Serb working for U.N. killed in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, May 16 (Reuters) - A Kosovo Serb working for the
United Nations mission in Kosovo has been found stabbed to death near the
capital city Pristina, the U.N. said on Tuesday.

The body of Petar Topoljski, 25, was recovered by U.N. police on Sunday and
identified on Tuesday, police said in a statement. He had disappeared around
a week earlier.

Since the U.N. and NATO-led peacekeepers took over responsibility for the
Yugoslav province last June, Serbs have been the victims of numerous attacks by members of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority angry at years of Serb repression.

Bernard Kouchner, the head of the U.N. mission known as UNMIK which is
charged with running Kosovo's civil affairs, condemned the killing and said
he was committed to catching the murderers.

"This news is a terrible blow, not only to the family and friends of Mr
Topoljksi, but also to all the staff at UNMIK," the former French cabinet
minister said in a statement.

"We have tried to create the conditions of security for all our staff. But
those intent on killing have found a way to their goal," he said

Kouchner paid tribute to his Serb staff for working "in spite of the threats
and isolation which they must endure here".

Topoljski, who worked in the Pristina regional administration, is not the
first member of the U.N. mission to be killed in Kosovo. A Bulgarian staffer
was shot dead in the city centre last year, apparently after angering
Albanians by speaking Serbian.

Charisma Magazine

Charisma Magazine
May 18, 2000

Persecution Watch : Kosovo

Kosovo Christians Targeted by Islamic Millitants

An Assemblies of God church in the capital, Pristina, was raided by masked
Islamic militants who bound several members, stole equipment and money, and daubed slogans on the door and walls. The third raid on The Fellowship of the Lord's People in the last year was carried out by men who claimed to be part of the Kosovo branch of an organization linked to Saudi Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The pastor, Artur Krasniqi, and three others were sleeping at the church
after a teens' meeting when three gunmen arrived at the church on April 29.
They threatened a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint, ordering him to renounce
Christianity in favor of Islam, but he refused, Keston News Service (KNS)

Peacekeeping forces are investigating, but currently they are treating the
incident as a criminal inquiry. Other Protestant churches have reported
attacks in recent months. Krasniqi's church is planning to step up security,
but he fears for the future. "We are considering this as the beginning of the
future [of] hard persecution against Christians in the country," he told KNS.

"Long is the list of believers who in one way or another are facing
persecution. Many are anonymous phone calls to our church that they are going to kill us all and burn this church down." He said that an Islamic magazine also published regular articles against churches, suggesting they have received aid money--a claim meant as a "kind of inspiration for the criminals."

Nezavisne Novine, Banja Luka, Republika Srpska
Issue 216, May 19, 2000



By Rajko SARIC

According to the claims of the local residents, in Gorazdevac today live
approximately 950 Serbs in 114 houses. "A large number of houses, over a hundred,
were turned to ashes by the Shiptars. All the wells have been clogged or dead
livestock has been thrown into them [to contaminate the water]. Not a single orchard
in the region has survived," says local resident Momo Djurovic adding that the
remaining Serbs have organized themselves well both for defense from possible
attacks of terrorist groups and for receiving and accommodating returnees.

"In one of the three local villages returns are possible today and if at least a
hundred people were to come returns would also be possible to the villages of
Drenovac, Osojane, Drsnik, Sigu, Dolac and Djurakovac," says Momcilo Babic who on
this occasion wishes to emphasize that "to blame for the expulsion of a great number
of Serbs are not only the Albanians, that is, the members of the KLA but also the
"deserving" officials of the Pec municipality". According to him, the officials
immediately upon the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army and the Ministry of Internal
Affairs of Serbia sat in their official vehicles and fled to Serbia or Montenegro
claiming that the Shiptars would burn everything and kill everyone. "They are
inflating their images where they are by claiming that they fled because their names
appear on lists for war crimes. Would only that they had held rifles in their
hands," says Babic.

Recently a group of Serbs came to Gorazdevac from cities in Serbia who are
originally from Bijelo Polje, another village in the Pec municipality, who wish to
return to their homes. "Ten months ago their property was looted and destroyed, the
houses and other buildings burned, and recently their Shiptar neighbors sent them a
message by KFOR to return to Serbia. The Italian officers, instead of protecting us
and enabling refugee returns as per their mandate, are advising our local residents
to evict the people from Bijelo Polje, to take down their tent and thus avoid a
conflict of greater proportions," says Milivoje Zdravkovic, president of the Serb
National Assembly.

The neighboring Albanians have sent the residents of Gorazdevac a clear message that
they will again find themselves the target of their heavy artillery if they do not
chase away the returnees. "We have absolutely no intention of chasing them away.
Together with them we ourselves are safer. Here we have prepared accommodations for
almost 2,000 people, we have enough food and do not depend on the aid of UNHCR, the
Yugoslav Red Cross or other humanitarian organizations," says Milovan Srbljak, the
president of the initiating board of the Serb National Council. According to him,
most tragic of all are the inter-Serb divisions which have again reemerged in Kosovo
today. Some support the representatives of the Serb National Council in joining the
Temporary Administrative Council of Kosovo and the PSK [Temporary Assembly of
Kosovo?] while other oppose this claiming that it is an act of treason, that is,
that this move legitimizes occupation and ethnic cleansing. "To date we have never
had better cooperation with KFOR and UNMIK. By entering into the civil organs of
government formed by Bernard Kouchner we will attempt to realize some rights which
belong to us as well as to ensure a greater degree of security for the local
residents and our property. If this does not occur in a way favorable to us Serbs,
we will then certainly leave all such institutions," says Srbljak claiming that the
strongest protests are coming precisely from those who betrayed the interests of the
Serbs in Kosmet, abandoned them and went "to sow patriotism in Belgrade".

The Albanians who live in the vicinity of the villages of Milanovac, Babici and
Vragovac by their emissaries have sent a signal to Serbs that they can return to
their homes and that no one will touch them because they know exactly who committed
war crimes, who burned and looted their property. It appears that a part of the
Albanians have become conscious that there is no way for them to become the owners
of the remaining Serb property. Perhaps in the next period they will attempt to
purchase this property but this is the topic for some other story.


Kosovo Serbs say they are victims of Albanian vengeance

BRUSSELS, May 19 (AFP) - Serbs remaining in Kosovo say the are
often victims of Albanian revenge attacks and fear leaving their
villages or even their homes, dimming chances for normalization or
democratic elections, a Serb delegation said here Friday.
The delegation, led by Orthodox Bishop Artemije, was the first
to be received here by EU security and foreign policy chief Javier
Solana since the NATO campaign in Kosovo that ended more than a year
"We know that two-thirds of the Serbs have been expelled from
Kosovo since the end of the war," said Artemije, who is chairman of
the Serb National Council.
"Those who are left are deprived of all human rights, the right
to work, to live...because all the towns in Kosovo apart from
Kosovska Mitrovica (the main northern Kosovo city) have been
thoroughly cleansed of Serbs," he said.
Of the 30,000 Serbs who lived in the provincial capital Pristina
last June, said the Bishop, "only 250 to 300 old Serbs still live
there. Who is going to vote among the Serbs who used to live there?"
He called on the international community to ensure that all
those Serbs expelled from Kosovo be allowed to return "so they can
be registered as voters and take part in elections.
"The Serbs in Kosovo today are denied the right to live because
they cannot make a single move, cannot take a single step outside
their community," said Artemije.
"Those who do risk their lives. No Serb in Kosovo can take part
in any election campaign," he said. "They can't create political
parties, organize political rallies....We have to say that if the
return of the (Serb) refugees is not assured there cannot be
democratic elections."
Solana said he was optimistic municipal elections in Kosovo
"will take place at the end of September or the beginning of
October...Everybody is cooperating.
"It is true that there are Serbs from Kosovo who are not in
Kosovo," he said. "But there are also Albanians from Kosovo who are
not in Kosovo. Many of them are in Belgrade jails. We have to be
very understanding, very generous, to have registrations to
guarantee the...elections be held in a democratic way."
Bishop Artemije appeared suspicious of Albanian intentions in
"On many occasions we condemned the attrocities committed by the
(Slobodan) Milosevic regime," he said, "but up to now we have not
heard from one of the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians a condemnation
of atrocities performed by the Albanian extremists against the
Sonja Nikolic, member of the Kosovo Transitional Council, said
she had lived in Kosvo "all my life, and I still live there with my
"We are all aware of the crimes (against Serbs) and the mass
graves, we are aware that that did happen and it will remain as an
evil deed in history. It is the result of revenge."
"We need concrete results to make Oliver Ivanovic (Serb leader
of Kosovska Mitrovica) cooperate," said Rada Trajkovic,
representative of the Serb National council.
Serbs in Mitrovica, main city in northern Kosovo, have defied
any participation in a UN interim administration, which they claim
would "legitimize" the "ethnic cleansing" of the province.
Last April 11, for the first time, a Kosovo Serb representative
participated in a meeting of the interim administrative council in
Kosovo, as an observer on a three-month trial.
The Serbs had boycotted the interim council since December in
protest against the fact they were not consulted on its creation.


Albanian drug dealers and traffickers are flourishing in post-war Kosovo

By Imer Mushkolaj in Pristina

A group of Albanian youngsters sprawl over a sofa in one of Pristina's many
cafes. The teenagers, half-asleep, their eyes ringed by dark circles, are
victims of Kosovo's burgeoning drug culture.

A score of marijuana, the most popular drug in Kosovo, cost around ten
German marks. The distribution network is well-organised. Dozens of dealers - many of them youths - supply hundreds of clients.

Ben is one such dealer. He makes at least ten sales a day, supplying
marijuana and hashish. "Nine months ago, when I started to deal, I only had
a few clients. Now I've got loads. Marijuana sells the best."

The drugs enter Kosovo by two routes, through Albania and Macedonia. Much of the cannabis imported is consumed locally, whereas the more expensive drugs like cocaine and heroin are shipped on to Albania en route to western Europe.

International narcotics experts believe the province's drug smugglers are
handling up to five tonnes of heroin a month, more than twice the quantity
they were trafficking before the war.

"It's coming through easier and cheaper - and there's much more of it,"
Marko Nicovic, vice-president of the international enforcement officers
association, recently told the The Guardian newspaper.

"If this goes on we are predicting a heroin boom in western Europe on the
same scale as the one in the early 80s."

The Kosovo conlfict forced Albanian drug traffickers to abandon the
well-established "Balkan route" - a smuggling channel from Afghanistan via
Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo to western Europe.

But with the end of the conflict and the absence of robust law enforcement
agencies in Kosovo, the route is being revived, experts say.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, drugs began entering Kosovo from
Macedonia. Macedonian customs officers recently seized 465 kilos of cannabis on the country's Albanian border.

At the same time, the porous border between Kosovo and Albania enabled
traffickers to ship drugs without much fear of capture.

Southern Albania is a major cannabis growing area, offering the impoverished local community a much needed source of income. Once harvested, it is shipped to the northeastern Albanian town of Kukes and then onto Prizren in Kosovo.

The reinforcement of KFOR patrols along the Kosovo-Albanian border has had some impact on traffickers, forcing them to find alternative routes along
that frontier. One Kosovar dealer said he now uses secondary roads to
transport shipments, "though we now transport in smaller amounts," he

The dealer said he used to sell drugs in Germany, but returned to Kosovo
last year. He said he is now part of a well-organised network in Kosovo,
which operates under foreign control. "We work on instructions from our
bosses abroad, in Switzerland and Germany," he said.

The involvement of Albanian criminal gangs in drug trafficking is
well-documented. The Swiss media, in particular, has highlighted the number
of Albanians arrested in connection with drug offences there.

The international administration in Kosovo has so far preferred to set the
issue to one side.

UNMIK police sources said no-one was currently being held on drug-related
charges in Kosovo. The same source said the police were "carefully following the situation" but he added, "we have more important matters to deal with."

The international administration's neglect of the drugs issue is creating
ideal conditions for the business to flourish. Burdened with a weak economy
and ramshackle law enforcement, the drugs mafia are finding the province an
ideal place to operate. Once such a culture is entrenched it will be very
difficult to uproot.

Imer Mushkollaj is editor-in-chief of the Kosovo Albanian daily "Epoka e re"


Campaign against forced prostitution in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, May 24 (AFP) - NATO-led troops and United
Nations workers in Kosovo have fed a mushrooming sex trade in which
young girls are being forced into prostitution by criminal gangs,
officials said Wednesay.
The explosion in prostitution in the Yugoslav province was
largely down to the international presence there, said Pasquale
Lupoli, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration
Lupoli was launching a campaign against forced prostitution from
the regional capital Pristina to raise awareness among UN workers,
KFOR troops and aid agency employees of the violence and
intimidation used against the women.
Many had been lured from eastern Europe with the promise of jobs
in the catering or leisure industry, but had then been forced into
prostitution, said Lupoli.
"Once they cross the borders, the victims can be beaten up,
sold, and their documents seized," he added.
There had been a "mushrooming of night clubs" and brothels in
Kosovo since 40,000 KFOR troops and thousands of United Nations
workers arrived in June 1999.
The Yugoslav province had not previously been known as a centre
of the sex trade, said Lupoli.
"The large international presence in Kosovo itself makes this
trafficking possible," he added.
Seventy percent of the women had never been prostitutes before
arriving in Kosovo. Aged between 16 and 25, they were living in
Kosovo in difficult conditions "maltreated and with very little
medical attention", said Lupoli.
The IOM helped repatriate women trying to return to their home
country, said Lupoli. So far, it had helped 50 women, but he added:
"It's the tip of the iceberg."
Nearly half were from Moldova, while others were from Ukraine,
Romania and Bulgaria.
The UN deputy police commissioner Gilles Moreau for Pristina
said no brothel-keeper had so far been caught despite the fact that
pimping is illegal, even though prostitution is not.
"We're making progress on this matter, but we are not yet a
force with 25 years of experience," said the Canadian officer.
Some brothels simply moved when police started gathering
information on them: others were based in people's homes.
He said organised crime was behind the sex trade in Kosovo,
pointing the finger at expatriate Kosovars.
Some of the people behind the trade had offered their
prostitutes to former KLA members the now-disbanded ethnic Albanian
guerilla force, for free.
The IOM campaign is also being run in Bulgaria and Hungary,
using leaflets, posters and radio messages.
The campaign carries the slogan: "You pay for a night -- She
pays with her life."


Albanians Attack Serbs in Kosovo

By Danica Kirka
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, June 1, 2000; 4:32 p.m. EDT

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Ethnic Albanians opened fire Thursday on a group of Serbs walking home from a cemetery in the American sector of Kosovo, killing one woman and wounding three men, U.S. authorities said.

The attack near the village of Klokot occurred a day after gunmen killed a
Serb man in northern Kosovo as he stood outside his home beside his father, touching off a riot that injured two NATO peacekeepers.

U.S. officials said Thursday's attack occurred along the main road between
Urosevac and Gnjilane, about 25 miles south of Pristina. The Yugoslav news
agency Beta identified the dead woman as Lepterka Marinkovic, 67, and the
wounded men as Petar Tomic, 33, Dobrivoje Radic, 50, and Mladen Mirkovic, 68.

The wounded were taken to the U.S. Army's Camp Bondsteel for treatment.

Beta said nine Serbs have been killed in Klokot in the year since NATO-led
peacekeepers arrived after the 78-day NATO bombing campaign. More than 20 Serbs have been wounded in attacks by ethnic Albanians, it said.

On Wednesday, the drive-by shooting in the northern Kosovo village of Babin Most killed 33-year-old Serb Milutin Trajkovic.

After the shooting, NATO-led troops manning checkpoints throughout the region were put on alert, according to Flight Lt. Rob Hannam, a spokesman for British forces.

He said Trajkovic's father sought help at a NATO checkpoint, where peacekeepers administered first aid and then evacuated the wounded man to a French military hospital, but he died en route.

Suspects are still being sought.

After the shooting, about 40 to 50 Serbs gathered on the road outside Babin Most to protest the attack. The crowd blocked the road and later grew violent, overturning a Norwegian tactical vehicle and setting it on fire.

One soldier was treated for smoke inhalation and another soldier was treated
for an arm injury, NATO said in a statement. Both were treated and released.



PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, June 2 (AFP) - An elderly woman was killed and two other Serbs were wounded Thursday in a drive-by shooting incident in southeast Kosovo, a spokesman for the peacekeeping force KFOR announced. Captain Russell Berg said the woman aged around 65 and the men aged 64 and 30 were hit by bullets fired from a car as they were at the roadside near Trepeza village.
The men were taken to the hospital at US Camp Bondsteel, where they were said to be out of danger.
Witnesses described the car from which the shots were fired, and Berg said a man was being questioned by KFOR.
US General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the sector, said: "These drive-by shootings demonstrate complete cowardice in the killing of unarmed civilians."
Late Wednesday a Serb was killed and another wounded by shots fired from a car in the village of Babin Most, 15 kilometres (10 miles) north of Pristina. And on Sunday three Serbs including a four-year-old died in a similar attack in the mixed village of Cernica in the southeast of Kosovo.

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) -- An elderly Serb farmer was shot and
killed in a predominantly Albanian area of northern Kosovo, NATO
said today.
Dragan Peric, 70, was guarding his cattle near his home in the
village of Gojbulja, 15 miles northwest of the province's capital,
Pristina, when three men, believed to be ethnic Albanians, opened
fire, French Lt. Meriadec Raffray told The Associated Press.
The suspects fled in a car that was found shortly thereafter.
Members of the French peacekeeping contingent deployed in that part
of Kosovo have detained the car's owner and his father for
questioning, Lt. Raffray said.
Also today, Serbs living in a region of southern Serbia, next to
the administrative border with Kosovo province, said that a group
of armed ethnic Albanians shot and killed a Serb villager on
Milan Milovanovic was found dead after the apparent cross-border
intrusion by a group of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, the witnesses
Serbian police in the nearest Serbian town, Kursumlija, declined
comment, but the locals said the attack took place near two remote
mountain villages, Vukojevac and Tacevac, some 125 miles southeast
of capital Belgrade.
There have been occasional shootouts in Serbia's territory
bordering Kosovo, but mainly in villages with a sizable ethnic
Albanian population. The latest incident occurred in the part of
the border area with a predominantly Serb population.
Meanwhile, in a development underscoring other security concerns
in Kosovo, war crimes files stored in a computer belonging to the
only sitting international judge in the province were deleted, U.N.
officials said Friday.
Judge Christer Karphammer, the presiding judge in the ethnically
divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, reported Thursday that the
files had been erased from two office computers. Copies of the
files exist, however, minimizing the impact of the action, U.N.
spokeswoman Susan Manuel said.
The action comes at a time when the United Nations has been
scrambling to show it is moving forward with efforts to build a
court system in Kosovo. The process has been dogged by concerns
over security and difficulties in finding translators and other
U.N. officials have promised to set up its own war crimes
tribunal here by early August.
The files included the records of 37 prisoners who have been on
a hunger strike to press for court action on their cases. The
prisoners, who are mostly Serbs but include five Gypsies, or Roma,
began refusing food April 12 to protest being held indefinitely
with little or no prospect of court action.
The prisoners are accused of crimes ranging from petty theft to
war crimes.
The prisoners' strike has touched off daily protests in the
Kosovska Mitrovica, one of the few cities in Kosovo where a
significant Serb population remains.
Tens of thousands of Serbs have fled Kosovo in the past year,
fearing attacks leveled in revenge for Yugoslav President's
Slobodan Milosevic's 18-month crackdown on ethnic Albanian


PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, June 2 (AFP) - Two Serbs were killed and
three others wounded
Friday when their car hit a mine on a
supposedly cleared road in southern Kosovo, police said.
The wounded were taken to a Russian military hospital, police
The incident occurred at 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) on a minor road
between Pristina and Kosovo Polje, used only by Serbs, which had
reportedly been cleared of mines, a UN police source said.
An elderly woman was killed and two other Serbs were wounded
Thursday in a drive-by shooting in southeast Kosovo.
She was the fifth Serb killed since Sunday in similar drive-by
In Obilic, north of Pristina, a Serb was injured Thursday in a
grenade attack on two Serb houses, UN police said.
Meanwhile, representatives of Serbs living in Kosovo have
accused the NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR and the United Nations
of "deliberately" allowing an increase of violence in the province,
after eight Serbs were killed in the last six days.
The new wave of attacks against Serbs was "part of a greater
Albanian plan of ethnic cleansing of Kosovo which have been
realised, unfortunately, under the auspicies of the UN," said a
local branch of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists.
Another organisation backed by Belgrade, the Serb National
Council (SNS) condemned the attacks, accusing KFOR and UN of
"synchronisation" with the Albanian "terrorists," the state agency
Tanjug reported.
It accused the UN administrator in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, and
former Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaci, of "dangerous
intentions to cleanse Kosovo from the Serbs under the orders of the
US administration."
This week's violence was the latest in a rash of attacks on
Kosovo Serbs, who have been the target of retaliatory violence since
Belgrade troops were forced out of the province a year ago by NATO
air strikes.
Meanwhile, KFOR troops have uncovered two arms dumps in eastern
Kosovo, officials said.

Danas, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
June 3-4, 2000

In bomb attack in Obilic One person injured

Obilic (Beta) - One person of Serb nationality was injured two nights ago at
approximately 9:00 p.m. in Obilic during a bomb attack on the house of Djordje Velickovic, report radio-amateurs. Injured is Misko Todorovic (born 1958) whose hand was blown to smithereens when he attempted to dispose of a bomb thrown into the hall of the Velickovic house. Two more bombs were subsequently thrown at a building close by also inhabited by Serbs. Radio amateurs report that at approximately 9:00 p.m. two more explosions were heard in Obilic.


Glas Javnosti, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
June 2, 2000

Vehicle runs into mine near Pristina, two Serbs dead:

Somewhat earlier a bus full of children passed along the same route

PRISTINA (Beta) - Two Serbs were killed and three injured when their automobile ran
into a landmine on Friday morning at approximately 7:00 a.m. on a local road between
the Serb villages of Ugljare and Preoce near Pristina.

Killed were Sinisa Dimic, employed by the Health Center in Bresje, and Vlastimir
Milic, both from the village of Batuse near Kosovo Polje. Seriously injured were
Natasa Ristic and two children. They were in a "Wartburg" model automobile
travelling from the direction of Batuse toward Gracanica.

Witnesses claim that only five minutes before the incident a school bus full of
children passed down this cobblestone road travelling in the same direction toward
Laplje Selo and Gracanica. The land mine was placed at the intersection of the local
road with an unpaved road leading to the village of Donje Dobrevo which is inhabited
exclusively by Albanians.

Swedish soldiers belonging to KFOR who are securing this location have appeared on
the spot and are refusing to allow citizens to approach due to danger from mines.
Approximately 100 local residents of Preoce have gathered at the location at a
distance of several hundred meters.

This is the third landmine which was placed in the vicinity of Preoce. Two were
discovered by casual observers and did not explode.

Little girls are well

Physicians at the Health Center in Kosovo Polje said that Natasa Ristic and her
daughters, Bojana (3) and Kristina (4), injured during the explosion are doing well
and are recovering from sustained injuries. The bodies of Sinisa Dimic (35) and
Vlastimir Miric (30), who were killed in that explosion, were completely blown to
pieces and they were, according to physicians from Kosovo Polje, taken away by
Swedish soldiers belonging to KFOR.

May 16, 2000


The biggest paradox in the international war on drugs is connected to the Balkans and the explosion of terrorist activities in that troubled area. However, it relates less to drugs and arms and more to the major participants in this deadly game.

Terrorist organizations at the top of America's most wanted list are receiving tacit support in the Balkans from the Clinton administration. The "most wanted" terrorist in the world today, Osama bin Laden, who declared a "fatwa" against the US, is being abetted by the Clinton doctrine. In the Balkans, we are witnessing a true paradox where several mortal enemies - Iranian revolutionary guards, Osama bin Laden and the CIA - are standing shoulder to shoulder while pursuing diametrically opposite goals.

Drugs Finance Terrorism

Earlier reporting has confirmed that terrorism in the Balkans has been primarily financed through narcotics trafficking. Heroin - worth 12 times its weight in gold - is by far the most profitable commodity on the markets. A kilogram of heroin, worth $1,000 in Thailand, wholesales for $110,000 in Canada with a street value of $800,000.

In fact, heroin trafficking has become so beneficial to the cause of Albanian separatism that the predominantly Albanian-inhabited towns of Veliki Trnovac and Blastica in Serbia, Vratnica and Gostivar in FYR Macedonia, and Shkoder and Durres in Albania have become known as the "new Medellins" of the Balkans. Via the Balkan Route, heroin travels through Turkey, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania en route to western European markets. The value of the heroin shipped is $400-billion (US) a year. As early as 1996, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) detailed the Balkan Route in its annual report. In 1998, the DEA stated that Kosovo Albanians had become the second most important traffickers on the Balkan Route.

These predominantly Albanian drug barons from Kosovo ship heroin exclusively from Asia's Golden Crescent, an apparently inexhaustible source. At one end of the crescent lies Afghanistan, which in 1999 surpassed Burma as the world's largest producer of opium poppies. From there, the heroin base passes through Iran to Turkey, where it is refined, and then placed into the hands of the Albanians who operate out of the lawless towns bordering FYR Macedonia, Albania, and Serbia. According to the US State Department, four to six tons of heroin move through Turkey every month.

"Not very much is stopped", says one official. "We get just a fraction of the total". Not surprisingly, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has flourished along the route. Its dependence on the drug lords is difficult to prove, but the evidence is impossible to overlook.

In 1998, German Federal Police froze two bank accounts belonging to the "United Kosova" organization at a Dusseldorf bank after it was discovered that several hundred thousand dollars had been deposited into those accounts by a convicted Kosovo Albanian drug trafficker. According to at least one published report, Bujar Bukoshi, Prime Minister of the "Kosova" Government in Exile, also allegedly controlled the accounts.

In early 1999 an Italian court in Brindisi convicted an Albanian heroin trafficker named Amarildo Vrioni, who admitted obtaining weapons for the KLA from the Mafia in exchange for drugs.

Last February 23, Czech police arrested Princ Dobroshi, the head of an Albanian Kosovo drug gang. While searching his apartment, they discovered evidence that he had placed orders for light infantry weapons and rocket systems. No one had questioned what a small-time dealer would be doing with rockets. Only later did Czech police reveal he was shipping them to the KLA. The Czechs extradited Dobroshi to Norway where he had escaped from prison in 1997 while serving a 14-year sentence for heroin trafficking.

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.

In its report about the KLA and heroin smuggling, the Montreal Gazette wrote: "...Michael Levine, a 25-year veteran of the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) who left in 1990, said he believes there is no question that US intelligence knew about the KLA's drug ties. "They (the CIA) protected them (the KLA) in every way they could. As long as the CIA is protecting the KLA, you've got major drug pipelines protected from any police investigation", said Levine, who teaches undercover tactics and informer handling to US and Canadian police forces, including the RCMP. "The evidence is irrefutable," he said, explaining that his information comes from "sources inside the DEA".

The Albanian Medellin connection is particularly strong in Italy where it is operating in conjunction with the "Sacra Corona Unita," or the fourth mafia. The group controls the drug trade in the regions of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto.

The tentacles of the Albanian mafia stretch across Europe. According to Interpol, Albanian-speaking drug dealers accounted for 14% of those arrested for heroin smuggling in 1997. While the average trafficker was apprehended with two grams of heroin, the Albanians had an average of 120 grams in their possession. Scandinavian countries claim that Albanians control 80% of the heroin market there. Switzerland says 90% of the drug trafficking in that country is connected to Albanians. German law enforcement agencies claim that Albanians form the largest group involved in heroin trafficking.

German Federal Police now say that Kosovo Albanians import 80 percent of Europe's heroin. So dominant is the Kosovo Albanian presence in trafficking that many European users refer to illicit drugs in general as "Albanka", or Albanian lady.

Terrorism, Spies and Albanians

Osama bin Laden's activities in Albania are well known and documented. The presence of his network in that country is so powerful that US Defence Secretary William Cohen cancelled a scheduled visit last July out of fear of being assassinated.

The Albanian national security organization SHIK confirmed that plans exist to target US objects in Albania. SHIK is the offspring of the notorious communist security apparatus the "Sigurimi." The former head of the Sigurimi, Irakli Kocollari, is advisor to the current head of SHIK, Fatos Klosi. In 1997 the CIA sent a team of experts to modernize and reorganize SHIK. The other major patron of SHIK is the German intelligence agency Bundensnachrichtendienst (BND) which opened one of its largest stations in Tirana. A review of BND personnel is revealing. While the terrorist Albanian organization Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosove - UCK (KLA) was being formed, the BND was headed by Hansjorg Geiger whose deputy was Rainer Kesselring, the son of the Luftwaffe general who bombed Belgrade during the Second World War.

Mr. Kesselring was given the job of training KLA terrorists at a Turkish base near Izmir where he was head of the BND station in 1978. French sources confirmed that members of the German commando unit, Kommando Spezialkrafte (KSK), participated in the KLA training program. Gen. Klaus Neumann, the outgoing head of NATO's occupational forces in Kosovo and Metohija, formed the German commando unit.

The relationship between the CIA and SHIK is one of master and servant. At the CIA's "request" last year, Albania expelled three "humanitarian" workers, two Syrians and an Iranian. Acting on another request, SHIK arrested an Albanian national, Maksim Ciciku, for spying on the US embassy. Ciciku was educated in Saudi Arabia. In Albania he worked for a private security company which provided bodyguards for visiting Arabs. He was accused of following embassy employees on behalf of Osama bin Laden. Albania also expelled four Egyptians who were suspected of ties to bin Laden. Two others were arrested and handed over to US agents, along with a van full of documents and computer equipment, all of which belonged to Osama bin Laden's organization.

At about the same time, Iran, through its embassy in Rome and it's operative Mahmut Nuranija, began to organize an intelligence-gathering sector in Albania. Their involvement in Albania was based on two levels: economic-financial through the Albanian Arab Islamic Bank, and humanitarian through organizations which have become standard covers for subversive activities. At the beginning of 1998 Iran began the serious consolidation of its most important European strongholds, Sarajevo and Tirana. According to Yossef Bodansky, terrorism and unconventional warfare analyst, Iran aided the KLA by providing military plans drawn up by Zaim Bersa, a former colonel in the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), and another Kosovo Albanian, Ejup Dragaj.

One of the leaders of an elite KLA unit was Muhammed al-Zawahiri, the brother of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader in an Egyptian Jihad organization and a military commander of Osama bin Laden. Once again Kosovo becomes a paradox where several mortal enemies - Iranian revolutionary guards, Osama bin Laden and the CIA - are standing shoulder to shoulder training the KLA.

It is believed that bin Laden solidified his organization in Albania in 1994 with the help of then premier Sali Berisha. Albania's ties to Islamic terrorist blossomed during Berisha's rule when the main KLA training base was on Berisha's property in northern Albania. During the "honeymoon" period between the CIA and Jihad holy warriors, Fatos Klosi, the head of SHIK, said he had reliable information that four groups of Jihad warriors from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algiers, Tunisia and Sudan were in northern Albania and fighting with the KLA. Klosi recently stated that there is an attempt to destabilize the country, alluding primarily to former premier Sali Berisha.

Jihad and Serbia

In 1994 in Lebanon, a radical Sunni Muslim group, Takfir wal Hijra, attempted to blow up a convoy of Serbian priests who were on their way Koura. The priests avoided death when the suicide bomber detonated the explosive device prematurely.

This attempt on the lives of Serbian priests preceded a more ambitious plan. At the 18th Islamic conference, Al-Jama'ah al-Islaiyyah, held in Pakistan (October 23-25, 1998), Albanian separatism in Kosovo and Metohija was characterized as a Jihad. The same definition was given to Muslim battles in India (Kashmir), Israel (Palestine) and Eritrea. By defining armed battles as a "holy war" or Jihad, an obligation is placed on the Muslim world to do everything in its power - economically, politically and diplomatically - to aid the fight for freedom in occupied Muslim territories". This gave legitimacy to terrorist acts carried out by Allah's holy warriors. Referring to a Jihad, the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden announced terrorist attacks against "infidel nations", namely Great Britain, United States, France, Israel, Russia, India and Serbia.

The Bosnian Jihad Connection

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the influence of the ruling Islamic party, Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has brought out the recently born again "true believers". Recognized by their long beards and short-legged pants, large numbers of them participated in KLA terrorist activities in Kosovo and Metohija. The transport of these Jihad warriors was conducted under the patronage of the SDA which provided them with passports. Visas were issued for a "haj," or pilgrimage, to Mecca. Dr. Nauman Balic, head of the Kosovo SDA and now a minister in Hashim Thaci's government", was responsible for their transit to Albania. The Bosnian Muslims were provided with journalists' credentials and 2,000 DM for travel costs. It is not known how many returned from Kosovo, but a number of these Jihad warriors lost their lives in Chechnya.

The Sarajevo authorities were active in the training of terrorists. In 1993 Saudi Arabia provided $1 million to build a refugee camp for Bosnian Muslims in Albania. One of the main political leaders of the Muslim authorities in Sarajevo admitted to Misha Glenny that the base was used to train saboteurs sent to Kosovo because their Serbian was flawless.

Kosovo under NATO - A Virtual Narco-State

The benefits of the drug trade are evident around Pristina -- more so than the benefits of Western aid. "The new buildings, the better roads, and the sophisticated weapons -- many of these have been bought with drugs," says Michel Koutouzis, the Balkans region expert for the Global Drugs Monitor (OGD), a Paris-based think tank. The repercussions of this drug connection are only now emerging, and many Kosovo observers fear that the province could be evolving into a virtual narco-state under the noses of 49,000 peacekeeping troops.

It was the disparate structure of the KLA, Koutouzis says, that Facilitated the drug-smuggling explosion. "It permitted a democratization of drug trafficking where ordinary people get involved, and everyone contributes a part of his profit to his clan leader in the KLA," he explains. "The more illegal the activity, the more money the clan gets from the traffickers. So it's in the interest of the clan to promote drug trafficking".

According to Marko Nicovic, the former chief of police in Belgrade, now an investigator who works closely with Interpol, the international police agency, 400 to 500 Kosovo Albanians move shipments in the 20-kilo range, while about 5,000 Kosovo Albanians are small-timers, handling shipments of less than two kilos. At one point in 1996, he says, more than 800 ethnic Albanians were in jail in Germany on narcotics charges.

In many places, Kosovo Albanians traffickers gained a foothold in the Illicit drug trade through raw violence. According to a 1999 German Federal Police report, "The ethnic Albanian gangs have been involved in drugs, weapons trafficking blackmail, and murder. They are increasingly prone to violence".

Tony White of the United Nations Drug Control Program agrees with this assessment. "They are more willing to use violence than any other group," he says. "They have confronted the established order throughout Europe and pushed out the Lebanese, Pakistani, and Italian cartels".

Few gangs are willing to tangle with the Kosovo Albanians. Those that do often pay the ultimate price. In January 1999, Kosovo Albanians killed nine people in Milan, Italy during a two-week bloodbath between rival heroin groups.

Now free of the war and the Yugoslav police, drug traffickers have reopened the old Balkan Road. With the KLA in power -- and in the spotlight - the top trafficking families have begun to seek relative respectability without decreasing their heroin shipments. "The Kosovo Albanians are trying to position themselves in the higher levels of trafficking", says the U.N.'s Tony White. "They want to get away from the violence of the streets and attract less attention. Criminals like to move up like any other business, and the Kosovo Albanians are becoming business leaders. They have become equal partners with the Turks".

Italian national police discovered this new Kosovo Albanian outreach last year when they undertook "Operation Pristina". The carabinieri (Italian Police) uncovered a chain of connections that originated in Kosovo and stretched through nine European countries, extending into Central Asia, South America and the United States.

White House officials deny a whitewashing of KLA activities. "We do care about (KLA drug trafficking)", says Agresti. "It's just that we've got our hands full trying to bring peace there".

The DEA is equally reticent to address the issue. According to Michel Koutouzis, the DEA's website once contained a section detailing Kosovo Albanians trafficking, but a week before the US-led bombings began, the section disappeared. "The DEA doesn't want to talk publicly (about the KLA)", says OGD director Alain Labrousse. "It's embarrassing to them".

High-ranking US officials are dismayed that the KLA was installed in power without public discussion or a thorough check of its background. "I don't think we're doing anything there to stem the drugs", says a senior State Department official. "It's out of control. It should be a high priority. We've warned about it".

Even if it tried to stop the Kosovo Albanian heroin trade, the US would be hard-pressed to do so. "Nobody's in control in Kosovo", adds the State Department official. "They don't even have a police force". Regardless of what it says, there's little indication that the administration wants to do anything with the intelligence available about its newest ally. "There is no doubt that the KLA is a major trafficking organization", said a congressional expert who monitors the drug trade and requested anonymity. "But we have a relationship with the KLA, and the administration doesn't want to damage (its) reputation. We are partners.

The attitude is: The drugs are not coming here, so let others deal with it".


Indeed the biggest paradox in the world war on drugs is connected to the Balkans and the outburst of terrorist activities in that troubled area. What is the reason for this unusual co-relation between US policy in Balkans, the most wanted terrorist in the world today, Osama bin Laden, and this enormous KLA drug trafficking.

As Michael Levine, a 25-year veteran of the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) stated: "They (the CIA) protected them (the KLA) in every way they could". McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin, said the Afghan Mujahideen rebels were one of the first US-backed rebel groups to get into the heroin trade in a big way. The anti-Communist Mujahideen were backed by the US in their opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. They started exporting massive amounts of opium to raise money, with the knowledge and protection of the CIA and Pakistani intelligence, according to McCoy. "That produced a massive traffic in the '80s to Europe and the U.S.," he said.

Other recipients of US support were Nicaraguan Contras, Panama's General Noriega, Afghan Taliban, Indonesia (remember massacres by their special units in Timor), and Burma's Khun Sa. Another US-backed rebel army, the Nicaraguan contras, raised money for their war against the leftist Sandinista government in the 1980s by flooding U.S. cities with crack - all with the knowledge and assistance of the CIA and the DEA, according to the book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb.

Webb's allegations were initially denied by the CIA, but a CIA inspector-general's report in October 1998 revealed that 58 contras were linked to drug allegations.

Early in 1999, as the war against Serbia raged, Congress voted to fund the KLA's drive for independence. One year later the US embrace of the KLA may come as an embarrassment, but not a precedent.

Quo Vadis America?