Balkan Strategic Studies

October 23, 2003

Slovenia Arrests Key Kosovo Islamist, Based on Serbia-Montenegro Indictment

Police in Slovenia on October 22, 2003, working on an Interpol warrant, arrested the commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), Brig.-Gen. Agim Ceku, 43, on the basis of an indictment issued by the Government of Serbia & Montenegro on the crime of genocide. His arrest for genocide as part of the war crimes committed against civilians in the Serbian province of Kosovo in 1999 was expected to cause embarrassment for one of his principal champions, US Democratic Presidential candidate, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) Gen. (rtd.) Wesley Clark.

However, it also caused considerable embarrassment for United Nations officials, who continue to pay Ceku’s salary, despite widespread acknowledgement of his involvement in war crimes. A spokesman for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said that “it seemed” that Ceku was arrested on the basis of an “old” warrant and that UNMIK was attempting to resolve the matter with the Slovenian authorities. Sources close to UNMIK said that this meant that they were trying to ensure that Ceku was freed so that he could leave the Slovenian jurisdiction to avoid embarrassment to UNMIK.

GIS on October 15, 2003, in a report entitled Strong Warning Indicators for New Surge in European Islamist Terrorism, indicated that Ceku’s KPC was directly engaged in support of Albanian-trained Islamist terrorists, noting:

“During the first half of August 2003, 300 Albanian-trained guerillas — including appr. 10 mujahedin (non-Balkan Muslims) — were infiltrated across the Albanian border into Kosovo, where many have subsequently been seen in the company (and homes) of members of the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps which was created out of Kosovo Albanian elements originally part of the KLA. In fact, the Kosovo Protection Force seems almost synonymous with the Albanian National Army (ANA), the new designation for the KLA. The guerillas were trained in three camps inside the Albanian border at the towns of Bajram Curi, Tropoja and Kuks, where the camps have been in operation since 1997.”

Clark and other members of the Clinton Administration supported Ceku and the KLA, even though massive and incontrovertible evidence was made available by European government and independent sources showing that the KLA was involved in narco-trafficking throughout Western Europe, white slave traffic (supplying prostitutes throughout Europe), and war crimes within Kosovo and Macedonia. 

Ceku, an Albanian Yugoslav by origin, held the rank of brigadier-general in the Croatian Army before moving to Kosovo to lead the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK), a position which was publicized in May 1999, when he was appointed by the “Kosovo Provisional Government” as the new chief-of-staff of the KLA. Ceku, who retired from his Croatian Army post in February 1999, replaced KLA commander Suleiman Selini, whose faction had fallen out of favor with the US State Department for refusing to participate in the Rambouillet conference organized by the US Clinton Administration that year. 

A spokesman for Kosovo provincial leader Ibrahim Rugova said on October 22, 2003: “Arrest warrants issued by Belgrade are unacceptable for Kosovo people. We demand that the Slovenian authorities immediately release General Ceku.” However, Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic said that Ceku was arrested on a warrant issued by a court in the southern city of Niš in 2002, saying: “He is wanted for genocide on Serb civilians from Kosovo.” Serbia & Montenegro Human and Minority Rights Minister Rasim Ljajic said that he would sign the extradition demand on the morning of October 23, 2003, presumably assuming that the Slovenian court did not free Ceku before that.

Ceku was detained while he was checking in for the Priština flight at Ljubljana airport in Slovenia.

KLA political leader Hashim Thaci was also briefly detained by Hungarian police on a Serbian warrant in June 2003, and on October 22, 2003, he denounced Ceku’s arrest as a provocation.

One US source said that the arrest of Ceku “should be an embarrassment to Wesley Clark and others who put him in charge of the KPC. It was the equivalent of an occupier of New York putting the Gambino family in charge or the occupation.”

Meanwhile, the Clinton Administration upgraded its support for the KLA following the 1999 attacks on Serbia, and paid for the KLA follow-on, the KPC, to be trained by Military Professional Resources Inc (MPRI), a corporation based in Alexandria, Virginia. MPRI had also been involved in the training and command of the Croatian forces which drove over 200,000 ethnic Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia in 1995, working at that time, too, with Ceku.

Ceku graduated from the Belgrade Military Academy before serving as an artillery captain in the Yugoslav Army (JNA). During the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991 he defected to the newly formed Croatian Army to assist its drive to secession and was reportedly decorated nine times in battles against Serb forces in both Bosnia and Croatia. The Croatian Army attack on the town of Medak — referred to in the region as “the Medak Massacre” — in the Croatian Serb region of Krajina in September 9-16, 1993, was planned and commanded by Ceku. The Medak attack against Serb civilians was so severe that Canadian UN peacekeeping troops were compelled at one point to intervene and began a firefight which left nearly 30 Croatian militiamen dead. Croat artillery, in fact, opened up on the Canadian position, manned by only 30 men, compelling the elements of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry battalion to defend themselves.

In that operation, Ceku’s forces — some 2,500 men, backed by armor and artillery — having negotiated with the UN Canadian forces to withdraw peacefully, instead surrounded the Canadian forces to contain them while the Croatians began a systematic killing of Serb civilians in the area. Immediately after the completion of Croat operations, Canadian and French military teams went in to investigate.

Journalists Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan of the Toronto, Canada, newspaper, The Sunday Sun, noted in a November 1, 1998, article “French reconnaissance troops and the Canadian command element pushed up the valley and soon began to find bodies of Serb civilians, some already decomposing, others freshly slaughtered. In one village, [Canadian Lt.-Col. Jim] Calvin saw the bodies of two young girls who had been repeatedly raped, tied to chairs and then set on fire.”

The London newspaper, The Sunday Times, noted on October 10, 1999, that Ceku was under investigation for war crimes in the Krajina, but thus far the prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla del Ponte, has failed to act, despite overwhelming evidence. She has, however, moved vigorously only against suspected Serb war criminals, and failed to take up allegations against either Croatian Pres. Franjo Tudjman — now deceased — nor Bosnian Islamist leader Alija Izetbegovic, who died on October 19, 2003.

The ICTY confirmed on October 22, 2003, that it had been “investigating” Izetbegovic, but this investigation would now be halted because Izetbegovic could “no longer defend himself”. ICTY spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said on October 22, 2003: “Izetbegovic was one of the suspects who was under investigation ... The fact he died means all investigations are stopped.” His funeral was held in Sarajevo on October 22, 2003. Sources at the ICTY, however, had told GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily during the past several years that they would “let nature take care of Izetbegovic and Tudjman” rather than prosecuting him as they had done to former Yugoslav Pres. Slobodan Miloševic, who was now appearing before the Tribunal.

The implication of the ICTY action was that any prosecution of Izetbegovic and Tudjman would bring out the involvement of US and European officials — but particularly officials in the Clinton Administration — in tacitly supporting or overlooking the two leaders’ actions in genocide and other war crimes.