In Chronicles Online Srdja Trifkovic analyzes the Council of Europe report which identifies Kosovo's “prime minister” Hashim Thaçi as the boss of a “mafia-like” Albanian group specialized in smuggling weapons, drugs, people, and human organs all over Europe.
The report reveals that Thaçi’s closest aides were taking Serbs across the border into Albania after the war, murdering them, and selling their organs on the black market. In addition, the report accuses Thaçi of having exerted “violent control” over the heroin trade for a decade.
Deliberate Destrution of Evidence – Long dismissed in the mainstream media as “Serbian propaganda,” the allegations of organ trafficking – familiar to our readers – were ignored in the West until early 2008, when Carla Del Ponte, former Prosecutor at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, revealed in her memoirs that she had been prevented from initiating any serious investigation into its merits. She also revealed – shockingly – that some elements of proof taken by ICTY field investigators from the notorious “Yellow House” in the Albanian town of Rripe were destroyed at The Hague, thus enabling the KLA and their Western enablers to claim that “there was no evidence” for the organ trafficking allegations.
In April 2008, prompted by Del Ponte’s revelations, seventeen European parliamentarians signed a motion for a resolution calling on the Assembly to examine the allegations. The matter was referred to the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which in June 2008 appointed Swiss senator Dick Marty as its rapporteur. He had gained international prominence by his previous investigation of accusations that the CIA abducted and imprisoned terrorism suspects in Europe.
“Genuine Terror” – In his Introductory Remarks Marty revealed some of the “extraordinary challenges of this assignment”: the acts alleged purportedly took place a decade ago, they were not properly investigated by any of the national and international authorities with jurisdiction over the territories concerned. In addition, Marty went on,
… efforts to establish the facts of the Kosovo conflict and punish the attendant war crimes had primarily been concentrated in one direction, based on an implicit presumption that one side were the victims and the other side the perpetrators. As we shall see, the reality seems to have been more complex. The structure of Kosovar Albanian society, still very much clan-orientated, and the absence of a true civil society have made it extremely difficult to set up contacts with local sources. This is compounded by fear, often to the point of genuine terror, which we have observed in some of our informants immediately upon broaching the subject of our inquiry. Even certain representatives of international institutions did not conceal their reluctance to grapple with these facts: “The past is the past”, we were told; “we must now look to the future.”
The report says Thaçi’s links with organized crime go back to the late 1990’s, when his Drenica Group became the dominant faction within the KLA. By 1998 he was able to grab control of “most of the illicit criminal enterprises” in Albania itself. Thaçi and four other members of the Drenica Group are named as personally guilty of assassinations, detentions and beatings:
In confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaçi and other members of his Drenica Group as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics… Thaçi and these other Drenica Group members are consistently named as “key players” in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a sense of moral outrage.
Marty notes that the international community chose to ignore war crimes by the KLA, enabling Thaçi’s forces to conduct a campaign of murdereous terror against Serbs, Roma, and Albanians accused of collaborating with the Serbs. Some 500 of them “disappeared after the arrival of KFOR troops on 12 June 1999,” about a hundred Albanians and 400 others, most of them Serbs. Some of these civilians had been secretly imprisoned by the KLA at different locations in northern Albania, the report adds, “and were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, before ultimately disappearing.” Captives were “filtered” in ad-hoc prisons for their suitability for organ harvesting based on sex, age, health and ethnic origin. They were then sent to the last stop – a makeshift clinic near Fushë-Krujë, close to the Tirana airport:
As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.
Thaçi the Untouchable – The report states that Thaçi’s Drenica Group “bear the greatest responsibility” for the prisons and the fate of those held in them. It criticizes the governments supportive of Kosovo’s independence for not holding to account senior Albanians in Kosovo, including Thaçi, and of lacking the will to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA. The diplomatic and political support by such powers “bestowed upon Thaçi, not least in his own mind, a sense of being untouchable.”
Marty concludes that “[t]he signs of collusion between the criminal class and the highest political and institutional office holders are too numerous and too serious to be ignored,” but “the international authorities in charge of the region did not consider it necessary to conduct a detailed examination of these circumstances, or did so incompletely and superficially.” Following Marty’s presentation of the report to the Council of Europe in Paris on December 16 it will be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on January 25.
What happened in Kosovo helped shape subsequent events in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is richly ironic that ‘liberated’ Kosovo should now be a failed, gangster state… With his messianic certainties, the morally bipolar Tony Blair liked to divide the world into ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, having presumptuously placed himself in the first category. How fitting that this begetter of war after war should end up by receiving the Golden Medal of Freedom from a monster who traded in body parts.
U.S. Damage Limitation and Self-Censorship – Such commentary is light years away from the feeble and half-hearted reporting in the American mainstream media. The Chicago Tribune, for instance, did not deem it fit to publish a story about the Council of Europe report itself. It published two related items critical of the report instead, on the European Union expressing doubt about its factual basis and on the “government” of Kosovo planning to sue Dick Marty for libel. No major daily has published a word of doubt about Bill Clinton’s wisdom of waging a war on behalf of Thaçi and his cohorts a decade ago, or perpetuating the myth of it having been a good war today.
That Thaçi aka “The Snake” is a criminal as well as a war criminal is no news, of course. The intriguing question is who, on the European side, wanted to end his “untouchable” status, why now, and what is the U.S. Government – his principal enabler and abettor – going to do about it.
Unsurprisingly, Thaçi’s “government” dismissed the report on December 14 as “baseless and defamatory.” On that same day Hashim Thaçi wrote in a telegram to President Obama that “the death of Richard Holbrooke is a loss of a friend.” “The Snake” has many other friends in Washington, however, people like US senator (and current foe of WikiLeaks) Joseph Lieberman, who declared back in 1999 at the height of the US-led war against the Serbs that “the United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles … Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.” Thaçi’s photos with top U.S. officials are a virtual Who’s Who of successive Administrations over the past 12 years: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Albright, Bush, Rice, Biden, Wesley Clark…
Thaçi’s American enablers and their media minions are already embarking on a bipartisan damage-limitation exercise. Its twin pillars will be the assertion that the report rests on flimsy factual evidence, an attempt to discredit Dick Marty personally, and the claim the Council of Europe as an irrelevant talking shop.