By Alexander Shah
Dateline New York, 1990-2017: Is your blood as good as the blood of a dog? Are we all just a cattle to the Muslims? Does the undeclared victory of the Albanian Mafia over the Italian Mafia stand related to the demise of Roman Catholicism in the face of Islam’s youthful aggression? After all, the decline of La Cosa Nostra, on display ever since the spectacular Gotti trials in New York and Judge Falcone’s mass mob trials in the bunker court in Sicily, was concomitant with the rise in Albanian Mafia activity in the 1990’s in Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Italy. The Italians of Crime Inc. even in their depraved state were still men with scruples while the Albanians suffered from no such restraints, certainly thanks to Islam in no small part. Of course, the Albanian tribal links have enforced a sense of loyalty, because betrayal is punished by a mutually agreed upon punishment of death. Just ask the FBI who investigated them. Thousands of Albanians and others who fled the Balkans for the United States in recent years have emerged as a serious organized crime problem, displacing La Cosa Nostra (LCN) families as kingpins of U.S. crime.
The Albanian criminal enterprises, operating largely in New York and other Eastern seaboard cities, represent a major challenge because of their propensity for violence and brutality. They are a hardened group, operating with reckless abandon just as they have done in the Balkans against the Serbs and their allies in Kosovo where they assisted a local Albanian terrorist organization known as “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA/UCK) in the 1990’s. Some of the Albanians even served as ruthless sociopathic enforcers for the established Italian Mafia families for several years. Certain crimes the La Cosa Nostra had the Albanians commit for them because these acts would be too gruesome and too dangerous for the Italians to do. In the Albanian tradition of table manners, it is normal to expect a knife pulled to settle disputes. They do mean business just like their ancient counterparts did, those religious killers from the infamous Arab Muslim sect of Hashishin (Assassins) in the Middle East who excelled in murdering eminent Christians and Muslims in the name of Allah (usually at high levels).
What makes Albanians so hard to track down is that unlike the traditional model of the criminal enterprise, here there is no single, ethnically homogeneous Albanian or Balkan “mafia” structured hierarchically in the manner of traditional Sicilian or Italian mafia. Contrary to common belief, no strict hierarchy exists within ethnic Albanian criminal groups, and there are no godfathers. And why? The answer: ISLAM. It is the horizontal nature of Islam’s worldview that colors the perception of the Albanian crime syndicates, even if their members are not particularly religious. In this, there is a clear structural dissimilarity with the Catholic Italian Mafia where hierarchy was honorable and instrumental to the functioning of the system. There is no such thing as a hierarchy in the flat world of opportunity for crimes under the auspices of the Islamic Mafia of the tribal Albanian terrorist entrepreneurs. Each family, each tribe, each helter-skelter band of Albanian toughs is liable to form its own criminal enterprise cell – just as had happened in the centuries past when Albanian brigands were dreaded even by the Turks who knew them as mountain bandits and tough skinned shepherds coming together for the opportune purpose of ambushing caravans, kidnapping travelers, slaughtering all defenders. The endemic Albanian stagecoach robbery operations inside the Balkan provinces of the old Turkish Empire were the bane of travel and the shame of the Sultans.
Fast forward to today, while these cells do admit non-Albanian associates – they do not allow them into the inner circle of decision-making where teams of experienced pimps and hardened killers run their respective cells like Muslim fathers run Muslim families – with the power of ‘honor killings’ at their fingertips. The Balkan region remains a safe haven for these profit-driven Albanian criminal terror groups, fighting not so much for Allah but for money and political influence for Allah’s family of worshipers on Earth. Intellectually speaking, the Albanian crime groups stand for a horizontal group of values in which peer-to-peer relationships in the service of an equal opportunity to pull a job on the order of trafficking in drugs, arms, humans, and human organs – is what constitutes its modus operandi (MO). They just gather for the job at hand. Then after it’s done, they disappear until another job prospect would unite them again, each time the cell would be staffed a little differently under the command of a senior man of experience for the job acting as the cell leader. All this wealth from crime has a political purpose too. The Albanian-American Mafia in New York was instrumental in helping elect Hillary Clinton to the Senate from a won seat in upstate New York. She received both money and votes from a 200,000-strong Albanian community in New York. It was certainly a kind of payback for her role in the great bombing of Serbia in 1999.
To illustrate the kinds of known criminal projects that the Albanian Mafia is famous for, let us recall that huge scandal involving illegal organ theft in the post-NATO-war-on-Serbia period when individual Serb civilians were being hunted down, made captive and cut open for kidneys, livers, and hearts that could be sold on the shadowy organ transplant black markets in Europe (just as it has been done during the war on kidnapped or captured Serb soldiers who were gutted across the border in a shack of horrors in Albania). Not too long ago, Council of Europe reporter Dick Marty alleged in a hard-hitting 2010 paper that senior KLA commanders – including the recent Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci – were involved in illegal organ trafficking. This is all connected to the Medicos affair, another case of organ trafficking at a hospital in Kosovo’s main city Pristina. Seven people, mostly doctors, were on trial and convicted before an EU-run court there on charges of illegally transplanting organs at the Medicus Clinic. The suspicions first appeared in the media in a book, “The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals”, written in 2008 by Carla Del Ponte, a reputable former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In her book, a credible Del Ponte states that Kosovo Albanians harvested organs of kidnapped ethnic Serbs after the armed conflict ended in 1999. Moreover, after the war in Kosovo, an American journalist, Michael Montgomery, obtained testimony from seven former KLA terrorists who said they had transported prisoners, dead and alive, from Kosovo to Albania for organ harvesting on live victims.
Just as the Qur’an instructed “the elevated Muslims”: treat the infidel like the cattle that they are.
“Indeed, the worst of living animals in the sight of Allah are those who have disbelieved, and they will not [ever] believe.”
[The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 8, verse 56, surat l-anfal (The Spoils of War)]
According to a hadith (sayings of the Prophet of Islam) recorded among other places in Sunan Ahmed (Hanbali jurisprudence) and Sunan al-Bayhaqi (Shafi’i jurisprudence), during the course of a discussion about non-Muslims, Caliph Omar al-Khattab — one of Sunni Islam’s “four righteous caliphs” — declared “They are heathens, and the blood of one of them is [like] the blood of a dog.”
EVEN THE MOB AVOIDS THE ALBANIANS
When the topic of discussion is organized crime, Albania seldom comes to mind. But that country’s mafia is notorious for its complexity and the diversity of its criminal enterprises. Its reach spreads far beyond the Albanian border, with branches highly active in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South America. Activities include trafficking in drugs, arms, humans, and human organs. Interpol reports that the Kosovo chapter alone runs heroin markets in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Norway. And Italian mobsters are said to hate dealing with the Albanians because they’re too violent and too unpredictable.
Like many organized crime groups we loosely refer to as “mafia”, this one grew out of the chaos following the breakdown of government. When communism failed, Albania collapsed into economic dysfunction and the criminal element stepped in to take advantage of the chaos. It wasn’t long before they gained a foothold in the hotbed of mafia activity in the United States.
As The New York Times reported in January of 2006, “Beginning in the 1990s, the Corporation, led by a man named Alex Rudaj, established ties with established organized crime figures including members of the Gambino crime family.”, but they wanted more. Soon, they were battling the Lucchese and Gambino families for territory in Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County
In 2001, seven Albanian mobsters stormed a Gambino hangout in Astoria, tearing the place apart, firing weapons and beating the manager bloody. Gambino leader Arnold Squitieri demanded a “sit down.” The two groups met at a gas station located in a rest area near the New Jersey turnpike. Rudaj found himself and his six crew members outnumbered by twenty armed Gambino mobsters. When Squitieri issued an ultimatum and tension was at its highest, crew members on both sides drew their guns, but the Albanians ended the discussion by threatening to blow up the station and everyone in it.
By 2006, all the main players involved in this “sit down” were in prison. In October of 2004, the FBI arrested 22 members of the Rudaj Organization in New York on indictments covering a wide range of racketeering and gambling charges. Rudaj and his main lieutenants were tried and found guilty. Rudaj, by then 38 years old, was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Arnold Squitieri was convicted in an unrelated racketeering case and went to prison for seven years.
Fred Snelling, head of the FBI’s criminal division in New York, once described the Albanians as a sixth crime family, characterizing the Albanians as similar to the Italian mafia in its early days, before it became more business-like. The Gambino family even once hired Albanians to do their killing for them. When they first expanded into Italy, local justice officials were amazed that the fearsome Albanian criminals were prepared to take on the local mafia.
Many Albanians are Muslims, and some are thought to be Al Qaeda sympathizers and have links to that organization. Evidence exists that shows their support for terrorism, according to the FBI and other sources. The Kosovo Liberation Army has been targeted as a recruiting ground by Al Qaeda and more militant forms of Islam are moving into the country.
Currently, more than 15 mafia families operate in Albania alone, functioning as hybrid groups involved in both criminal enterprises and local political activities. Although it’s not on most people’s radar, the Albanian Mafia, in its entirety, ranks as one of the prolific groups in the world in terms of generating crime.
Albanian gangs sporting their goods in the streets.