Respectable Terrorists


It is reminiscent of the cia’s government-endorsed efforts with the drug barons of Central America: Much of the arms cache from which the Kosovo Liberation Army has fought its terrorist war against the Serbs in Kosovo has been funded by heroin sales.

Massive clandestine movements of drugs via a corridor through Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany and Italy (dubbed “the Balkan Route”) are organized by the kla through a drug smuggling cartel based in Kosovo’s provincial capital, Pristina.

The most amazing phenomenon involving the kla drug runners is their conversion in the eyes of the public from a listed terrorist organization in 1998 to a group of “freedom fighters” in the spring of 1999. State Department records list the kla as a terrorist organization which bankrolled its operations from heroin trade and loans from known terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.

Germany figures in the equation not only as a turnaround port for huge drug consignments but also as a facility for laundering cash received in the drug deals by the kla. Last year German television reported that the Bundeswehr has had a “legal residence” in Tirana since 1990, and that Germany has provided the Kosovo Albanian separatists with weapons, optical observation and radio equipment and training over the past decade. With Albania declaring that Germany is one of its strongest supporters, the connection with this ethnic Albanian drug-running terrorist group is somewhat worrisome.

Perhaps of greater concern, upon reflection, is the urging of then-nato Secretary General Manfred Wörner for Albania’s “participation in the security of southeast Europe” way back in 1995. Why would a German head of the principal security alliance in Europe be calling for Albanian involvement in European security efforts a full four years prior to the Kosovo fiasco? A little recent history is worthy of consideration.

In 1997, subsequent to the “pyramid” banking collapse in Albania and its descent into temporary chaos, Albanians took hundreds of millions of dollars into Kosovo. Additionally, huge supplies of automatic weapons and loaded cartridges were shipped out of Albania to western Macedonia.

Curiously, it was not until this high-profit activity had spread to Kosovo and western Macedonia that Albanian leaders started to call for Albania’s unification with those regions. This happened to coincide with the kla’s “ethnic cleansing” campaign in southern Kosovo where they slaughtered around 1000 Serbs.

Why are the ethnic Albanians now the good guys and Serbia the béte noir? It just so happens that Manfred Wörner had earlier given the game away.

Albania is the most sought after Balkan beachhead by both a German-dominated EU and a failing nato. Albania served as a base in the Bosnian war, in addition to Tirana featuring as a prominent base for nato exercises. Albania is a coveted prize in this whole Balkans fiasco. It is a key outpost between the Adriatic and the Eastern Mediterranean crescent. Within this arc lie the world’s busiest shipping lanes with the greatest amount of ballistic missile proliferation.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has already proposed a “Marshall Plan” for restructuring the Balkans and has offered the EU as prime administrator of the program of reconstruction and peace-keeping in Kosovo. Meanwhile, the U.S. has promised aid, infrastructure building and political support to a country once seemingly totally isolated from the world—Albania.

So! In an odd sort of way, the Balkan drug corridor, the kla, the EU, Germany and nato all seem to coalesce in this Kosovo crisis in the ancient, mountainous, Adriatic, strategically located country of Albania.