If Hashim, Then Why Not Bill—and Joe? Former Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi on Trial at The Hague for War Crimes

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Former Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi is currently on trial at The Hague for war crimes. Bill Clinton and Joe Biden supported him and enabled him to commit his crimes, while committing horrific ones of their own in Kosovo. So why aren’t they on trial too?

In June 2019, Bill Clinton and his former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Pristina, Kosovo, where Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi awarded Clinton Kosovo’s Order of Freedom for his role in ordering the bombing of Yugoslavia.

Thaçi said that Clinton had stopped the alleged genocide by the Serbs, and that “the story of Kosovo is a story of joint success. You are our hero.”

Clinton responded that he would “always be proud of the fact that I happened to be the president of the United States when you needed someone to stand up and say no more ethnic cleansing, no more people running out of their homes, no more killing innocent civilians, there’s got to be another way.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton embraces Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi after being given an award in Pristina in June 2019. [Source: balkaninsight.com]

Four years later, Thaçi is no longer in power but a defendant at The Hague in the Netherlands at a special tribunal funded by the European Union. He stands accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity when he was a senior member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), including torturing and then ordering the execution of fellow Kosovo Albanians accused of being traitors and collaborators.

Kosovo’s George Washington or Al Capone

When he was Vice President, Joe Biden, a staunch supporter of the bombing of Kosovo as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hailed Thaçi as “the George Washington of Kosovo.”

A few months after Biden made those remarks, a Council of Europe report accused Thaçi and KLA operatives of human organ trafficking.

The report alleged that Thaçi’s inner circle “took captives across the border into Albania after the war where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.”

When “transplant surgeons” were “ready to operate, the [Serbian] captives were brought out of the safe house individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses [were] transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Leaked Western intelligence reports identified Thaçi and the KLA also as having exerted violent control over the regional heroin trade and said that Thaçi held a connection to a mafia cartel, which moved drugs from Turkey to Western Europe through the “Balkans Route.”[1]

A young Thaçi, in civilian clothes, with members of the KLA during a press conference in 1999. The man sitting next to Thaçi (on the left) is Fatmir Limaj, the International Criminal Court indicted Limaj for crimes against humanity, illegal detention, torture and murder of Serbs and Albanians in the Lapusnik camp (1998). He was captured on February 18, 2003, in Slovenia and extradited to stand trial in The Hague. On the right is a wanted poster for Thaçi, who’s nomme de guerre was “snake,” dating from 1997. [Source: diario.octubre.com]

Thus, Thaçi seems more like Al Capone than George Washington.

Phony Freedom Fighters

The Kosovo War was billed in the U.S. as a great humanitarian intervention, and was supported by liberal luminaries of the time like Todd Gitlin, Susan Sontag, Bernie Sanders, Paul Wellstone, Maxine Waters, Christopher Hitchens and Michael Walzer.[2]

The official pretext was to protect the Kosovo-Albanian minority in Kosovo from Serb ethnic cleansing and the depredations of Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević, who was falsely accused of committing genocide.

Curiously, the Clinton administration had shown little interest in the Kosovar Albanians’ plight when they excluded their delegates from the 1995 Dayton negotiations, avoiding discussion of the Kosovo problem at a time when they might have been able to help advance a political solution to the crisis there.

An underlying goal of the war was to separate Kosovo from Serbia—which Washington wanted to isolate—and establish a Greater Albania under U.S., NATO and Turkish influence—along with a giant U.S. military base at Camp Bondsteel, while legitimizing NATO after the end of the Cold War.

A person in military uniform standing in front of a sign Description automatically generated with low confidence

Source: arcticcompass.blogspot.com

During World War II, it was the Kosovar Albanians who had collaborated with the Nazis while the Serbs were persecuted by them.[3]

The Serbs considered Kosovo something like Jerusalem for Israelis because it was the site of the famous 1389 Battle of Kosovo against Turkey and because it is the birthplace of the Serbian Orthodox Church and many of the great Serbian monuments and monasteries are located there.

A confidential report by NATO’s North Atlantic Council stated that the KLA was “the main initiator of violence” in Kosovo and “launched what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation,” which led to the outbreak of hostilities with Yugoslav government forces.[4]

A British member of parliament compared the KLA to the “Nicaraguan Contras and other groups armed by the CIA.” The KLA and Contras were both financed in part from the drug trade and committed repeated terrorist acts.

Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, branded the KLA as a terrorist organization mere months before the war.[5] Their crimes included gunning down Serb children, organized rapes, and blowing up Serb monasteries.

James Bissett, Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia for much of the 1990s, noted that the CIA and British Special Air Service (SAS) trained the KLA to “foment an armed rebellion in Kosovo,” with KLA terrorists sent into Kosovo to assassinate Serb mayors, ambush Serb policemen and do everything to incite murder and chaos” and, in turn, provoke a NATO intervention.[6]

During the 78-day U.S.-NATO bombing targeting Serb positions from March 24 to June 9, 1999, the KLA provided crucial intelligence using satellite phone and other communications equipment provided to it covertly by the CIA.[7]

Forty eighty schools and 33 hospitals were struck in the the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo along with at least fourteen historic monasteries, and between 500 and two thousand civilians were killed.

With KLA assistance, American warplanes bombed Zastava automobile plant, a Serb government TV station, and the Chinese Embassy in the part that housed intelligence operatives, killing four, likely in an effort to intimidate the Chinese from using their veto over the UN Security Council (The official U.S. explanation was that it was using an “old map” of the city).[8]

Wreckage from U.S.-NATO bombing in Kosovo in the spring of 1999. [Source: theconversation.com]

Spanish Captain Martin de la Hoz, who lodged protests with NATO chiefs over the selection of non-military targets, concluded that the U.S. and NATO were “destroying the country.” They were “bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nerve gases, surface mines dropped with parachute bombs containing uranium, black napalm, sterilization chemicals, sprayings to poison the crops, and weapons of which even we still do not know anything.”[9]

A BLU-97 cleared from Jasic, Kosovo by HALO Trust.

One of 35,000 cluster bombs dropped by U.S.-NATO fighter jets over Kosovo. The bombing was supposedly undertaken for humanitarian purposes but empowered criminal mafia elements like Thaçi, who is now on trial for crimes against humanity. [Source: halotrust.org]

These constituted clear war crimes for which Clinton and others in his administration should be prosecuted, along with Joe Biden who helped secure U.S. Senate support for the war—like he did with Iraq.


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Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine. He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018). He can be reached at: [email protected].


  1. Paul Lewis, “Report identifies Hashim Thaci as ‘big fish’ in organized crime,” The Guardian, January 24, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/24/hashim-thaci-kosovo-organised-crime; Jerry Seper, “KLA Finances Fight with Heroin Sales: Terror Group is Linked to Crime Network,” The Washington Times, May 3, 1999; F. William Engdahl, Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance (Mine Books, 2018), 111, 112. Thaçi ’s top deputy, Xhavit Haliti, was allegedly a big figure in the Albanian mafia involved in gambling, prostitution and drug smuggling. Prince Dobrosh, the boss of the Kosovo-Albanian narco-mafia provided weapons to the KLA that were bought from heroin proceeds. “Rugova Meets with Albanian Narco-Boss in Prague,” https://balkania.tripod.com/resources/terrorism/kla-drugs.html#a25 

  2. See David Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), 2; Paul Gigot, “How Doves Learned To Love the B-2 Bomber,” The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 1999, A22. 
  3. Sheldon Drobny, “Kosovo’s Nazi Past: Historical Perspective,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kosovos-nazi-past-histori_b_87845, Drobny quotes from Carl Savich’s essay on Kosovo’s Nazi past which asserts that, during World War II and the Holocaust, Kosovar Albanians killed 10,000 Kosovo Serbs and expelled 100,000, taking over their lands and houses. Kosovo Serb women were raped. Kosovo Serb Orthodox priests were arrested, tortured, and murdered. Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries were attacked and destroyed. Serbian monuments, cemeteries, and gravestones were desecrated and demolished. In addition, Kosovar Albanian Nazi SS troops participated in the round-up of Kosovo Jews who were later killed at Bergen-Belsen. 
  4. A. B. Abrams, Atrocity Fabrication and Its Consequences: How Fake News Shapes World Order (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2023), 226. 
  5. Philip Shenon, “U.S. Says It Might Consider Attacking Serbs,” The New York Times, March 13, 1998; Abrams, Atrocity Fabrication and Its Consequences
  6. Abrams, Atrocity Fabrication and Its Consequences, 226. 
  7. Mark Curtis, “Blair’s Former Allies on Trial for War Crimes,” Consortium News, April 14, 2023, https://consortiumnews.com/2023/04/14/blairs-former-allies-on-trial-for-war-crimes/ 
  8. Gibbs, First Do No Harm, 197-98; Robert Fisk, “Serbs murdered by the hundred since ‘liberation,’” The Independent, November 24, 1999; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (New York: Skyhorse, 2013), 148; Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton (Petrolia, CA: CounterPunch Books, 2015), 64. One Serb woman in the village of Lacarak died from a U.S. air strike when splinters from a shell struck her while she stood in the yard of her house. 
  9. Michael Parenti, To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia (New York: Verso, 2000), 122, 123. The U.S.-NATO dropped an estimated 35,000 cluster bombs which shed bomblets the size of a soda can and depleted uranium, which left tens of thousands of radioactive waste that poisoned the air, waters and soil of the entire region. John Catalinotto and Sara Flounders, eds., Hidden Agenda: U.S./NATO Takeover of Yugoslavia(New York: International Action Center, 2002), 135-48. More than 10,000 unexploded bomblets were scattered around the landscape when the bombing ended. The terrible environmental costs of the war were compounded by the bombing of chemical plants, petroleum and natural gas refining, processing and storage facilities and fertilizer plants which resulted in the release of toxic, radioactive and other dangerous substances into the atmosphere, soil, ground water, and food chain. 

Featured image: Bill Clinton and Hashim Thaçi embrace. [Source: zlocininadsrbima.com]

Articles by: Jeremy Kuzmarov

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