In 2008, three weeks after Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Carla Del Ponte, a past prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, published a book, Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, which had an incendiary effect. In response to her book, media reports focused on one claim: that the Kosovo Liberation Army was a “joint criminal enterprise that had abducted more than 300 Serbs, Roma, Albanians and people from other ethnic groups from whom vital organs were removed and sold to clinics abroad.” These allegations mobilized all parties who were involved in denouncing NATO’s military intervention against Serbia.
Unfortunately, people were all too willing to accept Ponte’s indictment at face value. In my book, I hope to provide an analysis of the specific historical context from which these accusations emerged and explain how, why, and by whom the human organ trafficking affair was contrived
Shedding light on the context of Ponte’s allegations (and their uncritical reception by diverse audiences) enables us to see the objectives of Ponte and her adherents. In this book, we will come to understand how these motives are embedded in particular political and ideological positions, especially of those who saw the military intervention for the termination of genocidal policies in Kosovo as an attempt to justify American imperialism in Europe. Anti-Americanism mobilized communists, socialists, social-democrats, and neo-fascists, historians and political scientists, philosophers and sociologists, journalists and publicists, from both the left and the right in the defense of Europe from American intervention. Ponte’s accusations did little to illuminate the tragic reality faced by the Albanians of Kosovo and instead framed the issue apolitically as an act of organized crime. This deflection worked effectively as a strategy to conceal the traces of genocidal crime.
In order to unmask the maneuvers used by those who deny the genocide in Kosovo, we must first understand the international conventions that constitute the legal basis of international criminal law in determining what is or is not genocide. This is essential in order to demonstrate how ethnic cleansing, sexual violence and killings, and the physical and biological abuse of the Albanians of Kosovo aiming at their wholesale or partial destruction, constituted genocide. This enables us to see the ways in which the concealment of criminal evidence and the denial of the government’s power to annihilate the Albanians of Kosovo is an inseparable part of a system that aims at the obliteration of the truth about the genocide.
The Milosevic regime, aware that the killing of innocent civilians during the armed conflict was mobilizing international institutions in the region as well as thousands of nongovernmental human rights organizations, applied a “new” strategy during the Kosovo war. In this maneuver, the ones to blame for the killing of innocent civilians were the Albanians. To support this grand design, the Serbian state security compiled a paper called “The White Book: The Terrorism of the Albanian separatists in Kosovo and Metohija”, which was published in English and French in September 1998. In a strategy that has been used successfully by countless political groups, this defamatory material was disseminated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “free of charge” to significant institutions dealing with international relations, state institutions of UN member countries, international media, university libraries, and important public figures from different intellectual backgrounds.
A version of this White Book was republished by the Milosevic regime in 1999 and 2000. In 2001 and 2003 it underwent changes to make it more persuasive to international political audiences, that is, the book was modified, enlarged, and republished by the new regime in Belgrade. Continuing this strategy, many stories were published that purported to describe the killing of civilians and the ones responsible for killing them. For this reason the first three chapters of Part One of my book, dealing with the issue of genocide in Kosovo are dedicated to the three cases of civilian homicides which gained the most publicity in the media: “The Klecka Case,” “The Panda Bar Case,” and “The Recak Case.” A careful examination of these three cases together with the killings that occurred during the operation “Horseshoe” demonstrate that the consequences of the Kosovo war resulted from the policy of genocide against Albanians that was implemented by the Serbian state.
Part one of the book explains the social and historical context that led to the engagement of a number of anti-American intellectuals in assisting Serbian Security Services to serve the aims of the regime by disseminating official and unofficial propaganda.
Part two of the book, dedicated to the regime’s strategies for marketing Serbian propaganda, deals with its portrayal of Albanian society as feudal, organized in clans. This model was used by the Milosevic regime as a foundation for its interpretation of the events in Kosovo. Closely related to the labeling of the Albanian society as a “clan society,” the notion of the “Albanian mafia” was also developed to conflate Albanians’ political aspirations with organized crime. Unfortunately, this stigmatization of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) as a “mafia” organization had its effect in anti-American intellectual circles. As we shall see, writings from Xavier Raufer’s book The Albanian Mafia: a Threat to Europe, published in 2000, all the way to Pierre Péan’s book titled Kosovo: a “Just” War for a Mafia State, published in 2013, framed the civil rights struggle of the Albanian people in Kosovo as a war to assume control of illegal drug trade routes, prostitution, stolen vehicles while simultaneously portraying the Serbs as victims of American imperialist aggression.
The effect of the White Books was indisputable. A simple search of the Internet reveals that in the French language alone one can find over ten million results that present Kosovo as a “Mafia paradise.” The scale of the regime’s ideological hegemony has developed to the extent that well-known movie director Emir Kusturica, of Serbian-Muslim origin, declared in a lecture delivered to students of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Nis that, “Recently many movies about Serbia and the Serbs were filmed and these [were] bad movies, based on fictitious events have influenced the world to give Serbs a dark image, being a genocidal nation. This is vicious propaganda!”1 Out of the many films that focused on the events in Kosovo, Kusturica focused exclusively on Hollywood; specifically movies starring Richard Gere, Penelope Cruz and Angelina Jolie. “Although they are great Hollywood movie stars, the movies are very bad, catastrophic, not to mention Angelina Jolie’s movie In the Land of Blood and Honey. These are all failed movies, because you cannot create a great artwork on the basis of false facts!” said Kusturica.2
This world-renowned director, a two times laureate of the Cannes Film Festival, stressed that Kosovo is a topic worthy of literature and films but that so far nothing accurate had been done. He announced his intention to film a movie about human organ trafficking in Kosovo, which he said is one of the most important and most brutal events of this century, and a powerful indicator that society is returning to “Paganism.”3
I am convinced that by the end of this book the reader will be able to see whether the films that Kusturica derides as “really bad” are fictitious, or if the reality is far more tragic than what has been reflected in films so far.
In this book you will find horrific photos and descriptions of terrifying events. These are not presented to illustrate how evil those who committed genocide in Kosovo were. Rather, the depictions and photos of these events are presented in the context of the debate over genocide in Kosovo and as a response to “deniers” who, like deniers of the Holocaust of World War II, say that, “It didn’t happen.” Emir Kusturica is absolutely right when he says that Kosovo is a topic worthy of literature and film. Writers interested in this issue will find in my book good source material for future endeavors. I would hope that even Kusturica, if he were to read this book, would be convinced that a great artwork cannot be created with false arguments and fabricated materials.1
I hope my book will illuminate the forces behind the great libel about illegal trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, reveal the perpetrators of the murder of civilians in Kosovo, and reveal the truth about the crimes attributed to the KLA.
Throughout the book I avoid references to Albanian sources. This does not imply that these sources are less reliable in comparison to other sources, but rather aims to eliminate the accusation of bias in research and the likelihood that this analysis will be seen as a clash of two interpretations: the Albanian interpretation of what happened in Kosovo versus the Serbian interpretation. It is my hope that the reader will abandon an uncritical acceptance of the “Serbian truth” of the events in Kosovo, and look with a more discerning and skeptical eye. To that end, the focus will be mostly on an examination of the Serbian argument and the challenge to that argument by evidence from Serbian non-governmental organizations and Serbian intellectuals who dissented from the policy of the genocide in Kosovo.