McCain Was Strong Supporter Of Group Accused Of Terrorist Activities
During the closing weeks of the election, Sen. John McCain has gone to great lengths to present his opponent, Barack Obama, as someone too willing to coddle to groups that have ties to terrorists or terrorist activity.
It is important to understand which individuals and organizations Obama has been associated with, the refrain usually goes, as it is reflective of his foreign policy as a whole.
But if that is indeed the standard by which voters are to judge the candidates, than McCain has some questions of his own.
During the late 1990s, the Senator supported and reportedly helped arm an organization that, while eventually tolerated by the U.S. foreign policy establishment, was accused of terrorist activities and -- among it's more fringe critics -- allegedly having ties to al Qaeda.
During the late stages of the Balkan War, the Kosovo Liberation Army was known for committing incredible atrocities in its efforts to facilitate Kosovo's independence from Yugoslavia. The guerrilla group often was responding to acts of violence committed against its own people. But its tactics were, nevertheless, viewed as condemnable: abductions and murders, systematic burning and looting of homes, and harassment and intimidation of Yugoslav officials.
President Clinton's special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the KLA in 1998 as, "without any questions, a terrorist group."
Eventually, the KLA went from being criticized for threatening a fragile peace process to, gradually, being recognized as a military force that had popular roots within the Albanian community and a shared mission with America. But within the United States, the group was never publicly praised and often considered dangerous.
"As far as I know, no one ever turned around and said, 'these were freedom fighters and I support them,'" said Fred Abrahams, who documented the Balkans War for Human Rights Watch.