The Brooklyn Connection

The Brooklyn Connection: How to Build a Guerrilla Army
Klaartje Quirijns. A Quirijns/Amago/VPRO/ Sullivan/’t Hart Production. 57 minutes.
Airs on PBS’s P.O.V. July 19.

The subtitle suggests a cinematic Revolution for Dummies, but this documentary portrait of a Brooklyn-based, Kosovo-born Albanian gunrunner reveals that an enterprising freedom fighter—or terrorist, as you prefer—doesn’t need a primer to strengthen his cause, just a clean record and a credit card.

Which isn’t to say that intelligence, dedication, and abundant charm haven’t helped Florin Krasniqi maintain his role as a key supplier of weapons to the Kosovo Liberation Army. Krasniqi, who also runs a New York roofing company, raised $30 million from Albanian Americans during the war against the Serbian government and used it to purchase arms, ship them to Albania, and smuggle them into Kosovo on horseback. Among Krasniqi’s casual boasts to the camera is his claim to have brought some 25 tons of weapons and ammo to his homeland on a single cargo plane. (The film shows him checking one of the world’s most powerful sniper rifles through U.S. airport security.)

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Krasniqi, whose participation in Stacy Sullivan’s book about him, Be Not Afraid, For You Have Sons in America, led to this film, can add ample self-promotion experience to his highly impressive résumé. The ultimate effect of that worldwide publicity—which inspired NATO troops to conduct an unsuccessful search of Krasniqi’s warehouse—is but one of this provocative film’s many fascinating ambiguities. Another is the question of whether the Bush administration’s neglect of Kosovo in favor of other democratic pursuits will soon give rise to another war—fought with weapons purchased in the name of freedom.