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A militant from a group some have connected to al-Qaida and that many have claimed is financed in part by the international drug trade and prostitution rings, recently attended a John Kerry fund-raiser, where he wrote a check and later boasted about his getting “paid back” in future favors from the presidential candidate.
According to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, Brooklyn-based Florin Krasniqi, a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, is featured in the recently released Dutch documentary “De Brooklyn Connectie” attending a Kerry fund-raiser with several KLA members, where he writes a check, and then makes clear he expects a quid-pro-quo for his donation.
“With money you can do amazing things in this country. Senators and congressmen are looking for donations. If you fund them and raise the money they need for their campaign they pay you back,” Krasniqi says in the documentary.
The video later shows Krasniqi, a known KLA member and fund-raiser, purchasing weapons from an American gun store. He reminds viewers that in the past, such weapons have been smuggled into Kosovo, disguised as humanitarian aid.
Toward the end of the documentary, Krasniqi warns that “just in case NATO pulls out, or we don’t get our independence peacefully, then we’ll use those weapons.”
Many have called the KLA, also known as the UCK, a terror organization, charging it led a violent campaign against civilian Kosovo Serbs, and linking it to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida and Iran. As recently as 1998, the U.S. State Department recognized the KLA as a terrorist group.
The KLA consists of armed militias seeking to unite the Albanian populations of Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania into a greater Albania.
Some of the KLA’s anti-Serb violence took place under the auspices of U.S.-led NATO, which moved into the province promising to guarantee peace and democracy. At one point KLA officials took over the running of refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia.
Many liberals, particularly the Clinton administration, have openly negotiated with KLA leader Hashim Thaci, whom they have referred to as the legitimate representative of the Kosovar people.
In fact, Thaci, who goes under the nom de guerre “Snake,” attended the Democratic National Convention in Boston earlier this year. Upon returning, Thaci told the Albanian-Language Kosova Live agency, “It was a very successful visit at the Democratic Convention, where the PDK [Thaci’s political party] had been invited as a guest. It was confirmed once again that the Democratic authorities would recognize and respect the will of the people of Kosova for self-determination”
At the Kerry fund-raiser, Krasniqi is seen in the documentary introducing himself and his brothers-in-arms to Gen. Wesley Clark, former Democratic presidential candidate who commanded the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
Krasniqi says, “Mr. Clark. This is your group, your KLA.” Clark then praises the group saying, “They fought against tremendous odds.”
Kerry’s senior foreign policy adviser and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs under Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, who apparently knows one of the KLA members, then comes over and jokingly says, “He almost got me killed.” To which Krasniqi quips, “He would not let his Kalashnikov go. He will keep his Kalashnikov.”
The KLA is a controversial organization. The group made its military debut in February 1996 with the bombing of several camps housing Serbian refugees from wars in Croatia and Bosnia.
In 1999, The Washington Times obtained intelligence documents showing what it described as a “link” between bin Laden and the KLA, including a common staging area in Tropoje, Albania, a center for Islamic terrorists. The reports says al-Qaida has both trained and financially supported the KLA.
German journalist and ex-Army Maj. Franz Josef Hutsch, who was in Kosovo between September 1998 and December 1999 as an embedded reporter with the KLA, recently testified at the Hague’s trial of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic that bands of KLA militants had been regularly led by Afghan mujaheeden.
There have been unsubstantiated reports from SHIK, Albania’s Intelligence Service, that bin Laden visited Albania himself, promising the KLA to send units to fight in Kosovo.
Credible intelligence indicates that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, which the U.S. State Department says sponsors terrorism, has been training KLA members and funneling millions of dollars through Bosnia and Albania to buy arms for the KLA.
This was corroborated by Director of the U.S. House Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare Yossef Bodansky in a report for Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy:
“In the Fall of 1997, the uppermost leadership in Tehran ordered the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps] High Command to launch a major program for shipping large quantities of weapons and other military supplies to the Albanian clandestine organizations in Kosovo. [Ayatollah] Khamene’i’s instructions specifically stipulated that the comprehensive military assistance was aimed to enable the Muslims ‘to achieve the independence’ of the province of Kosovo,” says the report.
In 1997 “the Iranians began sending promising Albanian and UCK commanders for advanced military training in al-Quds [special] forces and IRGC camps in Iran,” writes Bodansky.
It has also been established the KLA relies on funds raised by the powerful Albanian mafia, which deals in narcotics and prostitution.
Interpol has in the past estimated Kosovo Albanians have controlled 40 percent of the European heroin trade, and in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, they may have controlled as much as 70 percent of the market, with much of the money going to fund the KLA.
The London Times reported the KLA was “an outgrowth of the Kosovo Albanian mafia … these Kosovan criminals operate the most powerful drug-running network in Europe.”
Many KLA-linked Albanian gangs have also run prostitution and sex-trafficking rackets across Western Europe.
According to a recent internal British-government briefing, Albanians or Kosovars now control more than two-thirds of the “massage parlors” in London. That estimate fit with another study completed last year by Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service.
But the U.S. policy toward the KLA has been mixed. Some have warned against relations with the KLA, while the Clinton administration maintained close ties with the group.
At the 1999 signing of the Rambouillet Accords, a 3-year interim agreement to “provide democratic self-government, peace, and security for everyone living in Kosovo,” the U.S. seated the KLA at the head of the Kosovo delegation.
Clinton went out of his way on more than one occasion to praise the KLA for having chosen “the road of peace” at the initial Rambouillet talks.
When confronted in 1999 with Thaci’s record of violence within his own organization, State Department spokesman James Rubin said, “We simply don’t have information to substantiate allegations that there was a KLA leadership-directed program of assassinations or executions.”
On Nov. 15, the Hague will start the trial of three former KLA members who stand accused of crimes against Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians in a prison camp in eastern Kosovo in 1998. All three of the accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include torture and murder.
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