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FTR #153 Kosovo, Albania and Organized Crime

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MP3 Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

Build­ing on infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in FTR 151, this pro­gram com­pelling­ly doc­u­ments the involve­ment of the Koso­vo Lib­er­a­tion Army, Koso­var orga­nized crime syn­di­cates and the Alban­ian orga­nized crime estab­lish­ment in the drug trade. Much of the KLA’s activ­i­ty has been fund­ed by the nar­cotics trade, in addi­tion to sup­port drawn from Ger­man and U.S. intel­li­gence. Draw­ing on excel­lent reportage on the sub­ject by San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle reporter Frank Viviano, the pro­gram rein­forces infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed by Mike Rup­pert in his From the Wilder­ness Newslet­ter. (Mike was the first per­son in the U.S. to report the KLA-drug con­nec­tion.) One of the most impor­tant sec­tions of the pro­gram con­sists of the read­ing of a bril­liant paper on the Balka­ns war by Pro­fes­sor Michel Chos­su­dovsky of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa, spelling out the rela­tion­ship between the KLA, U.S. and Ger­man covert action and the “Balka­ns route.” The lat­ter is the route trav­eled by much of the hero­in reach­ing West­ern Europe and the U.S. Pre­vi­ous­ly dom­i­nat­ed by Turk­ish orga­nized ele­ments, the route is now con­trolled pri­mar­i­ly by eth­nic Alba­ni­ans. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Viviano, Rup­pert and Chos­su­dovsky point out that, up until short­ly before the bomb­ing of Yugoslavia began, sev­er­al U.S. offi­cials were pub­licly char­ac­ter­iz­ing the KLA as “ter­ror­ists” and law enforce­ment per­son­nel around the world were decry­ing the KLA and eth­nic Alban­ian par­tic­i­pa­tion in the hero­in trade. As not­ed by Viviano in the Chron­i­cle, Alba­nia itself is dom­i­nat­ed by orga­nized crime. (Europe’s poor­est nation, the coun­try was dev­as­tat­ed by severe con­di­tions imposed by the IMF and has been fur­ther dec­i­mat­ed by mis­man­age­ment and cycli­cal down­turns of the glob­al econ­o­my.) With the com­mence­ment of the bomb­ing cam­paign and the Koso­var dias­po­ra, Alban­ian mafias are edg­ing the Koso­vars out of the “rack­ets,” in addi­tion to cyn­i­cal­ly and bru­tal­ly exploit­ing the refugees’ help­less­ness. Refugees are charged exor­bi­tant fees for basic ser­vices, as they des­per­ate­ly try to rebuild their lives. Devel­op­ing pow­er­ful links with the Sicil­ian Mafia, the Alban­ian syn­di­cates are deeply involved with many oth­er areas of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty includ­ing: cig­a­rette smug­gling, the tran­sit­ing of refugees to oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries, the arms trade, auto­mo­bile theft, theft of aid from abroad ear­marked for refugees, as well as mon­ey laun­der­ing. Pro­gram high­lights include: the Alban­ian mafias’ abduc­tion of young Koso­var women flee­ing the war; the fact that U.S. Army units sta­tioned in Tirana (the Alban­ian cap­i­tal) list “crime” ahead of “Yugoslav forces” as the chief dan­ger to Amer­i­can per­son­nel; the Alban­ian mafias’ sys­tem­at­ic rob­bery of reporters attempt­ing to cov­er the war; the prob­a­bil­i­ty that two-thirds of the auto­mo­biles in the coun­try are stolen; the arrest in Italy of the pres­i­dent of the Alban­ian cen­tral bank for auto theft; the large-scale diver­sion into the black mar­ket of aid intend­ed for Koso­var refugees; the arrest of the Alban­ian “boss of boss­es” (want­ed for mur­der, among oth­er things) while trav­el­ing with a forged diplo­mat­ic pass­port to par­tic­i­pate in a Euro­pean Par­lia­ment tri­bunal on orga­nized crime; the fact that many parts of Alba­nia have more stolen Kalash­nikovs than peo­ple; the dom­i­na­tion of Alban­ian polit­i­cal life by the crime syn­di­cates; how the influx of large num­bers of refugees involved in crim­i­nal activ­i­ty serves to strength­en fas­cist polit­i­cal sen­ti­ment in West­ern Euro­pean nations. (Record­ed on 5/16/99.)