Skip to comments.BALKAN - ALBANIA - KOSOVO - HEROIN - JIHAD
Posted on 01/30/2002 5:45:05 AM PST by Vojvodina
The Centre for Peace in the Balkans:
BALKAN - ALBANIA - KOSOVO - HEROIN - JIHAD
The biggest paradox in the international war on drugs is connected to the Balkans and the explosion of terrorist activities in that troubled area. However, it relates less to drugs and arms and more to the major participants in this deadly game.
Terrorist organizations at the top of Americas most wanted list are receiving tacit support in the Balkans from the Clinton administration. The "most wanted" terrorist in the world today, Osama bin Laden, who declared a "fatwa" against the US, is being abetted by the Clinton doctrine. In the Balkans, we are witnessing a true paradox where several mortal enemies - Iranian revolutionary guards, Osama bin Laden and the CIA - are standing shoulder to shoulder while pursuing diametrically opposite goals.
Drugs Finance Terrorism
Earlier reporting has confirmed that terrorism in the Balkans has been primarily financed through narcotics trafficking. Heroin - worth 12 times its weight in gold - is by far the most profitable commodity on the markets. A kilogram of heroin, worth $1,000 in Thailand, wholesales for $110,000 in Canada with a street value of $800,000.
In fact, heroin trafficking has become so beneficial to the cause of Albanian separatism that the predominantly Albanian-inhabited towns of Veliki Trnovac and Blastica in Serbia, Vratnica and Gostivar in FYR Macedonia, and Shkoder and Durres in Albania have become known as the "new Medellins" of the Balkans. Via the Balkan Route, heroin travels through Turkey, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania en route to western European markets. The value of the heroin shipped is $400-billion (US) a year. As early as 1996, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) detailed the Balkan Route in its annual report. In 1998, the DEA stated that Kosovo Albanians had become the second most important traffickers on the Balkan Route.
These predominantly Albanian drug barons from Kosovo ship heroin exclusively from Asia's Golden Crescent, an apparently inexhaustible source. At one end of the crescent lies Afghanistan, which in 1999 surpassed Burma as the world's largest producer of opium poppies. From there, the heroin base passes through Iran to Turkey, where it is refined, and then placed into the hands of the Albanians who operate out of the lawless towns bordering FYR Macedonia, Albania, and Serbia. According to the US State Department, four to six tons of heroin move through Turkey every month.
"Not very much is stopped", says one official. "We get just a fraction of the total". Not surprisingly, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has flourished along the route. Its dependence on the drug lords is difficult to prove, but the evidence is impossible to overlook.
In 1998, German Federal Police froze two bank accounts belonging to the "United Kosova" organization at a Dusseldorf bank after it was discovered that several hundred thousand dollars had been deposited into those accounts by a convicted Kosovo Albanian drug trafficker. According to at least one published report, Bujar Bukoshi, Prime Minister of the "Kosova" Government in Exile, also allegedly controlled the accounts.
In early 1999 an Italian court in Brindisi convicted an Albanian heroin trafficker named Amarildo Vrioni, who admitted obtaining weapons for the KLA from the Mafia in exchange for drugs.
Last February 23, Czech police arrested Princ Dobroshi, the head of an Albanian Kosovo drug gang. While searching his apartment, they discovered evidence that he had placed orders for light infantry weapons and rocket systems. No one had questioned what a small-time dealer would be doing with rockets. Only later did Czech police reveal he was shipping them to the KLA. The Czechs extradited Dobroshi to Norway where he had escaped from prison in 1997 while serving a 14-year sentence for heroin trafficking.
It's therefore not surprising, say European law enforcement officials, that the faction that ultimately seized power in Kosovo -- the KLA under Hashim Thaci -- was the group that maintained the closest links to traffickers.
In its report about the KLA and heroin smuggling, the Montreal Gazette wrote: "...Michael Levine, a 25-year veteran of the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) who left in 1990, said he believes there is no question that US intelligence knew about the KLA's drug ties. "They (the CIA) protected them (the KLA) in every way they could. As long as the CIA is protecting the KLA, you've got major drug pipelines protected from any police investigation", said Levine, who teaches undercover tactics and informer handling to US and Canadian police forces, including the RCMP. "The evidence is irrefutable," he said, explaining that his information comes from "sources inside the DEA".
The Albanian Medellin connection is particularly strong in Italy where it is operating in conjunction with the "Sacra Corona Unita," or the fourth mafia. The group controls the drug trade in the regions of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto.
The tentacles of the Albanian mafia stretch across Europe. According to Interpol, Albanian-speaking drug dealers accounted for 14% of those arrested for heroin smuggling in 1997. While the average trafficker was apprehended with two grams of heroin, the Albanians had an average of 120 grams in their possession. Scandinavian countries claim that Albanians control 80% of the heroin market there. Switzerland says 90% of the drug trafficking in that country is connected to Albanians. German law enforcement agencies claim that Albanians form the largest group involved in heroin trafficking.
German Federal Police now say that Kosovo Albanians import 80 percent of Europe's heroin. So dominant is the Kosovo Albanian presence in trafficking that many European users refer to illicit drugs in general as "Albanka", or Albanian lady.
Terrorism, Spies and Albanians
Osama bin Ladens activities in Albania are well known and documented. The presence of his network in that country is so powerful that US Defence Secretary William Cohen cancelled a scheduled visit last July out of fear of being assassinated.
The Albanian national security organization SHIK confirmed that plans exist to target US objects in Albania. SHIK is the offspring of the notorious communist security apparatus the "Sigurimi." The former head of the Sigurimi, Irakli Kocollari, is advisor to the current head of SHIK, Fatos Klosi. In 1997 the CIA sent a team of experts to modernize and reorganize SHIK. The other major patron of SHIK is the German intelligence agency Bundensnachrichtendienst (BND) which opened one of its largest stations in Tirana. A review of BND personnel is revealing. While the terrorist Albanian organization Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosove - UCK (KLA) was being formed, the BND was headed by Hansjorg Geiger whose deputy was Rainer Kesselring, the son of the Luftwaffe general who bombed Belgrade during the Second World War.
Mr. Kesselring was given the job of training KLA terrorists at a Turkish base near Izmir where he was head of the BND station in 1978. French sources confirmed that members of the German commando unit, Kommando Spezialkrafte (KSK), participated in the KLA training program. Gen. Klaus Neumann, the outgoing head of NATOs occupational forces in Kosovo and Metohija, formed the German commando unit.
The relationship between the CIA and SHIK is one of master and servant. At the CIAs "request" last year, Albania expelled three "humanitarian" workers, two Syrians and an Iranian. Acting on another request, SHIK arrested an Albanian national, Maksim Ciciku, for spying on the US embassy. Ciciku was educated in Saudi Arabia. In Albania he worked for a private security company which provided bodyguards for visiting Arabs. He was accused of following embassy employees on behalf of Osama bin Laden. Albania also expelled four Egyptians who were suspected of ties to bin Laden. Two others were arrested and handed over to US agents, along with a van full of documents and computer equipment, all of which belonged to Osama bin Ladens organization.
At about the same time, Iran, through its embassy in Rome and its operative Mahmut Nuranija, began to organize an intelligence-gathering sector in Albania. Their involvement in Albania was based on two levels: economic-financial through the Albanian Arab Islamic Bank, and humanitarian through organizations which have become standard covers for subversive activities. At the beginning of 1998 Iran began the serious consolidation of its most important European strongholds, Sarajevo and Tirana. According to Yossef Bodansky, terrorism and unconventional warfare analyst, Iran aided the KLA by providing military plans drawn up by Zaim Bersa, a former colonel in the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), and another Kosovo Albanian, Ejup Dragaj.
One of the leaders of an elite KLA unit was Muhammed al-Zawahiri, the brother of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader in an Egyptian Jihad organization and a military commander of Osama bin Laden. Once again Kosovo becomes a paradox where several mortal enemies - Iranian revolutionary guards, Osama bin Laden and the CIA - are standing shoulder to shoulder training the KLA.
It is believed that bin Laden solidified his organization in Albania in 1994 with the help of then premier Sali Berisha. Albanias ties to Islamic terrorist blossomed during Berisha's rule when the main KLA training base was on Berisha's property in northern Albania. During the "honeymoon" period between the CIA and Jihad holy warriors, Fatos Klosi, the head of SHIK, said he had reliable information that four groups of Jihad warriors from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algiers, Tunisia and Sudan were in northern Albania and fighting with the KLA. Klosi recently stated that there is an attempt to destabilize the country, alluding primarily to former premier Sali Berisha.
Jihad and Serbia
In 1994 in Lebanon, a radical Sunni Muslim group, Takfir wal Hijra, attempted to blow up a convoy of Serbian priests who were on their way to Koura. The priests avoided death when the suicide bomber detonated the explosive device prematurely.
This attempt on the lives of Serbian priests preceded a more ambitious plan. At the 18th Islamic conference, Al-Jamaah al-Islaiyyah, held in Pakistan (October 23-25, 1998), Albanian separatism in Kosovo and Metohija was characterized as a Jihad. The same definition was given to Muslim battles in India (Kashmir), Israel (Palestine) and Eritrea. By defining armed battles as a "holy war" or Jihad, an obligation is placed on the Muslim world to do everything in its power - economically, politically and diplomatically - to aid the fight for freedom in occupied Muslim territories". This gave legitimacy to terrorist acts carried out by Allahs holy warriors. Referring to a Jihad, the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden announced terrorist attacks against "infidel nations", namely Great Britain, United States, France, Israel, Russia, India and Serbia.
The Bosnian Jihad Connection
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the influence of the ruling Islamic party, Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has brought out the recently born again "true believers". Recognized by their long beards and short-legged pants, large numbers of them participated in KLA terrorist activities in Kosovo and Metohija. The transport of these Jihad warriors was conducted under the patronage of the SDA which provided them with passports. Visas were issued for a "haj," or pilgrimage, to Mecca. Dr. Nauman Balic, head of the Kosovo SDA and now a minister in Hashim Thacis government", was responsible for their transit to Albania. The Bosnian Muslims were provided with journalists' credentials and 2,000 DM for travel costs. It is not known how many returned from Kosovo, but a number of these Jihad warriors lost their lives in Chechnya.
The Sarajevo authorities were active in the training of terrorists. In 1993 Saudi Arabia provided $1 million to build a refugee camp for Bosnian Muslims in Albania. One of the main political leaders of the Muslim authorities in Sarajevo admitted to Misha Glenny that the base was used to train saboteurs sent to Kosovo because their Serbian was flawless.
Kosovo under NATO - A Virtual Narco-State (1)
The benefits of the drug trade are evident around Pristina -- more so than the benefits of Western aid. "The new buildings, the better roads, and the sophisticated weapons -- many of these have been bought with drugs," says Michel Koutouzis, the Balkans region expert for the Global Drugs Monitor (OGD), a Paris-based think tank. The repercussions of this drug connection are only now emerging, and many Kosovo observers fear that the province could be evolving into a virtual narco-state under the noses of 49,000 peacekeeping troops.
It was the disparate structure of the KLA, Koutouzis says, that Facilitated the drug-smuggling explosion. "It permitted a democratization of drug trafficking where ordinary people get involved, and everyone contributes a part of his profit to his clan leader in the KLA," he explains. "The more illegal the activity, the more money the clan gets from the traffickers. So it's in the interest of the clan to promote drug trafficking".
According to Marko Nicovic, the former chief of police in Belgrade, now an investigator who works closely with Interpol, the international police agency, 400 to 500 Kosovo Albanians move shipments in the 20-kilo range, while about 5,000 Kosovo Albanians are small-timers, handling shipments of less than two kilos. At one point in 1996, he says, more than 800 ethnic Albanians were in jail in Germany on narcotics charges.
In many places, Kosovo Albanians traffickers gained a foothold in the Illicit drug trade through raw violence. According to a 1999 German Federal Police report, "The ethnic Albanian gangs have been involved in drugs, weapons trafficking blackmail, and murder. They are increasingly prone to violence".
Tony White of the United Nations Drug Control Program agrees with this assessment. "They are more willing to use violence than any other group," he says. "They have confronted the established order throughout Europe and pushed out the Lebanese, Pakistani, and Italian cartels".
Few gangs are willing to tangle with the Kosovo Albanians. Those that do often pay the ultimate price. In January 1999, Kosovo Albanians killed Nine people in Milan, Italy during a two-week bloodbath between rival heroin groups.
Now free of the war and the Yugoslav police, drug traffickers have Reopened the old Balkan Road. With the KLA in power -- and in the spotlight - the top trafficking families have begun to seek relative respectability without decreasing their heroin shipments. "The Kosovo Albanians are trying to position themselves in the higher levels of trafficking", says the U.N.'s Tony White. "They want to get away from the violence of the streets and attract less attention. Criminals like to move up like any other business, and the Kosovo Albanians are becoming business leaders. They have become equal partners with the Turks".
Italian national police discovered this new Kosovo Albanian outreach last year when they undertook "Operation Pristina". The carabinieri (Italian Police) uncovered a chain of connections that originated in Kosovo and stretched through nine European countries, extending into Central Asia, South America and the United States.
White House officials deny a whitewashing of KLA activities. "We do care about (KLA drug trafficking)", says Agresti. "It's just that we've got our hands full trying to bring peace there".
The DEA is equally reticent to address the issue. According to Michel Koutouzis, the DEA's website once contained a section detailing Kosovo Albanians trafficking, but a week before the US-led bombings began, the section disappeared. "The DEA doesn't want to talk publicly (about the KLA)", says OGD director Alain Labrousse. "It's embarrassing to them".
High-ranking US officials are dismayed that the KLA was installed in power without public discussion or a thorough check of its background. "I don't think we're doing anything there to stem the drugs", says a senior State Department official. "It's out of control. It should be a high priority. We've warned about it".
Even if it tried to stop the Kosovo Albanian heroin trade, the US would be hard-pressed to do so. "Nobody's in control in Kosovo", adds the State Department official. "They don't even have a police force". Regardless of what it says, there's little indication that the administration wants to do anything with the intelligence available about its newest ally. "There is no doubt that the KLA is a major trafficking organization", said a congressional expert who monitors the drug trade and requested anonymity. "But we have a relationship with the KLA, and the administration doesn't want to damage (its) reputation. We are partners.
The attitude is: The drugs are not coming here, so let others deal with it".
Indeed the biggest paradox in the world war on drugs is connected to the Balkans and the outburst of terrorist activities in that troubled area. What is the reason for this unusual co-relation between US policy in Balkans, the most wanted terrorist in the world today, Osama bin y en, and this enormous KLA drug trafficking.
As Michael Levine, a 25-year veteran of the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) stated: "They (the CIA) protected them the KLA) in every way they could". McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin, said the Afghan Mujahideen rebels were one of the first US-backed rebel groups to get into the heroin trade in a big way. The anti-Communist Mujahideen were backed by the US in their opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. They started exporting massive amounts of opium to raise money, with the knowledge and protection of the CIA and Pakistani intelligence, according to McCoy. "That produced a massive traffic in the '80s to Europe and the U.S.," he said.
Other recipients of US support were Nicaraguan Contras, Panamas General Noriega, Afghan Taliban, Indonesia (remember massacres by their special units in Timor), and Burmas Khun Sa. Another US-backed rebel army, the Nicaraguan contras, raised money for their war against the leftist Sandinista government in the 1980s by flooding U.S. cities with crack - all with the knowledge and assistance of the CIA and the DEA, according to the book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb.
Webb's allegations were initially denied by the CIA, but a CIA inspector-general's report in October 1998 revealed that 58 contras were linked to drug allegations.
Early in 1999, as the war against Serbia raged, Congress voted to fund the KLA's drive for independence. One tear later the US embrace of the KLA may come as an embarrassment, but not a precedent.
Quo Vadis America?
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Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown
Didn't anyone ever tell you that that's what governments are FOR???
Armed gangs, each in 'legitimate' occupancy of some particular piece of land.
Oh...and there's $$$$$ in it. Big time.
And they ain't leaving without an argument. ;^)
The appetites of the rulers in these cases cannot be disguised; there is no time for niceties. One might be replaced before stuffing the Swiss accounts with the necessary millions of foreign aid money, on top of the 'earned' cash. haha.
In more 'civilized' nations, the same greed is comfortably hidden behind layers of spinning 'policy makers' and the vital-to-the-task media whores.
I'll never understand, so long as I live, why people trust governments.
American ignorance and American politicians are cost-effective purchases.
Saudi and Albanian money have bought a lot of both.
George Soros backed klintoon big time, bailed out W. when Arbusto Energy was dying from lack of attention, and bankrolled the several thousand "mom" march.
Saudi money was also in on the action. Soros and the Saudis both wanted Orthodox Christians suppressed in the Balkans.
Is klintoon the only one that gave them their money's worth?
On the other side of the coin, we can all forget about U.S. Government corruption and go to the nearest W. thread and talk about how much we like what he's wearing and how he feels our pain.
And, by the way...it is NOT JUST the Saudis who want the Orthodox Christians surpressed and destroyed.... the devil wants that too.
We can't win the war, as long as we consider ourselves partners with the criminals, what a total waste of taxpayers money.
Reminds me of the Philip K. Dick novel "A Scanner Darkly."
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