Book Review: The Coming Balkan Caliphate
02 Nov, 2007
In September 2001, George W. Bush admonished the world, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." But how will the world know where to stand when America itself is with the terrorists?
Such is the America that operates in the Balkans, and such is the question underlying Christopher Deliso's new book, "The Coming Balkan Caliphate", which tells the most terrifying story never told in the War on Terror. An American journalist based in Macedonia, Deliso has been investigating radical Islamic trends in the region for the better part of a decade. He's the director of the independent Balkan news website Balkanalysis.com and a field analyst on Macedonian politics for the Economics Intelligence Unit, London. His book examines the repercussions of the free world's alliance with radicals in Kosovo and Bosnia, one of which surfaced just this month with the attempted bombing of the U.S. embassy in Austria. The vivid picture Deliso paints, one that is corroborated by daily reports that have been streaming out of the region since the Clinton administration rallied NATO countries to the side of "moderate" Muslims against Yugoslavia, is more disturbing than anything that even the most vigilant Jihad-watchers can imagine.
On the first page of the first chapter, Deliso dispels the unanimous, carefully crafted and guarded script that the Bosnian Muslims were innocent, hapless victims of genocidal Serbian aggression:
It would not be until the watershed events of September 11, 2001, that the role of Bosnia as an incubator and catalyst for international terrorism would become impossible to ignore. This embarrassing truth had long been suppressed by the many Western diplomats, journalists, and public relations hacks who had built large fortunes and careers on protecting this myth of their own making…Preliminary to any historical debate, therefore it must be acknowledged that high-powered Washington lobbyists and much of the Western media purposefully distorted, omitted, and concealed key facts on the ground.
Indeed, Caliphate affirms what the 9/11 Commission itself found: that "the Bosnian jihad had essentially created a global empire for terror." It served as a finishing school for terrorists bent on killing Americans and Europeans, but who cut their teeth on the Serbs. The indictment for the 2004 Madrid bombing mentions Bosnia 300 times, and a planned rocket attack on major world leaders at the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II, which was summarily unreported, was hatched in a backwater Bosnian village — and thwarted by a tip to the Italians and Croatians from Bosnia's Serb Republic. Further, "a number of key figures associated with the 9/11 plot," writes Deliso, "were veterans of the Bosnian jihad…Bosnia had become one of al Qaeda's most important European assets..." As well, Deliso mentions that the 7/7 bombings in Britain netted the arrest of several Balkan Muslims and British Muslims radicalized by the Balkan jihads. But Caliphate also reminds us of a less known Balkan connection:
Although almost forgotten by now, in the immediate aftermath of the [9/11] attacks, tight-lipped U.S. government sources disclosed an explosive fact: that there was a definite connection between the 9/11 plotters and Albania-based Islamic terrorists. Further, these officials attested that KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army] members had indeed been trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan…
Deliso's main focus is Kosovo, which saw the Clinton administration repeat its deadly Bosnian mistake rather than admit it. Regarding Kosovo and the surrounding areas that, like clockwork after our intervention, curiously fell victim to near carbon-copy conflicts of Kosovo (Macedonia, Montenegro and southern Serbia), Deliso again makes quick work of the principal objection one encounters when pointing to how NATO directly Islamicized the Balkans:
Albanians, whether from Albania, Kosovo, or Macedonia, have scoffed at the idea of a major religious fundamentalist incursion in their midst. So have their Western yes-men. The West heavily backed the Kosovo Liberation Army during the NATO bombing, despite the presence of mujahedin in its ranks, and for Western publics to suspect that this cause has been muddled up with an Islamist one would amount to a public relations disaster for both Clinton-era political veterans and for the Albanians themselves. Indeed, it would call into question the entire rationale for Western intervention in Kosovo.
The Islamist cause that Deliso refers to is the prevalence of Saudi Arabia, UAE and others who have been active in the Balkans since even before Western interventions there but for whom the interventions were a major boon — and downright coup. Wahhabi groups and "charities" entice Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia with hundreds of dollars per month for every family member who adopts the strictest form of fundamentalist Islam. To that end, the Balkan landscape has been changing, not only with the new, Saudi-style mosques now dotting the formerly Christian lands, always taller than the nearest (and usually vandalized) church, but also with the increasing prevalence of Wahhabi dress and worship.
No apologist for the Serbs, Deliso engages in the standard scolding of the Serbian lobby for its alleged exaggeration of Albanian-connected terror, though he doesn't go on to debunk any specific exaggeration. Rather, his book demonstrates a terror-laden Balkan reality beyond what even the wildest exaggeration could conceive. Among the revelations in the book is that terror-connected, Saudi-based charities were pulling at least some of the strings behind the big Kosovo pogrom of March 2004, in which 35 churches were dynamited, hundreds of Serbian homes burned, 1,000 people injured and 19 killed. Insider revelations about this episode, however, include that "19" was just the "agreed" number, with the actual death toll at more than 30 (indeed, initial, pre-damage-control reports had the number at 31). Two other unreported facts are that the rioters killed six NATO peacekeepers and slashed the throats of Serbian farmers' pigs. Most embarrassing for UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) authorities, reports Deliso, is that the U.S.— and UN-supported Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku's officers "actively aided the mobs."
As Deliso explains, the UN (in concert with the U.S.) "has allowed former KLA leaders and the mafia to control society…Today, this chaotic situation has moved from the unfortunate to the scandalous, with the CIA, MI6, BND [German intelligence], and others eager to build 'special relationships' with Islamic extremists bent on killing Christians, attacking Western targets, and creating a fundamentalist caliphate…Indeed, longtime UNMIK employees in Kosovo who have watched the process disintegrate over the years express disbelief at how the Western media and politicians can get away with calling the intervention a success."
Deliso details the bizarre arrangement by which we've allied ourselves with "nominally Muslim" Albanian mafiosos to feed us information about the Islamists they do heroin and weapons business with, while Albanians, some at the highest levels of Kosovo's U.S.-supported officialdom, moonlight as terrorists themselves. "…[T]he Kosovo Albanian government leaders — the same ones that, according to [British intelligence firm] Jane's, are supplying the United States with 'intelligence' on Islamic extremists in the province — have blocked investigations and staffed the civil administration with the often underqualified friends and relatives of known Islamists. 'The Kosovo Department of Justice won't act on [counterterrorist information],'" Deliso quotes UNMIK Field Coordinator for Protection of Minorities Michael Harrison. "'Because the people inside the institution are from the "other side."'"
One Kosovo jihadist in particular, Samedin Xhezairi, worked for the CIA and Austrian and German intelligence when those countries were helping train the KLA for war against the Serbs in the late 90s — all while acting as an intermediary between Albanian extremists and al Qaeda.
After the 1999 NATO bombing, writes Deliso, "U.S. Military Police removed the old Yugoslav police dossiers compiled on Albanian criminals and paramilitaries, and handed them over to the KLA's leaders. Evidence about the most dangerous men in Kosovo was thus destroyed, but not before the KLA could assassinate Albanian police informers and other "Yugoslav loyalists" named in the files. The KLA, and its criminal partners, it was tacitly understood, would not be touched…'[T]he deal was, you leave us alone, we leave you alone,' a former Swedish OSCE official in Kosovo sums up. 'It had its benefits, mainly, that we were allowed to live.'"…Senior UNMIK officials have ordered the destruction of files that indicate higher-than-reported numbers of attacks against [non-Albanian] minorities. They also systematically fired or relocated employees who speak out or contradict the official line…'" In exchange for their dutiful cooperation, the internationals got other benefits: they "could enjoy the spoils of peace — everything from mafia-supplied [and enslaved] prostitutes to multimillion dollar embezzlement on privatization deals and budget 'discrepancies.'"
In 2000, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) security chief Tom Gambill "personally witnessed soldiers from the United Arab Emirates filming the U.S. military base, Camp Bondsteel [and] by the fall of 2001 the SJRCKC [Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya] had begun conducting 'aggressive surveillance of US personnel and property…[Saudi Red Crescent Society] ambulances were thought to be transporting weapons and explosives — they had never been seen transporting sick or injured locals.'" According to an UNMIK special investigator:
"none of the international big shots seem to care when they are warned about [this trend]. Considering we are supposed to be fighting this so-called 'war on terror' right now, their disinterested attitude — man, it's beyond belief."
In October 2006, this investigator pointed to a case from a couple of years earlier, in which UNMIK police arrested several Islamic extremists plotting terror in a village near Mitrovica…"They were all Albanians, and all of them had British passports, "said the investigator. "Some were related to leading officials in the Kosovo government. It was all hushed up and never reported in the media. "Other intelligence sources have drawn a connection between this group, civil administration appointees, and arrests made by the British government in the July 2005 bomb plots in London.
We also learn of a murky and as yet unreported incident in which six Albanian-American fundamentalists arrived in the village of Skenderaj in the weeks before 9/11. Says Gambill—who in 2005 blew the whistle on the Kosovo mission in an interview with Cybercast News Service—the men had "spread anti-American slogans and stated, one week before 9/11, that the US would soon be attacked."
According to Gambill, the radicals were "linked to a wealthy Mafioso in Mitrovica" — a shock admission linking Islamic radicals and the Albanian mafia. More shocking, however, was the utter disinterest with which UN authorities greeted this apparent "smoking gun" case. While investigators elsewhere were racing furiously to track down anyone and everyone with foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the CivPol [UN police] officer who identified the agitators, according to Gambill, "was frustrated that no one above him [in rank] was interested, and no one above him really pushed [for this investigation]…there was little said about it — and no follow-up.
From Caliphate, a reader begins to understand that Kosovo, which is already infecting surrounding areas, is run by systematic chaos, everyone alternating roles between gangster and hostage: Albanian leaders/gangsters threaten the Islamists should they target the internationals; al Qaeda threatens Albanians with cutting off their heroin supply if they touch the Islamists; and the internationals are threatened with the understanding that the well-armed Albanians have a virtual gun pointed at our NATO troops should we embark on any unwelcome law enforcement. One begins to understand why the State Department has been repeating the mantra that there are no options other than unconditional independence for Kosovo, as per Albanian demands.
Caliphate distributes blame between the Clinton and Bush administrations accordingly, and the author keeps his discernable leftward tilt to a tasteful minimum, allowing it to surface only in his concern for the human rights of terrorists, in his wagging a finger at European countries that cooperate with America's rendition program, and in his over-cynicism of the War on Terror. (He tars the entire war as "fraudulent" because of an unfortunate case of mistaken identity of a Lebanese-German citizen who had the same name as a bin Laden henchman and was therefore interrogated for months in Macedonia, America and Afghanistan before being determined innocent.) And yet anyone reading this book — indeed anyone who has been following the region and its increasingly far reach since our interventions there — will have a hard time taking the War on Terror seriously, and will be left with a sense that with their investigations of this cell or that, our intelligence agents and police are busily plugging holes in a boat that is already submerged.
Demonstrating an understanding of the complexity of the Albanian community, whose nationalist ambitions and double-dealing with the Islamists predictably got them more than they'd bargained for, Deliso points to what one might call the Big Duh of the civil wars in both Bosnia and Kosovo: "The Bosnian civil war was, in fact, just the prelude to a longer and entirely different battle, one that would not be conducted against the Serbs, Croats, or Western peacekeepers, but against the Bosnian Muslims themselves."
With attention fixed on Iraq, and the Balkans too complex for the public to bother with in the first place, all of this has been allowed to take place in the shadows, and without armed conflict or revolution a silent transition is taking place in the Balkans, increasingly referred to by those in the know as "the new Middle East."
Except for a tedious chapter on Turkish history and a superfluous enumeration of the various methods of terror coordination in the final chapter (Internet, mosques, cyber attacks, use of Western democratic principles and institutions against democracy itself), the book makes for a damning read and a troubled sleep.
copyright 2007 Julia Gorin
Julia Gorin is a pundit, comedian and opinionist. She write at her personal blog.
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