Inside Kosovo’s Islamist Cauldron



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Kacanik, KOSOVO – A plume of smoke hangs over our table in the corner of a dark, shabby café in this rugged town in southern Kosovo. The lanky 19-year-old sitting next to me is chain-smoking through half a pack of L&Ms, his hands trembling as he recalls how he joined one of the world’s most brutal militant Islamist groups.

Through his neatly trimmed beard, Adem, who asks me not to use his real name for fear of arrest, says he had never even left Kosovo. But two years ago, he found himself on the perilous and far-off Turkey-Syria border — a major entry point for foreigners seeking to join the ranks of Islamic State (IS).

He was taken by IS recruiters to a Turkish village, where he waited to be smuggled into a war zone. After a two-week training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Syrian and Iraqi territory that the group calls its “caliphate,” he would be assigned to a fighting unit.

Hours before the recruiters were to sneak him across the border, however, Adem turned back and made his way home.

“I realized that what was going on in Syria had nothing to do with Islam,” says Adem, who keeps looking over his shoulder as if he might be found out at any moment by Kosovar authorities. He looks like any other teenager, in skinny jeans and a silver chain hanging over his T-shirt.

Kacanik lies in southern Kosovo’s Sharr Mountains, a pathway between central Europe and the southern Balkans since at least the Bronze Age.

Jihadist Capital Of The Balkans

The government estimates that more than 300 Kosovars have traveled to the Middle East to wage jihad, or Islamic holy war. That makes this predominately Muslim country of under 2 million people, which unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, Europe’s biggest contributor per capita of IS foot soldiers.

Kacanik in particular has gained a reputation as the jihadist capital of the Balkans. In the past three years, at least 24 men from its population of 30,000 have left to fight for extremist groups like IS or Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.

Adem’s own path toward radicalization began when he received a Facebook invitation to attend a sermon hosted by an imam from a nearby town. He says he was “curious” about Islam. For the next five months, Adem attended sermons and Koran classes at a makeshift mosque where he and other young men lived.

The sermons were organized by Rinia Islame (Islamic Youth in Albanian), an Islamic charity operating in Kacanik. It is one among dozens of secretive organizations funded by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states that promote an extreme version of Islam. The groups are accused of brainwashing youth and recruiting them for extremist causes abroad.

Adem says the sermons he attended were “very strict and harsh.” “They told us not to shake hands with women and don’t go to cafes or bars,” he says.

There are indeed mounting outward signs of Islamic fundamentalism in Kacanik, where it is no longer uncommon to see women in Islamic veils or men with untrimmed beards and calf-length trousers, none of which has much real tradition in the country.

As Adem tells it, the sermons worked their way up from Koran lessons, to the meaning of jihad, to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

“My family doesn’t practice religion very much,” says Adem, who lives with his parents and two sisters in a crammed flat in Kacanik. “Only my grandfather and I.”

He says his family picked up on signs that he was becoming radicalized. “They said that if I want to practice religion, I can do it — I can pray — but not become a radical.”

The sermons attended by Adem were given by Zeqirja Qazimi, a notorious imam who was jailed for 10 years on May 20 after he and six associates were convicted for fighting for IS militants in Syria from 2012 to 2014 and for trying to gather IS recruits.

“Imam Zekerija Qazimi came from Gjilan,” says Adem, referring to a town in eastern Kosovo. “He was telling us about jihad.”

Qazimi also posted a video on YouTube in which he said that the “blood of infidels is the best drink for us.” Local media reported that Qazimi was responsible for recruiting 11 Kosovar fighters to IS; three were said to have been killed in Syria.

When I ask whether Adem has been threatened since turning his back on the extremists who radicalized him, his answer belies the bloodthirsty reputation of a group that routinely kills captives en masse and is said to ruthlessly execute suspected traitors. “I’ve never felt danger,” he says. “It was my decision.”

The Middle Eastern-funded charities have penetrated poor, rural communities like Kacanik that have been neglected by the government and where unemployment is around 40 percent, making young men easy targets for indoctrination.

The Islamic charities often run schools, dormitories, and welfare programs. But they also push a hard-line agenda that appears to have gained at least a minor foothold in Kacanik.

Fertile Ground For Extremism

Adem believes the Arab-funded charities targeted poor families, and often single mothers. He says in exchange for attending the sermons, the charity would give students accommodations, expense money, and new clothes and shoes.

“There were many people who attended the sermons,” says Adem, who had just finished high school and was jobless when he started attending the classes. “There were people in poor economic conditions.”

“These charities were not registered and they worked with certain radical individuals and they have manipulated the poor,” says Kacanik Mayor Besim Ilazi.

Ilazi, a tall, balding man, points at derelict buildings and defunct factories at the foot of the green hills around Kacanik and adds, “The economy is the main reason why some people joined.”

Locals also point to the town’s proximity to Macedonia as one of the reasons Kacanik has become such a hotbed for radicalism. Macedonia is a short 30-minute drive away, and locals say hard-line ethnic Albanian preachers often visit Kosovar communities to deliver sermons.

Radical Charities Going Underground

In late 2014, Kosovar officials closed 14 charities — including the one that provided religious classes to Adem — when they were suspected of having ties to Islamic extremist groups. Under a new law, Kosovo can jail citizens for up to 15 years if they participate in foreign wars.

Kosovo authorities say around 50 homegrown jihadists have been killed in fighting in Syria and Iraq, and around 120 have returned to Kosovo. More than 100 people in Kosovo have been arrested or are under investigation for recruiting or fighting abroad on behalf of IS.

Ilazi insists the government crackdown has largely driven Kacanik’s radical fringe out of the town. But he also acknowledges that some extremists have simply gone underground and continue to operate in “private houses.”

Locals talk of cabins in the woods where the extremists hold meetings and sermons. One local points to a rocky hill in the distance. “Over there is where they meet at night,” he says, talking on condition of anonymity. “No one can go there because they have armed guards.”

“The radicals were allowed to operate freely for too long.”

Florim Neziraj, head of the Islamic Community of Kosovo in Kacanik

Recruits ‘Never Came Back’

Adem, sipping Turkish coffee from a tiny cup, says that several months after attending religious classes some of the young men “left and never came back,” referring to locals who went to Syria to fight.

“We were in a small place and we heard everything,” says Adem. “Yes, there were people who went to Syria. I saw them leave Kacanik.”

Florim Neziraj is the head of the local branch of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the main officially sanctioned Islamic organization in the country. The young, ginger-haired imam has been leading efforts to prevent young men from joining radical Islamic groups.

“Those who have gone to Syria are often very young,” says Neziraj, who is wearing a tight navy suit and sporting a trimmed beard. “They come from the best families in Kacanik. You couldn’t say anything bad about them. We saw no signs of radicalization. They were manipulated and fell victim to certain individuals.”

Neziraj argues that blame must be apportioned to the government, which he says “neglected the problem” of radicalization. “The radicals were allowed to operate freely for too long,” he adds.

Kosovo has traditionally been a secular state with a liberal Muslim population, with bars on the same street as mosques. But less tolerant voices have flourished, including among the radical Islamic charities, which have thrived since arriving after the war ended in Kosovo in 1999.

Neziraj says many such charities came under the guise of “humanitarian organizations,” often building schools and hospitals. But he says these charities were often bent on “indoctrinating the youth.”

He fears it might be too late to tackle spreading radicalism.

IS Recruiter

One product of the radicalization in Kacanik is Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a 25-year-old IS recruiter who fights in Syria. He has been described as one of IS’s top leaders.

Last year, Muhaxheri sent shockwaves around Kosovo when he posted photos on Facebook of himself beheading a prisoner in Syria. Another post purportedly showed him executing a Syrian man with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Adem is reluctant to talk about Kacanik’s most notorious former resident, but admits he saw Muhaxheri attending the local mosque for prayers, saying he looked “normal.”

He says Muhaxheri’s path is a lesson for young men in Kacanik thinking of fighting in Syria.

“I live a normal life again, but I’m one of the lucky ones,” Adem tells me between cigarettes in the café, where he now works as a waiter. “Not everyone who takes the wrong path can find their way again.”

But for the older tombs, he said, “I think the bones should stay in their graves.”

June 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frud Bezhan is a Prague-based correspondent for RFE/RL.

Source: RFE/RL

Kosovo ISIL Ridvan Haqifi and Lavdrim Muhaxheri

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Kosovo and Other Countries Destroyed by Hillary Clinton



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In an email sent to his business partner and Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Leeds, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote of Hillary Clinton, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”

Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first term was an unmitigated disaster for many nations around the world. Neither the Donald Trump campaign nor the corporate media have adequately described how a number of countries around the world suffered horribly from Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy decisions.

Millions of people were adversely harmed by Clinton’s misguided policies and her “play-to-pay” operations involving favors in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative.

The following is a before and after chart illustrating, country by country, the destabilizing effects of Clinton’s policies as Secretary of State:

Abkhazia

Before Hillary: In 2009, more and more nations began recognizing the independence of this nation that broke away from Georgia and successfully repelled a U.S.-supported Georgian invasion in 2008.

After Hillary: Clinton pressured Vanuatu and Tuvalu to break off diplomatic relations with Abkhazia in 2011. The State Department pressured the governments of India, Germany, and Spain to refuse to recognize the validity of Abkhazian passports and, in violation of the US-UN Treaty, refused to permit Abkhazian diplomats to visit UN headquarters in New York. The Clinton State Department also threatened San Marino, Belarus, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and Peru with recriminations if they recognized Abkhazia. Georgia was connected to Clinton through the representation of Georgia in Washington the Podesta Group, headed by Tony Podesta, the brother of Mrs. Clinton’s close friend and current campaign chairman John Podesta.

Argentina

Before Hillary: Under President Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina’s economy improved and the working class and students prospered.

After Hillary: After former president Nestor Kirchner’s sudden death in 2010, the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires became a nexus for anti-Kirchner activities, including the fomenting of political and labor protests against the government. Meanwhile, Clinton pressed Argentina hard on its debt obligations to the IMF, also crippling the economy.

Bolivia

Before Hillary: Bolivia’s progressive president Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous Aymara leader, provided government support to the country’s coca farmers and miners. Morales also committed his government to environmental protection. He kept his country out of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and helped start the Peoples’ Trade Agreement with Venezuela and Cuba.

After Hillary: Clinton permitted the U.S. embassy in La Paz to stir up separatist revolts in four mostly European-descent Bolivian provinces, as well as foment labor strikes among miners and other workers in the same model used in Venezuela.

Brazil

Before Hillary: Brazil’s progressive presidents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, ushered in a new era for the country, with workers’ and students; rights at forefront and environmental protection and economic development for the poor major priorities.

After Hillary: Clinton’s authorization of massive electronic spying from US embassy in Brasilia and consulate general in Rio de Janeiro resulted in a “constitutional coup” against Rousseff and the Workers’ Party government, ushering in a right-wing, CIA-supported corrupt government.

Central African Republic

Before Hillary: Under President Francois Bozize, the CAR remained relatively calm under a peace agreement hammered out under the auspices of Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya.

After Hillary: In 2012, Islamist terrorists of the Seleka movement and supported by Saudi Arabia conducted an uprising, massacring Christians and riving Bozize’s government from power. The CAR became a failed state under Clinton’s State Department.

Ecuador

Before Hillary: Ecuador began sharing its oil wealth with the people and the economy and the plight of the nation’s poor improved.

After Hillary: Clinton authorized a 2010 National Police coup against President Rafael Correa. The economy soon plunged as labor disputes wracked the mining and oil sectors.

Egypt

Before Hillary: Under Hosni Mubarak, Egypt was a stable secular nation that suppressed jihadist politics in the mosques. The jihadist-oriented Muslim Brotherhood was kept at bay.

After Hillary: After Clinton’s 2011 “Arab Spring” and the toppling of Mubarak, Egypt saw Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood elected president. Immediately, the secular country began a process of Islamization with Christian Copts experiencing repression and violence, including massacres. Morsi’s rule resulted in a military coup, thus ending Egypt’s previous moves toward democracy.

Germany

Before Hillary: The nation was a peaceful country where German culture, as well as religious freedom and women’s rights were guaranteed.

After Hillary: Clinton’s “Arab Spring” eventually resulted in a flood of mainly Muslim refugees being welcomed into Germany from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Today, Germany is wracked by Muslim refugee street crime, unsanitary and harmful public health habits of migrants, sexual assaults by migrant men of women and children, increased acts of terrorism, and a diminution of German culture and religious practices.

Greece

Before Hillary: Greece was a nation that saw government safety net social services extended to all in need. It also remained a top tourist destination for northern Europeans.

After Hillary: The 2010 debt crisis emaciated the Greek economy and Clinton remained adamant that Greece comply with draconian economic measures dictated by Germany, the European Union, and the IMF/World Bank. Making matters worse, Clinton’s “Arab Spring” eventually resulted in a flood of mainly Muslim refugees being welcomed into first, the Greek isles, and then mainland Greece, from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Today, Greece, especially the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Symi, Rhodes, Leros, and Kos, are wracked by Muslim refugee crime, unsanitary public health habits of migrants, sexual assaults by migrant men of women and children, acts of arson and vandalism, and a diminution of Greek culture and religious practices.

Guatemala

Before Hillary: Under President Alvaro Colom, the nation’s first populist progressive president, the poor received access to health, education, and social security.

After Hillary: Clinton authorized the U.S. embassy in Guatemala to work against the 2011 election as president of Colom’s wife, Sandra Torres. Colom was succeeded by a right-wing corrupt president who resigned for corruption and then was arrested.

Haiti

Before Hillary: Haiti was prepared in 2011 to re-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide, forced out of office and into exile in a 2004 CIA coup. The prospects of Artistide’s return to power was a blessing for the slum dwellers of Haiti.

After Hillary: Clinton refused to allow Aristide to return to Haiti from exile in South Africa until it was too late for him to run in the 2011 election. Under a series of U.S.-installed presidents, all approved by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Haiti is a virtual cash cow for the Clintons. The Clinton Foundation diverted for its own use, international aid to Haiti, and the Clintons ensured that their wealthy friends in the hotel, textile, and construction businesses landed lucrative contracts for Haitian projects, none of which have benefited the Haitian poor and many of which resulted in sweat shops and extremely low wage labor practices.

Honduras

Before Hillary: Emergent multi-party democracy with a populist progressive president, Manuel Zelaya. Children received free education, poor children received free school meals, interest rates were reduced, and the poorest families were given free electricity.

After Hillary: Clinton authorized a military coup d’etat against Zelaya in 2009. Clinton family “fix-it” man Lanny Davis became a public relations flack for the military dictatorship. Resulting fascist dictatorship involved in extrajudicial death squad killings of journalists, politicians, and indigenous leaders followed the “constitutional coup” against Zelaya. During 2012, Clinton ordered U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa to work against 2013 election of Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as president.

Iraq

Before Hillary: Under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq experienced small moves toward an accommodation with the Kurds of the north and Sunnis. Iran acted as a moderating political force in the country that deterred any attempts by Saudi-supported jihadis to disrupt the central government in Baghdad.

After Hillary: Clinton’s Arab Spring resulted in the rise of the Sunni/Wahhabist Islamic State in northern and western Iraq and Iraq’s plunge into failed state status. Shi’as, Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrian Christians, and moderate Sunnis were massacred by the jihadis in northern, western, and central Iraq. The Iraqi cities of Mosul, Kirkuk, and Nineveh fell to ISIL forces with non-Muslims being raped, tortured, and executed and priceless antiquities being destroyed by the marauding jihadists.

Kosovo

Before Hillary: Kosovo, which became independent in 2008, initially granted its Serbian minority in northern Kosovo and Metohija some degree of self-government.

After Hillary: In 2009, Kosovo increasingly became a state ruled by criminal syndicates and terrorists of the former Kosovo Liberation Army. The rights of Serbs were increasingly marginalized and Kosovo became a prime recruiting ground for jihadist guerrillas in Arab countries subjected to Clinton’s “Arab Spring” operations, including Libya and Syria.

Clinton pressured states receiving U.S. aid and other U.S. allies to recognize Kosovo’s independence. These included Pakistan, Palau, Maldives, St. Kitts-Nevis, Dominica, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Burundi, East Timor, Haiti, Chad, Gambia, Brunei, Ghana, Kuwait, Ivory Coast, Gabon, St. Lucia, Benin, Niger, Guinea, Central African Republic, Andorra, Oman, Guinea-Bissau, Qatar, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Honduras, Somalia, Djibouti, Vanuatu, Swaziland, Mauritania, Malawi, New Zealand, Dominican Republic, Jordan, Bahrain, and Comoros. In the Kosovo capital of Pristina, there is a 10-foot-high statue of Bill Clinton standing over Bill Clinton Boulevard. Not far away is a women’s clothing store called “Hillary.”

Libya

Before Hillary: Under Muammar Qaddafi, post-sanction Libya saw a boom in urban construction and a new major international airport to serve as a hub for Africa. Plans announced for an African dinar, supported by Libyan gold holdings, to serve the needs of Africa. All Libyans received free education and medical care. There was a program for revenue sharing of Libya’s oil wealth with the Libyan people.

After Hillary: Clinton’s 2011 regime change operations against Qaddafi, which saw the Libyan leader sodomized, beaten, and shot in the head by U.S.-supervised jihadist rebels, resulted in Clinton laughing about the incident in the infamous, “We came, we saw, he died” comment. Libya became a failed state where Islamic jihadist terrorists vied for control of the country and Qaddafi’s arm caches were given or sold to jihadist terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, the pan-Sahel region, and sub-Saharan Africa. After Qaddafi’s ouster, black African guest workers and their families were massacred by jihadist forces.

Malaysia

Before Hillary:Malaysia, before 2009, was a religiously tolerant nation where Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus enjoyed freedom of religion.

After Hillary: In 2009, Najib Razak became prime minister and he began accepting bribes from Saudi Arabia that totaled some $2.6 billion with additional Malaysian public money in Razak’s personal bank accounts plus the Saudi cash totaling some $3.5 billion. Razak began allowing Saudi-influenced clerics to push for sharia law throughout Malaysia and Christians in Sarawak, Sabah, and Penang began experiencing Wahhabist repression. Clinton was silent about Malaysian persecution of non-Muslims. The reason may have been a reported several hundred million donation from Razak’s slush fund into the Clinton Foundation’s coffers.

Palestine

Before Hillary: In 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status in the United nations. The 2009 Goldstone Report of the UN found that Israel violated international humanitarian law in its war against Gaza in 2009. Palestine was gaining more support and sympathy internationally and was successfully putting to rest Israeli propaganda disinformation.

After Hillary: Hillary Clinton rejected the Goldstone Report as “one-sided.” Clinton’s unbridled support for expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and its silence on the dehumanizing Israeli blockade of Gaza, emboldened Israel’s theocratic right-wing government to further encroach on Palestinian territories and cementing into place an apartheid-like series of Palestinian “Bantustans” in the West Bank and an open-air ghetto in Gaza.

Paraguay

Before Hillary: The country under Fernando Lugo began lifting out of poverty the nation’s rural campesinos and urban workers. Paraguay also began a steady move toward democratization after years of military  dictatorships.

After Hillary: Clinton’s 2012 “constitutional coup” against Fernando Lugo brought back into power the military-industrial oligarchy with the nation’s campesinos being forced back into poverty and repressive rule.

South Sudan

Before Hillary: Prior to independence in 2011, South Sudan, while rife with intra-tribal feuding, was relatively calm.

After Hillary: After being rushed into indepenence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan, a special project of Clinton, George Soros, and actor George Clooney, descended into civil war and chaos. It beat all records in being transformed from a newly-independent state into a failed state.

Syria

Before Hillary: Syria was a multi-cultural and multi-religious secular state championing the concept of pan-Arab socialism and progressive policies advanced by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. Syria was not a safe place for jihadism.

After Hillary: After Clinton’s 2011 green light for the “Arab Spring,” Syria became a failed state where the Islamic State gained a firm foothold. Minority Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Kurds were massacred by jihadist groups aided and abetted by NGOs and other interests backed by Clinton.

Thailand

Before Hillary: Thailand’s Red Shirt movement was a powerful force that demanded a return to democracy in Thailand and the restoration of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 military coup, to power.

After Hillary: A Red Shirt protest in 2010 resulted in a bloody crackdown by the Thai military. Clinton remained silent about the Thai army’s killing of protesters and the mass arrests of Red Shirt leaders. U.S. military assistance to the Thai government was continued by Clinton. When Thaskin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, became prime minister in 2011, Clinton began working to undermine her and her government in a manner not unlike Clinton’s subterfuge against Rousseff in Brazil and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. When iot comes to women leaders, Clinton only tolerates conservatives who kow-tow to the United States. The pressure against Yingluck eventually resulted in her ouster in 2014 and her being criminally charged in the same manner that saw Rousseff charged in Brazil.

Tunisia

Before Hillary: Tunisia was one of the most secular nations in the Arab and Islamic world. A top destination for European tourists, the country was more European in its outlook than North African.

After Hillary: After Clinton’s 2011 “Jasmine Revolution,” a textbook themed revolution crafted by Clinton’s friend George Soros, Tunisia descended into Islamist rule and violence. Today, Tunisia is the top country for recruits to the Islamic State.

Turkey

Before Hillary: Turkey was moving steadily closer to European standards on human rights and democracy. Even under the Islamist-oriented Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country remained committed to pluralism.

After Hillary: Clinton authorized the shipment of Libyan weapons captured from Qaddafi’s arms caches to Turkish middlemen in the employment of Erdogan’s government for transfer to the jihadist rebels in Syria. A complication in this arrangement resulted in the September 11, 2012 jihadist attack on the CIA warehouse facility in Benghazi, which killed U.S. envoy Chris Stevens and other State Department personnel. Turkey’s dalliance with jihadist rebels in Syria was mirrored by increasing Islamization of Turkey. The events of 2011 and 2012 resulted in Turkey today being ruled by an Islamist strongman, Erdogan, with open political opposition being stamped out.

Ukraine

Before Hillary: Ukraine was a stable and neutral country that neither aligned itself with the West and NATO nor with Russia under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, elected in 2009 and inaugurated in 2010.

After Hillary: Clinton tried everything possible to ensure the 2009 defeat of Viktor Yanukovych. The State Department and its friends in the George Soros camp provided assistance to Clinton’s favorite candidate Yulia Tymoshenko to defeat Yanokovych. It was this early interference in the 2009 election that ultimately led to the “Euromaidan” themed revolution in 2014 against the government, resulting in civil war, the retrocession of Crimea back to Russia, and secessionist states in eastern Ukraine. Clinton’s policies directly led to a failed state in Europe.

Venezuela

Before Hillary: Under Hugo Chavez, the country provided basic social services to its poorest of citizens. Venezuela also provided discounted gasoline to several Caribbean and Central American countries through the PetroCaribe consortium.

After Hillary: After Clinton allowed the U.S. embassy in Caracas to foment anti-Chavez labor and political protests, the country began to falter economically. After Chavez’s 2012 diagnosis of terminal cancer, the State Department stepped up pressure on Venezuela, crippling the nation’s economy and political system.

Western Sahara

Before Hillary: Recognized by the African Union and several nations around the world as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Western Sahara saw some hope for an evacuation of illegal Moroccan occupation trops from its territory.

After Hillary: In 2010, Moroccan troops began entering Sahrawi refugee camps and attacking residents, even in UN-protected exclusion zones, where Moroccan troops were prohibited from entering. Clinto ensured that UN talks and a proposed popular referendum on the future of Western Sahara were stalled. Clinton pressured a number of states to withdraw their recognition of the SADR, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Paraguay, Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Malawi, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, Panama, and Burundi. The Clinton Foundation received a 2011 donation of $1 milion from a Moroccan phosphate company owned by the Moroccan government and which has mining operations in Western Sahara.

Yemen

Before Hillary: Yemen was a largely secular state that was transforming into a federation where the rights of South Yemen and the Zaidi Houthis of north Yemen were being recognized.

After Hillary: Clinton’s “Arab Spring” of 2011 and the fall of Abdullah Saleh from power saw Yemen become a failed state. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State gained control over several areas of North and South Yemen. The fall of Saleh permitted Saudi Arabia to conduct a genocidal war in the country with Mrs. Clinton’s full support.

Wayne Madsen is an investigative journalist who consistently exposes cover-ups from deep within government. Want to be the first to learn the latest scandal? Click on the banner above and subscribe today!

2016-09-22

About the author:

Wayne Madsen is an investigative journalist who consistently exposes cover-ups from deep within the government. Want to be the first to learn the latest scandal? Go to WayneMadsenReport.com subscribe today!

Source: Info War

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Kosovo: Heroin transport corridor



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US-NATO military control of Kosovo serves several purposes for Washington’s greater geo-strategic agenda. First it enables greater US control over potential oil and gas pipeline routes into the EU from the Caspian and Middle East as well as control of the transport corridors linking the EU to the Black Sea.

It also protects the multi-billion dollar heroin trade, which, significantly, has grown to record dimensions in Afghanistan according to UN narcotics officials, since the US occupation. Kosovo and Albania are major heroin transit routes into Europe. According to a 2008 US State Department annual report on international narcotics traffic, several key drug trafficking routes pass through the Balkans. Kosovo is mentioned as a key point for the transfer of heroin from Turkey and Afghanistan to Western Europe. Those drugs flow under the watchful eye of the Thaci government.

Since its dealings with the Meo tribesmen in Laos during the Vietnam era, the CIA has protected narcotics traffic in key locations in order partly to finance its covert operations. The scale of international narcotics traffic today is such that major US banks such as Citigroup are reported to derive a significant share of their profits from laundering the proceeds.

One of the notable features of the indecent rush by Washington and other states to immediately recognize the independence of Kosovo is the fact that they well knew its government and both major political parties were in fact run by Kosovo Albanian organized crime.

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Hashim Thaci, Prime Minister of Kosovo and head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, is the former leader of the terrorist organization which the US and NATO trained and called the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, or in Albanian, UCK. In Kosovo crime circles he is known as Hashim “The Snake” for his personal ruthlessness against opponents.

In 1997, President Clinton’s Special Balkans Envoy, Robert Gelbard described the KLA as, “without any question a terrorist group.” It was far more. It was a klan-based mafia, impossible therefore to infiltrate, which controlled the underground black economy of Kosovo. Today the Democratic Party of Thaci, according to European police sources, retains its links to organized crime.

A February 22, 2005 German BND report, labeled Top Secret, which has since been leaked, stated, “Über die Key-Player (wie z. B. Haliti, Thaci, Haradinaj) bestehen engste Verflechtungen zwischen Politik, Wirtschaft und international operierenden OK-Strukturen im Kosovo. Die dahinter stehenden kriminellen Netzwerke fördern dort die politische Instabilität. Sie haben kein Interesse am Aufbau einer funktionierenden staatlichen Ordnung, durch die ihre florierenden Geschäfte beeinträchtigt werden können.“ (OK=Organized Kriminalität). (Translation: “Through the key players—for example Thaci, Haliti, Haradinaj—there is the closest interlink between politics, the economy and international organized crime in Kosovo. The criminal organizations in the background there foster political instability. They have no interest at all in the building of a functioning orderly state that could be detrimental to their booming business.”

The KLA began action in 1996 with the bombing of refugee camps housing Serbian refugees from the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. The KLA repeatedly called for the “liberation” of areas of Montenegro, Macedonia and parts of Northern Greece. Thaci is hardly a figure of regional stability to put it mildly.

The 44 year old Thaci was a personal protégé of Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during the 1990s, when he was a mere 30-year old gangster. The KLA was supported from the outset by the CIA and the German BND. During the 1999 war the KLA was directly supported by NATO. At the time he was picked up by the USA in the mid-1990s, Thaci was founder of the Drenica Group, a criminal syndicate in Kosovo with ties to Albanian, Macedonian and Italian organized mafias.  A classified January 2007 report prepared for the EU Commission, labeled “VS-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch” was leaked to the media. It detailed the organized criminal activity of KLA and its successor Democratic Party under Thaci.

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A December 2010 Council of Europe report, released a day after Kosovo’s election commission said Mr Thaci’s party won the first post-independence election, accused Western powers of complicity in ignoring the activities of the crime ring headed by Thaci: “Thaci and these other ‘Drenica Group’ members are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime,” the report said. “We found that the ‘Drenica Group’ had as its chief – or, to use the terminology of organised crime networks, its ‘boss’ – the renowned political operator … Hashim Thaci.”

The report stated that Thaci exerted “violent control” over the heroin trade. Dick Marty, the European Union investigator, presented the report to European diplomats from all member states. The response was silence. Washington was behind Thaci.

The same Council of Europe report on Kosovo organized crime accused Thaci’s mafia organization of dealing in trade in human organs. Figures from Thaçi’s inner circle were accused of taking captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys that were sold on the black market. In one case revealed in legal proceedings in a Pristina district court in 2008 organs were said to have been taken from impoverished victims at a clinic known as Medicus – linked to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) organ harvesting in 2000.

The question then becomes, why are Washington, NATO, the EU and inclusive and importantly, the German Government, so eager to legitimize the breakaway Kosovo? A Kosovo run internally by organized criminal networks is easy for NATO to control. It insures a weak state which is far easier to bring under NATO domination. Combined with NATO control over Afghanistan where the Kosovo heroin controlled by Prime Minister Thaci originates, the Pentagon is building a web of encirclement around Russia that is anything but peaceful.

The Thaci dependence on US and NATO good graces insures Thaci’s government will do what it is asked. That, in turn, assures the US a major military gain consolidating its permanent presence in the strategically vital southeast Europe. It is a major step in consolidating NATO control of Eurasia, and gives the US a large swing its way in the European balance of power. Little wonder Moscow has not welcomed the development, nor have numerous other states. The US is literally playing with dynamite, potentially as well with nuclear war in the Balkans.


Author: F. William Engdahl is author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. He may be contacted via his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net

12-04-2012

Original source of the article: Source: www.globalresearch.ca

Illustrated by Vladislav B. Sotirovic

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Kosovo: Europe’s “Mafia State”: Hub of the EU-NATO drug trail



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Kosovo’s Prime Minister Accused of Running Human Organ, Drug Trafficking Cartel

In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”

The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.

According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between criminal gangs and “political circles” in Kosovo who just happen to be close regional allies of the United States.

The investigation was launched by Dick Marty, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) special rapporteur for human rights who had conducted an exhaustive 2007 probe into CIA “black fights” in Europe.

The PACE investigation gathered steam after allegations were published by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte in her 2008 memoir.

After it’s publication, Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation’s ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor’s “justice” to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.

A series of damning reports by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the BBC, confirmed Del Ponte’s allegations and spurred the Council to act.

Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war “simply vanished without a trace” into a secret prison “in the Albanian border town of Kukes.”

According to sources who feared for their lives, including former KLA guerrillas, the BBC revealed that disappeared civilians “were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.”

In an uncanny echo of Nazi practices during the period of the Third Reich, The New York Times reported that “captives” were “‘filtered’ for their suitability as donors, based on sex, age, health conditions and ethnic origin. “We heard numerous references to captives’ not merely having been handed over, but also having been ‘bought’ and ‘sold,’” the special rapporteur told the Times.

“Some of the guards told investigators,” the Times reports, “that a few captives understood what was about to happen and ‘pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being chopped into pieces’.”

Mercy was in short supply however, behind KLA lines.

The report states: “As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Greater Albania

Once organs were removed from the victims they were auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold by a global trafficking ring still operating today.

The former prosecutor further alleged, The Guardian reported, that “she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials” who she claimed had “smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.”

In a classic case of covering-up the crimes of low-level thugs to protect more powerful criminals, Del Ponte has charged that forensic evidence gathered by ICTY investigators at one of the northern Albania death houses was destroyed at The Hague.

International Network

This brisk underground trade didn’t end in 1999 however, when the break-away Serb province was occupied by NATO troops; on the contrary, operations expanded and grew even more profitable as Kosovo devolved into a protectorate of the United States.

In fact, a trial underway in Pristina has revealed that “desperate Russians, Moldovans, Kazakhs and Turks were lured into the capital ‘with the false promise of payments’ for their kidneys,” The Guardian reported.

It was a “growth industry” that fed on human misery. According to The Guardian, recipients “paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys [and] included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel,” EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the British paper.

“Donors” however, were left holding the bag, lucky to escape with their lives.

At the center of the scandal is the Medicus clinic. Located some six miles from downtown Pristina, Medicus was allegedly founded by university hospital urologist Dr Lutfi Dervishi, and a former permanent secretary of health, prosecutors claim, provided the clinic with a false license to operate.

Two of the accused, The Guardian revealed, “are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, perhaps the world’s most renowned organ trafficker.”

Prosecutors believe that Harel and Sonmez are the brains behind Medicus and that Shaip Muja, a former KLA “medical commander” who was based in Albania, may have overseen operations at the “clinic.”

Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi’s and, in an macabre twist, he is currently “a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health,” The Guardian reports.

Investigators averred they had “uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja’s central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime.”

Besides lining the pockets of Albanian, Israeli and Turkish criminals who ran the grisly trafficking ring, whose interests might also be served in covering-up these horrific crimes?

A Gangster State, but which One?

The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as “freedom fighters,” during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

As in Albania years before NATO’s Kosovo adventure, organized criminal activities and “the trade in narcotics and weapons [were] allowed to prosper,” Michel Chossudovsky wrote, because “the West had turned a blind eye.”

These extensive deliveries of weapons were tacitly permitted by the Western powers on geopolitical grounds: both Washington and Bonn had favoured (although not officially) the idea of a ‘Greater Albania’ encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia. Not surprisingly, there was a ‘deafening silence’ on the part of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. (“The Criminalization of Albania,” in Masters of the Universe? NATO’s Balkan Crusade, ed. Tariq Ali, London: Verso, 2000, pp. 299-300)

The consequences of this “deafening silence” remain today. Both in terms of the misery and impoverishment imposed on Kosovo’s citizens by the looting of their social property, particularly the wholesale privatization of its mineral wealth which IMF economic “reforms” had spawned, and in the political cover bestowed upon Pristina’s gangster regime by the United States.

In the intervening years NATO’s “blind eye” has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.

Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE report states that “the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation.”

“The elements of proof taken in Rripe, in Albania” during that initial inquiry investigators wrote, “have been destroyed and cannot therefore be used for more detailed analyses. No subsequent investigation has been carried out into a case nevertheless considered sufficiently serious by the former ICTY Prosecutor for her to see the need to bring it to public attention through her book.”

This is hardly surprising, considering that the ICTY was created at the insistence of the Clinton administration precisely as a retributive hammer to punish official enemies of the U.S.

Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America’s imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals–the losers in the decade-long conflagration–it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.

The report averred that human organ trafficking was only a part of a larger web of crime and corruption, and that murder, trafficking in women, control over global narcotics distribution and money laundering networks were standard operating procedure for Thaçi and other members of the “Drenica group,” the black widows at the center of the KLA spiders’ web.

For his part, Thaçi has called the PACE report “libelous” and the Kosovo government has repudiated the Council’s findings claiming that the charges “were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.”

While one can easily dismiss prevarications from Kosovo’s government, the White House role in covering-up the crimes of their client regime should have provoked a major scandal. That it didn’t only reveals the depths of Washington’s own venal self-interest in preventing this sordid affair from gaining traction.

In  all likelihood fully-apprised of the Council of Europe’s investigation through any number of American-friendly moles implanted in European institutions as WikiLeaks Cablegate files have revealed, last summer Thaçi met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House.

Shamelessly, Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo,” and “reiterated the United States’ firm support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House press release.

Indeed, the vice president “welcomed the progress that Kosovo’s government has made in carrying out essential reforms, including steps to strengthen the rule of law.”

An all too predictable pattern when one considers the lawless nature of the regime in Washington.

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The Heroin Trail

As I reported more than two years ago in “Welcome to Kosovo! The World’s Newest Narco State,” the KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose “15 Families” control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade.

Albanian traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Central Asia’s Golden Crescent. At one end lies America’s drug outpost in Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for processing and transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into “product” for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 1999, “Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.”

As the murdered investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov reported in 2000 for Mother Jones, as the U.S.-sponsored war in Kosovo heated up, “the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package.”

Despite billions of dollars spent on failed interdiction efforts, these patterns persist today as more than 106 metric tons of heroin flow into Europe. So alarmed has the Russian government become over the flood of heroin penetrating their borders from Central Asian and the Balkan outposts that some officials have likened it to American “narco-aggression” and a new “opium war, researcher Peter Dale Scott reported.

Scott avers: “These provinces” in Afghanistan, “support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime (headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset), including the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former CIA asset. In effect America has allied itself with one drug faction in Afghanistan against another.” Much the same can be said for CIA assets in Pristina.

As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in their 2010 World Drug Report:

Once heroin leaves Turkish territory, interception efficiency drops significantly. In the Balkans, relatively little heroin is seized, suggesting that the route is exceedingly well organized and lubricated with corruption. … Another notable feature of the Balkan route is that some important networks have clan-based and hierarchically organized structures. Albanian groups in particular have such structures, making them particularly hard to infiltrate. This partially explains their continued involvement in several European heroin markets. Albanian networks continue to be particularly visible in Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Italy is one of the most important heroin markets in Europe, and frequently identified as a base of operation for Balkan groups who exploit the local diaspora. According to WCO seizure statistics, Albanians made up the single largest group (32%) of all arrestees for heroin trafficking in Italy between 2000 and 2008. The next identified group was Turks followed by Italians and citizens of Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Kosovo/Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to some extent Greece). A number of Pakistani and Nigerian traffickers were arrested in Italy as well.

As has been documented for decades, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan campaign the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and then provide them with targets.

When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia’s heart during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved “success” without the connivance, indeed active partnership forged amongst Yugoslavia’s nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny has shown,

Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by “a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web…Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27)

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.”

Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.”

Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

As the Council of Europe and investigative journalists have documented, northern Albania was the site not only of KLA training camps but of secret detention centers where prisoners of war and civilian KLA opponents were executed and their organs surgically removed and sold on the international black market.

“The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA–prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict–took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed.”

The report avers, “It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania,” the site of secret NATO bases, “yet only in the second half of 1998,” Marty writes, “through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle.”

“What is particularly confounding” Marty writes, “is that all of the international community in Kosovo–from the Governments of the United States and other allied Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities–undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation of the full extent of the Drenica Group’s crimes, but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and to hold the perpetrators to account.”

While the special rapporteur’s outrage is palpable, the ascension of a political crime family with deep roots in the international drugs trade and other rackets, including the grisly traffic in human organs, far from being an anomalous event conforms precisely to the structural pattern of capitalist rule in the contemporary period.

“What we have uncovered” Marty informs us, “is of course not completely unheard-of. The same or similar findings have long been detailed and condemned in reports by key intelligence and police agencies, albeit without having been followed up properly, because the authors’ respective political masters have preferred to keep a low profile and say nothing, purportedly for reasons of ‘political expediency’. But we must ask what interests could possibly justify such an attitude of disdain for all the values that are invariably invoked in public?”

Marty need look no further for an answer to his question than to the “political masters” in Washington, who continue to cover-up not only their own crimes but those of the global mafias who do their bidding.

As we have seen throughout the latter half of the 20th century down to the present moment, powerful corporate and financial elites, the military and intelligence agencies and, for lack of a better term, “normal” governmental institutions are suborned by the same crooked players who profit from war and the ensuing chaos it spawns to organize crime, thereby “rationalizing” criminal structures on more favorable terms for those “in the loop.”

In this regard, the impunity enjoyed up till now by Thaçi and his minions merely reflect the far-greater impunity enjoyed by the American secret state and the powerful actors amongst U.S. elites who have profited from the dirty work allegedly performed by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and others like him, who are counted amongst the most loyal servants of imperial power.

About the author:

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.


22-12-2010

Original source of the article: www.globalresearch.ca

Illustrated by Vladislav B. Sotirovic

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