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Gun culture stymies the UN in Kosovo "Especially with the increased activity of Al Qaeda in Kosovo"
csmonitor.com ^ | September 26, 2003 | Arie Farnam

Posted on 09/28/2003 1:19:39 AM PDT by Destro

from the September 26, 2003 edition

Gun culture stymies the UN in Kosovo

By Arie Farnam | Special to The Christian Science Monitor

CERNICA, KOSOVO – The victim was a schoolteacher, killed by a grenade as he sat in a grocery store in the village of Cernica in eastern Kosovo. "He was drawing up lesson plans for the beginning of the school year," says Radusha Brankica a fellow teacher. Crying, she then pleads, "I can't take any more of this violence. With grenades and guns everywhere, how can we stop the killing?"

The blast this month was part of a recent rash of weekly shootings and explosions that are raising international concern over uncontrolled weapons in this UN protectorate.

A recent United Nations study estimates there are about half a million small arms in Kosovo, primarily illegal weapons held by civilians. In a province of 2 million people, almost every family is armed - a legacy of ethnic strife here and a threat to efforts to stabilize the province.

Kosovo was flooded with weapons in 1997 after rioters looted military armories in neighboring Albania. Many of the pilfered arms went to the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was waging a guerrilla war against Serb rule over this primarily ethnic- Albanian province. In return, Serbian security forces issued machine guns to Serb paramilitaries and ordinary farmers alike. The conflict culminated in a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 that forced Serb soldiers to leave and put the province under UN administration.

The proliferation of arms has the rest of Europe worried. For the first time, Kosovo is now a net exporter of weapons, primarily those smuggled to Albanian gangs and organized crime in Italy, Greece, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

"Some countries have a mafia, but in Kosovo, the mafia has a country," says one American security official in Kosovo, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Especially with the increased activity of Islamic extremists and Al Qaeda groups in and around Kosovo, this situation could pose a real security threat to Europe."

The UN administration of Kosovo has mounted a massive antiarms campaign, and declared an amnesty this month for civilians to turn in illegal and unregistered weapons without penalty. Billboards and posters depicting a child holding out a rose toward the shadowy figure of a man with a machine gun have multiplied across the countryside, along with UN information stands and weapons-collection teams provided by KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force here. In a place where no wedding is complete without celebratory gunfire, anyone caught with an illegal weapon after Sept. 30 could face eight years in prison.

"The campaign is focusing on the ordinary citizen who has a Kalashnikov stashed under their bed," says Barry Fletcher, spokesman for the multinational police force in Kosovo. "Having AK47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers in private homes makes every minor neighborly dispute potentially lethal."

NATO-led forces imposed an uneasy peace in Kosovo four years ago, and KLA leaders have become Kosovo's new political class. There have been several attempts to collect unregistered arms, but they have yielded only several hundred weapons. Despite promises of UN development aid to communities that give up weapons, many officials admit privately that they expect little better from the current amnesty. Halfway through the operation, US soldiers stationed at a collection point in eastern Kosovo say not one civilian had come to turn in a weapon.

Cernica residents say they need to have weapons. "You can't depend on KFOR to protect you," says one. "There were KFOR troops just up the street when the [grocery] store was grenaded, and they didn't stop it from happening. The only protection is to have your own gun and shoot back."

The teacher's murder appears to have been an ethnic attack. The victim was a Serb; the attackers escaped to the Albanian part of the village. Villagers on both sides say it is only a matter of time before armed Serbs take revenge. But the easy availability of weapons in Kosovo means that not just ethnic tensions, but everything from bar fights to business disputes is solved with a gun.

"You think twice before getting in an argument in Kosovo because someone always ends up dead, " says Dukajin Gorani, director of the Human Rights Center at Pristina University. Mr. Gorani and many others blame the violence on a "gun culture" that has resulted from decades of conflict and lawlessness.

"In this part of the world, there is a strong belief in customary law which means an eye for an eye," Gorani says. "It is commendable that KFOR is trying to collect weapons, but it is an impossible task. Kosovars have learned from the KLA that you get international attention if you have a gun. In our lifetime the rule of law has never achieved anything, only guns have provided a measure of justice. So you stick to your gun."

This summer has seen the rise of another shadowy paramilitary force called the Albanian National Army (with the Albanian initials AKSh) in Kosovo and border areas in Macedonia and Serbia proper. That group, along with scattered Serb militias and organized crime on both sides of the ethnic divide, has created an atmosphere of fear and instability in Kosovo that makes disarmament extremely difficult.

"From the perspective of a peasant in Kosovo, the prospect of another war in southeastern Europe is not far fetched at all," says Aaron Presnall, director of the East-West Institute's Southeastern Europe office. "In the past few centuries, anyone who wasn't armed in this region has quickly found themselves at the end of someone else's barrel. In that context, keeping a gun is simply good common sense."

Ethnic-Albanian villagers in Zhegra, just three miles from Cernica, remember all too well what it is like to be outgunned by Serb paramilitaries who forced them to flee their homes in 1999.

"As long as the Serbs are just over the hill, we will keep our guns," says Fatlum, a young man who did not give his last name.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; alqaedabalkans; alqaedakosovo; balkans; banglist; campaignfinance; guncontrol; guns; kosovo
I will ignore the gun issue in favor of this one:

"Especially with the increased activity of Islamic extremists and Al Qaeda groups in and around Kosovo, this situation could pose a real security threat to Europe."

It is not the gun, but in what cause it is used. Tell me Presidential candidate Clark-how did the Kosovo mission make the area safer? How did you miss the al-Qaeda operatives?

1 posted on 09/28/2003 1:19:39 AM PDT by Destro
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To: *balkans
bump
2 posted on 09/28/2003 1:20:01 AM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
bttt
3 posted on 09/28/2003 1:33:22 AM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: Destro
Am I correct when I state that the UN is now in charge of getting it together in Kososvo? It doesn't look like a good job is being done. And, we are suppose to turn over the future of Iraq to this same inept organisation. Until we can see some improvements in other parts of the world under the control of the UN, I say keep their hands off.
4 posted on 09/28/2003 2:53:43 AM PDT by mrtysmm
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To: mrtysmm
But the easy availability of weapons in Kosovo means that not just ethnic tensions, but everything from bar fights to business disputes is solved with a gun.

What nonsense. Sarcasm on. This is why we see Switzerland as such an Island of Violence in a peaceful Europe. This is why England has twice the violent crime rate of the United States. Sarcasm off.

It is the culture, not the weapons, that causes the problems.

5 posted on 09/28/2003 3:25:56 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: mrtysmm
But the easy availability of weapons in Kosovo means that not just ethnic tensions, but everything from bar fights to business disputes is solved with a gun.

What nonsense. Sarcasm on. This is why we see Switzerland as such an Island of Violence in a peaceful Europe. This is why England has twice the violent crime rate of the United States. Sarcasm off.

It is the culture, not the weapons, that causes the problems.

6 posted on 09/28/2003 3:27:31 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: mrtysmm
But the easy availability of weapons in Kosovo means that not just ethnic tensions, but everything from bar fights to business disputes is solved with a gun.

What nonsense. Sarcasm on. This is why we see Switzerland as such an Island of Violence in a peaceful Europe. This is why England has twice the violent crime rate of the United States. Sarcasm off.

It is the culture, not the weapons, that causes the problems.

7 posted on 09/28/2003 3:27:47 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: Destro
All together now: can we say, "Thank you, Bill Clinton?"
8 posted on 09/28/2003 4:07:16 AM PDT by livius
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To: livius
Don't forget to thank Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), as well.

Ol' Mitch is the KLA's most ardent cheerleader.

9 posted on 09/28/2003 4:15:59 AM PDT by csvset
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To: Destro
Maybe they need background checks and a five day waiting period.

No, wait-I know-an assault weapons ban!

That'll do the trick!

10 posted on 09/28/2003 4:25:43 AM PDT by Jim Noble
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To: Jim Noble; *bang_list
Cernica residents say they need to have weapons. "You can't depend on KFOR to protect you," says one. "There were KFOR troops just up the street when the [grocery] store was grenaded, and they didn't stop it from happening. The only protection is to have your own gun and shoot back."

The presence of the UN adds emphesis to the need to be well armed. The "UN peacekeeper" gun grabbers, are just another enemy to defend against.

11 posted on 09/28/2003 8:40:02 AM PDT by TERMINATTOR ((R)nold's like a chrome plated Yugo - all show and no go! McClintock for Governor of California!)
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To: marktwain
Switzerland's gov't has made recent proposals for more gun control since some nut opened up, killing one or more members of their parliament a couple of years ago, IIRC.

Oh, so great are the benefits of diversity. They make you want to defy common sense, even the right to self defense.
12 posted on 09/28/2003 10:28:33 AM PDT by neverdem (Say a prayer for New York both for it's lefty statism and the probability the city will be hit again)
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To: Jim Noble
I said I won't comment on the domestic gun issue since that is not the main point I wan't people to get from this article.

"Some countries have a mafia, but in Kosovo, the mafia has a country," says one American security official in Kosovo, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Especially with the increased activity of Islamic extremists and Al Qaeda groups in and around Kosovo, this situation could pose a real security threat to Europe."

13 posted on 09/28/2003 10:39:12 AM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: TERMINATTOR; Jim Noble; *bang_list
Wake your asses up. The UN blue helmets are not in Kosovo. The US Military is 0without the hated blue helmets- it is they who stood back and let Muslims kill Christians without fear.

Spin that thought around for a while.

14 posted on 09/28/2003 10:41:02 AM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: marron; Hoplite; NYC Republican; joan; Doctor13
More confirmation: al-Qaeda in and around Kosovo.
15 posted on 09/28/2003 11:52:05 AM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
In our lifetime the rule of law has never achieved anything, only guns have provided a measure of justice. So you stick to your gun

The problem is not guns, the problem is a culture without the rule of law and lawlessness. I wouldn't want to live in such a place without a weapon.

16 posted on 09/28/2003 11:57:15 AM PDT by paul51
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To: paul51
I wouldn't want to live in such a any place without a weapon.
17 posted on 09/28/2003 11:58:57 AM PDT by Monty22
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To: csvset
"Don't forget to thank Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), as well."

Don't stop there, there is plenty of blame to go around. Anytime one of these threads pop-up it is important bring up the fact that this a whole mess had its cheerleaders from within the RP too.
18 posted on 09/28/2003 12:02:53 PM PDT by Stew Padasso
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To: Destro
I want to make this perfectly clear.

Wars in support of muslim fascism do not require UN approval. They do not require an exit plan, they do not require a reconstruction plan, they do not need to move in any convincing fashion toward modern secular governance. They do not have to answer for genocide in the aftermath.

It is only wars against muslim fascists, whether nationalist or fundamentalist, that require the UN imprimatur, that must have every conceivable problem worked out in advance, and which must assume blame for every problem in the aftermath. If your aim is to liberate a people, you must adhere to a 0-defect policy. And I actually agree with that, within logical limits.

But if your purpose is to create a base for muslim fascism, obviously such concerns would be silly even to bring up. Who cares, when your purpose in intervening was to fulfill your private obligations to your Saudi benefactor?

Just as an aside, has anyone noticed that in Albania, Kosovo, and the environs, nationalist muslim fascists and fundamentalist muslim fascists manage to cooperate quite well. Just something to remember the next time some smart guy tells you that Al Qaeda and Baathists could not possibly work together. The proof that they could work together is the fact that they have and do work together.
19 posted on 09/28/2003 12:39:02 PM PDT by marron
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To: marron
I would add one proviso, Nationalist and Fundamentalist Muslims (as well as Shi'ite and Sunni) worlk well together if they have a common cause/enemy.
20 posted on 09/28/2003 12:55:02 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
More confirmation: al-Qaeda in and around Kosovo.

Confirmation would be attacks against Americans and the apprehension of Al Qaeda members as we've seen in Iraq recently.

Perhaps you could back up your BS with some proof of attacks agains American Soldiers in Kosovo?

Of course not - you're Destro, and something so irrelevant as proof just isn't worth your time.

21 posted on 09/28/2003 12:57:37 PM PDT by Hoplite
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To: Hoplite
Why ruin a perfectly good staging area when Iraq provides better avenues for success?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/961747/posts
Influx of al-Qaeda allies feared in Iraq (From Arabs to Albanians)

Defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the United States is holding several hundred foreign fighters captured in Iraq, the majority of them Syrians. Others include Saudis, Sudanese, Egyptians, Yemenis, Moroccans, and Albanians, according to US government officials and terrorism specialists.

22 posted on 09/28/2003 1:53:53 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
More confirmation: al-Qaeda in and around Kosovo.

If there's in fact proof that there is an al-Qaeda connection, then there should be no limit to the actions taken upon them to root them out... This should include, but not be limited to, putting the skids on any talks of independence, limiting financial aid to Kosovo, and military action to blow them to H...

23 posted on 09/29/2003 6:22:42 AM PDT by NYC Republican
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To: Destro
our enemy is ourselves. recognize macedonia you fools.
24 posted on 03/18/2004 8:46:13 PM PST by bitola
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To: bitola
FYROM is already recognized.
25 posted on 03/18/2004 8:58:47 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro; PhilDragoo; Ragtime Cowgirl; Cindy; SusanTK; McGavin999; AdmSmith; seamole; Valin; ...
History of Ethnic Cleansing
Thanks to Bill Clinton, now an al-Qaeda stronghold!


26 posted on 05/19/2004 9:26:05 PM PDT by Smartass ( BUSH & CHENEY IN 2004 - Si vis pacem, para bellum)
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