--Speak the Truth and Shame The Devil--
The original page is at: Sirius Kosovo Archive ***
Articles on KLA-Kosovo & Osama bin Laden
Feb. 9, 1999
NOTE: This archive intended for research use, contains copyrighted material intended "for fair use only."
NOTE: Dragan Ivetic, 3rd-year law student at University of Illinois College of Law, collected and contributed the majority of articles in this file.
These articles focus on activities in Kosovo and Albania by Osama bin Laden and his crowd of Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists, allying themselves with the KLA --Kosovo Liberation Army-- from the summer of 1998 on.
In February 1998, when the Yugoslav police crackdown on the KLA began, the US State Department recognized the KLS as an international terrorist organization. This means, among other things, that US residents are not allowed to contribute funds, trade weapons or in any way support such organizations. Yet a Washington Post article of May 26, 1998 indicates Washington understands that funds are flowing directly to the KLA. By the summer, the KLA-Osama connection was clearly established, even as the US was bombing Osama's Afghanistan installations with Tomahawks in retribution for the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
The final article, though a Belgrade regurgitation of a Polish article, gives reasonable background on Islamic Fundamentalist activities in Bosnia prior to 1998.
Benjamin C. Works
1. Jane's Intelligence Review
February 1, 1995
SECTION: EUROPE; Vol. 7; No. 2; Pg. 68
The 'Balkan Medellin'
BYLINE: Marko Milivojevic
The Albanian-dominated region of western Macedonia accounts for a disproportionate share of the Macedonia's (FYROM) shrinking GDP. This situation has strengthened Albanophobic sentiments among the ethnic Macedonian majority, especially as a great deal of revenue is thought to derive from Albanian narco-terrorism as well as associated gun-running and cross-border smuggling to and from Albania, Bulgaria and the Kosovo province of Serbia. Although its extent and forms remain in dispute, this rising Albanian economic power is helping to turn the Balkans into a hub of criminality.
Previously transported to Western Europe through former Yugoslavia, heroin from Turkey, the Transcaucasus and points further east is now being increasingly routed to Italy via the Black Sea, Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia. This is a development that has strengthened the Albanian mafia which is now thought to control 70 per cent of the illegal heroin market in Germany and Switzerland. Closely allied to the powerful Sicilian mafia, the Albanian associates have also greatly benefitted from the presence of large numbers of mainly Kosovar Albanians in a number of West European countries; Switzerland alone now has over 100000 ethnic Albanian residents. As well as providing a perfect cover for Albanian criminals, this diaspora is also a useful source of income for racketeers.
Socially organized in extended families bound together in clan alliances, Kosovar Albanians dominate the Albanian mafia in the southern Balkans. Other than Kosovo, the Albanian mafia is also active in northern Albania and western Macedonia. In this context, the so-called 'Balkan Medellin' is made up of a number of geographically connected border towns, namely Veliki Trnovac and Blastica in Serbia, Vratnica in Macedonia, and Gostivar in Albania. Further afield, the Albanian mafia also has a strong presence in: Pristina, the capital of Kosovo; Skopje, the capital of Macedonia; Shkoder, the second largest city in Albania and its northern provincial capital; and Durres, Albania's main port and maritime link to nearby Italy across the Adriatic Sea.
As for heroin processing locally, the Albanian mafia now reportedly runs at least two secret facilities in Macedonia, which is also the key regional transportation crossroads for the trans-shipment of heroin from Bulgaria to Albania. Heroin shipments are thought to be mostly moved overland by a number of seemingly legitimate international trucking and freight-forwarding companies in Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia.
High-level corruption, widespread local poverty, a tradition of cross-border smuggling and poor policing throughout the region have all aided the recent rise of the Albanian mafia. In Macedonia, local drug-trafficking is now out of control, a fact which no doubt explains why the Macedonian police have recently turned to Italy for assistance in this area of law enforcement. In this context, the Italian national police mounted a major 10-month joint operation with their Macedonian counterparts in Skopje in 1993-94. Codenamed 'Macedonia', this operation reportedly involved intensive surveillance of known Kosovar Albanian drug-traffickers in the Macedonian capital. Here, a joint Italian-Macedonian police swoop resulted in the seizure of 42 kg of pure heroin in May 1994. In terms of the quantity of heroin now routinely transiting Macedonia, however, the Skopje seizure was insignificant. Operationally, larger seizures of such controlled substances are ultimately dependent on co-operation from the police in nearby Serbia and Albania. To date, they have proved remarkably unhelpful.
If left unchecked, this growing Albanian narco-terrorism could lead to a Colombian syndrome in the southern Balkans, or the emergence of a situation in which the Albanian mafia becomes powerful enough to control one or more states in the region. In practical terms, this will involve either Albania or Macedonia, or both. Politically, this is now being done by channelling growing foreign exchange (forex) profits from narco-terrorism into local governments and political parties. In Albania, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) led by President Sali Berisha is now widely suspected of tacitly tolerating and even directly profiting from drug-trafficking for wider politico-economic reasons, namely the financing of secessionist political parties and other groupings in Kosovo and Macedonia.
In Macedonia, the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) and other ethnic Albanian political parties, such as the ultra-nationalistic National Democratic Party (NDP), are almost certainly in receipt of laundered Albanian forex profits from narco-terrorism. These have also been reportedly used for the bribing of corrupt Macedonian government officials and police. More generally, Kosovo and western Macedonia are both suspiciously well endowed in forex. This can only realistically have come from criminal enterprises, given the widespread poverty of these two connected areas in the Yugoslav period.
A similar state of affairs exists in nearby Albania, which is not as poor in forex as its government likes to pretend. In all three cases, this criminally generated forex is often disguised as emigree remittances; these totalled over US$500 million in Albania alone in 1993. If Kosovo and Macedonia are included, then total Albanian forex from narco-terrorism going into the southern Balkans in 1993 could have been as high as US$1 billion. Other than buying the Albanian mafia political protection and influence, and a certain spurious popular legitimacy for its alleged patriotism, this laundered drug money is now being increasingly used in an associated activity, namely gun-running among the region's ethnic Albanians.
Balkan Arms Bazaar
Bizarre even by the murky standards of the Balkans, the recent trial in Skopje of 10 ethnic Albanians charged with 'conspiracy to form military formations' revealed the extent of illegal gun-running at the highest levels in Macedonia. Politically, what made this trial significant was the public standing of some of its defendants. In this context, the then Macedonian interior minister, Ljubomir Frckovski, ordered the arrest in late 1993 of two leading members of the PDP, which was in government in Skopje. The two alleged high-level gun-runners were Midhat Emini, the then president of the PDP, and Husein Haskaj, the then deputy defence minister in the government of Premier Branko Crvenkovski. Given the immense political implications of these arrests and the trial that followed on from them in 1994, Frckovski could only have acted in the way that he did
for the most compelling of reasons.
All of this meant that top PDP leaders were then involved in the illegal importation of armaments purchased in Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia and the West. These activities must have involved the local Albanian mafia, which is itself heavily armed with sophisticated weaponry purchased with the profits from narco-terrorism. This may have indicated that the PDP and the NDP were tiring of parliamentary politics in Skopje and preparing other options to advance their cause, namely an armed uprising of some sort. In the case of the main ethnic Albanian political party in Macedonia, the PDP, this interpretation was later given added credence when its formally relatively moderate leadership was ousted by a radical ultra-nationalist faction in a palace revolution orchestrated by the DP government in Albania. Significantly, this development took place just after the public trial of the two top PDP leaders charged with illegal gun-running.
Currently led by two noted ultra-nationalists, Abdurahman Haliti and Medhuh Thaci, the PDP can thus no longer be regarded as a purely constitutional party. In practice, it is also a secret party-militia, tainted with Albanian narco-terrorist connections. This is even more true of the NDP which is now close to becoming a terrorist organization. In addition, both these parties are now also directly controlled by nearby Albania where the SHIK secret police is known to be heavily implicated in both working with the Albanian mafia and cross-border gun-running into Macedonia and Kosovo. For all these reasons, the PDP and the NDP may eventually be formally proscribed by the Skopje government.
Despite its recent poor performance in the October 1994 elections (see article on pp 64-67), the VMRO-DPMNE aims to profit from such worsening inter-ethnic tensions in the future. Already, it is openly advocating the use of repressive and violent options against the ethnic Albanian minority. In this context, the VMRO-DPMNE is itself suspected of secretly arming its ultra-nationalistic membership with the assistance of influential VMRO irredentist forces in nearby Bulgaria. Sofia has a notorious reputation for selling armaments to anybody who can pay for them, including virtually all the parties in the ongoing civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
Regional Sanctions Breaking
Effectively trapped between two stronger anti-Macedonian states, namely Serbia and Greece, Macedonia has effectively been compelled to break the trade embargo imposed by the UN against rump Yugoslavia in 1992. In the case of Serbia, Macedonia was closely bound to it economically during the Yugoslav period. Breaking all these economic links, as demanded by the UN Security Council, has proved impossible in practice.
Initially tolerated by the international community, the Macedonian sanctions-breaking has recently reached significant levels, particularly after the UN lifted some of its non-economic sanctions
against rump Yugoslavia in 1994. For all practical purposes, there is no longer even the pretence of Macedonian compliance with the UN's sanctions regime against rump Yugoslavia. Other than Greece, Albania and Bulgaria also reportedly make extensive use of Macedonia for their own sanctions-breaking activities in relation to rump Yugoslavia. Economically, it is now an open secret in Skopje that Macedonia would have completely collapsed long ago had it attempted to avoid such regional sanctions-busting.
In this context, matters became critical for Macedonia when Greece, in a move clearly closely co-ordinated with Serbia, imposed an economic blockade against the country in March 1994. This immediately cut off Macedonia from the Greek port of Thessaloniki, thereby increasing its economic dependence on Serbia. The only alternative link to the outside world, via nearby Albania and Bulgaria, was also uncertain. In the case of Albania, this was mainly due to a worsening of relations between Skopje and Tirane over the issue of the ethnic Albanians in western Macedonia.
As regards Bulgaria, there were also political problems, notably those pertaining to Sofia's ambivalent recognition of Macedonia as a separate Macedonian state but not as the homeland of a separate Macedonian nation distinct from Bulgaria. In addition, the main east-west communications routes to Albania and Bulgaria are very poorly developed, thereby limiting the amount of freight traffic they can handle.
Politically, this illegal Greco-Serbian economic pressure against Macedonia has resulted in a more conciliatory stance by the Skopje government towards Athens and Belgrade. Officials in these capitals would like to see Macedonia reincorporated into a third and Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Domestically, such a scenario is now being made more probable by local socio-economic collapse and the worsening conflict between the ethnic Macedonian majority and the ethnic Albanian minority population in western Macedonia. Longer term, this could conceivably lead to local participation in a proposed regional anti-Albanian and anti-Muslim 'Orthodox Alliance' between Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Already openly advocated by VMRO-DPMNE, such a scenario would become more probable if Macedonia descends into an inter-ethnic civil war or outright partition furthered by its stronger and hostile neighbours.
Marko Milivojevic is member of the Research Unit in South East European Studies at the University of Bradford, UK.
GRAPHIC: Photograph 1, UN soldiers patrol a queue of vehicles which are waiting to be checked for embargoed goods prior to entering Serbia from Macedonia.; (Photograph 2, AP)
2. The Scotsman
November 30, 1998, Monday Pg. 7
US TACKLES ISLAMIC MILITANCY IN KOSOVO
Chris Stephen In Pristina
THE United States has asked Kosovo's ethnic Albanian rebels to distance themselves from so called Mujahideen fundamentalists, amid reports that Islamic extremists are arriving to fight in this war-torn province.
KLA leaders have accepted the US request, prompted by fears in Washington that the war in Kosovo will provide fertile ground for Muslim fundamentalists to take root.
Fundamentalists are well established in Albania, despite several raids by the CIA and Albanian security forces that seized five key members of Islamic Jihad and other Middle Eastern groups this summer.
Now a joint CIA-Albanian intelligence operation has reported Mujahideen units from at least half a dozen Middle East countries streaming across the border into Kosovo from safe bases in Albania.
The American request came at an October meeting of US envoys with the leaders of the ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army at their headquarters in Geneva.
A senior KLA source told The Scotsman that the group agreed to the request: "It's a clear position; we don't want anything from these people," he said. "Even before they (the US) told us to be careful from them, we'd had this firm understanding."
Approximately a quarter of KLA members are Roman Catholics, and the organisation has insisted throughout this year's fighting that its war with the Serbs, who are Orthodox Christian, is nationalist, and not religious.
But Albanian intelligence services report an influx of Muslim extremists from a variety of countries into Kosovo. "We have information about three or four groups, there are Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, Algerians, Tunisians, Sudanese," said Fatos Klosi, director of the Albanian intelligence service.
The US request was top of a "shopping list" the KLA says the Americans gave it.
As well as refusing offers of help from the Mujahideen, the KLA says it agreed not to use terrorist tactics such as car bombings against the Serbs outside Kosovo.
It also promised not to foment revolt among the ethnic Albanian majority in neighbouring Macedonia.
The KLA is coy about saying what it got in return. So far the answer is very little. The US still says the group cannot be included in peace talks on Kosovo's future until it renounces violence.
But behind the rhetoric, the US is worried that unless it makes concessions, it might drive the rebel movement into the arms of the fundamentalists.
One vital concession to the KLA came earlier this year, when it had the unusual honour of being take off a register of organisations the US defines as "terrorists".
This is a valuable asset, not just in terms of public relations.
It also makes fund-raising among ethnic Albanians abroad much easier.
For the Americans, giving the KLA tacit support is a tightrope.
Shunning it might drive them into the arms of fundamentalists such as Osama Bin Laden -blamed for bombing US embassies in Africa this summer -whose men are already operating in Albania.
But supporting them could give a shot in the arm for the KLA's aim of full independence for Kosovo -something the West fears might fuel uprisings in other parts of the world.
For the moment, the US appears to be leaning on the side of support. Most observers in Kosovo think the current lull in fighting has more to do with winter weather than the ceasefire brokered under threats of NATO action in October.
The majority Albanian population remains committed to independence, and the Serb leadership remains committed to stopping that, with both sides rearming and planning for fighting in the spring.
It is also unclear if the KLA's Geneva leadership really controls all the rebel units on the ground, many of whom follow competing political factions.
How many Islamic volunteers are in Kosovo is equally uncertain. Few have been sighted by the western monitors in the province.
The full strength and political sway of Mujahideen units will only become clear when the spring arrives and warriors again pull the covers from their guns.
3. Report: Bin Laden operated terrorist network based in Albania
AP: Report: Bin Laden operated terrorist network based in Albania
5.11 p.m. ET (2212 GMT) November 29, 1998
LONDON (AP) The man accused of orchestrating the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa operates a terrorist network out of Albania that has infiltrated other parts of Europe, The Sunday Times reported.
The newspaper quoted Fatos Klosi, the head of the Albanian intelligence service, as saying a network run by Saudi exile Osama Bin Laden sent units to fight in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
Bin Laden is believed to have established an Albanian operation in 1994 after telling the government he headed a wealthy Saudi humanitarian agency wanting to help Albania, the newspaper reported.
Klosi said he believed terrorists had already infiltrated other parts of Europe from bases in Albania. Interpol believes more than 100,000 blank Albanian passports were stolen in riots last year, providing ample opportunity for terrorists to acquire false papers, the newspaper said.
Apparent confirmation of Bin Laden's activities came earlier this month during the murder trial of Claude Kader, 27, a French national who said he was a member of Bin Laden's Albanian network, the newspaper ssid.
Kader claimed during the trial he had visited Albania to recruit and arm fighters for Kosovo.
U.S. authorities believe bin Laden, a Saudi exile and militant Muslim, masterminded the bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Three alleged co-conspirators are already jailed in New York.
4. The Baltimore Sun
March 6, 1998, Friday, FINAL EDITION TELEGRAPH (NEWS), Pg. 20A
Speculation plentiful, facts few about Kosovo separatist group; KLA has already seized region near capital
SOURCE: FROM WIRE REPORTS
PRISTINA, Serbia -- The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has claimed responsibility for more than 50 attacks on Serbs and Albanians loyal to the Belgrade government, but little is known about the separatist group.
The KLA made its first public appearance Nov. 28 at a funeral of Albanians killed in action against the Serbian police in the village of Lause. Three masked men brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles swore to throw out the Serbs by force.
Their appearance was a blow to moderate Albanian politicians who had claimed the KLA was run by the Serbian secret service after it first became known a few months earlier.
Details of the KLA, which the United States calls a terrorist organization, are sketchy at best.
Western intelligence sources believe there are no more than several hundred members under arms with military training. Serbian police estimate there are at least 2,000 well-armed men.
The KLA is said to rely heavily on a huge network of informers and sympathizers, enabling it to blend easily among the population.
The Western sources also believe the core of the organization consists of Albanians who fled into exile in the 1970s and based their operation in Switzerland, where its funding is gathered from all over the world.
"If the West wants to nip the KLA in the bud, all it has to do is crack down on its financial nerve center in Switzerland," one source said.
Part of the funding, this source believes, comes from the powerful Albanian mafia organizations that deal in narcotics, prostitution and arms smuggling across Europe.
The KLA has admitted having training bases in northern Albania, which the Albanian government does not condone but is powerless to stop.
The group is believed to have received some of the tens of thousands of weapons looted from army garrisons in Albania last year when the country came close to armed anarchy.
An unspecified number of KLA officers are suspected of having been members of the former Yugoslav People's Army and of having gained combat experience during the war in Bosnia fighting against the Serbs.
The sources say the KLA is well armed with light infantry weapons, but it also has a well-developed signal network enabling it to track police movements and send reinforcements to the right place.
While the KLA certainly enjoys wide support, no one is sure it could mount a concerted military action, or control more territory.
Veton Surroi, editor of the Albanian-language newspaper Koha Ditore, believes it has no central command, but is split into many small units of people simply fed up with Serbian police repression.
"We have kids who possess vintage pistols and call themselves the Kosovo Liberation Army," said Surroi. "The KLA has become a movement of desperate people, rather than a single organized force."
But the rebellion is producing results.
The Serbs already have lost control of at least one region -- 33 towns and villages in the Drenica area west of Kosovo's capital, Pristina.
The Drenica area -- encompassing about 463 square miles, about 10 percent of the province's territory -- has an almost ethnically pure population of roughly 60,000 Albanians, all considered loyal to the KLA.
Western diplomats believe the area always has been the bastion of Albanian separatism, resisting
Belgrade's authority since World War II. The territory was a no-go area even for the purely Albanian police force in the 1970s, when the province enjoyed autonomy in the former Yugoslavia.
Serbian police sources claim to know almost all KLA strongholds but to be waiting for word "from the top" to crack down.
One of the reasons the green light has still not come, Western diplomats believe, is that it would be a messy operation involving politically embarrassing civilian casualties.
Pub Date: 3/06/98
5. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Tuesday, August 25, 1998
Terrorist rhetoric softened Communique tells Muslim fighters to "avoid civilians."
Joyce M. Davis --Knight Ridder News Service
The organization of militant Saudi Arabian exile Osama bin Laden sent another communique to his followers yesterday that appears to soften his earlier inflammatory rhetoric, urging Muslims to avoid striking civilian targets as they intensify the battle to "liberate Muslim countries from the crusaders and the Jews."
PageName_2In the new message, said to have been sent from bin Laden's camp in Afghanistan and signed by Sheik Abdullah Abu al-Farouq, the leader of the political wing of bin Laden's World Islamic Front, Muslim fighters were told to "make a jihad holy war for the cause of God and against enemies of Islam and Muslims, and do not direct your weapons to your brother Muslims."
"And avoid civilians. Direct your attacks to the American army and her allies, the infidels."
The latest communique also warned of further attacks and listed the countries that bin Laden's supporters consider the worst "infidel" nations, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Israel, Russia, Serbia and India.
The United States believes that bin Laden's organization was involved in the recent bombing attacks on U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.
President Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks last week against what officials believe was bin Laden's haven in Afghanistan, and against a factory in Sudan that U.S. investigators said was producing a key ingredient of nerve gas.
In another development yesterday, U.S. intelligence sources said a soil sample obtained clandestinely led the administration to conclude that the Sudanese plant was developing the ingredient in deadly VX nerve gas.
In an echo of the controversy over the bombing of a purported baby formula factory during the Persian Gulf War, Sudanese officials have protested to the United Nations that the El Shifa Pharmaceuticals plant made medicine, not weapons.
Information also showed ties between senior executives of the plant and known terrorist groups, including the one headed by bin Laden.
Intelligence also linked these executives to people involved in Iraq's weapons development, including Emad Al Ani, known as the father of Iraq's chemical weapons program.
Under pressure to back up its claim, the Clinton administration let U.S. intelligence officials discuss yesterday some of the evidence that led to the decision to strike.
The sample showed traces of a substance called EMPTA, or O-ethylmethylphosphonothioic acid - a material with no commercial uses that is a key ingredient of VX.
But the administration also conceded for the first time, after eyewitness accounts from the smoldering ruins of the El Shifa plant, that the facility probably also manufactured medicines.
Bin Laden once had an older half brother who lived in Texas, the San Antonio Express-News reported yesterday. The relative, Salem bin Laden, lived and worked in Central Texas until his death in a 1988 ultralight aircraft crash, the newspaper reported.
Friends and associates of Salem bin Laden say his family disowned Osama bin Laden as the younger man's politics and world view turned militantly anti-American. While other family members cultivated ties to the United States, the radical son took a different path.
Osama bin Laden's supporters in London say he was not at his hideout in Afghanistan when the attacks occurred and say he has since left the country. Bin Laden's communique also said supporters are scattered around the globe and have operated and have "achieved great victories" in
"Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, the Hijaz Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Kenya, Eritrea, the United States, Chechnya, the Philippines, Burma, China, Kashmir, Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Samarkand and other regions of Russia."
Although the communique, faxed to Knight Ridder from bin Laden's supporters in London and translated from Arabic, contained only praise for those engaged in jihad against the United States and its interests, it was clearly softer than bin Laden's previous statements, which warned that civilian and military targets would be treated equally.
"But this is, indeed, his thinking now," said Sheik Omar Barkri, bin Laden's spokesman in London. "This message was approved by the sheik."
In a fatwa, or religious ruling, said to have been issued by bin Laden in February and printed in Arabic language newspapers, bin Laden called upon his followers to "kill the Americans, civilians and military." He justified the call to kill civilians by saying "U.S. aggression is affecting Muslim civilians, not just the military."
But Muslim leaders and scholars throughout the world have been intensely critical of the bombings of the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, noting that many Muslims and many African civilians were killed in the attack.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.
6. Inter Press Service
August 12, 1998, Wednesday
POLITICS-YUGOSLAVIA: U.N. EFFORTS ON KOSOVO STALLED Analysis By Farhan Haq
DATELINE: UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 12
In a week in which U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan denounced the Yugoslav government for a "scorched-earth policy" in Kosovo, the world body's low level of action in the region showed up the divisions between Western powers as the crisis worsened.
Annan repeatedly pushed for a greater U.N. role in monitoring the Kosovo conflict between the army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the rebel Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA). In a report issued this week, he warned the Security Council that the U.N. mandate in Kosovo remained limited at a time when "centrifugal tendencies appear to be gaining ground."
"The sharp escalation of violence and the reported use of excessive force by security forces against civilians as part of the government operations against the KLA are cause for both distress and alarm," Annan said.
U.N. officials added that the entire region -- which has seen the 1991-95 fighting in Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Yugoslavia, as well as last year's unrest in neighboring Albania -- could be affected by the increasingly violent Yugoslav crackdown on Kosovo, a province populated heavily by ethnic Albanian Muslims.
Despite U.N. worries, the 15-nation Security Council is no nearer to granting the United Nations a mandate to intervene in Kosovo, as seen by the Council's lukewarm response to Annan's warning yesterday of scorched-earth tactics by the Yugoslav troops.
Instead of issuing an official action, the Council, after meeting with Undersecretary-General Kieran Prendergast yesterday, merely released a statement voicing "grave concern" over the fighting and deploring the "excessive use of force" by Belgrade's troops.
In general, as Annan himself has conceded, leadership on the crisis has fallen into the hands of the Contact Group -- a coalition comprising Russia, Britain, France, Germany and the United States -- which has been reluctant to allow a greater U.N. role in mediating the crisis.
As a result, the Security Council -- on which all the Contact Group members, except for Germany, have veto power -- has kept the United Nations largely out of the crisis, with the members unable to agree on any formal resolution on Kosovo. This inaction, in turn, angered even some Council members, who admitted that the work of the Contact Group had been ineffective.
The Contact Group's efforts to handle the Kosovo crisis had "degenerated into a series of poorly coordinated initiatives," argued the Council's president, Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia. "The Contact Group has been unsuccessful. It has been successful only at keeping the issue out of the reach of the United Nations."
In addition, some permanent members of the Security Council have blocked any efforts by the Council to have a greater say in the matter. Although the United States remained concerned that the battle between Yugoslav forces and Kosovar separatists was spinning out of control, Russia -- Belgrade's main ally -- and China, a constant critic of U.N. interference in nations' internal affairs, were opposed to more U.N. involvement.
Annan, therefore found himself in a bind as that standoff continued. On the one hand, the secretary-general was aware that the Kosovo crisis was intertwined with the tense relations among Yugoslavia, Albania, Bosnia -- and even more distant countries like Croatia and Hungary. On the other, Annan stressed repeatedly that one lesson of the Bosnia crisis was that the United Nations should involve itself in peacekeeping only when it had the resources and political backing to do so.
As a result, U.N. agencies stepped up their warnings about the gravity of the conflict. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that by the end of July, more than 100,000 people had been driven from their homes in the province.
"The secretary-general is concerned that the evolving crisis, if unchecked, could lead to a large-scale humanitarian disaster with the approaching winter," said U.N. spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt. "He is deeply troubled by reports of the vast number of displaced persons without food and shelter and the increasing human rights violations."
The problem is that, as with the breakup of Yugoslavia at the beginning of the decade, the worries about the human costs of the fighting take a back seat to geo-political concerns.
Russia, already upset by what many politicians in Moscow consider the unfair price Belgrade had to pay in sanctions during the Bosnia and Croatia wars, remained unwilling to see its ally punished again over what is still a Yugoslav province. Western European nations, meanwhile, were not eager to repeat the bitter debates during the Bosnia war at a time when some of those governments view Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as a force for regional stability.
Even the United States may be less than willing to take on the Kosovo crisis, following reports that some U.S. intelligence sources believed last week's bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi -- that killed some 250 people -- to be in retaliation for the arrests last month of four suspected terrorists in Albania.
According to these sources, quoted in the U.S. media, Saudi-born financier and vocal U.S. opponent Osama bin Laden may have been able to use unrest in Bosnia and Albania to establish networks for his Islamist supporters in both countries. If those allegations can be proven, Washington would be all the less likely to take any steps that might enhance separatist or Islamist movements in the Balkans -- including in Kosovo.
7. The Jerusalem Post September 14, 1998, Monday
Kosovo seen as new Islamic bastion
BATROVCI, Yugoslavia - The line of cars at this Serbian border town forms early in the morning as travelers head west from the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade toward Croatia and Bosnia. The Yugoslav security officers are thorough, checking each passenger and rummaging through the trunk of every vehicle.
Many of the travelers are Moslems, and the adults wait quietly at the terminal as their children play tag between lines. A few years ago, these people would have been virtually indistinguishable from the thousands of others who crisscross the region.
But today Islamic pride has arrived. Many Moslems have grown beards. Drivers have placed large decals with the Islamic crescent on the back window.
And with money coming from such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia, being a Moslem means having options.
Diplomats in the region say Bosnia was the first bastion of Islamic power. The autonomous Yugoslav region of Kosovo promises to be the second. During the current rebellion against the Yugoslav army, the ethnic Albanians in the province, most of whom are Moslem, have been provided with financial and military support from Islamic countries.
They are being bolstered by hundreds of Iranian fighters, or Mujahadeen, who infiltrate from nearby Albania and call themselves the Kosovo Liberation Army.
US defense officials say the support includes that of Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist accused of masterminding the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
A Defense Department statement on August 20 said Bin Laden's Al Qa'ida organization supports Moslem fighters in both Bosnia and Kosovo.
The growing Islamic fundamentalist presence is an issue rarely voiced in public. The Arab and Islamic world form a huge part of the current and potential market for many of the countries in Central Europe, and highlighting their involvement in the violence in Kosovo is simply bad business.
But the growing support of Iran in Central Europe and the Balkans is regarded as the biggest threat to the region, with the possibility that it can spill over into Western Europe.
"If we isolate the Moslems in Bosnia, then they themselves can be a threat neither to the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia nor to the wider region," Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic said in an interview. "They could be a threat if they gain support from other Moslem national movements or Moslem states."
Yugoslav officials and, privately, many foreign diplomats link the Iranian-backed Bosnian regime to the current rebellion in Kosovo. They say the Iranian success in maintaining a presence and influence in Sarajevo led Teheran to quickly adopt the KLA.
The KLA strength was not the southern Kosovo region, which over the centuries turned from a majority of Serbs to ethnic Albanians. The KLA, however, was strong in neighboring Albania, which today has virtually no central government.
The crisis in Albania led Iran to quickly move in to fill the vacuum. Iranian Revolutionary Guards began to train KLA members. Iranian and Saudi representatives opened foundations to provide patronage. An Islamic bank was launched in the Albanian capital of Tirana. In Skadar, Iranian agents opened the Society of Ayatollah Khomeini.
In the Kosovo town of Prizren, Islamic fundamentalists formed a society funded by the Iranian Culture Center in Belgrade. Selected groups of Albanians were sent to Iran to study that country's version of militant Islam.
So far, Yugoslav officials and Western diplomats agree that millions of dollars have been funnelled through Bosnia and Albania to buy arms for the KLA. The money is raised from both Islamic governments and from Islamic communities in Western Europe, particularly Germany.
Since April, Yugoslav officials say, the KLA has smuggled arms and ammunition in from Albania. They say attempts to smuggle several cannon - meant to launch large- scale strikes against Yugoslav forces - were unsuccessful.
The ramifications of the Iranian campaign has been felt throughout the Middle East. Both Israel and Turkey, for example, have been alarmed by its success in gaining influence in both Bosnia and Albania and have been busy trading intelligence on developments in the region.
"Iran has been active in helping out the Kosovo rebels," Ephraim Kam, deputy director of Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, said. "Iran sees Kosovo and Albania as containing Moslem communities that require help and Teheran is willing to do it."
But much of the training of the KLA remains based in Bosnia. Intelligence sources say mercenaries and volunteers for the separatist movement have been recruited and paid handsome salaries of DM 3,000-DM 5,000 (NIS 6,800-NIS 11,400) a month.
The trainers and fighters in the KLA include many of the Iranians who fought in Bosnia in the early 1990s. Intelligence sources place their number at 7,000, many of whom have married Bosnian women. There are also Afghans, Algerians, Chechens, and Egyptians.
A US congressional analyst said much of the Iranian training and arms smuggling in Bosnia takes place near the contingent of US peacekeeping troops. He said the Clinton administration is fully aware of Iranian activities in Bosnia and Kosovo, but has looked the other way to maintain the 1995 Dayton Accords.
"The administration wants to keep the lid on the pot at all costs," the analyst said. "And if that means that Iran benefits and operates freely in the region, so be it. Needless to say, the Europeans have been quite upset by this."
Still, intelligence sources said, the Iranians have acted cautiously. They say they first arrived in Kosovo early this year and formed a commando unit in May in the town of Donji Perkez. The unit consisted of 120 men divided into seven groups. They included Albanian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Saudi nationals. The commander was an Egyptian called Abu Ismail, who served in an Iranian Mujahadeen unit in Zenica, Bosnia.
The Iranian fighters were first kept separate from others in the KLA. In late July, the fighters from Macedonia and Saudi Arabia were ordered to withdraw into Albania. The reason was that the sponsors concluded that they were not being used properly. At the Yugoslav and Macedonian border, some of the fighters were captured and interrogated by authorities.
Yugoslav officials and regional diplomats expect to see the Bosnians continue to embrace the Iranians. They see Bosnia, as well as some officials in Croatia, as intending to change the terms of the US-sponsored Dayton Accords that establish the new borders of the former Yugoslavia and maintain an international presence in the region.
The changes being demanded by some key figures in Bosnia include transforming the federation from a multiethnic into an all-Islamic country.
"It was clear to everybody that the implementation of the Dayton and Paris accords would not go smoothly," Bulatovic, the Yugoslav defense minister, said. "Our position is that the Dayton Accords must be implemented as written. If there are renegotiations, it would jeopardize peace and stability in Bosnia."
Yugoslav officials said their crackdown in Kosovo has been successful in stabilizing the province. They said the KLA has drastically reduced its activities and most of its members have fled to Albania.
UN officials said 14,000 residents of Kosovo have crossed into northern Albania, while another 20,000 people driven out of their homes remain in the Serbian province.
The result, the officials said, is that some leaders of the ethnic Albanian community have signalled that they are ready to negotiate an end to the fighting. Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova, who last year pledged to reject any solution short of independence, has begun to talk to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. At the same time, KLA political representative Adem Demaqi has warned that a guerrilla war would soon be launched.
The officials expect that US pressure will lead to an agreement to hold elections in Kosovo, establish an autonomous government, and approve a plan to reconsider the issue of independence in another 3-5 years.
They expect the agreement to be accompanied by a lifting of all sanctions against Yugoslavia, which from 1992 has been unable to take a seat in the UN or receive credits from international institutions, such as the World Bank.
At the same time, NATO will play a large role in the area. Members of the alliance are drafting plans to rebuild Albania's 5,000-member military and maintain a large presence in the country.
But the country is regarded as so divided and corrupt that few officials expect any significant amount of money to be given Tirana. A key step is expected to be the parliamentary referendum scheduled in November to approve the country's first post-communist constitution.
Few in the region, however, expect the prospective diplomatic settlement to do better than the Dayton agreement in imposing long-term stability in the region.
Even while some of these diplomats and officials blast Belgrade's crackdown on the Kosovo separatists, they insist that any settlement not include changes in Yugoslavia's current borders or a mere short-term presence of international troops.
"In my view, international support will be long term because the economic, regional, and religious (problems) are so high," Slovenian military chief of staff Brig.-Gen. Iztok Podbregar said. "This is not only the case in Bosnia, but also in Kosovo and Macedonia."
8. Self-declared Bin Laden aide found guilty in Albania slaying
11/14/98 11:28:11 AM
TIRANA, Albania (AP) -- A self-declared aide to the Saudi millionaire accused of masterminding two U.S. embassy bombings was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The verdict and sentence for Claude Cheivh Ben Abdel Kader were handed down Friday, the Gazeta Shqiptare reported.
During the hearings, Abdel Kader claimed to be an associate of Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, though the court never established any connection.
A federal indictment has charged bin Laden and Muhammad Atef, the military commander of bin Laden's alleged terrorist organization, with conspiracy in the Aug. 7 bombings at U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Twelve Americans were among the 224 people killed.
Abdel Kader was convicted of killing an Albanian student believed to be his interpreter over an argument whose origins were never established.
During the trial, Abdel Kader said his mission in Albania was to organize fighters for the Kosovo Liberation Army in neighboring Serbia, the dominant republic of Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanian guerillas in the Serbian province of Kosovo are fighting for independence.
9. Sunday Times - London
Sunday, November 29, 1998
Bin Laden opens European terror base in Albania
Chris Stephen in Tirana
ALBANIAN authorities working with the Central Intelligence Agency claim to have uncovered a terrorist network operated by Osama Bin Laden, the Islamic fundamentalist accused of masterminding the African embassy bombings last August.
The network is said to have been set up to use Albania, a Muslim country, as a springboard for operations in Europe.
Fatos Klosi, the head of Shik, the Albanian intelligence service, said last week that Bin Laden had visited Albania himself.
His was one of several fundamentalist groups that had sent units to fight in Kosovo, the neighbouring Muslim province of Serbia, Klosi said. "Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, Algerians, Tunisians, Sudanese and Kuwaitis - they come from several different organisations."
Klosi said he believed terrorists had already infiltrated other parts of Europe from bases in Albania through a traffic in illegal migrants, who have been smuggled by speedboat across the Mediterranean to Italy in huge numbers. Interpol believes more than 100,000 blank Albanian passports were stolen in riots last year, providing ample opportunity for terrorists to acquire false papers.
Apparent confirmation of Bin Laden's activities came earlier this month when Claude Kader, 27, a French national and self-confessed member of Bin Laden's Albanian network, was jailed for the murder of a local trans lator. He claimed during his trial that he had visited Albania to recruit and arm fighters for Kosovo, and that four of his associates were still at large.
Bin Laden is believed to have established an operation in Albania in 1994 after telling the government that he was head of a wealthy Saudi humanitarian agency keen to help Europe's poorest nation. "Terrorist organisations have taken advantage of peaceful Islamic charity and religious groups," Klosi said.
Albanian sources say Sali Berisha, who was then president, had links with some groups that later proved to be extreme fundamentalists. The Socialist party, which took over after Berisha's government was driven out by country wide rioting, has since co- operated closely with American officials.
American raids on Bin Laden's men in Albania have failed to halt their operations entirely, however. The Americans have withdrawn non- essential staff from the country and fortified their embassy, fearing it may be attacked.
10. Sunday Times - London
Sunday, March 22, 1998
Iranians move in
Uzi Mahnaimi, Cairo
Iranian Revolutionary Guards have joined forces with a Saudi millionaire to support the Albanian underground movement in Kosovo.
They hope to turn the region into their main base for Islamic armed activity in Europe.
According to a senior Egyptian security source, an agreement was signed in Tehran on February 16 with the Saudi Osama Bin Laden who also has links with Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban militia.
Bin Laden, 44, described by the US State Department as "one of the most significant sponsors of Islamic extremist activities", has begun extending his operations to eastern Europe. He has supported Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, the source said. Iran is keen to strengthen its presence in the region.
Bin Laden's activities appear to have been concentrated so far mainly in the Bosnian town of Zenica. Five Egyptian members of the al-Gamaa al-Islamiya movement, which killed 58 tourists in Luxor last November, have now moved to Kosovo.
11. USA TODAY
September 22, 1998, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
Kosovo Albanian group also uses terror
In his letter to USA TODAY, Refugees International president Lionel Rosenblatt continues his efforts to muddy the waters regarding the truth in Kosovo ("Tragedy looms in Kosovo, as U.S obsesses on scandals," Monday).
Rosenblatt's use of grossly inflated figures, defining his one-sided interest regarding the toll of human misery in Kosovo, is but one element of his propaganda war.
Rosenblatt empathizes with the "local population's terror of the Serb authorities."
But he fails to discuss the pattern established by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of kidnapping and executing Serbian peasants to instill terror in the Serb population. This has been well documented.
Rosenblatt also ignores other acts of terror, such as the invasion and destruction of Serbian monasteries by the KLA. And he ignores, as well, the terrorizing and killing of the monks and nuns who inhabit these monasteries.
As has been reported, these monasteries have been sanctuaries to both Muslims and Serb peasants seeking to escape the violence. The KLA has been open about its connection with terrorist groups such as those of Osama bin Laden, who has declared a jihad, or holy war, against the United States. The KLA also has made no secret that any result less than the creation of Greater Albania, which is Muslim in character and sweeps across Kosovo, parts of Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria, is unacceptable.
Still Rosenblatt demands that Serbia remove its forces from what is its own territory and allow the KLA to fulfill its terrorist goal.
An article in the same issue of USA TODAY speaks volumes to the true intent of American foreign policy in the Kosovo issue.
After the United States poured in money, support and high-profile visits on behalf of the campaign of its hand-picked candidate for the presidency of the Serbian Republic, Biljana Plavsic, the Serbs had the temerity to elect a candidate who would represent their own interests instead of those of the United States ("Serbs reject U.S. favorite, pick hard-liner," News, Monday).
And what was the U.S. response? Threaten the Serbs if they celebrated the victory.
And we still wonder why people around the world hate the United States?
Los Angeles, Calif.
12. The Times (London)
November 26, 1998, Thursday
US alarmed as Mujahidin join Kosovo rebels
BYLINE: Tom Walker
The arrival of Islamic fighters among the KLA augurs badly for a Balkans peace, reports Tom Walker in Malisevo
MUJAHIDIN fighters have joined the Kosovo Liberation Army, dimming prospects of a peaceful solution to the conflict and fuelling fears of heightened violence next spring.
The Islamic fighters created havoc in the war in Bosnia, where they were regarded as a serious threat to Western peacekeeping troops, especially Americans. Their arrival in Kosovo may force Washington to review its policy in the Serbian province and will deepen Western dismay with the KLA and its tactics.
For the Albanians, the Mujahidin represent a public relations disaster; for President Milosevic of Serbia, they are a propaganda coup, enabling his regime to portray the struggle in Kosovo as a form of holy war in which the Serbs are Europe's bulwark against Islam.
Although there are only a few dozen bearded young Mujahidin fighters, resplendent in new KLA uniforms, they are a startling sight in the snowbound villages of central Kosovo.
On an icy track near a KLA command centre yesterday, they loomed out of the mist on a trailer pulled by a tractor churning through the snowdrifts with snow chains, before they vanished again towards bases the armed rebels are building near the strategic town of Malisevo.
"Captain Dula", the local KLA commander, was clearly embarrassed at the unexpected presence of foreign journalists and said that he had little idea who was sending the Mujahidin or where they came from; only that it was neither Kosovo nor Albania. "I've got no information about them," Captain Dula said.
"We don't talk about it."
His comments exposed the factionalism of a guerrilla army with little overall interest in religious issues. Captain Dula, the brother of the village imam, said that he had no idea whether he was a Shia or Sunni Muslim. "You'll have to ask my brother about it," he said, erupting in laughter.
American diplomats in the region, especially Robert Gelbard, the special envoy, have often expressed fears of an Islamic hardline infiltration into the Kosovo independence movement. But until now there has been little evidence of Mujahidin fighters. The Serbs have displayed a few passports and identity papers which they say they found after their offensives near the Albanian border in the summer, and members of an indigenous Kosovan Mujahidin group were arrested in mosques around the industrial town of Mitrovica. The Yugoslav Army also exhibited Korans it said it had found hidden among arms smuggled across the border.
American intelligence has raised the possibility of a link between Osama bin Laden, the Saudi expatriate blamed for the bombing in August of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and the KLA. Several of Bin Laden's supporters were arrested in Tirana, the Albanian capital, and deported this summer, and the chaotic conditions in the country have allowed Muslim extremists to settle there, often under the guise of humanitarian workers. In Kosovo, US diplomatic observers are living in villages harbouring the Mujahidin, seemingly a recipe for disaster.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe may have to rethink its deployment of US "verifiers" over the coming months. It is believed that Kosovo's Mujahidin came via Bosnia, where many settled in rural areas after the war. Several groups are also held in Zenica prison by the Bosnia, which is anxious to distance itself from accusations of radical Islamic sympathies.
"I interviewed one guy from Saudi Arabia who said that it was his eighth jihad," a Dutch journalist said.
POLISH PRESS REPORTS ON TRAINING OF MUJAHIDEEN IN BOSNIA,
Posted by ddc on December 21, 1997 at 10:46:44:
13. POLISH PRESS REPORTS ON TRAINING OF MUJAHIDEEN IN BOSNIA
Intelligence services of the Nordic-Polish SFOR Brigade suspect that a center for training terrorists from Islamic countries is located in the Bocina Donja village near Maglaj in Bosnia, Warsaw daily Rzecspospolita writes on Tuesday.
The author of the article, Marek Popowsky, who used to be in both SFOR and its predecessor IFOR in Bosnia, writes that mujahideen had first come to Bosnia in 1992, and numbered over 3,000 in the summer of 1995.
Besides mujahideen from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, there were several hundred Muslim extremists who had come from Italy, France, Germany and Britain, he notes.
Deserters from the Turkish, Malaysian and French UNPROFOR battalions also volunteered as mujahideen, Popowsky writes. In addition to dangerous military actions, the mujahideen also carried out a religious and ideological mission, enforcing abidance by the Koran and recruiting young soldiers to die for Allah, Popowsky writes.
Noting that Bosniac (Muslim) troops respected their allies but feared them at the same time as Allahs' warriors used to carry out high-risk actions and were cruel fighters, Popowsky quotes Serb officers as saying that the mujahideen never took prisoners. Wounded enemy soldiers were usually decapitated or slaughtered by mujahideen, Popowsky writes.
The Dayton Agreement committed (Bosnian Muslim leader) Alija Izetbegovic to remove all foreign fighters from Bosnia, but about one thousand mujahideen who obtained Bosnian citizenship in the meantime remain in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica and about ten villages, the daily writes.
The largest group of mujahideen is now in Bocina Donja, a formerly Serb village near Maglaj, the daily writes, adding that the Nordic-Polish intelligence service G-5 is following the activities of such unusual "settlers", as it suspects that a camp for training terrorists is located in the village following reports from Serb and Croat forces' commanders.
Noting that Islamic states had allocated to the Muslim part of Bosnia military and humanitarian aid to the value of over one billion dollars and that decisions to this effect had been taken not only by governments but also by various extremist Muslim groups and informal institutions, the daily writes that the activities of mujahideen in Bocina Donja would continue to be monitored by international special services to prevent the village from being transformed into a base for launching terrorist operations. (Tanjug, Warsaw, December 16)