Illegal organisations in Kosovo?


SUN, 02 JAN 2000

Pristina, 14 December, 1999 - In the past few days international and domestic agencies and organisations in Kosovo had the opportunity to get acquatinted with activities of certain illegal Albanian organisations. They do not seem to be surprised. Representatives of international civilian administration officially declare that they have not been informed about the existence of such organisations until now. Albanian officials are still silent although this is broadly discussed in public and by far more in private contacts among people. Pressured by fear of eruption of all forms of crime, especially kidnapping of girls and children of both sexes, the impression is that among ordinary people despite possible uncertainty, feelings of inclination prevail among ordinary people. However, these are the feelings of the helpless who in the present situation do not see who could put a stop to the increasingly aggressive and organised crime.

The first instances of illegal activities were registered two-three months ago, at first in the region of Klina, more precisely on the road between Klina and Djakovica and then in almost all parts of Kosovo. Groups or individuals wearing masks occasionally introduced themselves as representatives or new or the original Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves (Kosovo Liberation Army - KLA). Despite such introduction, because they plundered, ill-treated and threatened people, they were considered by the public to be criminal groups of robbers and the individuals ordinary criminals. Except for statements of the people who had directly suffered from their foul dealings, there were no other information about these people with masks. At the time there was no kidnapping of girls, children and others. This is a new development and it has been alarming people only in the past few weeks. These men were also wearing masks, but it seems that these are new groups of criminals. After much pressure exerted by the public, representatives of international police bothered to give just certain basic details which offer faint hope that in the future more will be done to stop the spiral of crime from expanding. The details about it were published after a few operations of the units of protection forces of Kosovo in the regions of Mitrovica and Prizren in which about 30 persons suspected of serious crimes were arrested.

The commands of the protection forces which are in charge turned over the arrested to the international police and KFOR and made public the identity and places of residence of majority of the arrested. Identity was kept secret only in cases when it was estimated that it would be in the interest of the investigation. That is how for the first time after six months of KFORís stay in Kosovo, a few days ago, persistent silence was broken of the official agencies about the forms of crime that have caused panic among the population of Kosovo.

In the Albanian public, among political groups and organisations, the attitude has spread that UNMIK is not capable of dealing with crime and that it should accept co-operation and the assistance of protection forces of Kosovo and units of the police that the Kosovo interim government of Hashim Thaci has at its disposal. There were also quite a few proposals on self-organisation of the population and even actual steps were taken in this respect in some places. Minister of public order in Thaciís government Rexhep Selimi declared to Kosovo television that they could comparatively easily stop the currently growing crime rate and violence in Kosovo.

UNMIK police does not seem to attribute any special significance to this. Its representatives speak about unnecessary panic and say that they can do little to help if the population refuses to cooperate with the police. The impression is that the police stipulates cooperation of the population as a precondition for its action. Occasionally representatives of KFOR say something similar and this has started to sound as a form of political pressure. On the other hand, among the Albanians who are engaged in this business it is possible to hear that certain representatives of the international police have been telling them that they had not come here to die in Kosovo.

The course of developments indicates that the current unenviable situation may easily become by far more complicated in the coming weeks and month. Apart from men with masks who are since a few weeks ago marked as kidnappers of children and girls, in the beginning of December two until now unknown secret Albanian organisations presented themselves to the public through newspapers. It is interesting that they came out with clearly political objectives among which struggle against crime ranks quite high, and one of them even proclaimed it its only aim and raison díetre.

The first presented itself with the name AIK. It is the abbreviation of its full name: Agjensia Intelegjente e Kosoves (Intelligence Agency of Kosovo). In its first statement for the public which is dated 4 December this year and which was called the inaugural statement - 01 addressed to the daily in Albanian Koha Ditore it is said that AIK presented itself to the public on the occasion of the first anniversary of its foundation. It is explained that the purpose of its foundation was to prevent the enemyís (Serbian) intention to kill (Albanian) activists and high military officers, probably meaning officers of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Among other, the following is also stated: "Objectives of AIK will continue to be prevention of destructive activities of foreign intelligence services in relation to the efforts of the Kosovar people to establish their independent state, detection, unmasking and removal of every Kosovar who wishes Kosovo to become a puppet formation, restraining and warning of politicians, merchants, civil servants and all the others who intentionally or unintentionally participate in creation of chaos and anarchy in Kosovar society and merciless persecution of bands, kidnappers and every other form of crime which make the Kosovar society appear unstable and unpromising for foreign investments". After declaring that it would defend democratic values and respect freedom of expression, freedom of the press and different ethnic groups, religions, races and parties, the following is also said in the statement: "AIK will inform the public in due time about the names and family names of all of those who have manifested quite a lot of will to present the Kosovar society as incapable and immature to run and maintain a state. If they do not cease with such activities within the set period of time about which they will be informed in writing, the listed person shall be removed by specific and resolute action".

The other secret organisation, Shqiponja Kombetare (National Eagle) announced their existence via an anonymous telephone call to the Kosova Sot (Kosovo Today) daily in Albanian. A female voice informed the editorial office on 8 December that death penalty had been executed of a "criminal" from Albania and that his body was left at a certain place. Concerning the place and the body, the information proved to be true as well as other data such as his age, name, citizenship, criminal acts and the group he headed. The anonymous voice on the telephone said that the shot man had "according to his own testimony" participated in 42 cases of kidnapping girls in the region of Prizren and Djakovica and that members of his group were continuing with criminal activities. The telephone call, as carried by Kosova Sot daily, ended with expression of resoluteness to go on with executions of such criminals.

There were no official reactions of Kosovo Albanians to the appearance of these organisations, nor to the phenomenon of secret activities of the Albanians. Only the spokesman of the fifth zone of TMK declared in answer to certain speculations that they had never heard anything of the organisation Shqiponja Kombetare. Representatives of KFOR and the international police gave identical statements. It was said the UNMIK police was the only organisation responsible for security and investigation of crime in Kosovo. Appealing on the population not to cooperate with organisations such as Shqiponja Kombetare, representative of UNMIK Daniela Rozgonova said that that organisation was illegal and that its executions would be considered to be murders. There have been no reactions to the appearance of AIK so far.

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