Last week the prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague demanded 25 years imprisonment for Ramush Haradinaj and two of his closest collaborators. The indictment is dealing with incidents in 1998 that led to an escalation of tension in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo and served to legitimize NATO's aggression in March 1999. These incidents took place in the mountainous Dukagjin region in Western Kosovo bordering Albania and Montenegro, the home of the Haradinaj-Clan. In 1997 and 1998, "the Haradinaj family estate (...) had been expanded to become a command headquarters for the KLA," reports the journalist Boris Kanzleiter in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com. Kanzleiter has been doing research in the countries of the former Yugoslavia since several years.
The indictment of the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague charges Haradinaj, who, in 1998, commanded KLA operations in the Dukagjin region from his family estate and his close collaborators: "The common criminal purpose of the JCE (Joint Criminal Enterprise) was to consolidate the total control of the KLA over the Dukagjin Operational Zone by the unlawful removal and mistreatment of Serb civilians and by the mistreatment of Kosovar Albanian and Kosovar Roma/Egyptian civilians, and other civilians, who were, or were perceived to have been, collaborators with the Serbian Forces or otherwise not supporting the KLA." The indictment also states: "over the course of several days following 19 April 1998, KLA attacks forced out or killed virtually every Serb civilian remaining in the KLA controlled parts of the Dukagjin Operational Zone." The murders were aimed at the elimination of all non-Albanian members of the population to edify an "ethnically pure" state structure.
All the Way to Germany
Following the end of NATO's war against Yugoslavia in 1999, Haradinaj transformed his consolidated positions, established with the help of the KLA during the aggression, into a political power base. In 2000 he founded his own political party, the "Alliance for the Future of Kosova" (AAK). In December 2004 he was even elected Prime Minister of Kosovo, but had to vacate that position in March 2005 because of his trial pending in The Hague. Even today in Kosovo, Haradinej is seen as the leader of an influential group in organized crime (OC). The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND - Bundesnachrichtendienst) classified him in 2005 as a "key player" in the network between politics, business and internationally operating OC structures in Kosovo. The BND drew the conclusion that Haradinej's network of smugglers was operating "throughout the Balkans", extending "into Greece, Italy, Switzerland and all the way to Germany."
Close Partner and Friend
Irregardless, the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) maintains very close ties to Haradenej. The former head of UNMIK, Sören Jessen-Petersen referred to him as a "close partner and friend". Boris Kanzleiter told german-foreign-policy.com, "Jessen-Petersen's successor, the German diplomat, Joachim Ruecker, also has a close relationship to him. Ruecker reinforced Haradinaj's position prior to the opening of the trial in The Hague through an ostentatious meeting with him in Pristina. "Over the past few days, accusations were made that high-ranking UNMIK functionaries were directly involved in the intimidation of witnesses," says Kanzleiter. These accusations are to be taken seriously in light of the fact that last year a witness against Haradinaj was killed in an unsolved auto accident. Back in 2002 three witnesses and two investigating officials were assassinated in the context of the trial against Haradinaj's clan.
Contrary to what one could be led to believe through the trial in The Hague, Haradinaj's activities in Kosovo are not out of the ordinary. Several German security administrations' reports have been published in excerpts. They point out that there are several powerful Mafia organizations seeking to attain political offices in the southern Serbian province that is preparing to postulate its statehood. In a study contracted by the Bundeswehr (German military) and completed at the beginning of 2007, it was reported that "under the noses of the international community, several multi-million Euro organizations have developed out of old KLA structures" linking political ambitions with their criminal activities and "exercising extensive control over the governmental machinery." Back in 2005, the BND named several people with leading positions in the organized crime of Kosovo, including the current Prime Minister and a member of the current parliamentary executive board.
Straight From Berlin
Up to now this information of the security administration has had no consequences. Meanwhile complaints of an insufficient prosecution of suspected Kosovo criminals are even being heard in Germany. The publicist Juergen Roth reported in 2006: "already in the summer of 2005, the State Offices of Criminal Investigation of Bavaria and Lower Saxony tried to convince the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to open a centralized investigation concerning the known [Kosovo-Albanian - author's note] clans and individuals in Germany" because "many criminal culprits from the entourage of the KLA have settled in Germany." "Yet this demand was refused, even though the Austrian Federal Office of Investigation and the Italian police strongly insisted that their German colleagues finally initiate these investigations. The rejection (...) - according to a confidential source in the Austrian Federal Office of Criminal Investigation - came straight from the Interior Ministry in Berlin."
In fact, back in the 1990s, Germany was used by former KLA commanders and present day Mafia bosses for their preparations of the secessionist struggle against Belgrade - which is an often used explanation for the current conspicuous impunity. According to Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, a specialist on intelligence services, the KLA was being financed "with millions since the beginning of the 90s mostly originating from Albanians in exile in the USA, Switzerland and Germany." "These activities were not just tolerated, they were massively supported"  writes the publicist Juergen Roth, "leading, to say the least, to political friendships."
Roth dealt also with a Kosovo Albanian family clan from Northern Germany that was suspected of involvement in the KLA financing in the latter part of the 90s. The clan is also accused of various illegal dealings. The accusations have yet to be finalized through the court. Still, according to research presented by KFOR, the clan had close business relations with Ramush Haradinaj, on trial in The Hague, occasionally through high-ranking contacts in government circles. According to Roth, "both the former German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel (in 1998) and later the director of the BND, August Hanning, met with the head of the Northern German clan." Today Hanning is State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior.
Please read our interview with Boris Kanzleiter.