By Gary Wilson

It has been revealed that the top commander of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army is Agim Ceku, a brigadier general who took a leave from the Croatian Army in February.

The source for this is Jane's Defense Weekly of May 10. Jane's is a British publication known around the world as authoritative on military matters.

This news may help dispel some of the many myths surrounding the KLA.

However, it is not surprising to those who have known for a long time that the KLA is a mercenary contra army promoted by foreign imperialist powers, not a home-grown operation.

Ceku's new position is also ominous news for opponents of NATO's brutal war. In August 1995 Ceku presided over «Operation Storm,» the massive bombing and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Serb farmers from the part of Croatia known as the Krajina.

The revelation that he is now heading the KLA is widely seen as a sign that a ground-force invasion is being prepared.

Ceku's military career began in the Yugoslav Army. But after Croatia became a separate state under the reactionary leadership of Franjo Tudjman, he defected to the Croatian Army. Ceku, an ethnic Albanian, was then trained by the United States.

He is closely tied to Military Professional Resources, Inc. MPRI is a semi-official Pentagon contractor headed by retired U.S. military officers. It specializes in sending mercenary armies under Pentagon contract into wars without even the figleaf of congressional oversight.

Jane's Defense Weekly describes Ceku as «one of the key planners of the successful `Operation Storm.'» Many reports have shown in detail that MPRI planned and directed this operation in the Krajina.

«Operation Storm» was, until the current U.S. bombing, the bloodiest and most brutal military campaign in the Balkans since the Nazi invasion during World War II.

The Pentagon contracted MPRI to organize and train the Croatian Army- -which carried out the August 1995 offensive against Serbian farmers in the Krajina region. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless. This vast refugee population was never allowed to return home.

A report in the July 28, 1997, issue of the Nation magazine detailed the role MPRI and the Pentagon played in this criminal campaign. Back in 1995 when it happened, however, the media here suppressed the U.S. role in this major assault.

Finally, this March 21, the New York Times carried a front-page story about a report from the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague that characterized this attack as probably the most brutal event in the Balkans in the last decade. But no commentators picked up on this. The report was quickly forgotten.

The Croatian government has now confirmed that it gave «special leave» to several of its generals to go lead the KLA.

While NATO denies it, there is glaring evidence of close military coordination between its operations and those of the KLA. In a briefing aired May 11 on MSNBC, a NATO general showed a map said to be the area of KLA military operations in Kosovo. Then he showed a map of where NATO's bombings have been concentrated in Kosovo. The two maps matched almost exactly.

He then said, without cracking a smile, that while this might seem to indicate that the efforts were coordinated, it was purely a coincidence.


Many myths persist about the KLA. These myths include claims that its founders were Marxists. Although few could believe that a genuine Marxist-based liberation army would allow itself to be an agent of the imperialists, reports in the media continue to allude to this claim.

The origins of the KLA are murky at best. Some say it was founded in 1993. Others put the organization's beginnings in 1996, when a letter was sent to the media announcing its formation. The letter took credit for a February 1996 massacre of Serbian refugees from the Krajina region of Croatia who had fled to Kosovo for safety.

Throughout 1996 and 1997, most of the KLA attacks were on Albanians who it called «collaborators.» These were Albanian opponents of the separatist movement in Kosovo.

From 1995 to 1997 there had been a great influx of Kosovo Albanians intothe Serbian Socialist Party (SPS). Qamil Gashi, the Albanian chairperson of the SPS municipal council in Kosovo, said this was because solutions to the problems in Kosovo were clearly being worked out.

On Feb. 6, 1996, Gashi said: «We should not be labeled `traitors' to our own people because we have joined the SPS. It was us, the Socialists and the SPS leadership, who initiated actions to solve numerous economic and municipal problems more swiftly.» (From «Between Serb and Albanian, a History of Kosovo,» by Miranda Vickers)

The KLA killed Gashi in November 1997.

It was the KLA that was targeting Albanian socialists and calling them `traitors.'

According to reports in the Yugoslav media, the Yugoslav government believed that KLA operations were being carried out by mercenaries trained in Bosnia. Government reports said that the Albanian government of Sali Berisha was coordinating the actions through the Albanian Embassy in Pristina.

Berisha was widely seen as a puppet of the U.S. government. U.S. support had put him into power. He then allowed the U.S.military to put a base in Albania and turned over control of the Albanian secret police to the U.S. CIA (French Press Agency, Oct. 26, 1997).

The KLA does not attempt to hide that its headquarters is on Sali Berisha's estate in Albania.

The KLA was never an organization like the liberation armies that are well known around the world. It never had a recognized leadership. It never even had a spokesperson until last year.

It never issued any documents or statements of purpose. It doesn't even have a newspaper or magazine.

The grouping that called itself the KLA at first was actually an odd assortment of various opponents of the Yugoslav government who joined together with gangsters, mercenaries and other opportunists. Those who called themselves KLA ranged from people claiming to be followers of Albania's former Marxist leader, Enver Hoxha, to those who claimed roots in the fascist, nationalist Greater Albanian organizations of the 1940s. It was a combination of convenience, with no central agreement on anything but their hatred of the Yugoslav government.

In an article on the history of the KLA in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Chris Hedges describes it in a similar way, saying that the KLA is divided into factions.

Hedges says the KLA inside Kosovo is «led by the sons and grandsons of rightist Albanian fighters.» These were from the «Skanderbeg volunteer SS division raised by the Nazis, or the descendants of the rightist Albanian kacak rebels who rose up against the Serbs 80 years ago. Although never much of a fighting force, the Skanderbeg division took part in the shameful roundup and deportation of the province's few hundred Jews during the Holocaust. The division's remnants fought Tito's Partisans at the end of the war, leaving thousands of ethnic Albanians dead. The decision by KLA commanders to dress their police in black fatigues and order their fighters to salute with a clenched fist to the forehead has led many to worry about these fascist antecedents.»

Even by Hedges description, the KLA leaders in exile don't say they are Marxist. He quotes one of them, Jakup Krasniqi, as saying, «I do not think we have an ideology.» That is why there is no political organization or political platform. «We do not have time for such things,» Krasniqi said.

The KLA has nothing in common with Marxist-based liberation movements, which are known for their alliances based on political principles and their working-class orientation.

The early unholy alliance that called itself the KLA mostly targeted Albanian socialists. It also killed isolated Serbian farming families. Its operations were minor compared to those of the KLA that would later emerge.

SHIFT IN 1997-98

In late 1997 and early 1998, there was a sudden shift. The KLA went through a «rapid and startling growth,» according to a report in the April 25, 1998, New York Times.

Foreign mercenaries, money and arms started to pour in to the KLA.

The erstwhile KLA bands were quickly overwhelmed by an influx of mercenaries coming from Germany and the United States, who quickly took over command. It took a year before a representative from Kosovo could be produced to represent the KLA publicly.

The new KLA began serious military operations % not only killing isolated Albanian and Serbian individuals but attacking government buildings and police stations. This open warfare could only be stopped by strong police measures. But when the government forces responded, the U.S. and NATO powers accused them of repression.

This became the excuse for their war on Yugoslavia.

Some reports indicate that there were objections to the «new» KLA from some of those who had called themselves the KLA early on. But they were quickly silenced. By the time of the Rambouillet talks in France, the U.S. government was openly declaring who were legitimate KLA representatives and who were not.

Today, according to various news reports including reports in Jane's Defense Weekly, KLA forces inside Kosovo include U.S. military Special Forces as well as British SAS forces. This is no liberation army. It is an arm of NATO's imperialist invasion of Yugoslavia.

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