documented, northern Albania was the site not only of KLA training camps but of secret detention centers where prisoners of war and civilian KLA opponents were executed and their organs surgically removed and sold on the international black market.
"The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA--prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict--took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed."
The report avers, "It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania," the site of secret NATO bases, "yet only in the second half of 1998," Marty writes, "through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle."
"What is particularly confounding" Marty writes, "is that all of the international community in Kosovo--from the Governments of the United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities--undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica Group's crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and to hold the perpetrators to account."
While the special rapporteur's outrage is palpable, the ascension of a political crime family with deep roots in the international drugs trade and other rackets, including the grisly traffic in human organs, far from being an anomalous event conforms precisely to the structural pattern of capitalist rule in the contemporary period.
"What we have uncovered" Marty informs us, "is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors' respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of 'political expediency'. But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public?"
Marty need look no further for an answer to his question than to the "political masters" in Washington, who continue to cover-up not only their own crimes but those of the global mafias who do their bidding.
As we have seen throughout the latter half of the 20th century down to the present moment, powerful corporate and financial elites, the military and intelligence agencies and, for lack of a better term, "normal" governmental institutions are suborned by the same crooked players who profit from war and the ensuing chaos it spawns to organize crime, thereby "rationalizing" criminal structures on more favorable terms for those "in the loop."
In this regard, the impunity enjoyed up till now by Thaçi and his minions merely reflect the far-greater impunity enjoyed by the American secret state and the powerful actors amongst U.S. elites who have profited from the dirty work allegedly performed by Kosovo's Prime Minister, and others like him, who are counted amongst the most loyal servants of imperial power.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Kosovo and the myth of liberal intervention
Far from being Tony Blair's 'good' war, the assault on Yugoslavia was as wrong as the invasion of Iraq
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 15 December 2010 21.30 GMT
"The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles ... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values." So declared the neocon US senator (and current foe of WikiLeaks) Joseph Lieberman back in 1999 at the height of the US-led military intervention against Slobodan Miloševic's Yugoslavia.
It would be interesting to hear what Senator Lieberman makes of the report of the Council of Europe – Europe's premier human rights watchdog – on his favourite band of freedom fighters. The report, which cites FBI and other intelligence sources, details horrific rights abuses it claims have been carried out by the KLA, the west's allies in the war against Yugoslavia 11 years ago.
The council claims that civilians – Serbian and non-KLA-supporting Kosovan Albanians detained by the KLA in the 1999 hostilities – were shot in northern Albania and their kidneys extracted and sold on the black market. It names Hashim Thaçi, the former leader of the KLA and Kosovo's prime minister, as the boss of a "mafia-like" group engaged in criminal activity – including heroin trading – since before the 1999 war. The report is a damning indictment not only of the KLA but also of western policy. And it also gives lie to the fiction that Nato's war with Yugoslavia was, in Tony Blair's words, "a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship".
It was a fiction many on the liberal left bought into. In 1999 Blair was seen not as a duplicitous warmonger in hock to the US but as an ethical leader taking a stand against ethnic cleansing. But if the west had wanted to act morally in the Balkans and to protect the people in Kosovo there were solutions other than war with the Serbs, and options other than backing the KLA – the most violent group in Kosovan politics. They could have backed genuine multi-party negotiations, or offered to lift sanctions on Belgrade if a peaceful solution to the problem of Kosovo could be found.
Instead, a virulently anti-Serb stance led the west into taking ever more extreme positions, and siding with an organisation which even Robert Gelbard, President Clinton's special envoy to Kosovo, described as "without any question, a terrorist group". In 2000 the Sunday Times revealed that, prior to the Nato bombing, US agents had been training the KLA. Shaban Shala, a KLA commander, claimed he had met British and US agents in north Albania in 1996.
It was the KLA's campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials, Serbian and Kosovan civilians in 1998, which led to an escalation of the conflict with the government in Belgrade, with atrocities committed on both sides. We were told the outbreak of war in March 1999 with Nato was the Serbian government's fault, yet Lord Gilbert, the UK defence minister, admitted "the terms put to Miloševic at Rambouillet [the international conference preceding the war] were absolutely intolerable … it was quite deliberate".
The subsequent 78-day "humanitarian" bombardment of federal Yugoslavia massively intensified the ethnic cleansing of Kosovan Albanians by Yugoslav forces. Between 2,000 and 10,000 Kosovan Albanians were killed by these forces, with between 500 and 1,500 people killed by the Nato bombing.
But even after Russian pressure forced a Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo, ethnic cleansing and rights abuses in the region continued. Under the Nato occupation an estimated 200,000 ethnic Serbs, Roma and other minorities from south Kosovo, and almost the whole Serb population of Pristina, have been forced from their homes.
A report on Kosovo by Minority Rights Group International claimed: "Nowhere [in Europe] is there such a level of fear for so many minorities that they will be harassed or attacked, simply for who they are." And in October 2010, a report by Human Rights Watch stated that "Roma and related minority groups deported from western Europe to Kosovo face discrimination and severe deprivation amounting to human rights abuse". As for democratic advances, Sunday's elections in Kosovo, boycotted by the Serbian minority, have seen widespread allegations of fraud, with a turnout of 149% reported in one area.
Far from being Tony Blair's "good war", Nato's assault on Yugoslavia was in its own way as immoral as the assault on Iraq. But as the Iraq war has become discredited, so it is even more important for the supporters of "liberal interventionism" to promote the line that Kosovo was in some way a success. The Council of Europe's report on the KLA's crimes makes that position much harder to maintain. And if it plays its part in making people more sceptical about any future western "liberal interventions", it is to be warmly welcomed.
Report identifies Hashim Thaci as 'big fish' in organised crime
Kosovo's prime minister accused of criminal connections in secret Nato documents leaked to the Guardian
guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 January 2011 18.34 GMT
Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci identified in secret Nato reports as having involvement in criminal underworld. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA
Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, has been identified as one of the "biggest fish" in organised crime in his country, according to western military intelligence reports leaked to the Guardian.
The Nato documents, which are marked "Secret", indicate that the US and other western powers backing Kosovo's government have had extensive knowledge of its criminal connections for several years.
They also identify another senior ruling politician in Kosovo as having links to the Albanian mafia, stating that he exerts considerable control over Thaçi, a former guerrilla leader.
Marked "USA KFOR", they provide detailed information about organised criminal networks in Kosovo based on reports by western intelligence agencies and informants. The geographical spread of Kosovo's criminal gangs is set out, alongside details of alleged familial and business links.
The Council of Europe is tomorrow expected to formally demand an investigation into claims that Thaçi was the head of a "mafia-like" network responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.
The organ trafficking allegations were contained in an official inquiry published last month by the human rights rapporteur Dick Marty.
His report accused Thaçi and several other senior figures who operated in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of links to organised crime, prompting a major diplomatic crisis when it was leaked to the Guardian last month.
The report also named Thaçi as having exerted "violent control" over the heroin trade, and appeared to confirm concerns that after the conflict with Serbia ended, his inner circle oversaw a gang that murdered Serb captives to sell their kidneys on the black market.
The Council's of Europe's parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg will debate Marty's findings and vote on a resolution calling for criminal investigations. The vote is widely expected to be passed.
Kosovo functioned as a UN protectorate from the end of the Kosovo war until 2008, when it formally declared independence from Serbia.
Thaçi, who was re-elected prime minister last month, has been strongly backed by Nato powers. His government has dismissed the Marty report as part of a Serbian and Russian conspiracy to destabilise the fledgling state.
However, the latest leaked documents were produced by KFOR, the Nato-led peacekeeping force responsible for security in Kosovo. It was KFOR military forces that intervened in the Kosovo war in 1999, helping to put an end to a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian forces.
Nato said in a statement tonight that it had instigated an "internal investigation" into the leaked documents, which are intelligence assessments produced around 2004, shortly before tensions with ethnic Serbs fuelled riots in Kosovo.
In the documents, Thaçi is identified as one of a triumvirate of "biggest fish" in organised criminal circles. So too is Xhavit Haliti, a former head of logistics for the KLA who is now a close ally of the prime minister and a senior parliamentarian in his ruling PDK party. Haliti is expected to be among Kosovo's official delegation to Strasbourg tomorrow and has played a leading role in seeking to undermine the Marty report in public.
However, the Nato intelligence reports suggest that behind his role as a prominent politician, Haliti is also a senior organised criminal who carries a Czech 9mm pistol and holds considerable sway over the prime minister.
Describing him as "the power behind Hashim Thaçi", one report states that Haliti has strong ties with the Albanian mafia and Kosovo's secret service, known as KShiK. It suggests that Haliti "more or less ran" a fund for the Kosovo war in the late 1990s, profiting from the fund personally before the money dried up. "As a result, Haliti turned to organised crime on a grand scale," the reports state.
They state that he is "highly involved in prostitution, weapons and drugs smuggling" and used a hotel in the capital, Pristina, as an operational base. Haliti also serves as a political and financial adviser to the prime minister but, according to the documents, is arguably "the real boss" in the relationship. Haliti uses a fake passport to travel abroad because he is black-listed in several countries, including the US, one report states.
Haliti is linked to the alleged intimidation of political opponents in Kosovo and two suspected murders dating back to the late 1990s, when KLA infighting is said to have resulted in numerous killings.
One was a political adversary who was found "dead by the Kosovo border", apparently following a dispute with Haliti. A description of the other suspected murder – of a young journalist in Tirana, the Albanian capital – also contains a reference to the prime minister by name, but does not ascribe blame.
Citing US and Nato intelligence, the entry states Haliti is "linked" the grisly murder, going on to state: "Ali Uka, a reporter in Tirana, who supported the independence movement but criticised it in print. Uka was brutally disfigured with a bottle and screwdriver in 1997. His roommate at the time was Hashim Thaçi."
Haliti is also named in the report by Marty, which is understood to have drawn on Nato intelligence assessments along with reports from the FBI and MI5.
Marty's report includes Haliti among a list of close allies of Thaçi said to have ordered – and in some cases personally overseen – "assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations" during and immediately after the war.
Haliti was unavailable for comment. However, in an interview with the media outlet Balkan Insight last week he dismissed the Marty report as "political" and designed to "discredit the KLA". "I was not surprised by the report. I have followed this issue for years and the content of the report is political," he said.
But he accepted that the Council of Europe was likely to pass a resolution triggering investigations by the EU-backed justice mission in the country, known as EULEX.
"I think it's a competent investigating body," he said, "It's a European investigation body. I think that there is no possibility that EULEX investigation unit to be affected by Kosovo or Albanian politics."
Responding to the allegations in the NATO intelligence reports tonight, a Kosovo government spokesman said: "These are allegations that have circulated for over a decade, most recently recycled in the Dick Marty report. They are based on hearsay and intentional false Serbian intelligence.
"Nevertheless, the prime minister has called for an investigation by EULEX and has repeatedly pledged his full cooperation to law enforcement authorities on these scandalous and slanderous allegations.
"The government of Kosovo continues to support the strengthening of the rule of law in Kosovo, and we look forward to the cooperation of our international partners in ensuring that criminality has no place in Kosovo's development."
Road to Strasbourg
It has taken more than two years for an inquiry into organ trafficking in Kosovo to reach the Palace of Europe, a grand building in Strasbourg that serves as the headquarters of the Council of Europe.
The formal inquiry into organ trafficking in Kosovo was prompted by revelations by the former chief war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, who said she had been prevented from properly investigating alleged atrocities committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Her most shocking disclosure – unconfirmed reports the KLA killed captives for their organs – prompted the formal inquiry by human rights rapporteur Dick Marty.
His report, published last month, suggested there was evidence that KLA commanders smuggled captives across the border into Kosovo and harvested the organs of a "handful" of Serbs.
His findings, which will be subject to a parliamentary assembly vote tomorrow, went further, accusing Kosovo's prime minister and several other senior figures of involvement in organised crime over the last decade.
Kosovo is American
Hannes Hofbauer (Austria)
Strategic Culture Foundation, 24.8.2010
“Kosovo is Serbian”, is one of the key slogans in every political statement throughout Belgrade and Serbian Diaspora-meetings all-around the world. Orthodox monasteries all over the country seem to prove this point of view. “Kosovo is Albanian territory”, is the answer of the majority of the 1,9 million people living on this territory. Their proof seems to be based on the simple quantity of ethnic majority, which – by the way – does not necessarily have to do with statehood. “Kosovo is European”, is the statement of Brussels authority underlining the fact of Kosovo being part of the “Euro”-zone and under EU-supervision. Historically Serbian, ethnically Albanian, economically European periphery. Yes and no. However, geopolitically, Kosovo is American.
What about statehood? On the 22nd of July 2010, 10 out of 14 judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague approved the Kosovarian declaration of independence as compatible with the standards of international law. Independence had been declared on the 17th of February 2008 by an “Assembly of Kosovo” in the parliament in Prishtina. The statement of the ICJ is restricted to the proclamation of the independence and does not refer to the legality of secession. This is a minor contradiction. A more serious contradiction lies in the fact that the Kosovarian assembly in the parliament at the time formally was (and is till today) not representing Kosovo in international belongings. The UN-Resolution 1244 of 1999 put in a “Special Representative of the Secretary General“ as the official representative of the province, which is defined as an integral part of Yugoslavia respectively Serbia. To put it strictly: The Kosovarian parliament was not entitled to represent Kosovo on the international arena. According to international law, no legal body had asked for independence. In the Press release of the ICJ one can read about legality of the „Assembly of Kosovo“ which declared independence: “On this point, the Court arrives at the conclusion that the authors of the declaration of independence . . . did not act as one of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government within the Constitutional Framework, but rather as persons who acted together in their capacity as representatives of the people of Kosovo outside the framework of the interim administration (..) The authors of the declaration of independence were not bound by the framework of powers and responsibilities established to govern (...)“. Therefore the ICJ “finds that the declaration of independence did not violate the Constitutional Framework”. In other words: because the body which declared independence did not consist of legal representatives of Kosovo, rules of international law were not broken. This is a major contradiction.
The ICJ with its verdict de facto followed the position of the USA and the majority of the EU-states. The Western alliance had already tried before the declaration of independence to implement a so-called “independence under surveillance” by the United Nations. The Ahtisaari Plan was wrecked by Russia (and South Africa). So Washington, Paris, London and Berlin implemented this plan without UN-mandate.
De jure, UN-resolution 1244 is still valid. Kosovo thereby is a part of Serbia and the UN-administration officially rules status-neutrally.
The appeal to the ICJ put the question of state independence on an international level. And it was Serbia asking for it. So Belgrade cannot simply ignore the verdict of the ICJ. To repeat the slogan “Kosovo is Serbian” will not help to overcome its defensive position. Not to speak of the Serbian refusal to take into account the Kosovarian reality. 90% of the population is not willing to accept Serbian national markings. This fact cannot be ignored.
As a precedent the ICJ-verdict on the declaration of Kosovarian independence is far reaching. First of all it underlines the shift from international law towards a human rights preponderating conflict management. In the last two decades Western conflict management more and more operates with human rights arguments instead of international law. The whole NATO-war on Yugoslavia, which broke international law when it started in March 1999, followed the human rights argument to rescue the Albanian population assuming a Serbian aggression. The code of the law of nations thereby was put aside, outruled. NATO war on Yugoslavia also put an end to the juridical framework of e.g. CSCE guaranteeing national sovereignty, territorial integrity and respecting national borders. Since then, instead of codified international law, human rights served as arguments for military aggressions and interventions (e.g. also in Afghanistan). The range of possible interpretations of human rights makes it easy to use them as manipulative arguments serving as instruments for one’s interest.
The acceptance of Kosovo’s independence against the will of Belgrade also is a precedent for many concrete cases. On the territories of Ex-Yugoslavia foremost. After the verdict of the ICJ, it will be harder to explain, why “Republika Srpska” should stay within the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and why it should be impossible to split and unite with Serbia. Equally it will not be easy to explain to the Albanian minority in Makedonia, why it should be against international law to declare independence from Skopje or unite with Albania and/or Kosovo. Not to speak of the Serbs in the north of Kosovo who do not accept Prishinta’s authority. Why should they stay in a common state with Albanians? Their possible independence and/or unification with Serbia would follow the same ICJ’s logic.
ICJ’s declaration deepens the argument of national independence far beyond Ex-Yugoslavia. As a precedent it is important e.g. also for Tiraspol. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) since 20 years asks for independence from Moldova and for international recognition. Only hours after the ICJ-verdict on Kosovo the PMR-authorities underlined their point of view. And in the Georgian periphery the precedent case of Kosovo already led to a reaction from the Russian side when Moscow recognised the declarations of independence of Abchasia and of South-Ossetia in August 2008.
Self-determination versus colonial governance
Kosovo’s declaration of independence, its recognition by – at the moment – 69 states (out of 192) and the ICJ-verdict cannot hide that Kosovo in reality is not independent at all. This was not intended by the USA anyhow. Self-determination is far out of reach.
In military respect this is most evident. After Russian troops withdrew in June 1999 and later in 2003, the US-led NATO settled down in every corner of the country. In Camp Bondsteel, named after an US-officer who was killed in Vietnam, the US-army installed its biggest military camp in Europe covering a territory of almost 4 square kilometres. But also the civil administration is not in the hands of the local government or parliament. The Ahtisaari Plan of March 2007 is the blueprint of the Kosovarian constitution. This constitution clearly notes the colonial status in article 143: “All authorities in the Republic of Kosovo shall abide by all of the Republic of Kosovo’s obligations under the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement dated 26 March 2007 (which is the Ahtisaari-Plan; HH). (...) . The provisions of the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement dated 26 March 2007 shall take precedence (priority, HH) over all other legal provisions in Kosovo. (...) If there are inconsistencies between the provisions of this Constitution, laws or other legal acts of the Republic of Kosovo and the provisions of the said Settlement, the latter shall prevail.”
“Independence under surveillance” was (and is) the key word of Western politics planned for Kosovo. The profiteers of this “independence under surveillance”, besides the organised criminals knowing to handle businesses between legal and illegal structures, are tens of thousands of colonisers. Under abbreviations like UNMIK, EULEX and thousands of NGO’s they fill their bank accounts with monthly wages 10 to 20 times higher than an average local employee. Kosovo is a huge field for experiments: military, political, juridical, administrative. Respecting the fact that executive and legislative power are not divided under the administration of UNMIK’s “Special Representative of the Secretary General” (SRSG) and EULEX’s “International Civilian Representative” (ICR), this shows how politics can be made without Western political proceedings. The SRSG- and the ICR-administrations stand above local laws and international standards.
Since Russia could not stop the implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan, there seems to be no alternative to the colonial status of the region. Belgrade’s proposal from 2007 to combine territorial integrity and substantial autonomy for Kosovo doesn’t even find enough support in Serbia any more. The most reasonable solution would be to divide Kosovo along the river Ibar. The Serbian population north of it would become what they de facto are: Serbian citizens. South of Ibar a second Albanian state has become reality since 1999. Parallel to this split an anti-colonial move could lead to self-determination within Albanian Kosovo.
Several obstacles stand against this vision: the government in Prishtina, which acts as an extended body of Washington and lately threatened with a military intervention in case of Serbs in the north would declare independence from Prishtina; the government in Belgrade, which follows Brussels’ guidelines; and the geopolitical and economic interests of the United States and the European Union. Vague promises from the side of Brussels to integrate Kosovo into the framework of the European Union are not to be taken seriously. Already today Brussels has all economic means in its hands and controls currency and privatisation process. A closer integration would confront Brussels with US-interests. So the status quo is practical for both sides, although it is realised by playing off Serbs and Albanians against each other.
Hannes Hofbauer (Austria)
24 March 1999: Remembering the NATO led War on Yugoslavia
Global Research, March 24, 2011
24 March 1999: Remembering the NATO led War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo "Freedom Fighters" Financed by Organized Crime
Twelve years ago, March 24th 1999, marks the commencement of NATO's aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia. The bombings which lasted for almost three months, were followed by the military invasion (under a bogus UN mandate) and illegal occupation of the province of Kosovo.
In the course of the last week, the so-called international community, backed by the UN Security Council has called for the bombing of Libya, a sovereign country, allegedly to protect the lives of civilians under the logo of "Responibility to Protect".
The covert operations, the military strategies applied in Libya not to mention the process of media disformation bear a canny resemblance to Yugoslavia in 1999.
The Libyan "humanitarian bombing" campaign is an integral part of military strategy which consists in destroying the country's civilian infrastructure. It is a "copy and paste" of previous humanitarian bombing endeavors including the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia and the 2003 military campaign against Iraq.
The military technology today however is far more sophisticated and precise.
In 1999, when Belgrade was bombed, the children's hospital was the object of air attacks. It had been singled out by military planners as a strategic target.
NATO acknowledged that that had done it, but to "save the lives" of the newly borne, they did not target the section of the hospital where the babies were residing, instead they targeted the building which housed the power generator, which meant no more power for the incubators, which meant the entire hospital was for all sakes and purposes destroyed and many of the children died.
I visited that hospital, one year after the bombing in June 2000 and saw with my own eyes how they did it with utmost accuracy. These are war crimes using the most advanced military technology using NATO's so-called smart bombs.
In Yugoslavia, the civilian economy was the target: hospitals, airports, government buildings, manufacturing, infrastructure, not to mention 17th century churches and the country's historical and cultural heritage.
The following article focussing on the KLA, written and published in April 1999, documents the KLA's links to organized crime and Al Qaeda. While the nature of the opposition in Libya remains to be analysed, media reports have confirmed that it is integrated by membvers of the Libyan Islamic Fighter Grooup (LIFG), a terrorist organization with links to al Qaeda.
Michel Chossudovsky, March 24, 2011
Heralded by the global media as a humanitarian peace-keeping mission, NATO's ruthless bombing of Belgrade and Pristina goes far beyond the breach of international law. While Slobodan Milosevic is demonised, portrayed as a remorseless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is upheld as a self-respecting nationalist movement struggling for the rights of ethnic Albanians. The truth of the matter is that the KLA is sustained by organised crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies.
Following a pattern set during the War in Bosnia, public opinion has been carefully misled. The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade has played a crucial role in "financing the conflict" in Kosovo in accordance with Western economic, strategic and military objectives. Amply documented by European police files, acknowledged by numerous studies, the links of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to criminal syndicates in Albania, Turkey and the European Union have been known to Western governments and intelligence agencies since the mid-1990s.
"...The financing of the Kosovo guerilla war poses critical questions and it sorely test claims of an "ethical" foreign policy. Should the West back a guerilla army that appears to partly financed by organised crime."
While KLA leaders were shaking hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet, Europol (the European Police Organization based in the Hague) was "preparing a report for European interior and justice ministers on a connection between the KLA and Albanian drug gangs." In the meantime, the rebel army has been skilfully heralded by the global media (in the months preceding the NATO bombings) as broadly representative of the interests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
With KLA leader Hashim Thaci (a 29 year "freedom fighter") appointed as chief negotiator at Rambouillet, the KLA has become the de facto helmsman of the peace process on behalf of the ethnic Albanian majority and this despite its links to the drug trade. The West was relying on its KLA puppets to rubber-stamp an agreement which would have transformed Kosovo into an occupied territory under Western Administration.
Ironically Robert Gelbard, America's special envoy to Bosnia, had described the KLA last year as "terrorists". Christopher Hill, America's chief negotiator and architect of the Rambouillet agreement "has also been a strong critic of the KLA for its alleged dealings in drugs." Moreover, barely a few two months before Rambouillet, the US State Department had acknowledged (based on reports from the US Observer Mission) the role of the KLA in terrorising and uprooting ethnic Albanians:
"...the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the police, ... KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers and burn their homes if they did not join the KLA [a process which has continued since the NATO bombings]... [T]he KLA harassment has reached such intensity that residents of six villages in the Stimlje region are "ready to flee."
While backing a "freedom movement" with links to the drug trade, the West seems also intent in bypassing the civilian Kosovo Democratic League and its leader Ibrahim Rugova who has called for an end to the bombings and expressed his desire to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Yugoslav authorities. It is worth recalling that a few days before his March 31st Press Conference, Rugova had been reported by the KLA (alongside three other leaders including Fehmi Agani) to have been killed by the Serbs.
Covert Financing of "Freedom Fighters"
Remember Oliver North and the Contras? The pattern in Kosovo is similar to other CIA covert operations in Central America, Haiti and Afghanistan where "freedom fighters" were financed through the laundering of drug money. Since the onslaught of the Cold War, Western intelligence agencies have developed a complex relationship to the illegal narcotics trade. In case after case, drug money laundered in the international banking system has financed covert operations.
According to author Alfred McCoy, the pattern of covert financing was established in the Indochina war. In the 1960s, the Meo army in Laos was funded by the narcotics trade as part of Washington's military strategy against the combined forces of the neutralist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Pathet Lao.
The pattern of drug politics set in Indochina has since been replicated in Central America and the Caribbean. "The rising curve of cocaine imports to the US", wrote journalist John Dinges "followed almost exactly the flow of US arms and military advisers to Central America".
The military in Guatemala and Haiti, to which the CIA provided covert support, were known to be involved in the trade of narcotics into Southern Florida. And as revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) scandals, there was strong evidence that covert operations were funded through the laundering of drug money. "Dirty money" recycled through the banking system--often through an anonymous shell company-- became "covert money," used to finance various rebel groups and guerilla movements including the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan Mujahadeen. According to a 1991 Time Magazine report:
"Because the US wanted to supply the mujehadeen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan', said a US intelligence officer.
America and Germany join Hands
Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavour between the CIA and Germany's Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia). The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: "They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money". According to Whitley, the CIA was, subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.
The covert activities of Germany's BND were consistent with Bonn's intent to expand its "Lebensraum" into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had "forced the pace of international diplomacy" and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favoured (although not officially) the formation of a "Greater Albania" encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia. According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies "to pursue economic dominance in the whole of Mitteleuropa."
Islamic Fundamentalism in Support of the KLA
Bonn and Washington's "hidden agenda" consisted in triggering nationalist liberation movements in Bosnia and Kosovo with the ultimate purpose of destabilising Yugoslavia. The latter objective was also carried out "by turning a blind eye" to the influx of mercenaries and financial support from Islamic fundamentalist organisations.
Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Koweit had been fighting in Bosnia. And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerilla and diversion tactics.
According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede. "Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year , is presently  being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations."
The supply route for arming KLA "freedom fighters" are the rugged mountainous borders of Albania with Kosovo and Macedonia. Albania is also a key point of transit of the Balkans drug route which supplies Western Europe with grade four heroin. 75% of the heroin entering Western Europe is from Turkey. And a large part of drug shipments originating in Turkey transits through the Balkans. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), "it is estimated that 4-6 metric tons of heroin leave each month from Turkey having [through the Balkans] as destination Western Europe." A recent intelligence report by Germany's Federal Criminal Agency suggests that: "Ethnic Albanians are now the most prominent group in the distribution of heroin in Western consumer countries."
The Laundering of Dirty Money
In order to thrive, the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans "cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties" including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo. In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.
The narcotics trade nonetheless uses respectable banks to launder large amounts of dirty money. While comfortably removed from the smuggling operations per se, powerful banking interests in Turkey but mainly those in financial centres in Western Europe discretely collect fat commissions in a multibillion dollar money laundering operation. These interests have high stakes in ensuring a safe passage of drug shipments into Western European markets.
The Albanian Connection
Arms smuggling from Albania into Kosovo and Macedonia started at the beginning of 1992, when the Democratic Party came to power, headed by President Sali Berisha. An expansive underground economy and cross border trade had unfolded. A triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics had developed largely as a result of the embargo imposed by the international community on Serbia and Montenegro and the blockade enforced by Greece against Macedonia.
Industry and agriculture in Kosovo were spearheaded into bankruptcy following the IMF's lethal "economic medicine" imposed on Belgrade in 1990. The embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs were driven into abysmal poverty. Economic collapse created an environment which fostered the progress of illicit trade. In Kosovo, the rate of unemployment increased to a staggering 70 percent (according to Western sources).
Poverty and economic collapse served to exacerbate simmering ethnic tensions. Thousands of unemployed youths "barely out of their Teens" from an impoverished population, were drafted into the ranks of the KLA...
In neighbouring Albania, the free market reforms adopted since 1992 had created conditions which favoured the criminalisation of State institutions. Drug money was also laundered in the Albanian pyramids (ponzi schemes) which mushroomed during the government of former President Sali Berisha (1992-1997). These shady investment funds were an integral part of the economic reforms inflicted by Western creditors on Albania.
Drug barons in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy. Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan, "have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence."
The application of "strong economic medicine" under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions had contributed to wrecking Albania's banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes rivetted on Albania's abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania's extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum... The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests.
Berisha's Minister of Defence Safet Zoulali (alleged to have been involved in the illegal oil and narcotics trade) was the architect of the agreement with Germany's Preussag (handing over control over Albania's chrome mines) against the competing bid of the US led consortium of Macalloy Inc. in association with Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ).
Large amounts of narco-dollars had also been recycled into the privatisation programmes leading to the acquisition of State assets by the mafias. In Albania, the privatisation programme had led virtually overnight to the development of a property owning class firmly committed to the "free market". In Northern Albania, this class was associated with the Guegue "families" linked to the Democratic Party.
Controlled by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992-97), Albania's largest financial "pyramid" VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue "families" of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests. VEFA was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.
According to one press report (based on intelligence sources), senior members of the Albanian government during the Presidency of Sali Berisha including cabinet members and members of the secret police SHIK were alleged to be involved in drugs trafficking and illegal arms trading into Kosovo:
(...) The allegations are very serious. Drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes all are believed to have been handled by a company run openly by Albania's ruling Democratic Party, Shqiponja (...). In the course of 1996 Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali [was alleged] to had used his office to facilitate the transport of arms, oil and contraband cigarettes. (...) Drugs barons from Kosovo (...) operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania, from Macedonia and Greece en route to Italy, is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police (...). Intelligence agents are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top and have had no hesitation in naming ministers in their reports.
The trade in narcotics and weapons was allowed to prosper despite the presence since 1993 of a large contingent of American troops at the Albanian-Macedonian border with a mandate to enforce the embargo. The West had turned a blind eye. The revenues from oil and narcotics were used to finance the purchase of arms (often in terms of direct barter): "Deliveries of oil to Macedonia (skirting the Greek embargo [in 1993-4] can be used to cover heroin, as do deliveries of kalachnikov rifles to Albanian `brothers' in Kosovo".
The Northern tribal clans or "fares" had also developed links with Italy's crime syndicates. In turn, the latter played a key role in smuggling arms across the Adriatic into the Albanian ports of Dures and Valona. At the outset in 1992, the weapons channelled into Kosovo were largely small arms including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, RPK and PPK machine-guns, 12.7 calibre heavy machine-guns, etc.
The proceeds of the narcotics trade has enabled the KLA to rapidly develop a force of some 30,000 men. More recently, the KLA has acquired more sophisticated weaponry including anti-aircraft and antiarmor rockets. According to Belgrade, some of the funds have come directly from the CIA "funnelled through a so-called "Government of Kosovo" based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Washington office employs the public-relations firm of Ruder Finn--notorious for its slanders of the Belgrade government".
The KLA has also acquired electronic surveillance equipment which enables it to receive NATO satellite information concerning the movement of the Yugoslav Army. The KLA training camp in Albania is said to "concentrate on heavy weapons training - rocket propelled grenades, medium caliber cannons, tanks and transporter use, as well as on communications, and command and control". (According to Yugoslav government sources.
These extensive deliveries of weapons to the Kosovo rebel army were consistent with Western geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, there has been a "deafening silence" of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. In the words of a 1994 Report of the Geopolitical Drug Watch: "the trafficking [of drugs and arms] is basically being judged on its geostrategic implications (...) In Kosovo, drugs and weapons trafficking is fuelling geopolitical hopes and fears"...
The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome "marriage of convenience" with the mafia. "Freedom fighters" were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to "finance the Kosovo conflict" with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings.
 Roger Boyes and Eske Wright, Drugs Money Linked to the Kosovo Rebels, The Times, London, Monday, March 24, 1999.
 Philip Smucker and Tim Butcher, "Shifting stance over KLA has betrayed' Albanians", Daily Telegraph, London, 6 April 1999
 KDOM Daily Report, released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, December 21, 1998; Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, December 21, 1998.
 "Rugova, sous protection serbe appelle a l'arret des raides", Le Devoir, Montreal, 1 April 1999.
 See Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia Harper and Row, New York, 1972.
 See John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega, Times Books, New York, 1991.
 "The Dirtiest Bank of All," Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22.
 Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999; see also Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997.
 Quoted in Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999).
 Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4
 Sean Gervasi, "Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis", Covert Action Quarterly, No. 43, Winter 1992-93).
 Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1993.
 For further details see Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997, p. 288.
 Truth in Media, Kosovo in Crisis, Phoenix, 2 April 1999.
 Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 13, 1998.
 Daily News, Ankara, 5 March 1997.
 Quoted in Boyes and Wright, op cit.
 ANA, Athens, 28 January 1997, see also Turkish Daily News, 29 January 1997.
 Brian Murphy, KLA Volunteers Lack Experience, The Associated Press, 5 April 1999.
 See Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3, see also Barry James, In Balkans, Arms for Drugs, The International Herald Tribune Paris, June 6, 1994.
 The Guardian, 25 March 1997.
 For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, La crisi albanese, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 1998.
 Andrew Gumbel, The Gangster Regime We Fund, The Independent, February 14, 1997, p. 15.
 Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3.
 Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 66, p. 4.
 Quoted in Workers' World, May 7, 1998.
 See Government of Yugoslavia at http://www.gov.yu/terrorism/terroristcamps.html.
 Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4.
Kosovo in the 1980s: Murders, Rapes, and Expulsions
By Carl Savich
July 27, 2007
I. Introduction: Ethnically Pure “Kosova”
To understand the Kosovo separatist conflict of 1998-1999, the background must be analyzed and examined. Did the Kosovo conflict emerge sui generis? What was the context and background of the conflict? To understand that, the decade before must be analyzed, the 1980s. Kosovo in the 1980s is where the conflict arose.
From 1981 to 1989, 20,000 Kosovo Serbs are estimated to have fled from Kosovo. There was a massive campaign to drive out the Kosovo Serb population through ethnic murders, rapes, attacks, beatings, desecrations of churches, cemeteries. From 1982 to 1984, 10 rapes were committed, while 11 attempted rapes were committed against Serbian women by Albanian men. In this period, 286 crimes were committed against Kosovo Serbs, while 1,249 misdemeanors were committed against Kosovo Serbs.
A Kosovo Albanian Muslim leader, Fadil Hoxha, incited Kosovo Albanians to rape Kosovo Serb women. Kosovo Albanian Muslims engaged in a systematic and planned policy or campaign to expel Kosovo Serb Christians from Kosovo. This ethnically and religious motivated campaign of genocide against Kosovo Serbs has been largely suppressed and censored in the US and the West. Through the infowar technique of “emphasis”, these human rights abuses have been de-emphasized and buried and spin doctored away.
A systematic and planned campaign of ethnic and religious terror whose goal was genocide has been erased and deleted from the historical record. How was this done? What really happened in Kosovo during the 1980s that set the stage for the Kosovo conflict of 1998-1999? Do we know? Can we know?
II. Arson or Accident?: Pec Patriarchate Burned
On March 16, 1981, the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate was burned in Pec in Kosovo-Metohija. The fire had started on Sunday. Was it arson or an accident? Could a candle have started the blaze? Was the attack ethnically and religiously motivated, a hate crime meant to terrorize the Serbian Orthodox population and to drive them out of Kosovo?
Why is it important? The Pec Patriarchate had been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the 13th century to the abolition of the Pec Patriarchate in 1766. The Pec Patriarchate was regarded as the spiritual center of the Serbian Orthodox and had been the seat of the Serbian Patriarchs since 1346.
The fire burned large areas of the monastery complex, a series of structures. It was started simultaneously in two separate locations. The konak, or residential living quarters, and religious artifacts were destroyed. The fire destroyed the winter church of the monastery complex.
In the period between 1960 and 1981, the Albanian separatists plundered and destroyed the Serbian monasteries of Devic and at Decani. Christian churches were targeted by Albanian Muslim separatists to destroy evidence of the Serbian cultural and religious presence in Kosovo.
Andras J. Riedlmayer, the director of the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard's Fine Arts Library, stated in his 2002 testimony at the Hague that he had heard of the 1981attack on the Pec Patriarchate but dismissed it as an accident: “That period was not part of our study, but yes, I've heard reports of that. I've also read that police at the time claimed that it---the fire at the konak---was accidental.”
The New York Times reported on the burning of the Pec Patriarchate in the story “Sacred Serbian Site Damaged by Blaze” by Marvine Howe:
|Arson or Accident?: The Pec Patriarchate burned in 1981.
“Before daybreak on March 16, the Patriarchate of Pec, which had survived invasion and occupation by the Ottoman Turks, was heavily damaged by fire. A whole wing of the complex was demolished, including the living quarters of the Patriarch, the nun's refectory, a sick ward, a workshop …”
No one has ever been arrested or charged for the attack. No independent investigation has ever been conducted. The konak was rebuilt on October 16, 1983. The causes for the fire remain unknown. It becomes an epistemological game. Some “claim” or “allege” arson while Albanians “claim” an accident. What is the real story? It all depends on whom you ask. The answer is a function of self-interested motivations and concerns. Was it “arson” or was it an “accident”? Serbian sources “claim” it was purposely set on fire by Albanian Muslims in a terrorist attack to drive out the Kosovo Serb population. Albanian sources and their supporters in the US “claim” that it was an “accident”.
III. “We Want a Unified Albania”: The 1981 Riots
On April 3-4, 1981, ethnic Albanian demonstrations in Kosovo turned into an armed rebellion to create a Greater Albania. The demonstrations were motivated by separatism and secession. The rioters wanted union with Albania and expressed support for Albanian Communist dictator Enver Hoxha. The slogans the Albanians displayed during the riots were: “We are Albanians and not Yugoslavs”, “We are the children of Skanderbeg and the army of Enver Hoxha”, “We Want a Unified Albania”, and “Kosovo-Republic”. This is what the Yugoslav media reported. In the US and Western media accounts, the Albanian majority was supposedly seeking greater rights and freedoms. The ultra-nationalist placards were dismissed and spin-doctored or “air brushed” out of the picture.
There was never any secret what the objective was. Beginning with the demonstrations in 1968, Kosovo Albanians wanted the right to secede from Yugoslavia. They wanted to create an ethnically pure “Kosovo”, an ethnic Albanian statelet. In a Radio Free Europe report from December 3, 1969, this creeping secessionism was noted in the article “Cooperation between Tirana University and the new University of Prishtina”:
|Kosovo Serbs flee en masse from Kosovo, June 20, 1986.
“With the establishment of the new University of Prishtina, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo has chalked up another success in its quest for complete national equality. The founding of the university has been hailed in the province as a very important step for the future development of Kosovo. At the same time, Prishtina has announced that a substantial quantity of educational materials needed by the new university will be imported from Albania. Rilindja reports the signing of a 200 million dinar contract in Tirana for the supply of Albanian textbooks and other educational aids to Kosovo during 1970. This cooperation between Prishtina and Tirana could have a favorable effect on the development of relations between the two neighboring countries. In its quest for equality within the Yugoslav Federation, the predominantly-Albanian Autonomous Province of Kosovo has taken a new and important step with the founding of the University of Prishtina. This momentous event in the history of the province, an event which will have significant consequences for the future of the nationalities of Kosovo, took place on 19 November and was timed to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of ‘liberation’ of the provincial capital.”
The greater autonomy that was granted to Kosovo only resulted in greater aspirations for full independence from Serbia and Yugoslavia. The Communist Yugoslav regime created an atmosphere of rising expectations in Kosovo. The more the Serbs gave, the more the Albanians wanted, the more the Albanians took. It was an absurd and paradoxical cycle that was predictably going to lead to disaster.
The “Albanianization” of Kosovo continued during the 1970s and 1980s as ethnic Albanians took control over the political, economic, educational, and cultural aspects of Kosovo. From 1971 to 1981, Albania sent to Kosovo 240 university teachers, together with textbooks written in the Albanian or Shqip language. Albanians had the right to their own Assembly, to their own Executive Council, to their Presidency, to their own Supreme Court, to their own Constitutional Court, to their Ministry of the Interior, and their own University in Pristina. The “Albanianization” of the Kosovo police began after 1966.
Granting Kosovo greater autonomy only whetted the Albanian appetite to go for it all and create a Greater Albania, a “Kosova” statelet or “Republic”. The 1981 riots proved this and made it abundantly clear to all. As a result, Albanian Communist Party leader in Kosovo Mahmut Bakali resigned.
How were these Albanian ultra-nationalist disturbances and separatist riots explained in the US and the West? Eric Bourne dismissed the crisis in a Christian Science Monitor article of May 7, 1981. He described Kosovo-Metohija as a “onetime Serb colony” and “the problem child” of Communist Yugoslavia but conceded that it was Albanian “extremist nationalist riots” that had sparked the violence and that the “latest unrest repeated the demand that Kosovo be made a republic and incorporate Albanian populations in the neighboring republics of Macedonia and Montenegro.” The objective was a Greater Albania although Bourne was careful not to admit that. Bourne asked: “Since 1974, Kosovo has had autonomy in all domestic affairs. Why not then republican status? It seems a simple enough solution.” The only problem with it is that the next step is secession and an independent Albanian state of “Kosova”. How do you solve the illegal immigration problem in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas? It is “simple enough.” Give those states back to Mexico. Bourne’s solution is no solution at all, just mindless drivel. Bourne gives us a clear picture of what the US stance on this issue was in 1981. Bourne reports what the US government wants him to report.
Bourne and other US and Western journalists were not interested in the plight of the Serbian Orthodox “minority” in Kosovo. Not one whit. The US media did not get to experience the systematic terror campaign organized by Albanian separatists. The Serbian Orthodox Abbes Hilaria in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity near Musutiste had to keep a rifle to protect herself from separatist Albanian attacks to drive her out of Kosovo. The Albanian dominated police refused to provide protection from criminal attacks and looting directed at the monastery. She had to use a hunting rifle and to fire warning shots in the air to deter the attacks on the convent, Albanians blinded her cattle. She was photographed showing reporters her blinded cattle. The objective was to terrorize Kosovo Serb Christians to drive them out of Kosovo.
The series of ethnically motivated murders began with the murder of Danilo Milincic from the Kosovo village of Samodreza, near Vucitrn, on June 2, 1981. In 1941, when Adolf Hitler annexed Kosovo to Albania and created a Greater Albania, illegal settlers or “immigrants” came from Albania and forced the Milincic family out of Samodreza. In 1960, the father of Danilo, Slavoljub Milincic, was killed on his own property in Samodreza. He was killed by a gun shot. The murderer has never been apprehended. In 1982, his son, Danilo Milincic, was violently killed by an “immigrant” or settler from Albania, Ferat Mujo. Mujo killed Milincic in front of his own house. This was an ethnically motivated murder to drive out Christian Kosovo Serbs.
|Monument to Kosovo Serb Danilo Milincic who was killed by Albanian attackers in 1982.
The second ethnically motivated murder was of Kosovo Serb Miodrag Saric on July 3, 1982 in the village of Mece near Djakovica, 40 miles southwest of Pristina. Saric was a 43-year-old Kosovo Serb, who was shot and killed by an Albanian neighbor, Ded Krasnici. The official Yugoslav press agency Tanjug reported on the murder. It was the second ethnically motivated murder of a Serb by an Albanian in Kosovo in 1982. The dispute reportedly began with a dispute over damage done to a field belonging to the Saric family. The Saric family had been threatened and coerced to leave Kosovo by Albanians. Saric was murdered because he would not leave his home in Kosovo. This was an ethnically motivated crime to drive out Kosovo Serbs and to create an ethnically pure “Kosova”.
On April 16, 1982, 21 Serbian priests and monks addressed an appeal to the Yugoslav government that focused on the human rights violations against Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo:
“It may be said without exaggeration that systematic genocide is gradually being perpetrated against the Serbian people in Kosovo! Because, if this were not the case, what do the theses about an 'ethnically clean Kosovo' mean which, regardless of everything, is being implemented without interruption? Or what do the words, often repeated in villages and hamlets, monasteries and churches and even in towns mean: 'What are you waiting for? Move away, this is ours!'"
Albanian separatists had targeted Serbian Orthodox Churches even after the end of World War II. In March, 1952, the Serbian Orthodox Church in the village of Duganjevo near Urosevac was destroyed. In 1949, the Serbian Orthodox Memorial Church in Djakovica was dynamited and blown up on a major Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday, St. Sava's Day. According to the report by the delegation of priests: “Various Albanian facilities were erected on the foundations of Serbian churches and cultural monuments if they were not completely destroyed."
IV. “[F]ound …with a broken bottle up his anus”: Sodomy or Homosexual Accident?
One of the most inflammatory and disgusting incidents against Kosovo Serbs occurred in 1985. Djorde Martinovic became a symbol of the human rights abuses committed against Kosovo Serbs. He became a “martyr” for Kosovo Serb Christians. In a painting by Miodrag Popovic, 1 Maj. 1985, Martinovic was shown being crucified like Jesus Christ by Albanian Muslim separatists. His case became symbolic of a perceived sense of Serbian Christian “martyrdom” in Kosovo. Wouldn’t you be outraged and angry if someone shoved a bottle up the ass of an American? In other words, this horrific attack came to symbolize Serbian grievances and a sense of victimization in Kosovo. For this reason, the story needed to be quashed. It had to be made to appear like it was all made up. Fearing a backlash, the Yugoslav government and the US and the Western media colluded in manipulating and censoring and falsifying the incident. What followed was a massive cover-up by the Communist Yugoslav government.
On May 4, 1985, the Martinovic case appeared in the Yugoslav Communist political publication "Politika". The headline read: "A civilian employee of the JNA in Gnjilane, Djordje Martinovic, attacked and injured on a stake on May 1 on his own land Jaruga, two kilometers from Gnjilane. This crime was committed by Albanian terrorists".
What happened in the Martinovic case? It all depends on who tells it. This is one version or “narrative” of the “storytelling”. Djordje Martinovic was ambushed by several Albanians who attacked him while he was working in the field on his own private property. He was placed on a stake or spike. He was then sodomized with a bottle, impaled with a bottle. The Albanian attackers forced the bottle in his anus. Martinovic managed to run to a nearby road where he was able to flag someone down. He was taken to the hospital in Pristina where he received emergency surgery. His injuries were serious.
This is where the plot thickens. He was then visited by Novak Ivanovic, an official from the civil branch of the Yugoslav Army, the JNA. Ivanovic then told him that he had not been sodomized by ethnic Albanian Muslims in an ethnically and religiously motivated hate crime. This is only what appeared to be the case on the surface. He told Martinovic that he was a homosexual and that he had inflicted the injury on himself. It was a self-inflicted injury. The bottle was a dildo Martinovic used in homo-erotic self-gratification. Once the exercise in homosexual auto-eroticism went awry, Martinovic decided to blame the Albanian separatists. That was quite a story.
After a year passed, Novak Ivanovic gave an interview in the publication "Intervju" admitting that the whole homosexual “explanation” was concocted and fabricated on the orders of a General of the Yugoslav Army or JNA. The homosexual angle was a hoax. This is the part of the story that never seemed to reach the US and Western media. The US media stuck with the discredited homosexual angle because it could be true even though shown to be false.
Martinovic obtained the signatures of five doctors in Pristina that attested to the fact that such an injury could not be self-inflicted. He was operated on by British surgeon Peter Holly twice in London who also confirmed that a self-inflicted injury was not possible. A Slovenian doctor in Yugoslavia, in an effort to buttress the Communist regime, however, had argued that a self-inflicted injury was possible. This injury became politically charged. The Communist regime did not want to acknowledge that a Kosovo Serb, a Serbian Christian, was sodomized in an ethnically and religiously motivated hate crime. To do so would only strengthen Serbian “nationalists” within Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Communist regime then falsified the evidence and the facts, indeed, made up its own “reality”. This was all done in the name of preserving Yugoslavia and in covering up any Serbian grievances.
We would call this “reality control” today, PR and spin. We are no strangers to “reality control” in the US and the West. This perhaps best explains why these outlandish and outrageous lies and fabrications were accepted in the US and the in the West as etched-in-stone facts and as truths. Who would believe Djordje Martinovic anyway? He is a Serb. He is a Christian. And he is a homosexual too. Or is he?
Yugoslav interior minister Stane Dolanc, who was from Slovenia, made the “official” conclusions on Television Ljubljana in 1987: “The Djordje Martinovic case is over. My police have shown that the injury was self-inflicted and there is no legal recourse. Djordje is the first Serbian Samurai who has committed on himself hara-kiri." Preposterous? Outrageous nonsense? Not so to the US and Western media. It could happen?
In the May 22, 2004 article “Chronicle of an enduring enmity” in the Guardian Unlimited, Nicholas Lezard recalled the Djordje Martinovic tragedy in the context of the broader conflict between Christianity and Islam. Lezard reviewed the book Infidels by Andrew Wheatcroft, which analyzed centuries of confrontation and conflict between Christendom and Islam. Lezard queried: “How could we have imagined this conflict could ever have gone away?” Lezard then wrote about the Martinovic sodomy in the context of Christian-Muslim relations:
“When the Serb Djordje Martinovic claimed in 1985 that two Albanians had shoved a bottle up his bum, some newspapers pointedly referred to the old Ottoman punishment of impalement, even though it was possible Martinovic had performed the deed himself for private reasons.”
He could also have been the victim of an alien abduction. Lezard played the spin game too. Anything is possible, especially when you want to engage in a bit of “reality control” and spin. The key to the game is to create ambiguity and uncertainty. Then the game is won. It becomes a farce of he said/she said. Facts are suspended and meaning is deferred. Ultimately, we get to decide the facts for ourselves. We create our own “reality”. That is where all the fun is. Ignorance is, indeed, bliss. Who needs reality when we can manufacture and create our own reality? This is the key in understanding the Kosovo conflict.
In 1990, a court in Belgrade found the Yugoslav government liable and that Martinovic be awarded 100,000 Marks in damages. He never received that award. The court did, however, exonerate Martinovic. But no one noticed. Or cared.
Djordje Martinovic died on September 6, 2000 in Citluk near Krusevac. His wife was Jagodinka. He had three sons, Srecko, Dragan and Gradimir, and one daughter, Olga.
V. Rape as an Instrument of Terror
Albanian separatists in Kosovo used rape, sexual assault, against men and women in Kosovo. From 1982 to 1984 alone, 10 rapes against Kosovo Serb women committed by Albanian Muslim men were reported by the police in Kosovo. There were 11 attempted rapes against Kosovo Serb women by Albanian Muslims.
In 1983, Kosovo Serb farmer Stojan Peric was photographed carrying his 9 year-old daughter in his arms from a cornfield in Zitinje near Vitina, Kosovo where she was reportedly raped and sexually assaulted by Kosovo Muslim separatists. Do pictures speak a thousand words? Is seeing believing? The camera does not lie? Or does it? An image can mean many different things to different people. It is the viewer that imparts meaning to a photograph or an image. In other words, meaning can be suspended and deferred. I see what I want to see, or what the media or “experts” or US State Department hack tell me to see.
|Kosovo Serb Stojan Peric carries his 9 year-old daughter after she was raped by Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, 1983.
Was there a planned, systematic, and organized policy of rape as an instrument of terror in Kosovo? David Binder reported in The New York Times on November 1, 1987 that Fadil Hoxha, the political leader of Kosovo Albanians, had advocated that Kosovo Serb women be raped by Albanian Muslims. He was inciting rape against Christian women by Albanian Muslim men to create an ethnically pure Muslim “Kosova”. Can it get any more outrageous than that? How was this incitement of rape and genocide spun in the West? The spin doctors in the West concluded that Hoxha had “joked” at an official dinner in Prizren that Kosovo Serb women should be systematically raped. Can you “joke” about rape and genocide?
Who was Fadil Hoxha? He was one of the most prominent “Kosovar” Muslim political leaders in Kosovo during the Communist period. He had served as the president of the Assembly of the Kosovo Autonomous Province for two terms, first from July 11, 1945 to February 29, 1953, then a second term from June 24, 1967 to May 7, 1969. In 1967 he was appointed to the Yugoslav Communist Party Presidium. In 1974 he became a member of the Federal Presidency of Yugoslavia. During 1978-79 he held the rotating position of president of the Federal Presidency. He was regarded as a “father-figure” for the Albanian Muslim separatists and secessionists.
How do you explain the incitement to rape and genocide by a top Albanian Muslim leader in Kosovo?
VI. Desecration of Christian Graves and Cemeteries
One of the most horrific human rights abuses against Kosovo Serb Christians was never even covered by the US or Western media. This was a crime committed by Albanian Muslim separatists against Kosovo Serbs.
On September 27, 1988, five Albanian Muslim “Kosovars” dug up the bodies of two Kosovo Serb infants, Radojko and Dragica Petrovic. They were twins who had died at birth. The Albanian Muslims then scattered the remains of the bodies all over the grave in the Orthodox Christian cemetery in Grace near Vucitrn. This attack occurred on an Orthodox Christian holy day, the Day of the Glorification of the Holy Cross. This was a horrific ethnically and religiously motivated hate crime committed by Albanian Muslims against Serbian Christians. This crime was well-documented and substantiated by the police. Needless to say, it was virtually censored in the US and Western media. How do you spin or manipulate such horrendous human rights abuses? When you cannot manipulate or spin the facts, you ignore or dismiss the incident entirely, in toto. That was what the US and Western media did in this instance.
|Serbian grandmother Anna weeps at the graves of twin infants dug up by Albanian attackers in Grace in Kosovo, 1988.
Albanians systematically destroyed and desecrated Orthodox Christian cemeteries from 1981 to 1989. Gravestones and monuments of Orthodox Serbs in the Srbica cemetery were attacked in the summer of 1985. On July 18, 1984, Serbian gravestones in Slakovce, near Samodreza, were destroyed, desecrated, and vandalized. On October 8, 1985, in Begov Lukavac, the Serbian Orthodox cemetery was burned. There was photographic evidence of these ethnically and religiously motivated human rights violations and hate crimes. Nevertheless, in the US and the West, these human rights violations were censored, dismissed, and spun away as “claims” and “assertions”. None of the human rights groups in the US or the West paid any attention. The “international community” turned a blind eye.
Kosovo Serb Dmitrije Petkovic, who lived in a village near Pristina, was a target of these attacks. He explained in a December 4, 1984 Ilustrovana Politika interview: "It is clear that this is the work of Albanian irredentist to force us to leave Kosovo, but I, my wife Krstana, my four sons and two daughters are determined to stay on our land. No one will chase us away..."
The attacks against Serbian churches, cemeteries, gravestones, and monuments were not random and arbitrary and accidental. It was all part of a systematic, planned, and organized campaign to drive Kosovo Serbian Christians out of Kosovo. The implications were obvious. And yet the US and Western media and pundits, the “international community”, missed it even though it was right under their very noses. How do you miss such egregious human rights violations that amount to genocide? Is it possible?
|Serbian gravestones destroyed in a Serbian cemetery in Srbica in 1985.
We have to ask: Who controls what we think and what we know about Kosovo? When do “claims” and “assertions” become “facts” and “true”. How does this process or procedure work? The answer is the US State Department, that is, the US Government. The media just parrots and mimics what they are told by their betters and experts at the US State Department. The media reports what the government tells them to report. To fully grasp the Kosovo conflict, however, an epistemological analysis is needed.
VII. Epistemological Analysis: Who do you believe?
Who is telling the truth? Who do you believe? What is the “truth” here? What are the “facts”? The Kosovo conflict is a classic case where epistemology is part of the issue. In other words, we never know what the facts are. We never know what the “reality” is. He said this and that. He claimed and alleged this and that. Some assert and maintain the following “facts”. According to this or that source, these are the contradictory “facts”. It is like an insane asylum. We are in a madhouse with a series of unending mirrors like in Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Which mirror reflects “reality”, “facts”, and the “truth”. We do not know. We cannot know. Images are reflected endlessly and infinitely. Are we losing our minds? Are we going mad? Someone must be playing with our minds.
|Serbian Orthodox Abbes Hilaria carries a rifle to protect herself in Kosovo.
Croat journalist Krsto or Christopher Cviic wrote about the Martinovic sodomy in “A Culture of Humiliation” on June 22, 1993 in The National Interest:
“I keep returning to an incident from my personal experience that, to me at any rate, symbolizes and encapsulates the attitudes that have led to the present disaster. On May 1, 1985, a 59-year-old Serbian farmer by the name of Djordje Martinovic was found in a distressed condition with a broken bottle up his anus in his own province of Serbia, one with a large ethnic Albanian majority. Almost overnight, this elderly man, who supplemented his farm income by working as a storekeeper for the Yugoslav Army in Gnjilane, became the center of a fierce controversy that quickly grew into a cause celebre.
According to reports claiming to be based on Mr. Martinovic's own evidence and published in Belgrade, Serbia's capital, Mr. Martinovic had been attacked from behind by a group of masked men speaking Albanian, who then allegedly tied him up and brutalized him. The other version, in Kosovo's Albanian-language press and in the media in some non-Serbian parts of Yugoslavia, was very different. According to that account, Mr. Martinovic was a homosexual who had suffered an accident while in the act of self-gratification and, in order to avoid bringing dishonor on himself and his family in a very old-fashioned society, decided to invent the alleged attack.”
Cviic suspends his judgment and reports the attack as if no explanation can be found for it. It remains a mystery of mysteries? An enigma inside a conundrum? Cviic engages in all the journalistic tricks of manipulation and “reality control” and spin. For instance, he uses the passive tense in describing the attack against Martinovic, who is “found with a broken bottle up his anus”. This is a passive construction implying no active agency. He just woke up one day and found a bottle up his ass. A body was found not breathing. A corpse was found dead. Cviic is playing the journalist game. He knows consciously that it is a cynical game because he discusses it himself:
“I arrived in Kosovo shortly thereafter while researching a story on the national question in Yugoslavia for The Economist and was one of the first Western correspondents to write about ‘the Martinovic affair.’ The atmosphere I found there reminded me of Kurosawa's famous film "Rashomon" I had seen while still living in Yugoslavia in the early 1950s, in which a single violent incident is told in several completely different versions. I wanted to talk to Mr. Martinovic but could not: he had been taken out of the hands of the Kosovo authorities, whisked off to the Yugoslav Army's Medical Academy in Belgrade and kept incommunicado there pending further clinical and psychiatric investigations.
|Albanians destroyed the gravestone of the Kosovo Serb family Stankovic in Kosovo.
Meanwhile ethnic Albanian officials in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, kept assuring me that the story of the attack was a complete fabrication and even provided me with graphic clinical details of the incident as recorded by the local Albanian doctors (including the exact size of the bottle). They argued that the Martinovic case was being exploited politically by the Serbian leaders in Belgrade as another argument in their campaign for the abolition of Kosovo's autonomy and its re-annexation by Serbia, on the grounds that this was the only way of protecting the local Serbs (by then 10 percent of the total population) from Albanian ‘terror.’ On the other hand, local Kosovo Serbs I talked to claimed to believe the attack version implicitly and interpreted the incident as another instance of the systematic Albanian campaign aimed at forcing the Kosovo Serbs to emigrate, leaving it to the Albanians. In Belgrade, meanwhile, the Kosovo farmer had become a hero to Serbian opinion as a martyr in the national cause. A famous Serbian painter not long afterwards made Mr. Martinovic the central figure of a crucifixion scene in a painting which, I was told, now adorns one of the rooms in the building of the Serbian Academy of Sciences in Belgrade.
Four years after this bizarre and gruesome incident, in June 1989, Serbia re-annexed Kosovo, thus regaining full control over its police and judiciary. Intriguingly, the Martinovic file remained closed. The new Serbian authorities have so far failed--to my knowledge anyway--to do what they might have been expected to do in such a highly publicized case. They have not reopened the investigation with a view to catching the alleged perpetrators, bringing them to justice and vindicating the old man's honor. This suggests that the attack theory might after all have been an anti-Albanian fabrication, as the local Albanians had claimed from the start. But, whatever the true facts of the case, they do not seem to matter any more--at least not to the present generation of Serbs. The martyrdom of Djordje Martinovic, in the highly stylized form of the crucifixion in the Academy of Sciences picture, has become part of the Serbs' vision of themselves as perpetual victims of cruel historical circumstances--an idea born in Kosovo more than 600 years ago.
It was in Kosovo Polje (the Field of Blackbirds), not far from where Djordje Martinovic suffered his mysterious humiliation….”
Cviic uses ironic quotes or quotation marks when he uses the term Albanian “terror”. This is an obvious ploy that de-legitimizes the Serbian “claims”. Having a bottle shoved up your anus is not “terror” when you cannot prove it. The game here is pretty clever. We are in awe. It does get rather silly after a while once you figure out what is going on. Is there any reason we should suspect bias and self-interest here? Who is Cviic? He is a Croatian Roman Catholic. During World War II Croatian ultra-nationalists have been “accused” or alleged” to have murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbian Orthodox Christians. Cviic may be biased?
The absurdity of the Cviic “narrative” is that he tells you that you cannot believe anyone but then expects you to believe him. I would never lie to you. But those other people may. This begs the obvious question: Why should I believe you? The approach is paradoxical and contradictory. We don’t know who to believe. And, of course, that is all part of the game.
Julie Mertus takes this outlandish approach in Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War. Her “analysis” is so laughable and biased that one does not even need to read the book. Here is how the story ends: Everything the Serbs “claim” is merely “myth”; conversely, everything Albanians claim are “truths”. This is simplicity itself. Why didn’t I think of that? No, this is not a joke. This is supposed to be highfalutin historical scholarship and research. This is the best and the brightest at work. This is what they teach you in American universities and colleges.
Mertus would interview Albanian sources and their statements would be used as “truths” and as “facts” while Serbian statements would be dismissed as “claims”, “allegations”, and “assertions”. How are we supposed to believe what Albanian Muslims say? Don’t they have a stake in a Greater Albania or independent “Kosova”? Don’t they get all the Serbian property for free? Don’t the Albanian Muslims get to create a second Muslim Albania statelet? Why are they not biased and self-interested? Julie Mertus assumes her readers are too stupid to figure it out. It ain’t rocket science.
The “analyses” by Mertus, however, are what we have for the history of Kosovo in the 1980s. This is what the “history” will be for Kosovo. This mindless drivel is what will be accepted as the true and accurate account of Kosovo. This is more than a question of spin or bias. This is an issue of humanism. Are we that brain dead that we cannot tell when our minds are manipulated and screwed with?
In the preface to her book, Mertus admits that she is advocating the Albanian Muslim side in the conflict, but without actually saying it. What a big surprise. But is this what a “scholar” and an “expert” should be doing? In the guise of objectivity and analysis, she is totally biased and offers propaganda instead of analysis. The book is totally nonsensical and one-sided and prevents any understanding of what occurred in Kosovo during the 1980s.
Kosovo in the 1980s is essentially an epistemological issue. We never know what really happened. We suspend judgment and defer meaning. The approach that the US media used can be compared to the multiple viewpoints or perspectives approach of narration or “narrative” in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), a technique later “borrowed” by Akira Kurosawa in Rashomon (1950).
We never know who Charles Foster Kane was. We get contradictory appraisals of the man and his career. Who was Citizen Kane? After his death, there were conflicting and contradictory accounts.
Some “claimed” Kane was a fascist: The Chicago Globe called Kane “U.S. Fascist No. 1”:
“DEATH CALLS PUBLISHER CHARLES KANE
Policies Swayed World
Stormy Career Ends for "U.S. Fascist No. 1"
The Minneapolis Record Herald claimed he sponsored democracy:
“KANE, SPONSOR OF DEMOCRACY, DIES
Publisher Gave Life to Nation's Service during Long Career “
In front of a Congressional investigating committee, Walter Parks Thatcher recalled:
“Mr. Charles Foster Kane, in every essence of his social beliefs, and by the dangerous manner in which he has persistently attacked the American traditions of private property, initiative, and opportunity for advancement, is in fact, nothing more or less than a Communist!”
In New York's Union Square, where a boycott of Kane newspapers is advocated, a speaker declares:
“The words of Charles Foster Kane are a menace to every working man in this land. He is today what he has always been---and always will be---a Fascist!”
Kane described himself as follows: “I am, have been, and will be only one thing--an American.”
Who was Kane? We never find out. The problem is that we do not know which “narrative” to accept as factual or truthful or even accurate. In a multiplicity of viewpoints, who can you believe? Who is telling the truth? Who is pulling your leg? We never find out in Citizen Kane.
But do we know what the facts and the truth are in the Kosovo conflict? How do you connect the dots? Who can you believe?
VIII. In the eye of the beholder?
We never find out who Charles Foster Kane is or was. Does a sled with the word “Rosebud” explain who or what Kane was? We have multiple viewpoints and perspectives but we don’t know which one to give credence and priority to. There are also differing layers and depths to what we see or perceive. In Edgar Allan Poe’s detective story The Purloined Letter, the purloined letter is in plain sight, right in front of the Parisian police. The police see the letter in plain view. But they also do not see the letter. They see the letter but they ignore it or dismiss it. Their senses tell them that the letter is not what it seems or appears to be. How do we give meaning to our perceptions? Can our perceptions be tricked or deceived? Are we guided by pre-determined assumptions and impulses?
Who do we believe? What do you believe? How near or far should we be? How do we figure out who he is, who he really is? Similarly, we never find out what the actual situation in Kosovo is or was. Everyone has their own opinion or assessment. If Serbian sources are cited, they are prefaced with the terms “according to”, “claims”, “alleges”, “asserts”, “reports”. They are usually self-motivated or self-interested allegations which are little more than “myths” and “propaganda” and spurious “claims”. Information from Albanian sources, on the other hand, are facts, etched is stone facts, chiseled in marble and granite “truths”, to be taken at face value truisms and self-evident. Serbian “claims” or “myths” are juxtaposed to Albanian “facts” and “truths”. Serbian myths were juxtaposed against Albanian truths. Whatever the Serbs “claimed” or “reported” or “alleged” or “said” was deemed a myth. Conversely, anything and everything an Albanian Muslim said or wrote was etched-in-stone, chiseled-in-granite, gospel “truth”, a priori true and factual because an Albanian or Shqiptar had uttered them. Laughable? Psychotic and delusional? If it is psychotic and delusional, then this applies to the foremost US “experts” and “scholars” and think tank pundits and “analysts”.
|A Serbian mother in Kosovo in the 1980s with a rifle to protect her children from Albanian Muslim separatists.
The key here is to foster ambiguity and uncertainty. The objective is to create a smokescreen or a diversion. Like in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter, C. Auguste Dupin has someone fire a pistol as a diversionary tactic in the street so that he can switch “the purloined letter” unobserved. The diversion in this case is to conceal the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide being conducted by the ethnic Albanian population and leaders in Kosovo. Without the diversion, the evidence becomes overwhelming that human rights abuses against the Serbia population are cumulative and egregious.
There is a suspension of disbelief in the Kosovo crisis. We delude ourselves into believing that we do not understand what is going on. We know perfectly well what is going on. In 1941, after Adolf Hitler created a Greater Albania, Kosovar Albanian Muslim political leader Dzafer Deva from Kosovska Mitrovica declared: "The freedom has come. Yugoslavia is no more. The Greater Albania has been created. Serbs ought to be expelled from the Balkans or killed." The Kosovo crisis was always about separatism and secession.
From 1981 to 1989, an estimated 20,000 Kosovo Serbs were driven out from Kosovo. Many were settled in refugee camps in Belgrade. Kaludjerica, near Belgrade, was a town settled by Serbian refugees from Kosovo in the 1980s. Kosovo Serbs were murdered, raped, beaten, attacked, and terrorized to leave their homes and property in Kosovo. Serbian churches, gravestones, cemeteries, and religious and cultural and historical monuments were vandalized, desecrated, and destroyed. Serbian priests and nuns were attacked, beaten, and abused. Why was this systematic, planned, and organized campaign of genocide against the Serbian Orthodox Christian population of Kosovo suppressed and censored in the US and the West?