The War on Terror suffered a major blow three years before it was ever announced. It happened on this day in 1999, when the people
of this democracy were misled into attacking the sovereign, emerging post-Communist democracy of Yugoslavia — over rumors of
genocide and ethnic cleansing that proved false. In so doing, we put the final touch on delivering the Balkans to al Qaeda.
Today we are being asked to seal that historical blunder, whose repercussions seven years later are only escalating as those we
"rescued" turn their weapons against UN and NATO forces. While NATO
spends most of its time rooting out terror cells in Kosovo and Bosnia — which served as the logistics bases for the London and Madrid
bombings — the 2006 deadline to complete our eagerly forgotten debacle and determine the province's final status is fast
approaching. To persuade the international community that only one final status will be acceptable, our Albanian "rescuees" have been
stepping up the violence, a message to the
West that it has only one possible exit strategy: grant unconditional independence — without border compromises with Serbia and
without protection guarantees for what's left of the non-Albanian minorities.
If we allow this to happen, the peacekeepers will have to leave, and with them our eyes and ears in this terror haven and thruway.
Still, congressional, State Department and UN sentiment seems to be tilting toward self-determination and the logic that if you've
dug yourself into a hole, keep digging.
Here is the size of that hole so far: In November, 2001, what should have been an explosive article appeared in the European edition
of the Wall St. Journal. Headlined "Al Qaeda's Balkan Links," it read: "For the past 10 years…Ayman al-Zawahiri [bin Laden's
second in command] has operated terrorist training camps [and] weapons of mass destruction factories throughout Albania,
Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia…Though the Clinton administration had been briefed extensively by the State
Department in 1993 on the growing Islamist threat in former Yugoslavia, little was done to follow through…."
Nor did a December 2003 article in
Britain's Sunday Mirror register a blip: "Posing as members of the Real IRA, we…made our deal in Kosovo, a breeding ground for
fanatics with al-Qaeda links. Our contact was the deputy commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Niam Behljulji, known as
Hulji…Hulji is said to supply terrorists across Europe and has been accused of massacring Serbian women and children during the
war. He even posed grinning for a photograph, holding the severed head of one of his victims…Hulji said: 'The plastics (Semtex) is
the old type. No metal strips inside. It cannot be detected at airports.'"
Hulji, according to the December issue of the Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy journal, is the man who supplied the
Semtex-like explosives used in the London and Madrid attacks.
The year before the London attack, Greg Copley, of Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy warned, "Now that both Iran and
al-Qaida are under pressure from the US, their networks in Bosnia — now far stronger than in 2001, and with virtually all
international and Serbian capabilities to stop them suppressed for fear of political outcries…are preparing to launch their new
break-out attacks against the US and the West."
And check out this fun 2002 headline from Canada's National Post: "U.S. supported al-Qaeda
cells during Balkan Wars, Fought Serbian troops: "Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network has been active in the
Balkans for years, most recently helping Kosovo rebels battle for independence from Serbia with the financial and military backing of
the United States and NATO…In the years immediately before the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the al-Qaeda militants
moved into Kosovo…to help ethnic Albanian extremists of the KLA mount their terrorist campaign against Serb targets in the
In fact, if we're having trouble finding Osama bin Laden, perhaps it's because we haven't checked Bill Clinton's Kosovo, where he was before 9/11: "Osama bin
Laden…is in Kosovo, the official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said…bin Laden 'has found a new refuge in the Balkans, precisely in
Kosovo, the nest of European terrorism' …[He] arrived from Albania after having formed a group of 500 Islamic fighters…to carry out
'terrorist acts' in Kosovo….[and] in the southern region of Serbia."
The picture gets even prettier with this September, 2001 headline: "Hijackers connected to Albanian terrorist
cell": "U.S. intelligence officials are investigating ties between the terrorists who carried out airliner attacks and associates of
Osama bin Laden based in Albania…KLA members have been trained at bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan."
But to perpetuate the version of events we were sold from the beginning, all these connections have gone purposefully unmade by
our nation's "journalists," who were gung-ho supporters of our 1999 offensive against a historical ally and the culmination of our pro-terror
policies in 1990s Yugoslavia. How many Americans know that the terrorists who carried out a spate of suicide attacks in Iraq in
August 2004 were trained in
Bosnia, or that al Qaeda's top Balkans operative, al-Zawahiri's brother Mohammed, had a high position with our terrorist KLA "allies"? And who wants to bring up what former
Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett has — that in Bosnia we'd fought alongside at least two of the 9/11 hijackers. The
American public certainly won't hear that Bosnian charities have been raided for
funding terrorism or that in 1992 Bosnia issued passports to Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. We'll never know that Bosnia today is the European "one-stop shop" for all the terrorism needs — weapons, money, shelter,
documents — of Chechen and Afghani fighters passing through Europe before heading to Iraq. Or that at an al Qaeda training camp in
Afghanistan, troops recovered one Albanian Kosovar's application, reading, "I have Kosovo Liberation Army
combat experience against Serb and American forces. ...I recommend operations against parks like Disney."
Only Britain's Sky News has caught on, in December airing a segment entitled "The
Hidden Army of Radical Islam," about Bosnia, where there is "growing radicalization" and a base for Al Qaeda: "In the heart of
Europe, thousands of Arab fighters. Zenica [Bosnia], 1995. They come to wage holy war in support of the Bosnian Army. [Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic shown welcoming the mujahadeen.] ...They committed many atrocities; the tapes Sky News has
obtained include beheadings and signs of torture. …This isn't just about history; it's about now. Western intelligence agencies are
now pressing the Bosnians to look into exactly where these people are and what they are doing, and asking have any of these men
been in contact with the three young Bosnian Muslims arrested last month on terrorism charges. ...In Sarajevo now the influence of
Saudi ideas can be found all over the city. ...Radical Islam is attempting to plant deep roots in the community. …The seeds for
change were planted back in 1995."
We see footage of Bosnian Muslim forces destroying an Orthodox Christian church; of a Bosnian Serb being brutalized (we're
spared the skull crushing that follows); and a
mujahadeen persuading his Bosnian colleagues to let him kill Serb prisoners, who are soon led off and executed. Though there is
ample supply of tortured-Serb footage, it doesn't enjoy the wide circulation that the video of a Bosnian-Serb paramilitary unit killing
six Bosnian Muslims got last summer. The narration continues: "There were some serious players sent to Bosnia, among them the
man who planned 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed...The mujahadeen video shows their flag planted in Bosnia and speaks of
spreading their jihad. ...Bosnia is a useful place to hide, plan and move. It's why some stay on." The segment opens with the
sentence, "Hundreds of radical Islamic holy warriors [are] hiding in Bosnia, a decade after the end of the war." That statement
underscores the West's big miscalculaton in the Balkans — that Bosnia was a self-contained war that had an end, rather than an
early front in a war that was just unfolding.
A similar picture began to emerge in Kosovo, where the late Wall St. Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was uncovering that "Ethnic-Albanian
militants, humanitarian organizations, NATO and the news media fed off each other to give genocide rumors credibility." Although
former New York Times Balkans reporter David Binder recently suggested that The Times' and Newsday's 1993 Pulitzers for their Balkans coverage should be revoked ala
Walter Duranty, the anti-Serb propaganda which misled Americans throughout the 90s and which Pearl was debunking continues
to guide our perceptions and foreign policy in the Balkans today.
But despite the media's blackout on the subject of Balkans terror — including by Pearl's own Wall St. Journal — more and more
Americans have been scratching their heads, wondering why we forcibly precluded the Serbs from doing in their own backyard what
we've gone halfway around the globe to do.
Our Balkans interventions are not like our unholy alliances of the past, wherein we strategically chose the lesser of two evils (e.g.
allying ourselves with mujahadeen against a clear and present Soviet enemy). By 1999, our government knew that the KLA was
supported by Islamic nations and bin Laden, against whom the U.S. already had issued two indictments. The Islamists were by
then a known entity, specifically as our main post-Cold War threat, and Serbia wasn't an enemy.
For the past four years, the Hague's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has been finding what multiple
international forensic teams have found — that claims of Serb "atrocities" were exaggerated and often invented. It turns out we
confused an attempt to create an Islamic "Greater Albania"
with one to create a "Greater Serbia." Surely if the latter were Slobodan Milosevic's goal, he would have started by ethnically
cleansing the nearly 300,000 Muslims of Serbia. Though he built his career in whatever dirty ways Tito's Yugoslavia allowed, he was
the least of the Balkans' villains. For most Serbs, he was not a hero until he was called upon to defend an entire nation at the
Yet this is the one head of state for whom the media reserve unequivocal, uniform outrage. As writer Mary Mostert observes, "With
the death of Slobodan Milosevic we still are getting cartoons and stories about the '200,000 people' that Milosevic supposedly killed.
Only no one could find the bodies. On the other hand, in Iraq, where the media never even TALKED about genocide, so far 300,000
bodies HAVE been found in mass graves. Meanwhile the media tells us Saddam Hussein wasn't all that bad because he didn't have
'weapons of mass destruction' and the Democrats want to impeach President Bush because there was no reason to invade Iraq.
[But] it was a good thing that we bombed Belgrade for 78 days over 2500 deaths [Albanian and Serb combined]."
Indeed, this is how the AP writes of Hussein — with whom, like Castro, the media are on a first-name basis: "Exasperated, besieged
by global pressure, Saddam Hussein and top aides searched for ways in the 1990s to prove to the world they'd given up banned
weapons. ... Saddam, who was deposed by the U.S. invasion in 2003 and is now on trial for crimes against humanity, led a
discussion about converting chemical weapons factories to beneficial uses."
Hussein's country was allowed to try him, but Milosevic was kidnapped and extradited to the Hague, where his mistreatment turned
even his enemies back home against the Hague and for Milosevic. It was a show trial where the judges cut off testimony from witnesses if they mentioned that in
1994 Osama bin Laden waltzed into the Bosnian president's office.
Now that Milosevic is dead, we are spared the worldwide riots that would have ensued had the tribunal mustered the courage to
issue a verdict based on the evidence. And we can all sleep comfortably as the disproved charges are accepted as history.
We were told the Serbs were the problem in Kosovo. Now, Kosovo is our problem. How ironic the pains the Bush Administration has
been put through to prove a connection between Baghdad and al Qaeda, given the pains the previous administration went through to
ignore the connections between al Qaeda and the KLA.
"If you break it, you fix it." We've heard much of that refrain throughout our Iraq debates — including from the selfsame architects of
the Kosovo offensive: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Wesley Clark. Their prescription for fixing what they broke?
Clark warned that "a violent
collision may occur by year-end" if we don't do what the Albanians want — and this four-star general advocated doing just that. After
all, "unrest" in the region shines an unwelcome spotlight on his "successful war." Clark even suggested pummeling the Serbs again
if Belgrade got in the way; it's easier than fighting his terrorist Albanian campaign donors.
So far this year we are not witnessing the Albanian pogroms against Kosovo's remaining Serbs, which marked the March madness
of 2004. For these tribal and holy warriors know that Kosovo is almost theirs, as the exasperated UN mission is ready to hand the
reins over to local Albanian authorities — who are of course controlled by and include the KLA.
As UN human rights observer Jiri Dienstbier notes, "If NATO and the UN can't defeat terrorism in an area the size of one-eighth of
the Czech Republic, how do they expect to confront global terrorism?" Balkans author Vojin Joksimovich seconds the question:
"Although the intelligence community is fully aware of the threat, political leaders are denying it and the media are silent. Given this
cover-up, it's fair to ask whether we are able to prevent yet another major terrorist act." Indeed, can you fight terror with one hand
while abetting it with the other?
The memo is coming that we lost the war in Kosovo. We lost, because we fought for the enemy. Hence Clinton and Clark's
"successful, American-casualty-free" war.
In early 2001, German TV broadcast a report titled "It Began with a Lie," which publicized the findings of the observer force
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that no genocide had taken place in Kosovo. The revelations set off a
huge public debate in Germany, a member of the NATO coalition, after the public realized their country had been party to a hoax,
and they held the responsible politicians' feet to the fire.
It's long past time that we also set the record straight on what we "achieved" in the Balkans — and change course. As the world
closes in on the Serbs again this year, we must stop bin Laden from establishing a terror state in Europe. We know from Madrid
and London that we'll pay for it with our own blood. In fact, we already have.