Germany and the U.S. collaborated in supporting the development and training of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to deliberately destabilize a centralized socialist government in Serbia. Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans
Undercover support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavor between the CIA and Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons, and were financed in part by drug money,” according to intelligence analyst John Whitley.
As the KLA matured, the U.S. and Germany recruited Mujaheddin mercenaries, financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, to train the KLA in guerrilla and diversion tactics. Since the mid-1990s, there has been a small handful of Pentagon contractors or private military companies providing support to the KLA. One of these contractors is the Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI). In a recent interview retired Army Colonel David Hackworth gave to Catherine Crier of Fox Television, he states that the MPRI used former U.S. military personnel to train KLA forces at secret bases inside Albania.
The MPRI has a starting lineup comprised of retired Pentagon top brass. Its roster includes one retired admiral, two retired major generals, and 10 retired generals. The MPRI employs more than 400 personnel and can access the resumes of thousands of former U.S. military specialists from cooks and clerks to helicopter pilots and Green Berets. The MPRI has been in the Balkans for years. MPRI military advisers helped plan Storm and Strike, the Croatian offensive that was responsible for driving out 350,000 Croatian Serbs from the Krajina province. In 1996, just one year later, the MPRI received a $400 million State Department contract to train and equip the Bosnian Croat-Muslim Federation Army.
Some of the KLA’s military leadership includes veterans of the MPRI-planned operation Storm and Strike. Agim Ceku is the military commander of the KLA and was a former brigadier general in the Croatian army. According to the London Independent’s Robert Fisk, Ceku is an ethnic cleanser in his own right. Ceku, along with MPRI military advisers, helped plan the Croatian military offensive that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from Krajina. UPDATE BY AUTHOR WAYNE MADSEN: The story on the U.S. mercenary connection to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was virtually ignored by the corporate-controlled media during NATO’s Balkans War.
Playing into the hands of the Pentagon’s information warfare and perception management cadres, as well as Clinton Administration spinmeisters, the major media sang the praises of the KLA, refusing to peer inside the covert assistance program rendered by Pentagon “private military contractors” to this shadowy group long connected to criminal enterprises in both Eastern and Western Europe. The U.S. private military contractors and police advisory teams associated with the Justice Department’s and United Nations peace monitoring teams continue their activity in the world’s most volatile trouble spots. As private entities, these companies are not subject to congressional oversight or Freedom of Information requests.
MPRI stepped up its military training activities in Bosnia after the suspension of the firm’s arms transfers to the Bosnian army was lifted by the State Department. MPRI activities included training a rapid reaction Bosnian special forces unit and providing direct support to the Bosnian Defense Ministry. Pentagon insiders reported that MPRI also provided weaponry to paramilitary forces loyal to Montenegro’s pro-Western President Milo Djukanovic and continued covert assistance to the KLA in Kosovo. Also, MPRI’s activities in Africa increased. Not only did the company’s personnel increase their profile in Angola, helping that nation in its war against Washington’s former UNITA allies, but the firm’s representatives showed up in Abuja, Nigeria, after the swearing in of democratically elected president Olusegun Obasanjo.
MPRI is a central player in the Pentagon’s African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) and Nigeria was long sought as a military partner of the United States in that effort. However, neither former dictator Sani Abacha nor former president-elect Chief Moshood Abiola were acceptable to Washington as military partners. Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering provided much of the high-level liaison between Obasanjo’s government and MPRI. Ironically, Dickering was present during a July 1998 meeting with Chief Abiola when the imprisoned president-elect suffered a heart attack and died minutes later. MPRI is also active in counter-narcotics military operations in Colombia. There has also been a blurring of law enforcement and military activities of companies like Dyncorp and Science Application International Corporation (SAIC). One of Dyncorp’s U.N. police monitors was wounded by pro-Indonesian East Timorese militiamen in the post-referendum violence that swept the ravaged territory. Others, providing police services in NATO-occupied Kosovo, were attacked by both Serb and Albanian militia groups. SAIC became more active, through the CIA-connected ICITAP, in paramilitary counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency operations in Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, and Panama-all long-time favorite haunts of CIA operatives.
ICITAP also stepped up training of Bosnian federal and cantonal police units and various South African police services. Former ICITAP director Janice Stromsem was joined by another ICITAP employee, Mick Andersen, who charged that agencies other than the Justice Department were engaging in “illegal activities” in Haiti. Stromsem and Andersen were both forced from their jobs with ICITAP and have been effectively ostracized within the government after blowing the whistle.
During 1999, Dyncorp faced charges that it was raiding police departments around the country luring away experienced officers with six-figure salaries. In September 1999, the mayor of Surf City, New Jersey filed suit against one of his police officers for abandoning his job to join Dyncorp’s force in Kosovo. A retired Bloomington, Indiana police officer returned home from Kosovo after becoming disenchanted with his duties. Still others cited difficulties in dealing with the Albanian Mafia in Kosovo.
Moreover, some 10 percent of the U.N. police candidates dropped out of Dyncorp’s Fort Worth-based training program after they initially signed up. Aside from radio interviews with progressive radio stations in New York, there was no other media reaction to the story. As Western leaders trumpet their support for democracy, state terrorism in Kosovo has become an integral part of NATO’s post-war design.
The KLA’s political role for the “post-conflict” period had been mapped out well in advance. NATO had already slated the KLA “provisional government” (PGK) to run civilian state institutions. In the weeks following NATO’s military occupation of Kosovo, the KLA took over municipal governments and public services including schools and hospitals. The KLA has a controlling voice on the U.N.-sponsored Kosovo Transitional Council, UNMIK. In the weeks following the military invasion, the KLA “Provisional Government” established links with a number of Western governments. Under NATO occupation, the rule of law has visibly been turned upside down.
Criminals and terrorists are to become law-enforcement officers. With the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops and police, the KLA without delay took control of Kosovo’s police stations. Under the formal authority of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Coop-eration in Europe (OSCE) was entrusted with the task of training and installing a 4,000-strong police force with a mandate to “protect civilians” under the jurisdiction of the KLA-controlled “Ministry of Public Order.” The evidence suggests that the KLA-controlled police force was also responsible for the massacres of civilians organized in the immediate wake of NATO’s military occupation of Kosovo.
Moreover, despite NATO’s commitment to disarming the KLA, the Kosovar paramilitary organization is slated to be transformed into a modern military force. So-called “security assistance” has already been granted to the KLA by the U.S. Congress under the Kosovar Independence and Justice Act of 1999. While the KLA’s links to the Balkans narcotics trade (served to finance many of its terrorist activities) had been highly publicized, the paramilitary organi-zation was granted an official U.S. seal of approval as well as being deemed a “legitimate” source of funding. In turn, Washington’s military aid package to the KLA was entrusted to Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI) of Alexandria, Virginia, a private mercenary outfit run by high ranking former U.S. military officers. In September 1999, the KLA was officially dissolved and transformed into the newly formed Kosovo Protection Force that was funded by U.S. military aid. Shift in military labels: KLA Commander Agim Ceku was appointed Chief of Staff of Kosovo’s newly created armed forces. Barely a few weeks after Commander Ceku’s NATO sponsored appointment, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that it was “investigating Ceku for alleged war crimes committed against ethnic Serbs in Croatia between 1993 and 1995” (AFP, October 13,1999).
This information had been withheld by the ICTY during the mandate of Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour. In other words, the U.N. and NATO knew that Agim Ceku was an alleged war criminal prior to the onslaught of NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in March 1999. More-over, KFOR Commander Mike Jackson and UNMIK head Dr. Bernard Kouchner (and 1999 Nobel Peace Laureate as cofounder of Doctors Without Borders) were fully aware of the fact that an alleged war criminal had been appointed as Commander in Chief of the KPF: “If we lose him it will be a disaster,” said a diplomat close to Bernard Vouchner, the U.N. s special representative. “When you get to the second level of the TMK [Kosovo Protection Force], you’re down to a bunch of local thugs.” American diplomats have suggested any indictment of Ceku would most likely be “sealed” and thereby kept out of the public domain [meaning that public opinion will not be informed of the Court’s decision].
Another diplomat said he believed KFOR, the NATO-led peace-keeping force, could not contemplate a public relations disaster with the Albanians by arresting Ceku (Tom Walker, “Kosovo Defense Chief Accused of War Crimes, Sunday Times, October 10, 1999). The ICTY also cautioned that the inquiry did not necessarily imply that Ceku was responsible for wrongdoings in Kosovo: “The court’s inquiries relate to atrocities committed in Krajina between 1993 and 1995.” Ceku’s record in Kosovo itself is not thought to be in question, although the office of Carla del Ponte, the new chief prosecutor, said an investigation into his activities with the KLA could not be ruled out. The possibility that Ceku, a respected figure in Kosovo, could be accused of war crimes, has sent “shivers through the international community in Kosovo…” (Ibid.). In other words, the so-called “international community” has firmly relied on an “alleged war criminal” to replicate in Kosovo the massacres and ethnic cleansing conducted in Croatia against Krajina Serbs. Visibly what was shaping up in the wake of the bombings in Kosovo was the continuity of NATO’s operation in the Balkans. Military personnel and U.N. bureaucrats previously stationed in Croatia and Bosnia had also been routinely reassigned to Kosovo.
In this context, the assignment of Mike Jackson to Kosovo as KFOR Commander was remarkably consistent with the appointment a few months earlier of Brigadier General Agim Ceku as Commander of the KLA. KFOR Commander Mike Jackson had also been routinely reassigned to Kosovo following his earlier stint in Bosnia/Herzegovina and Croatia. His experience in “ethnic warfare,” however, predates the Balkans. From his earlier posting, while in Northern Ireland as a young captain, Jackson was second in command in the “Bloody Sunday” massacre of civilians in Derry in 1972. Under the orders of Lieutenant Derek Wilford, Captain Jackson and 13 other soldiers of the parachute regiment opened fire “on a peaceful protest by the Northern Ireland civil rights association opposing discrimination against Catholics. In just 30 minutes, 13 people were shot dead and 13 injured.
Those who died were killed by a single bullet to the head or body, indicating that they had been deliberately targeted. No weapons were found on any of the deceased” (Julie Hyland, “Head of NATO Force in Kosovo, Second-in-Command at ‘Bloody Sunday’ Massacre in Ireland,” World Socialist Web site, June 19, 1999). Jackson’s role in “Bloody Sunday” “did not hinder his Military career” (Ibid.). From his early stint in Northern Ireland, he was reassigned to the theatre of ethnic warfare in the Balkans. In the immediate wake of Operation Storm and the ethnic massacres in Krajina, Jackson was put in charge as KFOR commander, for organizing the return of Serbs “to lands taken by Croatian HVO forces in the 1995 Krajina offensive.” And in this capacity General Mike Jackson had “urged that the resettlement of Krajina Serbs not be rushed to avoid tension with the Croatians while also warning returning Serbs of the extent of the land mine threat (Jane’s Defense Weekly, Vol. 25, No. 7, February 14, 1996). In retrospect, recalling the events of early 1996, very few Krajina Serbs were allowed to return to their homes under the protection of the United Nations. According to Veritas, a Belgrade based organization of Serbian refugees from Croatia, some 10,000-15,000 Serbs were able to resettle in Croatia. A similar process took place in Kosovo where the conduct of senior military officers conformed to a consistent pattern because the same key individuals were reassigned to a “peace-keeping” role in Kosovo. While token efforts were displayed to protect Serb and Roma civilians, those who fled Kosovo were not encouraged to return under U.N. protection.
In post-war Kosovo, ethnic cleansing was carried out by the KLA while under the auspices of NATO and the U.N. It has been accepted by the “international community” as a fait accompli. Moreover, while calling for democracy and “good governance” in the Balkans, the U.S. and its allies have installed in Kosovo a “civilian paramilitary government” with links to organized crime. The outcome is the outright “criminalization” of civilian state institutions in Kosovo and the establishment of what is best described as a “Mafia State.” The complicity of NATO and the Alliance governments (namely their relentless support of the KLA) points to the de facto “criminalization” of KFOR and of the U.N. peace-keeping apparatus in Kosovo.
The donor agencies and governments (e.g., the funds approved by the U.S. Congress in violation of several U.N. Security Council resolutions) providing financial support to the KLA are, in this regard, also “accessories” to this criminalization of state institutions. Through the intermediation of a paramilitary group (created and financed by Washington and Bonn), NATO ultimately bears the burden of responsibility for the massacres and ethnic cleansing of civilians in Kosovo.