tliat, “last car, sources in Jordan sa-, the Mukliaharat, the intelligencernseniee, alerted the C.I.A. to at least three plots h Bosnian-rnbased Islamic terrorists to attack U.S. targets in k’.urope.”rnWhile an elaborate Islamic terror nehvork was de elopingrnin Bosnia, Osairia bin Laden w as busy looking for freshrnopportunities in the Balkans. During the NATO war againstrnSerbia, in Ma- 1999, U.S. Sen. Jinr Inhofe warned that, ifrn.mcriean troops went into Kosovo, thev would be fightingrnalongside a terrorist organization known to finance its operationsrn\ idi drug sales —including some to die United States. h>rnhofe was one of the few legislators to complain that, h joiningrnhands with the KI A, the L^nited States would also become partnersrnwirii Osama bin Laden.rnSix monfiis before Hie NATO bombing, the Jerusalem Postrnreported that Bosnia was the first basfion of Llamic power in thernformer Yugoslavia, but Kosovo promised to be the secondrn(Steve Rodan, “Kosovo seen as new Llamic basfion,” Septemberrn14, 1998). Tlie Albanians had been provided with financialrnand militarv support from Islamic countries, the report confinued,rnand they were bolstered by hundreds oi mujahideen fromrnAlbania. “US defense officials say die support includes that ofrnOsama Bin Laden,” and die Defense Department confirmedrnthat bin Laden’s Al Qaeda organization supported Muslimrnfighters in both Bosnia and Kosovo. The report quoted sourcesrnin Washington as saving that the Clinton administration wasrnfullv aware of the Islamic militants’ activities in Bosnia andrnKosovo but had looked the other way: “The administrationrnwants to keep the lid on the pot at all costs. . . Needless to say,rnthe Luropeans have been c[rute upset bv this.”rnThe usuallv well-informed Israeli paper eorrecfiy sensed arnshift in U.S. policv that facilitated bin Laden’s acfivities. In ear-rnIv 1998, the State Department had listed the KLA as an internationalrnterrorist organization that supported itself throughrndrug profits and loans from terrorists like bin Laden. Bv the endrnof that vear, however, the policy had been reversed.rnThe KLA’s rehabilitafion in Washington went hand-in-handrnwith its growing links with Islamic radicals. The Sunday Timesrnof London reported on March 22, 1998, that Iranian Revolutionar)-rnGuards had joined forces with Osama bin Laden to supportrndie Albanian insurgency in Kosovo, hoping “to turn the regionrninto their main base for Islamic armed acfivity in Luropc.”rnBv November, the same paper confirmed that bin Laden’s terroristrnnetwork in Albania was regularly sending units to fightrnagainst Serbs in Kosovo. The paper pointed out that binrnLaden’s Albanian operation dated back to 1994, when it was establishedrnunder the guise of a Saudi humanitarian agency. Inrnthose earlv days, bin Laden’s group enjoyed the support of thenpremierrnSali Bcrisha (also an American “asset” at that time),rnand the main KLA training base was later established onrnBerisha’s properK’ in northern Albania.rnCorrectly sensing that the anti-Serb course of the Clinton adniinistrafionrnwould lead it to tolerate his acdvifies in Albaniarnand Kosovo, bin Laden issued a communique in August 1998rnlisting Serbia among “the worst infidel nations.” The conimunic|rnue faxed to Knight-Ridder from bin Laden’s supporters inrnLondon and translated from Arabic, boasted of “great victories”rnin Bosnia and Kosovo. As die United States was putting pressurernon Belgrade to accept the Clinton administration’s termsrnin Kosovo, the Times of London reported (November 26, 1998)rnthat the Islamic fighters who had “created havoc in the war inrnBosnia” were moving on to Kosovo. The links between Osamarnbin Laden and tiie KL, were i^icilitatcd bv the chaotic eondifionsrnin neighboring Albania, file Times went on, allowing Muslimrnfighters to settie there, often under the guise of hmnanitarianrnworkers.rn”Thev were terrorists in 1998 and now, because of politics,rndiev’re freedom fighters.” a top U.S. drng-enforcement officialrncomplained to the Washington Times in Mav 1999. Bv thatrnfime, the NATO bombing was in full swing, however, and thernmujdhideen were once again American allies. According to thernWashington Times,rnThe reports said bin Laden’s organization . . . has bothrntrained and finaneiallv supported die KLA Maiiv’ borderrncrossings into Kosovo bv “foreign fighters” also have beenrndocumented and include veterans of the militant grouprnIslamic Jihad from Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.rnManv of the crossings originated in neighboring Albaniarnand . . . included parties of up to 50 men.rnBin Laden has become an integral attachment to KLoperafions.rnIt is not surprising, therefore, that he has established arnpresence in Macedonia, the latest victim of flawed U.S. policy.rnThe Washington ‘Times reported on June 22 that tiie NLA (thernKL^ subsidiary in Macedonia) was largelv —but not exclusive-rnIv—dependent on flic drug trade: “In addition to drug monev,rndie Nf A also has anotiier prominent venture capitalist: Osamarnbin Laden.” ‘I’he sum supplied was estimated at between sixrnand seven million dollars over six months.rnThe net result is that American and oflier foreign peacekeepingrnforces in Kosovo and Macedonia are in real and presentrndanger from attacks bv Albanian Muslims. According to Israelirnintelligenee sources, anv Balkan movement against Americarnwould be coordinated by Ayiiian al-Zawahri, an Egyptianrndeputy to bin Laden. According to Stars and Stripes (Septemberrn30), “al-Zawahri was in Tirana, Albania, to organize such arnforce. It vvoidd draw upon members of flic Albanian underworldrnas well as Islamic extremists fliere and in Kosovo.” Thernsource insists that Osania’s followers are not Arabs but “Muslimsrnliving in the area” (i.e., Albanians). One U.S. governmentrnofficial, speaking on condition of anonymitv, told Stars andrnStripes that Albanian locals confirmed tiiat forces loyal to binrnLaden are camped in the hills.rnIn the aftermath of die attacks in New York and Washington,rnit is certainly desirable, and perhaps even possible, for the UnitedrnStates to devise an effective antiterrorist strategv’. This cannot berndone, however, unless there is a change in die policy that breedsrnterrorism. A decade of American covert and overt support for diernMuslims in die fonner Yugoslav ia has been a foreign-policv disaster,rndetrimental to peace in the Balkans and to American interests.rnIts beneficiaries are Osama bin Laden and his coreligionistsrnin Sarajevo, Tirana, Pristina, and Tetovo. If we are to take thern”war on terrorism” seriously, die mistakes of the past need to bernrecognized and rectified. The Bush adniinistrafion should investigaterndie facts of this case, name die instigators of such policies inrnWashington, and ensure diat none of diem remain in anv positionsrnof responsibility. Once tiicy are removed, it will be possible,rnat last, to recognize tiiat the Balkan policy of successive U.S. administrationsrn—the policy that made bin Laden’s entrenehnieiitrnin die Balkans not only po.ssible but inevitable—was fundamentallyrnflawed and requires urgent revision. trnornatrnornHHrn»rni-3rnI—Irn>rnDECEMBER 2001/2 5rnrnrn