By Julia Gorin
As George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice court Albania and Albania-to-be (Kosovo) – discussing Albania’s entry into NATO, Kosovo’s independence and any number of other cooperative military, intelligence and economic agreements –
explosives were found Wednesday in two places in downtown Tirana, one close to the U.S. Embassy, days before the U.S. president is due to visit, police said.
A plastic bag containing a few grams of explosives was found at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) in a courtyard at the economics faculty of Tirana University, about 100 meters (yards) from the U.S. Embassy, according to a police statement. Experts later carried out a controlled explosion.
Half an hour later, a package containing 30 grams (1 ounce) of explosives was found at
Mother Teresa Square, near the office of President Alfred Moisiu…Albanian and
U.S. intelligence services are collaborating closely ahead of the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush June 10.
Bush is the first
U.S. president to visit
Albania. No previous administration felt the country worthy of attention from the chief executive. What’s changed? The answer lies in the very special nature of our new and tightening friendship with
Albania, which demands our attention not because it’s such a good friend – as our politicians tell us – but because it’s a growing threat. Here’s what’s wrong with drawing closer to Our Friends the Albanians, which we’re doing in our relentless pursuit to find, as Chronicles foreign editor Srdja Trifkovic calls it, “user-friendly Islam.”
Albania is at least 70 percent Muslim, and its having had a “secular tradition” (thanks to Communist suppression) makes us think we’ve finally found the ultimate Muslim ally against Islamic terrorism — as well as a stick to be used when needed against other global powers.
During this stage of America-Albania love, Albania has been reciprocating by doing us favors, such as taking in five Chinese Muslims (“Uigurs”) who were released last year from the Guantanamo Bay camp (but couldn’t go back to China, where they’d be persecuted).
Albania later also accepted released Egyptian, Uzbek, and Algerian detainees when the
U.S. was having a hard time finding an admitting country.
Albania isn’t keeping a log of any and all favors it’s doing for
Washington. And Muslim countries – no matter how “nominally” so – consider fighting terror, even on their own soil, a concession to the “American” War on Terror, or else we wouldn’t have to constantly twist their arms to clamp down on terrorism, which they’ve allowed to fester for decades.
Albania is putting on the wily Arafat smile to the West, and
America is getting enmeshed with yet another two-faced country whose alliance we’re setting ourselves up to need. The end result will be
America in thrall to yet another Muslim country that’ll make Bush its fool.
The discovery of the bombs just days before Bush’s scheduled visit to Tirana recalls former Defense Secretary William Cohen’s trip to Albania in 1999 when, within a month of our 78-day bombardment of Serbia, he had to cancel the visit “to avoid a ‘hornets’ nest’ of Osama bin Laden operatives,” as CNN reported at the time:
U.S. officials have said that bin Laden’s organization is believed to be in the final stages of planning a terrorist attack against
U.S. interests somewhere in the world. His operatives are known to have been active in
Albania, a predominantly Muslim nation, as well as in
Africa and other areas.
The current prime minister of Albania is Sali Berisha, at whose offices in 1995 a meeting took place between Osama bin Laden and Kosovo politico Hashim Thaci and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who is praised by the State Department and vested members of Congress (Lantos, Engel and Wexler) as “impressive” and “worthy.”
The thinking seems to be still that these people can be controlled, that “they’re pit bulls, but they’re our pit bulls.” However, the West hasn’t been able to control even double agents directly in its pay – such as London Tube bombing ringleader Haroon Rashid Aswat. According to former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus:
…[B]ack in the late 1990s, the leaders [of the attack] all worked for British intelligence in Kosovo. Believe it or not, British intelligence actually hired some Al-Qaeda guys to help defend the Muslim rights in
Albania and in Kosovo…
Back in 1999 [Aswat] came to
America. The Justice Department wanted to indict him in Seattle because him and his buddy were trying to set up a terrorist training school in Oregon…we’ve just learned that the headquarters of the US Justice Department ordered the Seattle prosecutors not to touch Aswat…[because] apparently Aswat was working for British intelligence.
U.S. protects KLA heroin factories from investigation by other foreign powers, al-Qaeda draws much of its funding from that very narcotics trade. (
U.S. military vehicles “have actually transported narcotics from Kosovo into
Western Europe,” writes Defense & Foreign Affairs’ Gregory Copley.) The post-Soviet Albanian version of capitalism, meanwhile, is 1990s Russian gangsterism, cubed. According to Copley, their sex-slave, heroin and arms trades aside:
Stolen cars from all around
Europe…are “re-processed” in Kosovo, and given new papers, before being re-exported to places such as
Albania. One such car was used for some time by the Albanian Interior Minister, until a few years ago, before, on a visit to
Greece, it was identified because of an Interpol alert, and seized by Greek authorities and taken from the Albanian Interior Minister. As well, electrical goods and household fittings removed from the homes of Kosovo Serbs, who have been driven from the area, are on sale through a major network of retail outlets in
All the while, we’ve been diligently sidelining, muzzling and alienating a natural ally against terrorism – the country that started fighting terror on its soil before it was the ‘in’ thing to do and without
Washington’s approval –
In an article about the Fort Dix plot, titled “That Flapping Sound You Hear” (is chickens coming home to roost), William Lind — Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation – concludes, “Overseas, the return to a world of cultures in violent conflict means cultural solidarity…Serbia should be an ally, Moslem Albania not.”
But that doesn’t seem to be the plan. Instead, the
U.S. proposes peaceful coexistence with Muslim rule, and possibly the “soft Islamization” that
Europe is increasingly resigned to, so that the
U.S. can have three terrorist allies in
Bosnia). All so we can eventually make friends with the jihadists, as Tom Lantos expects.
In Bosnia, meanwhile, the Muslim member of the country’s three-person presidency, Haris Silajdzic, is fostering radical Islam and protecting terrorists connected to al-Qaeda by “using his influence and his party’s infrastructure to treat terrorism as isolated incidents, instead of being put on the agenda as a real problem,” as one moderate Bosnian publicist complained last month.
Albania, the parliament has accommodated an American request to allow U.S. Marines to be the only armed corps guarding Bush, but this “has been seen by some in
Albania as an insult to their security forces,” reports Reuters. “
Albania’s formal elite escort for visiting dignitaries, the Republican Guard, will not be allowed to carry guns on the day.” The measure “allows more than 500 combat-ready
U.S. troops entry into the country, and sanctions their use of ‘force proportionate to any possible threat.’”
“Please Occupy Us,” read a sarcastic headline in the country’s biggest paper, which said the decision implies that Albanians are “unworthy of being masters of their own house.”
How little do you have to trust these new friends who have a “special affection” for the
U.S., as Reuters and the rest call it, to disarm their elite guard – and fly in your own small army for protection?
Secretary Rice has been unequivocal in affirming that Kosovo won’t remain part of
Serbia. With the Bush administration continuing on the Clinton path, and as the fatal blowback continues over the next months and decades, the blame will fall on Rice and Bush rather than on the original authors of our disastrous Balkan policies, Albright and Clinton. By not changing course after 9/11, the Bushes are making their own bed for us all to lie in, and proving the opposite of the famous Bush maxim: Indeed, you can be with us and with the terrorists.