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KLA's 'Blind One' Speaks Candidly About the Kosovo War

By Justin BrownStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / September 3, 1998



BAJRAM CURRI, ALBANIA

SEATED at a corner table in a cafe behind the Hotel Ermali, the coordinator of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in northern Albania gave a candid interview that sheds light on the armed conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

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The KLA leader, an ethnic Albanian known as "The Blind One" because he wears shaded spectacles, is responsible for the smuggling of arms into Kosovo and the training of KLA soldiers at a mountain base in northern Albania.

Having lived for several years in Connecticut, where he was an inspector at a metalwork shop, he carries an American passport (among others), is married to an American, and speaks excellent English. He was born in Skopje, Macedonia, and imprisoned at age 18 for political activity deemed illegal by the then-Yugoslav government. Since then he has hopscotched between Europe and America.

During a two-hour interview he said:

* The KLA does indeed support the concept of a "Greater Albania" (he calls it a "United Albania") that would incorporate Albania with Kosovo and parts of Macedonia and Montenegro. The KLA also broadly accepts Adem Demaci, a politician in Kosovo, as its leader.

* After heavy losses in July and August, the KLA will become a smaller guerrilla army, hiding in the mountains and attacking exposed Serbian police. When winter comes, the KLA will attack Serbian barracks throughout Kosovo "so both sides will have to live in the cold."

* The KLA will not be hampered by the massive refugee crisis in Kosovo because "we don't have the resources to feed and house the refugees. It is not our job." The KLA would defend the refugees should they come under fire from Serb forces.

* KLA arms-smuggling into Kosovo has been greatly diminished because the border has been mined by the Yugoslav Army. The KLA has little heavy weaponry right now but is trying to secure more from Europe.

* The KLA has been offered assistance by Arab countries but has refused because the KLA does not want to be beholden to them.

* Several international volunteers are fighting for the KLA, including two Americans, one a sniper from California, the other a soldier from Florida.