JC Martínez: Kosovo – NATO bases and ISIS training camps side-by-side in the land Washington and Brussels tore from Christian Serbia to hand to Islamist terrorists.
Five ISIS training camps embedded like poisonous leeches in the underbelly of Europe. And one of them is within walking distance of the largest American military base outside of the USA. The place? Kosovo. And this deadly dangerous scandal is yet another example of how aggressive American and EU foreign policy adventures have played a central role in creating the Frankenstein monster known as Daesh.
The threat developed after Nato forces bombed and invaded Serbia in order to stop the Serbian military putting down a bloody Islamist rebellion in the Serbian province of Kosovo, which had been steadily Islamised by the mass immigration of Albanian Muslims over previous decades.
The 1999 Nato campaign led to the establishment of the independent sectarian Islamist state which has since made repeated efforts to ethnically cleanse the last Serbs from the ancient heartland of their own nation. With the exception of Greece, all NATO members were involved to some degree, although the USA, Britain and Germany were the worst offenders.
After forcing the Serbian to hand Kosovo over to the Islamist terrorists of the so-called Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA) – including thousands of Salafist volunteers from the Middle East – the USA and Italy used the ‘need’ to protect the new Islamist regime from Serbia as an excuse to set up military bases. The American base Camp Bondsteel – pictured above – is the largest US military facility outside of the USA.
The Islamist enclave is not, however, merely home to Nato bases. According to intelligence sources quoted by Sputnik, Kosovo also houses at least five ISIS training camps, one of them just a few miles from Bondsteel.
In these camps, ethnic Albanian and other Islamist terrorists are trained by former KLA fighters, the so-called ‘heroes’ of the war on Christian Serbia. The presence of fundamentalist cells in the Balkans was already is well known (two years ago the Italian newspaper Espresso revealed that there were around twenty in the whole region) but the latest news shows that the threat is now even higher.
In Kosovo’s ISIS training camps, aspiring jihadists study Arabic and the Koran, learn to handle weapons, and practice shooting and making IEDs while learning guerrilla techniques in the woods.
The main training camps set up by the Islamic State are Ferizaj, Gjakovica and Dečani, while smaller ones have been identified in Prizren and Pejë. Their existence suggests that – at best – Nato has failed completely in the drive to prevent the spread of Islamic radicalism, or – at worst – that there are actually hidden links between the Islamist training camps and their Nato neighbours.
The most outrageous example is the ISIS camp in Ferizaj, a city of 100,000 inhabitants near the border with Macedonia, which is just a few miles from the US Camp Bondsteel. Built in 1999 during the war, with a 14km perimeter, this is currently the largest and most expensive American base built outside the United States since the Vietnam War. It is home to an estimated seven thousand soldiers and civilian employees.
Yet, far from this being a deterrent to radical Islam, Ferizaj has become a notorious hotbed of Jihadism. In August 2014, in the largest operation ever conducted by the Kosovo authorities, 11 of the 40 terrorists arrested were from Ferizaj. Worryingly, just as most key ISIS figures in Iraq and Syria are ‘graduates’ of CIA-run American holding centres, the same pattern emerges around Bondsteel. Lavdrim Muhaxheri, the commander of the notorious “Balkan Brigade” in the ISIS Caliphate, used to work in Bondsteel. His terror gang is well-known for its atrocities, including executions posted Facebook. Blerim Heta, a suicide bomber who detonated himself in a massive blast in Baghdad, was also a Bondsteel worker.
The US strategic agenda for Kosovo is primarily military, Bondsteel is one of a string of so-called forward operating bases , “lily pads”. as Donald Rumsfeld called them, for military action to the east and south. US-NATO military control of Kosovo also serves several other purposes for Washington’s greater geo-strategic agenda. First it enables greater US control over potential oil and gas pipeline routes into the EU from the Caspian and Middle East as well as control of the transport corridors linking the EU to the Black Sea.
It also protects the multi-billion dollar heroin trade, which, significantly, has grown to record dimensions in Afghanistan according to UN narcotics officials, since the US occupation. Kosovo and Albania are major heroin transit routes into Europe. According to a 2008 US State Department annual report on international narcotics traffic, several key drug trafficking routes pass through the Balkans. Kosovo is mentioned as a key point for the transfer of heroin from Turkey and Afghanistan to Western Europe. Those drugs flow under the watchful eye of the Thaci government.
Since its dealings with the Meo tribesmen in Laos during the Vietnam era, the CIA has protected narcotics traffic in key locations in order partly to finance its covert operations. The scale of international narcotics traffic today is such that major US banks such as Citigroup are reported to derive a significant share of their profits from laundering the proceeds.
Meanwhile, in Gjakovica, near the border with Albania: the airport is also the national headquarters of the Italian Air Force in Kosovo. But while the warplanes there helped establish Kosovo, they are apparently incapable of dealing with the ISIS training camp on their doorstep.
Nato also has a strong presence in Just like in Pejë and Prizren. Some of their forces do try to protect the Unesco world heritage fourteenth-century Serbian Orthodox monastery in Decani from the threat of ethnic Albanian violence. In January, four men were stopped at the entrance and found in possession, on board of their car, a Kalashnikov, a pistol and several ammunition. Where were they from? Three of the four came from Kosovan cities in which there are training camps: Ferizaj, Prizren and Gjakovica.
Figures provided in recent days by the Kosovan Interior Minister, Skender Hyseni, give a clue as to how much this threat has been under-estimated: At least 57 foreign fighters were killed in combat with security forces, forty were stopped before they could leave the country, 102 were arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity and 17 others are under investigation. In total, the ISIS contingent is said to include some 300 ethnic Albanians, together with 38 women and 27 children.
All this in a small region of two million poor people, just a few hundred kilometres from the Italian border and unrestricted travel throughout the entire Schengen zone. And it’s all thanks to a Nato military intervention which was supposedly intended to bring security and peaceful coexistence to the country.
Last week five men were sentenced in Pristina for terrorist offences, with sentences ranging from 4 to 13 years in prison. The Jihadists had sworn allegiance to ISIS and were preparing a video to be distributed to demonstrate the presence of Islamic State in the country. It bears out the graffiti found last March on the facade of the city’s Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas: “Isis is coming”.
All this on the twelfth anniversary of the ethnic cleansing violence of 2004 in which dozens of Serbian minority churches, monasteries and community centres were attacked, looted and set ablaze.
According to prosecutors in a trial of the Jihadi cell in Brescia last December, their aim is simple: To break Europe and impose Sharia law on the ruins. If they do so, the Nato campaign to act as the air force of the Islamist Kosovan Liberation Army will clearly have played an important part in creating the conditions for such a disaster to occur. The only question is whether the close geographical proximity of the resulting Nato and ISIS bases is just an accident, or evidence of something very much more sinister.