“During the first official meeting which I had in 2008 in Turkey, the issue of changing historical textbooks and specific content that refers to Kosovo’s – and Albania’s – Ottoman past… was mentioned by Turkey’s minister of education,” says Hoxhaj.
“During that meeting with the Turkish Education minister, I was informed that the same request was made also to other ministers from Balkan countries.”
Hoxhaj stressed that the Turkish request to revise history and school textbooks was “generalised” and did not refer to specific books or texts.
Despite numerous written and telephone requests lodged during the past month asking for a response to Hoxhaj’s claims, both Hüseyin Çelik and the current Turkish education minister have so far declined to comment.
Hoxhaj, however, does not entirely reject the possibility of revising Kosovan historical texts: “I have no personal opinion on issues that are for professionals [historians]. Textbooks should reflect a social consensus on events related to citizens of the Republic of Kosovo.”
Albania and present day Kosovo – along with large swathes of the Balkans – came under direct Ottoman rule for five centuries until the fall of the empire in Europe in 1912. The subject of Ottoman rule remains a highly charged issue in the region.
The treatment of Albanians during that era is the subject of fierce debate, with many holding the Ottomans responsible for not only arresting the region’s development but also for perpetrating numerous brutal crackdowns and bloodbaths.
About 90 per cent of Kosovo’s population today are ethnic Albanians. According to history books used in secondary schools across the territory, the Ottomans crushed all pro-independence political groups after ethnic-Albanians began an insurgency against their occupiers in the late 1800s.
Most famously, the pro-independence Albanian political group – the League of Prizren – was disbanded by force in 1881.
Kosovan textbooks state that thousands of “patriots” and ethnic Albanian teachers were arrested, deported or jailed. Schoolchildren in Kosovo learn that the Ottoman’s [sic] closed their schools to halt the spread of books and newspapers, which served to strengthen the resistance groups.
Hakif Bajrami, history professor at the University of Pristina, says Kosovan history books correctly present the Ottomans as an often brutal occupying force in what is now Albania and Kosovo.
Bajrami argues vehemently against revising history books to present a more favourable image of the past to meet current political ends.
“The current government of Turkey is a friend of Kosovo, the Turkish people today are friends of Albanians. This friendship should continue in the future but such an initiative by Turkey about changing history textbooks shouldn’t pass [be allowed],” he said.
However, while many historians agree with Bajrami, others believe Albanian textbooks present a biased view of history and are the product of intense state-building and nationalist fervour that followed the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Ah, Albanian nationalism caused the portrayal of the Ottomans in Albania to be more negative than it really was (for Albanians), screwing up current Albanian relations with the Ottomans whose patronage they need again. Never mind that the same nationalism is now standard for all Albanians — but it’s OK because presently it’s not the Ottomans whose image is being sacrificed at the altar of Albanian nationalism.
Ilir Deda, executive director in the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED), disputes Bajrami’s view of the Ottomans as aggressive invaders, pointing out that most Albanians were “100 per cent faithful” to the empire.
“Turkey wants Kosovo to correct its historical accounts so they are based on facts, not on nationalist, romantic myths,” he says. “Turkey’s argument that [Ottoman era] history should be re-written is much stronger given our historical accounts have been written in the last 100 years.”
Bottom line: The supposed historical Albanian ‘opposition’ to the Ottoman Empire is — as we knew — a myth, according to one of the two competing schools of thought. But let me shore up the divide between the two seemingly opposing camps, by summarizing what happened. Indeed, there’s really no contradiction here:
Albanians converted to Islam, and used the privileged position to infiltrate all the Christian lands of the Balkans and abuse the Slavs, then decided to take it a step beyond where Ottoman patronage was willing to go for Albanians — forming their own country. When the Ottomans rejected their plans, then the Albanians got upset over Ottoman rule — some perhaps even engaging in mild agitation — which is how we get: “We rebelled against the Ottomans!”
What happened to the Ottomans’ welcome mat in Greater Albania is what happens to every empire when it draws the line on how much it’s willing to deliver on the Ablanian agenda. (Current empires, take note.)
Aggressive invader or friendly administration? The portrayal of the Ottoman Empire in Albania’s history books remains the subject of fierce debate for Albanians and Turks alike.
Gjergj Erebara Tirana, Albania
When Dorina Zhupa decided to take advantage of free Turkish language classes in the Albanian capital Tirana, she found herself on the receiving end of a history lesson she had not bargain[ed] for at all.
While the 27-year-old expected to spend the lesson practising her Turkish, she was surprised to discover that Albania had never been a subject state of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were not so much invader as friendly administrator, the professor declared.
“We were discussing Albanian history in the class and, at some point I said that Albania was freed from Turkish occupation in 1912. However, Professor Derjaj corrected me immediately by saying that, indeed, the Ottoman Empire administered Albania and had not occupied it,” says Zhupa.
And the professor in charge of the course, which was taught last year and was funded by the Turkish government, stands by his statement.
Adriatik Derjaj, professor of modern Turkish and Ottoman-era languages at the University of Tirana, says: “The Ottoman Empire was a conglomerate of nations with equal opportunities…”
That is, if you converted to Islam. Here one is reminded of a sentence by Daniel Greenfield:
[T]he choice [is] between being a Dhimmi or a Muslim. To be one of the oppressed or the oppressors…And those who voluntarily converted to Islam chose to be the oppressors, the killers and the slave-masters. That is what Islam really is, the historical legacy of a billion people who chose to brutalize others, rather than to be brutalized. To enslave others, rather than to be slaves. It is the poisonous dregs of the human soul, the choice that destroys your morality and humanity in the making of it. That is what being a Muslim really means.
Back to the main article:
“There were 36 viziers who ruled the empire and were of Albanian blood [nationality].
“I think that living together with the Ottomans was welcomed by Albanians. If we analyse the language and customs of Albanians today, we can see that Albanians and Turks lived together and Turks were welcomed.”
The Ottoman Grand Viziers acted as de facto prime ministers and effectively [ran] the empire. They came second only to the Sultan himself.
However, like most Albanians, Zhupa learned little about these Albanian-born viziers. Instead, she was taught that the Ottomans invaded Albania and occupied the country by force for five centuries until the 1912-1913 Balkans War.
So generations of Albanians were tricked by other Albanians into thinking that Albanians stood up to the Ottomans rather than welcomed them and willingly adopted their nightmarish religion. Maybe in another hundred years Albanians will figure out that they were oppressing Slavs and not the other way around, as they flocked to Slavic lands quite willingly and aggressively.
As was the case with other nations in the Balkans, not only is the Ottoman presence in Albania seen as an invasion, it is widely regarded as a national tragedy. The Ottomans are still blamed for arresting Albania’s development to such an extent that Albanians still suffer the consequences today. To be told the Ottomans were friendly administrators came as something of a shock to Zhupa.
While Derjaj’s views may be controversial for Albanians, he is certainly not alone in questioning whether Ottoman rule in Albania was an occupation by force. Many historians now believe that, in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, Albania’s new leaders and nation-builders set about deliberately constructing a new, unifying western identity that cast the Ottoman past as a tragic accident.
Ah, there it is. The signature Albanian pragmatism and opportunism that I’ve come to know and stand in negative awe of. The main non-contradiction between the two competing school of thought here. Whatever is more expedient for Albanian goals, history and reality will be adjusted accordingly. Notice that not accidentally, today’s Albanian “reevaluation” of the Ottomans comes at a time when being Ottoman-friendly is politically helpful to Albanians. So the current correcting of history also serves current Albanian ambitions.
Similarly the official histories of other Balkan states, notably Bulgaria and Serbia, describe their past in terms of a centuries-long fight to liberate themselves from their Ottoman yoke. However, while such predominantly Christian countries could portray their history in such terms with relative ease, the issue among Muslim-majority Albanians was more complex.
No shit! What this is trying to say is that unlike Albanians, Slavs actually fought back. (Except the ones known today as “Bosniaks.” As we know, those are conquered Slavs, and proud of it.)
The idea of a national, Albanian identity was a novel one, given that Albanian Muslims were still regarded as ‘Turks’, and their Christian counterparts as ‘Greeks’, until the 20th century.
In an attempt to unify and strengthen the newly-independent Albania, the political elites downplayed religious differences, choosing instead to focus on cutting links with the Ottoman past.
Turkish words were purged from the Albanian language and those Albanian-born grand viziers who ruled the Ottoman Empire are not even mentioned in the country’s official historical records.
… This new, post-Ottoman and purposely western identity was forged at the expense of historical accuracy, argue some historians, as these new leaders – some of whom were former Ottoman Empire officials - sought to falsely emphasise Albanian resistance against their Ottoman oppressors.
“Creating a western identity was a matter of survival for Albanian elites in the late 19 century,” explains Tirana-based sociologist Enis Sulstarova.
“The kind of history that portrays Turks simply as enemies of Albanians begun in the late 19th century as part of the Albanian nation-building process known as the ‘national revival’… this practice of nationalistic history-telling continued under communism and continues today.
Indeed, the Albanians scurried to create a communistic identity when that was politically expedient, and then they scurried to de-communize when the winds shifted again. Which is how we have two hard-core communists — Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha (dictator Hoxha’s doctor), and Kosovo “prime minister” Hashim Thaci (co-founder of an Albanian Leninist party while in Switzerland) — remade as ardent “Western-facing” “capitalists” (in the Mafioso sense of the word, of course.)
“Today, the legacy of Ottoman Empire is considered in Albania as responsible for almost every economic, cultural or political issue that the country encounters. This is a banal historicism where many people find it easier to blame today’s problems on the Turks. Some say that if we were not invaded by the Ottomans (referred to simply as Turks in Albania), we would be a developed western nation today.”
The other hallmark of Albanianism: having someone to blame.
Historians generally agree that Albanian historical records were influenced by nationalistic propaganda during the ‘national revival’ of the 19th century and the communist regime during the second half of 20th century.
Ah, so Albanian “truth” — which dominates today’s official Western truth — is highly mutable “nationalist propaganda.” Except, of course, when Serbs are its victims.
Ferid Duka, a historian and Ottoman era specialist at the European University of Tirana, says: “Albanian history under communism portrayed the Ottoman period in an extremely negative way by unreasonably emphasising… underdevelopment, subjugation and the violence used by the Ottomans and by defining that period simply by the popular uprising against the Ottoman rule.
“This point of view also dominated the historiography of other countries in the Balkans, but to a lesser extent. The main reason for this kind of history was simply that the official ideology of the communism dictated that any reality created by foreign rule must always be considered as dark and hated.”
In September this year, the group produced four new books to be used by history teachers across the Balkans.
“The new workbooks… do not offer a new, single ‘truth’ about past controversies, but provide a variety of information and sources through comments, documents, letters and pictures,” says historian Dubravka Stojanovic, the editor of the Serbian history books.
Despite historical disagreements between Ankara and Tirana over the Ottoman past, Turkey is now seen as a friendly nation. Frequently referred to as a ‘brother nation’, Ankara is the chosen ally when it comes to Turk-Greek influence in Albania.
(Like we didn’t know that both Albanians and Turks hate Greeks.)
Economic benefits have also helped to override historical mistrust [no shit!], and Turkey is now one of the biggest investors in Albania with strategic holdings in telecommunications and finance industries, public engineering contracts and higher education.
In addition, today’s Turks are looking to their Ottoman past with a renewed sense of pride [no shit!]. Once shamed of the collapse of the empire and its reputation for decadence, the Ottomans have enjoyed a sort of rehabilitation to Turkish society.
The current government is now keen to encourage other countries to portray what it would regard as a more balanced view of the Ottoman past in other countries too. To that end, the government in Ankara has set about countering the widespread, negative view of the Ottoman Empire among Albanians by financing scholarships to study Ottoman history and publishing new books in Albania.
Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Turkish foreign minister, has purposefully sought to put the Ottoman Empire of the 16th and 17th centuries – the empire’s ‘golden age’ which is also referred to as “Pax Ottomana” by some historians – into context.
During an official visit to Tirana in October 2009, Davutoğlu purposely declared that Balkan countries and Turkey share a “common history, destiny and future”, while also claiming “until the 16th century, cities in the Balkans were wealthier than those of Western Europe”.
While Davutoğlu statements about the Ottoman past were controversial in themselves, there was intense speculation by the Albanian media that Davutoğlu had officially requested that Tirana revise the negative portrayal of the Ottoman Empire in its textbooks. Albanian government officials have refused to confirm or deny that any such requests have been lodged.
Historian Ferid Duka recalls that the first Turkish ambassador to Kosovo, appointed shortly after Pristina declared independence in 2008, also called for historical accounts in that country to be revised. Almost 90 per cent of Kosovo’s population of 2m are ethnic Albanians. […]
The above article came with an extract from a 2002 Albanian textbook titled The History of the Albanian People. I’ll cite just two paragraphs of the extract:
Albania was ruled by a medieval and despotic invader, with the ugliest features of economic and political violence, like heavy taxation, political discrimination that led to the denial of identity of the Albanian nation, the barring of teaching in the native tongue in schools, the absence of most elementary human rights, and even the massacring of the Albanian population through punitive expeditions.
So let’s get this straight. The charges described here, which were later inaccurately ascribed to supposed oppression by Serbs, included “the barring of teaching in the native tongue.” As we know, at the very least Serbia allowed Albanians to have their own schools — indeed they allowed an entire parallel education, court and medical system (from which non-Albanians were banned). So assuming that the paragraph is accurate as regards the Ottomans, what we have is a situation where Albanians are being best buddies with people who did worse to them than the Serbs supposedly did. And that has something to do with a common Islamic identity and supremacy.
The diffusion of national culture and education would help in the emancipation of the Albanian nation from fanaticism, backwardness, intolerance and religious divisions, which had been planted by the Ottoman rulers.
Iranian President’s Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashayee underlined Tehran’s determination to boost mutual cooperation between Iran and Albania in different fields. “The Islamic Republic of Iran considers no limits in expansion of relations with Albania under the current conditions, and the Iranian government is ready for cooperation particularly in oil, infrastructures, modern technologies, and entire other possible economic fields with Albania,” Mashayee said, addressing a gathering at the Tirana International Relations Institute. He stressed that friendly ties between Iranian and Albanian nations must be strengthened reports Fars News Agency.
As reader George put it: “Great!! Now the KLA can get into nuclear weapons smuggling!!!”
I was reminded today what the other show was that my friends had told me about (see below) when mentioning that triple whammy anti-Serb week in December: Hawaii Five-O. In the episode, a Serbian criminal gang takes a Five-O team member hostage. I guess Anti-Serb Week was a “Merry Christmas” message from Meccawood, CA. And about “The Closer,” mentioned below, they told me: “Just saw it. A two-parter. Serbs killing, hunting innocents, shooting and burning. In US “the Albanians” are being killed. This was the Christmas show. Serbs look worse and worse as the show goes on. Of course the noble son turns out to be a Serbian rapist/murderer.”
Sixteen-year-old Melinda Ademi from Kosovo wowed judges and viewers on the premiere of “American Idol.” Not surprisingly, her war refugee background story was highlighted; however, the timing couldn’t be more conspicuous. While a war story is compelling on its own merit, one wonders whether the purpose of the talented girl — at least for some powers higher than a 16-year-old — could have been to counteract the still-not-dead news about the organ-harvesting racket by Albanians. News that sheds a dark light on America’s BFF, Greater Kosovo.
Ms. Ademi didn’t just go on TV and say that 1999 Kosovo was a big mess and war sucks. No, Ms. Ademi had to demonize the Serbs in the only way that an indoctrinated four-year-old (her age during the war) could, and reinforce the four-year-old’s understanding that most Americans already have of that conflict: “When Yugoslavia broke up, Serbia wanted to get rid of all the other cultures, so they forced them out of their homes.”
And that’s the whole story.
Would it be OK for a Palestinian to tell “American Idol” viewers that the Jews are trying to get rid of all the Arabs in the Middle East? Of course not, and there would be some righteous outrage if something like that were said. The host hearing such a thing might even play devil’s advocate, at the very least.
But not in this case. Such treatment is OK for Serbs, isn’t it. No one questions the story, ever. There is only credulous and sympathetic nodding in response. Because there is only one audible side to the Kosovo conflict, and therefore no competing position or argument.
Literally just a day before that episode, I was musing on what Joe DioGuardi might be up to in the wake of the organ scandal, since we haven’t seen or heard from him between his fantastic NY Senate defeat after beingexposed — though the two aren’t necessarily related — and the organs scandal outing his Kosovo as bestial. Seeing “American Idol” the next day, I was reminded that his daughter had been a judge on the show (my favorite judge, in all honesty). Between that connection and the fact of a Kosovo girl being prominently featured, plus the conspicuous timing, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which a friend of the DioGuardis mentions that the daughter of a friend is going to audition, and Joe DioGuardi sees an opportunity to “remind” the American public who “the real criminals” are in the Kosovo saga. The KLA-connected dad then puts a call in to daughter Kara, who retains a connection to the show, so as to ensure that the kid gets profiled and has a chance to say something negative about Serbs. Leaving the “American Idol” public — assuming any of it even heard about the murder-for-organs racket in the first place — with the impression that “Oh, so Serbs deserve to lose their organs anyway.” (Similar to the attitude that was prevalent throughout the bombing, and throughout the Serb-hunting “peace” in post-war Kosovo, and throughout the doling out of victor’s justice as Serbs get the book thrown at them with or without evidence to sustain the case against them.)
Of course, there’s no reason to impugn the very likable Kara DioGuardi as having had any role in this, because — again — it could have happened entirely on its own, as so many things Balkans-related seem to do rather seamlessly — almost cosmically — in service to the lie. But I do have to repeat that it’s also rather conspicuous that one never just hears an Albanian refugee story without it including derision of the Serbs, always being accused of some over-the-top crime, with the good guys and bad guys being delineated in very clear, simple, cartoonish, black and white terms.
In addition, listening to the tearful Ademi mother talking about how they could hear the bombs, the audience is meant to infer that Serbs have made this woman cry, and that these were Serbian bombs. As opposed to the NATO bombs that they were and that Albanians and Serbs both ran or sheltered from.
Regardless, Melinda can sing very well. Already pissed off as she did so — because of her slander — I thought to myself, “She’s got a nice set of lungs. I wonder if they belonged to someone else originally.”
Indeed, without the slightest touch of irony, one blog titled an entry “American Idol Recap: Kosovo Girl Steals Our Hearts.” I thought it might be the beginning of a joke — like “Kosovo Girl Steals Our Hearts, Father Takes Our Kidneys” — so I read on. But no. That was it. No pun humor on that one. What a country!
Melinda’s father explained that he won the green card lottery, which was how the family made it to America. So not only do Albanians get a second country, they get to leave it and come here after screwing it up. It’s good to be Albanian.
The preceding is just the most prominent example of Serb-hunting season on TV. Last month, a friend related that three of her and her husband’s favorite shows — all in the space of a week or two — had as villains “Serbs.” Serbs as terrorists, mobsters, rapists, and drug dealers — essentially every sphere that in real life is dominated by Albanians. She couldn’t recall what the shows were, except that one was a “CSI.” However, I got the following email from an acquaintance, which makes it pretty clear that one of the other two shows was probably “The Closer”:
Greetings again. My wife loves the show ‘The Closer’ with Kyra Sedgewick. I was just in the room reading the paper while she was watching it, and the episode was about ‘kosova’ and featured a lot of revisionist history BS (Serb butchers, Serb rapists, etc). You could probably find the show online…The show portrayed the Serbs as nazis, tormenting the poor Albanians…
I’m not sure if it’s a new episode, or saved onto the dvr. It was quite repugnant. I tried to teach my wife the truth, but like most American ignoramuses, she doesn’t care, she just wants to be entertained. I love my wife, but I’m aware of the degree to which almost no one *wants* to know the truth about anything. You represent the extreme truth tellers in a country (a world?) where most just want to suck on their NFL/NBA/E-news pacifiers and stay incubated from what goes on in the world. […]
So obvious that it’s almost not worth saying is the following: On a subconscious level, the TV people understand — and act on — what the UN, EULEX, Hague tribunal and other law enforcement and judicial bodies know all too well (and which explains why, despite Kosovo’s very high homicide rate, Albanian perps rarely do any prison time): It’s far less dangerous to go after Serbs.
Maligning Serbs has kept us “safe” for two decades. (Has there ever been a more multi-purpose people?) But it has created a long-term danger, which we’ve merely put off with our imperative to avoid immediate threats from those in need of prosecution, hailing from a society in need of accurate, unflattering depictions in film and media.
Now that the impunity of these politically protected, prosecution-immune players in our Kosovo misadventures has been brought to broader light, things will no longer be able to proceed as they have been, with one cover-up after another. As a writer named Anna Filimonova summarized it last month for the Strategic Culture Foundation:
…Visiting Moscow on December 21, [Council of Europe investigator Dick] Marty spoke about the lack of protection provided to international justice officers and witnesses [in Kosovo]…Marty said potential witnesses cannot present their testimonies because nobody is able to guarantee their safety.
There is information that, concerned over its own safety, the EULEX top brass considers leaving the heavily criminalized Pristina…News resurfaced last December  that some 400 DNA samples taken from crime victims in Kosovo in 1999 by the German police on the Hague Tribunal’s request were destroyed.
In 2001, Serbia submitted to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia a 40,000-page report with evidence implicating Kosovo’s Thaci-Ceku-Haradinaj permanent triumvirate. The total number of pages in Serbia’s materials on crimes against Serbs supplied to the Tribunal almost reached 200,000.
Serbia’s prosecutor for war crimes V. Vukevic investigated the genocide charges against former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders Thaci, Ceku, and Haradinaj in 2001, and Serbia’s then-minister of justice V. Batic provided the resulting evidence to the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo Harri Holkeri…The materials described over 7,000 proven cases of terrorist attacks which led to over 12,000 deaths, 1,350 injuries, almost 1,000 kidnappings, 340,000 expulsions of non-Albanians, the burning of 107,000 residences, and the killing of 70 children. Some of the victims were ritually beheaded and detention camps to hold Serbs were set up. The “international community” promptly intervened and had the investigation suspended.
The “international community” found no way to protect the lives and the rights of Serbs, other non-Albanians, and even, in some cases, Albanians in Kosovo.
Will the storm triggered by Marty’s report translate into a serious judicial investigation and lead to the punishing of Albanian war criminals - thus changing things not only in the Balkan region but also in Europe - or will the storm subside under Washington’s pressure? The inability of EU authorities to stand up for justice promises the EU an ugly future painted in the bloody colors of the Albanian flag.
And from a related item by WikiLeaks contributor Tom Burghardt:
…After publication [of Carla Del Ponte’s memoir in 2008], Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation’s ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor’s “justice” to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.
Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war “simply vanished without a trace” into a secret prison “in the Albanian border town of Kukes.”
In the intervening years NATO’s “blind eye” has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.
Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE [Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe] report states that “the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation.”
“The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania” during that initial inquiry investigators wrote, “have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses…Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America’s imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals — the losers in the decade-long conflagration — it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.
“What we have uncovered” Marty informs us, “is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors’ respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of ‘political expediency’. But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public?” […]
Wrapping up the description of the vicious cycle is Greek security analyst Ioannis Michaletos:
In Kosovo, the main managers of illicit drugs are the so-called “15 families,” which represent the core power of the region, because of their financial clout and political connections.
In a 67-page report published in 2005, BND (German intelligence agency) analysts concluded that there is “close interaction between the leading members of the Kosovo-Albanian society and the domestic and international underworld currently domiciled in Pristina.” Moreover, “the criminal networks don’t support the creation of a stable political and economic environment, since that will reduce their clout.”
What is more interesting is the attest by BND of the “direct involvement of political figures in Kosovo with the Mafia.” Thus, the crime kingpins “want to acquire elevated positions within the apparatus of the provisional government and influence directly the politicians.”
An E.U. report in 2007 underlined the “inability of local officials to put pressure on criminal organizations and the serious risk of collapse of the social system because of the crime issue.” The main reason is “the lack of political will by the leadership,” which paradoxically is supported by most major European countries.
…The Italian newspaper La Republica reported on the Kosovo criminals of their ability to fully exploit the lack of “political culture” in the region and affect every key decision over and above the international force, which does not control the situation. The current leadership under Hashim Thaci is to emerge from the unholy alliance of traffickers in the region and the UCK. Michel Koutouzis, an expert analyst on security issues in Paris has long confirmed that the Pristina government has always been “subject to the power of the Mafiosi who were the largest donors of the KLA rebels and want to keep the region in their own sphere of influence.”
Reliable and highly informed sources at the Institute for European Policy based in Germany, in a 2007 report commissioned for the German Armed Forces, indicated that the three leading Kosovo politicians, Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Thaci and Xhavit Haliti, are “persons protected by the international community although they are deeply involved in all of these affairs.”
It is important to mention at this point that the German report states that the U.N. contacts with Albanian politicians were part of the overall problem for the region. The infamous Wikileaks website has leaked dozens of U.N. reports dealing with high-level corruption in Kosovo that involves international employees from 1999 up to the present.
Local sources, including U.S. military personnel, indicate that at least 90 percent of the local economy derives from criminal networks — excluding Diaspora remittances and international assistance — and the society is unable to adapt into the conditions of a free and legal market because of the dramatic social consequences that would entail.
The Kosovo experience has been a great disappointment for the international community. Kosovo in reality struggles against the influence of the organized crime networks. Despite numerous acts of violence and a very high homicide rate, very few convictions have been handed out to culprits, and none to notable members of the organized crime either.
Finally, who can forget this quote from former NY Times reporter Chuck Sudetic, explaining it all:
One former diplomat told me he had heard about it [KLA organ trafficking], but that there were difficulties in proving that the crime took place. He advised me not to get on the wrong side of the Albanian mafia. People are afraid of organized crime.
A sign of hope — as well as a sign of a bumpy road ahead if we start to do the right thing — was this short B92 report: “Marty’s report test for CoE” (Tanjug, Jan. 23)
VIENNA — Council of Europe (CoE) Rapporteur Dick Marty’s report is a test for the CoE, Austrian MEP in the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (PACE) Martin Graf said.
“The report cannot be ignored and action has to be taken,” he told Tanjug, adding that he was a member of the CE committee that decided to put the report up for vote in PACE, which will happen January 25.
“The vote will be a test for the CE, which is going to prove whether the organization is willing to follow its own principles,” he noted.
“If you allow crime outside your door and do not investigate, then why have the CE in the first place,” Graf argued.
“The international community and the EU have been leading a one-sided policy in the Balkans,” he remarked.
“It was a pro-Kosovo, pro-Albanian, pro-Croatian and pro-Slovenian policy, meaning that it was pointed against Serbia,” he added. “That is obvious now, and the report is a mirror for those who ran that biased policy, so they are uncomfortable with facing it,” Graf stressed.
That is perhaps one of the most un-minced statements about the Balkans to ever come from a Western bureaucrat (though one wonders why he left out “pro-Bosniak”). It also underscores why it’s so important, on the rare occasion that the Europeans have deigned to consider the Serbian side at all, for the Albanian side to scream “Appeasement of Belgrade!” That ploy has helped keep the internationals from veering off the Albanian agenda by even an inch.
A caption under a picture actually read: “The United States and Kosovo have the same goal: inclusive democracy.”
(Is that why you spontaneously meet your maker if you start speaking a Slavictongue at a Pristina cafe?)
Ah, yet another journalist strives to fit the cliche described in 2008 by Robert Hayden in UPI: “…U.S. journalists who honor the First Amendment by parroting the State Department.”
So, here we have yet another non-follower of the Balkans ‘venturing’ all the allowable opinions on Kosovo. Forward march, Foot Soldier!
Here’s what he wrote, interspersed with my comments:
International conservatives have long targeted so-called “Islamization.”
For Leftists Islamization isn’t real until they — personally — are Muslim at gunpoint. Belonsky to his imam in 2020: “I just don’t see it.”
While their previous efforts focused on the Middle East, they’re now moving their attention to the Balkans, particularly the contested nation of Kosovo.
No, YOU are now paying attention to the Balkans. Some of us have been doing it for quite a while — and actually tried to prevent the predictable Islamization outcome of our intervention before it was too late (rather than whining about it afterward like so many of the bipartisan proponents of the 1999 bombing are doing now).
And is the Balkans not a worthy region for attention, given that it has been the West’s historic bulwark against invading armies from the East? But then, we’re speaking to an American, so there are no regions that are relevant to the cloud upon which America is situated. Compared to the rest of the world, we are a country without memory, so what could words like “Gates of Vienna” or “Ottoman Empire” or “caliphate” mean to a young, hip writer in New York?
With the new year upon us, the European Union has relaxed visa regulations for a number of its member nations, including Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Kosovo, whose US-backed independence has yet to be recognized by nations like Russia, China and Venezuela, will most likely join that group in the near future.
And nations like Israel, Cyprus, Spain, India, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Georgia, South Africa, Philippines, Mexico and 105 others. (But notice the three countries he selectively selects as examples.)
While certainly a welcome step for millions of Europeans looking for unhindered travel on the continent, conservatives are decrying the relaxed visa policies as a portal for hypothetical “radicals.”
That’s right — radicals don’t exist! Because unlike a lot of other people, Belonsky still has the luxury of not having been killed by one yet. Radicals are “hypothetical” until this specific hipster is missing his head. (Literally, not figuratively like he is now.)
As the new rules go into place, asserts the site Gates of Vienna, “About seven million new Muslims will be able to walk across the borders of the EU and disappear into the no-go zones along with the millions of legal and illegal immigrants who are already there.”
They go on, “Let’s say that a only tiny minority of 1% of those new migrants have jihad on their minds. That’s 3,500 new mujahideen, safely ensconced in the heart of Europe and drawing on state benefits to finance their jihad.”
The Astute Bloggers, the site that helped fuel the white supremacist ‘Thor’ boycott, has also targeted the Balkans, including Kosovo, which they describe as part of a “Muslim invasion of the EU.” I hate to break the news to these people, but Muslims have lived in Europe for decades, and these visa rules do not feed into an “invasion.”
Kosovo’s rapidly becoming target number one in this fabricated war on the Balkans…As part of their attempts to smear the region, conservatives are taking aim at Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who investigators say was leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s organ trafficking ring during the war against the Serbs.
While surely Thaci, if guilty, should be punished, past atrocities should not be held over the heads of Kosovo’s population as a whole. It would be like calling all Germans “Nazis,” something social satirists and comedians sometimes still do.
Actually, every last Albanian (who’s still breathing, anyway) cheers the KLA as heroes. And Thaci represents how the KLA operated (and still operates). No pun intended. Distinctions (though few and far between) arise after-the-victory-fact. That is, some ex-KLA fighters have had, of late, a bout of conscience, and have gotten it into their heads to come clean about the kinds of things the KLA did. Like this soon-to-be-dead guy. (Indeed, if the Council of Europe’s Dick Marty follows the advice — god forbid — of writer Chuck Sudetic and shares with Washington the identities of the sources who helped with the report, the sources will have run out of time on this earth. It won’t be the first time the U.S. hands over dossiers from investigations so that the KLA/ex-KLA can kill whatever informants may get in the way of our proteges.)
It’s no secret Kosovo struggles under economic and ethnic strains: unemployment hovers around 45% and race-based clashes are still quite common. To use this nation, however, as a proxy for an anti-Islam war is nothing short of irresponsible, and anti-democratic.
“We have achieved a victory for a safer world, for our democratic values, and for a stronger America,” said President Bill Clinton in 1999, after the successful NATO-led strike against Serbian forces who had for decades enacted ethnic cleansing against Kosovo’s Albanians.
But that’s a nice added touch to pull out of one’s ass: Not only did the Serbs cleanse Albanians out of Kosovo in 1999, but they’d been doing it for, uh, for uh — DECADES! — yeah, that’s it! (Is that how Kosovo went from being 40% Albanian to 90% Albanian, and from 60% Serb to 5% Serb?)
Even the 1999-ethnic-cleansing thing turned out to be bogus, Fetus. That’s war propaganda you bought into, little buddy. And yes, Democratic administrations are just as capable of it. The day is so full of hard lessons, isn’t it? Nap time.
Wakey, wakey! We’ve got to get back to cleaning up the rest of your potty:
Vice-President Joe Biden made similar remarks during his visit to the nation last year, telling an enthusiastic crowd, “Kosovo’s independence was and remains today in my view, in the view of my government, the only viable option for stability in the region.” Biden concluded, “And your independence — as I’ve said in the countries I have visited — your independence, is irreversible, absolutely irreversible.”
The pup hasn’t yet learned how to crack Balkan code-speak. Here is a guide.
Even Republican President George W. Bush celebrated Kosovo’s right to democratic life. “Independence is the goal. That’s what the people of Kosovo need to know,” the former President said in 2007. “Sooner rather than later you’ve got to say enough’s enough: Kosovo’s independent.”
(See above-linked “guide” to understand why there’s no left-right divide on the Kosovo issue.)
Some on the right will insist that Muslims in Kosovo are launching their own holy war. The website Twilight of the American Empire claims Kosovo’s Muslim population has threatened Protestants and other Christians, and the writers conclude these people are enacting a “clash of civilizations.” You’ll no doubt hear similar arguments in the months ahead. They are, however, misleading.
While ethnic conflicts still exist in Kosovo, especially in the North, they are not characteristic of the nation as a whole. These incidents [are] an example of the trials and tribulations of democratic progress, something even our nation hasn’t accomplished: see, for example, Rep. Peter King’s attacks on “Muslim radicalization” or unrelated Rep. Steve King’s remarks about “reparations” for black farmers.
“Characteristic” is exactly what it is. Does Baby need Mommy to read him a bedtimestorycalled “HidingGenocide in Kosovo“? If you ask nicely, Mommy can send you a pdf. And that’s all of course without mentioning the “growing pain” of “progress” embodied in a province-wide pogrom in March 2004 by mobs of Albanians numbering over 50,000. (Did you miss the demonic zeal of the cross-removal from the 35 churches destroyed over those four days? To cheers by the onlookers? Or were you not born yet?) Of course, Belonsky’s non-sensical supposed examples of America’s lack of democratic progress negate his case anyway. (Is he actually comparing perpetual assaults on non-Muslims/non-Albanians in Kosovo to a congressman warning that 80% of American mosques have been radicalized? Is this what things sound like on the other side of the looking glass?)
Like the Albanian prosecutor accompanying Sudetic and Del Ponte on their futile 2003 fact-finding mission about the murder-for-organs scheme: But they’re Serbs — they deserved it!
And then, of course, there’s the staggering amount of hate crimes reported from coast to coast: nearly half of the estimated 8,336 hate crimes of 2009 were motivated by race, while about 20% were based on religious intolerance.
Not that Belonsky got the ethnic crime statistics for Kosovo, which at a population of two-million-something as compared to ours of 300-million-something has a far more intractable hate-crime problem. Of course, one can’t get those stats, since ethnic crimes in Kosovo are not reported as such, and are permanently “being investigated,” as the famous Kosovo phrase goes — and investigated as “isolated incidents,” as the other famous Kosovo phrase goes. All to keep people like Belonsky fooled, and keep Kosovo on the Euro-Atlantic fast-track.
If we’re going by these anti-Kosovo conservatives’ standards, then our nation could be viewed as a bastion for white, Christian power. But it’s not. It’s a proverbial melting pot.
Ohhhhhhhhhh! He just got out of college. I needed to get to the last two buzz words to realize it: “white” and “Christian.” He just got off the conveyor belt, folks. Well then, I’m kind of sorry I bothered. They’re sort of a dime a dozen.
Kosovo’s not as diverse as our nation, but it is part of Europe, and its relationship with the rest of that continent should not be seen as a threat. It should be welcome with open arms, a test for American commitment to sustainable, inclusive democracy.
In the interest of full disclosure, and to prove my point, my last boyfriend hails from Kosovo. He’s also Muslim. And, you know what, he worked as a translator for the U.S. Army during the post-war period. As I told him on the 7th anniversary of his American arrival last year, he embodies the American dream, even if he’s not this nation’s native son. He overcame persecution and violence, came to America and is building a prosperous life for himself.
How generous! He translated for the U.S. Army in a war it was waging on Albanian Muslims’ behalf. How about that! How very selfless of the boy’s boyfriend. And I’m sure that a nice Jewish boy’s Muslim boyfriend wouldn’t have been anything like the translators for the U.S. Army who would tip off the KLA every time NATO troops got close to the locations where it was holding Serbs, Albanians, Bulgarians, Russians and others to be cut up for organs. Nor would he be like any of the other translators who infiltrated NATO for the KLA, tipping off the latter about any impending patrols or weapons-searches. I’m just going to think the best of this particular Albanian, because a) he’s gay (NOT a good thing in Kosovo) and b) he apparently likes Kosher as much as halal, if not more. So this paragraph was really just to say that his having translated for the U.S. military in a land-grab war that his people conned us into — doesn’t mean jack, Jack.
Of course, the funniest thing about the writer’s proud revelation of his Albanian boyfriend: And Albanians accuse me of having a Serbian boyfriend or husband — or mother! Notice how his having a Muslim-Albanian boyfriend is supposed to speak well of said Muslim-Albanian. Whereas if I did have a Serbian boyfriend or relation, it would taint the both of us!
Kosovo and its Balkan neighbors are not our enemies. They are part of the European continent and deserve support in their struggles for democracy, rather than being demonized as a failure of our own creation. To ostracize the region and its people as being “Islamic terrorists” will not only alienate our allies in the Balkans, but in Europe as a whole.
The boy just needs to live a little longer. But for now, he’s accomplished inoffensiveness. Which is the whole point of college.
But take it from Mommy: There’s a whole big world of information out there that preceded your tuning into the Balkans. You may want to check it out before embarrassing yourself again. Then again, maybe you should just stick to writing about music, movies and gay issues.
I’ve been meaning to check in on Angelina Jolie and how this friend of Bosnian-Muslims is doing with her pro-Bosnian-Muslim film project. So I’m a little late with the update below.
One thing that passed without notice is the fact that, to her great credit, among the refugees that Jolie visited with were in fact Serbian refugees of the Bosnian war — the ones you just don’t hear about. I suspected that she had met with some Serbs in my original post on her April 2010 visit to Bosnia, based on this report which carefully does not identify them as such, since the words “Serb” and “refugee” must stay divorced. But this update confirms that Jolie had in fact met with 15 Serbian refugees: Bosnian Refugees Get Donation After Jolie’s Visit
The Serbs, still unable to return to their homes in Bosnia 15 years later, are grateful for the attention that Jolie’s visit called to their plight, which resulted in the U.S. quietly (guiltily) giving a $500,000 donation so that an apartment building can be built for them.
Especially given the contrast between the Bosnian-Serb women she visited with and the Bosnian-Muslim women whose propaganda her film furthers, I would totally be loving on the Serbs over the Muslims.
Because as we know, no matter how much or how often you do for Muslims, it’ll backfire in the end:
…The ordeal of the Bosniak women has been thrust into the spotlight again, after it was announced recently that Angelina Jolie is to make a film which will allegedly tell of the love between a Serb rapist and his Muslim victim…
But for victims of mass rapes in Bosnia, the idea of their stories being retold is almost torture. Their faces offer horrified expressions, their hands shake and bodies tremble as they speak, in tears, about events that changed their lives forever.
For Bakira Hasecic, the 55-year-old head of the Women Victims of War (WVW) association, there is no way anyone can turn the trauma of Bosniak women into film.
“What we have gone through cannot be filmed,” says Ms Hasecic in Sarajevo. Originally from Visegrad in Bosnia, she is also victim of repeated rape and has dedicated her life to finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice…
The international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, along with domestic courts in Sarajevo, have so far passed sentences totalling 500 years against the perpetrators of the mass rape of Bosniak women.
“It’s for us to tell the truth,” says Jasmina, a survivor and a prosecution witness in several cases. She and her young daughter were raped in Foca in 1992. “But I’m not satisfied [with the prison sentences], a couple of years and that’s it. And every statement I give opens up the old wounds that can never go away.”
Angelina Jolie has cut short the shooting of her first film in Bosnia after rumours that it portrayed a relationship between a rapist and his victim sparked protests from women who were raped during the civil war.
Jolie had originally planned to spend 10 days shooting scenes in Bosnia, but now filming will be completed in just three or four days, said Edin Sarkic, her Bosnian producer. Jolie herself will only briefly visit the set, he said.
…Bosnian victims of sexual violence during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s have written to the United Nations suggesting the actor and film-maker does not deserve her “goodwill ambassador” status because she ignored their concerns over a forthcoming film.
Jolie started shooting her directorial debut – a love story between a Muslim woman and a Serb man set during the country’s civil war in the early 90s – in Bosnia in October…Jolie soon came in for criticism from Bosnia’s Association of Women Victims of War after she failed to meet members to discuss the stories.
…[T]he Association remains angry at what it sees as Jolie’s “ignorant” attitude and has now written to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), for which Jolie is a goodwill ambassador.
“Angelina Jolie’s ignorant attitude towards victims says enough about the scenario and gives us the right to continue having doubts about it,” the group wrote.
“We have insisted [on meeting] Angelina Jolie since we don’t want to be wrongly presented in the world … Our voices are worthwhile and we should have got much more respect. Angelina made a big mistake. We feel that she did not act like a real UNHCR ambassador and we believe that she has no more credibility to remain the ambassador.”
Jolie said in a statement in October that it would be a shame if “unfair pressure based on wrong information” prevented her from shooting her movie. According to her synopsis, the movie is a wartime love story between a Serb guard in a prison camp and his former girlfriend, a Bosnian Muslim detainee. It does not contain any rape scenes.
Jolie asked her crew to shoot a few panoramic scenes in Bosnia earlier this year, but did not herself travel to the country. The rest of the filming has reportedly been completed in Hungary.
Bakira Hasečić, the Association’s head, told news agency AFP Jolie had invited the victims to meet her in Hungary, but they had refused the invitation.
“Crimes were committed here, in Bosnia, and we want to meet her here,” she said. “We wanted to talk woman to woman. She should have asked after the victims, come [to Bosnia] before the shooting to hear our voice. As far as we are concerned a love story could not have existed in a camp. Such an interpretation is causing us mental suffering.”
A similar report reveals that the number of Bosnian-Muslim rape victims is down from 60,000 to 20,000:
After initial problems with the permission to shoot a part of the movie in Bosnia, due to complaints by victims’ associations to local authorities, Jolie eventually had her team film only a few panoramic views earlier this month without being present herself in the Balkan country.
The 1992-1995 war between Bosnia’s Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives.
Government officials estimate that at least 20,000 mostly Muslim women were raped during the conflict.
The most recent report is here (Dec. 2), and a Huffington Post blogger weighed in here:
The headlines scream “Jolie called insensitive to Bosnian rape victims!” and “Angelina Jolie called ignorant by Women Victims of War.” But if you read the story, and read their statement, it becomes quite clear that this group (however noble their work is up to this point) has used the media’s obsession with smacking down big celebrities as a way to get their name in the newspapers.
The statement released seriously trashes Jolie (calling her ignorant and asking for her goodwill UN ambassadorship to be stripped) for making a movie that COULD contain insensitive and/or inflammatory material and COULD “make light” of the plight of Bosnian rape victims. This may just be an attempt for the group to gain free attention and/or get a donation from Jolie or the studio funding her picture.
…The crux of their protests is that Jolie should have been expected to keep this specific group informed in every part of the filmmaking process, from screenwriting to casting to location scouting. Never mind that Jolie tried to set up a meeting in Hungary, but the group refused, wanting the meeting to take place in Bosnia (which is ironic, since such earlier “controversy” prevented the film from actually shooting first-unit footage in Bosnia). Furthermore, even if the script does not contain a “rapist and rape victim fall in love” subplot (which it allegedly does not), the group is still adamant that simply presenting a film involving a romantic narrative set in such a camp is unacceptable and has caused the group “mental suffering.”
…It’s tough to criticize something called “Women Victims of War” and the work they theoretically do, but the group is playing dirty pool.
I think this group, or at least its spokeswoman, wants a movie in which a Serb rapes no less than 50,000 women.
Unfortunately for them (or fortunately, if we’re speaking retroactively), it looks like out of the 50-60,000 supposedly raped women — I mean 40,000 — I mean 30,000 — I mean 20,000 — only 12 cases have been prosecuted. Which means that the above-mentioned, whopping 500 years-worth of sentences passed were passed for a mere 12 cases:
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A U.N. official said Friday that a better job needs to be done in prosecuting rape cases that occurred during the Bosnian war nearly two decades ago, and in other armed conflicts worldwide.
U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallstroem, said only 12 cases have been prosecuted out of an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 victims in Bosnia, which shows “the magnitude of the problem.” She called it a “painfully slow” process.
And I guess she didn’t get the memo that the 50-60,000 figure has been updated to 20,000.
Another bit of Balkan rape trivia, which I happened to catch this week. From a 2003 item by Andy Wilcoxson, concerning the Muslim women and girls of Srebrenica when they didn’t feel like getting raped by the Muslim “men and boys” of Srebrenica:
Naser Oric’s men raped underage civilian girls from their own side, forcing Muslim women trapped in Srebrenica to cross the battle field and seek the protection of the Army of the Republika Srpska.
(Please note in the 1994 article linked in the paragraph above, the number “8,000″ referencing the number of soldiers in Srebrenica. Then begin to understand where the figure of “8,000 men and boys” came from.)
I’m a bit late with this WikiLeak, which the UK Guardian published on Dec. 9. I’m excerpting just the most important parts:
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000694
EMBASSY SARAJEVO FOR DAS JONES
EO 12958 DECL: 01/01/20
TAGS PREL, PGOV, ICTY, EUC, HR
SUBJECT: PUSHING CROATIA FORWARD ON ICTY COOPERATION AND EU ACCESSION
Classified By: Amb. James Foley, reasons 1.4 (b) & (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: After making difficult concessions in order to conclude an Arbitration Agreement with Slovenia, Prime Minister Kosor now confronts an ongoing UK and Netherlands blockage of Croatia’s EU accession path, inspired by ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz. This impasse has the potential to endure as the GOC [Government of Croatia] likely cannot produce documents demanded by the prosecutor, and Brammertz seems unwilling to settle for anything besides the documents. Brammertz also refuses to assist the GOC in its investigation. Importantly, the impasse could undermine the U.S. stake both in the Kosor-led reform process in Croatia and the region’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Accordingly, post recommends that we register our differences with Brammertz’s assessment at the December 3 UNSC discussion of ICTY and consider high-level approaches to the UK and Netherlands urging that the EU make Croatia’s ICTY cooperation a closing rather than an opening benchmark for Chapter 23 accession negotiations. END SUMMARY.
CROATIA’S EFFORTS TO SATISFY ICTY
2. (U) Prime Minister Kosor, Justice Minister Simonovic, Interior Minister Karamarko and Chief State Prosecutor Bajic all met with visiting Special Envoy for War Crimes Issues Ambassador Stephen Rapp and Ambassador Foley on November 27, to describe Croatia’s continuing efforts to cooperate with the ICTY and Prosecutor Serge Brammertz in the search for missing artillery documents in connection with the 1995 Operation Storm and the Gotovina case.
6. (U) The immediate problem is that several EU member states (in particular the UK and the Netherlands) have refused to allow Croatia to open accession negotiations on Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) pending a clean bill of health on ICTY cooperation. Brammertz has indicated that he will continue to demand that Croatia produce the missing documents throughout the entirety of the appeals process. Thus Croatia could be facing a prolonged and indefinite blockage of its EU accession.
7. (C) UK Ambassador Blunt (protect) told Ambassador Foley last week that some key officials in London regard Croatia as virtually unchanged since the Tudjman era [which was a revival of the Nazi era] and are inclined to assume GOC bad faith in its dealings with the ICTY. UK Ministers were unlikely to budge on Chapter 23 in the face of a negative assessment from Brammertz.
A NEW U.S. APPROACH
9. (C) The stakes for the U.S. of an enduring impasse on this issue are high — not only a prolonged blockage of Croatia’s EU accession with implications for internal stability, but a closed EU door to the rest of Southeastern Europe. We therefore propose a U.S. effort aimed at unblocking Croatia’s Chapter 23 negotiations and encouraging intensified Croatian efforts to cooperate with the ICTY… Another aspect would be to press Brammertz to show more readiness to accept a credible investigation by the Croatians as adequate cooperation, and to provide assistance to Croatian efforts. Ultimately, we should urge the EU to allow Chapter 23 to open, with a closing benchmark being the implementation of further steps to bolster the credibility of the continuing GOC investigation or the delivery of the requested documentation.
So not only is Croatia’s unrequited Nazi identity not an issue for America, but as with Kosovo — where our lawmakers poo-pooed the idea of some standards being met before statehood being bestowed — so too in this case do we see the U.S. pushing for the goodies to be granted (EU membership) before any standards are met to earn it.
I’ve written before that as I observed, in the days and weeks following 9/11, the muted demeanor of the normally in-your-face ‘hoods’ on New York subways, I mused on what accounted for their suddenly respectful behavior and disinclination to intimidate. Indeed, everyone was on better and more sensitive behavior at that time, but I had to think to myself: Gee, I guess their bad-ass selves had been outdone by some real bad-asses. Upstaged. How ever will these guys compete?
It wasn’t long before I got my answer: Oh, they’ll just convert to Islam and join in on the ultimate badness.
Because today you can remain a criminal but give your crimes higher purpose, and get some PC cover for your criminality while you’re at it — the ultimate in politically correct crime. Over the past decade we’ve demonstrated that crime in service to one religion in particular garners respect more than jail time.
“The concern, Zarate says, is that prison recruits will redirect their criminal energies and engage in terrorism.”
The FBI arrested Antonio Martinez, a 21-year-old Muslim convert, on Wednesday and charged him with plotting to blow up this military recruitment center in Catonsville, Md.
There are two things about this case that make it particularly interesting to counterterrorism officials. The first is that Martinez appears to have been radicalized in the U.S. The second is that he is Latino. Latino converts to radical Islam have been connected to terrorism cases in this country with increasing frequency — and officials are trying to understand why.
The FBI began tracking Martinez, who also went by the name Muhammad Hussain, in October. That’s when, according to the criminal complaint against him, Martinez allegedly struck up a conversation with an FBI source and told him that he wanted to attack U.S. military personnel.
Martinez allegedly believed that the U.S. had long been at war with Muslims, and he said that Muslim brothers needed to strike back. After taping hours of Martinez’s conversations, the FBI ended up providing him with what he thought was a car bomb. He allegedly parked it outside an armed forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Md., on Wednesday and was arrested after he allegedly tried to detonate it.
The explosives were inert and no one, Justice Department officials said, was ever in any danger. While there is already some discussion about Martinez having been entrapped by a terrorism sting operation launched by the FBI, officials say to concentrate on that misses another wrinkle in the case: Why do a small number of Latinos in this country seem to convert not just to Islam but to a radical form of it? [What would be the point otherwise?!]
“In some ways, it is not the volume [of conversion] necessarily. It is not like folks are worried about vast communities or subcommunities of Latinos joining al-Qaida,” said Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “What has got people’s attention is the nature of individuals who have been caught in this web.”
The individuals involved have been at the center of what terrorism officials consider important cases. There is Jose Padilla, the former Chicago native who pleaded guilty to training with al-Qaida; or Daniel Maldonado, a Latino-American who was one of the first U.S. citizens to join an al-Qaida affiliate group in Somalia. Officials also point to Bryant Neal Vinas, a Latino from Long Island who found himself in al-Qaida’s inner circle a couple of years ago. He talked to the group’s leadership about how to attack the Long Island Rail Road and, according to officials close to the case, “has been a gold mine of information about al-Qaida ever since.”
One of the reasons these officials are interested in Latino converts is that al-Qaida appears to be. The terrorist group has specifically recruited Latinos under the assumption that they could move in and around the United States without arousing suspicion.
Before Wednesday’s arrest, the most recent terrorism case involving a Latino happened over the summer. That’s when two New Jersey men, Mohammed Alessa and Carlos Almonte, were arrested as they boarded a plane for Somalia. They allegedly planned to join the ranks of a terrorist group there called al-Shabab. The New York Police Department, the FBI and New Jersey law enforcement had had the two men under surveillance for years; Almonte, in particular, became of interest because he was Latino and allegedly so firmly embraced radical Islam.
“Carlos Almonte was of Dominican heritage, a naturalized U.S. citizen, from a middle-class family; his father was a school bus driver; and he grew up in a Catholic family,” said Mitch Silber, the head of the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit. “And as Almonte started to change, he dropped his non-Muslim friends and his change was visible to others.”
Almonte allegedly started hanging out with members of Revolution Muslim, an Islamist group in New York, and joined their online chats. He began talking about what he saw as America’s war on Islam. Those are two things that he apparently had in common with the suspect in this latest case, Martinez.
Officials say the Internet isn’t the only place radicalizing these Latino converts. Authorities have been tracking an increasing number of Latino converts who embrace radical Islam in prison. The concern, Zarate says, is that prison recruits will redirect their criminal energies and engage in terrorism. [Like I keep saying, Islam appeals to the criminal mind.]
“I think that it is in that intersection with prison radicalization, gang culture, religious zealotry that you have a potential problem,” Zarate said. “I wouldn’t say it is a wave, but it is a potential problem authorities watch for.”
Police said a former senior member of Croatia’s ruling party was detained Friday as part of a war crimes investigation, about two decades after media implicated him in some of the most brutal atrocities against ethnic Serbs.
Police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec didn’t identify the suspect in line with privacy laws, but state-run Croatian television showed Tomislav Mercep being taken into a police station on Friday. Mercep also was briefly an interior ministry official during the 1991 Serbo-Croatian war.
For years, Croatia claimed that only Serbs, who took up arms in 1991 to rebel against Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia, committed atrocities in the war. But the country has began prosecuting its own for war crimes in the past few years, though Amnesty International said in a report Thursday the prosecutions are still to too slow and biased.
In the report the rights group also criticized Croatia for not prosecuting Mercep, despite “publicly available evidence” against him.
Police said Mercep was suspected of alleged war crimes against civilians committed from October through December 1991 in the capital, Zagreb, and at a field near the central Croatian town of Pakrac.
In 1992, independent media in Croatia said that Mercep commanded a paramilitary unit that allegedly detained, tortured and slaughtered Serb civilians, but he was never prosecuted.
In 1997, a man claiming to be Mercep’s subordinate told Feral Tribune weekly that they were seizing Serb civilians from Zagreb before taking them to Pakrac, where they would be killed.
Four years ago, five men who allegedly belonged to Mercep’s unit were convicted and sentenced by a local court for killing four Serb civilians in Pakrac.
Mercep’s unit also reportedly killed a Serb family — a man, his wife and their 12-year-old daughter — in Zagreb in the early days of the war. The incident remains a symbol of Croat brutality during the war.
Vesna Terselic, a human rights activist, said the investigation against Mercep, “although coming with a delay, is certainly welcomed.”
“The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles…Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.” — Sen. Joe Lieberman, April 28, 1999
“This is a just war, based not on any territorial ambitions but on values”; Nato’s war with Yugoslavia was “a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship”. — Tony Blair (a.k.a. “Tonibler“)
“Nowhere [in Europe] is there such a level of fear for so many minorities [i.e. non-Albanians] that they will be harassed or attacked, simply for who they are.” — Report on Kosovo by Minority Rights Group International
We are reminded of these quotes in the wake of the (finally) breaking story of the murder-for-organs scheme by the Kosovo gangster government — condoned by the U.S. and our closest European allies — in an article by British journalist Neil Clark, who continues:
[ “Humanitarian” intervention in Kosovo”] was a fiction many on the liberal left bought into…But if the west had wanted to act morally in the Balkans and to protect the people in Kosovo there were solutions other than war with the Serbs, and options other than backing the KLA – the most violent group in Kosovan politics. They could have backed genuine multi-party negotiations, or offered to lift sanctions on Belgrade if a peaceful solution to the problem of Kosovo could be found. [Note: We never even bothered to back any of Milosevic’s opponents, underscoring that it was the Serbs as a people whom we wanted to bomb — as Madeleine Albright herself said in 1999: “The Serbs need some bombing and that’s what they’re going to get.”]
Instead, a virulently anti-Serb stance led the west into taking ever more extreme positions, and siding with an organisation which even Robert Gelbard, President Clinton’s special envoy to Kosovo, described as “without any question, a terrorist group”. In 2000 the Sunday Times revealed that, prior to the Nato bombing, US agents had been training the KLA. Shaban Shala, a KLA commander, claimed he had met British and US agents in north Albania in 1996.
It was the KLA’s campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials, Serbian and Kosovan civilians in 1998, which led to an escalation of the conflict with the government in Belgrade….As for democratic advances, Sunday’s elections in Kosovo, boycotted by the Serbian minority, have seen widespread allegations of fraud, with a turnout of 149% reported in one area. […]
For anyone in need of a crash course on Kosovo amid all these revelations (perhaps some folks hadn’t been interested prior to the macabre “Hostel”-like, or “Saw”-like, news hitting last month), Doug Bandow does the story of “Kosovo ‘n US” in four paragraphs. From the American Spectator blog:
It was never easy to understand why the Clinton administration intervened in Kosovo. The U.S. had not made a habit of deciding which European state was obligated to grant independence to which disaffected minority.For instance, Spain told Basques to stuff it without much comment from Washington. And the U.S. never worried about its allies using brutality against guerrillas — the Turkish campaign against the Kurds destroyed thousands of villages and killed tens of thousands of people, while the U.S. provided Ankara with arms.
However, the prospect of getting involved in a conflict with no conceivable relationship to U.S. interests drew the Clinton administration into the Balkans. So Washington joined with a majority of European states in a policy that could be defined as “the Serbs always lose“: Everyone got to secede from Yugoslavia/Serbia, but Serbs could never secede from anyone else, whether Bosnia, Croatia, or Kosovo, irrespective of the principle of ethnic self-determination and threat of human rights violations.
Thus, the U.S. joined with a majority of European states to bomb Serbia for 78 days to force it to relinquish its control over Kosovo. Then the allies presided over mass ethnic-cleansing by the ethnic Albanian majority. Finally, the U.S. and European Union promoted faux negotiations with the understanding that the outcome was already set: independence for Kosovo. And the northern majority Serb areas of Kosovo were supposed to supinely accept their status rather than seek to remain with [the country they’d always been citizens of,] Serbia. When Belgrade refused to go along, the allies backed Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. But Russia has blocked Kosovo’s entry into the UN and the majority of states do not recognize the new nation.
Great work, both the Clinton and Bush administrations.
It has long been known that Albania’s leaders are, shall we say, a bit “shady.” Now comes a new Council of Europe report on Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s prime minister…What a great new addition to Europe. But then, that’s what happens when Washington tries to engage in social engineering around the globe.
To continue now with the ongoing coverage of the murder-for-organs affair. The smartest question in all this was asked by, among others, Jim Jatras, of the American Council for Kosovo, which for the past five years has been futilely trying to get the U.S. government to reverse its brutal and self-defeating policy in the region:
One can’t help but wonder how many times we have to be hit over the head before it begins to sink in that America’s intervention in Kosovo was based on a pack of lies from the start. The “accepted” narrative of Kosovo as the great success story parades under the headline: U.S. and NATO Allies Nobly Stepped in to Stop Genocide by Evil Serbs. The reality was U.S. Dragged NATO Allies Kicking and Screaming Into Support for Muslim Mafia Committing Genocide Against Christian Serbs.
Comes now the Council of Europe’s human rights investigator Dick Marty with damning accusations that Hashim Thaci, a/k/a Gjarpër (“Snake”), currently masquerading as “prime minister” of the illegal separatist administration in Pristina, heads a “mafia-like” operation that included murdering captives, mainly Serbs, to sell their organs on the black market. Is even that ghoulish revelation enough to force a reconsideration of the preening self-justification of a “humanitarian” intervention most Americans have long since forgotten? We can hope. But did the plotted attack on Fort Dix changes any minds? No. Now we have organ trafficking. Let’s remember the organ-trafficking story first broke over two years ago and seemed to be withering away in the face of brazen stonewalling by “authorities” in Pristina and Tirana (with full backing from Washington, of course.)
Release of Mr. Marty’s report, just as Thaci is claiming victory in Kosovo’s recent elections, suggests that somebody in Europe wants to jump off this bandwagon to disaster. But for Americans, the question is: How horrible do the facts need to be before we start looking behind the curtain to see what our government is so desperate to conceal?
In the unfortunate partisan myopia that plagues American politics, some of my fellow conservatives might be tempted to blame it on Bill Clinton and leave it at that. Of course, it was largely a “Clinton problem” back during the 1999 NATO war against Serbia. To their credit, most Congressional Republicans voted against the war, which our Razorback Rommel illegally launched even though the House of Representatives had voted down the authorization to use military force. But while Republicans mainly voted No, the neoconservative establishment was whipping up support for the Clinton White House. Unfortunately, with neocon domination of the George W. Bush administration’s foreign policy, and their desperation to win Islamic friends after 9/11, the Bush policy on Kosovo was even more Clinton than Clinton, leading to the decision to try to force the issue of Kosovo’s independence in violation of every principle of international law and national sovereignty.
So, what will Washington do now about “our” guy Thaci?…[E]ven aside from these organ-trafficking peccadilloes, the U.S. establishment did know – from Day One – that Thaci and Co…were a bunch of thugs. So did the intelligence services of our allies. (And make no mistake – it’s not just Thaci. If Thaci needs to be dumped, we can guess that “Plan B” will be to install in his place another of his equally vicious KLA colleagues.) They – our government – knew the KLA were criminals running the drug, slave, and weapons rackets throughout Europe. They knew the KLA was supported by Osama bin Laden (with whom Thaci met personally in Tirana in 1998 to plan the jihad in Kosovo, according to the former head of Albanian intelligence), the Iranians, the Saudis, the Turks, and other supporters of an Islamic re-re-conquest of the Balkans. And we supported them anyway, shredding every rule of law and decency in the process. Now what? In all probability, circle the wagons, hope it will blow over, and keep twisting arms around the world in support of the illegal separatist terrorist entity “KosovA.”
As for Serbia — if there were a respectable government in Belgrade, instead of a group of quislings, they wouldn’t be preparing to meet with representatives of Thaci’s “government” in direct negotiations. Instead, conspiring with their U.S. and European supporters and collaborators in the Serbian Orthodox Church, Belgrade’s recent “contribution” to the Kosovo fiasco is their persecution of Vladika Artemije, Bishop of Ras and Prizren and Kosovo and Metohija, who over two years ago was calling for then-President Bush to refuse to meet with Thaci and demanding an accounting for the organ-selling outrage!
Let us hope that Mr. Marty’s fine work doesn’t get thrown down the Memory Hole with any and all other facts inconvenient to Washington’s policy. But it’s not enough just to track down the individual perpetrators, or even to pack Thaci off to jail (though both would be a good start). It’s time for the lies that have undergirded our entire Balkan policy to be exposed, for the United States to stop its obsessive support for Islamic jihad against the indigenous Christian population, and specifically to back off from our absurd and destructive global lobbying on behalf of the KLA regime.
Some might argue that “we’ve come too far” to reverse course now, that American commitment to “KosovA” is irreversible. But it’s never too late to stop doing the wrong thing and start doing the right thing. If Mr. Marty’s organ-trafficking revelations can be a catalyst for a truthful reassessment of American policy and of the events of recent years, the victims will not have died in vain.
In his blog, writer Lee Jay Walker asks the same question: “[W]ill this be enough to dent America’s pro-Islamic policies in the Balkans which have been so detrimental to the region? Also, will the world wake up to the de-Christianization of Kosovo and how Western governments enabled radical Islamists to enter the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts? Or will America and the United Kingdom, and others, continue with their policies of being pro-Muslim in both Bosnia and Kosovo?”
Nor does Walker let the complicit media off the hook:
[I]s it credible to believe that the vast majority of major news agencies and national governments did not know about thousands of Islamists in Europe who were sent to slit the throats and behead Orthodox Christians? After all, if the reality of what really happened in Bosnia and Kosovo [were] revealed then people could not be manipulated and national governments who supported America and the United Kingdom would not have been involved in such folly and brutality. Therefore, the mass media was a tool which worked in the favor of America and the United Kingdom and the Muslim “victim card” works well in many circles of the mass media.
In a piece on Slate.com titled “Prime Minister, Mob Boss,” writer Joshua Kucera takes note of the fact that the “revelations” were met with little more than a shrug. Among the Albanian public, this is understandable, since they’ve known all along what their leaders are, which is why it’s taboo to talk about, and which makes the leadership’s staged outrage a bit over-the-top: Everyone living or working in the Balkans knows that Thaci’s notorious Drenica group heads most of the criminal rackets in Albanian itself — and this is whom the Albanian public applauds as it watches their gang transformed into “statesmen” by the U.S. Although most Albanians would prefer less corrupt but more radical leaders (like the Self-Determination movement’s Albin Kurti), Thaci and his goons do represent their public, whose primary career option and ambition is crime. Kucera’s take:
…In most countries, a report by a respected international body that says your prime minister is the head of a mafia ring involved in organ smuggling might cause a bit of a political stir. But not in Kosovo.
You might think that Thaci would pay a political price for dabbling in the flesh trade, but in Pristina, even his political opponents have rallied to his defense, framing the allegations as an insult to Kosovo and the KLA. The head of another political party, former Prime Minister Agim Ceku, said, “Every accusation against the KLA comes from Serbia or its helpers…It’s just an attempt to blacken our war and our victory.”
That is, Albanians are so used to the world not seeing what they’ve done to Serbs, that by now they think only Serbs are able to observe or believe anything about dissected Serbs. So if anyone who isn’t Serbian finally notices that something is amiss, it can only be because Serbia is whispering in their ear. The same Serbia that is eagerly self-immolating in service to Albanians and their Western henchmen.
And notice the zero distinction between the Ceku quote above and the statements that have been coming from the Kosovo government. That’s because there is only one collective Albanian mind, and it functions very much like the Borg collective of “Star Trek.” The only time variations are discernible is when there is infighting; much as it is with the Arabs: when the ‘Zionist Enemy’ isn’t providing a rallying cry, they’re fighting and killing intra-ethnically. And would like to continue doing so as an independent nation, without being hampered by attachments to a more civilized, laws-bound, host society. A few other interesting sentences from Kucera’s Slate article, which also reminds readers that the birth of Kosovo owes to heroin, responsible for half the KLA’s funding between 1996 and 1999:
[A] 2008 U.N. report notes that Kosovo’s position in the World Bank’s rule of law rankings is the lowest in the Balkans, while popular satisfaction with the government is the highest in the region…[T]he influence of the European Union and United States in Kosovo is declining….The E.U. Rule of Law Mission is one of the few remaining international institutions with any authority in Kosovo, and it is increasingly unpopular among Kosovars.
Of course it is! It’s a “law and order” mission. As if in an echo chamber, here was acting president Jakup Krasniqi’s reaction to the Marty report:
Kosovo’s interim president, Jakup Krasniqi, urged the Council of Europe Friday not to endorse an internal report linking Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to organ trafficking and organized crime.
“I welcome your support in not allowing adoption of this report as an official document of the Council of Europe,” a statement quoted Krasniqi as saying in a letter sent to all 47 Council of Europe members. “Horrible accusations in this report aim to hamper international recognitions of the Republic of Kosovo as well as to weaken the position of the government of the Republic of Kosovo in the forthcoming dialogue with Serbia,” Krasniqi said.
That’s what the macabre news all boils down to: something that could, god forbid, finally interfere with Albanian expansion. More echoes from the collective Borg mind:
“The aim of this report is to harm the image of Kosovo, its people and all Albanians in this region, slow down the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, block the start of talks between Kosovo and Serbia, and delay the establishment of new institutions,” the prime minister [Thaci] said.
The Kosovo Chamber of Lawyers in Pristina sounded a similar note. “The report has no evidence and the Chamber is offering legal and professional support to everyone mentioned…to find facts and protect their dignity,” said Musa Dragusha, the head of the Chamber.
But it gets even better, from President Krasniqi again:
The draft report is bluntly biased and even contains racist statements, when it refers to “the structure of clans” in the Kosovo Albanian society and “the lack of a genuine civil society”.
Ultimately, we welcome all legal and political initiatives taken both inside and outside of Kosovo to condemn these absurd and indecent defamations, which do not contribute to making the Balkan a region of peace, stability and safety.
First, the second of those last two paragraphs: Everyone is welcome to condemn the report; that is the allowed reaction. Further, he’s welcoming condemnations against the allegations instead of getting to the bottom of them. And of course, the reason that the ‘defamations’ don’t contribute to peace, stability and safety is that things are less peaceful, stable and safe when you piss off Albanians. As has been the ‘wisdom’ guiding Western policy in the region since 1999.
But I really do need to address the first paragraph in the president’s quote above. This is the first time I’m seeing an official Albanian objection to the less than censored, less than politically-correct, language used to describe Albanian pre-modern society. It’s certainly not the first time we’re reading about their “clan-based” society, about “tight clans,” or a “culture of silence.” Even in the ’80s, there were headlines like this from the NY Times: “Pristina Journal; Blood Will Have Blood; It’s the Code of the Clans.” Albania even has a TV station called Klan, so it’s not like they don’t know they’re all about clans. Nor is it the first time we’re reading something about Albanians with terms such as “blood feud”; “violent, closed society”; “lawlessness”; or “criminal tribe,” as the Hungarian Intelligence Service considers them. Such descriptions are a regular feature of one report after another — whether UN, OSCE, HRW, EU, or any European intelligence agency. And check out this quote from a 1901 British diplomatic cable sent to the Marquess of Lansdowne: “Old Serbia [Kosovo] is still a restive region because of the Albanians’ lawlessness, vengeance and racial hatred.” And don’t just take it from non-Albanians. Here were some adjectives used by Albanian Albanians about Macedonian Albanians earlier this year:
“Hatred towards their own country, extreme Islamism, extremely low culture”. These were the quali[ties] which several Albanian intellectuals used in attacking [Macedonian politician Mundux] Thaci….According to [writer Maks] Velo, there is a frightening, extreme Islamism among the Albanian parties in Macedonia and it is not a coincidence that DPA’s leader Mendux Thaci is on the U.S. blacklist for years.
“The mosques in the villages in Macedonia seem like Iranian missiles. If the Albanians there can not climb to a higher cultural level of social life, not to discriminate against women, to build civil society, you will never be able to go up against the Macedonians in any way, especially not intellectually.
So what is it about these characterizations that the Albanians are suddenly objecting to now? Is it that finally someone could be listening? They didn’t seem to mind when no one was paying attention, but it’s embarrassing now that they’re on the public’s radar — at least temporarily.
(Oh, and here’s a blunt one, from former State Dept. officer George Kenney, who at some point went rogue by turning into a human being: “In the latter phases of Yugoslavia’s Civil War there were an unusually large number of reports from Kosovo alleging Albanian harvesting and trafficking of organs from Serb prisoners. It long seemed to me that…the circumstantial evidence was strong and merited serious investigation….we now have a report [that] lays out the details. How long will it take historians to conclude that America’s Kosovar-Albanian clients are one of the most barbaric criminal gangs in the world?”)
Also using the “racism” card is Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who called the accusation that he himself — a well-known crook — was a weapons dealer during the 1998-99 war “racist,” again diminishing the distinction between criminals and Albanians in general while doing the standard evil-Serb deflection trick for good measure:
…Legal documents reportedly identify Prime Minister Sali Berisha of Albania as one of the key arms traffickers during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo.
“Sali Berisha was one of the main arms traffickers during the Kosovo conflict. His name is mentioned by four witnesses in documents from the (Serbian) war crimes prosecutor,” Politika, a pro-government daily, said on its frontpage. [The government being pro-Western, anti-nationalist, U.S.-installed surrender monkey.]
“Claims by Politika, a mouthpiece of Serb ultranationalists and the advocate of the Serb genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo, are nothing but racist slander,” Mr Berisha said.
He linked Politika’s report to an “anti-Albanian hysteria, led by (Council of Europe special rapporteur) Dick Marty, a racist who, without any proof, is trying to do everything to soil the Albanians’ war in Kosovo.”
Politika says the file, number 33-08, of the war crimes prosecutor, quoted witnesses who identify a house belonging to Berisha in northern Albania close to the town of Tropoje, near the border with Kosovo, as “an arms buying centre”. The witnesses, not identified by name, are members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, (KLA)….The men were arrested by Serb security forces during the 1998-99 war and questioned about how the KLA got its arms, according to the daily.
“The slurs that Belgrade’s Politika and Dick Marty are propagating again…prove their blind racism and their big disappointment with the liberation of one nation,” Mr Berisha said. […]
To be fair, while Berisha — in what sounded more like a dare — ultimately “welcomed” an international investigation, Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vukcevic was encouraged by statements coming from another official in Albania, Iljer Neta, who “offered that the matter has to be investigated in Albania.” Vukcevic nonetheless laments the three years lost, as “Three years ago, Serbian prosecutors called for co-operation with their Albanian colleagues, but no joint investigation was ever launched.”
Diplomatic ping pong is what it was called by Philip Alston, a special UN rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, in a press conference in Tirana last February:
Albanian officials had played “diplomatic ping pong” and stalled investigations. There had been “no meaningful cooperation from Albania”, he said…Council of Europe investigators are understood to have been among those who, according to Alston, received only limited assistance from Albania during their inquiries.
The Albanian American community strongly denounces the unsubstantiated allegations made by Mr. Dick Marty…The report is an uncorroborated attack attempting to smear not only PM Thaqi, but also the heroic resistance against the Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign [sic] made by the Kosova [sic] Liberation Army (KLA).
Mr. Marty’s report alleges fresh evidence but presents no new information, contends to have spoken with multiple witnesses, but refuses to publish names. [As you can imagine, not having witnesses’ names is ESPECIALLY frustrating to Albanians, since how else will they be able to kill them? Notice also the way Albanian spokesmen and authorities accuse the Marty report of not being based on facts, while ignoring the facts in it.]
The international community has been extremely critical of Mr. Marty’s report:
Mr. Bernard Kouchner, former Foreign Minister of France and UNMIK Chief at the time of the allegations, responded, “My first reaction, and I read the report very carefully, is that I’m very skeptical about those accusations of the organ trade. My second reaction is to have somebody investigate this, conduct a real investigation.”
Dr. Sali Berisha, Albania’s Prime Minister, stated, “This is a report absolutely not based on any facts, evidence or reality, which shows the clear taking of sides of the author, including a flagrant abuse of the authority of the Council of Europe.” [As if a respectable, real, head of state is being cited here, rather than a fellow gangster. “International community” indeed.]
The Albanian American community fully stands behind the government of Kosova’s demand that Dick Marty step back and allow competent, impartial authorities to look into these unsubstantiated allegations and commit to cooperate fully with any fair and unbiased inquiry. Additionally, we implore the international community to continue to support Kosova’s inevitable membership into Euro-Atlantic institutions. [That’s what’s most important! And “inevitable” — you got that?]
Back to the big question: “Will it matter?” Nebojsa Malic points out that “Reuters speculates that the furor over Marty’s report may eventually amount to nothing, since the Empire [that’s us] has invested too much in Kosovo “independence” to reverse course now. And Srdja Trifkovic writes of how the U.S. media are helping make sure this story once again has no legs through their “feeble and half-hearted reporting”:
The Chicago Tribune, for instance, did not deem it fit to publish a story about the Council of Europe report itself. It published two related items critical of the report instead, on the European Union expressing doubt about its factual basis and on the “government” of Kosovo planning to sue Dick Marty for libel. No major daily has published a word of doubt about Bill Clinton’s wisdom of waging a war on behalf of Thaçi and his cohorts a decade ago, or perpetuating the myth of it having been a good war today.
That Thaçi aka “The Snake” is a criminal as well as a war criminal is no news, of course. The intriguing question is who, on the European side, wanted to end his “untouchable” status, why now, and what is the U.S. Government — his principal enabler and abettor — going to do about it.
…Thaçi’s American enablers and their media minions are already embarking on a bipartisan damage-limitation exercise. Its pillars will be the assertion that the report rests on flimsy factual evidence, an attempt to discredit Dick Marty personally, and the claim the Council of Europe as an irrelevant talking shop.
The good news is that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are calling for a EULEX probe into Marty’s findings and for Western governments to demand a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation that leads to prosecutions. (Both organizations’ previous calls over the past 11 years for something to be done about Kosovo impunity have fallen on deaf ears.) The bad news is that, knowing that prosecuting our Kosovo friends would be a deadly undertaking for all involved, the Kosovo-based EULEX is already trying to find a way out, citing “no jurisdiction” in Albania.
The murder of one man, and the beating of others during the 1999 war in the northern Albanian town of Kukes and in other makeshift detention centres, has recently become the subject of a court case in Prishtina, in Kosovo, although the alleged crimes took place in Albania. Law enforcement bodies there never attempted to inquire into the incidents.
Hand in hand with the “will it matter” issue is the fact that it was known all along to Western governments that their KLA weren’t just terrorists, but an organized crime syndicate:
Western leaders have been accused of turning a blind eye to murders, drug running and organ trafficking in Kosovo. The West elevated a man it knew to be a criminal boss to the rank of European statesman…”What shocked me is that most of the facts illustrated in this report were known to numerous organisations, which until now have remained silent,” Mr Marty said at a press conference.
Will Dick Marty’s revelations be dismissed the way all negative things about Albanian-run Kosovo have been? The Kosovo mission itself became — for all involved except a few quickly suppressed exceptions — about just keeping one’s job and not causing any waves. Tom Gambill laid it out clearly in a 2005 CNS News interview titled “Whistleblower: Kosovo ‘Owned’ By Albanian Mafia.” Naturally, anyone wanting to look into the criminality of the powers-that-be was dismissed. After all, this would endanger everyone more than professionally.
Realize, our leaders knew everything even as they invoked Kosovo as a “successful” war, a model they contrasted with our current wars. One Democratic presidential candidate after another — in 2004 and 2008 — flaunted that party’s Kosovo credential to a public they knew wouldn’t know any better, in interviews with hosts who they knew wouldn’t question it, correctly relying on media personalities — of both political persuasions — having been thoroughly propagandized. All the while, as Chris Deliso wrote in The Coming Balkan Caliphate, “longtime UNMIK employees in Kosovo who have watched the process disintegrate over the years express disbelief at how the Western media and politicians can get away with calling the intervention a success.”
But a war is easily going to feel like a “success” if you’re fighting for the enemy, against a non-enemy that’s powerless to do anything about it (as I wrote in my 2007 American Legion article, “The ‘Successful War’ We Lost in Kosovo“).
A particularly odious example of a Western official who knew what was going on is the case of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. The following Dec. 22 report is from the German-owned Belgrade paper Blic:
Canadian Captain Stu Kellock, former Chief of the UNMIK Police Department for crime in 2000 and 2001, claims that then first man of the UN mission in Kosovo Bernard Kouchner ‘must have known’ details concerning organized crime in Kosovo. ‘However, Hashim Thaci was among the ‘untouchables’ because he was as early as then chosen to be Kosovo Albanian leader’.
‘I cannot confirm that Kouchner knew about organ trafficking but it is absolutely impossible that he did not have information about organized crime in Kosovo [he was always kept informed of organized crime in Kosovo]…[Kellock] explains that after [the] arrival of the UN mission and the NATO troops, it was the mafia to arrive in Kosovo next. I was completely aware of who Thaci was and of how huge his influence was[, he said]. However, in circles I acted in, any discussion involving criticism of Thaci and his associates would be immediately dismissed. I was a witness to [the] creating of a statesman. It was clear to me that Thaci had been chosen and that he would never been brought [up] in connection with any criminal activities in spite of the fact that he had influence on tax collection, drug, human and arms trafficking and goods smuggling’, Kellock said.
Stu Kellock’s experiences trying to police Kosovo are worth a brief visit as well:
…Kellock says that rumors of [the] Albanian organ trade were circulating during his service in Kosovo – in 2000 and 2001 – but that his staff was so overwhelmed with Albanian crime that, says Kellock, he did not have time to investigate rumors.
“Rumors about organ trade appeared even in my time but were not proven. There was talk about a hospital in Pristina and the criminal activity that is going on there, but at the time there were so many other, burning priorities. I had way too few people to be able to investigate rumors,” Kellock is quoted by the RTS.
Kellock said that the Pristina hospital moved enormous amounts of money whose source was completely unknown.
“In one case, a gun battle broke [out at the hospital] when one security guy was killed and one million Deutsche Marks was stolen. Absolutely nobody could explain to us how and why was there one million Marks at the hospital,” said Kellock. […]
In this breathtaking 2006 interview by Chris Deliso with Detective Kellock, which details another infamous example of evidence-suppression and -destruction in Kosovo — the 2001 Podujevo Bus Massacre that killed 12 Serbs including two children — “readers get the inside story of how UN investigators in Kosovo sought to crack down on criminals and terrorists — but were systematically stopped, because of the perceived need to safeguard the interests of the Western political elite and their local proteges.
…[F]ighting crime in Kosovo was a tiring and never-ending battle, “a series of shootings, bombings, kidnappings, explosions, rapes and other serious crimes including human trafficking and terrorism…”…National, clan and supranational interests were inextricably interwoven in complex and murky ways, out of all proportion to the size of the territory in question.
[The] audacious arrest of a leading KLA founder got Kellock’s superiors sweating, and may have restricted the reach of further investigations. Most ominously, says Kellock, “I certainly did feel threatened after the arrest and detention of Sabit Geci”…dubbed at the time “a kingpin in Pristina’s underworld with highly placed political allies in the PDK [of Hasim Thaci]….Detective Kellock emphasizes how astonished some of his peers were by his vigorous action against the crime lord…how dare I arrest a modern war hero!”
…Kellock recalls “a very interesting statement made to me by a very senior police officer after [Geci’s] conviction – along the lines of ‘we did not know whether or not to allow you to continue your investigation…’” The investigation had cemented for him something that had been apparent at least since January 2000 when according to AFP, UNMIK Chief Administrator Bernard Kouchner ordered police that his explicit permission would be required if they sought to raid the premises of any of Kosovo’s leading families.
…As has been repeated again and again by internationals working in Kosovo and the independent media, prosecuting the warlords would cause a backlash against KFOR and UNMIK — meaning that for the past six and a half years, the UN has been living as a virtual hostage to the “decommissioned” leaders of the KLA….
Which brings us back to Kouchner. That is one Western player in Kosovo whose culpability in all this is worth emphasizing.
In March of this year, I wrote: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who was the UN chief in Kosovo from 1999 to 2001, was asked to comment on the KLA’s 1999 organ-removal operation…and respond to accusations that he himself bore some responsibility in either covering it up or else turning a blind eye. This was his over-the-top reaction, which included mimicking human dissection:
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Organ trade? But you are sick, aren’t you? Do I look like someone who would traffic organs? You are insane, to believe all kinds of nonsense like that. What’s the yellow house? Why yellow? Sir, you should consult (a doctor). There was no yellow house, there was no organ trade. People who talk about things like that are bums and murderers.”
If only his outburst mocking the Voice of America reporter had stopped at calling the man crazy for thinking that he [Kouchner], a doctor by profession, could be involved with such a thing. But Kouchner didn’t stop there. He went on to scoff at the idea of the now infamous “Yellow House,” where it all took place and which has been the subject of more than one active investigation…So far, I hadn’t suspected Kouchner of anything close to knowing about the operation at the time, much less being involved in it…The closest thing to elaboration on this accusation came from the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti (”Evening News”) in May, 2008. As translated and excerpted by the de-construct.net blog:
“Serbian officials were an inch away from the kidnapped [victims] in Kosovo and Metohija on a number of occasions, but were always prevented from reaching them”, the members of the former investigative teams of the state’s Coordinating Center for the province said.
“This is why not a single search had produced any results, even though many of the kidnapped were still alive at the time, and were imprisoned in Kosovo and Metohija”, Serbs who were leading the investigations after the war said, adding that the whole “business” took place in the years 2000 and 2001…when the Western officials, including Kouchner, [had] already been firmly established in the southern Serbian province….Milorad Pejcinovic, leader of the Serbian investigative team assigned with the task of finding the secret makeshift prisons and concentration camps in Kosovo and Metohija, said that there can be no doubt UNMIK [had] been purposely thwarting every single investigation.
“There is no question that every serious search of our team has been thwarted by the UNMIK police, claiming that the locations for which we had solid evidence that they contain our kidnapped people, are not safe. Whenever we would come within an inch of uncovering them, UNMIK police would forbid us to move further, claiming that the Albanians have learned about our intentions and that our lives are at stake,” Pejcinovic said.
He revealed that the UNMIK police was also preventing every individual attempt by the families to find their kidnapped loved ones, telling them that they must have a court order to enter certain locations, which “served to provide sufficient time for the Albanians who held kidnapped Serbs imprisoned to move them to other locations”.
“The biggest problem was the fact that Albanians had their men in UNMIK, who would inform them about each of our intentions to search the terrain. The same thing happened during one of the most complex searches which lasted three days. When we came to the entryway of one of the secret locations, UNMIK ordered us to turn back, because ‘they can’t guarantee our safety’,” Serbian investigators said.
According to a report last week, Serbia has filed a claim against UNMIK at the ICTY for hiding organ-harvesting and is demanding an investigation.
While Kouchner’s role may fall short of direct “involvement,” as he has been accused of by some in regional media, it does qualify as complicity if one is helping cover something up. And why would he have such a laugh — so forcefully deny — something he knew nothing about, if he in fact knew nothing about it? Interestingly, in 2008 then-State Dept. spokesman Sean MacCormack had the same reaction — laughter — to the only question asked about the grisly affair. Ridicule has been an effective tool by Western governments to deal with the rare occasion that some strange, lowly human being dares confront them with something Kosovo-related, which they’d thought was successfully swept under the rug.
Kouchner’s behavior is all the more egregious because he is the founder of Doctors Without Borders. Not that this group’s record on Kosovo Serbs was clean to begin with, as Stella Jatras documented:
Even the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, France’s Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors without Borders (DWB) expelled the Greek arm of DWB because the Greeks showed compassion by treating those injured or dying Serbians in Yugoslavia during NATO’s bombing campaign. Apparently the Hippocratic Oath by France’s Medecins Sans Frontiers stopped at the Serbian border.
And of course, here is the doctor-humanitarian (second from left) with two of the organized-crime chiefs who have been overseeing all the rackets:
Now we know what was meant by this, from March:
“President Sejdiu thanked Mr. Kouchner for the unwavering support that Republic of France has provided to Republic of Kosovo…saying that [Mr. Kouchner] has always remained a friend and a supporter of human freedoms.”
The human freedoms to kill, rob, rape, plunder and dissect.
Western leaders knew. They knew. And it didn’t matter. The sadness of the Kosovo reality is conveyed in the poignant fact that the news in Serbia is that the organs story is actually considered newsworthy to the world. They’re not used to Serb suffering being of concern to anyone but Serbs.
Indeed, international media are incredulous. “Is it possible?” asks Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung, according to a report mistitled “Was Europe Blind?” (Just the opposite, actually.) The rest of it:
Is it possible that people could have been kidnapped on orders from the prime minister of a European state? That he had them murdered in order to extract organs from their dead bodies, e.g. kidneys for rich customers…asks the Tageszeitung (TAZ). “Is it possible that Hashim Thaçi, the prime minister of Kosovo, unanimously backed by Berlin, London, Paris and Washington, owes his political power to wealth he amassed in criminal activities?”
“If Eulex, the EU mission in Kosovo, wants to remain credible, it will now have to conduct an impartial investigation into Thaçi & Co – which it has refrained from doing so far because a number of Albanian politicians are former guerrilla commanders and still have armed groups at their disposal.”
So how will Brussels react? Hard to say: “In September 2010, the War Crimes section head for EULEX made statements that completely, or almost completely, contradict Dick Marty’s report”, notes Le Temps. There was “no evidence”, according to Finnish police officer Matti Raatikainen, to corroborate the charges of organ trafficking made against Thaçi’s entourage, recalls the Swiss daily. [And we now have a clearer understanding of why that is.]
And yet, adds the paper, “The European Union knows that everything that emerges about Thaçi’s criminal involvement will put the EU in the dock. How can it then keep demanding that Belgrade arrest Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general still on the lam? Above all, how can it argue against those, like the young nationalist Kosovar politician Albin Kurti, who call for EULEX to get out after its shady concessions to the power elite?”
U.S. government and media, in contrast, are immune to any such sober questions, or questions of morality. Much like Kosovo’s ambassador to Switzerland — who complacently said the allegations wouldn’t “affect bilateral relations between the two countries” — we had State Dept. spokesman Michael Murphy in Kosovo justifying this complacency with an almost identical statement that the Marty report will have “no impact” on U.S.-Kosovo relations. Or, as Serbianna.com paraphrased it: “US State Department said that extraction of organs out of Serbs is unimportant and Washington will continue to cooperate with Thaci irrespective of his involvement in that crime.” The news site also quoted an analyst explaining that “To the US, in particular, Marty’s report and the extraction of Serbian organs is just another little obstacle in their grand design to extract Kosovo out of Serbia.”
Which puts the likes of Austria and Switzerland on a higher moral plane than the U.S. Switzerland called for a probe, and as for Austria:
Leader of the Freedom Party of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache [on Dec. 16] said that Hashim Thaci should be urgently arrested and extradited to the Hague Tribunal. He said [he was not] surprised at all [at the] allegations against Thaci. “Three years ago I insisted that Thaci, according to a report by the German intelligence service, is connected with the organized crime.”
That’s, of course, despite the side-show aspect to these two countries on the matter, with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey hedging her bets and pointing the finger at Austria:
“…The declaration of independence and its recognition by many states does not depend on [Thaci],” she said in an interview published on Wednesday in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. She added Switzerland had not been the first country to recognise the independence of the former Serb province. “Austria did it before us, if that is any reassurance,” she noted.
Which of course begs the question: So why did she cancel the Dec. 21 award ceremony to be hosted by Switzerland’s Kosovo Albanian community for her support for their state — if Thaci is no reflection on the wider community or the wisdom of Kosovo independence?
All the more since Switzerland has had a clue for a long time:
CoE [Council of Europe] rapporteur Dick Marty has stated that Switzerland has known foryears about outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Taci’s alleged involvement in drug and organ trafficking and even banned him from entering the country.
One does not do that to respectable persons, Marty stated for the NZZ am Sonntag, a Swiss weekly. Taci’s name can be found in police records, said Marty….[T]he Federal Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Switzerland denied visa to Taci [in the late ’90s]….
Numerous Kosovo rebels lived in Switzerland during the ninetees. Taci also studied in Zurich, before he became KLA political leader. Switzerland was of strategic importance for KLA. This is where the organization recruited members and handled the financing of the resistance [sic], the paper reads, adding that about 200,000 people from Kosovo live in Switzerland today.
Owing to his efforts in the fight for Kosovo’s independence [such as blowing up refugee convoys and killing cops of varying ethnicity], Taci became an important political figure, which earned him persecution by a certain state. This is why a decision was made that he be denied a visa, the directorate’s statement reads, adding that the Swiss authorities did not want Taci in the country as he was wanted by Serbia for war crimes.
[So you see — everything is relative. If it’s just Serbia that’s after you for atrocities, it’s for persecution, not prosecution. So Serbian warrants aren’t taken seriously.]
During the debate on Kosovo’s recognition in 2008, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey did not inform the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council on Taci’s ban on entry, the then committee chairman Gary Miller stated.
Marty claims that the alleged mafia network around Taci took over the control of the money that KLA received from the Kosovo diaspora. The money was deposited into accounts in Swiss and German banks. President of the Foreign Affairs Committee Christa Markwalder seeks a clarification of the accusations according to which the money from drug and organ trafficking was paid into accounts in Switzerland [including into radical Islamic charity accounts.]
If the allegations are confirmed, the state prosecution must react, she underlined. The serious accusations that Marty made, particularly against Taci, will be discussed by the Foreign Affairs Committee at its next session on January 10-11, when Minister Calmy-Ray will have to provide some answers as well, the Swiss paper reads.
Of course, we know about the deep and dirty role played by Swiss bank accounts in Kosovo. From June 2007:
Bexhet Pacoli, the richest Kosovo Albanian in the world from whose telephone, according to BND findings, a transaction in the amount of two million euros was arranged from a Swiss bank to one in Cyprus in the name of Kosovo special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, openly claims that he is paying 60 people just in Washington who are lobbying for the independence of Kosovo.
In terms of financial power [Pacoli’s company] Mabetex is among the 70 strongest companies in Switzerland, with representative offices in the USA, Austria, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, China, Russia, the Ukraine, Moldava, Kazakhstan, Slovenia and elsewhere.
His decision to make his economic empire work for political purposes is confirmed by the newly founded organization of Kosovo Albanians in the USA called the Alliance for a New Kosovo, which he finances directly….The Alliance for a New Kosovo is headed by two lobbyists from the U.S. offices of Jefferson Waterman, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council Samuel Hoskinson and former deputy assistant secretary for East-West trade in the State Department Kempton Jenkins.
This lobbying group will also act through its advisory body, which includes former U.S. secretary of defense and deputy CIA director Frank Carlucci, who served as secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and the long-time president of the Carlyle Group, a powerful military-industrial corporation.
Among the senior advisors of Carlyle is former U.S. president George Bush, and until the September 11 attacks its executive board also included the Bin Laden family.
Upon arriving in Kosovo, BND agents uncovered a clear and frequent relationship and communication between the leading figures of the Albanian mafia, their intermediaries and [UN envoy] Martti Ahtisaari.
According to what the agents uncovered, several calls were made to the building of the special envoy for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, from numbers known to belong to Albanian billionaire Bexhet Pacoli.
The content of the conversation from this number related to an unknown monetary transaction in the amount of two million euros from a Swiss bank in Basel, from account number 239700-93457-00097, protected as an offshore sub-account under the code XS52-KOLER, which is owned by Exhet Boria, the right hand of the head of the Albanian mafia, to account number
3459346699004533, account code VOLANND, at the Bank of Cyprus.
Well now, how could anyone compete with a deck stacked like that? Kosovo was going to get independence ten times over. Organs for everyone!
Meanwhile, Thaci “swore” to avenge himself at the international court and seems to already have a sense that “justice will [not] be neutral towards [Marty].” He told Reuters that “Under no circumstances will Dick Marty escape justice for this slander,” adding that Marty should “prepare good lawyers to defend him” — by which he probably meant bodyguards.
Also calling Marty the real criminal here was Thaci’s co-accused, former head of the KLA’s secret service, Kadri Veseli: “But since [Marty] is trying to manipulate the facts by imposing his version of the truth, he has committed a crime.”
Responding to Thaci’s tantrums about suing him, Dick Marty (who points out that Thaci knows Council of Europe rapporteurs have immunity), said in an interview with Serbian daily Vecernje Novosti that in addition “Thaci should sue the German police, the Italian secret services, the FBI, because his name appears in all of their reports” — and furthermore:
He lashed out at what he called a climate of fear and political opportunity in Kosovo that allowed the alleged crimes to go uncovered and called for an end to what he described as a double standard — applying one set of justice for winners and another for losers.
“Most of the facts mentioned were known…and there is a silencing of facts,” Marty told the press conference. “Those things were known to intelligence services of several countries. They were known to police services, to many people who told us in private, ‘Oh yes, we know this,’ but chose to remain silent for reasons of political opportunity.”
Marty said such investigations were not possible earlier because of the tightly-knit clan structures of Albanians, and because potential witnesses were scared to testify. He said his team had to convince witnesses that their security and confidentiality would be preserved in order to get them to talk.
Marty accused the Albanian authorities of shying away from the investigations, leaving the alleged crimes undiscovered….“The Albanian authorities told us, ‘we have no reason to investigate, because we were not party to the war, so our territory has nothing to do in this story,’” Marty said.
“It is now sufficiently proven that…the KLA exercised the power in all the region and in this period the criminal actions took place,” he said…“One of the taboo aspects Kosovars knew but never spoke about was that the KLA killed also Albanians, not only Serbs,” he said. […]
Nonetheless, here is the Albanian president doing his part for the tribe:
Albania’s President Bamir Topi condemned on Friday the Council of Europe report linking top Kosovo politicians to organised crime and organ-trafficking, as baseless and hearsay.
“The president condemns forcefully all accusations not based on concrete proof and allegations spun in a web of hearsay, which seem to have been cooked up in a démodé kitchen of ultra-nationalistic circles, which unfortunately continue to exist in the Balkans – a territory where time after time the mass graves of the genocide of Milosevic’s forces are discovered and war criminals wanted by the Hague tribunal find sanctuary,” Topi said in a statement. [Again, the requisite “Milosevic” deflection that’s reached-for any time Albanian criminality is noticed.]
In his statement Topi said that the dangerous smokescreen created by the report not only undermined Albania’s image but also risked peace and stability in the region. [CODED THREAT ALERT]
He suggested that the best way to put an end to the allegations [not “to get to the bottom of them,” mind you] would be through renewed cooperation between national and international investigative bodies, like EULEX, the Hague tribunal and national prosecutor’s offices, which, he said, despite thorough investigations have found no proof to bring anyone before the courts. […]
Carla Del Ponte — who, as Nebojsa Malic points out, only after retiring from her post as the ICTY prosecutor felt “free to reveal that she had considerable evidence of KLA’s macabre atrocities” would beg to differ:
“They [the tribunal staff’s 2004 organ investigations] were stopped,” she said, rejecting claims that the tribunal had ever concluded that the allegations were unfounded. A thorough criminal investigation into the allegations has never been carried out, she said.
…Del Ponte also questioned whether the EU mission in Kosovo, known as Eulex, has the resources and political support to handle the case.
“I fear that Eulex will not be able to do this investigation because you can imagine the obstacles they would face with personnel based in Kosovo,” she said. Del Ponte said investigators and witnesses face serious threats from the Albanian mafia and former Kosovo Liberation Army operatives.
Del Ponte praised Marty and his final report. “Dick Marty is a courageous man and he’s not under political pressure or looking to score political points.” […]
In an interview with the German Press Agency dpa, del Ponte - now Switzerland’s ambassador to Argentina - cautioned however that such an investigation should not be handled by either Albanian or Kosovar authorities. ‘They have already said that everyone is innocent,’ she said about the regional authorities’ position on allegations about illegal human organ trafficking which had surfaced in the past.
She said that at the end of her work as chief prosecutor she had been ’shaken’ when she learned that evidence of the possible extraction of organs in Albania had gone missing at the tribunal.
‘There were blood samples, lobes, photos and similar (materials) from the yellow house in Rribe in northern Albania,’ she said. ‘It was clear to us at the time that in that house something to do with medicine had gone on there.’
The initial investigations of the Yugoslavia tribunal became stalled when Albania broke off its cooperation. ‘We had heard about mass graves with possible victims of the extraction of organs in Albania and I wanted it to be investigated, but the Albanian authorities blocked us,’ del Ponte said.
In addition, witnesses refused to testify. ‘They were afraid because several of our witnesses had been murdered,’ she noted.
…”We, that is the prosecution of the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague, were ourselves in the so-called yellow house in northern Albania where the crime took place,” Ms Del Ponte told the daily Tages-Anzeiger.
“We found traces of blood there, and we saw clothes that were stained with blood. That was evidence that something surgical could have taken place there.”
Ms Del Ponte…said she had seen photos and reports, and had witness accounts to support suspicions of organ trafficking. “These showed that something was done there - not to animals but to humans,” she added, also pointing to evidence of a mass grave for the victims in Albania.
She said her team had to stop the investigation before they could gather more evidence to warrant a formal prosecution, after being blocked by Albanian officials and the court’s limited mandate, which did not cover the Balkan state. […]
… The ICTY said it had never seen evidence to substantiate her claims, and Thaci and the Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha publicly rejected them. [Readers, note this lie from the ICTY; it gives a sense of how the tribunal operates.]
[Del Ponte] said the claims in her book were backed by “credible and verifiable physical evidence“ obtained by researchers from the ICTY and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (Unmik) during a mission to Albania and in the presence of an Albanian government prosecutor.
“The reason I included these claims in my book was to provoke a serious follow-up, so that, if the findings warranted it, a criminal investigation would be launched,” she explained.
Del Ponte said she was glad the Council had taken over the investigation, describing it as the “only credible one ever carried out by any competent body, either local or international”.
“Neither the Kosovo authorities nor the government or judiciary of the Republic of Albania have carried out any investigation into the statements in my book, and have now just dismissed the serious accusations contained in the Council of Europe report,” she told swissinfo.ch.
“So I beg the European Union, the United States, other interested countries and the United Nations to give Eulex every political and material support to conduct a criminal investigation into these accusations and to bring to trial all those suspected of involvement in these crimes,” she said. […]
Del Ponte has also stated that her team knew there were mass graves in Albania and that had they not been obstructed they might have found bodies with organs missing. A translated French report quoted her as saying, “The clues were in Albania and the Albanian authorities refused to investigate, claiming that they had already done [so] without success…The UN Mission in Kosovo could have resumed the investigation, but did not…We worked in very difficult conditions…We did not have the support of NATO because it was allied to the KLA, UNMIK did not give us the documentation we asked for. It was a general problem.” And another French report quoted Del Ponte’s spokeswoman Florence Hartmann as saying that the latter “had asked NATO to provide satellite images that would have helped locate them [the mass graves]. She never received anything. Today, Dick Marty seems to have received information from Western officials who held [it] for years without ever do[ing] anything with it.”
Albania’s Minister of Interior Lulzim Basha has denied assisting an ICTY expert who travelled to the country in 2003 to investigate claims that the Kosovo Liberation Army harvested organs of Serb prisoners.
“This is a dumb declaration, I have never been in any yellow house,” Basha told reporters in the city of Shkodra….
The allegations that Basha assisted the ICTY as a translator were made by former forensics expert Pablo Baraybar.
In an interview for Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Baraybar said that [he] had visited northern Albania incognito to investigate the claims in 2003, and had been assisted by Basha, who worked as a legal expert for UNMIK in Kosovo at the time.
“My translator was Lulzim Basha, he became interior minister in Albania later and I have heard him say that the allegations were nonexistent, while he was with me,” said Baraybar. “I know that he knows, we were together and he has seen the dossier,” Baraybar added. […]
The Supreme Court of Albania dismissed all accusations…The Albanian prosecution stated that all insinuations that Albanian institutions obstructed the investigation on this issue are groundless…the prosecution’s media advisor Plator Nesturi…claims that…the prosecution was not informed about it, nor were any requests for investigation submitted by international bodies, he added.
Which would certainly make it hard to explain this report:
…The Ministry of Justice failed to respond to requests from the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, for assistance in investigating alleged crimes that Kosovo Albanians committed in Albania.
Officially, Albania was not party to the Kosovo war. But it played a crucial role in the conflict. It sided with its ethnic brethren across the border and the KLA had access to training facilities throughout the country. Albania rejoiced in the fact that some of the world’s leading powers supported the Kosovo Albanian cause.
The government in Tirana let the Kosovo Albanian guerrillas use northern Albania as a base from which to organize their armed resistance [sic] to the Serbs. Different factions in the Albanian government, army and intelligence services all gave them a hand.
The Marty report also says that Thaci operated “with the support and complicity not only of Albania’s former governance structures, including the Socialist government in power at the time, but also from Albania’s secret service and the formidable Albanian mafia.” (And, of course, recall from earlier in this post that Albania’s current prime minister Berisha directlytrafficked weapons for the insurgency against Yugoslavia — as well as the fact that the mass graves of the missing dot the Albanian landscape.) This is all without even mentioning the fact that NATO’s 1999 bombing raids were part of an assault coordinated not only with the KLA but also with the Albanian military. According to an Oct. 2005 Milosevic trial dispatch by Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), former Yugoslav Army colonel Vlatko Vukovic testified that on at least two occasions “Albanian troops had even crossed over into Yugoslav territory…He also asserted that the army of neighbouring Albania helped in the attack against Serbian and Yugoslav security forces by shelling over the border into Kosovo.” In addition, it came out during the Milosevic trial that KLA radio communications showed “NATO instructors were training as many as 10,000 KLA terrorists at camps in Albania and Turkey.”
A striking and significant political fact that emerges from the Marty report is that:
“The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA – prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict – took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed” (paragraph 36).
Thus, to a very large extent, the Serbian province of Kosovo was the object of a foreign invasion from across its border, by Albanian nationalists keen on creating “Greater Albania”, and aided in this endeavor by diaspora lobbies and, decisively, NATO bombing. Far from being an “aggressor” in its own historic province, Serbia was the victim of a major two-pronged foreign invasion.
Had Albania helped mount such a war against any country other than the designated eternal pariah Serbia, that country would be within its rights to invade Albania. Especially after Marty’s findings, which add that “Albanian intelligence and military officials took part in interrogating people detained by the Kosovo Liberation Army in Albania.” Writer Gregory Elich adds, “Prisoners were beaten with sticks or metal pipes and tortured not only by KLA soldiers but also at times by Albanian intelligence officers.” This is all of course in addition to the already stated fact that most of the organ-stealing operation took place in Albania, from which the organs were shipped overseas for profit.
Imagine American citizens being kidnapped by foreign nationals and the U.S. not prosecuting them because doing so would be seen as “politically motivated” — one reason that the Serbian government won’t prosecute those responsible for the organ scheme, particularly Thaci.
Ah, that’s the problem — not enough flexibility in the kidney supply system. Ol’ Snakey was just an entrepreneur/philanthropist trying to fill a gap caused by market failure and thereby alleviate human suffering. A regular humanitarian! Indeed, the whole thing boils down to a health/medical story, with the closing line: “[P]reventing any American from seeking an organ on the black market…would reduce incentives for unscrupulous and often dangerous cartels to supply them. And if the United States can solve its kidney problem, it might encourage other countries, all the way to Kosovo, to solve theirs.” Yes, that’s it: Kosovo is looking for a solution to making money.
“Washington learned the hard way what the costs are of turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuses. America should be reminded of its past mistakes. We Albanians would be grateful if Washington would remember the principles and values that so many of us have come to admire about the United States of America.”
…[M]y predominantly Muslim countrymen draped our streets with star spangled banners and lined up by the thousands to shower [President Bush] with praise…As the Western press pointed out during the visit, we were taught in history class that President Woodrow Wilson stood up for Albania’s independence about a century ago…
But here’s what the press didn’t report: our government, led by Prime Minister Sali Berisha, has abused this relationship with Washington, using it as cover to shore up his increasingly tyrannical rule…With seemingly unconditional US support, Berisha is slowly undermining respect for human rights and democracy.
Media crackdowns have become a routine, and most of the public is only exposed to governmental airwaves, which often accuse critics of being ‘jews’ and ‘faggots’…Berisha talks about progress and reform, but these are euphemisms for cracking down on the independence of the judiciary, redistributing private property, solidifying his grip on secret services and stacking the public administration with hardcore supporters of his Democratic party irrespective of their competence.
There are no McDonalds or ClubMeds in Albania, and not because we oppose globalization. On the contrary, we welcome it — but businesses here are constantly harassed, extorted and shut down if not found favourable with the ruling regime…In the 1990s, he was our president…and he proved very adept at jailing his political opponents, shutting down newspapers and stacking the security services with party loyalists…Washington turned a blind eye to his autocratic tendencies.
This policy came back to bite the United States, however, because Berisha’s government became so corrupt and abusive, that it eventually imploded. In 1996-97, a string of fraudulent pyramid investment schemes collapsed, bilking tens of thousands of people out of their lives’ savings. They took to the streets and demanded his resignation, but not before they raided the country’s armories. Many of these weapons they looted eventually wound up across the border in Kosovo, provoking yet another war in the former Yugoslavia….
So they celebrate those who support their self-determination even while suffering under the chains of this “independence.”