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FTR #151 Drugs and the Kosovo Liberation Army

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New­ly mint­ed as inter­na­tion­al heroes after the begin­ning of the 1999 NATO air offen­sive against the Serbs, the Koso­vo Lib­er­a­tion Army has been linked to drug traf­fick­ing. Draw­ing on research pre­sent­ed in Mike Rup­pert’s From the Wilder­ness newslet­ter, the pro­gram doc­u­ments the KLA’s con­nec­tion to Alban­ian orga­nized crime ele­ments deeply involved in the inter­na­tion­al hero­in trade. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of Richard Armitage’s recent activ­i­ties in the region, Mr. Rup­pert notes Armitage’s long his­to­ry of involve­ment with covert intel­li­gence oper­a­tions that involved drug traf­fick­ing. The pro­gram sets forth the sim­i­lar­i­ty between past covert wars involv­ing drugs and what appears to be going on in Koso­vo. Mr. Rup­pert notes the “Third Option” par­a­digm for­mal­ized by CIA deputy Direc­tor Ted Shack­ley in his book of the same name and sug­gests that it is being real­ized by U.S. and Ger­man intel­li­gence in the Balka­ns. Much of the pro­gram con­sists of analy­sis of joint Amer­i­can and Ger­man pol­i­cy in the region and sug­ges­tions by Mr. Rup­pert and Pro­fes­sor Michel Chos­su­dovsky (Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa) that the coun­tries intend to recol­o­nize the Balka­ns. Both men cite the severe con­di­tions imposed on the region by the IMF and note that the hard­ship stem­ming from such dra­con­ian eco­nom­ic mea­sures often presages con­ver­sion of depressed economies to the drug trade. Sup­port­ed by both U.S. and Ger­man intel­li­gence, the KLA served as the pre­text for NATO involve­ment in the Koso­vo con­flict. Its oper­a­tions appear to be sus­tained large­ly by the hero­in trade, under­tak­en in part­ner­ship with pow­er­ful Alban­ian traf­fick­ers who have assumed an increas­ing role in the “Balkan route”. The lat­ter is the route over which much of the hero­in reach­ing the Amer­i­can and Euro­pean mar­kets trav­els. Pro­gram high­lights include: Mr. Rup­pert’s hypoth­e­sis that three U.S. sol­diers cap­tured in the con­flict may have been delib­er­ate­ly set up; Armitage’s pre­vi­ous jobs as Bush’s Spe­cial Eco­nom­ic Envoy to the Sovi­et Union and his secret role dur­ing the clos­ing stages of the Viet­nam War; sim­i­lar­i­ties between the Balka­ns con­flict and the ear­ly stages of Amer­i­can involve­ment in Viet­nam; the col­lapse of the Alban­ian econ­o­my that helped set the stage for the con­flict; the rich min­er­al resources of Koso­vo and Alba­nia (the appar­ent focal point of Amer­i­can and Ger­man inter­est in the region); the con­tention that the sce­nario unfold­ing in Koso­vo in 1999 had been deter­mined by the time of the 1995 Day­ton accords. (Record­ed on 5/2/99.)