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Solana and Kouchner push Kosovo "Independence"
Jared Israel (9-7-00)

This text refers to an Agence France Presse dispatch, which is posted in full [1]

* * *

Bernard Kouchner, UN boss of Kosovo, and Javier Solana, former head of NATO, now with the European Union, recently made a tour of Kosovo. They spoke to groups of rapturous ethnic Albanian in 30 locations; so we are told by 'Agence France Presse'. The ostensible purpose was to get out the vote in upcoming 'municipal elections.'

One of the stops was a Sports Stadium in the town of Urosevac. The 'AFP' says Mr. Kouchner told the crowd of 2500:

"'Now the time has come to look forward," Kouchner began, sitting under an Albanian banner.' You have fought for a better Kosovo, a Kosovo where people can lead a peaceful and happy life."'

And :

"The loudest cheer of the night was reserved for Solana when he appeared to hold out the prospect of a future for a democratic Kosovo outside of Belgrade's orbit within European structures."(AFP, 8/31/00) [1]

A couple of questions.

First, in what world does Kouchner detect the emergence of a Kosovo "where people lead a peaceful happy life"?

Second, the UN governs Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 which clearly states that Kosovo is a province of Yugoslavia. By what right do Kouchner, the UN administrator for Kosovo and Solana, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign and Security policy, "hold out the prospect of a future outside Belgrade's orbit"?

Peaceful like Hell

The main thing that has happened since Kouchner took over Kosovo is that between 300,000 and 400,000 Serbs, "Gypsies", non-Albanian Muslims, anti-fascist Albanians and Jews have been driven from their homes. Most are now refugees, mainly in Serbia. Some died crossing the Adriatic. Some stayed in Kosovo, barricaded in, fearful of every knock at the door. Some have been kidnapped or murdered. [2]

Aren't they "people"? Or is Kouchner saying that the campaign of terror against these non-people has allowed the real people to lead "peaceful happy lives"?

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) did the expelling. The KLA has also stolen the property of those it expelled: a marriage of race hate and free enterprise.

The reign of terror began last June when the KLA and NATO troops marched together across the border from Albania into Kosovo. The KLA couldn't have gotten away with kidnapping, killing, arson and theft on a grand scale without the approval of NATO and the UN. NATO could have stopped the terror easily: arrest the KLA leaders; seal the border with Albania; smash any KLA gangs that resisted. The KLA's power over ethnic Albanians rests mainly on NATO support for the KLA. Take away NATO support and ethnic Albanians would desert the KLA in a minute..

But instead of curbing the KLA, the UN set up the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), consisting almost entirely of KLA members. Top KLA bosses control the KPC, officially and unofficially.

Some people think NATO and the UN are now deserting the KLA, but it doesn't look that way. KLA terrorists are currently being used to attack southern Serbia. And the US government is definitely bullish on the KLA. Witness the fact that the government gave KLA leader Hashim Thaci a grand tour of the US a few weeks ago.

You remember Hashim Thaci. He became a KLA media star during the so called "peace negotiations" at Rambouillet last year. But before Rambouillet, during the summer of 1998, Thaci was the dominant leader in the KLA stronghold of Klecka. When Klecka was recaptured by Yugoslav forces in August they made some terrible discoveries.

"Captured KLA Men Say Serbs Were Executed

"Klecka, Yugoslavia --

[...]

"...Police escorted journalists into the area on Friday after three days of fierce fighting to dislodge its KLA defenders.

"Reporters for Western media said two captured KLA men showed them a spot in Klecka where 10 Serbs-- including three women and two children- were shot by a KLA firing squad.

"Pristina country court investigating magistrate Danica Marinkovic said four burned bodies found in the village were believed to be those of victims of the shootings. There was no trace of the other corpses." ('Reuters' 28-Augustr-98 )

And:

"Domestic and foreign reporters, residing in Pristina, were allowed to follow questioning of a witness, at the site of the crime. The arrested Bekim Mazreku was answering to questions of Ms. Danica Marinkovic, an investigation officer. In presence of police, translator and the journalists, Mr. Murzeku said the following:

"Mr. Bekim Mazreku: We executed ten here. Two were children, three women, two young boys and three men."

"Ms. Marinkovic: Could you tell us the age of the children?

Mr. Bekim Mazreku: From seven or eight to eleven.

"Ms. Marinkovic: "And women?"

"Mr. Bekim Mazreku: From 28 to 32.

"Ms. Marinkovic: Who was executing them?

"Mr. Bekim Mazreku: The Kosovo Liberation Army.

"Twenty one year old Mr. Bekim Mazreku was then returned to jail. Journalists were then shown the fence and trees where the execution bullets landed. Also we saw the mentioned pit with chlorine as well as few semi-burned skulls and numerous bones belonging to victims of this crime. The police have also shown to us photographs of a dead man with head chopped off and mutilated body. The police told us that the photographs were found in a basement of a house in Klecka.

"The village of Klecka has a dozen of houses on few ackers [acres] of land. It had been turned into a military camp by KLA.(Radio B92, 29-August-98. Note that B92 is an anti-government radio station in Belgrade, openly funded by Western government sources.)

And:

"The killings in Klecka have been linked to Thaci, who now heads the Democratic party of Kosovo."
--'Sunday Times' (London) September 3, 2000, Sunday

That's Thaci, a man who slaughtered innocents to terrorize a population. Not a soldier, a serial killer in uniform.

Here's how 'Voice of America' describes Thaci's US tour:

"Hashim Thaci, who leads the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) [one of several KLA parties]...spoke at a press conference at UN headquarters. He is concluding a trip to the United States, during which he met with U.S. State Department and congressional officials. He also attended the convention in Los Angeles last week at which the U.S. Democratic Party chose Vice President Al Gore to be its candidate for president.

"In response to questions, Thaci repeatedly said he saw democracy progressing in Kosovo. He said local elections would help provide a basis for general elections in the province and contribute to what he called the democratization of the Balkans.

"Thaci pointed to democratic changes in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia and said he believed pro-democracy forces would eventually win out in Montenegro. He also said he considered the general elections planned for Yugoslavia next month as "elections in a neighboring country." (Radio Free Europe, 8-22-00)

Guest at the Democratic Convention. Meetings with top US leaders. Press Conference at the UN. Glowing account by Radio Free Europe complete with Thaci as Political Commentator, presenting his views on the progress of like-minded democrats in the former Yugoslavia - even Serbia.

The Clinton administration isn't simply treating this war criminal as if he were a head of state. They're treating him as if he were a wise and honored head of state.

Thaci's tour was barely mentioned in the US press but it was given full coverage by 'Voice of America'. VOA is beamed at Europe,. including Kosovo. So the coverage was clearly intended to bolster the KLA in general and Thaci in particular in the Balkans and most especially in Kosovo. By broadcasting the news of Thaci's tour, VOA was making it perfectly clear that the US government supports the principles for which Thaci stands. As if to emphasize this point, the Democratic Party went over the edge, nominating for Vice President Sen. Joseph Lieberman. During the bombing of Serbia last year, Lieberman addressed a pro-KLA rally in Washington. He said:

"The "United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values." ('Washington Post', April 28, 1999)

Trouble in peaceful, happy Kosovo

Thaci is having some problems these days:

"The guerrilla army, once 30,000-strong, has broken into rival groups struggling for power and money in the United Nations-run province.

"Several recent shoot-outs between former KLA commanders have shocked Western officials. Many ex-guerrillas are reportedly involved in drug smuggling, corruption and protection rackets.

"Last September the KLA was officially disbanded... But the commanders have retained key political and economic positions, as well as their ex-fighters' absolute loyalty and guns.

"The former KLA supreme commander, Hacim Thaci, one of four members of Kosovo's ruling Interim Administrative Council, has lost control over many local chieftains who have left his Party of Democracy (PDK) and now lead rival clan-based factions.

"The most successful is the charismatic former commander Ramush Haradinaj, who allegedly fell out with Mr Thaci over the control of certain petrol stations.

"Renowned for his courage during the war, Mr Haradinaj has his powerbase in the south-western town of Prizren and he is leading Mr Thaci in opinion polls ahead of October elections. The power struggles between former brothers in arms have turned bloody. Last month the former KLA-commander Ekrem Rexha was gunned down outside his house. His assailants escaped. The moderate Rexha, a former Yugoslav army general who spoke seven languages, was known as a Thaci opponent and a close friend of Mr Haradinaj." (The 'Daily Telegraph', London, June 12, 2000, my emphasis)

The 'Telegraph' presents Rexha as a moderate compared to Thaci. Rexha was responsible for some of the worst terrorist bombings in Kosovo during the fall and winter of 1998-1999. So if Rexha is a moderate, what's Thaci?

Thaci isn't the only KLA boss to meet with officials in Washington. Rexha's friend, Ramush Haradinaj was received too.(AFP, 8-30-00) He didn't get invited to the Democratic Party Convention, or a Press Conference at the UN in New York. But he was received.

There are suggestions in the press that Haradinaj is a moderate.

Slaughter at a Children's Cafe

On December 14, 1998, six children were murdered when a masked gunman sprayed the Panda Cafe in Pec with bullets. The crime was so horrendous that even US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke denounced it. [8]

'"Because of its cruelty and its cowardice, this crime stands above all crimes,' said Mirko Simonovic, principal of the slain teenagers' school'. (Agence France Presse [8])

The KLA was behind the attack. But who in particular?

".......His [Ramush Hajredinaj's] men already are suspected of carrying out the Panda Cafe murders, when masked rebels opened fire in December on a restaurant the city of Pec, killing six Serbian youths. His men also are suspected of shooting at U.S. diplomatic monitors......." (Associated Press, 3-8-99 [9])

Hajredinaj was also apparently involved in a slaughter of civilians in the town of Glodjane. This time the victims included non-Serbs:

"Glodjane, further west in the Decane area bordering Albania, was fiercely contested by the Serbs and Albanians [during the year prior to the NATO takeover of Kosovo]. In September 1998 the Serbian media centre in Pristina claimed that the bodies of 34 people had been found in a canal there. They were a mixture of Serbian farmers, some gypsies and Albanians suspected of being collaborators. The local commander at the time was Haradinaj, now head of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo." ('Sunday Times', London September 3, 2000, our emphasis)

When officials met with Thaci and Hajredinaj in Washington, could it be they did not know who these men were? Frankly, that's unbelievable.

"'Washington knows what we want,' he [Hajredinaj] added with a smile. 'We've been clear from the very beginning'" [9]

Clearly Haradinaj and Thaci are cut from the ssame cloth. They are not squabbling because one of them is yearning for multiethnic society. But they are in fact squabbling:.

"Hajredinaj might have damaged his standing by [...a] rash action he undertook on the night of 6-7 July in the village of Streoc, 5km south of Pec. The exact circumstances of his wounding are unclear, but it certainly was not an assassination attempt, as claimed in AAK party press releases. Hajredinaj led a small group, who went in the middle of the night into the family compound of the leader of the Musa clan. The Musas are a powerful clan and have not been on good terms with Hajredinaj for some time. He entered their family compound, armed - which in Albanian code is an insult and an attack - and, although it is unclear who opened fire first, he ended up wounded. Even if his health does not suffer, some may consider his political career to be over as the Albanians now see him as someone who breached the code of honour." ('Jane's Intelligence Review' September 1, 2000)

Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are part of the Geg culture, also found in Albania. In an interview, Cedda Prlincevic, the former Chief Archivist in Pristina, Kosovo, describes an unusual feature of Geg culture:

"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.."
-- From "Why Albanians Fled Kosovo During the NATO Bombing", at
http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/keysa.htm

When 'Jane's Defense' reports that Haradinaj insulted a powerful clan leader, this was a most serious matter. The insult may have been answered on July 11, 2000 when Sadri Ahmet Sheraj, Haradinaj's wartime aide, was having a meal in Decani:

"UNMIK police said Sheraj, 46, was killed Tuesday afternoon in a restaurant in Decani by a gunman firing an AK47. UNMIK said the gunman was recognised by people at the scene.

"The killing was believed to be a follow-up to an incident in the home area of Haradinaj, a former guerrilla fighter turned politician. Haradinaj was injured in a grenade attack last Friday in a village near Decani." ('Deutsche Presse-Agentur' July 12, 2000, )

But while Thaci and Haradinaj and their associates may derive their rules of behavior from a medieval Canon, they are fighting over modern prizes - such as the "control of certain petrol stations." ('Daily Telegraph', June 12, 2000)

In other words, they are gangsters.

'Jane's Defense Review' writes:

"[Thaci's] PDK has good links with Albanian exile groups in America, Switzerland and Germany, although the bulk of Thaci's funding is now believed to come from racketeering and other crime-generated sources." ('Jane's Intelligence Review' September 1, 2000, my emphasis)

How blasť 'Jane's' is - as if it were reporting on networking among Business School grads. Gangsterism has become no big deal in Kosovo.

So is Kosovo simply being run by the Mob?

No, Kosovo is not simply being run by the Mob.

Quoting a secret UN report prepared secretly for Secretary General Kofi Annan, the 'London Observer' noted:

"The KPC stands accused in the document, drawn up on 29 February, of 'criminal activities - killings, ill-treatment/torture, illegal policing, abuse of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate-speech'."

"...Under the heading 'Activities against minorities, including hate speech', [KPC leader, former KLA boss Agim] Ceku is criticized for being present at a walk-out staged by Albanian members of the KPC when a speech was translated into Serbo-Croat - the language of the Muslim Slav minority suspected by the Albanians of collaboration with the Serbs.

"The report comments: 'It was the clear opinion of those present that this was a premeditated action..'" ('London Observer' my emphasis)

Intimidation, expulsion of minorities and hate speech - a culture dominated by patriarchal clans - enthusiastic visits by British Trotskyist Vanessa Redgrave and photo-ops for feminist star Hilary Clinton - thousands of teenagers are forced into prostitution - and in the midst of all this, gangland killings. What a mix.

The UN has crossed Al Capone, the Ku Klux Klan and Ms Magazine. The offspring is Weird Fascism.

Poor Kosovo, what else will you suffer?

UN policy? Don't talk to me about your stinkin' UN policy

At the meeting mentioned above, in which KPC head man Agim Ceku staged a racist walkout:

"The speeches of General Ceku and that of the regional KPC commander were not those agreed upon in advance. The men spoke of the war and loyalty to the 'country' - 10 February.' Such a speech would contradict the policy of the UN, the general's paymaster. " ('London Observer', 3-12-2000)

Calling for Kosovo independence does indeed violate official UN policy, as expressed in Security Council Resolution 1244, the only source of UN legitimacy on Kosovo.

But apparently that's just a scrap of paper.

How else can we interpret the fact that Kouchner and Solana sat "under an Albanian banner" with Kouchner telling the 100% pure Albanian crowd that, "Europe is waiting for you" and Javier Solana getting the loudest applause "when he appeared to hold out the prospect of a future for a democratic Kosovo outside of Belgrade's orbit within European structures." How else can we interpret Kouchner's declaration that the people in the crowd "were free from Belgrade's 'fascism.'" [1]

Kouchner and Solana have publicly embraced Kosovo secessionism.

Kouchner lectures Belgrade

Meanwhile, on Sept. 4 Kouchner announced he will permit residents of Kosovo to vote in the Yugoslav elections Sept. 24. But he added that the "Yugoslav election rules and procedures 'do not comply with international standards.'"

Since Kouchner is so pleased with Kosovo's democratic progress, should we assume that Kosovo lives up to Kouchner's standards, the ones with which Yugoslavia has failed to comply?

Good for Yugoslavia.

Solana in Love

According to "Agence France Press", Kouchner and Solana made politically required statements to the crowd about how they should really try to be tolerant towards minorities. These statements didn't go over well, 'AFP' reports, perhaps because everyone in the crowd knew that almost all the minorities had been driven out of Kosovo so why did these guys have to spout a lot of platitudes and ruin the party? (True, a few Serbs and other minority group members were still left, namely people too old and/or stubborn to leave, but they were being eliminated as fast as possible.) (Footnotes 5 and 6)

Apart from the tolerance glitch, Kouchner and Solana got a rousing reception, and this roused Solana.

'"I can hardly talk to you I'm so moved,' Solana said after the crowd roared its greeting, 'My dear, dear friends, I love you.'" [10]

***

Notes

1) Agence France Presse August 30, 2000, Wednesday

Heroes welcome for Kouchner and Solana at Kosovo rally

UROSEVAC (Kosovo) Yugoslavia, Aug 30

Bernard Kouchner, head of Kosovo's UN administration, and Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, were welcomed as heroes by ethnic Albanians at a rally held here to promote democratic values.

A crowd of around 2,500 ethnic Albanians packed Urosevac sports hall to welcome the two men, who arrived to a standing ovation after an emotional tour of the town in which they were cheered through the streets.

"Dear friends, the war is over, now the time has come to look forward," Kouchner began, sitting under an Albanian banner flanked by the European and United Nations' flags. "You have fought for a better Kosovo, a Kosovo where people can lead a peaceful and happy life."

Solana was present as part of a two day visit to the province to examine preparations for October 28 municipal elections, the first poll since the end of Kosovo's 1998-1999 civil war and the setting up of Kouchner's administration.

He was there is his capacity as EU High Representative for Foreign and Security policy, but it was clear that the Kosovo Albanians chanting his name remembered him more for his role as NATO Secretary General during the alliance's air war against Belgrade.

"I can hardly talk to you I'm so moved," Solana said after the crowd roared its greeting, "My dear, dear friends, I love you."

Kouchner was making the third of around 30 planned public meetings in towns around Kosovo to urge voters to take part in the election, vote for candidates who respect democratic values and put an end to a renewed wave of political and ethnic violence that has swept the province in the build-up to the poll.

But in the highly emotional gathering his calls for respect and tolerance for minorities appeared to make less impact on the crowd than his declarations that they were free from Belgrade's "fascism" and that the international community would never forget them.

He warned his audience that attacks on minorities in the province by ethnic Albanian extremists had damaged Kosovo's image in the world and urged them to win back respect by turning their backs on "hatred."

The loudest cheer of the night was reserved for Solana when he appeared to hold out the prospect of a future for a democratic Kosovo outside of Belgrade's orbit within European structures.

"Europe is waiting for you," he declared.

At the end of the hour long rally Kouchner and Solana joined a crowd of well-wishers, children and folk musicians to dance a traditional Albanian dance around the table from which they had given their address and responded to questions from the crowd.

Clearly moved they accepted the embraces of their admirers as nervous security staff attempted to escort them from the building and excited children clambered over barricades to run and greet them.

(c) 2000 Agence France Presse - Posted for Fair Use Only

2) See, 'Crime, Terror and Racism: What NATO and the UN have Wrought in Kosovo (and Macedonia),' at
http://emperors-clothes.com/yugo.htm#2

3) http://emperors-clothes.com/news/ban.htm

4) http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/mostert/Mostert1.html

5) See 'Gracko survivors blame NATO', which can be rtead at http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/grack.htm

6) See 'Death of a Yugoslav,' which can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/news/letter.htm

7) See 'I cannot give it a name but it seems like hell,' which can be read at http://emperors-clothes.com/misc/name.htm

The following two news reports concern Ramush Hajredinaj.

The first report deals with the slaughter at the Panda Cafe, for which Hajredinaj is almost surely responsible. The second is an interview conducted with Hajredinaj in March 1999.

8)Thousands mourn Serbs slain in Kosovo cafe

By Ljubomir Milasin

Yugoslavia
Agence France Presse * December 16, 1998

Some 5,000 people, under close police guard, gathered Wednesday for the funeral of six young Serbs shot dead on Monday in a cafe in this western Kosovo town.

The victims' coffins were put on public view in Pec's main square where Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Pavle held a requiem mass, prior to the funeral at the municipal cemetery.

Quoting from the Koran and the Gospel, the patriarch said: "Those who commit a crime against the innocent, commit a crime against humanity."

"These innocent victims were guilty only of being from a different nation [the term used for ethnic group] and using a different alphabet," he said.

The six Serbs, five of them teenagers aged 15 to 17, were killed when two masked gunmen sprayed automatic gunfire inside the Panda cafe in Pec, according to initial investigations.

Many suspect that Kosovo Albanians fighting for independence from the rump Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) were behind the massacre.

Earlier Monday 36 Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels were shot dead by Yugoslav troops on the Kosovo-Albania border in the worst single incident since a ceasefire began two months ago.

"Because of its cruelty and its cowardice, this crime stands above all crimes," said Mirko Simonovic, principal of the slain teenagers' school.

A letter from the victims' mothers to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was read aloud, demanding that he do everything to "protect" Kosovo's Serb minority from attacks.

A father of one of the victims, Vladislav Raickovic, condemned Kosovar "criminals" and demanded that the government "fulfill its duty, despite pressures and blackmail by the world mafia."

"We want to live in peace, but not at any price, because the price we are paying right now is too high," Raickovic said.

No incidents were reported during the ceremony, during which numerous police officers were seen on rooftops.

Pec is a city of 80,000 people that is 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the border with Albania, where the KLA is known to have bases in mountain villages.

On Tuesday, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accused KLA "terrorists" of carrying out the attack, and vowed that those responsible "will be found and punished."

US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who met Milosevic on Tuesday, said: "There are no excuses for such actions, no justification."

In Kosovo's capital Pristina, several thousand Serbs protested peacefully, demanding "state protection" and urging the international community to treat the KLA as a terrorist organisation.

***
(9) Kosovo Rebels Won't Give Up Guns

By ANNE THOMPSON, The Associated Press, 3-08-99

JABLANICA, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Sitting in his headquarters along the snow-capped mountains of the Albanian border, hard-line rebel commander Ramush Hajredinaj remains adamant that the Kosovo Liberation Army will never give up its guns.

Disarmament is the biggest barrier to getting the KLA to sign a U.S.-backed peace agreement, and a second day of ethnic Albanian rebel meetings Monday produced no firm results despite the entreaties of U.S. envoy Christopher Hill.

The deal envisions the KLA becoming a political party, with some rebels joining an ethnic Albanian-run police force. But after years of covert planning, of training in the woods and smuggling guns into Kosovo for the fight for independence, the KLA is unwilling to forsake the army it worked so hard to build up.

They also fear not having a defensive force against the Serbs.

``Not to have an army would be a big mistake,'' said Hajredinaj, one of five KLA commanders invited to visit Washington in another diplomatic move to persuade rebels to adopt the deal for Kosovo self-rule.

Without the rebels, Kosovo Albanian politicians will not sign. And without full cooperation from all Albanian factions, NATO cannot follow through on military threats aimed at getting Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to also agree.

The negotiations come after a year of bitter ethnic war in Kosovo, a southern province in the Serb republic that dominates Yugoslavia, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs nine to one.

Hajredinaj (pronounced high-re-DEE-nai) is one of the most militant commanders in the rebel army, and some observers worry hard-liners might continue to fight even if politicians and other rebel leaders accept peace.

His men already are suspected of carrying out the Panda Cafe murders, when masked rebels opened fire in December on a restaurant the city of Pec, killing six Serbian youths. His men also are suspected of shooting at U.S. diplomatic monitors. And Hajredinaj himself is wanted by the Serb regime as a terrorist.

His territory, along the western flank of Kosovo, hums with a military spark and efficiency, with a tight chain of command and a fierce loyalty to a leader almost worshipped for his fighting skill and strategic prowess.

``When I mention his name, I feeling like bowing. That's how much I respect him,'' said battalion leader Arzen Bytyqi, 23, wearing a red beret and a greencamouflage uniform with KLA patches emblazoned with their emblem: the two-headed black eagle.

Now 30, Hajredinaj served one year in the Yugoslav army, during which he says he was learning to be a soldier to fight for Kosovo independence. Like many ethnic Albanians, he also lived in Switzerland and France, earning money for the cause before coming home in the early 1990s to take up arms.

``I've been thinking of independence since I was a child. It was my training from my parents,'' said the commander. [Note: Kosovo achieved 'independence', which in parctice meant incorporation into a racially-defined state of Greater Albania, only once - under the Nazi's during World War II. About which see George Thompson's 'Roots of Fascism in Kosovo.']

``We can accept everything that doesn't destroy the way to independence,'' Hajredinaj said Monday, suggesting that he, like other commanders, are ready to accept autonony as a first step. ``If NATO comes, we won't have to be a liberation army anymore. We'll change and become a regular army,'' the commander said.

``Washington knows what we want,'' he added with a smile. ``We've been clear from the very beginning.''

***

(10)

***

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