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Kosovo Liberation Army

The Inside Story of an Insurgency

Henry H. Perritt

Publication Year: 2008

The military intervention by NATO in Kosovo was portrayed in American media as a necessary step to prevent the Serbian armed forces from repeating the ethnic cleansing that had so deeply damaged the former Yugoslavia. Leading the struggle against Serbia was the Kosovo Liberation Army, also known as the KLA. This book provides a historical background for the KLA and describes its activities up to and including the NATO intervention. Henry H. Perritt Jr. offers firsthand insight into the motives and organization of a popular insurgency, detailing the KLA's strategies of recruitment, training, and financing. This volume also tells the personal stories of young people who took up guns in response to repeated humiliation by "foreign occupiers," as they perceived the Serb police and intelligence personnel. Perritt illuminates the factors that led to the KLA's success and helped pave the long road from war to peace.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-xi

This book started with a conversation with Fahri Rama, then a waiter at the Hotel Victory in Prishtina. Fahri was twenty-two at the time, handsome, graceful, and shy. My friend Alban Rafuna, also a waiter in the hotel, introduced me to Fahri, telling me that Fahri has...

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pp. 1-12

The first time I was in Kosovo, during the cease fire in December 1998—or more accurately, as the cease fire was breaking down—I asked our UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosts if they could take me to see the Kosovo Liberation Army. After some...

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1. Faces of the KLA and Its Kosovar Antagonists

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pp. 13-24

The Kosovo Liberation Army fought a paradigmatic Fourth Generation War. “Fourth Generation War” is a term coined by some of the more perceptive military theorists in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps communities. “Fourth-generation warfare (4GW), unlike previous...

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2. Building and Maintaining Public Support

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pp. 25-35

Revolution does not succeed without popular support. “Without a political goal,” said Mao Tse-Tung, “guerrilla warfare must fail, as it must if its political objectives do not coincide with the aspirations of the people and their sympathy, cooperation, and assistance cannot be...

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3. Recruiting Fighters and Commanders

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pp. 36-45

Fahri Rama, slim and well built, looks taller than his 5'11". He now works as a waiter in the Hotel Victory in Prishtina, where his boyish smile breaks through his shyness whenever he greets a guest. (The hotel caters to internationals.) Fahri joined the KLA when he...

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4. Avoiding Annihilation, Taking Advantage of Milosevic

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pp. 46-60

Milosevic and his backers were well schooled in a variety of techniques for suppressing insurgency. They knew how to penetrate resistance organizations. They knew how to decapitate a resistance movement by imprisoning or killing its leaders. They thought they knew how...

Image Plates

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5. The KLA at War

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pp. 61-87

Military actions that were precursors to KLA operations began in the late eighties with armed resistance to Serb police trying to take Albanian activists into custody. By the early nineties they included organized attacks on police convoys, police stations, and...

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6. Financing

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pp. 88-99

Overall contributions in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army ranged from $75 million to $100 million. Modest fund-raising activities began in Switzerland in the 1980s, as part of the Planners in Exile’s efforts to prepare for armed resistance. After the...

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7. Training

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pp. 100-109

Before mid-1998, most KLA fighters received no training. They just got guns, teamed up with some of their buddies, and improvised attacks on police stations. As the conflict intensified in late 1997 and early 1998, and after the number of volunteers mushroomed...

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8. Supplying

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pp. 110-129

Early fighting effectiveness was constrained mainly by an inadequate supply of arms. In 1996, there were only a few dozen armed fighters. Many others wanted to fight but they had no weapons. There was a tendency before mid-1998 for the KLA to underestimate...

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9. Shaping International Reaction

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pp. 130-151

In late February 1998, the American envoy to the Balkans was calling the KLA a “terrorist group.” Fifteen months later, and led by the United States, NATO was bombing Belgrade. How did this come about? The Kosovo Liberation Army was ultimately successful in...

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10. Postwar Politics: The KLA at the Ballot Box

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pp. 152-166

The Kosovo Liberation Army experience defined postwar politics in Kosovo. The popularity that had allowed the KLA to operate did not evaporate when the organization itself had ceased to exist. Thousands of its fighters staffed the postwar Kosovo Protection Corps and...

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11. The KLA in the Dock

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pp. 167-179

Any story of the KLA would be incomplete without considering postwar prosecution of many KLA leaders for war crimes. Postconflict political evolution in Kosovo was significantly affected by these prosecutions, a new feature of the international legal order, born of...

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12. Conclusion

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pp. 181-184

As this story of the Kosovo Liberation Army concludes and the international community works with Kosovar Albanian political leaders to chart Kosovo’s entry into the community as an independent state, the KLA insurgency invites reconsideration of the realities of...

Acronyms and Organization Names

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pp. 185-188

Roster of Key Individuals

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pp. 189-193


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pp. 195-205


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pp. 207-209


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pp. 211-230

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252092138
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252033421

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ushtria C̨lirimtare e Kosovës.
  • Kosovo War, 1998-1999.
  • Albanians -- Kosovo (Republic).
  • Kosovo War, 1998-1999 -- Personal narratives, Albanian.
  • Kosovo (Republic) -- History -- Autonomy and independence movements.
  • Kosovo (Republic) -- Politics and government -- 2008-.
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