KLA rebels train in terrorist
By Jerry Seper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES (5/4/99)
Some members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has
financed its war effort through the sale of heroin, were trained in terrorist camps run by
international fugitive Osama bin Laden -- who is wanted in the 1998 bombing of two U.S.
embassies in Africa that killed 224 persons, including 12 Americans.
The KLA members, embraced by the Clinton administration in NATO's 41-day bombing campaign
to bring Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the bargaining table, were trained in
secret camps in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere, according to newly obtained
The reports also show that the KLA has enlisted Islamic terrorists -- members of the
Mujahideen --as soldiers in its ongoing conflict against Serbia, and that many already
have been smuggled into Kosovo to join the fight.
Known to its countrymen as the Ushtria Clirimatare e Kosoves, the KLA has as many as
30,000 members, a number reportedly on the rise as a result of NATO's continuing bombing
campaign. The group's leadership, including Agim Ceku, a former Croatian army brigadier
general, has rapidly become a political and military force in the Balkans.
The intelligence reports document what is described as a "link" between bin
Laden, the fugitive Saudi millionaire, and the KLA --including a common staging area in
Tropoje, Albania, a center for Islamic terrorists. The reports said bin Laden's
organization, known as al-Qaeda, has both trained and financially supported the KLA.
Many border crossings into Kosovo by "foreign fighters" also have been
documented and include veterans of the militant group Islamic Jihad from Bosnia, Chechnya
Many of the crossings originated in neighboring Albania and, according to the reports,
included parties of up to 50 men.
Jane's International Defense Review, a highly respected British Journal, reported
in February that documents found last year on the body of a KLA member showed that he had
escorted several volunteers into Kosovo, including more than a dozen Saudi Arabians. Each
volunteer carried a passport identifying him as a Macedonian Albanian.
Bin Laden and his military commander, Mohammed Atef, were named in a federal indictment
handed up in November in New York for the simultaneous explosions Aug. 7 at the U.S.
embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The indictment accused the two men of directing the attacks, which injured more than 5,000
The indictment said bin Laden, working through al-Qaeda, forged alliances with government
officials in Iran, the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and an Iranian terrorist
organization known as Hezbollah. He was indicted earlier this year by a federal grand jury
in New York for his suspected terrorist activities.
The al-Qaeda is believed to have targeted U.S. embassies and American soldiers stationed
in Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
The organization also is accused of housing and training terrorists, and of raising money
to support their causes.
The State Department, along with other federal agencies, offered a $5 million reward last
year for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two men. Mr. Clinton
ordered a retaliatory attack on training bases controlled by bin Laden in Afghanistan and
a chemical factory near Khartoum, Sudan, after the bombings.
Last year, while State Department officials labeled the KLA a terrorist organization,
saying it bankrolled its operations with proceeds from the heroin trade and from loans
from known terrorists like bin Laden, the department listed the group as an
"insurgency" organization in its official reports. The officials charged that
the KLA used terrorist tactics to assault Serbian and ethnic Albanian civilians in a
campaign to achieve
The KLA's involvement in drug smuggling as a means of raising funds for weapons is
long-standing. Intelligence documents show it has aligned itself with an extensive
organized crime network in Albania that smuggles heroin to buyers throughout Western
Europe and the United States.
Drug agents in five countries believe the cartel is one of the most powerful heroin
smuggling organizations in the world.
The documents show heroin and some cocaine is moved over land and sea from Turkey through
Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia to Western Europe and elsewhere. The circuit has become
known as the "Balkan Route."
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a recent report that drug smuggling
organizations composed of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians were considered "second only to
Turkish gangs as the predominant heroin smugglers along the Balkan Route."
Greek Interpol representatives have called Kosovo's ethnic Albanians "the primary
sources of supply for cocaine and heroin in that country."
France's Geopolitical Observatory of Drugs said the KLA as a key player in the rapidly
expanding drugs-for-arms business and helped transport $2 billion in drugs a year into
German drug agents said $1.5 billion in drug profits is laundered annually by Kosovo
smugglers, through as many as 200 private banks or currency-exchange offices.
Jane's Intelligence Review estimated in March that drug sales could have netted the KLA
profits in the "high tens of millions of dollars." It said the KLA had rearmed
itself for a spring offensive with the aid of drug money, along with donations from
Albanians in Western Europe and the United