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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.