Skip to comments.Kosovo Jubilant at KLA Acquittals
Posted on 12/02/2005 3:50:24 PM PST by kronos77
Tribunal Update Tribunal home Kosovo Jubilant at KLA Acquittals
Kosovos majority Albanian population welcomes result of Hague tribunals first case against former guerrillas.
By Janet Anderson in The Hague (TU No 432, 2-Dec-05) The streets of Pristina erupted with flags, horns and celebratory gunfire on December 1 as news spread that the Hague tribunal had acquitted two of the first three members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, ever to face trial there for war crimes.
Judges in The Hague sentenced one former foot soldier, Haradin Bala, to 13 years in prison for his role in a KLA prison camp in the village of Lapusnik where Serbs and suspected Albanian collaborators were tortured and murdered in 1998.
But they declared themselves unconvinced that former commanders Fatmir Limaj and Isak Musliu had played any role at the facility. Limaj, who held a senior role in the guerrilla army which helped drive Belgrade security forces out of Kosovo, gained a high profile as a politician in the wake of the conflict.
While the verdict has met with a predictably downbeat response in Serbia, reactions amongst Kosovos majority ethnic Albanian population have been jubilant. Many feel that the court ruling, despite confirming that horrific individual crimes were committed, vindicates the KLA as an organisation.
The judgement comes at a particularly welcome time for Albanians in Kosovo, with talks set to begin on the future political status of the region. Most hope that the process will result in independence from Belgrade.
Observers in Pristina described a collective sense of relief as the judgement hearing in the case was broadcast live on television screens in homes and bars across Kosovo.
The resulting celebrations were a far cry from the dire predictions published in local newspapers of what might happen if the three were found guilty. Just two days before the judgement was issued, an estimated 20,000 people filed through the streets of Pristina protesting the innocence of the three men.
When Limaj went to The Hague in 2003, Kosovos then prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, declared that the trial would give the accused a chance to prove his innocence and the purity of the war that was led by the KLA.
Some observers now see particular significance in the judges decision to dismiss charges of crimes against humanity against the three accused. They did so on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that the atrocities at the Lapusnik camp were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.
Its been understood here as a cleansing of the resistance, said Petrit Selimi, the managing director of Pristinas new Daily Express newspaper. The verdict, he explained, has been seen as recognition that there were [individual] crimes, not a campaign.
Kosovo parliamentarian Enver Hoxhaj told IWPR that the judgement is a good message while Kosovos final status talks are going on, explaining that it has given the local population a feeling that they are supported by the international community.
With Kosovos president Ibrahim Rugova in bad health and former prime minister Ramus Haradinaj currently awaiting a Hague war crimes trial, there have been concerns that Albanians will lack a strong figurehead for the talks on Kosovos future.
Analysts in Kosovo told IWPR that Limaj is viewed by some as having the potential to fill the vacuum. Selimi explained that Limaj is now viewed as a sympathetic figure because of the dignity with which he went to The Hague.
Hoxhaj, who is a senior member of Limajs Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, told IWPR that he thought Limaj would step back into the crucial role he played in the party before being indicted. We missed him, he added.
The judgement has also served to support the view that Hague tribunals first case involving former KLA fighters was in fact only launched as part of an effort to show the courts impartiality with regard to the various parties involved in the Balkans conflicts of the Nineties.
A series of senior Serbian generals and politicians, including former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, have been indicted for their role in alleged ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999.
There has also been speculation about what consequences the outcome might have on the joint trial of Haradinaj and two others said to have been his subordinates in the KLA. They are charged with involvement in the abduction and murder of Serbs, Roma and suspected Albanian collaborators.
Edgar Chen, a long-time observer of proceedings at the Hague tribunal for the Coalition for International Justice, told IWPR, however, that it is important to remember that these are two distinct cases. Haradinaj is charged under a different set of alleged facts, he said. Judges will have to consider Haradinaj's case on the evidence that [prosecutors] and his defence presents.
The judges hearing the case against Limaj, Musliu and Bala in The Hague appeared keen to emphasise that the acquittal of two of the accused did not mean that crimes had not taken place.
They underlined that civilians had been held in horrific conditions at the KLA camp in Lapusnik, with gross overcrowding and some chained to the wall; KLA soldiers, often wearing hoods to hide their faces, beat inmates into unconsciousness; detainees, including some who had been shot, were denied medical treatment despite the existence of a clinic in the village where KLA personnel were treated.
Apart from three prisoners who were murdered at the camp itself, Bala was also found to have taken part in the massacre of nine prisoners in nearby mountains.
But the judges said they were not satisfied that Limaj and Musliu held positions in the KLA which would have made them responsible for the camp.
While there was a strong possibility that Limaj had been personally present at the facility, they said, there was not enough evidence to convict of personal involvement crimes there. As for Musliu, the judges ruled that there was in fact little evidence to identify... [him] as having any kind of involvement in the prison camp.
Meanwhile, reactions in Belgrade to the verdict have been unsurprisingly gloomy. Rasim Ljajic, president of Serbias National Council for Cooperation with the Hague tribunal, told the Beta news agency that the result would bolster the positions of those who are hostile to the United Nations court.
Janet Anderson is IWPRs programme manager in The Hague.
So shall it be taken that you approve of Islamics being freed by an EU humanist court for crimes against Christians? In which case, may I take the pleasure of suggesting the Democratic Underground for other like minded individuals.
Oh, I see you're from France, well enjoy being a Dhimmi in your future Caliphant.
Hunden is from France, they'll get the fruits of Islam soon enough, if he's not one of those fruit bringers as is.
ELEUQERIA H QANATOS!
That explains everything! He just HATES the idea that someone showed how the Muslims can be stopped and he knows his fellow countrycowards will never stand up.
The difference is that the Muslims are the invaders in France, while the Serbs are the invaders in Kosovo.
Kosovo belongs to the Albanians like France belongs to the French. The Albanians are, by far, the first inhabitants of Kosovo, and Kosovo is even more Albanian than France is French
That is why I must say "Kosovo to the Kosovars" if I want to be able to say "France to the French".
If you wish to apply the alternative political principle, that the Serbs have a right to murder and to steal because they have the "right" religion, what distinguishes them from the Islamofascists?
Maybe that THEIR professed religion expressedly forbids doing that?
As Chip Gagnon has extensively documented, a majority of the Serbs consistently opposed the wars of conquest and extermination waged in their name by their Communist leadership (http://www.ithaca.edu/gagnon/articles/book/index.htm).
On the other hand, as Greek journalist Takis Michas has revealed, the Greeks were overwhelmingly rooting for the mass murder of the Bosniaks, which they aided and abetted, as well as for the extermination attempt on the Kosovars.
Michas has also revealed that the Greek government had proposed to Milosevic to carve-up the Republic of Macedonia between Serbia and Greece in 1993, although the Slavic Macedonians are Orthodox Christians who speak a Bulgarian dialect, while there are almost no Serbs or Greeks in Macedonia. (http://www.tamu.edu/upress/BOOKS/2002/michas.htm).
Besides that, of course, the Greeks know almost nothing about the former Yugoslavia. Even worse, since they only believe their co-religionists tell them, their ignorance is compounded by a deep-seated delusion of knowledge.
Another feature of all those self-appointed "Orthodox defenders of Christianity" is that they hate the other Christians especially the Catholics even more than they hate the Muslims. When faced with a threat from both, the Russians chose to submit to the Muslim Tatars rather than the Catholic Poles; and in 1390 the Serbs voluntarily agreed to become vassals of the Ottomans as a protection against Catholic Hungary.
And it was as a faithful ally of Sultan Bâyezit that Stefan Lazarevic, the son of the Serbian knez Lazar killed at the Battle of Kosovo, ensured the defeat of the Christian crusade led by Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary, at the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Nicopolis).
The Wall Street Journal Europe, November 01, 2001
Al Qaeda´s Balkan Links
November 1, 2001
by Marcia Christoff Kurop
The Balkans´ uncharacteristically silent exit from the world stage as the most prominent international hot spot of the last decade belies its status as a major recruiting and training center of Osama bin Laden´s al Qaeda network. By feeding off the region´s impoverished republics and taking root in the unsettled diplomatic aftermath of the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts, al Qaeda, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guard-sponsored terrorists, have burrowed their way into Europe´s backyard.
For the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. Many recruits to the Balkan wars came originally from Chechnya, a jihad in which Al Qaeda has also played a part.
These activities have been exhaustively researched by Yossef Bodansky, the former director of the U.S. House of Representatives´ Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. The February testimony of an Islamist ringleader associated with the East Africa bombings have also helped throw light on these actions.
They have however been disguised under the cover of dozens of "humanitarian" agencies spread throughout Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Funding has come from now-defunct banks such as the Albanian-Arab Islamic Bank and from bin Laden´s so-called Advisory and Reformation Committee. One of his largest Islamist front agencies, it was established in London in 1994.
The overnight rise of heroin trafficking through Kosovo -- now the most important Balkan route between Southeast Asia and Europe after Turkey -- helped also to fund terrorist activity directly associated with al Qaeda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Opium poppies, which barely existed in the Balkans before 1995, have become the No. 1 drug cultivated in the Balkans after marijuana. Operatives of two al Qaeda-sponsored Islamist cells who were arrested in Bosnia on Oct. 23 were linked to the heroin trade, underscoring the narco-jihad culture of today´s post-war Balkans.
These drug rings in turn form part of an estimated $8 billion a year Taliban annual income from global drug trafficking, predominantly in heroin. According to Mr. Bodansky, the terrorism expert, bin Laden administers much of that trade through Russian mafia groups for a commission of 10% to 15% -- or around $1 billion annually.
The settling of Afghan-trained mujahideen in the Balkans began around 1992, when recruits were brought into Bosnia by the ruling Islamic party of Bosnia, the Party of Democratic Action, from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, as well as Italy, Germany and Turkey. They were all given journalists´ credentials to avoid explicit detection by the West. Others were married immediately to Bosnian Muslim women and incorporated into regular army ranks.
Intelligence services of the Nordic-Polish SFOR (previously IFOR) sector alerted the U.S. of their presence in 1992 while the number of mujahideen operating in Bosnia alone continued to grow from a few hundred to around 6,000 in 1995. Though the Clinton administration had been briefed extensively by the State Department in 1993 on the growing Islamist threat in former Yugoslavia, little was done to follow through.
The Bosnian Embassy in Vienna issued a passport to bin Laden in 1993, according to various reports in the Yugoslav press at the time. The reports add that bin Laden then visited a terrorist camp in Zenica, Bosnia in 1994. The Bosnian government denies all of this, but admits that some passport records have been lost. Around that time, bin Laden directed al Qaeda "senior commanders" to incorporate the Balkans into an complete southeastern approach to Europe, an area stretching from the Caucasus to Italy. Al Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon reputed to be the second in command of the entire al Qaeda network, headed up this southeastern frontline.
By 1994, major Balkan terrorist training camps included Zenica, and Malisevo and Mitrovica in Kosovo. Elaborate command-and-control centers were further established in Croatia, and Tetovo, Macedonia as well as around Sofia, Bulgaria, according to the U.S. Congress´s task force on terrorism. In Albania, the main training camp included even the property of former Albanian premier Sali Berisha in Tropje, Albania, who was then very close to the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Not even stalwart NATO ally Turkey escaped the network. Areas beyond government control were also visited by bin Laden in 1996 according to London-based Jane´s Intelligence Review. The government has been battling two terrorist groups: Jund al Islam, whose assassinated Syrian leader was one of bin Laden´s closets confidantes, and the Kurdish PKK, whose leader, Abdullah Ocalan, merged his group´s activities with those of Iran´s Hezbollah in 1998.
Furthermore, as revealed in the February 2001 East Africa bombing trial testimony of Jamal al Fadl -- an al Qaeda operative in charge of weapons development in Sudan -- uranium used in "dirty bombs" that release lethal radioactive material, had been tested in 1994 by members of the Sudan-based Islamic National Front in the town of Hilat Koko, in Turkish-held northern Cyprus. Cyprus, both its north and southern sides, has also become a center for offshore money laundering by Arab banks fronting al Qaeda funds into the Balkans. The CIA puts al Qaeda´s specific Balkan-directed funds -- those tied to the "humanitarian" agencies and local banks and not explicitly counting the significant drug profits added to that -- at around $500 million to $700 million between 1992 and 1998.
So where was the U.S. in all this? It was not until 1995 that the Clinton administration was forced to start pursuing the Islamist network in the Balkans. Not quite a month after the Dayton accords had been signed in November 1995, an influx of Iranian arms came into Bosnia with the apparent tacit approval of the administration, in violation of U.N. sanctions. While publicly pressing Bosnian President Alia Izebegovic to purge remaining Islamist elements, the administration was loath to confront Sarajevo and Tehran over their presence.
Instead, Islamist groups went quietly underground as the windfall of weapons landed in their hands. They later joined up with a new Islamist center in Sofia established as a kind of rear guard by the al Zawahiri. Following the Zagreb arrest and extradition of renowned Egyptian militant Faud Qassim, an al Zawahiri favorite, the Sofia-based militants planned the deployment in Bosnia of terrorists capable of planning and leading possible major terrorist strikes against U.S. and SFOR facilities, according to al Fadl´s testimony to the House Task Force on Terrorism.
Islamist infiltration of the Kosovo Liberation Army advanced, meanwhile. Bin Laden is said to have visited Albania in 1996 and 1997, according to the murder-trial testimony of an Algerian-born French national, Claude Kader, himself an Afghanistan-trained mujahideen fronting at the Albanian-Arab Islamic Bank. He recruited some Albanians to fight with the KLA in Kosovo, according to the Paris-based Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues.
By early 1998 the U.S. had already entered into its controversial relationship with the KLA to help fight off Serbian oppression of that province. While in February the U.S. gave into KLA demands to remove it from the State Department´s terrorism list, the gesture amounted to little. That summer the CIA and CIA-modernized Albanian intelligence (SHIK) were engaged in one of the largest seizures of Islamic Jihad cells operating in Kosovo.
Fearing terrorist reprisal from al Qaeda, the U.S. temporarily closed its embassy in Tirana and a trip to Albania by then Defense Secretary William Cohen was canceled out of fear of an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Albanian separatism in Kosovo and Metohija was formally characterized as a "jihad" in October 1998 at an annual international Islamic conference in Pakistan.
Nonetheless, the 25,000 strong KLA continued to receive official NATO/U.S. arms and training support and, at the talks in Rambouillet, France, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shook hands with "freedom fighter" Hashim Thaci, a KLA leader. As this was taking place, Europol (the European Police Organization based in The Hague) was preparing a scathing report on the connection between the KLA and international drug gangs. Even Robert Gelbard, America´s special envoy to Bosnia, officially described the KLA as Islamic terrorists.
With the future status of Kosovo still in question, the only real development that may be said to be taking place there is the rise of Wahhabi Islam -- the puritanical Saudi variety favored by bin Laden -- and the fastest growing variety of Islam in the Balkans. Today, in general, the Balkans are left without the money, political resources, or institutional strength to fight a war on terrorism. And that, for the Balkan Islamists, is a Godsend.
Then you really don't know your history. The Albanians, an Illerian people came from eastern Turkey, bordering modern day Georgia (another Illerian people) where they used to live in a country called Albania. Then they were forced out and settled in modern day Croatia until being forced out by the proto-Croats and their German masters. They settled in Albania and were hemmed in by the Serbian kingdoms of Bosnia, Serbia, Chorni Gori (MontiNegro), and Macedonia and the Byzantines. They converted to islam under the turks and were allowed by the Turks to colonize surrounding Christian areas.
Under the Nazis and Fascist Italians, Albanian immigrants came into Kosovo and helped exterminate resisting Serbian villages. Tito further allowed them to settle to displace the majority Serbs. That's why the Serbian churches that are being blown up right under the EU noses and with EU approval are over 1,200 years old. They are, or were, UN Heritage Sites that the evil, corrupt and anti-Christian EU has allowed the Muslims to destroy. I congratulate France as one of the founding fathers of the EU on their great accomplishment. Just don't cry when Notre-Dame has a mosque and 5 daily prayer services to Mecca and catholic statues are all toppled as sacrilege. The French are just as guilty for allowing Islamics into Europe and will get the whirlwind. So defend the Islamics all you want, you'll get yours from them in the end.
"Many feel that the court ruling, despite confirming that horrific individual crimes were committed, vindicates the KLA as an organisation."
Anything wrong with that sentence?
So in Abu Ghraib humiliation of a few prisoners results in cries by the whole world against the entire US military's treatment of Muslims, but widespread Muslim KLA "horrific crimes" including real torture and killing of prisoners results in acquittal.
The Hague is as good as the UN.
"That is why I must say "Kosovo to the Kosovars" if I want to be able to say "France to the French". "
So you endorse ethnic cleansing?
"Greek journalist Takis Michas"
Michas is a Euroweasel if ever there was one. We know his type as well here in the States as they do in Greece. He is a man obsessed with hatred of himself and his own country.
This is journalistic trash. The KLA did nothing to drive the Serbian army our of Kosovo. It did a great deal to ethnically cleanse the Province with the help of the NATO allies who looked the other way and, according to Bill Clinton, even could be "understood" in doing so.
What caused the Serb army to withdraw from Kosovo was a cease-fire agreement and a UN resolution that has been ignored ever since. This cease-fire agreement (which foresaw eventual return of Serb forces to Kosovo) was brought on by two factors: (1) relentless and barbaric bombing of Serbia's military AND civilian primarily by the US, and to a smaller extent by its puppet European allies, and (2) by the realization that the Serb army was intact and ready to engage and inflict unbearable causalities on the NATO ground forces had they entered without cease-fire. This is all documented by NATO commanders who came to Kosovo following the cease-fire agreement and the UN Resolution.
They based their decision on the fact of intelligence corroborated by the actual withdrawl, of Serbia's capacity in Kosovo: it hardly touched by the a 70-plus day bombing campaign. Historcial fact is that the Serb forces withdrew from Kosovo with their flags, in perfect order and -- accroding to one NATO high ranking officer who watched it -- in "inspection-ready condition." All their equipment was clean and fully operational. This would harldy qualify as being "driven out" let alone by a group of Islamofascist Albanian thugs comprising the KLA.
Serb forces have shown an incredible degree of warfare smarts during the campaign -- fooling NATO bombers with fake targets and even managing to shoot down one Stealth Bomber using basic optical principles, smart baiting to kaie it visible to the radar, forcing to fly below the cloud cover, and finishing it off with good-old fashioned conventional anti-aircraft fire. Low tech-high IQ always wins.
Kosovo's status may be finalized -- for now, even with an independence of sorts. But the good thing about the changing world is that nothing remains the same, except love. And Serbs love Kosovo more than anyone else does.
"Most objectionable among many unsubstantiated assertions in this piece is the revival of a canard common during the Kosovo intervention: the claim. that the Kosovo Liberation Army was "Islamist."
"In reality, the KLA ineluded Catholics as well as Muslims and nonreligious people, at all levels of command. On December 29, 1999, the Kosovapress news agency, media arm of the former KLA, issued an extremely strong comment against the infiltration of Arab Muslim missionaries into Kosovo. The statement declared,
'For more than a century civilized countries have separated religion from. the state ... [However], we now see attempts notonly in Kosovo but everywhere Albanians live to introduce religion into public schools. . . Supplemental courses for children have been set up by foreign Islamic organizations who hide behind assistance programs. Some radio programs, such as Radio Iliria in Vitia, now offer nightly broadcasts in Arabic, which nobody understands and which lead many to ask, are we in an Arab country? It is time for Albanian mosques to be separated from Arab connections and for Islam to be developed on the basis of Albanian culture and customs.'
"In summer 2000, Naim Maloku a former KLA commander, took the initiative in demanding that Gulf state-funded "humanitarian organizations" active in Kosovo desist from Islamic missionizing and concentrate exclusively on legitimate assistance projects. When a representative of the United Arab Emirates promised to build 200 mosques in Kosovo, Mr. Maloku's answer was that Kosovar Albanians need economic investment, not mosques. These are hardly the opinions one expects from Islamists.
"Ametica desperately needs trustworthy Muslim allies. We have a potential torecruit many of such in the Balkans. The highly colored propaganda assembled by Ms. Kurop can only obstruct such an effort, and would undermine, rather than strengthen, American policy.
(STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, "Islamic Allies in the Balkans', LETTERS T0 THE EDITORS, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE. November 6, 2001)
If you knew more about them, you would know how long the imperialists in Belgrade dreamt of taking Thessaloniki away from the Greeks. Only the accidents of history have prevented them from experiencing what kind of "Christian brethren" the Serbs really are.
Take your propaganda elsewhere. The certainty that you display is not backed up by the facts. Here's just one unbiased source: http://lamar.colostate.edu/~grjan/kosovohistory.html
The earliest known inhabitants of Kosovo were called Illyrians by both Greeks and Romans. Albanians today claim to be direct descendants of the Illyrians. Serbian scholars claim that Albanians appeared on the scene in the early Middle Ages as a result of intermarriage between nomadic shepherds and unromanized remnants of Illyrians and Dardanians from Thrace. Tracing such descents is difficult but the people living in the region before the arrival of the Serbs from the North are likely to have some genetic relationships to Albanians, but DNA data would be needed to definitively settle the claim, which in any case is hardly germane to the current conflict. The region was conquered by Alexander the Great 300 years before Christ and became part of the Roman province of Dardania in the 4th century A. D.
Notice that the facts of who the first inhabitants were is in dispute, not cut and dry like you said. Similarly, these disputed facts are not germaine, so your claim that Kosovo belongs to the Albanians based on their being the first inhabitants is not relevant.
Again, I say if you want to propagandize, find a different forum to do it on.
The Illyrians, who were conquered by the Romans in the Second century B. C., were the first known inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia.
The only Serbs expelled during the Italian occupation of Kosovo were colonists who had been settled there on land stolen from the Albanians by the policy of ethnic cleansing imposed by the Yugoslav government before the war. Then, the only Albanians who had a reason to come there were Kosovars who had been expelled under that policy, a policy which had decreased the proportion of Albanians there from two thirds to just more than one half.
That policy was reneved after the war by Tito's right hand, Aleksandar Rankovic, until he was sacked in 1966. But then it could only mitigate the demographic growth of the Albanians in Kosovo, who remained an absolute majority there.
The Serb churches which have been destroyed in Kosovo cannot be more than seven centuries old, since the Serbs first invaded Kosovo during the 13th century. Albanians target them for the same reason they attack the Serbs themselves: because, as evidenced by Balkan scholars Andrew Herscher and András Riedlmayer
"Kosovo's Serbian Orthodox buildings both surviving medieval monuments and the products of twentieth-century church construction programs have served as proxy for a Serb population to substantiate Serbian state sovereignty [claims] over Kosovo" http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/report_format.cfm?articleid=796&reportid=151
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