Ex-Security Chief Blows Whistle on UN's Kosovo Mission
By Sherrie Gossett
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
September 27, 2005
(CNSNews.com) - Following five years of United Nations control and billions of dollars of international aid, Kosovo is a lawless region "owned" by the Albanian mafia, characterized by continuing ethnic cleansing and subject to increasing infiltration by al Qaeda-linked Muslim jihadists, according to a whistleblower interviewed by Cybercast News Service.
The U.N.'s repeated failure to act on received intelligence has allowed illegal paramilitary groups to flourish and engage in terrorist attacks aimed at destabilizing regional governments in the Balkans, said Thomas Gambill, a former security chief with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), self-described as the world's largest regional security agency.
Gambill was responsible for overseeing the eastern region of Gjilane in Kosovo from 1999 until 2004 under the authority of the U.N. His criticism comes as the United Nations prepares to launch final status talks on the troubled province of Kosovo, which has been a U.N. protectorate since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces bombed Yugoslavia between March and May of 1999 to compel the Serb-dominated government of Slobodan Milosovic to withdraw its forces from Kosovo.
The U.S. mission in Kosovo alone cost $5.2 billion between June 1999 and the end of 2001, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.....
....Gambill said he tried to explain the regional mafia structure, however, U.S. and Russian delegates in the audience complained about the content of Gambill's speech. As a result, he said, OSCE headquarters in Pristina sent a message to Gambill's regional superiors with the message, "Shut Tom up."
"You couldn't get up in front of meetings and say, 'We've lost control of [Kosovo], the mafia controls it,'" said Gambill. "But they do. They run the damn place."
Gambill cited OSCE data that showed 42 mafia leaders had moved into Kosovo in the wake of the NATO bombing in order to set up criminal organizations. They continued to thrive despite efforts to establish mature law enforcement operations in the province, he said.
"Drug smuggling, counterfeiting, weapons, human trafficking were all booming when I was there," said Gambill. He also alleged that high-level mafia leaders are in senior political positions.
"Good cops," who want to target the corruption are "under threat," said Gambill, adding that the Albanian mafia maintains ties with Russian, Serbian, Croatian and Italian mafia organizations to further their common agendas.
Gambill also warned his U.N. superiors that the newly formed paramilitary group, the Albanian National Army, was "highly dangerous and skilled" and operating in Kosovo as well as northwestern Macedonia. But those warnings, he said, were also met with disbelief.
Within months, the Albanian National Army was taking credit for terrorist attacks, prompting the U.N. to acknowledge the group's existence.
Now Kosovo has entered what Gambill calls "The Fifth Phase," characterized by attacks against the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) itself. A September warning from UNMIK to staff members warns, "Before you turn on your vehicle, inspect it all around, to see if anything is unusual or suspicious." The warning followed the blowing up of an UNMIK vehicle.
"UNMIK Out!" reads the graffiti seen on many buildings in Kosovo.
A field officer currently working with the U.N. Mission in the Kosovo area spoke with Cybercast News Service on condition of anonymity. After noting that the explosives used by al Qaeda terrorists in the March 2004 Madrid bombing attacks had come from the Balkans, he stated: "I sit here watching special patrol groups surveying and doing nothing. How many more people will die; whilst terrorists rest and recuperate here in the not so moderate Muslim regions of the Balkans theatre?"
"The cat and mouse game is coming to an end," the field officer noted. "Kosovo is saturated with extremists so NATO [may] pull out before it all blows up in their faces. War on Terror! [It's] more like support [of] terror!"
"My biggest concern has always been the incursion of radical Islam into the area," said Gambill. "They're making preparations in Macedonia for terrorist attacks against internationals if Kosovo is not granted independence."
If the United Nations recommends against independence, Gambill said, it will spur the Saudis to increase their involvement in the region. "They've got the money, they've got the power. They'll remind Kosovars that they are their true friends. And they'll help the extremists fight and prepare terrorist attacks against internationals and even NATO troops stationed there," Gambill told Cybercast News Service.