Organised crime (OC) and mafia (1) in Kosovo are important factors which influence not only the functioning of the country, but also the international community’s policy in the Balkans. Notwithstanding the significance of OC in Kosovo, its activities, goals and origin aren’t very often discussed in the West, this holds true even when adopting such crucial decisions like Kosovo’s declaration of independence. This paper is aimed at the description of the roots, development and current dimension of this phenomenon in Kosovo.
Organised crime and the boom of mafia in Kosovo are to a large extent a by-product of the conflict between the Serbs and the Albanians. It’s well known that Milošević’s regime exercised criminal practices for the circumvention of international sanctions and through the smuggling of embargo goods it secured functionality. Today, nobody is surprised at the fact that Željko “Arkan” Ražnatović was apart from other things also a drug and fuel smuggler. The fact that Kosovo-Albanian representatives were involved in such activities too is less known, even concealed. If NATO wanted to intervene in favour of the Kosovo Albanians, the fact had to be hushed up that it was their resistance organisation UÇK (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës – Kosovo Liberation Army) which had a huge share of flooding European streets with heroine. Interpol’s Appeals must have been misheard and American DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) allegedly removed the information on Kosovo-Albanian gangs from its website.
Alain Labrousse from the Geopolitical Drugs Observatory (OGD) says in a report on the awareness of organised crime in Kosovo for Canadian Senate: “When the police and courts of European countries have information about UÇK activities, it’s difficult to present them because of the task of NATO in Kosovo. Thus it is up to journalists to draw conclusions from information which are officially at their disposal or leak out from security troops sometimes.” (2)
The case of Kosovo shows that unless there is the will of state institutions to remove the taboo on any topic, journalists themselves won’t achieve anything. In many countries, the Kosovo question has become a part of the rhetoric of nationalistic and chauvinistically orientated politicians, who left definitely true facts on the margins of society. In order to understand that organised crime in Kosovo really exists and that it is a momentous factor influencing the functioning of the country, it’s necessary to speak of it in broader context and to look into the history and culture of Kosovo Albanians.
Albanian Canon – the scheme for criminal organisations
Predominantly in the north of Albania and partially in western Kosovo and southern Albanian mountains, a traditional Mediterranean society based on a thousand year old clan social system has endured till now. The life within this society is dictated by rules which have been developing throughout millenniums. They were collected in the so-called Canon codex dubbed Lekë Dukagjini, which was written by the Catholic priest Shtjefën Gjeçovi in the 19th century and today everyone in Albanian can buy it at the newsagent’s.
The primary elements of the Canon are honour, loyalty and family. The identity of an individual is derived from his or hers affiliation to a family or to “fis” or “fares”, i.e. a clan. The member of another clan is perceived a stranger irrespective of his or hers ethnicity, he or she might be an ethnic Albanian as well. The family is very important and strongly patriarchal. The descent is derived from male lineage. Children are reared with the knowledge that father’s word is a law. Also nowadays, some “fis” have 60-70 members living in multi-generation paternal houses which comprise, along with the houses of cousins and other relatives built in the immediate surrounds, a kind of family colonies forming one economic unit. This is ordered by Canon. Three-generation houses are commonplace also in Tirana, the largest and at the same time the most modern Albanian city (3).
Honour is probably the most important element of the Canon. A damage to another man’s honour is a damage to the honour of the whole clan and may lead to long-lasting blood revenge „gjakmarrje”, which is known in Italian environment as “vendetta”, during which male members of clans find themselves in warfare. The notorious brutality of Albanian gangs as well as their great admiration for weapons, which are perceived the guardians of their houses, is connected with this custom (4).
Strong clan bonds, a mighty awareness of clan affiliation, discipline, stress on family and blood ties, blood revenge and the duty to use violence as well as admiration for weapons are qualities pretty well applicable in criminal environment. Let’s add a deep-rooted mistrust towards strangers, Slavic ones in particular, who have always had malicious intentions in Kosovo from the point of view of the Albanians and also a conspiratorial tradition abundantly used in the 20th century, by means of which the whole Kosovo-Albanian society went through Serbian repressions as early as the period between the two world wars. The result is the combination of qualities as if predestined for criminal career.
A criminal-political hybrid
Predispositions themselves don’t mean the involvement in criminal environment, however, the Kosovo-Albanian society was given a fresh impetus in the 20th century. The restoration of Belgrade’s rule over Kosovo after Balkan wars at the beginning of last century reinforced the conspiratorial nature and unsociability of the Albanians who turned from the members of the ruling privileged Muslim elite to an undesirable nation. The Albanians found themselves in illegality, but they used the possibilities and conditions of this room in such a way that a spokesman for the UN police commented current Kosovo as following “is not a society affected by organized crime, but a society founded on organized crime.” (5).
Since demographic development spoke clearly in disfavour of the Serbs, who, however, weren’t willing to give up their religious cradle, in Kosovo, the policy of the “dampening” of Albanian nationalism was commenced concurrently with Serbian colonisation. Both these projects of social engineering ended as a fiasco.
Colonisation didn’t reverse the bad demographic situation and even the small number of Serbs, who moved to Kosovo, abandoned it in the end. The main reason for the departure was the oriental spirit of the region as well as severe underdevelopment. This has remained up to now as it was the only core of the policy of the “dampening” of Albanian national revival. The minimum of investments flowing to Kosovo was supposed to ensure that Albanian national awareness would revive after the Serbian colonisation reverses demographic conditions.
After 1966, there was a release of tension in Serbian-Albanian relations and new investments started to flow in the province. In the state administration, positions got vacant for the Albanians and a university with the Albanian as the language of instruction was opened. Investments earmarked for Kosovo were steered into heavy industry, which didn’t have a positive impact on Kosovo’s economy. At the beginning of 1980’s, Kosovo’s economy output was in comparison with the average of the rest of Yugoslavia just 29 per cent, i.e. yet 15 per cent less than in 1953 (6). At the beginning of 1980’s, the unemployment rate amounted to 27 per cent according to official numbers, but among the Serbian population there was far higher unemployment rate than among the Albanian one (7).
Colonisation, Serbian repressions and victimisation had the very contrary effect than the Serbs expected. Because they were aimed against the Albanians as an ethnic group, they united them in fact and strengthened the relations among them. After World War II, first nationalist groups with extremist program of an independent Kosovo or the Great Albania appeared predominantly in exile in the Western Europe. During the life of Josip Broz Tito, these groups went through splitting and rearrangement, however, after 1981, when Yugoslavia and mainly Serbia were shocked by massive demonstrations held by the Kosovo Albanians, which paralysed completely the region for several days despite the presence of the police, a more united movement struggling for independence started to emerge from hitherto rival groups. In response to the demonstrations in Kosovo, the restoration of Serbian nationalism in Yugoslavia resulted in another wave of anti-Albanian rhetoric in the media and victimisation from the side of official authorities in Kosovo. In Kosovo at the end of 1980’s, Slobodan Milošević used this nationalistic wave in his quest for the acquisition of an absolute power in Yugoslavia.
During 1980’s, extremist exile groups united establishing LPK (Lëvizja Popullore e Kosovës – National Movement of Kosovo) and the primary point of their program was to launch an armed uprising in Kosovo with the aim of declaring independent Kosovo. The LPK core was formed by, for example, the current vice-chairman of Kosovo’s ruling party PDK (Partia Demokratike e Kosovës – Democratic Party of Kosovo) Xhavit Haliti and the most influential UÇK commander Adem Jashari, whose clan was slaughtered in 1999 including newborns, pregnant women and old people, and the leader of Albanian rebels in Macedonia Ali Ahmeti.
An uprising and guerrilla war are financially extremely demanding and Kosovo was and still is a poor and underdeveloped country with minimum industry and raw material sources (8), in which the majority of inhabitants work in agriculture. According to many experts a considerable inequality between economic figures and local reality is perceptible. This was announced as early as 1980’s because in spite of high unemployment rate, there were lots of expensive cars and luxurious houses in the region (9).
The number of investigators’ reports on the involvement of Albanian gangs in drug sale has been growing in the West since the end of 1960’s when there was a sloppy emigration policy in Yugoslavia enabling Yugoslav citizens to travel to the West. Yet prior to the liberalisation of travelling, thousands of Albanians were as the “Turks” evicted from Yugoslavia to Turkey in terms of a Turkish-Yugoslav treaty on the exchange of inhabitants. In this way the Albanians settled two spots in the Balkan corridor and Turkey the main illegal goods transport artery from Asia to Europe and consumer countries in the West, namely Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The Albanians started quickly to participate in the transport of drugs to the West and this became the most important income of the extremist movement. There were doubts about the financing of extremists from illegal sources at the beginning of 1980’s. Nonetheless, these doubts vanished at the beginning of 1990’s.
Kosovo’s “pax mafiosa”
Slobodan Milošević’s entry into the top state structures of Serbia in 1987 amounted to the beginning of a decade marked by hard anti-Albanian policy motivated not only by nationalism, but mainly the desire for power. Through the so-called anti-bureaucratic revolution he replaced the top representatives of Vojvodina and Montenegro by people loyal to him. Subsequently in 1989, by means of chauvinistic anti-Albanian media campaign, tanks and thousands of policemen dampening Albanian demonstrations he took control over Kosovo’s political structures. He gained half of votes in the Federal Council of Yugoslavia and via his ruthless acting he assured Croatia and Slovenia of the necessity of the disintegration of common state. This was the impulse behind the outbreak of Yugoslav succession wars in 1991.
The Kosovo-Albanian society was at the same time forced to lie up in underground and, united in the moderate League for Democratic Kosovo (Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës – LDK) of the “Kosovo Gandhi” Ibrahim Rugova, to establish illegal parallel education and health service structures. In view of the disastrous situation of legal economy, which was worsened not only by mass dismissal, but also the split of Yugoslavia, from the federal underdeveloped regions funds of which Kosovo derived considerable means, and following international trade sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia one year later, a voluntary tax amounting to 3 per cent of income was put up on foreign Albanians (10).
As taxation was imposed under such conditions in which newly established structures were illegal in Kosovo, in a part of Serbia as well as in foreign countries, which didn’t recognise the “the Republic of Kosovo”, structures responsible for tax collection resorted to money smuggling, whereas their conspiratorial methods were on such a level that Milošević’s regime’s attempts to confiscate cash in hand were mostly unsuccessful. Structures accountable for tax collection were comprised of “confidants” because “the Republic of Kosovo” didn’t have own tax offices and it is assumed that tax collection grew into blackmail. Parallel structures didn’t have legal possibilities to verify the origin of money and owing to the fact that a part of Kosovo Albanians abroad as well as in Kosovo had been living on criminal activities, this system was abused also for dirty money laundering (11).
Tax collection created a basis for structures which were later used for the smuggling of money for armed resistance. Parallel Kosovo-Albanian Government headed by Bujar Bukoshi seated in Switzerland collected taxes via many bank accounts. It was not until the middle of 1990’s that they got under suspicion and in 1988 German police froze two of these accounts after a drug dealer had deposited money in them. Although Bukoshi is suspected of dirty money laundering, it’s impossible to prove anything for the sake of the way of system functioning.
Dirty money laundering for Ibrahim Rugova isn’t the only Bukoshi’s activity. Following Daytona Peace conclusion, he abandoned Rugova within a short space of time, however, after the first success of the UÇK in the period from 1996 to 1997 they joined forces again in pursuit of founding a guerrilla army at the request of US administration. Bukoshi belonged to the main organisers of the paramilitary troop Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK – Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës), which unsuccessfully competed with the UÇK. Its core was comprised of several Kosovo clans hostile to clans forming the core of UÇK. This stirred up a „gjakmarrje” lasting till present times (see below). Nowadays, the FARK is suspected of smuggling in Kosovo-Albanian border area and Bukoshi is suspected of laundering dirty money for Albanian rebels in Macedonia (12).
The tax along with the wages of relatives working in the West was important for the settlement of situation in Kosovo. Incomes from criminal activities, drug smuggling and the breach of sanctions were considered equally important. Several authors labelled the sanction period in Kosovo “pax mafiosa” due to flourishing Serbian-Albanian collaboration. For instance, Žejlko “Arkan” Ražnatović, who used to dub the Kosovo Albanians “tourists from northern Albania” (13), collaborated in smuggling drugs across the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv with the head of local underworld, the Kosovo Albanian Nazim Delegu.
Kosovo liberation army
Rogova’s internationalisation of the Kosovo question and the waiting for international community’s intervention missed the mark. At the Daytona Peace Conference, which terminated the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Kosovo-Albanian delegation was excluded from the negotiations. It observed the process along with journalists since the Kosovo question was declared to be an internal affair of Serbia.
Thus the Kosovo Albanians found themselves completely under Milošević’s control and felt betrayed by western powers like in the period after previous peace conferences following Balkan wars in Berlin in 1878 and London 1913. Without foreign financial assistance or diplomatic support Kosovo turned into “a renegade province, a colony of terror and drug smuggling” (14). US investigative journalist Frank Viviano describes similarly the situation in Kosovo after the signing of Daytona agreements: “everyone in Kosovo knows that there are just two commodities in Kosovo: weapons and people. And two accepted means of payment: dollars and drugs.” (15) The situation became gradually more radical and at the end of April 1996 after coordinated terrorist attacks, the Kosovo Liberation Army UÇK made a public appearance proclaiming its aim of declaring an independent Kosovo.
The arming of the UÇK was under way in cooperation with local “fis” and their branches active in the West and the drug cartel “15 Hours” from Macedonian, Kosovo and Serbian border area. In the period of UÇK establishment, still larger amount of Turkish heroine flowed through the territories of these countries. The core of guerrilla commanders was recruited directly from these circles as mainly criminal “fis” possessed enough finances for arms purchase.
As an example serves Adem Jashari’s “fis”, which “administered an extensive smuggling network” (16). Therefore the UÇK is deemed a mafia army the objective of which was to monopolise drug trafficking and chase Yugoslav security troops out of the region. This would have facilitated essentially the work of smugglers.
More probable is that these objectives were interlinked with pan-Albanian ideals. Milošević’s repression radicalised also circles living on organised criminality. In their quest for ridding Serbian supremacy, these circles found a good way how to expand their scope of activity and make the eternal dream of the Great Albania come true. The High Representative of Interpol Ralf Mutschke said that in the case of Kosovo Albanians “political and criminal activities were deeply interconnected” and the UÇK was a “hybrid organisation involved in criminal and political activities” (17). This theory is confirmed by the statement of the French criminologist Xavier Raufer: “during the day, these men are freedom fighters and in the night, they sell heroine, or vice versa” (18).
Money from Albanian diaspora has become another income since UÇK’s public appearance. The army won its favour at the cost of the parallel administration of Ibrahim Rugova. In the US, the well known association for the collection of money for the UÇK called „Vendlindja Thërret” (Homeland Calls) was established. It was co-administered by Xavit Haliti, who received an exclusion order from the Swiss Government in 2001 owing to his activities. Apart from illegal contributions, money from criminal activities flowed in these bank accounts too. Besides drugs, another source was also the income from frauds. One of these frauds was disclosed in December 1997 when the French police arrested an LPK cell specialising in fake cheques. After the Swiss Government had blocked the accounts of „Vendlindja Thërret” in July 1998, Albanian travel agencies were activated. One of them working in Germany equipped its clients with special belts with the capacity of six million German marks. It’s estimated that the UÇK managed to send approximately 150 million marks.
German investigators estimated the annual volume of laundered Kosovo-Albanian drug money at 1.5 billion dollars. Ralf Mutschke reckons that more than half of 900 million German marks sent to the UÇK in the period from 1996 to 1999 come from drug money.
At the end of 1997, the UÇK became a well armed guerrilla army controlling the entire drug trafficking in Kosovo thank to these incomes. Anarchy in the neighbouring Albania brought the situation in Kosovo to head at the beginning of 1997 as weapons from robbed military and police warehouse went through northern Albania to Kosovo. Simultaneously the chaos in the north of the country, where the Albanian state had lost grip, enabled the UÇK to open there training bases whereas further ones were opened in western Macedonia. The birthplace of the Albanian PM Berisha, the border town of Tropojë, turned into arms bazaar where it was conceivable to buy AK-47 “Kalashnikov” for fifteen German marks (19).
Kosovo under international protectorate
After the departure of Yugoslav security troops and state structures from Kosovo in June 1999, a public and legal vacuum originated which was labelled by the Chief of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Pristina Mission Daan Everts an “invitation” for organised crime. In 2003, Belgrade released data according to which 120 per cent of Kosovo refugees returned from Albania. The excess was formed by criminals ready to use unstable situation in the post-war region (20). According to OSCE data 42 mafia bosses moved to Kosovo (21). Insufficient border controls enabled to smuggle into or out of the country whatever including drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, cars, people and fuels. Cigarette smuggling became a good business not only due to Kosovo’s one of the highest cigarette consumption in the world, but also because of high taxes in the European Union. Expensive cars in Greece and Macedonia were another profitable business and drug smuggling hotted up to such a degree that according to some estimates 500 to 700 kg of drugs passed daily through Kosovo (22).
The UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) didn’t want to intervene in OC activities owing to the concern that the arrest of respectable resistance members with influential contacts could have resulted in Kosovo-Albanian political elite’s denunciation. The arrest of Latif Gashi, Nazif Mehmeti and Naim Kadria, the so-called “Podujevo Trio”, due to the accusation of war crimes has sparked hitherto unprecedented manifestations of resistance to international presence in Kosovo and UNMIK’s concerns were thus proved legitimate.
The deployment of 45,000 KFOR soldiers and several thousands of UNMIK workers as well as international observers had impact on the development of OC. These created a suitable market for sexual industry and increased the demand for drugs and smuggled cigarettes. This situation was quickly used by many gangs and Kosovo changed into a target country for the smuggling of women, children, drugs and cigarettes. Under the pressure of criticism, the UNMIK issued a list of business organisations suspected of the involvement in human trafficking. In 2001, it encompassed 75 organisations, in 2004 as much as 200 ones. UNMIK and KFOR workers weren’t granted access to these organisations despite the rather low statistics of punished (23). In general, the UNMIK is labelled a “pitiful example of institution building” (24), or more harshly “Bureaucratic monster” or “Paper tiger”. In Kosovo, it’s criticised still more scathingly. 80 per cent of Kosovo inhabitants reject it and consider its workers adventurous travellers or even corruption parvenus. The reason is that the UNMIK is comprised of the inhabitants of 49 countries and also that the “Okey-Reporting” as well as concessions to mafia “fis” cost it the last piece of trustworthiness in Kosovo (25).
A lower opinion of the UNMIK and KFOR is caused also by information from ICG according to which not only do these organisations make concessions to criminal “fis” and tolerate their activities, they even collaborate with them in smuggling. ICG researchers noticed many illegal crossings of borders at the border crossings which UNMIK workers were aware of. In the report from 2003 the ICG claimed that “to label the border between Kosovo and Serbia leaky would have been a compliment” (26). At border crossings with Serbia lying in US scope of activity, “there is no visible sign of KFOR presence”. Nevertheless, the KFOR claims with certainty that no weapons were smuggled across Kosovo borders, however, it confesses that 40 tonnes of heroin passed through it in 2002 (27).
“Okey-Reporting” clouded also the fact that economic situation in Kosovo is miserable creating conditions for recruiting youth into criminal organisations as the unemployment rate as regards persons between 16 and 24 years is reckoned at 70 per cent (28). In 2002, only 20 per cent of Kosovo’s GDP was made of its own sources. Half of it was formed by foreign subsidies that ended up in the pockets of corrupted elites. Contributions of diaspora from abroad constituted the remaining 30 per cent (29). According to some estimates the legal country’s GDP amounts to solely one eighth of the real one, the rest is produced by illegal activities (30). Daily yield from them should account for, in accordance with careful estimates, at least 1.5 million euro, i.e. 550 million per annum. Besides the flowering building industry also around 400 petrol stations are used for dirty income laundering (31).
The UÇK was dissolved and disarmed in accordance with an agreement with KFOR (Kosovo Force) and UNMIK. Retrospectively, it is called “UÇK modernisation initiative” particularly owing to the age and quality of surrendered weapons. In 2004, the number of weapons kept illegally by Kosovo’s inhabitants was estimated between 330 and 460 thousands, whereas AK-47 could be bought for 35 dollars (32). The UÇK didn’t really cease to exist, it was just divided into four sections, namely political parties, police (Shërbimi Policor i Kosovës), army (TMK – Trupat Mbrojtöse Tö Kosovës) and organised crime. Věra Stojarová says that these four sections of the clan structure of the society couldn’t be perceived as different sections, thus it means that OC exists in symbiosis with the society (33).
The new lightly armoured civil structure, the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK), was actually a successor to the UÇK as besides the majority of its members it took over also its original structure and many of its leaders. Its members took part in violent acts aimed against minorities and the intimidation of judges and they were involved in OC, weapon smuggling and guerrilla uprisings in southern Serbia and western Macedonia. Originally, the TMK was supposed to be a body through which the international community was to secure control over the former guerrilla. Today, it’s obvious that this plan has failed. It is demonstrated also by tolerating Sulejman “Sultan” Selimi in a high position in the TMK despite the accusations of war crimes.
Kosovo-Albanian political elites and parties
Ramush Haradinaj, Rrustem „Remi” Mustafa are along with Hashim Thaçi and his close collaborator Xhavit Haliti the most famous personalities in terms of the resistance. They have gained the biggest influence in post-war Kosovo. All of them are well known for their links with mafia circles, or they are directly the heads of criminal “fis”, which entered politics. The Serbian Government maintains that Thaçi is interlinked with a Drennica criminal “fis” that operates in a territory connecting Montenegro and Macedonia. Haradinaj is reputed to be the chief of the so-called Metohija “fis”, which operates in western Kosovo in the regions of Peja, Dukagjin and Djakovica and is supposed to be the most powerful criminal organisation in Kosovo. Mustafa’s group exerts its influence in the region around Gnjilana, Vitina and Kaçanik. The sphere of activity of these clans encompasses smuggling and trafficking in drugs, arms, humans stolen cars, cigarettes… (34)
Originally, Haradinaj and Mustafa obtained high positions in Kosovo Protection Corps, however, they were excluded from it due to blunders and entered politics. Haradinaj founded the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK – Aleanca për Ardhmërinë e Kosovës) and Mustafa joined Rugov’s LDK. Kosovo parties function on a clan principle and it’s not possible to assign them to any idea family. Meanwhile, they haven’t got any standard political program dealing with the state of economy, state services or citizen’s problems. The Democratic Party of Kosovo and the Democratic League of Kosovo have at their disposal internal secret services of the parties, which are linked with underworld and follow up on their guerrilla wings. In the contemporary Kosovo, secret services of the parties are important in terms of the fight for political power and economic as well as criminal interests. Their working methods are unscrupulous.
After the withdrawal of Yugoslav army from Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi designated himself the Prime Minister of the Kosovo Government. The Government had never acquired international acknowledgement. Nonetheless, it had power over Kosovo and it installed its own people in many positions. During the war, Thaçi had command over the Drennica Group. It has maintained the control over approximately 15 per cent of criminal activities in Kosovo until now. Thaçi’s term as the head of the Kosovo Government ended with a crushing defeat of the Democratic Party of Kosovo in the elections held on 28th October, 2000. Kosovo Albanians were tired of dangerous atmosphere which impinged upon Thaçi’s term of office. Just in four months’ time the OSCE reported 348 murders, 116 kidnappings, 1070 breaking and enterings and 1109 cases of arson (35).
The current chairperson of Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK – Aleanca për Ardhmërinë e Kosovës) Ramush Hardinaj was a bouncer at a Swiss disco yet in the middle of 1990’s and ten years later he became the US’s favourite as for independent Kosovo’s presidency. After returning home in 1998, he became famous as a hero within UÇK ranks, however, in the ranks of those, who had the possibility of experiencing him in action, he was a psychopath. A British soldier, who had the “privilege” of meeting him in the Kosovo mission and after the bombardment of Yugoslavia, described him in this way. According to his testimony, Haradinaj disciplined his men using beating and violence. Having received suspicious information, he disappeared for several hours and killed several people (36).
Haradinaj’s political career was built with US support, which included besides the training of public appearances also the hushing up of scandals. For instance, the holding back of his participation in the massacre of the enemy clan of the Musajs from the rival guerrilla group FARK. He was allegedly involved in it in the pursuit of robbing 60 kg of cocaine hidden by the Musajs in their house. CIA agents along with US soldiers from the Camp Bondsteel base drove him away seriously injured from the gunfight scene which was beyond their sphere of activity to the base Rammstein in Germany where he was treated. The Americans didn’t mind the fact that they operated outside the given territory in Kosovo which was manifested by the removal of evidences, like bullets in walls. The „gjakmarrje” of the Musajs and Haradinajs ended in 2005, i.e. the period when Haradinaj was the Kosovo PM thank to the murder of Djeljadin Musaj and his grandson in reprisal for the murder of Haradinaj’s brother Enver. Federal Intelligence Service surmises that it was a provocation contrived by rival “fis” since the Musajs distanced themselves from the murder, which is in view of the Canon tradition rather unusual. The very same year, Haradinaj was accused of war crimes and left voluntarily for the Hague where he was let out on probation under the pressure of the US, so that he could take part in election campaign. BND concluded that in Haradinaj’s case it didn’t matter whether he was imprisoned in the Hague or if he was the Kosovo PM because US support made him the most powerful man of the country without whom “nothing went on in Kosovo” (37). Also his party colleague Agim Çeku became the “PM owing to Haradinaj’s will”(38).
Haradinaj’s primary rivals in the quest for criminal businesses are the Chairperson of PDK Hashim Thaçi and his Vice-Chair Xhavit “Bunny” Haliti. Thaçi was suspected of war crimes and so was Haradinaj, however like Haradinaj and the majority of Kosovo Albanian leaders, he wasn’t punished for war crimes owing to the pressure from the United States. Thaçi and Haliti are known for using the services of the contract killer Afrimi, who is responsible for eleven murders minimum, and due to their international criminal links both of them are considered a far bigger threat for Kosovo as well as the whole Balkan region than Haradinaj.
In the recent years, some criminal “fis” has got connected to the more successful LDK and thus also this party joined the list of other parties as the propagator of clan and criminal interests. Its smooth but heavily schizophrenic coalition with Haradinaj’s AAK functioning on the background of „gjakmarrje” between both parties’ military wings attests to this fact. This implies that the calm and peace of last years is just a cloak and most probably Kosovo will be facing a bloody fight for power after it gains independence. According to western politicians responsibility connected with independence is supposed to help to convert Kosovo into a legal state. Anyway, the three mightiest men of Kosovo, namely Haradinaj, Haliti and Thaçi, and criminal networks aren’t interested in this at all. On the contrary, their interest is to maintain and reinforce the state built since the war in Kosovo, which is described by the German Intelligence Agency like “a regime of fear created by criminal groups” (39). This doesn’t apply solely to the inhabitants of Kosovo but also to top UNMIK and KFOR structures. This is confirmed by the demission of the Chief of Kosovo Police Kai Vittrup in the aftermath of a series of threats from Kosovo-Albanian mafia.
OC played an important role in the unrests of March 2004 when crowds of indignant Kosovo Albanians were destroying orthodox temples and terrorising the Serbian population. Most of analysts concur that these unrests were planned and directed by criminal and extremist circles. Ramush Haradinaj is mentioned most frequently in this connection. The unrests were a manifestation of power addressed to the international community. Notwithstanding the concentration of all forces, KFOR had big troubles to keep the situation under control. In the meantime, the unpatrolled borders were crossed by tens of drug trucks. An amnesty for all participants of the unrests may be understood as a capitulation of international forces, which have been bowing to every indication of a new aggression ever since. Externally, the long standardised “Okey-Reporting” was deepened as well as the obscuring of real situation, which was particularly in the interest of funds drawers and international institutions seated in Kosovo but also some western politicians who intended to dictate success for Kosovo in order to withdraw their missions as soon as possible.
In the former Yugoslavia in the 20th century, the Serbs lodged a claim to historical territory settled by the Albanians meanwhile. Kosovo as well as local Albanians had to face the threat of liquidation and displacement. Forcible and voluntary emigration from Yugoslavia to Turkey and the West enabled the Albanians to use their major advantage, namely the traditional society based on Canon rules and to become European key suppliers of heroine. At the end of 1980’s, when Milošević tightened up restrictions and the West turned its back on them, there was no possibility left for them except for illegal methods. In the middle of 1990’s, the importance of extremist groups founded in the 1980’s, which used violence as the most suitable means of achieving their objectives and criminal incomes as an appropriate finance source, rose. By the establishment of the UÇK not only did a resistance organisation originate, but also a criminally political hybrid, which assumed power in Kosovo with the assistance of the West in 1999.
The Albanian mafia’s control over the Balkan Way and the existence of regular supplies of heroine from Asia enabled it to gather a tremendous capital, which is laundered predominantly via building industry and petrol stations in Albania and Kosovo. Nowadays, the biggest business in south-eastern Europe is doubtlessly the Albanian organised crime.
The nine years of the international administration of Kosovo and the presence of KFOR were marked by the tolerance of organised crime expansion and “Okey-Reporting” on the situation in the country. Organised crime linked with the UÇK established itself inside the politics, judiciary, police and army and the control over Kosovo was rounded off with the inception of party intelligence agencies erasing and intimidating opponents. The unrests of March 2004 were the clearest manifestation of the determination and power of Kosovo extremist and criminal elite so far.
There is practically no point in blackmailing the international community by means of unrests in Kosovo after the declaration of independent Kosovo. In the Balkans, the Albanian question still hasn’t been solved, a numerous Albanian minority has been living in Montenegro, southern Serbia, northern Greece and western Macedonia. In all these regions, paramilitary groupings interconnected with the UÇK and organised crime are active. The most famous of them is the AKSh (Armatës Kombëtare Shqipëtare), which works in western Macedonia and southern Serbia.
It is Macedonia which is the most vulnerable of the countries inhabited by the Albanian minority. An uprising led by the National Liberation Army (UÇK – Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare) in 2001 was stopped only 40 km off the capital Skopje. The rebels weren’t disarmed and demanded the extension of Albanian minority’s rights. Therefore the Macedonian police have solely a formal power in western Macedonia and in reality criminal gangs dealing mainly with smuggling and kidnappings for ransom had the rule. The Government in Skopje is aware of the situation. For the constitution of a stable government, no matter if a left or right one, it’s necessary to form a coalition with a minor Albanian party. However, Macedonian leaders don’t venture police actions that could outrage their coalition partners.
Apart from a threat in the form of paramilitary troops operating in territories inhabited by the Albanians, another threat starts to emerge in the form of the foundation of global Islamic criminal clans. Recently, marriages between Kosovo-Albanian drug “fis” and drug clans from narcotics producing countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan have been registered (40). Besides the establishment of global drug networks, such information raises fears of the growth of Islamic radicalism among rich and influential Kosovo “fis”. Marriages are a clear manifestation of the intention to found drug clans based on blood ties. This would make it practically impossible for the police corps to infiltrate or dissolve such organisations.
(1) When organised crime acquires influence over some state or social sphere, for instance, it gains control over some economy branch or has some say in the judiciary, only then we may speak of mafia.
(2) Labrousse, A (not dated): The War against Drugs and the Interests of Governments; http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/ille-e/
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(3) McClear, A, S (2001): Albanians and their Culture: A Study of their defining Character and Uniqueness; http://www.mcclear.net/albanians_&_culture.htm (last access 12th April, 2008)
(4) In 2002, a member of the Polish criminal group “Kielbasa Posse” active in the US explained it as following: “The Polish don’t mind doing business with anybody, the Dominicans, the Afro-Americans, the Italians, the Asians, the Russians. But we won’t approach the Albanians. The Albanians are too violent and unpredictable.” Source: Bozinovich, M (2004): The New Islamic Mafia; accessible on http://www.serbianna.com/columns/mb/028.shtml (last access 10th December, 2007).
(5) Cornell, E, S – Jonsson, M (2007): Creating a state of denial, International Herald Tribune 22nd March, 2007; http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/22/opinion/edcornell.php (last access 12th April, 2008)
(6) The Independent International Commission on Kosovo (2000): The Kosovo Report: Conflict, International response, Leasons learned, New York: Oxford University Press, page 37; http://teaching.law.cornell.edu/faculty/drwcasebook/docs/The%20
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(7) Malcolm, N. (2002): Kosovo: A short History, London: Pan Books, page 37
(8) Due to their low quality, brown coal deposits are considered by many experts as a non-suitable energy source.
(9) Hajdinjak, M. (2002): Smuggling in Southeast Europe – The Yugoslav Wars and the Development of Regional Criminal Networks in the Balkans, Center for the Study of Democracy, page 45; accessible on http://www.csd.bg/fileSrc.php?id=65 (last access 10th December, 2007)
(10)The official GDP of Kosovo decreased by 50 per cent in the period from 1989 to 1994 according to Michael Pugh. According to Mappes – Niedek tax yield in the best year accounted for 28 million German marks. Source: Pugh, M (2005): Crime and Capitalism in Kosovo’s Transformation, page 2; accessible on http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/twe/papers/Pugh,_Mike_-_Crime_and_
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(11)Girgle, P (2006): Kosovo, Praha: Libri, page 79-80; Mappes – Niedek, N (2003): Balkan Mafia: Staaten in der Hand des Verbrechens – Eine Gefahr für Europa, Berlin: Christopher Links Verlag, page 85-87
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(13)Malcolm, N. (2002): Kosovo: A short History, London: Pan Books, page 352
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(16)Hedges, Ch (1999b): Kosovo’s Next Masters, Foreign Affairs May/June 1999 (volume 78, number 3); accessible on http://www.kosovo.net/kla4.html#8
(17)Mutschke, R (2000): The Threat Posed by the Convergence of Organized Crime, Drugs Trafficking and Terrorism, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, one hundred sixth Congress, second session, Serial No. 148, 13. 12. 2000; accessible on http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/congress/2000_h/
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(18)Bozinovich, M (2004): The New Islamic Mafia; accessible on http://www.serbianna.com/columns/mb/028.shtml (last access 10th December, 2007)
(19)The BonnInternationalCenter for Conversion (2001): The Mobilization and Demobilization of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Bonn: The Bonn International Center for Conversion, page 13; accessible on http://se1.isn.ch/serviceengine/FileContent?serviceID=Publishing
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(20)Oschlies, W (2004) : Das Scheitern der Befriedung: Fünf Jahre Nachkrieg im Kosovo, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 8/2004, page 967; accessible on http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb5/frieden/themen/NATO-Krieg/5-jahre.pdf (last access 10th December, 2007)
(21)Gossett, Ch: Whistleblower: Kosovo ‘Owned’ By Albanian Mafia, CNSNews.com 27th September, 2005; http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/9/27/101219.shtml (last access 12the April, 2008)
(22)Roth, J (2005): Rechtsstaat? Lieber nicht!, Weltwoche 43/2005; accessible on http://www.weltwoche.ch/artikel/?AssetID=12373&CategoryID=73 (last access 10th December, 2007)
(23)Rusche, R (2006): Activities of the Criminal Groups in Kosovo & Metochia and Independence of the Province, page 15-16, v Krystyna Iglicka (ed.), The Transatlantic Security Challenges and Dilemmas for the European Migration Policy Project, vol. 3, Migration and Human Trafficking – Challenges for Southern Eastern European Region. Warszawa: CSM 2006
(24)Pugh, M (2005): Crime and Capitalism in Kosovo’s Transformation, page 8, Hawaii; accessible on http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/twe/papers/Pugh,_Mike_-_Crime_and_
Capitalism_in_Kosovo’s_Transformation.pdf (last access 10th December, 2007)
(25)Institut für Europäische Politik (2007): Operationalisierung von Security Sector Reform (SSR) auf dem Westlichen Balkan – intelligente/kreative Ansätze für eine langfristig positive Gestaltung dieser Region, str.73 a 78-79, Berlin; accessible on http://balkanforum.org/IEP-BND/iep0001.PDF (last access 10th December, 2007)
(26) International Crisis Group (2003): Southern Serbia‘s fragile Peace, page 11 Belgrade/Brussels; accessible on http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/europe/balkans/152_
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(27)Ibid page 11 and 9-12
(28)Karpat, C (2006): Hashim Thaci or When the Little Red-Caps Wolf is Tamed, Axis Information and Analysis; accessible on http://www.axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=561 (last access 10th December, 2007)
(29)Pugh, M (2005): Crime and Capitalism in Kosovo’s Transformation, page 1, Hawaii; accessible on http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/twe/papers/Pugh,_Mike_-_Crime_and_
Capitalism_in_Kosovo’s_Transformation.pdf (last access 10th December, 2007)
(30)Rusche, R (2006): Activities of the Criminal Groups in Kosovo & Metochia and Independence of the Province, page 1-2, v Krystyna Iglicka (ed.), The Transatlantic Security Challenges and Dilemmas for the European Migration Policy Project, vol. 3, Migration and Human Trafficking – Challenges for Southern Eastern European Region. Warszawa: CSM 2006
(31)Institut für Europäische Politik (2007): Operationalisierung von Security Sector Reform (SSR) auf dem Westlichen Balkan – intelligente/kreative Ansätze für eine langfristig positive Gestaltung dieser Region, str.53, Berlin; accessible on http://balkanforum.org/IEP-BND/iep0001.PDF (last access 10th December, 2007)
(32)Pugh, M (2005): Crime and Capitalism in Kosovo’s Transformation, page 5, Hawaii; accessible on http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/twe/papers/Pugh,_Mike_-_Crime_and_
Capitalism_in_Kosovo’s_Transformation.pdf (last access 10th December, 2007)
(33)Stojarová, V (2007) : Organized Crime in the Western Balkan, page 105, HUMSEC Journal, Issue 1, June 2007, page 91-110; accessible on http://www.etc-graz.at/cms/fileadmin/user_upload/humsec/Journal/
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(34)Bezbednosno – Informativna Agencija (2003): Albanian Terrorism and Organised Crime in Kosovo and Metohija, page 18, Belgrade; accessible on http://www.media.srbija.sr.gov.yu/medeng/documents/albanian_
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(35)Karpat, C (2006): Hashim Thaci or When the Little Red-Caps Wolf is Tamed, Axis Information and Analysis; accessible on http://www.axisglobe.com/article.asp?article=561 last access 10th December, 2007)
(36)Wood, N: US ‘covered up’ for Kosovo ally, Guardian, UK 10.9.2000; accessible on http://www.kosovo.net/kla4.html (last access 10th December, 2007)
(37)Institut für Europäische Politik (2007): Operationalisierung von Security Sector Reform (SSR) auf dem Westlichen Balkan – intelligente/kreative Ansätze für eine langfristig positive Gestaltung dieser Region, str.56-57, Berlin; accessible on http://balkanforum.org/IEP-BND/iep0001.PDF (last access 10th December, 2007)
(38)Ibid page 72
(39)Ibid page 57 and 66-67
(40)Michaletos, I: Kosovo Underworld Rising, Serbianna, 27.1.2008, accessible on http://www.serbianna.com/columns/michaletos/027.shtml (last access 12th April, 2008)