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WHAT'S BEHIND KLA STRATEGY IN THE BALKANS?
Jared Israel [25 May 2001]

Below is a short excerpt from an interview with the Kosovo historian, Chedomir Pralinchevich. In it he explains how the U.S., and its proxy force, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), used violent social engineering to turn many Kosovo Albanians into 'supporters' of the KLA.

This strategy took advantage of two unusual traits of many Albanians. First, they have an extremely centralized clan structure. Second, they are strongly influenced by a culture of violent feuding.

The KLA would attack uncooperative clan members while telling clan leaders that if they did not bring their members in line to support the KLA, there would be vendettas against all male members of their clans. To strengthen this 'argument' the KLA pointed to real evidence that they had NATO's support.

This is exactly what KLA forces have been doing in Macedonia. This explains the reports that the KLA has attacked Macedonian Albanians, many of whom were not initially interested in supporting the KLA. Viewed from the outside, these attacks may appear to be random violence. In fact they are not. They are aimed at delivering a message to clan leaders who resist the KLA, ''making them an offer they cannot refuse."

In the interview I asked Mr. Pralinchevich if the Albanians in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, were in favor of the KLA in March, 1999, when NATO first started bombing Yugoslavia. Let us begin with his reply to that question:

Pralinchevich: Not at first, but then later even in Prishtina the Albanians were sucked into the secessionist camp. This could happen because of certain cultural traits, deeply rooted in their history. During the bombing, suddenly they started leaving Prishtina. And when we asked them, "Why are you doing this?" they replied, "We have to!"

Israel: Whom are you talking about?

Pralinchevich: Professors, managers at stores, retired people, even retired Yugoslav Army officers who were ethnic Albanian.

"SORRY BUT I MUST BE GOING..."

Pralinchevich: I'll give you an example. My Albanian neighbor was a Professor. He seemed very much integrated into Yugoslav life. Our children played together; we were friends, you see. And then, without warning he packed up and started to leave his flat, to leave Kosovo. So I said: "Why are you leaving, neighbor?" He said: "Sorry. I have to." And I said, "Why? We're safe here. Nobody's bothering you. The housing complex hasn't been bombed. We're all working together." And he said, "I was ordered to leave." He gave me the keys so I could watch his flat. ... Ironically, after NATO took over he returned and then I was forced out by the KLA gangsters. I gave him my key, so he could watch my flat.

Israel: But who ordered him to leave?

Pralinchevich: The leader of his clan.

Israel: Why?

Pralinchevich: To prove obedience to the KLA. This was the KLA's national plan. All loyal Albanians were to leave during the bombing and go to Albania or Macedonia to show the world how terrible the Serbs were; this exodus was staged; it was a performance, Hollywood in Kosovo. What is Hollywood without actors? A large number of Albanians had to perform, had to actually leave Kosovo. This was not so different from what they had been doing for ten years, you see, pretending they had been locked out of the schools when actually it was an organized boycott, and so on.

Moreover, once they were in the refugee camps, the Albanians would be under the direct leadership of the KLA, which could intensively indoctrinate them, Which it did.

Israel: But why would his clan leader agree to this crazy plan?

Pralinchevich: You think it was crazy? This gets us to the heart of the matter. Between the attacks from the KLA on Albanians who cooperated with the Yugoslav government and the continuous bombing by NATO, especially of Albanians who disobeyed the KLA, the KLA had gotten their message across to the clan leaders. So now the clan leaders ordered their people to pack up and leave.

Israel: You know, during the bombing, NATO said the Albanians were fleeing atrocities. We Western opponents of NATO said they were fleeing the NATO bombing. But you're saying we were both wrong, that the Albanians weren't fleeing the Serbs or the bombing.

Pralinchevich: Let's just say the bombing isn't a sufficient explanation. If they were just fleeing bombs, why did they have to go to Albania and Macedonia? Why not to inner Serbia? And what about people like my friend, who just packed up, seemingly for no reason, and left? The rest of us, Serbs, Jews, Roma, we were in Prishtina too. Why didn't we leave? Did we value our lives less than they valued theirs? No, it wasn't the bombs. They were afraid to disobey their clan leaders.

But the bombing did play an important role. The KLA served as [plane] spotters; they could direct NATO [bombing raid] attacks against hostile Albanians [that is, who were resisting the KLA orders to leave or who were trying to go to inner Serbia or who were trying to return home] and this confirmed for the clan leaders that the KLA had serious power.

It was psychological warfare, intended to reinforce the psychological crisis among Albanians, a crisis rooted in fear.

The KLA and NATO were telling Albanians: NATO supports the KLA. After NATO takes over, the KLA will be in charge and if you don't leave now you will be in big trouble later. There will be no safe refuge.

That's what I meant when I said you need to know something about Albanian culture in order to understand why Albanians left.

You have to know about blood feud.

CONCERNING BLOOD FEUD AND THE 'CANON OF LEKE'

Pralinchevich: One book has a great hold over Kosovo Albanians. It's called the 'Canon of Leke Dukagjiniis'. It's a 15th century text that spells out codes of behavior. It goes into great detail on how to carry out blood feuds, when and whom it is proper to kill. It lays out the proper methods to use when killing, rules and regulations and so on.

And this Canon is alive among Albanians today, especially since the fall of communism. This is an intensely tradition-oriented culture. Blood feud is a constant threat for Albanians. Thousands of people in Albania and Kosovo cannot leave their houses because they are being hunted; even a child in the cradle might be marked for death as part of a feud. It is for this reason that Kosovo Albanian houses are often built surrounded by high walls and with gun slits instead of windows.

By methodically killing those who refused to support them, the KLA was striking a deep fear among Albanians: the refusal of one Clan member to obey could lead to revenge against his entire clan. And now the KLA had NATO bombers to enforce blood feud.

What took me by surprise was how much this affected Albanians, even intellectuals. It's amazing. Here is a Professor in Prishtina, very sophisticated, but when the order comes from his Clan leader, who is perhaps a farmer 100 miles away, the Professor immediately packs up and leaves for Albania without even considering saying no.

Israel: We didn't understand the KLA. We thought their terror tactics were counter-productive.

Pralinchevich: Well, they knew their own people, their fears, their traditions. They knew that if they could prove they were deadly, the clan leaders would fall in line.

Now they live in a society dominated by gangsters. None of this would have happened were it not for years of effort by the United States.

***

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