By Andy Wilcoxson
Eight years ago, the United States and its NATO allies bombed Serbia to rescue the ethnic Albanian population from genocide at the hands of Serbian troops loyal to Slobodan Milosevic in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo – or so we were told.
During the NATO campaign, the State Department told us 100,000 to 500,000 Kosovo-Albanians were missing and feared dead. State Department spokesman James Rubin warned us of "indicators that genocide is unfolding in Kosovo."
President Clinton compared Kosovo to Nazi Germany's Holocaust against the Jews. He said Serbia's alleged persecution of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, like "the ethnic extermination of the Holocaust," was a "vicious, premeditated, systematic oppression fueled by religious and ethnic hatred."
Today Kosovo's Albanian leaders are poised to declare the beleaguered province's independence from Serbian rule and America, along with her allies, stands ready to recognize that independence regardless of Serbia's objections.
On the surface, this might appear to be a perfectly reasonable policy; one might assume that Serbia forfeited any right to govern the province when it committed genocide against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population eight years ago, but things aren't what they appear to be.
After eight years of searching, evidence of genocide against Kosovo's ethnic Albanians has not materialized. The number of ethnic Albanians who died or went missing is anywhere from 90 percent to 99 percent lower than the estimates we were given during the war.
Although the Serbs were accused of genocide, and the Albanians were said to be their victims, a Serb was three times more likely to be killed or abducted than an Albanian, and Serbs made-up a disproportionately large share of the Kosovo war's refugees. Kosovo's ethnic Albanians comprise an even larger share of the population today than they did before the war, which adds up to one simple fact: They weren't victims of genocide.
Kosovo was a war over territory that pitted ethnic Albanian secessionists in the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, against Serbian security forces.
To elicit Western sympathy and win NATO intervention against the Serbs, the KLA sought to portray the war as an aggressive Serbian genocide against Kosovo's Albanians – the strategy worked. The shocking images of civilians driven from their homes and streaming out of Kosovo are indelibly burned into our memories.
Eve-Ann Prentice, a British journalist who covered the Kosovo war for the Guardian and the London Times, testified during Slobodan Milosevic's trial in the Hague. She said that rather than being driven out by the Serbs, "The KLA told ethnic Albanian civilians that it was their patriotic duty to leave because the world was watching. This was their one big opportunity to make Kosovo part of Albania eventually, that NATO was there, ready to come in, and that anybody who failed to join the exodus was not supporting the Albanian cause."
Alice Mahon, a British MP and a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels, also testified during Milosevic's trial. She said, "The KLA definitely encouraged the exodus."
Muharem Ibraj and Saban Fazliu, two ethnic Albanian witnesses from Kosovo who testified in Milosevic's trial, said Serbian security forces encouraged civilians to remain in their homes, and that it was the KLA who made the civilian population leave the province.
Fazliu testified that the KLA would kill anybody who disobeyed its orders. He said, "The order was to leave Kosovo in later stages, to go to Albania, Macedonia, so that the world could see for themselves that the Albanians are leaving because of the harm caused by the Serbs. This was the aim. This was the KLA order."
During the war, the London Times reported how "KLA 'minders' ensured that all refugees peddled the same line when speaking to Western journalists" by threatening the refugee's loved ones. Unfortunately, that report was one of the few honest pieces of journalism to come out of Kosovo.
Testifying in the Milosevic trial about the coverage he had seen in the Western news media, Dietmar Hartwig, the chief of the European Union's Monitoring Mission in Kosovo said, "I didn't think it had anything to do with reality. [The] reporting was always very one-sided."
In addition to biased coverage of the Kosovo war, our news media may have deliberately misled public opinion by staging fake news footage designed to make the plight of the refugees look worse than it actually was.
Goran Stojcik, a Macedonian ambulance driver who worked in the refugee camps during the war, testified under oath at the Hague Tribunal that he had eye-witnessed Western news crews stage-managing fake news footage in the refugee camps. He said, "CNN was the most prominent in stage managing things that were to be filmed."
He gave examples of news crews coaching refugees on how to act in front of the cameras. In one example, he said a news crew threw a refugee child into the mud to make him cry for the camera.
On another occasion, he said his colleague's medical supplies were stolen so a perfectly healthy man could be wrapped in bandages and placed on a stretcher to be portrayed as wounded in front of the TV cameras.
At a minimum, the media was quick to report accusations against the Serbs that later turned out not to be true. There were reports that the Serbs were running a concentration camp at the Pristina soccer stadium, and that they were butchering Albanians by the thousands and burning their remains in the Trepca mining complex, but none of it turned out to be true.
We were conned into being the KLA's air force. Our compassion and our sympathy for human suffering was abused and turned into a weapon of war by a group of sadistic terrorists who abused the very people they claimed to protect.
The KLA has been credibly linked to Osama bin Laden. In 1998, Fatos Klosi, the head of SHIK (Albania's intelligence service), told London's Sunday Times newspaper that bin Laden had visited Albania to send units to fight in Kosovo. In 1999, the Washington Times reported that it had obtained intelligence documents that showed a "link" between bin Laden and the KLA – including a common staging area in Tropoje, Albania, a center for Islamic terrorists.
It was no secret that the KLA was a terrorist group. In 1998, Robert Gelbard, the U.S. special envoy for Kosovo, told the Agence France Presse wire service that "the KLA is, without any questions, a terrorist group."
One doesn't have to look any further than the public communiqués that the KLA freely published in the Albanian media in the years and months leading up to the war to see that they started the war, not Slobodan Milosevic or the Serbian authorities.
Two years before the war started, the KLA published a communiqué in the Albanian media that said, "Through this communiqué, we would like to state clearly to the current Serbian political leadership that they must withdraw from our territories as soon as possible, or our attacks to liberate the country will be fierce and merciless."
One year before the war started, the KLA published another communiqué threatening the international community with "a greater slaughter than in Bosnia-Herzegovina" and warning the Serbs of a fate "worse than their Russian brothers in Afghanistan and Chechnya" unless their demands were met.
To keep the ethnic Albanian civilian population from cooperating with the Serbian authorities, KLA communiqués openly threatened "death to enemies and traitors." One communiqué said, "Operations were carried out against Albanian collaborationists, who, despite earlier warnings, did not abandon their antinational courses of action."
The KLA openly boasted of how it murdered ethnic Albanian "collaborators." In one communiqué they explained how they killed an ethnic Albanian named Hetem Dobruna because of his "notorious and open collaboration" with the Serbian authorities in Kosovo. In another communiqué they took credit for the murder of an ethnic Albanian named Dalip Dugolli who they called "a collaborator and one of Milosevic's most trusted men" before explaining how "Kosovo and the other Albanian territories will not be liberated down the telephone or from an office, but only by a serious commitment in support of the armed struggle."
Three out of the last four prime ministers elected in Kosovo were senior members of the KLA. Kosovo's current prime minister, Hashim Thaci, was the leader of the KLA. If the United States supports Kosovo's independence, we will not only betray Serbia, our ally through two world wars, we will put power in the hands of the self-same terrorists who murdered their own people and conned us into being their air force by claiming, of all things, to be the victims of human rights abuses!