Brief Background on the KLA

The Kosovo Liberation Army ("KLA") was an indigineous Albanian guerrilla force which fought an insurgency against the Serb police, intelligence and army in Kosovo, then a province of Serbia, from 1993 to 1999. The population of Kosovo was 90% ethnic Albanian. The KLA launched sporadic guerrilla attacks on Serb police and intelligence agents from 1993 to early 1998, reacting to Slobodan Milosevic's revocation of political autonomy for Kosovo in 1989, as Yuguslavia began to break up. After the war in Bosnia ended with the Dayton Accords, Milosevic turned his attention to extinguishing the KLA. A series of "massacres" of prominent famililies supporting the KLA in March 1998, caused thousands of young Kosovar Albanians to join the KLA, which before that had numbered only a hundred or so fighters.

The conflict escalated through the summer and fall of 1998, as Serb forces drove hundreds of thousands of Albanians from their homes. It was interrupted by a ceasefire in October 1998, and then resumed with increased intensity on both sides in December of 1998. After failing to persuade Milosevic to moderate his campaign of ethnical cleansing diplomatically, the international community intervened militarily in the form of a NATO bombing campaign, which ended in June, 1999, with the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, and the demobilization of the KLA. A United Nations civil administration was established, exercising executive, legislative and judicial power in cooperation with an elected local Kosovar provisional government.

The defendants in the Haradinaj/Balaj case were KLA leaders in a region on the west of Kosovo, known as Dukagjini, along the Albanian border. Most of the weapons for the KLA were smuggled across that border. Thus Dukagjini was a strategic target for Serb forces. The KLA was threatened throughout the conflict by the Serb intelligence service, which was infamous for crushing resistance movements through information obtained from Albanian informants and collaborators.