What GIs need to know about Kosovo
By Stella Jatras
The Nov. 6 article "Training helps Guardsmen get Kosovo-savvy "
deserves a response.
The Stars and Stripes reporter states that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo make up 90 percent of the population. Actually, a more precise number is 97 percent. It is also necessary for your readers to understand just how the Kosovo (Muslim) Albanians became the majority — considering the Christian Serbs were once the majority until hundreds of thousands of them were either ethnically cleansed or killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi troops, followed by the communist Josip Broz Tito, who, in his hatred for the Christian Orthodox Serbs, encouraged Albanians to cross illegally into Kosovo.
While training for the situation as it exists today is important, we too often send our young men and women into these foreign countries to do impossible tasks without a clear understanding of the cultural and historical background of the region. What the Wailing Wall is to the Jews, what the Vatican is to the Roman Catholics, and what Mecca is to Muslims, Kosovo is to the Serbs. It is their Jerusalem. It is their heart and soul.
While under the watchful eye of NATO’s Kosovo Forces since 1999, more than 150 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed or desecrated and dozens of new mosques have been built — including the Osama bin Laden mosque that now stands on Serbian soil. Is this why peacekeepers are in Kosovo? To protect mosques named after the prime terrorist who has vowed to destroy our country?
Following are facts of importance that should not be ignored:
We have known as far back as 1999 the terrorist connections of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) when The Washington Times reported that “some members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has financed its war efforts through the sale of heroin, were trained in terrorist camps run by international fugitive Osama bin Laden."
In 2004, a report by National Review stated: “A pogrom started in Europe on Wednesday. A U.N. official is quoted as saying that ‘Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo.’ Serbs are being murdered and their 800-year-old churches are aflame. Much of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever. By these deeds too many of Kosovo’s Albanians have shown that all the speeches about democracy and multi-ethnicity we have been hearing in Kosovo since June 1999, and the naive repetition of them by the international community, are false. These words too are burning, as is the hope in the hearts of right-thinking policymakers across the world that Kosovo’s barbarians can be civilized at little cost to the West.”
Serbian culture, language and religion are being eradicated by Albanian mobs with the help of the Kosovo Liberation Army that has now been morphed into the Kosovo Peace Corps. Even under U.N. control, as noted in a May 20, 2002, briefing by Derek Chappell, spokesman for the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Police, sex slavery, prostitution and rape are rampant in Kosovo. The situation has become worse, not better.
The Wall Street Journal of Nov. 1, 2001 — in an article titled “Al Qaeda’s Balkan Links” — writes: “For the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factors and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, (FYROM) Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. Many recruits to the Balkan wars came originally from Chechnya, a jihad in which al Qaeda has also played a part.” …
It is a well-known fact that many of the jihadists who have taken over the government in Kosovo were trained in bin Laden’s terrorist camps. Sitting in the seat of government, Kosovo’s prime minister, Agim Ceku, helped to mastermind the most brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign in post-communist Yugoslavia’s history. According to an Amnesty International report, “Croatia: Impunity for killing after [Operation] Storm,” nearly the entire ethnic Serbian population of the region, estimated to be at least 180,000 people, fled in face of the attack. Hundreds of civilians were murdered, most of the victims being elderly and disabled persons who were unable to flee. The report estimates that “5,000 structures were torched by the advancing Croatian army.”
While the training emphasizes building relationships with the town leaders, does that include building relationships with the few Serbs who are left? Also, are our GIs being prepared for the renewed violence that Albanian Muslims have warned of if independence for Kosovo is delayed or refused? The violence may be directed at Americans who up until now they have considered to be “on their side.”
After Sept. 11, President Bush told the American people that we would do whatever it takes to defend our country against the Islamic terrorists, yet we denied the Serbs the right to fight the same enemy that we are fighting today.
Am I cynical? You bet. Through our flawed foreign policies in the Balkans, we destroyed a Christian people, our ally of two world wars, in order to appease the Muslim world, a world that cannot be appeased. Sept. 11 is a case in point.
The Black Hole of Europe! Blending bitterness and acquired Balkan black humor, my interlocutors all pointed out that the UN, the U.S., the Europeans, and everyone else were busily trying to wash their hands of the mess in Kosovo, get on with the final status (independence for the Albanians), and get out. None of this was a surprise, of course; it has been the same old story ever since the UN set up shop in 1999. But hearing about the efforts that the UNMIK regime has taken to avoid the glaring truth – that Kosovo is little more than a playground for powerful mafiosi, infested with unemployed paramilitaries and disgruntled, "born-again" Islamists – was especially revealing.