By Julia Gorin
America has itself to blame for giving terrorism a toehold in Europe
Until an Albanian plot to massacre American soldiers at Fort Dix was foiled in May, most eyes would glaze over at the mention of the obscure, forgotten war zone of Kosovo, currently a UN protectorate whose 90%-plus Albanian-Muslim majority is about to be handed independence from Serbia by the international community. Few Americans understand that, between Kosovo gaining independence and not, Americas soul hangs in the balance.
Nor is it widely known that the explosives used in the Madrid and London bombings, as well as those used in the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Greece, came from Kosovo, a state-in-progress led by the violent, jihadist, narco-terrorist mafiosos of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA was supposed to have disbanded and disarmed after the 1999 conflict. Instead, it has continued arming itself in the event that the province isnt granted independence this year. It is a bin Laden-trained army of local clansmen, Marxists, university students and jihadists with whom the United States allied itself in 1999 against Serbia, an ally both in World War I and World War II.
Balkan blowback is a term often used today to frame a problem that has not gone away but has grown more threatening and complex, with an independent Kosovo looming darkly on the horizon of the global war on terrorism. The blowback includes the Fort Dix plot, Madrid and the 2005 London Tube attack that was coordinated in Bosnia. It also includes the fact that Kosovo, like Bosnia, has become a one-stop terror shop, a haven and thoroughfare for wanted terror suspects, a source of white al Qaeda volunteers, and a world capital in drug and slave traffic. This would be reason enough to deny the majority-Muslim Albanians independence, which theyve threatened to seize by force in any case.
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that a Serb a day is killed in Kosovo. Amid two million Albanians, the 100,000 Kosovo Serbs who havent yet fled, or have fled and returned, live in barbed-wire-enclosed, KFOR-guarded perimeters of a few kilometersbeyond which they dare not venture. When shot at by Albanians, NATO troops are directed to flee rather than return fire, which would draw attention to the province as unstable, exposing that there is the threat of violence should Albanians not get what they want. It all leads to the question, Why are the people we went to war for shooting at us?
NATO troops in Kosovo, to which a contingent of 1,500 National Guardsmen was added in November, know to avoid doing any real policing that could result in a firefight. This is how Serbian nuns continue to be killed and how Serbian property continues to be seized by Albanian squatters, how churches and monasteries continue to be destroyed, as Saudi-financed mosques take their place. In Kosovo, we didnt fight to end racism and ethnic cleansing, as we were told. We enabled it.
Advocates for rewarding the violence with statehood tout the Kosovo Albanians as being the most pro-American lot there is. Its a dubious endorsement for America if ever there were one.
When good will is acquired by doing someones bidding, pro-Americanism is won for the wrong reasons, and the gratitude will turn on a dime the moment we stop furthering that partys agenda. In Kosovo, that began happening as early as 2000, when the Albanians started calling for the UN and NATO occupiers to get out.
When the architects of our Kosovo war brag that not a single American life was lost in what they describe as a successful war, the appropriate response is Not yet. The Albanian strategy in Kosovo has in fact been a replay of the Oslo Accords: accept the infidels help as long as it furthers your territorial ambitions, once the West is no longer willing to carry you to the next stage, turn on it. Our continued courtship of the Kosovars has been a mere postponement of inevitable enmity.
Albanians argue that their fight for Kosovo is not an Islamic movement but a national one. Palestinians make the same claim. But the big picture is the same: jihad. The day that Kosovo becomes Kosova an invented pronunciation used by the Muslims, nationalists and vested politicians is the day weve lost a key battle in the war on terror.
Meanwhile, reports have come one after the other raising questions about what really happened in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Spanish forensic pathologist Emilio Perez Pujol went there in 1999 to report on the claims of genocide. He told Londons Sunday Times, Spains El Pais newspaper and other media afterward, We did not find one not one mass graveThere never was a genocide in Kosovo.
In a 2000 Washington Post article titled Was It a Mistake? We Were Suckers for the KLA, Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz wrote:
The KLA's guerrilla campaign was a deliberate attempt to provoke Belgrade into reprisals that would attract the West's attention. Knowing it could not defeat Yugoslavia without NATO's military support, the KLA waged a nasty insurgency that included assassinations of Serbian political and military officialsAlthough U.S. intelligence warned the Clinton administration of the KLA's intentions, Clinton and his advisers took the bait: Washington placed the blame for events in Kosovo on Belgrade and absolved the KLA.
To date, according to U.N. reports, forensic specialists working under U.N. auspices have exhumed 2,108 bodies. It is far from certain that all of these victims perished as a result of Yugoslav atrocities; some may have been combatants, others may have been civilians caught in the cross-fire between the Yugoslav army and the KLA. Still others may have been civilians killed by NATO bombs.
[D]espite the presence of U.S. and NATO peacekeepers, once Yugoslav forces left Kosovo the KLA began a new campaign of terror, this time targeting the province's Serbian and Gypsy populations. This campaign of ethnic cleansing continues unabatedMeanwhile, across the border from Kosovo in Serbia proper, the KLA as part of its effort to carve out a greater Albania is waging guerrilla war in the Presevo Valley region
The Balkans remain a taboo subject for discussion in the context of the war on terror even after 9/11, and even as the nightmarish security fallout from our interventions there unfolds on an almost daily basis, with grave implications for the West.
In December, 1999, the late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl wrote that the allegations indiscriminate mass murder, rape camps, crematoriums, mutilation of the dead havent been borne out in the six months since NATO troops entered Kosovo. Ethnic-Albanian militants, humanitarian organizations, NATO and the news media fed off each other to give genocide rumors credibility. Now, a different picture is emerging.
In the 1990s, the Albanian, Bosnian-Muslim and Croatian hordes found that by hiring public-relations firms, they could market their ethnic rivalries and blood feuds to the United States, which would join their civil wars against the Serbs. When we bought into the PR, we repeated an ugly history, one in which we betrayed a man whose Serbian anti-Axis guerrillas during WWII rescued 500 downed U.S. airmen a man whom a May 1942 issue of TIME Magazine featured on its cover and called one of the most amazing commanders of World War II. It was Draza Mihailovic, whose resistance to the Nazi forces played a significant part in the defeat of Hitler. The United States, however, bought into communist propaganda that convinced the Allies that Mihailovic was fighting the communist partisans as a Nazi collaborator. Abandoned by the United States and England, Mihailovich was executed in 1946 by the Stalin-aligned Yugoslavia. He was posthumously awarded a long-concealed Legion of Merit, as recommended by Dwight Eisenhower.
Western leaders acted on misinformation and rumor that would help plunge Yugoslavia into half a century of communist darkness that outlived the Soviet Union itself, leaving it vulnerable as a Cold War holdover. Thats precisely what happened in the 1990s, when the United States bought into separatist/Islamist propaganda and facilitated Europes jihadist nightmare. The Balkans would become al-Qaedas corridor into Europe.
In Kosovo and Bosnia, we have compounded our to-do list in the war on terrorism, according to the 9/11 Commission, by laying the groundwork for al-Qaedas global ambitions. A 2005 Guardian article titled Its Not Only About Iraq echoed this finding: Tellingly, those who monitor Islamism in Britain say the big surge in growth of extremist groups came not after 9/11 or Iraq but in the mid-1990s, with Bosnia serving as the recruiting sergeant.
At least two of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were veterans of the Bosnian jihad, as Muslims openly call it. Similarly, when an al-Qaeda recruiting center was raided in Afghanistan soon after the invasion there, it yielded an application from a Kosovo Albanian who boasted experience fighting against Serb and U.S. forces, and recommended suicide operations against parks like Disney.
Policies and rhetoric out of Washington contradict reality on the ground in Kosovo. U.S. soldiers serving there say its not Albanians they have to protect from the Serbs, but vice versa. A KLA haven that extends to the United States has been created, as the Fort Dix plot made visible. Even worse, says American Council for Kosovo director Jim Jatras, KLA supporters in the United States have operated with virtual impunity, collecting money and weapons to support KLA operations not only in Kosovo, but in the neighboring areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and northern Greece.
Bosnia and Kosovo have been part of Islams current divide-and-conquer approach. Israeli Col. Shaul Shay, author of Islamic Terror and the Balkans, explains the significance of Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia: In the eyes of the radical Islamic circles, the establishment of an independent Islamic territory including Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania along the Adriatic Coast, is one of the most prominent achievements of Islam since the siege of Vienna in 1683.
And yet the U.S. seems committed to reward violence and impunity, believing that this will somehow lead lead to a normal, democratic state. In reality, statehood will merely institutionalize the gangsterism. Meanwhile, all the cynicism is reserved for Serbia, which has been denied by the international community any say in its fate or about the terrorist neighbor being foisted upon it.
When Serbia objects, it is accused of nationalism and told to start being reasonable. The side thats willing to compromise for example offering more than autonomy and less than independence is the intransigent one, while the side that wont discuss anything short of full independence while alternately threatening war is our partner for peace. U.N. mediator Martti Ahtisaari has been repeating that independence is the only viable option and warning that anything else would invite violent opposition.
In late March, Reuters reported that the United States, NATO and the EU hope the U.N. Security Council will adopt a resolution endorsing Ahtisaari's document by the summer. Delaying the move, they fear, might spark Albanian extremist violence against Serbs and the U.N. mission in Kosovo.
During a February mission to Brussels, after getting the usual empty assurances of protections for Kosovos non-Albanian minority, Jatras pointedly asked a Hungarian member of the European parliament, Isnt all this talk of protections for Serbs a tacit admission that among the Kosovo Albanians are a lot of violent and intolerant people? Why would you reward their violence with state power?
Looking Jatras in the eye, the parliamentarian replied, Because were afraid of them.
We didn't just sell the Serbs down the river; we sold ourselves. Hard-won American values like religious freedom, rule of law, civil rights, equal justice have been sold out. Serbia is the closest thing the former Yugoslavia had to a Western society, but we have allied ourselves with the region's most primitive elements at the same time fortifying our enemies in the global war on terrorism.
Disingenuous politicians continue to bring up the successful war in Kosovo in contrast to Iraq. Its easy to have a successful war when youre fighting for the enemy.
Julia Gorin is a widely published writer who covers a variety of issues, including the Balkans. She is an unpaid advisory member of the American Council for Kosovo. Read more of her work online. www.juliagorin.com or www.politicalmavens.com .