It's no secret that a steady stream of international KLA volunteers has been flying into Albania's capital, virtually since the Kosovo crisis began. But NEWSWEEK has learned that hundreds of young ethnic Albanians from Western Europe have also been landing, unnoticed, in Skopje's international airport in Macedonia. Arriving on scheduled flights in groups of up to 100, they are slipped into Albania and on into Kosovo to join KLA forces there.
Passengers receive superficial immigration and customs checks, raising suspicion that their arrivals are closely coordinated with Macedonian authorities. The country, which is 30 percent ethnic Albanian, has been careful to avoid stepping into the conflict, for fear of igniting ethnic tensions within its own borders.
Most of the Skopje flights are operated by the Macedonian airline Avioimpex and originate in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. They are all booked by the same ethnic Albanian travel agents operating out of Western Europe.
Both U.S. and NATO officials have denied any involvement in the transshipment of recruits, and several sources have called this an ethnic Albanian-only operation.EXCLUSIVENo Charge?
What one senator has called possibly "the most serious case of espionage in U.S. history" may not result in spying charges. A top administration official has told NEWSWEEK that the most serious charge the government may be able to bring against Wen Ho Lee, a Los Alamos scientist suspected of sharing secrets with the Chinese, may be "unauthorized disclosure" of classified information. Sources say extensive FBI searches of his computers and papers have turned up "no smoking gun," and last year, when the agency ran a "false flag" sting against him, he didn't take the bait.
But government officials say some security breaches did occur, accusing Lee of dumping classified material into an unclassified computer. Lee maintains his innocence. In the wake of the scandal, the Energy Department is likely to discipline some top lab officials this week and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson plans to appoint a new "security czar."ISRAELJet Out the Vote
Thousands of Israelis living abroad will earn a cheap mini-vacation at home next week--just for voting. Because Israeli election law allows only diplomats to cast absentee ballots, several political groups plan to airlift supporters home for the May 17 elections. A group tied to the opposition Labor Party has sold 5,000 cut-price tickets to voters from Johannesburg to Brooklyn. New Yorkers can get to Tel Aviv for $400 round trip, less than half the regular price. From Europe, it's only $100. The right-wing Orthodox National Union is offering round-trip tickets from New York for only $180. Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu's Likud bloc says it doesn't have the money to fund such flights. But most of the religious voters are likely to support him.
An e-mail from the National Union urges Israelis living in the United States to come "pray at the Western Wall... and exercise your civic duty as an Israeli citizen" at the same time. They'd better pray quickly though--flights arrive the day before the election and head back the day after the poll.THE POPEMiles to Go Before He Sleeps
The pope kissed the patriarch. One of Pope John Paul II's millennial goals has been to narrow the breach between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Still ahead on the 2000 agenda: John Paul's first trip to Israel, and a hoped-for visit to Ur, in Iraq, to retrace the steps of Abraham.TRANSITIONThe Guerrilla Designer
Tibor Kalman believed in surprise attacks. The designer of such cheerfully revolutionary icons as the oh-so-normal-looking clock face with the numbers in random order ran his legendary design firm, M&Co, like a guerrilla outfit. Kalman, who died last week at 49, prodded his clients, then the hidebound world of corporate design and, finally, the public as editor in chief of the iconoclastic Colors magazine. From album covers to menus, from music videos to TV commercials, his visual insurgency influenced a generation of taste-makers and changed the way we see the world.STAR WARSIn a Line Far, Far Away
Americans aren't the only ones obsessed with the Force. "Star Wars" fanatics from around the world are congregating outside movie theaters from New York to Los Angeles to get first crack at seeing "Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." "It's a historical event for most of us," says Jonathan Hendricks, 22, a student from Singapore who has waited in line outside Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles since April 15. "We've been waiting 16 years for this movie," echoes fellow line-man and Toronto native Tim Doyle. Most will have to wait even longer; South African Gregory Janks, 25, on line in New York, will see the flick at least one month before his friends back home. Says Janks, "I've been sworn to secrecy on every side of the Atlantic."Location / Release Date