******UPDATE******

Bosnian Radical Islamists Preparing to Join Syrian Rebels (Dalje.com (Croatia), June 26)

Nine armed and masked Bosnian radical Islamists have announced in a video message their departure for Syria to fight alongside the opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, Bosnian media said on Tuesday.

The video, posted on the LiveLeak video website, showed the nine men, who identified themselves as followers of the Bosnian Salafi order, singing and in the end chanting Allahu akbar, or God is great…

The FTV television network has said earlier that a group of 52 Bosnian fighters have gone to Syria since the outbreak of fighting there, 32 have returned in the meantime and two have been reportedly killed. According to security agencies, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina travel to Syria using a well-established route through Turkey. The Bosnian authorities have not officially launched an investigation into organised departures of Bosnian Salafists to fight in Syria.

The Bosnian intelligence agency OSA has earlier warned that about 3,000 persons believed to be members of radical Islamic organisations live in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

******

A sort of follow-up to the related story of Syrian “rebels” learning from the “former” KLA that we put in charge of Kosovo — and put in touch with the Syrians. And so one supposes that to U.S. officialdom, the below developments are nothing alarming. Wonderful news, in fact. After all, we organized the Syrian-Albanian note-sharing on how to win an insurgency and have an unfree “liberated” country afterwards.

Comment from American Council for Kosovo director Jim Jatras, who circulated the item below:

“Albanian Islamists”?? What? There’s no such thing!

Shouldn’t that be, “Secular, Democratic, Pro-American Kosovo Albanians Paradoxically Join Jihadists in Syria”?

Funny how US support for political and military empowerment of secular, democratic, pro-American (etc., etc.) Muslims always seems to morph into more jihadists.

Albanian Islamists Join Syrian War

Ethnic Albanians are getting more and more involved in the Syrian war as they join Syrian Islamist groups, writes Mohammad al-Arnaout. (Al-Hayat, Apr. 29)

In recent months, the “Albanian world,” which consists of five contiguous states (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro), has been increasingly interested in what is happening in Syria and the controversy over whether Albanians should go fight there.

This coincided with the growth of political Islam, which in the past few weeks expressed itself in an unprecedented way with the emergence of Kosovo’s first officially registered Islamist political party: the Islamic Movement to Unite (LISBA). [Didn’t see that coming!] It is headed by Arsim Krasniqi and supported by Sheikh Shaukat Krasniqi and a former Yugoslavian army officer, Fuad Ramiqi [who is al Qaeda-connected]. The latter made no secret of his goal to change Kosovo’s secular constitution in order to “defend the Islamic identity of Kosovo’s Albanians, who make up 95% of the population.”

[Digital Journal on March 6th reported that the party — Levizja Islamike Bashkohu — is actually “the first fundamentalist Islamist political party in the Balkans.” That is, the American-sponsored, “secular”, “nominally Muslim” Kosovo which we’re still feverishly trying to prop up as a fully-fledged state that is Muslim and pro-U.S., has the distinction — a decade-and-a-half after our “help” — of housing the region’s first official Islamist party. Digital Journal quoted a Weekly Standard article by Stephen “Suleyman” Schwartz — Muslim Kosovo’s biggest advocate and war proponent — now “warning” that “‘exponents of Saudi-financed Wahhabism and of the Muslim Brotherhood have penetrated the highest levels of the official Kosovo Islamic apparatus,’ though they are not readily welcomed by the secular population…Kosovans struggling in poverty have been paid (by Gulf-sponsored charities) to the wear the hijab or grow beards…” What was expected to happen after NATO handed Kosovo to ‘Kosovans’?]

There has long been behind-the-scenes talk that young Albanians, influenced by political Islam’s rise in Syria, are participating in the fighting there among the ranks of Islamist groups (Jabhat al-Nusra and others). [Hmm, young, Albanians. Surely they don’t see parallels in Syria to their own “no religious component” struggle in 1998-99 Kosovo?] When news emerged in November 2012 that the first Albanian martyr, Naaman Damoli, had fallen in Syria, the Kosovar newspaper Koha Ditore brought that issue to light in its Nov. 12, 2012, issue.

Koha Ditore returned to that subject in its March 13, 2013, issue when 22-year-old Mohammed Koprona became the 10th Albanian martyr to die in Syria. The story’s headline was: “Syria’s land is soaking in Albanian blood.” According to unidentified “intelligence sources,” many martyrs in Syria are Albanians from Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia (Preševo valley). But Koprona’s case was unique. During the “great exit,” he migrated with his family from Kosovo to Sweden, where he grew up in a liberal European atmosphere. [What might that great exit be? The 1999 exodus we helped the KLA stage, then relocated a bunch of them here and throughout Europe?] He suddenly fell under radical Islam’s influence [most unexpected!] and was recruited to fight with Islamist groups in Syria, where dozens of Albanians are fighting.

The intelligence sources mentioned some of the names of Albanians killed in Syria (such as Naaman Damoli from Kosovo and Moussa Ahmadi from Serbia). Others are known by their noms-de-guerre such as Abu Omar al-Albani, who was one of four Albanian martyrs. The intelligence sources also mentioned Mounir and Bahloul al-Arnaout, who were killed by the Syrian army in Qadam. The intelligence sources also revealed that the number of Albanians in Syria stands at about 140. They are fighting among the Islamist groups in northern Syria.

By publishing this information for the first time, Koha Ditore was sharply criticizing the Kosovar government led by Hashim Thaci for remaining silent as young Kosovars fight alongside Islamist groups in Syria and the effect that phenomenon has on Kosovo: These young people will return home with military experience inspired by the spirit of jihad.

[One wonders if this has anything to do with Thaci’s ‘puzzling’ silence: “Kosovo’s foreign policy toward the Arab world has recently begun to emphasize Kosovo’s Islamic character, as a means to gain support and improve bilateral relations.” After all, one needs a back-up plan, and counterweight, to U.S.-E.U. sponsorship as those annoying Western demands about democracy and human rights become too oppressively civilizing, relatively speaking.]

On April 13, 2013, the newspaper Shekulli reported…that Kosovo security sources have put their finger on two Kosovo mosques (Makovitz mosque in the outskirts of Pristina and Mitrovica mosque) that are gathering Albanians to go fight with the Islamists in Syria.

Because many local observers are accusing the new Islamist party LISBA of being involved in Syria, the paper spoke with LISBA’s leader Arsim Krasniqi, who had donated a plot of land to build the Makovitz mosque. Krasniqi denied that his party was recruiting fighters but admitted that “[fighters] are going [to Syria] on an individual basis, not as part of a group. … I support those who are participating in fighting Assad’s regime.”

There is no doubt that opening this file by Kosovar and Albanian newspapers has revealed that the secular world is worried about this phenomenon. In other words, political Islam worries “official” Islam. The latter is represented by al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, which represents the Muslims vis-a-vis the state and cares for their religious and cultural affairs. In this context, the position of al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, which is headed by Sheikh Naim Tarnafa, calls during its Friday sermons to donate money for the Syrian refugees in Turkey and elsewhere.

If the last paragraph above has it right, then the “official” Islam — headed by Naim Tarnafa (or Ternava) — is worried about political Islam. Yet we know Ternava is an ‘Islamist’ himself. Even The Weakly Standard’s Balkans expert Stephen “Suleyman Ahmad” Schwartz says so. As if he’d been sounding the warning bell all along rather than threatening reporters’ careers if they asked about jihadism in Kosovo or Bosnia, here was an article by him last year (opening, of course, with the ‘indisputable’ premise that’s meant to keep you on the pro-Albanian, anti-Slav program):

Kosovo Continues Fight Against Wahhabi Infiltration (Weakly Standard, March 19, 2012)

The great majority of Kosovar Albanians take pride in their reputation as the most pro-American Muslims in the world. Their Sunni Islam is conventional and moderate, and spiritual Sufism is a powerful force among the believers. Since 2009, however, a serious effort has been visible in the Balkan republic to turn Kosovar Islam in the direction of Wahhabism [2009? Try 1999.]….

Kosovo defines itself constitutionally as a secular state, and female students are forbidden to wear headscarves in public schools, [yes and no; see this article by Asifa Akar] with religious instruction barred from state-subsidized primary and secondary education. But anti-extremist imams and professors of Islamic theology have been physically attacked and fired from Islamic teaching at the university level.

On March 8, Kosovo saw a new front open against radical Islam, in the beautiful region of Kacanik near the Macedonian border. The town of Kacanik has special resonance for Kosovars. In 1990, Kosovo Albanians met there to adopt a constitution proclaiming their independence from a collapsing Yugoslavia. The document was memorable for bearing the Statue of Liberty on its printed cover. [Keep laying it on thick. Don’t forget to mention all the American flags everywhere or the Clinton statue, the Bob Dole Street or Hillary Square]…

That day Sabri Bajgora, a former religious instructor who had been named chief imam of Kosovo – a new position in the Muslim institutions of the republic – claimed he was attacked on the street in the capital, Pristina, by Musli Verbani, who had been removed as imam of the Kacanik mosque. Bajgora is viewed widely as a lackey of Naim Ternava, the Wahhabi head of the Kosovo Islamic Community since 2003. Ternava had invented the job of chief imam, which did not exist in the established regulations of the Islamic structure, to accommodate Bajgora.

In Kacanik the next day, a crowd demonstrated at the local office of the Islamic community, protesting against the suspension of Verbani from the Gazi Sinan Pasha mosque…Six days later, prayer in the Gazi Sinan Pasha mosque was interrupted when members of the congregation proclaimed their opposition to the ouster of imam Verbani…Two Wahhabi interlopers were arrested at the mosque, according to Kosovo police regional chief Jaser Jaha.

The Kosovars are victims of Islamist intrigue, [victims again! — as “Kosovars” can only be — but never victims of their own alliances] but are fighting back. A handful have succumbed to divisive propaganda, including Arid Uka, the convicted murderer of two American servicemen in Germany last year. Kosovars point out that those susceptible to terrorist delusions are typically loners, separated from their ethnic roots, or opportunists, like Fuad Ramiqi, a Kosovar who had served in the Yugoslav army, and was involved in the 2010 Islamist attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade at Gaza. [Here he’s inserted a disclaimer by mentioning some of the unwelcome news about Albanian terror or anti-Israelism.] But in their homeland, Kosovar Muslims continue to demonstrate their friendship for America and their commitment to an Islam without radicalism.

Schwartz goes the extra mile, quoting Albanians from the comments section:

Their attitude was, as previously during these confrontations, stated in eloquent terms by notes in the online comment sections of the Kosovo daily newspapers. [Though not as eloquent as the typical Albanian comments section calling for death to Serbs.] An individual signing as “Sadriu” wrote in the lively daily Express that the believers in Kacanik were not to blame [never!], but that the problems were caused by imams contaminated by “Arab-Turkish-Taliban culture” and forgetful of Albanian traditions. In the Kosovo newspaper of record, Koha Ditore (Daily Times), reader Rita Lumi addressed the Wahhabis as follows: “Go to the Arab world, because there is your proper place.”

The case was put most directly by readers of the sensationalist daily Bota Sot (World Today). A post by an anonymous Kosovar declared, “Musli Verbani, the imam of Kaçanik, with a master’s degree in law, was a freedom fighter [a.k.a. Serb-killer]. . . . But the officials of the Islamic Community prefer someone who is uneducated…Let the local community side with the educated imam.”

In the same site, “Danir” wrote, “Well done, imam Verbani, for being educated to a standard far above the others. Well done, for being among the first to join the war for our freedom. [No connections made between that war, and the one Albanians are now finding themselves in with radical Islam. This “freedom-fighter” is also befuddled by the Islamic phenomenon taking over.] You deserve to be a leader, unlike Bajgora and Ternava – where were they when war was raging?” [Obviously preparing for the logical conclusion of your war, Dingbat.] Other readers denounced the Wahhabi religious functionaries as corrupt and dishonest. The fight for the soul of Islam in Kosovo will continue, it seems, with great potential for positive results.

And great potential for negative ones, which Suleyman Schwartz apparently hadn’t seen coming while pushing for yet another war against Christians on behalf of Muslims in 1999. (No one misses the obvious like an expert.) Laughably, since 2006 he’s been sending up grave warnings about all this — after making it a reality. For example, here was Schwartz on Ternava the previous year: Kosovo Islam in Crisis (June 22, 2011)

… [S]ince the end of the main conflict in 1999, the country has been targeted by extremist Muslim preachers and flooded with fundamentalist literature. [How about that!] …[T]he chief Islamic cleric since 2003, Naim Ternava, has drawn considerable criticism for his encouragement of a new offensive among local Muslims in favor of Saudi-financed Wahhabism and similar incendiary doctrines. Wahhabis and other radicals, including Pakistanis, have entered these territories, bent on drawing the Albanian Muslims toward Islamist militancy. Dissatisfaction with Naim Ternava’s indulgence toward fanaticism and prejudice is a recurrent theme among Kosovar Muslims…Ternava purged the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Prishtina…replacing them with radicals. […]

That was soon followed by this one:

Moderate Clerics Purged from Kosovo Muslim Leadership (Oct. 5, 2011)

Kosovo’s top Islamic cleric, Naim Ternava, last month purged the two most outspoken anti-radical preachers from the local Sunni religious apparatus….Musliu was brutally attacked in 2009 by a gang of fundamentalist Wahhabis….[T]he conflict between a minority of radical sympathizers in the Kosovo Islamic leadership and the moderate majority of Kosovar Muslims has widened….

Next, contentious Muslim demonstrations began unexpectedly [unexpectedly?] in Kosovo, summoned by a movement called “Join!” to hold prayer sessions in public. Its leader, Fuad Ramiqi, had been involved in last year’s attempt by an Islamist flotilla to break the Israeli naval blockade at Gaza, and is associated with the Qatar-based fundamentalist cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, as well as Al-Qaradawi’s academic partner, Tariq Ramadan.

“Join!” demanded the erection of a “mega-mosque” in Pristina, a city that already possesses 22 mosques. Albanian Catholics have also been the object of hate speech by a proud Wahhabi exponent, Imam Shefqet Krasniqi. …

The main effect of the contretemps has been the open description of Ternava as an “extremist” in Kosovo media. The online comment section of Express included a post signed by “Uqalija,” from rural Kosovo, warning that Ternava, the anti-Christian preacher Shefqet Krasniqi, and Ramiqi all have radical ties, and calling on the Kosovo authorities to “isolate and punish these terrorists. Tomorrow, when Kosovo is Pakistanized, it will be too late.” A writer from Pristina, identified as “Flamuri” …declared succinctly, “Once, Serbia was the enemy of the Kosovar Albanians. Now the enemy of all Albanians is political Islam … down with political Islam.”

As if that wasn’t what Chris Deliso’s 2007 book The Coming Balkan Caliphate was all about. Schwartz is still working backwards to justify a backwards policy. Only now is he worried — after he got his war — that moderate Muslims are imperiled by extremism. When it was just Christians imperiled by the ‘moderate’ Muslims, he had us help those moderates imperil them. Which in turn imperiled the moderates. As Jatras put it in his February article “Crocodile Tears over ‘Kosovo Radical Islamists in New Political Offensive‘”: “[A]bout the only one writing in the American MSM about Islamic radicalism in Kosovo is one of the strongest voices in support of Balkan Muslims…for the precise purpose of defending the myth of the intervention – which opened the door to the very influences he pretends to decry.” Back to Schwartz:

…[M]any prominent Kosovar Albanian Muslims, who now decline to speak for attribution…have said for some time that radical Islam would be a worse threat to the Albanians than their Slavic adversaries…[Really? You think?]

Sudden forgetfulness about the Serbian campaign, backed by Putin’s Russia, against independent Kosovo, and increasing religious polarization among Albanians, is deeply alarming. [Oh no! Albanians are finding they care more about life, limb and actual freedom than about their ethnic supremacy or the Serbian “oppression” ploy they justified “liberation” with. So Schwartz can’t even keep his “Kosovars” on program.] Some Albanians claim Islamist aggression is backed by Serbs avid to divide the Albanians.

Wow, so he’s not even above quoting the staple Albanian conspiracy theory: anything bad that happens to Albanians can’t be a consequence of their own actions or choices, but must be happening because the Serbs are behind it. One wonders if he’s also respectfully quoted Kosovo officials calling Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty a Serbian spy.

So now, with Kosovo’s Islamic character changing, Schwartz has taken to portraying Kosovo as a “front line against radical Islam” (precisely what Serbian Kosovo had been historically, until we had the Albanians take over), while somehow still blaming the surrounding Slavs for “tempting” radicalism in Albanians:

Kosovo borders on Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia — all Slav countries….[U]nsympathetic neighbors offer tempting opportunities for disruptive agitation in the name of fanatical Islam. This may explain why Kosovo has become, more than a decade after the NATO campaign against Belgrade, the leading Balkan battleground between traditional, local Muslim habits and the doctrines of radical Islamist interlopers…Still, Kosovo has achieved an unfortunate distinction: Early in February, its most prominent radical Islamist adherents announced the formation of the first fundamentalist Muslim political party in the Balkans, the “Islamic Movement to Unite,” or LISBA, its Albanian-language acronym…Known more generally as “Bashkohu!” or “Join!” […]

The Weakly Standard’s Balkan “expert” sounded yet another warning just last week, noting that the “pro-Wahhabi, Muslim-Brotherhood-affiliated” Ternava was a prominent participant in a Blair Foundation event last month called “A Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation.” Schwartz was good enough to notice that the week of “kumbaya” didn’t mention that which truly worries the locals now that they’ve made their bed: “the infiltration of radicalism into the highest level of the Kosovo Islamic apparatus.” He also mentioned that Ternava had just “applied for status as a veteran of the KLA, although he did not fire a shot in the 1998-99 Kosovo combat.” One supposes that means Schwartz sees Ternava as unworthy of KLA veteran status, but goes on to explain that both Ternava and his assistant Bajgora base the claim to veteran status “on their work organizing food and sanitary assistance for refugees. Ternava declared that he reported, during the war, to former KLA general staff chief Sylejman Selimi, currently Kosovo ambassador to Albania, and another former KLA commander, Sami Lushtaku, mayor of the city of Skenderaj. On June 1, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) reported the arrest of Selimi, Lushtaku, and five more former KLA members for alleged war crimes.”

Presumably, Schwartz is pointing this out to say that Ternava and Bajgora are implicating themselves via the bad company they reported to. But one puzzles at this, given that Selimi and Lushtaku et. al. were representative of Schwartz’s much trumpeted KLA. A criminal outfit waging war will, by definition, commit war crimes. And the KLA was certainly defined by them. And so, without skipping a beat, Schwartz ends by shifting the subject back to the usual object of his loathing — Slavs:

Another local concern involves the undiluted dedication of Serbian Orthodox clerics to the claim that Kosovo is part of Serbia. Kosovo has attempted to reach an agreement with Serbia on its northern border….Yet as the conference in Pec came to a hospitable end, Kosovars learned that their president, Atifete Jahjaga, had been excluded from a regional meeting of heads of state in Ohrid, Macedonia….Kosovo’s attempts at good-faith negotiations with its Slavic neighbors seem doomed….

Ah yes, those good-faith negotiations whose results were predetermined by a decade of Albanian threats of war if the one and only permissible outcome wasn’t handed over on a silver platter — all reinforced by Kosovo’s Washington patrons.

There were two further items this month about the Albanians-in-Syria phenomenon, one of them including Bosnian Muslims, Schwartz’s other proteges:

Balkan Militants Join Syria’s Rebel Cause (The Atlantic, June 10)

Several hundred Bosnian Muslims might have joined the fight against Assad’s regime.

NOVI PAZAR, Serbia — Eldar Kundakovic was fighting to free Syrian rebels from prison in May when he was killed by a hand grenade…Kundakovic came from Novi Pazar in Serbia’s mainly Bosniak Muslim region of Sandzak.

His death notice, posted on the Internet by Syrian rebels, calls attention to a growing trend: young Muslims from the Balkans are traveling to Syria to join the rebel cause.

The journey from the Balkans to the Middle East has been made by Muslims from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania.

Kundakovic’s father said that he last spoke with his son by telephone when he crossed into Syria from Turkey in late March.

Esad Kundakovic says his son immediately joined a rebel unit with about 30 fighters from Sandzak. [Sandzak being the next Balkan front that Washington has its eye on as a stick against Belgrade, which has been appeasing the Muslim parallel state there to avoid the constantly threatened “internationalization” of the problem.]

Bosnia-Herzegovina has the strongest Salafist presence in the Balkans due to aid and investments by Saudi Arabians who are members of the fundamentalist sect.

Tellingly, many Bosnian fighters in Syria have joined Al-Nusra Front.

Relatives of those Bosnians claim that Nusret Imamovic, the leader of the predominantly Salafist Bosnian village of Gornja Maoca, was their recruiter. Imamovic refuses to be interviewed about the allegations.

Salafists established themselves in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 Balkan conflict [How about that!] when foreign jihadists arrived to help Bosnian Muslims fight against Serb and Bosnian-Serb forces.

Some foreign Salafist fighters stayed in Bosnia after the war. Financial support for reconstruction also poured in from Saudi Arabian Salafists, strengthening their Balkan foothold.

What?! There’s an Islamic foothold in the Balkans?

Here was the second item this month, and notice that “jihad” appears in quotes. That’s intended to tell us — as the media and politicians told us re Kosovo and Bosnia — that just because the jihadists are plainly telling us what this is, doesn’t mean we can’t keep lying to ourselves about it.

Kosovo Muslim Embraces ‘Jihad’ in Syrian War (Balkan Insight, June 13)

A Kosovar who has fought twice in Syria’s civil war, says belief in Islamic holy war has drawn him and many other Albanians into the Middle Eastern cauldron.

S.T., a two-time veteran of the sectarian war raging in Syria, says it is not hard to get from Pristina in Kosovo to the heart of the fighting in the Middle East’s latest war.

All you need is a plane ticket to Turkey, which does not require visas from Kosovars, the 30-year-old ex-schoolteacher says.

There, volunteers cross over the porous Turkish border and join the opposition….The former English teacher in a primary school in southeast Kosovo now sports a long Islamic beard.

Sitting in a café and drinking a macchiato, he takes no notice of the Kosovo police officers sitting nearby.

“Everyone here knows that I was fighting in Syria,” says S.T. who wants to keep his identity secret from the media.

ST says he fought in the northern city of Aleppo and in Sakhur, which, according to him, is known for its brave fighters.

“It’s like our Drenica,” he said, referring to the area of central Kosovo that spawned many rebels in the past.

[Gee, that couldn’t be referring to the ’secular’ separatist ‘freedom-fighters’ known as the KLA, could it? Drenica, the birthplace of Kosovo prime minister Thaci’s now international criminal outfit.]

He says he carried a Kalashnikov into battle and fought in the front line. “…I always fought in the front line,” he maintained.

He says his reasons for joining the war were wholly religious. “I went to war because of jihad, the doctrine of holy war according to Islam, not for material reasons,” he added.

S.T. says the mosques of Istanbul act as meeting places for volunteer fighters heading towards the war zone.

In Syria, he says that he communicated in a mixture of English and Arabic.

S.T is far from the only Kosovar fighting in the Middle East.

Vedat Xhymshiti, a Kosovar journalist who reported from Syria for several weeks, c[a]me across many other Albanians who were fighting a jihad.

“In general, all the Albanians I met had joined the war for the same reason; jihad, holy war,” he said.

Xhymshiti says he came across 100 to 150 other Albanians fighters in Syria.

At a press conference on 17 May, leaders of Kosovo’s main Islamist party, the Islamic Unification Movement, LISBA, called on the government to help the Syrian opposition, even if only symbolically.

At the same time, LISBA denied organizing volunteers for the Syrian war.

“We do not know the exact number of Albanians from Kosovo, or other Albanian areas, fighting in Syria, as we do not organize or sponsor them,” the leader of LISBA, Fuad Ramiqi, said.

The movement, which was established as a political party in March, has protested several times so far, demanding more rights for the Islamic community, which they say is discriminated against.

Abit Hoxha, from the Centre for Security Studies in Kosovo, said…there are two incentives for people to join the war in Syria. The first is religious faith and the second is the social status these people hope to acquire once they return home. […]

In closing, a gem of a blog piece by Jim Bovard:

Butcher of Belgrade Offers Tips for Syria (JimBovard.com, June 18)

The New York Times op-ed page has a piece by retired General Wesley Clark headlined: “To Get a Truce, Be Ready to Escalate.” The Times summarizes Clark’s wisdom: “The threat of force might get talks over Syria moving, as it did in Kosovo.”

Clark opines as if the military campaign which he headed was a stellar moral and strategic success…It is stunning that anyone [would] showcase Clark as a wise man – considering the fiasco that he unleashed in the Balkans. For instance, NATO repeatedly dropped cluster bombs into marketplaces, hospitals, and other civilian areas…

NATO worked overtime to explain away its “mistakes.” On April 12, [1999] a NATO pilot sent a missile into a passenger train on a railway bridge, killing 14 people. Clark took to the press podium to show the video from the nose of the missile, emphasizing that the pilot was focused on the bridge, “when all of a sudden, at the very last instant, with less than a second to go, he caught a flash of movement that came into a screen and it was the train coming in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dump the bomb at that point…” The video was endlessly replayed on Western television stations, driving home the point that, with the speed of modern missiles, there was sometimes nothing pilots could do to avoid catastrophe.

However, in January 2000, the Frankfurter Rundschau revealed that the video was shown at the NATO press conference at triple the actual speed, thus making the attack on civilians look far more inevitable than it actually was. NATO officials had become aware of the deceptive nature of the video several months earlier but saw “no reason” to publicly admit the error, according to a U.S. Air Force spokesman.

On April 14, 1999, NATO bombs repeatedly hit a column of ethnic Albanian refugees a few miles from the Albanian border, killing 75 people. NATO spokesmen initially claimed that Serbian planes carried out the attack and used the incident to further inflame anti-Serbian opinion. Five days later, NATO spokesmen admitted that the deaths had been caused by NATO forces. NATO then released the audio tape from the debriefing of a pilot identified as involved in the attack.

As Newsday reported, “According to officials, the American pilot was selected because he gave a graphic account of Milosevic’s forces torching a series of ethnic Albanian villages near the Kosovo town of Dakojvica Wednesday. The pilot told how he selected a three-truck military convoy for a laser-guided bomb strike when he saw it pulling away from a village where fires were just starting.”

However, this gambit backfired when high-ranking military officers protested that NATO, at Clark’s urging, had released the tape of a pilot who had nothing to do with bombing the refugee column. The pilot’s words were a red herring to distract attention from the carnage inflicted on the refugees.

The main achievement of the war was that, instead of Serbs terrorizing ethnic Albanians, ethnic Albanians terrorized Serbs [as they had done all along]; instead of refugees fleeing south and west, refugees headed north.

Unfortunately, few Americans paid close enough attention to the Kosovo war to recognize the danger of permitting the U.S. government and military commanders to go crusading with bombs dropped from 15,000 feet.

Thus, Clark is treated with respect when he recommends unleashing the same recipe for carnage in Syria.

And, also thus, we get the same sort of editorial from The Washington Post this week: “Kosovo Offers United States a Roadmap for Syria” (June 20)

One certainly wonders why it took The Post over a year to catch up to Wall St. Journal idiocy (A Kosovo Model for Syria: Bill Clinton stood up to Milosevic. Barack Obama can confront Assad.); and to Financial Times idiocy (Kosovo shows how the west can intervene in Syria); and five months to catch up to Christian Science Monitor idiocy (To deter extremists in Syria, Obama must heed lessons of Kosovo intervention, by Andrew Burt); and nine months to catch up to National Post idiocy (Learning lessons about Syria from our experience in Kosovo and Libya, by Art Eggleton).

As Jatras closed his article: “Meanwhile, the band plays on, with al-Qaida and Albanian Mafia-linked weapons shipments from Bosnia and Kosovo going to jihadists…in Syria (DebkaFile — “…The Muslim factions of the Syrian revolt have received their first heavy weapons consignments, mostly Kornet and Fagot anti-tank missiles. Their improved armaments account for the new edge they display in battles with Bashar Assad’s army….These arms are coming from two sources: radical Islamist organizations in Bosnia and Kosovo, some of them associated with al Qaeda – at least ideologically. It is hard to say who is organizing and bankrolling the new weapons sea route to Syria. According to one theory, it is the Albanian mafia. For the first time, Syrian rebels are taking in arms unsupervised by any of the Western or Arab agencies involved in the Syrian revolt. Most of the incoming weapons are destined for the Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra, the rebel faction identified with al Qaeda. The Jabhat al-Nusra, newly armed with hardware from Bosnia and Kosovo, have pushed across the border into Lebanon, our sources reveal, and are harassing Hizballah in its home bases in the Beqaa Valley…Both are designated terrorist groups by the United States government.”)