Serb working for U.N. killed in Kosovo
May 16 (Reuters) - A Kosovo Serb working for the
The body of Petar
Topoljski, 25, was recovered by U.N. police on Sunday and
Since the U.N. and
NATO-led peacekeepers took over responsibility for the
the head of the U.N. mission known as UNMIK which is
is a terrible blow, not only to the family and friends of Mr
"We have tried
to create the conditions of security for all our staff. But
Kouchner paid tribute
to his Serb staff for working "in spite of the threats
Topoljski, who worked
in the Pristina regional administration, is not the
Persecution Watch : Kosovo
Kosovo Christians Targeted by Islamic Millitants
An Assemblies of
God church in the capital, Pristina, was raided by masked
The pastor, Artur
Krasniqi, and three others were sleeping at the church
are investigating, but currently they are treating the
"Long is the
list of believers who in one way or another are facing
IN GORAZDEVAC IT APPEARS THE WAR IS NOT YET FINISHED
By Rajko SARIC
According to the
claims of the local residents, in Gorazdevac today live
"In one of
the three local villages returns are possible today and if at least
Recently a group
of Serbs came to Gorazdevac from cities in Serbia who are
Albanians have sent the residents of Gorazdevac a clear message that
The Albanians who
live in the vicinity of the villages of Milanovac, Babici and
Kosovo Serbs say they are victims of Albanian vengeance
BRUSSELS, May 19
(AFP) - Serbs remaining in Kosovo say the are
KOSOVO DRUG THREAT
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
A score of marijuana,
the most popular drug in Kosovo, cost around ten
Ben is one such
dealer. He makes at least ten sales a day, supplying
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.
experts believe the province's drug smugglers are
through easier and cheaper - and there's much more of it,"
"If this goes
on we are predicting a heroin boom in western Europe on the
The Kosovo conlfict
forced Albanian drug traffickers to abandon the
But with the end
of the conflict and the absence of robust law enforcement
In the immediate
aftermath of the war, drugs began entering Kosovo from
At the same time,
the porous border between Kosovo and Albania enabled
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.
of KFOR patrols along the Kosovo-Albanian border has had some impact
on traffickers, forcing them to find alternative routes along
The dealer said
he used to sell drugs in Germany, but returned to Kosovo
of Albanian criminal gangs in drug trafficking is
administration in Kosovo has so far preferred to set the
UNMIK police sources
said no-one was currently being held on drug-related
administration's neglect of the drugs issue is creating
Imer Mushkollaj is editor-in-chief of the Kosovo Albanian daily "Epoka e re"
Campaign against forced prostitution in Kosovo
May 24 (AFP) - NATO-led troops and United
Albanians Attack Serbs in Kosovo
By Danica Kirka
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
U.S. officials said
Thursday's attack occurred along the main road between
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
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
OTHER ATTACK ON SERBS IN THE SAME PERIOD
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.
June 2 (AFP) - Two Serbs were killed and
In bomb attack in Obilic One person injured
Obilic (Beta) -
One person of Serb nationality was injured two nights ago at
Vehicle runs into mine near Pristina, two Serbs dead:
Somewhat earlier a bus full of children passed along the same route
- Two Serbs were killed and three injured when their automobile ran
Killed were Sinisa
Dimic, employed by the Health Center in Bresje, and Vlastimir
that only five minutes before the incident a school bus full of
belonging to KFOR who are securing this location have appeared on
This is the third
landmine which was placed in the vicinity of Preoce. Two were
Little girls are well
Physicians at the
Health Center in Kosovo Polje said that Natasa Ristic and her
BALKAN - ALBANIA - KOSOVO - HEROIN - JIHAD
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?