Trump and a terrorist make for strange bedfellows

Trump and a terrorist make for strange bedfellows
If you can fight fire with fire, can you, by analogy, fight terrorism with terrorists?

In late February, Kadri Veseli, “speaker of the parliament” of Serbia’s breakaway Kosovo province tweeted a photo of himself with American President Donald Trump. Kosovo state television promptly pronounced their “meeting” as historic.”

Other Albanian-language media in Kosovo quoted Veseli bragging that he was the only Balkan leader so far to have met with the “most powerful man in world politics,” and this bit of “news” was broadly disseminated throughout the simmering Balkan region.

However, no record of such a meeting exists either on the official site of the White House or on President Trump’s own Twitter account. Evidence says that it was a photo-op. Or perhaps even Photoshop, as Veseli’s left arm seems to overlap the president’s right arm just a tad too much…

In case it’s the former, the question is, did Mr. Trump even know who was standing next to him? For the sake of his administration’s announced war against terrorism, let’s hope not. For, just days after the “historic meeting” between Trump and Veseli, Kosovo’s “Bota Sot” newspaper re-published a list from 2014 by NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, with more than 150 names of members of the Kosovo Albanian SHIK secret service, referring to it as a death squad responsible for numerous murders, violence, and war crimes committed during 1998 and 1999.

Among the names on the list? None other than Kadri Veseli, listed as “director of SHIK,” who also went under the alias of “Luli.”

This is not the first time that Veseli’s name has been tied to very dangerous criminal and terrorist activity. In 2010, he prominently figured in an extensive report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.” According to the report, as part of the “Drenica Group” terror and crime organization, Veseli was among those “investigated repeatedly in the last decade as suspects in war crimes or organized criminal enterprises, including in major cases led by prosecutors under UNMIK, the ICTY27, and EULEX.”

In addition, the report said that “first-hand sources alone have credibly implicated” Veseli, together with other members of the group’s inner circle, “in having ordered – and in some cases personally overseen – assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations in various parts of Kosovo and, of particular interest to our work, in the context of KLA-led operations on the territory of Albania, between 1998 and 2000.”

In February 1998, former US President Bill Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the Kosovo Liberation Army or KLA as, “without any questions, a terrorist group.” This, however, did not subsequently prevent the Clinton administration and NATO from insisting that the Yugoslav government accept the terror group as a negotiating partner, and then training and closely cooperating with it before, during and after NATO’s illegal 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, which set the stage for Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence.

According to a 2006 Council on Foreign Relations background paper, “The KLA engaged in tit-for-tat attacks with Serbian nationalists in Kosovo, reprisals against ethnic Albanians who ‘collaborated’ with the Serbian government and bombed police stations and cafes known to be frequented by Serb officials, killing innocent civilians in the process. Most of its activities were funded by drug running.”

However, after the bombing and the deployment of thousands of NATO troops to Kosovo, the KLA was “transformed” into the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps, and began working alongside NATO forces patrolling the province. Currently, having been “transformed” once more – the various recent re-brandings of Al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Syria into an innocuously sounding “opposition” comes to mind here – “Kosovo Security Force,” the repackaged KLA terrorist force is eagerly awaiting its final transformation, into the “Kosovo Army.” Need we say – with NATO’s full blessing, support and training.

As for Kadri Veseli, while his terrorist comrades were busy “transforming” into a regular, NATO-allied army, he has obviously been “transforming” himself – need we say it? – with the active support of NATO/EU member states, into a “respectable” politician. Just like his boss and current Kosovo “president,” Hashim Thaqi, himself a regular talking partner with many Brussels bureaucrats.

This despite the fact that, according to the above-mentioned Council of Europe document, “in confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaqi and other members of his ‘Drenica Group’ as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics.” And, even more gruesomely, despite the fact that Thaqi’s and Veseli’s group is implicated in the “forcible extraction” and subsequent trafficking of human organs from prisoners primarily set aside for that purpose, from whom organs were “forcibly extracted” while they were still alive.

Just so that there is no mistaking the sources of this information – it was obtained by the Council of Europe from “intelligence services from several Western European countries, law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States, and analysts of several nationalities working within NATO structures.”

Seeing the trouble that Mr. Trump is currently having reigning in his own intelligence and security agencies, it wouldn’t be unfair to assume that he had no idea who the “gentleman” with the beaming smile that stood for a quick photo(shop?) with him really was. So that’s just one more reason to root for “draining the swamp” in Washington. And, hopefully after that, NATO itself.

In any case, phone conversations with Russian diplomats trump being in bed with terrorists and organ traffickers any day.

Aleksandar Pavic for RT.

Aleksandar Pavic, is a former presidential adviser in the Bosnian Serb Republic of Srpska and a political analyst and author, whose writings have appeared in Serbian, Russian and US media.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.