' The Kosovo Liberations Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Grouop with Terror, Drug Ties? From 'Terrorists' to 'Partners' On March 24, 1999, NATO initiated air attacks on Yugoslavia (a federation of two republics, On March 24, 1999, NATO initiated air attacks on Yugoslavia (a federation of two republics, Serbia and Montenegro) in order to impose a peace agreement in the Serbian province of Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority. The Clinton Administration has not formally withdrawn its standing insistence that Belgrade sign the peace agreement, which would entail the deployment in Kosovo of some 28,000 NATO ground troops -- including 4,000 Americans -- to police the settlement. But in recent days the Clinton public line has shifted to a demand that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic halt the offensive he has launched in Kosovo, which has led to a growing humanitarian crisis in the region, before there can be a stop to the bombing campaign. One week into the bombing campaign, there is widespread discussion of options for further actions. One option includes forging a closer relationship between the United States and a controversial group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a group which has been cited in unofficial reports for alleged ties to drug cartels and Islamic terrorist organizations. This paper will examine those allegations in the context of the currently unfolding air campaign. Results of Week One The air assault is a product of a Clinton policy, which for months has been directed toward intervention in Kosovo, in either the form of the use of air power or of the introduction of a peacekeeping ground force -- or of air power followed by a ground force. [For details on the turbulent history of Kosovo and of the direction of Clinton policy leading to the current air campaign, see: ..............and "Bosnia II: The Clinton Administration Sets Course for NATO Intervention in Kosovo," 8/12/98.] Just hours before the first bombs fell, the Senate voted 58 to 41 (with 38 Republicans voting in the negative) to authorize air and missile strikes against Yugoslavia (S. Con. Res. 21). The Senate then approved by voice vote a second resolution expressing support for members of the U.S. Armed Forces engaged in military operations against Yugoslavia (S. Res. 74). Prior to the air campaign, the stated goal of Clinton policy, as noted above, was Belgrade's acceptance of the peace agreement signed by the Kosovo Albanian delegation (which included representatives of the KLA) on March 17. Now, more than a week into the air campaign, that goal appears even more elusive as the NATO attack has rallied Serbian resistance to what they see as an unjustified foreign aggression. Since the NATO bombing campaign began, Serbian security forces also have intensified an offensive in Kosovo that began as the airstrikes appeared inevitable. According to numerous media reports, tens of thousands of Albanians are fleeing the Serb army, and police forces and paramilitary groups that, based on credible allegations, are committing widespread atrocities, including summary executions, burnings of Albanian villages, and assassination of human rights activists and community leaders. Allied officials have denounced the apparently deliberate forced exodus of Albanian civilians as ethnic cleansing and even genocide. But according to some refugee accounts, the NATO bombing is also a factor in the exodus: "[M]ost residents of the provincial capital say they are leaving of their own accord and are not being forced out at gunpoint, as residents of several western cities and villages in Kosovo say has been happening to them. . . . Pristina residents who made it to Macedonia said their city is still largely intact, despite the targeting of ethnic Albanian businesses by Serbian gangs and several direct hits from NATO air strikes in the city center" ["Cause of Kosovar Exodus from Pristina Disputed: Serbs Are Forcing Exit, Some Claim; Others Go on Own," Washington Times, 3/31/99]. At the same time, the Clinton Administration, consistent with its track record on Kosovo, has ignored credible but unconfirmed evidence from sources not connected to Milosevic's Serbian government that the NATO campaign has resulted in far more civilian damage than has been acknowledged. Making Things Worse? The Clinton Administration and NATO officials flatly reject any suggestion that their policy has exacerbated an already bad situation on the ground in Kosovo. With neighboring Albania and Macedonia in danger of being destabilized by a flood of refugees, questions are being raised about NATO's ability to continue the campaign unless positive results are evident soon:
"With critics arguing that the NATO campaign has made things worse, the alliance must slow the Serbs' onslaught or watch public support and alliance unity unravel. U.S. and NATO officials angrily rebutted the critics, arguing that Mr. Milosevic, the Serbian leader, and his forces were already on the rampage before NATO strikes began." ["NATO Is Set to Target Sites in Belgrade," Wall Street Journal, 3/29/99]If the immediate NATO goal has now shifted to stopping the Serb offensive in Kosovo, observers point to three likely options [WSJ, 3/29/99]: "Option One is to continue the air campaign, increasingly targeting Serb frontline troops [in Kosovo], but it could be days before the onslaught is really slowed." This option, which NATO has already begun to implement, is likely to entail greater risk to NATO aircraft and crews, due to the lower and slower flightpaths needed to deliver tactical strikes. Still, most observers doubt the offensive can be halted with air power alone. Late reports indicate increased bombing of targets in Belgrade, the capital of both the Yugoslav federation and the Serbian republic. "Option Two is to start considering intervening on the ground." In recent days, the Clinton Administration has begun to shift its position on NATO ground troops from a categorical assurance that ground troops would go in only to police a peace settlement to hints that they might, depending on some unspecified "conditions," be introduced into a combat environment. For example, in comments on March 28, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Henry Shelton suggested that certain "assessments" had been made, but that there was as yet no political agreement on ground troops:
"There have been assessments made, but those assessments were based on varying conditions that existed in Kosovo... At this point in time, there are no plans per se to introduce ground troops." [NBC's "Meet the Press," 3/28/99]"Option Three: arming the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army to carry the war on the ground while NATO continues it from the air." This option, which would make NATO the overt air force of the KLA, would also dash any possibility of a solution that would not result in a change in Balkan borders, perhaps setting off a round of widespread regional instability. Clinton Administrations officials have begun to suggest that independence may now be justified in view of the Serb offensive. The KLA has been explicit in its determination to not only achieve an independent Kosovo but to "liberate" Albanian-inhabited areas of Montenegro (including the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica), Macedonia (including the Macedonian capital, Skopje), and parts of northern Greece; most of these areas were in fact annexed to Albania under Axis occupation during World War II. (For a visual representation of the areas claimed by the KLA, see the map at the website of the pro-KLA Albanian-American Civic League at www.aacl.com Note that arming and training the KLA, as called for in Option Three, would highlight serious questions about the nature of the KLA and of the Clinton Administration's relationship with it. The KLA: from 'Terrorists' to 'Partners' The Kosovo Liberation Army "began on the radical fringe of Kosovar Albanian politics, originally made up of diehard Marxist-Leninists (who were bankrolled in the old days by the Stalinist dictatorship next door in Albania) as well as by descendants of the fascist militias raised by the Italians in World War II" ["Fog of War -- Coping With the Truth About Friend and Foe: Victims Not Quite Innocent," New York Times, 3/28/99]. The KLA made its military debut in February 1996 with the bombing of several camps housing Serbian refugees from wars in Croatia and Bosnia [Jane's Intelligence Review, 10/1/96]. The KLA (again according to the highly regarded Jane's,) "does not take into consideration the political or economic importance of its victims, nor does it seem at all capable of seriously hurting its enemy, the Serbian police and army. Instead, the group has attacked Serbian police and civilians arbitrarily at their weakest points. It has not come close to challenging the region's balance of military power" [Jane's, 10/1/96]. The group expanded its operations with numerous attacks through 1996 but was given a major boost with the collapse into chaos of neighboring Albania in 1997, which afforded unlimited opportunities for the introduction of arms into Kosovo from adjoining areas of northern Albania, which are effectively out of the control of the Albanian government in Tirana. From its inception, the KLA has targeted not only Serbian security forces, who may be seen as legitimate targets for a guerrilla insurgency, but Serbian and Albanian civilians as well. In view of such tactics, the Clinton Administration's then-special envoy for Kosovo, Robert Gelbard, had little difficulty in condemning the KLA (also known by its Albanian initials, UCK) in terms comparable to those he used for Serbian police repression: Robert Gelbard: Fatos Klosi: Albanian Secret Service
" 'The violence we have seen growing is incredibly dangerous,' Gelbard said. He criticized violence 'promulgated by the (Serb) police' and condemned the actions of an ethnic Albanian underground group Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Serb targets. 'We condemn very strongly terrorist actions in Kosovo. The UCK is, without any questions, a terrorist group,' Gelbard said." [Agence France Presse, 2/23/98]Mr. Gelbard's remarks came just before a KLA attack on a Serbian police station led to a retaliation that left dozens of Albanians dead, leading in turn to a rapid escalation of the cycle of violence. Responding to criticism that his earlier remarks might have been seen as Washington's "green light" to Belgrade that a crack-down on the KLA would be acceptable, Mr. Gelbard offered to clarify to the House Committee on International Relations:
"Questioned by lawmakers today on whether he still considered the group a terrorist organization, Mr. Gelbard said that while it has committed 'terrorist acts,' it has 'not been classified legally by the U.S. Government as a terrorist organization.' " [New York Times, 3/13/98]........................ http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/fr033199.htm September 19, 2005 js-2727 Treasury Designates Bin Laden, Qadi Associate The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Dr. Abdul Latif Saleh pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for providing support to Usama bin Laden and al Qaida………………. http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/js2727.htm 08.12.200509:50 (GMT) The Albanian government has seized the assets and bank accounts of Abdul Latif Saleh who allegedly worked with Osama bin Laden to supporting terror networks in Albania, Serbianna reported citing Albanian Finance Ministry. Albania blocked 33 bank accounts in three commercial banks as well as assets and investments in Saleh’s businesses and civic organizations he was involved with. Saleh founded an Albanian jihadist group that has been bankrolled by the Al Haramain Foundation, an Islamic charity with alleged links to al-Qaida. Saleh is believed to be associated with Yasin al Qadi, a Saudi businessman. Abdul Latif Saleh, who holds Jordanian and Albanian citizenship, left Albania three years ago. He was placed on a UN sanctions list in September. He is also being investigated for alleged money-laundering for al-Qaida. Earlier this year, Albanian authorities seized property and froze the assets of four foundations and a married couple accused by the United Nations of funding terrorist activities. http://www.axisglobe.com/news.asp?news=5026
Financial Infrastructure of Islamic Extremists in the BalkansI am posting this on behalf of TF Blog contributor Darko Trifunovic. Shortly I will be posting two presentations Darko made at the recent Institute for Counterterrorism conference in Herzliya, Israel. Darko’s post follows: ………………………
9 Both Abdul Latif Saleh and Yasin Al-Qadi were represented in court by Idayet Beqiri, political secretary of the “Front of Albanian National Unity” (FBKSh).http://www.terrorfinance.org/the_terror_finance_blog/2007/09/financial-infra.html
To make a difference going forward, Trey Gowdy and the House’s Benghazi select committee may want to ask how the U.S. got involved in Libya in the first place. What they will discover is that Barack Obama borrowed a page from the Clinton playbook on Kosovo, a lethal exercise in mendacity unparalleled in recent American history. Much of the mischief I unearthed in my forthcoming book, You Lie!, I expected to find. This nugget surprised me. In his March 2011 address to the nation, Barack Obama laid out the case for America’s surprise military intervention in Libya. “We knew that...