Centre for Research on Globalisation

"Osama bin Ladens’s terrorist groups most easily encroached on the Balkans through Albania and today they are present in Kosovo and Macedonia.... " Coincidentally the NLA is supported by NATO and is the recipient of US military aid. This text addresses the presence of Al Qaeda supported Mujahideens in the NLA.


 Al Qaeda and NATO Join Hands in supporting 

NLA Terrorists in Macedonia

by Marina Domazetovska


Aktuel Weekly, Skopje, 3 March 2002
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca , April 2002

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Testimony of a member of the Macedonia Security Forces

"You won’t write about something that isn’t true. I hate it that I’ve seen and gone through a lot and I can’t say a word. But time will come when I’ll open my mouth. I can no longer stand it!"

This is how my conversation with a member of the Macedonian security forces began. I won’t say his name for his safety. The reason why I asked to have a word with him, at a place where nobody knows neither me or him, are the mujahideens:

"At the moment, there are 150 of them. They are in Brodec and in a village over Ratae. They’ve been here ever since the war broke out, and even before. Do you remember when I told you, but you wouldn’t believe me. The first time I saw mujahideens was in December of 2000. We caught 10 of them while crossing the border from Kosovo into Macedonia. Our mission was to arrest them and we did that. Then we handed them over to the police and they let them go half an hour later. Would you like a job like mine?!"

"Later we arrested mujahideens and Kurds on several other occasions. There are around 30 Kurds at the moment. They are together with the mujahideens. Everybody knows that. The police also have photos, but they refuse to show them. I don’t know why they keep hiding them. Maybe because they are connected with those who send mujahideens over here. The mujahideens are not the only problem though. You must not forget that we barely saved our necks in Arachinovo."

During the battle for Arachinovo a spearhead group of Macedonian security forces got trapped near the center of the village without backup from the Command. 3,000 NLA members encircled them, making a siege inside the siege, which lasted for two days.

NATO supports the Terrorists

 "We were only 40 people left alone, heavily outnumbered. We had to swap the American ‘green berets’ and their equipment that we captured when we entered the village, so that they would let us go. Ask your NATO friends why they came in armed carriers? Ask them where the 40 mm automatic mortars are that can only be found in the US? They can be found in Croatia too, but the ones we seized in Arachinovo were American. Ask them how come terrorists had a low frequency radio that only the US army has. They said that someone steal it from them in Bondsteel!" Once my irate interlocutor started his account, he did not want to be interrupted, and continued.

"We were besieged. They would have killed us like dogs. And now those same Macedonian politicians that sent us to death feign being the greatest patriots of all. You have no idea what I went through. What’s even more frightening, out Prime Minister gave passports to 30 Iraqis that fought for the NLA, but stayed here and married Albanian women. They live mostly in the countryside. Go to Zajas and you’ll see what I’m talking about." At this point he stopped. He didn’t want to resume talking. I didn’t know what to say to him. We just stared at each other without uttering a word. There are witnesses of war, there is evidence, but everybody keeps their mouths shot. No wonder.

War in Macedonia

In the most peaceful country of the Balkans, war broke out last year. Ordinary people of Macedonia never even thought that something like this can happen. But I have to remind you of a minor fact indicative of all the crazy minds dazed by the Balkan devastating whirlwind – they quickly forget. Thus, not only did Macedonians forget about the war in Bosnia, but they totally wiped out of their memory the war in their immediate vicinity – Kosovo.

Anyway, war happened.

What this text focuses mostly on is but a segment that was least discussed not only in the course of the war. It addresses the presence of Al Qaeda supported mujahideens in the NLA.

This issue was first officially raised in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks when the US declared war on all terrorist organization worldwide. Macedonia’s problem was the fact that not only the world, or the international community, but also the Macedonian government had not officially proclaimed NLA fighters terrorists, but "armed Albanian groups" instead. The media, however, never stooped calling them terrorists and thereafter started dealing more openly with the presence of the mujahideens. The independent weekly Start, at the very outset of the conflict, somewhere in mid-March, ran an interesting feature:

"Mujahideens of all sorts, Jihad fighters, bin Laden’s followers and similar mercenaries of the distorted and abused Islam are not news on the Balkans. They fought in Bosnia, on the side of Alija Izetbegovic’s army, trained in bin Laden’s camps in Tropoja and Bajram Curi in northern Albania and made incursions in Kosovo to help their KLA "brothers" in the fight against "infidels." The first signal that those "dogs of war" entrenched in Macedonia too was the rather late appearance in front of TV cameras of one of the leaders of the Tanushevci terrorists known as hoxha [Islamic priest] Xhezo, and the following information that yet another hoxha, Enver, commanded the same "fighters." Then the green flag appeared bearing words in Persian language and being flown by one of the younger participants in the "peace march" in Skopje organized on March 13 by the Xhaferi-Tachi tandem. The following day, as the Albanian rally was taking place in Tetovo square and the newly founded [National Democratic] party of the Macedonian Albanians, whose prime goal is revival of "Ilirida," was promoting ethnic hatred, the announcement of some hitherto unheard of "organization" – "Albanian National Front for Ilirida" - dawned in newspapers. Written whole three months before (?!), the announcement called for fight for liberation from the slavery imposed by the "Slav-Macedonians" and for the first time in the Macedonian political jargon, that fight came to stand for the banishment of the "infidels". (1)

At the end of their feature, there was information that 40 mujahideens took refuge in the Lipkovo area.

After this feature, which did not stir much the interest of the Macedonian public, perhaps mostly because all were overcome by the evil of war that took them by surprise, another even more spell-binding feature appeared, this time substantiated with some irrefutable evidence (all the facsimiles were published). As early as May, Start revealed that Macedonian citizens were involved in bin Laden’s groups by way of money laundering:

"During 1997 and 1998, a group of Macedonian, Croatian, Slovene and Yugoslav citizens headed by Cvetko Kabranov of Kavadarci tried to exchange an incredible amount of 3.8 billion Kuwait dinars, or $12 million. The cash arrived in Nevestinje directly from northern Albania as aid for the fight of the notorious terrorist bin Laden against the US."

"The Kuwait dinars that were to be converted first to US dollars and then laundered through a number of foreign companies, passed through the hands of Privredna banka D.D from Trebinje, Lloyds Bank, Duriman Holding’s from Canada, businessmen Jean Paul Baltaci, Dikran Kevorkyan, Viktor Seme, Jive Finance Establishment, and Deutsche Bank."

"People who assisted the money transfer include Americans George Mark Rainoff, owner of the Rainoff Fund, Denis Caytron and Thomas Fuch." (2)

Are the mujahedeens here?

That was all. Public reactions were once again minimal. The rest of the media, except for A1 TV, did virtually nothing to follow up the story of Start. From then onwards, certain unfortunate events occurred, revealing more and more connections to the mujahideens. The most ghastly incident that will always linger in the memory of the Macedonians was the Vejce massacre of 8 Macedonian soldiers. Just to remind you:

"A1 TV reported the statement of the only survivor of the massacre near Vejce village, as part of his testimony for Vecher daily, that ‘mujahideens, under Daut Haradinaj’s command, conducted the slaughter.’ On 28 April this year, terrorists ambushed an army patrol in the remote part of the Tetovo region, killing eight members of the special unit called ‘Wolves.’"

"According to the eyewitness, there were dozens of assailants, many of them mujahideens, with long beards and knives, who conducted the massacre to its gruesome end. The terrorists shot only one, while cutting the rest to pieces or burning them alive."

"A mujahideens group was under the command of Daut Haradinaj from Goldane, Yugoslavia. He was the chief of general staff of the Kosovo Protection Corps, and is included in the black list of Albanian terrorists who threaten the peace on the Balkans and the US national security, published by the American President George W. Bush. Daut Haradinaj is also the brother of the KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj, [an alleged war criminal, responsible for the mass murder of at least 40 Serbs] currently heading a political party in Kosovo. Identifying Daut Haradinaj is quite easy, even from a distance, because he lacks his left arm. He lost it in a mine accident."

"The witness says that the ambush was set on a good location, terrorists were deployed in a form of a horseshoe around the bend, and the jeeps of the Macedonian security forces were shelled with grenades and bullets from all sides. Few of them who managed to get out of the vehicles were wiped out right away. Three bullets hit the sole survivor, but he managed to jump in the abyss making use of a couple of seconds - the time that the mujahideens needed to come down to the bodies of the Macedonians defenders. Several hundred meters away he met an Albanian man with a small child." (3)

Even after this event until today, no evidence of the mujahideens’ presence has been made public. There are no official photos, except for those taken in Arachinovo that appeared in the daily Vecher. No one, however, can confirm anything with certainty. Pavle Trajanov, former interior minister, was the only one to give a statement:

"Osama bin Ladens’s terrorist groups most easily encroached on the Balkans through Albania and today they are present in Kosovo and Macedonia," said former interior minister Pavle Trajanov in his A1 interview.

"Fundamentalism lies in the core of the NLA since its prime concern is ethnically clean states, creation of Great Albania or Great Kosovo inhabited by Albanians only," said Trajanov confirming the NLA links to terrorist organizations of the Near East.

According to Trajanov, the Balkan fundamentalism has three objectives. The first is the Albanian objective of creating Great Albania. The second is the objective of the Albanian mafia wishing to sell drugs throughout Europe and all the way to the U.S. And the third, most present, is the goal of the Near East terrorist organizations, including the one of Osama bin Laden, to expand their drug market on one hand, and on the other hand, to establish themselves in this region so that they can most easily attack U.S. strategic facilities." (4)

Information about Pardew’s warning to Macedonian media came several days after this interview:

"Macedonia's daily Nova Makedonija claims that US official James Pardew personally demanded from the press to stop publishing such articles in order to ‘provide peace in Macedonia.’" (5)

And finally, last but not least, here is perhaps the most telling argument that sealed all claims, considerations and doubts, an event that was undeniable evidence in itself:

"On Nov. 20, when extremists from around the world were volunteering to join the ranks of the Taliban, Pakistani police apprehended five Muslim "fighters" carrying Macedonian passports at the Afghan border -- further proof, Macedonian authorities say, of Mr. bin Laden's Balkan connection." (6) USA Today reported that American forces raiding bin Laden’s training camps unearthed documents from Kosovo Albanians who joined Al-Qaida and planned attacks on targets in the U.S.A.(7)


Events do not stop here. We may recall many other articles, interviews, testimonies and statements of eye-witnesses, analysts and journalists. It is a fact, however, that no one ever produced firm evidence. Until today.

Macedonian security forces announced that this morning at 4:00, they repelled an attack by seven unknown persons north of Skopje. All seven attackers died during the shootout. Police officials announced that they were all foreigners, probably Pakistanis, armed, carrying NLA uniforms and Muslim prayer books and other religious materials.

Explaining the incident, Macedonian spokesperson added that discovery of this group came thanks to the information revealed with the arrest of another group of four mujahideens, 2 from Jordan and 2 Bosnians studying in Jordan.

 "Upon the arrest, the police confiscated computer disks containing 12,000 pages of information about the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Analysis of that material revealed some of the intentions of the terror network: committing attacks on the Macedonian government officials and foreign embassies."(8)

Or maybe we are all deluded. As now-baffled NATO officials used to reassure us, maybe they are not mujahideens, but only young boys that have stayed in the mountains for too long and had no time to shave...


1. Mitrevska, Nevenka. Who Imported Hesbolah in Macedonia. Start, volume 113, March 23, 2001. pp. 6-9.

2. Palevski, Ljubcho. Bin Laden’s Money in Macedonia. Start, volume 116, April 13, 2001. pp. 6-9.

3. Mujahideens Committed Vejce Slaughter, Reality Macedonia/A1 TV. October 17, 2001. URL: http://www.realitymacedonia.org.mk/web/news_page.asp?nid=713

4. Mujahedins Present In Macedonia Too. (Pavle Trajanov interview for A1 TV News). Reality Macedonia. September 22, 2001.

5. Macedonian Press Reveals Osama Bin Laden's Net In The Balkans. Reality Macedonia/MIA. September 26, 2001. URL: http://www.realitymacedonia.org.mk/web/news_page.asp?nid=536

6. Taylor, Scot. Bin Laden’s Balkan Connections. Espirit De Corps. December 18, 2001. URL: http://www.espritdecorps.on.ca/viewarticle.asp?article=75

7. Kelley, Jack. Bin Laden's camps teach curriculum of carnage. USA Today. November 26, 2001. URL: http://www.usatoday.com/news/attack/2001/11/26/cover.htm

8. Seven Mujahideens Die in Unsuccessful Attack on Police. Reality Macedonia. March 2, 2002. URL: http://www.realitymacedonia.org.mk/web/news_page.asp?nid=1539

 Marina Domazetovska writes for the weekly magazine Aktuel. Contributed by Filip Stojanovski. Translation by Aleksandra Ilievska.)Copyright ©  2002. Reprinted for fair use only

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