The Kosovo Liberation Army or KLA (Albanian: Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës orUÇK) was a Kosovar Albanian guerilla group which sought the independence of Kosovo from Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The KLA was regarded by the US as a terrorist group until 1998 when it was de-listed,[3][4] and then the UK and the US lobbied France to do the same.[5] The US then cultivated diplomatic relationships with the KLA leaders.[4][6] In 1999 the KLA was officially disbanded and their members entered the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC).[4] n 1996 a British weekly newspaper, The European, carried an article by a French expert stating that “German civil and military intelligence services have been involved in training and equipping the rebels with the aim of cementing German influence in the Balkan area. (…) The birth of the KLA in 1996 coincided with the appointment of Hansjoerg Geiger as the new head of the BND (German secret Service). (…) The BND men were in charge of selecting recruits for the KLA command structure from the 500,000 Kosovars in Albania.” [17] Former senior adviser to the German parliament Matthias Küntzel tried to prove later on that German secret diplomacy had been instrumental in helping the KLA since its creation.[18]

James Bissett, Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania in 1990, recalled in 1992 and retired from Foreign Service to eventually take a job as the head of an International organization in Moscow, helping the Russian Government establish a new immigration agency, writes that “…as early as 1998, the Central Intelligence Agency assisted by the British Special Armed Services were arming and training Kosovo Liberation Army members in Albania to foment armed rebellion in Kosovo. (…) The hope was that with Kosovo in flames NATO could intervene …” [19] According to Tim Judah, KLA representatives had already met with American, British, and Swiss intelligence agencies in 1996, and possibly “several years earlier” [20] and according to The Sunday Times, “American intelligence agents have admitted they helped to train the Kosovo Liberation Army before NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia” [2].

 Here have been reports of war crimes committed by the KLA both during and after the conflict. These have been directed against both Serbs, other ethnic minorities (principally Roma) and against ethnic Albanians accused of collaborating with the Serb authorities. [21]

 According to a 2001 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW):

The KLA was responsible for serious abuses… including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state. Elements of the KLA are also responsible for post-conflict attacks on Serbs, Roma, and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanian political rivals… widespread and systematic burning and looting of homes belonging to Serbs, Roma, and other minorities and the destruction of Orthodox churches and monasteries… combined with harassment and intimidation designed to force people from their homes and communities… elements of the KLA are clearly responsible for many of these crimes. [22]

The KLA engaged in tit-for-tat attacks with Serbian nationalists in Kosovo, reprisals against ethnic Albanians who “collaborated” with the Serbian government, and bombed police stations and cafes known to be frequented by Serb officials, killing innocent civilians in the process. Most of its activities were funded by drug running, though its ties to community groups and Albanian exiles gave it local popularity.[12]

The Yugoslav authorities regarded the KLA a terrorist group[23], though many European governments did not. The Serbian government also reported that the KLA had killed and kidnapped no fewer than 3,276 civilians of various ethnic descriptions including some Albanians.[24]President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the KLA as, “without any questions, a terrorist group.”[12]

The exact number of victims of the KLA is not known. According to a Serbian government report, from January 1, 1998 to June 10, 1999 the KLA killed 988 people and kidnapped 287; in the period from June 10, 1999 to November 11, 2001, when NATO took control in Kosovo, 847 were reported to have been killed and 1,154 kidnapped. This comprised both civilians and security force personnel: of those killed in the first period, 335 were civilians, 351 soldiers, 230 police and 72 were unidentified; by nationality, 87 of killed civilians were Serbs, 230 Albanians, and 18 of other nationalities. Following the withdrawal of Serbian and Yugoslav security forces from Kosovo in June 1999, all casualties were civilians, the vast majority being Serbs.[24] According to Human Rights Watch, as “many as one thousand Serbs and Roma have been murdered or have gone missing since June 12, 1999.” [3]

The Podujevo bus bombing was a terrorist attack on a civilian bus in a Serb-populated area near the town of Podujevo in Serbia, Kosovo on 16 February 2001 by Kosovar Albanian extremists. 12 Serb civilians who were on route to the Gračanica monastery site were killed and dozens more injured.[citation needed]

Carla Del Ponte, a long-time ICTY chief prosecutor, claimed in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals that there were instances of organ trafficking in 1999 after the end of the Kosovo War. These allegations were dismissed by Kosovan and Albanian authorities.[25] The allegations have been rejected by Kosovar authorities as fabrications while the ICTY has said “no reliable evidence had been obtained to substantiate the allegations” [26]

 Drug traffic

The U.S. State Department indicated that the KLA was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals, among them allegedly Osama bin Laden.[3][4] Another link to bin Laden is the fact that the brother of a leader in an Egyptian Jihad organization and also a military commander of Usama bin Laden, was leading an elite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict.[citation needed] It should be noted the KLA had no ideological link to these other groups.[4] In 1998, the KLA was described as a key player in the drugs for arms business in 1998, “helping to transport 2 billion USD worth of drugs annually into Western Europe”[citation needed]

The KLA was tied in with every known Middle and Far Eastern drug cartel.[citation needed] Interpol, Europol, and nearly every European intelligence and counter-narcotics agency has files open on drug syndicates that lead right to the KLA,…”[27][citation needed]

Status as terrorist group

The Yugoslav authorities regarded the KLA a terrorist group[28]. The U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization until 1998,[3][4] and President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described that same year the KLA as, “without any questions, a terrorist group, [even if it wasn’t listed officially as one]”.[29][6] France didn’t delist it until late 1998, after strong US and UK lobbying.[5] KLA is still present in the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base list of terrorist groups,[28] and is listed as an inactive terrorist organization by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism from the Homeland Security.[30]




5 thoughts on “KLA

  1. Pro Serbian article. What about how the serbs locked up unarmed albanians in barns and burned it? Or the village where they made parents cook babies in the ovens? I know first hand this to be true. The KLA are people from villages who rose up to defend their familys and homes. Keep spreading lies..

  2. I’m not going to say that the Milosevic government was innocent by any means, but the KLA clearly was a terrorist organization which killed all those — including plenty of Albanians — who got in its way.

    I am not Serbian or Albanian, and I actually lived in Albania during the last year and learned a lot of the Albanian language; however, I’m interested in reality and the reality of the situation was that the KLA was a fascistic puppet of NATO which behaved no better than the Milosevic regime.

  3. I worked with both serbs and croatian’s in Canada during that time …. lunch breaks they were always discussing the latest events from back home. One young man fled with his wife rather then maybe be killed he was the most opinionated and self righteous of the bunch …. after the war he packed up and went back to Serbia with his wife and now 2 Canadian babies born here. Some lunch times were very heatedly discussed and of course both sides are always right …. and thats why there is never any peace with some people …/ governments stirring the pot to make trouble for everyone …. one thing I realized its a mess over there with no simple solution, where one group wins a little more 2 or more groups lose

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