Posted by Julia Gorin
This past week, a well-circulated article titled “Kosovo Catastrophe” in Human Events magazine, written by a Martin Sieff, included the following:
It is hardly a conservative policy to support the establishment of an Islamist state on the European continent, turn a blind eye to the well-documented persecution of an ancient Christian community, engage in a Woodrow Wilson-style passion for nation building and follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton. Yet that is what the United States has done by recognizing the independence of Kosovo.
Kosovo is the ancient heartland of the Serbian people going back to the dawn of their history. It certainly had a Muslim ethnic Albanian majority before Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright bombed Belgrade back in 1999 in order to force the Serbs to cede its autonomy. Since then the Albanian Muslim majority has become overwhelming and had has run rampant over the ancient Christian Serb community.
Clinton and Albright’s policy had other far-reaching consequences. They established a very novel and dangerous principle whereby long-established borders could be redrawn and long-established nations dismembered with U.S. support on the principle that a disaffected national minority in a single province refused to accept the overall rule of the state. These were the same Clinton policymakers…who could not pay any attention to the rise of al-Qaeda as a serious threat to American national security and lives around the world…
Like the rest of the mainstream, alternative and blog media alike, Human Events doesn’t generally pay attention to the Balkans, but when it has done so, it’s been the rare publication to be on the correct side of the Kosovo issue. I first noticed this with a 2006 article titled “Will U.S. Back Islamo-Fascist State in Europe?”
In addition to the unequivocal tone which Sieff is to be commended for using in the article, I bring up the piece for two reasons. First, and most important, is a comment picked up by the always sharp Nebojsa Malic, posted by a soldier who had done two tours in Kosovo:
“One comment,” writes Malic, “on the bottom of the first page, caught my eye. I reproduce it here, because there is no direct link to it. It is from PaulAndrewKirk of Redmond, Wa.”:
I have served two tours in Kosovo with the US Military and I can tell you the following as factual:
1. Almost all facets and levels of the provisional government in Kosovo are corrupt. In fact its the worst I’ve ever seen and I’ve had to deal with some pretty corrupt governments during my career.
2. Supervised independence or even full independence will not improve the miserable lives of the ordinary people of Kosovo. Partly because of what I’ve listed as fact “1?., and partly because it will take decades of imense amounts of foreign aid throughout economy in order to bring Kosovo into a functioning state that wouldn’t need foreign assistance for its survival.
3. Ethnic cleansing is still a common occurence in Kosovo but, this time [sic: always been] its the ethnic Albanians ethnically cleansing the Serbs, Roma, Ashkali, Croatians, and Turk minorities through intimidation and at times outright force. I have personally witnessed this on many occasions.
4. No amount of foreign investment will provide enough jobs for the amount of unemployed people in Kosovo. The only way for Kosovo to maintain stability is for the EU to open its borders for an influx of foreign workers from Kosovo.
5. Islamic extremism is on the rise in Kosovo. KFOR soldiers have been attacked in Gjilan [sic: Gnjilane], Ferizaj, [sic: Urosevac] and Prizren when I was there. You just won’t see or hear about it in the news. More Mosques have been built in Kosovo in the last five years than schools, roads, health clinics, and all other santitation project combined. Compliments of Muslim charities from the Middle East.
6. Mass graves of Kosovo Serbs and Roma have been found during my rotation and reported to the UN. Yet nothing has been done. Why? When we posed the question to our UN contacts in Pristina they replied: “During the transitional stage of Kosovo this would be destablizing. We’ll wait until there is a final resolution before we proceed.” All those journalists interested in a real story…start looking in around Novo Brdo.
7. The US Government along with key EU allies never had any intention of allowing Serbia a fair opportunity to negotiate with the Kosovar provisional government on the possibilities of a workable settlement that might have been permanent. I was party to a couple of meetings where US Government officials point blank told the Kosovar representatives that no matter what, the US will support independence and that going to these conferences in Vienna were just to give a favorable impression on the world opinion.
These are the facts. Some people might be outraged and some might be supprised however it really doesn’t matter in the final analysis of all things considered. Superpowers will do what they want.
Kosovo independence will do nothing for stability of the region, in fact, the opposite will occur.
The Kosovar Albanians are now joyous they will have a new nation but, when all the partying ends and the dust clears, all that will exist is another backward, poverty stricken, underdeveloped, internationally protected country in an area of hostile neighbors thats todays news story and tomorrows breeding ground for extremism and resentment.
It’s worth re-reading that comment a few times for anyone who is on the fence about which side of jihad he or she is on in this particular region.
The second reason I bring up the article by UPI “defense editor” Sieff is to say that it’s a refreshing, relieving change from an article that appeared on Sieff’s United Press International in the wake of the Fort Dix plot discovery in May, titled “No Balkan Nexus to Fort Dix Plot” and written by Sieff’s colleague Shaun Waterman, though troublingly carrying Sieff’s byline for a day before suddenly changing to Waterman’s. The piece was one of those standard dismiss-the-Balkan-connection jobs that were dominating the papers at the time, and it singled out for ridicule one “Julie Gorin” writing for a “right-wing Web site” titled “FrontPage.com”, for stating that Ft. Dix was blowback for our Balkans policies. (Whoever this Julie Gorin is, and whatever the publication FrontPage.com is, I admire them both.) The writer, whether Sieff or Waterman, also faulted those complaining that media were using the term “Yugoslavs” instead of naming the would-be culprits for what they were — Albanians whose cause we’d furthered.
The byline confusion may have been a simple mistake, or the two editors may have collaborated on the piece and there was an issue over who got the byline. Regardless, Sieff may want to have a chat with his colleague, who is supposed to be UPI’s “Homeland and National Security Editor” but who laughably tried to attribute significance to the fact that the three Albanian Duka brothers came from Macedonia rather than Kosovo. Which means that the “security editor” isn’t aware of the Kosovo-Macedonia connection, nor of the fact that our Kosovo action radicalized not only the Albanians of Kosovo, but of neighboring Sandzak, Montenegro and particularly Macedonia. (Albanians moved on like clockwork to destabilize Macedonia once they’d gotten Kosovo going, so that a country that had sheltered 400,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo erupted into full-fledged civil war by 2001.) Quite simply, this “national security editor” isn’t aware of the pan-Albanian nature of the Balkan threat. Then again, that makes him eligible for a Cabinet position.
Whichever of the two men was the actual author of the piece, he also played up the secular nature of Albanian Muslims, and pointed the finger where many American friends of Albanians did: they were homegrown jihadists like any others, radicalized like anyone else via internet and other materials; after all, the piece pointed out, the three brothers had lived in the U.S. since childhood.
Sulejman Talovic, the Bosnian in Utah who shot nine Americans for Valentine’s Day 2007, also lived here since childhood. The point is: we were sold that Bosnians and Albanians aren’t nearly as susceptible to what their Arabic Muslim brothers are susceptible to, and that there isn’t a tradition or history of “that” kind of Islam in the Balkans (though check out the pre-Communist garb in Bosnia and Albania).
Even more bizarrely, the piece had the following sentence: “As Jane’s [Terrorism and Insurgency Monitor] points out, the affidavit does not mention any religious figure or other outside inspiration, and the men — according to a report in the International Herald Tribune — met in high school, not in a mosque.”
For some reason, the men meeting at school rather than a mosque appears significant to the UPI writer(s). Though the only thing this would emphasize to a logical person is that these people don’t even need the benefit of a mosque to be radicalized. But the writer persisted along these lines, going on to quote author and Naval College professor John Schindler to “[recall] an aphorism of Albania’s now-deceased communist dictator Enver Hoxha, to the effect that ‘the true religion of Albanians is Albanianism.’”
A bit of trivia about the anti-religious, Stalinist former dictator Hoxha: In Albanian, his last name means “imam”.
It’s probably time that Americans started to familiarize themselves with the nature of “Albanianism”, and I plan to have a blog post on “Albanianism vs. Islam” sometime. But one important point that the confused imposters to this issue miss is what Chris Deliso has written: radicals are radicals, and their radicalism is easily manipulated:
In Kosovo, the Wahhabis have cleverly concentrated on those areas historically most susceptible to radicalization and rugged individualism, areas such as Drenica, Skenderaj, Djakovica, and Decani, all strongholds of the former KLA. By concentrating on these centers of Albanian nationalism, the foreign Islamists are banking on the idea that any sort of extremism is just extremism and can simpy be redirected, like a stream, as and when needed. Indeed, as one active global charity, the Birmingham, UK-based Islamic Relief makes a point of noting, Skenderaj is “a place with a long history of Albanian defiance of Serbian authority.” Eventually, hopes the foreign Islamic movement, that defiance can be redirected toward the West.
Media and policymakers in the West, however, have always blindly assumed that since the KLA and its supporters were once “pro-American” any Albanian extremists remaining among them will always remain eminently controllable nationalists. However, as has been noted, the end of the national question in Kosovo is the beginning of the religious one…
So former KLA strongholds are emerging as, and morphing into, fundamentalist havens (which means ultimately al Qaeda havens). This is what happens when radicalism of any kind, even if benignly rooted in Serb-hatred, is supported and encouraged by the West. The following development, reported this past fall, was an apt illustration of such a phenomenon:
Fatmire Jashari, 18, was suspended [for wearing a headscarf] from her high school in the central Kosovar town of Srbica — a former stronghold of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, the guerrilla group that fought Serb forces in the 1998-1999 war… “I hope I won’t be pushed to choose between the two,” she said. “But if I am, I will choose the headscarf.”… “It was easy to proclaim adherence to the democratic principles of the West in during the repression of the Serb regime,” said Dukagjin Gorani, an ethnic Albanian commentator. “But when the West actually came to Kosovo, people started going to mosques. This will not necessarily make Kosovo a religious state, but it will certainly start a heated debate on what it should be.”
I’ll close with another illustration of the symbiotic relationship between the greater Islamic threat and that harmless “secular” “Albanianism”, again from Deliso’s The Coming Balkan Caliphate:
The terrified Macedonian and Serbian residents of these [Macedonian] villages, mostly elderly people, were forced to flee south to the city of Kumanovo. Some stated afterwards that long-bearded, non-Albanian foreign fighters had tortured them…Throughout the fighting, jihadis were also penetrating Macedonia from the other, western front in Tetovo and reportedly had connections with Kosovo Albanian officials such as Daut Haradinaj, chief of general staff of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and brother of ex-KLA leader Ramush Haradinaj, according to other Macedonian military sources. On April 28, 2001, a Macedonian Army patrol of nine soldiers was ambushed and massacred near the Tetovo-area village of Vejce. The only survivor attested that mjuahedin “with long beards and knives…conducted the massacre to its gruesome end, killing only one person by shooting, and cut to pieces or burned alive the rest.” An NLA [the Albanian National Liberation Army] commander confirmed this to Canadian war reporter Scott Taylor….This commander and other NLA fighters had fought in Chechnya and Bosnia, and attested the presence of mujahedin in Macedonia.
Tasked with raising war funds from Muslims in Europe was a well-traveled, 50-year-old Albanian imam, Jakup Asipi, who hailed from the capital of the so-called “free zone,” muddy Slupcane. Beloved by Albanians as a fatherly moral authority, and feared by Macedonians who considered him a radical Islamist, Asipi had received clerical training in Egypt and developed strong contacts with Albanian Islamic communities in Europe, especially in Switzerland and in German cities such as Leverkusen. While the Macedonian media soon linked Asipi with the mujahedin, his friends and family would later deny that he had anything to do with Islamic fundamentalism, but was rather a nationalist who also happened to be a very devout Muslim. On January 7, 2006, Asipi, then head of the Kumanovo Islamic Community and candidte for the national leadership, died in a tragic car accident. Some 15,000 Albanians from around Europe, among them both NLA/KLA leaders and Islamic clerics, attended the funeral, held at a new NLA war memorial center above Slupcane.