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Kosovo Liberation Army


The Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA (UCK in Albanian), was an Albanian insurgent organization that fought for the separation of Kosovo from Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Their strategy was to attack Serb Yugoslav security forces, force them to crack down with reprisals and create a situation that would lead to international intervention. The brutal counter-insurgency operations conducted by Serb forces aimed to push extremist Albanian elements out of Kosovo and deter further attacks. This counter-insurgency campaign provided a pretext for NATO to bomb Kosovo and eventually occupy with ground forces. The KLA’s objectives were realized, helped by support from the CIA and other covert organizations, despite the KLA being listed as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the State Department in 1998.


The NATO occupation led to the KLA being disbanded and many turned to full-time organized crime. It was not long, however that KLA leaders began to manipulate the institutions NATO and the UN set up in Kosovo. By 2002 US and NATO political will to occupy Kosovo diminished rapidly as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gained momentum. Former KLA leaders became political leaders despite their links to war crimes and Albanian mafia. Former-KLA also eventually became the leaders in the Kosovo Police Force and Kosovo Security Force.



PRIMAL Assessment


Anti-Albanian propaganda painted the KLA as Islamic religious extremists. However, they are assessed as being more motivated by power, greed and revenge rather than faith and duty to jihad. It is accurate to say the KLA operated more as a terrorist group than as a professional military force. Despite their ineffectiveness as an army, their strategy was successful as it forced the Serbs to conduct brutal security operations. These actions provided the pretext for the NATO bombing and occupation.