Mike Adams (l) and Marco Barberi (r) staged at Italian Air Force base in Pisa, Italy preparing to board transport aircraft.
The Italian AF Tactical Airfield in Gjakova, Kosovo. The Italians and everyone else called it ‘Tombstone’ out of respect for the history of the Old Wild West in the United States. It was hot, dusty, and dry kolache patch bulldozed into runways and taxiways. It took occasional gunfire from various rebel groups still working in the country.
We ate our first lunch just yards from this monument and mass grave in Gjakova. The round, floral wreathes mimic a warrior’s shield and signifies that you died in battel. Most graves held males but some females too. All of the KLA.
Kosovo’s WAR of ETHNIC CLEANSING
As the result of a long-time dispute between Serbia and Kosovo an armed conflict between the two nations arose in 1998. Kosovo had been retaliating against Serb intrusions and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. To facilitate that effort, they formed a loosely organized para-military group, the Kosovo Liberation Army, or the KLA. The Serbian response was to send in their forces which consisted of Milosevic’s Special Police (VJ) and elements of the standing Serbian Army (MUP).
While Kosovo cannot be said to be completely innocent in this matter it can be said that they are generally seen as the victim trying to stand-up to a much stronger aggressor. One thing is clear, Serbia, while under Milosevic, harbored a hidden agenda and coveted Kosovo’s natural resources. The single most potentially crippling factor for the Balkan states, and much of Europe was, and is, the lack of energy. In Serbia, and its surrounding states, the availability of the specific natural resources required to meet the ever-expanding energy needs of people and industry were rapidly diminishing. They are running out of gas, so to speak.
Kosovo, however, is blessed with two specific, abundant, natural resources that would solve Serbia’s energy problem for years to come. Those resources are lignite and water. Lignite is a soft grade, surface level, easily minded coal product. As Kosovo is surrounded by snow topped mountains and benefits from a high level of annual rainfall, they can also supply copious amounts of fresh water. It was Serbia’s plan to mine the Lignite to use as fuel to heat the fresh mountain water in steam-turbines that would, in turn, generate enough electricity to meet the area’s electrical energy needs well into the future.
All Milosevic required to accomplish that goal was to rid Kosovo of its indigenous population and move in as the new owner. Thus “Kosovo’s War of Ethnic Cleaning” was ‘invented’ and set into motion. These wars, which have appeared throughout modern history, accomplish their goals by not only killing some and driving out the rest, they also obliterate all official record that the indigenous population ever existed. Once a village is pacified, and the people removed, the occupying troops begin the ‘record collection and destruction’ phase of the Ethnic Cleansing effort.
The VJ and MUP troops enter all buildings where records are stored looking for any official documentation that a person existed. These include birth certificates, death certificates, wedding licenses, property deeds, medical records, driver’s licenses, tax documents, telephone records, court records, and any of the other myriad records that any a person had ever been born, lived, gotten married, had died, or owned property of any sort. The captured documents are taken to the village grave yard and dumped. The grave markers are then stripped from their graves and tossed onto the document pile. Finally, the pile is crushed under tank treads, men with flame throwers march in, and with fountains of screaming bright orange flame they assassinate all official remains of your existence. Then it is off to the next village.
That is the real nature of ethnic cleansing.
My job was to go into Kosovo in late 1999 and assist our U.N. team in two mission critical efforts. One was to set up secure microwave telecommunications for certain organizations within Kosovo. Prior to our mission these organizations had utilized satellite phones which could be easily intercepted as they were not encrypted. We were also directed to recover and forensically acquire any digital devices that had been abandoned or otherwise been left behind when Serbian VJ and MUP troops fled in the face of advancing UN forces.
While the Serb withdrawal in the major cities was peaceful enough to be broadcast live by major US TV news networks it had been a different story in the rural areas. The KLA had forced some Serbian forces to rapidly abandon their quarters and encampments in various locations throughout Kosovo. We paid attention to locations where that had taken place. They paid off by providing us with computers, cell phones, GPS devices, and digital cameras. Our team would ‘bag and tag’ these devices and perform digital acquisitions. From that point the devices and our acquisitions were flown to Italy for analysis by the UN Department of Safety and Security.
This is the actual grave yard near the monument shown above. Again, note the warrior shields still protecting their loved ones in their eternal rest. What you can’t see is that off to the left a few meters is big hole in the ground. It is a mass grave where bodies were still being exhumed. The VJ and MUP troops would gather up all men of fighting age, about 16 to 60, and murder them all.
I would like to say that many of the citizens in Serbia did not approve of this war. There were many and massive anti-war and anti-Milosevic marches throughout Serbia denouncing these activities. In a dis-armed country only the military had weapons and no one paid much attention to votes.
An abandoned Serbian tank named Joker. Until NATO became involved these tanks ran unopposed as the KLA did not have any anti-tank weapons. Except the ever-present Molotov Cocktail from the Russian General Molotov in WWII.
A typical family in Kosovo which, since WWII, and been held behind the old Iron Curtain. We were staring at one another like aliens from another planet. Then I noticed the kid in the Kansas City Royals outfit and felt right at home.
We hid one of our satellite relay stations in the attic of this barn. After the Serbs had burned the family home next door these people were forced to move into the ground floor of the barn. This woman is making bread for the noon meal while keeping an eye on her son. Look at the headboard of the cradle and you can see the black emblem of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Her husband and the baby’s father died fighting for the KLA. She is living her in-laws.
This is me in the middle holding the child from the KLA rocker with the child’s grandparents on either side. They were Albanian Muslims and they loved the USA and NATO (they pronounced NAT-tow) forces. It was the Christian Muslims that had burned their home and killed their son.