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The Kosovo catastrophe.

ITEM: "NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has accused Kosovo Albanians of orchestrating violence against minority Serbs which drove thousands front their homes last week," reported the French AFP news service on March 23. The anti-Serb rampage, described as "the worst violence in Kosovo since its 1998-99 war," prompted NATO leaders to deploy 2,000 troops to reinforce K-FOR, the UN-supervised peacekeeping force.

As many as 30 Serb Orthodox churches were put to the torch, 300 houses were demolished, dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and thousands left homeless as a result of a three-day orgy of ethnic violence.

Pristina, Kosovo's provincial capital, once numbered 80,000 Serbs in its population of 350,000. After the 1999 NATO-led war on Serbia, the subsequent UN-mandated turnover of Kosovo to the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and five years of KLA rule, Pristina now has a population of half a million--and not a single Serb officially remains. Some dare call this "ethnic" cleansing." Harri Holkeri, the Finnish official serving as head of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo, "is sure that the Albanian leaders know more about the events of recent days than they have let on," reported a March 23 dispatch from Helsinki's Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

"It was planned in advance," agreed UNMIK spokesman Derek Chappell. Another UN official described the onslaught as "Kristallnacht in Kosovo," an allusion to the 1938 anti-Jewish rampage in Nazi Germany that is commonly perceived as the opening assault of the Holocaust. "This is planned, coordinated, one-way violence from the Albanians against the Serbs," observed that official. "It is spreading and has been brewing for the past week.... Wherever there is a Serbian population there is Albanian action against them."

At the height of the rampage, noted the BBC, "thousands of demonstrators marched down the main street chanting the name of the Kosovo Liberation Army"--a supposedly disbanded terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. The top echelon of the KLA's leadership now controls the provincial government, including the security forces.

The KLA has long had designs on Kosovo, which it wants to detach from Serbia. The first phase of the KLA's designs was accomplished when the UN turned the province over to them following the 1999 NATO bombing. "I think that now we have come to the second phase, when this kind of [anti-Serb] violence is clearly conducted and organized ... with the intention ... of frightening the Serb population--to expel it from parts of central Kosovo by destroying Serb religious buildings," Balkans analyst Veton Surroi told the BBC.

A March 23 story by Italy's AGI news service pointed to a link connecting the tragedy in Kosovo with the horrific March 11 terrorist attacks in Spain: Spanish police identified a port in Ancona, Italy, used by al-Qaeda smugglers as the "last piece of the puzzle" of the 3-11 massacre. That same port "was recently used to get weapons and arms through to the [KLA] in Kosovo," noted the Italian report.

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: In our March 15, 1999 cover story "Diving into the Kosovo Quagmire"--published prior to NATO's 1999 war over Kosovo--THE NEW AMERICAN warned that the KLA "is a terrorist criminal syndicate, Maoist in its ideological bent, hard-wired into the international heroin trade, and tightly allied with Osama bin Laden."

Drawing on intelligence reports from European counter-narcotics and intelligence agencies, interviews with experts and law enforcement officials both here and abroad, and European press accounts, this magazine warned in explicit detail about the likely consequences of allying ourselves with the KLA--not the least of which would be emboldening the group's chief ally and financier, Osama bin Laden.

In our March 15, 1999 story, we cited intelligence analyst Ben Works of the Strategic Issues Research Institute of the U.S.: "There's no doubt that bin Laden's people have been in Kosovo helping to arm, equip, and train the KLA.... There is a monster being created here, but in important ways it's a monster of our own making. Hardly a day goes by without a terrorism alert at some U.S. embassy that has been targeted by bin Laden's people, and the [Clinton] Administration's policy in Kosovo is to help bin Laden, through the KLA, extend his reach in Europe. It almost seems as if the Clinton Administration's policy is to guarantee more terrorism."

An essay by then-Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth published shortly after the NATO bombing began ("Our Illegal War," April 26, 1999) offered a similar timely warning: "Bill Clinton has committed America's military might to the support of bin Laden's Balkan allies, and the policy of the Clinton Administration seeks the creation of a Balkan outpost for bin Laden's terrorist network." An "autonomous" Kosovo under KLA control "could serve as a springboard for ... terrorism throughout Europe and beyond," advised Rep. Chenoweth.

Following the bombing ("NATO's Terror Campaign," August 16, 1999), THE NEW AMERICAN warned that a KLA-conducted "ethnic cleansing" campaign against Serbs (as well as anti-KLA Albanians) was already underway--and that in a press conference Bill Clinton actually defended these atrocities as just retribution.

Our May 24, 1999 cover story contained this dismally prescient observation from veteran Balkans correspondent Christopher Hedges: "In the end, it will come to this: Led by the KLA, Kosovo will separate from Serbia, whether by negotiations or by violence. The grim reality is that we had better get to know the KLA--because it is not going away."
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Title Annotation:Ahead Of The Curve
Author:Grigg, William Norman
Publication:The New American
Date:Apr 19, 2004
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