Ushtria Clirimtare E Koseves (UCK)
Macedonia, The Republic of;
Serbia and Montenegro
The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) formed in Macedonia in 1992 with the goal of uniting the ethnic Albanian populations of Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia into a "Greater Albania." Their name recognized that the province of Kosovo, officially part of the new nation of Serbia, was their most important and difficult target. The KLA was not based on a single rigid, hierarchical structure, but instead operated in dispersed cells. These cells did wear uniforms and maintain some form of chain of command, however. The group remained basically unknown until 1995, when it began carrying out small arms and sabotage attacks against Serbian Police outposts in Kosovo. The KLA also conducted vicious reprisal attacks against Kosovars accused of cooperating with the Serbians. The escalating violence forced the Serbian government to respond, but their response was, by almost any standard, far too aggressive; many innocent men, women, and children died as a result.
As the Serbian crackdown against the KLA grew increasingly brutal, the group's ranks swelled. An organization that began 1998 with no more than 500 members was estimated to be 12,000 to 20,000 strong by the beginning of 1999. When the US-led coalition attacked Serbia in defense of the Kosovars in January 1999, the appearance of imminent victory drew even more ethnic Albanians to the KLA flag. The KLA militias played a critical role in the coalition victory, forcing Serbian forces out into the open where American and allied airpower could punish them. Since the end of the war in Kosovo, questions have surfaced about the worthiness of the KLA as a US ally. Accusations of ties to drug-running, foreign terrorism, and organized crime have surfaced, and the UN occupation force has had some difficulty convincing the KLA to lay down its weapons. The point may be moot however, as the de facto autonomy now enjoyed by the Albanians in post-war Kosovo has decreased the urgency of the KLA cause. No terrorist attacks have been claimed by the KLA since the beginning of the war, but isolated reprisals against the handful of Serbs remaining in Kosovo have continued.
The goal of establishing a Greater Albania has been dropped by all but the "hard core" of the KLA. The group has not engaged in a recognized act of terrorism since before the 1999 war, and no future attacks are likely unless the Serbian government attempts to reassert its authority over the province.