Saturday, February 9, 2008

Kosovo in 1999, Part 3

We continue from Part 2, and conclude our review of the 1999 article that is an addendum to The Criminalization of the State: "Independent Kosovo", a Territory under US-NATO Military Rule.

As you read the following excerpt, please consider it carefully:

The laundering of dirty money

In order to thrive, the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans "cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties" including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo.[21] In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.

Does this remind us of the Sibel Edmonds case? Criminal syndicates that "need friends in high places", that "cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence estalishment"? That is exactly a description of the Turkish Deep State, and that is exactly what is described in the Sibel Edmonds case.

What else does this remind us of?

The narcotics trade nonetheless uses respectable banks to launder large amounts of dirty money. While comfortably removed from the smuggling operations per se, powerful banking interests in Turkey but mainly those in financial centres in Western Europe discretely collect fat commissions in a multibillion dollar money laundering operation. These interests have high stakes in ensuring a safe passage of drug shipments into Western European markets.

It is also worth recalling the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, and all the stockbrokers that were in those three buildings that collapsed after the impact of two airliners. During the attack, stock trades continued whizzing through their computers -- at five to ten times the normal volume!

The Albanian connection

Arms smuggling from Albania into Kosovo and Macedonia started at the beginning of 1992, when the Democratic Party [of Albania -- YD] came to power, headed by President Sali Berisha. An expansive underground economy and cross border trade had unfolded. A triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics had developed largely as a result of the embargo imposed by the international community on Serbia and Montenegro and the blockade enforced by Greece against Macedonia.

Industry and agriculture in Kosovo were spearheaded into bankruptcy following the IMF's lethal "economic medicine" imposed on Belgrade in 1990. The embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs were driven into abysmal poverty. Economic collapse created an environment which fostered the progress of illicit trade. In Kosovo, the rate of unemployment increased to a staggering 70 percent (according to Western sources).

Interesting this idea that the IMF's interference caused the environment conducive to the trouble that developed.

It is also interesting looking into the influence that has been exerted on Pakistan regarding Pakistan's external debt, and Islamabad's reactions to that. That will be the subject of an upcoming post.

Poverty and economic collapse served to exacerbate simmering ethnic tensions. Thousands of unemployed youths "barely out of their teens" from an impoverished population, were drafted into the ranks of the KLA ...[22]

In neighbouring Albania, the free market reforms adopted since 1992 had created conditions which favoured the criminalisation of state institutions. Drug money was also laundered in the Albanian pyramids (ponzi schemes) which mushroomed during the government of former President Sali Berisha (1992-1997).[23] These shady investment funds were an integral part of the economic reforms inflicted by Western creditors on Albania.

Drug barons in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian Mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy. Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan, "have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence."[24]

Regular readers of my blog know of the vast role that prostitution plays among the Albanian mafias in the Balkans, and how many of these groups actually got their criminal start and built up capital for other criminal activities by enslaving women and forcing them into prostitution.

The application of "strong economic medicine" under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions had contributed to wrecking Albania's banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes riveted on Albania's abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania's extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum.... The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests.[25]

Berisha's Minister of Defence Safet Zoulali (alleged to have been involved in the illegal oil and narcotics trade) was the architect of the agreement with Germany's Preussag (handing over control over Albania's chrome mines) against the competing bid of the US led consortium of Macalloy Inc. in association with Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ).[26]

Large amounts of narco-dollars had also been recycled into the privatisation programmes leading to the acquisition of state assets by the mafias. In Albania, the privatisation programme had led virtually overnight to the development of a property owning class firmly committed to the "free market". In Northern Albania, this class was associated with the Guegue "families" linked to the Democratic Party.

What better way to launder drug money than through legitimate businesses in a nation where the path of the money is not traced? Ah, the advantages of globalization....

Controlled by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992-97), Albania's largest financial "pyramid" VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue "families" of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests. VEFA was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.[27]

According to one press report (based on intelligence sources), senior members of the Albanian government during the presidency of Sali Berisha including cabinet members and members of the secret police SHIK were alleged to be involved in drugs trafficking and illegal arms trading into Kosovo:

"(...) The allegations are very serious. Drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes all are believed to have been handled by a company run openly by Albania's ruling Democratic Party, Shqiponja (...). In the course of 1996 Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali [was alleged] to had used his office to facilitate the transport of arms, oil and contraband cigarettes. (...) Drugs barons from Kosovo (...) operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania, from Macedonia and Greece en route to Italy, is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police (...). Intelligence agents are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top and have had no hesitation in naming ministers in their reports."[28]

And this is exactly what is being established -- even now, February of 2008 -- in Kosovo.

Serbia was bombed and bullied by the West to establish a failed state in the heart of the Balkans.

This is not to blame all ethnic Albanians, nor is it to exonerate all ethnic Serbs. In that light, it is worth recalling from Part 1 a quote from earlier in the article:

Ironically Robert Gelbard, America's special envoy to Bosnia, had described the KLA last year [1998] as "terrorists". Christopher Hill, America's chief negotiator and architect of the Rambouillet agreement, "has also been a strong critic of the KLA for its alleged dealings in drugs."[3] Moreover, barely a few two months before Rambouillet, the US State Department had acknowledged (based on reports from the US Observer Mission) the role of the KLA in terrorising and uprooting ethnic Albanians:

" ... the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the police, ... KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers and burn their homes if they did not join the KLA [a process which has continued since the NATO bombings]... [T]he KLA harassment has reached such intensity that residents of six villages in the Stimlje region are "ready to flee."[4]

Ethnic Albanians were "ethnically cleansed" by the KLA!

Picking up where we left off:

The trade in narcotics and weapons was allowed to prosper despite the presence since 1993 of a large contingent of American troops at the Albanian-Macedonian border with a mandate to enforce the embargo. The West had turned a blind eye. The revenues from oil and narcotics were used to finance the purchase of arms (often in terms of direct barter): "Deliveries of oil to Macedonia (skirting the Greek embargo [in 1993-4] can be used to cover heroin, as do deliveries of kalachnikov rifles to Albanian 'brothers' in Kosovo".[29]

American troops on the border to enforce the embargo -- but somehow the guns and heroin magically get through!

Reminiscent of Afghanistan, where more than 90% of the world's heroin is now produced, and where US and NATO forces somehow can't seem to locate Sheikh bin Laden?

The Northern tribal clans or "fares" had also developed links with Italy's crime syndicates.[30] In turn, the latter played a key role in smuggling arms across the Adriatic into the Albanian ports of Dures and Valona. At the outset in 1992, the weapons channelled into Kosovo were largely small arms including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, RPK and PPK machine-guns, 12.7 calibre heavy machine-guns, etc.

The proceeds of the narcotics trade has enabled the KLA to rapidly develop a force of some 30,000 men. More recently, the KLA has acquired more sophisticated weaponry including anti-aircraft and anti-armor rockets. According to Belgrade, some of the funds have come directly from the CIA "funnelled through a so-called 'Government of Kosovo' based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Washington office employs the public-relations firm of Ruder Finn--notorious for its slanders of the Belgrade government".[31]

Similar to Afghanistan, where, during the jihad against the Soviets in the 1980's, the CIA, working through Pakistan's ISI, set up this guerrilla organization that was to an extent self-funding via its ties to heroin production.

As Professor Chossudovsky pointed out earlier in this article, in a statement which was quoted at the beginning of Part 2, this is a scheme similar to what was developed to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.

The KLA has also acquired electronic surveillance equipment which enables it to receive NATO satellite information concerning the movement of the Yugoslav Army. The KLA training camp in Albania is said to "concentrate on heavy weapons training--rocket propelled grenades, medium caliber cannons, tanks and transporter use, as well as on communications, and command and control". (According to Yugoslav government sources).[32]

These are not just a bunch of angry young men -- they are organized, trained, armed, well-funded, and have state-backing.

These extensive deliveries of weapons to the Kosovo rebel army were consistent with Western geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, there has been a "deafening silence" of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. In the words of a 1994 Report of the Geopolitical Drug Watch: "the trafficking [of drugs and arms] is basically being judged on its geostrategic implications (...) In Kosovo, drugs and weapons trafficking is fuelling geopolitical hopes and fears"...[33]

The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome "marriage of convenience" with the mafia. "Freedom fighters" were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to "finance the Kosovo conflict" with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings.

It is both ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians who are being victimized by the alliance between corrupt Western leaders and organized crime. That article was from 1999; as I write this, in February of 2008, the Bush Administration is pushing for the independence of Kosovo, possibly in the next few weeks. This will be in violation of international law, and will give heroin traffickers and Islamic militants a nation-state as a base in Europe, under Western military and political cover.

On the other side of Europe, there are several nations with substantial and increasingly militant minority groups of immigrants from Islamic countries. The precedent that is being set in the Balkans will reach across Europe, and the dominoes will fall. The westernmost dominoes are nuclear-armed powers, permanent members of the UN Security Council; the first dominoes are being toppled by the Bush Administration in the Balkans.

1 comment:

Aurora said...

The global hegemony that is coming is going to be one based on crime and thuggery. There is no doubt that the good will be hated and crime will be rewarded and anyone who stands against them will be an enemy of the State. Truly horrifying.