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[Emperor's Clothes]

When Human Rights No Longer Matter

By Garry M. Leech [5 June 2001]

Reprinted with permission of Colombia Report

[For a different view of the useful information contained in this article see Jared Israel's, "Washington: Parent Of The Taliban And Colombian Death Squads," which follows]

In a throwback to the days of the Cold War counterinsurgency campaigns, the Colombian Senate recently passed a bill authorizing the nation's security forces to wage war against the Colombian people in the name of anti-terrorism. The new bill, now being debated in the lower house of Colombia's Congress, will unleash the army against the civilian population, especially in rural regions, using tactics that violate international human rights treaties to which Colombia is a signatory. The new policy is reminiscent of the counterinsurgency strategies promulgated by the United States throughout Latin America during the Cold War years. Recent decisions by the Bush Administration indicate it will be more than willing to support the re-implementation of such tactics by the Colombian army.

The urban bombing campaign waged by various armed groups over the past month has hit a little too close to home for many middle and upper class Colombians. The recent spate of bombings is reminiscent of the violent urban campaign waged against the government in the late 1980s by drug traffickers fighting to end extradition. In order to prevent a further escalation in this latest wave of bombings, Colombia's urban elite and its congressional cohorts appear to be trying to give the security forces free rein to combat suspected terrorists.

The likely consequences of the military's newfound freedom will be a dramatic increase in human rights abuses perpetrated by the army against the civilian population. The bill would allow an army unit to enter a village and detain citizens for seven days without charging them with a crime. There is little doubt this violation of international humanitarian law would be used against community leaders, human rights workers, union members and anyone else the army chooses to cast as a leftist or guerilla sympathizer.

Secondly, under the new law soldiers would be permitted to force villagers to act as informants and intelligence agents, a tactic that will undoubtedly result in retaliation against the villagers by whichever armed group they are forced to betray. And finally, the law allows soldiers to arrest anyone for subversion based solely on the statement of a fellow citizen--even if that statement is obtained under duress.

Inevitably, the use of such tactics by the army will result in charges of human rights violations being leveled against overzealous troops. However, the new bill foresees this "problem" and addresses it by providing immunity to members of the armed forces who commit human rights abuses while combating "supposed" terrorist groups. The new law also turns over responsibility for the investigations and autopsies of subversives killed in combat--currently performed by government officials--to the military. Furthermore, just to guarantee that soldiers aren't accidentally charged with human rights abuses in spite of these safeguards, The bill has a provision to ensure that all ongoing and future investigations into rights violations by security forces will become a matter for military justice and not civilian courts.

There is little doubt about who will become the principal targets of the military's tactics: any rural villager believed to be sympathetic to the guerillas. Colombia's rural population, already the principal target in the nation's conflict, is now being offered up for slaughter by legislators in Bogota rattled by the war's recent arrival at their doorsteps.

A campesino does not have to do much to be accused of having leftist sympathies in Colombia's volatile political and social climate, least of all anything that would be considered suitable evidence in a court of law. Often, villagers are deemed to be sympathetic to the rebels simply based on the geographic area in which they reside.

Sometimes peasants aid the guerillas out of fear, which also leads to their being labeled as sympathizers. And now, according to the would-be law, any Colombian could be arrested for subversion on the word of a neighbor who may bear nothing more than a personal grudge.

Throughout the 1990s, international pressure resulted in a significant decrease in the number of human rights abuses directly attributed to the Colombian Armed Forces.

However, during the same period the military strength of paramilitary groups increased dramatically as they conducted the dirty war on the army's behalf, often with logistical support provided by the military. The new proposal would remove the constraints on the army, allowing it to once again wage war against the civilian population without fear of retribution. Furthermore, allowing the army to recruit citizens in conflict areas is akin to re-authorizing the military creation of civil self-defense forces that inevitably evolve or are absorbed into paramilitary organizations, which have been illegal in Colombia since 1989.

The military's recent assault against four rebel-held towns in southwestern Colombia may be a foreshadowing of things to come under the proposed law. Last week, 2,500 members of the Colombian Armed Forces "successfully" seized the towns in the department of Narino as part of an anti-drug mission labeled Operation Tsunami. According to Colombian army officials, more than 110 people were killed in the operation. Only 18 of them were guerillas.

Military officials say the rest of the dead were workers in the targeted coca fields and cocaine labs. In other words, more than 90 peasants were killed in the offensive. The operation has been kept under a veil of secrecy as the army has refused to let anyone into the area to talk to survivors and determine exactly how and why so many peasants were killed. The new law, if passed by the house, will only encourage more military operations like this one, in which the wholesale slaughter of peasants is justified in the name of fighting terrorism or, even worse, the drug war.

Colombia's proposed new anti-terrorist law's blatant disregard for international humanitarian law should be cause for concern in Washington. At a minimum, the pending legislation and its de facto conversion of Colombia to a nation under martial law should give pause to those policymakers in Washington who have repeatedly stressed that part of the U.S. aim in the region is to defend democracy. In fact, all future military aid should be withheld while this potential human catastrophe is addressed. All military and civilian contractors stationed in Colombia should be withdrawn and the delivery of Blackhawk helicopters scheduled for July should be postponed until the Colombian government re-aligns its policies and laws with the norms of international humanitarian law, both on paper and on the ground.

However, it is highly unlikely that any of these sanctions will be imposed on Bogota. According to Washington, U.S. aid is going to Colombian army units fighting the drug war, not the counterinsurgency war-regardless of the fact these troops are targeting coca fields and drug labs in guerilla-controlled territory. Also, the White House and the State Department will undoubtedly try to emphasize that U.S. aid is only going to units of the Colombian army that have been "cleared" of human rights violations.

Washington's drug warriors discuss these U.S.-funded and trained battalions as though they were not part of the Colombian Armed Forces. But in reality they operate under the same chain of command as the rest of the Colombian army and there are no safeguards to prevent the transferring of soldiers in and out of these units after they have been vetted for human rights violations.

Historically, the United States has allied itself with human-rights-abusing regimes whenever it served Washington's interests to do so, usually under the guise of the Cold Wa or more recently the drug war. The new Bush Administration is wasting little time in allying itself with some of the world's most abusive regimes. On May 17, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced $43 million in aid to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban. (1)

Not only is the Taliban sheltering Washington's global enemy number one, Osama Bin Laden, but the country's fanatical rulers are also responsible for the gravest state-sponsored human rights violations perpetrated against women in recent history.

Furthermore, examples of the Taliban's religious intolerance have included the systematic destruction of revered ancient Buddha statues and the issuing of a decree forcing Hindus in Afghanistan to wear yellow identity patches.

At a recent press conference announcing the State Department's 2000 list of terrorist organizations and states, acting coordinator for counterterrorism Edmund J. Hull referred to Afghanistan as "terrorist central for the international community," pointing out that "tens of thousands of people" have passed through terrorist training camps there.

Why has the Bush Administration climbed into bed with these repressive fundamentalists? The answer is simple: The Taliban is willing to be Washington's ally in the drug war. Afghanistan's religious rulers declared that the human consumption of opium is against the will of Allah, and apparently that was good enough for the Bush Administration.

Washington's recent attitude towards the Afghan regime regarding the drug war does not bode well for Colombia's peasant population. In all likelihood, as long as Colombian security forces continue to destroy coca fields and cocaine labs while conducting their counterinsurgency operations, then U.S. aid will continue to flow. After all, what are a few human rights abuses when there is an ineffective drug war to wage?

Copyright 2001 Information Network of the Americas (INOTA)

***

WASHINGTON: PARENT OF THE TALIBAN AND COLOMBIAN DEATH SQUADS
by Jared Israel [5 June 2001]

INTRODUCTION

In his eye-opening article, "When Human Rights No Longer Matter", Garry Leech writes that:

"In a throwback to the days of the Cold War counterinsurgency campaigns, the Colombian Senate recently passed a bill authorizing the nation's security forces to wage war against the Colombian people in the name of anti-terrorism...All military and civilian contractors stationed in Colombia should be withdrawn and the delivery of Blackhawk helicopters scheduled for July should be postponed until the Colombian government re-aligns its policies and laws with the norms of international humanitarian law, both on paper and on the ground." (1)

It is true that, in the past, both Washington and its clients in the Colombian government and military paid lip service to opposing Colombian death squads. At the same time, it was known that the death squads a) were U.S.-trained, b) were advised by U.S. covert agents and c) were comprised of soldiers from the official Colombian military.

Now, Mr. Leech reports, the Colombian military is to be officially transformed into one big death squad with a plan for "war against the Colombian people in the name of anti-terrorism."

Barry Leech is right that we should oppose all U.S. military 'aid' for Colombia as long as the military engages in 'human rights abuses.' But what does this mean? By its nature, the Colombian anti-drug war has always been a war against the Colombian people. It has always relied on abusing human rights, starting with the particularly important right to stay alive.

This history of abuse, now celebrated in a democratically endorsed plan "to wage war against the Colombian people in the name of anti-terrorism," could not exist without the approval of Washington's foreign policy planners. Because the Washington foreign policy establishment is the true constituency of the Colombian government. Take away Washington, and in short order the Colombian puppet state would collapse.

IS U.S. "MAKING A MISTAKE" IN COLOMBIA AND AFGHANISTAN?

The U.S. Establishment always tries to dominate the language of foreign policy discourse. In this way, critics are maneuvered into accepting premises which limit their field of view and therefore the scope of their criticisms.

For example, Washington argues that it is pouring almost a billion dollars a year into military ''aid'' to Colombia in order to "win the drug war". Similarly it claims it is giving $43 million to the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan to reward them for banning the cultivation of poppy plants used to produce heroin and opium.

Supporters and opponents of Washington's policies tend to accept these claims about the "drug war." Consequently the debate is framed in Washington's terms: "Should the U.S. give aid to anyone, no matter how foul, as long as this helps the drug war?" If they accept this frame of argument, critics are trapped into responses that assume Washington is making a mistake, that it is letting itself be used by monsters.

The premises involved in this frame of argument are lies.

First, Washington is not engaged in a drug war. That's public relations baloney. Washington is the political sponsor of the key forces behind the drug trade.

Second the war on drugs is a cover for waging a real war against forces striving for independence in strategic areas such as Colombia and, more important on a world scale, the Balkans and the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union.

Third, Washington is the creator and patron of the governing terrorists in Afghanistan (the Taliban) and in Colombia. To say Washington is 'aiding' these forces is like saying farmers 'aid' their crops or parents 'aids' their children.

THE DRUG INTERESTS ARE IN CHARGE OF THE DRUG WAR

Despite all the rhetoric, Washington is not interested in stopping the drug trade. From Iran-Contra to the Afghan anti-Soviet war to the Islamist terrorists currently attacking the former Soviet states to the KLA to the Colombia death squads, Washington's proxy armies are deeply and increasingly involved in the drug trade. Drug gangs provide terrorist-military training and produce vast sums of money. This money enables Washington's proxy armies to mount formidable campaigns against target countries without Washington have to shell out impossibly large sums of money.

A 'Boston Globe' article (an excerpt is posted at the end, see Footnote 4) states that Washington's Kosovo Liberation Army is heavily involved in a drug distribution system that starts in Afghanistan and Pakistan and ends up in Western Europe. This drug business involves 400 BILLION dollars a year. (Not that the KLA gets all this money. But we are discussing gross revenues greater than those of IBM, Microsoft and Intel combined. And that's just the Afghanistan-to-Europe trade.)

Washington sponsors and protects this drug trade because drugs provide crucial money and terrorist personnel for Washington's drive for world domination.

The same is true in Latin America. Take Washington's Colombian 'drug war' for example. If this was aimed at stopping the drug business, Washington would focus on penetrating and jailing the powerful drug interests and their Establishment connections. That is, not just the rich drug cartel gangsters, but the gangsters-in-a-suit in big banks and corporations:

"A more sensible U.S. policy should also include a focus on drug factors closer to home. For example, the Clinton Administration might consider cracking down on U.S. and other Western corporations involved in exporting to Colombia the enormous quantities of the precursor chemicals required to process raw narcotic plant material into hard drugs. Drug processing, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is an extremely "complicated" process, requiring "sophisticated equipment and skills," as well as "expensive chemicals" like potassium permanganate, ether and acetone "that are harder to find and often not manufactured in the processing country." Those that bear the brunt of aggressive U.S. supply-side drug policies in Colombia - peasant cultivators, petty drug pushers, and the guerillas - are clearly not the major players in the lucrative, transnational narcotics industry. The U.S. should also consider devoting funds to an in-depth investigation of the major multinational banks and companies involved in laundering billions of dollars in drug revenues. If anything, the volume of money laundering has grown in recent years even as the U.S. public's consciousness of the problem has declined.

"Alberto Galan, brother of murdered Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, emphasized the weakness of U.S. policy in not probing this link between private corporations and drugs. Washington, according to Mr. Galan, avoids "the core of the problem. The economic ties between the legal and illegal worlds. The large financial corporations. It would make a lot more sense to attack and prosecute the few at the top of the drug business rather than fill prisons with thousands of small fish." (My emphasis. Quoted from "Heading for Disaster," at
http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/hemisphr.htm )

Instead of going after the big fish, Washington directs the 'drug war' against coca and poppy fields and the poor farmers who cultivate these fields in areas controlled by FARC, the Colombian liberation army.

By destroying these particular fields, the U.S. and its Colombian proxies drive up the value of the coca and poppy controlled by Washington's Colombian proxies, that is, by the military men and their death squads who are intertwined with the Colombian drug cartels and through them with major financial interests which 'launder' billions in drug profits.

To justify fighting a 'war on drugs' against small farmers who (conveniently) live in guerilla-controlled areas, Washington and the media pedal the story that the FARC guerillas control the drug trade. This is comic book-level propaganda. Washington's motto should be, "A dumb public is a happy public."

"While the FARC undoubtedly generates wealth through the "war taxes" it levies on drug processors and traffickers, as well as through the abduction of foreign corporate executives and wealthy Colombians for ransom, there is no direct evidence linking the rebels to the actual export of drugs to the U.S. Available evidence reveals that among the primary transporters of drugs are right-wing paramilitary groups in collaboration with wealthy drug barons, the armed forces, key financial figures and senior government bureaucrats.

"The creation of the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia (AUC), the official title of the loosely-connected paramilitary organizations formed in the 1980’s, was made possible in large part through the private fortunes amassed through their leaders’ earlier involvement in the drug trade. The AUC, in fact, was outlawed in 1989 after government investigations revealed that Pablo Escobar, the notorious boss of the Medellin drug cartel, had taken over one of its largest paramilitary operations.

"The paramilitaries, composed of right-wing extremists (including many military and police officials) virulently opposed to the guerillas and their sympathizers, have become a mainstay in Bogota’s anti-FARC campaign. While the AUC is personally repugnant to President Pastrana, his efforts to curb explicit collusion between the Colombian security forces and the paramilitaries have been futile. So, while army helicopters routinely attack coca and poppy fields within rebel territory, major drug lords and their paramilitary cohorts are able to conduct their own drug operations with relative impunity." ("U.S. Policy Towards Colombia About To Massively Veer Off-Track" at http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/hemisphr.htm )

If the U.S. government were "fighting the drug war" to stop the export of drugs to the U.S., as it claims, it would focus on those who organize and profit from the export of drugs, instead of destroying the fields (and poisoning the land, animals, and children) of poor peasants who live in FARC-controlled areas.

The U.S. war against drugs doesn't fight drugs. So what is its purpose?

REAL TARGET OF THE "DRUG WAR"

For a hundred years Washington's Latin American policies have aimed at preventing the formation of a unified block of nations that could challenge U.S. domination. Washington's methods: repress and atomize; install anti-popular oligarchs in small, weak states. Give 'aid' to these little monsters who could not survive a year without Big Daddy Monster to the North. In this fashion, Washington has brought untold misery to the Latin American people.

Currently there is a threat to these policies. The Chavez government in Venezuela is politically independent. It has the temerity - the audacity - to ask: "What is good for Venezuelans?" And then there is the powerful FARC in Colombia.

Check out a map. Venezuela is northeast of Colombia. Colombia is south of Panama. Both Colombia and Venezuela border Brazil, second most populous country in the Americas. And Colombia is north of Peru and Ecuador. Together, Colombia and Venezuela constitute the northern cap of South America.

Both Colombia and Venezuela have oil.

If the Colombian FARC wins, it could mean a Venezuelan/Colombian/Cuban alliance that would attract Latin American people and possibly even some existing government(s), like a magnet.

Both Chavez in Venezuela and the FARC in Colombia call for social justice and national sovereignty. This is a compelling mixture; contagious.

In response, Washington is attempting semi-covertly to overthrow Mr. Chavez. At the same time, Washington is escalating its atrocious counter-insurgency campaign against the progressive nationalists in FARC. The methods being used against FARC are as old as Rome and as recent as Vietnam: punish and murder the ordinary people who support the forces fighting the U.S. Make the cost of independence prohibitive.

The present U.S. Secretary of State, that nice guy, Colin Powell, is no stranger to this strategy:

"In his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey, Powell describes burning peasants out of their huts in 1963, 'starting the blaze with Ronson and Zippo lighters.'

"'Why were we torching homes and destroying crops?' Powell asks rhetorically. 'Ho Chi Minh had said the people were like the sea in which his guerillas swam. We tried to solve the problem by making the whole sea uninhabitable.'" (Quoted in "Nobody's hero," at
http://www.inthesetimes.com/web2504/edit2504.html)

It's one thing for Powell to admit the murderous character of what the U.S. did in long ago Vietnam. But were Washington to admit it was using the same strategy in Colombia, most Americans would be horrified. Hence the huge public relations campaign, disguising the Vietnam-style operation going on right now in Colombia behind the facade of a war against drugs.

IS WASHINGTON 'AIDING' COLOMBIA AND THE TALIBAN?
OR IS IT IN FACT SUPPORTING ITS OWN CREATIONS?

The "Does the drug war justify us giving aid to monsters?" argument confuses the real relationship between Washington and said monsters, such as the Colombian military/death squads, and the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan.

This confusion is expressed eloquently by Robert Scheer, who once edited "Ramparts," the late great antiwar magazine. A recent article by Mr. Scheer is entitled, "Bush's Faustian Deal with the Taliban." If you remember your Goethe, this would cast Junior as a lowly mortal who makes a deal with the devil, a much more powerful figure. Here's Mr. Scheer:

"Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists and destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.

"That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the United States the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches this administration's attention." (http://www.bartcop.com/531taliban.htm)

Bob Scheer thinks the Taliban are a monstrosity of indigenous origin. In his view, it is outrageous for Americans to let themselves be duped into helping these beasts simply because the beasts have (supposedly) banned drugs. If America does this it will become the Taliban's main sponsor. And so on.

The problem is, it is too late for Washington to become the Taliban's sponsor because Washington gave birth to the Taliban in the first place. (2)

The maternity bill? Over six BILLION U.S. dollars. And that was 1980s money, mind you, so we're talking about a much bigger bill in current U.S. dollars. Washington is the monster parent of this monstrous child.

To preserve the mental equilibrium of Americans, the mass media tries to avoid publishing evidence of Washington's Taliban patrimony. Nevertheless, sometimes some of the truth slips out. Take for example a 'NY Times' article published three days after the U.S. bombed some facilities in Afghanistan:

"The Afghan resistance [sic!] was backed by the intelligence services of the United States and Saudi Arabia with nearly $6 billion worth of weapons. And the territory targeted last week, a set of six encampments around Khost, where the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden has financed a kind of 'terrorist university,' in the words of a senior United States intelligence official, is well known to the Central Intelligence Agency.'

"The C.I.A.'s military and financial support for the Afghan rebels indirectly helped build the camps that the United States attacked. And some of the same warriors who fought the Soviets with the C.I.A.'s help are now fighting under Mr. bin Laden's banner.

"From those same camps, the Afghan rebels, known as mujahedeen, or holy warriors, kept up a decadelong siege on the Soviet-supported garrison town of Khost.

"Thousands of mujahedeen were dug into the mountains around Khost. Soviet accounts of the siege of Khost during 1988 referred to the rebel camps as 'the last word in NATO engineering techniques.' After a decade of fighting during which each side claimed to have killed thousands of the enemy, the Afghan rebels poured out of their encampments and took Khost." (From
'New York Times,' August 24, 1998. or more on this see 'Credible Deception: The Times and the Sudan Missile Attack')

Six billion dollars. And that's what the CIA admits spending. How much more did they spend that they don't admit?

U.S. covert support for the Taliban has continued throughout the middle and late 1990s, mainly through Washington's junior partner, Saudi Arabia.

TALIBAN AID: PART OF THE ATTACK ON RUSSIA

The Taliban aid package coincides with Washington's increasing attacks on the former Soviet Union in general and Russia in particular. The current very public offer of $43 million in aid is a destabilizing warning to the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union. The message is: you better work with us, not Russia, or we can unleash the Taliban against you.

At the same time, Washington holds out a carrot, offering to provide the Central Asian Republics with military aid. The idea is to offset Russian military ties and increase the U.S. presence in these countries. By having a large contingent of U.S. military (and therefore of course the CIA as well) directly involved inside the Central Asian states, Washington can select the best targets for bribes, thus augmenting the efforts of U.S.- funded "democracy groups" which are presently setting up 'civil society' Fifth Column organizations in these countries.

If the U.S. can make these countries dependent on US military aid (and training, and of course spare parts) Washington can guarantee that their weapons and military plans are insufficient to defeat Taliban-connected terrorists. Moreover, Washington can supply these Islamist terrorists with military intelligence.

Which, by the way, is precisely what Washington has been doing in Macedonia. (5)

-- Jared Israel

***

Further reading:

1) 'When Human Rights No Longer Matter,' by Garry M. Leech at http://emperors-clothes.com/col/hum.htm

(2) 'Washington's Backing of Afghan Terrorists: Deliberate Policy,' by Jared Israel at http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/anatomy.htm

3) Take the Emperor's Clothes challenge! We at tenc.net are convinced that U.S. newspapers intentionally distort the news to whitewash Washington's actions. Whether you agree with us, are unsure, or would like to see our best evidence so you can prove to yourself that we are just mouthing off, read the detailed study of how the 'N.Y. Times' lied to its readers about the August, 1998 bombing of a pill factory in Sudan. The article is called 'Credible Deception: The Times and the Sudan Missile Attack' and it can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/sudan.html

3a) In countries all over the world, the U.S. has set up "civil society" groups which imitate the 'look' of local activist groups but are in fact trained and funded by U.S. government agencies like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It was just such forces which overthrew the Miloshevich government in Yugoslavia.

or more on these Fifth Column activities see: "U.S. Arrogance and Yugoslav Elections," at http://emperors-clothes.com/engl.htm

4) Washington pretends to oppose drugs. But its favorite Balkans terrorist group relies on the drug business for cash. Washington could devastate the drug trade by simply arresting this organization. That would easy to do because the organization is the KLA. It was set up by Germany and the U.S. and it is trained by "Western special forces," that is, by the U.S. and Britain)

Here's an excerpt from a recent 'Boston Globe' article which cautiously - but clearly - links the KLA to the drug trade.

"Interpol estimates that Kosovo Albanians may control 40 percent of the European heroin trade. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, they may have as much as 70 percent of the market, according to the estimates. Kosovars became Europe's heroin kingpins by dominating the 'Balkan route,' a series of roundabout highways that run from Turkey through Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and then, it is said, into Austria. Four to six tons of heroin move along this route annually, generating about $400 billion in revenues.

"At the top of the drug-smuggling hierarchy, according to Interpol, is a group of gangsters known as 'The Fifteen Families,' who are based in northern Albania, near the Yugoslav border. Opium from Afghanistan and Pakistan is exported to Turkey, where it is refined into heroin, and then moved by Turkish gangs to the Balkans. There, lieutenants of the Fifteen Families, operating from anarchic border towns around ill-defined Balkan borders, take over and administer the drugs' movement across the continent.

"In cities across Europe, smaller Kosovo Albanian gangs oversee storage, sale and distribution. To avoid risk, they hire local couriers, called donkeys or horses, to move the drugs across borders. 'Heroin networks are usually made up of groups of fewer than 100 members, consisting of extended families residing along the Balkan route from Eastern Turkey to Western Europe,' Ralf Mutschke, assistant director of Interpol's Criminal Intelligence Directorate, said in December, in testimony to the US House of Representatives. The large numbers of Albanian immigrants and refugees in Europe provide fertile ground for drug gangs to recruit members. 'For those emigrants ... the temptation to engage in criminal activity is very high, as most of them are young Albanian males, in their 20s and 30s, who are unskilled workers and have difficulties finding a job,' Mutschke said.

"Some Albanians say the drug gangs have tainted their nation's reputation, and have led to widespread prejudice against them. 'As an honest Albanian this hurts me,' said Saimir Bajo, a 29-year-old film director who has lived in Prague for five years. 'It gives us a bad image with the Europeans. We are normal like any other nation, not better, not worse.'

"But Kosovar involvement in the drug trade, he said, fuels anti-Albanian discrimination, creating 'invisible walls which we cannot escape.' In 1997, Albania descended into chaos when the collapse of a pyramid savings scheme brought down the government and led to rioting and looting.

"From January to March 1997, according to Interpol, outlaw groups seized hundreds of thousands of assault rifles, machine guns, and rocket launchers from military armories.

"The organized crime groups mobilized to support the national cause during the war in Kosovo, and that gave them so much political cover that they were able to operate with near impunity. 'Albanian organized crime groups are hybrid organizations, often involved both in criminal activity of an organized nature, and in political activities, mainly relating to Kosovo,' Mutschke said. He added that half of the estimated $400 million that came into Kosovo from 1996 and 1999 is believed to be illegal drug money. Vera Brazdova, chief prosecutor in the Uka brothers' case, said telephone taps revealed the two 'discussing the collection of money for Kosovo.'

"Likewise, Petr Liska, the narcotics detective who investigated the case, said he was '100 percent certain' the two were sending money to the Kosovo Liberation Army, although he added that the allegation was difficult to prove.

"The Uka brothers had been operating out of the western Czech city of Plzen for years. But when Fiala cooperated with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter sentence, police were able to shut them down. In March, all three were convicted of heroin smuggling. The Ukas deny the charges and are appealing the verdict.

"In February 1999, months before the Ukas were arrested, police in Prague scored one of their biggest heroin busts to date, arresting Princ Dobroshi, a high-level Albanian drug lord. In Dobrosi's apartment investigators found evidence that he had placed orders for light-infantry weapons and rocket systems.

"Police said Dobroshi, who was extradited to Norway where he had escaped from prison, planned to purchase the weapons for the KLA. Despite such victories, Czech police say they feel outgunned by the drug smugglers. 'We are only catching little pieces,' Liska said. 'They are a step ahead of us."' (From 'A new drug route is traced to the old Balkans anarchy,' by Brian Whitmore, 'Boston Globe,' 6/3/2001)

5) Concerning Washington's funding of both sides in Macedonia, see 'WASHINGTON FINANCES ETHNIC WARFARE IN THE BALKANS'
by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/choss/fin.htm

***

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