Florin Krasniqi (born June 26, 1964) is a Kosovar-Albanian-born American businessman, political activist, former arms smuggler, and current deputy parliamentarian for the Vetëvendosje! political party in the Kosovo Assembly, to which he was elected following the 2010 elections.
Krasniqi was born in Kosovo, when it was part of the former Yugoslavia. He was a mathematics high-school teacher in Mali Vranovac (now Kosovo[a]) when he fled to the United States, sneaking into the country across the border from Mexico in the trunk of a white Cadillac on Christmas Eve, 1988, aged 24. He began as a roofer and later founded Triangle General Contractors, a roofing company in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1998-99, he raised $30 million from the Albanian community in the United States for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and smuggled hundreds of high-powered American sniper rifles to Kosovo for guerrillas, which were distributed by his extended family clan in the region. A cousin, Xhevdet, and a nephew, Adrian, were among the founding members of the KLA and helped smuggle weapons into the region. An engineering student in Pristina in 1996, Adrian purportedly lost faith in Kosovo's government and joined a cell of the KLA, heading up the rebels' weapons-smuggling operation. He was reportedly the first guerrilla to die in a KLA uniform.
Krasniqi is the owner of Kosova Steel Group. He had been involved in the construction of a multi-million dollar hydroelectric power plant, Kozhner Hydro Power Plant (Lumbardhi), of which he is still reportedly a part owner.
Krasniqi met his Polish-born wife Danuta in Brooklyn in 1990. She hoped to run into him again by calling the cab company where he worked whenever she needed a ride. After several months of trying, a cab showed up with Krasniqi behind the wheel. They married in 1997 and have three children.
Several books were written regarding Krasniqi's exploits, such as:
- Be Not Afraid, for You Have Sons in America: How a Brooklyn Roofer Helped Lure the U.S. into the Kosovo War — written by Stacy Sullivan and was published in 2004 (ISBN 0-312-28558-2).
- The Brooklyn Connection: How to Build Your Own Guerrilla Army — written by Stacy Sullivan and was made into a film by PBS, directed by Dutch director Klaartje Quirijns, who accompanied Krasniqi one day as he went shopping at an Army/Navy surplus store. He was also profiled on 60 Minutes and in at least one article in The New York Times.
- "Anything you need to run a small guerrilla army, you can buy here in America. You have all the guns you need here to fight a war. M-16s. That's what the U.S. soldiers carry in Iraq. All the rifles which U.S. soldiers use in every war, you can buy them in a gun store or a gun show."—Florin Krasniqi
- "After Sept. 11, he realized 'If I could do this, who else could do this?'" — director Klaartje Quirijns, explaining why KLA gun runner Florin Krasniqi decided to let the filmmaker tell his story of how he (mostly) legally bought tons of guns in the United States and shipped abroad. Many of the guns were obtained from such outlets as the Barrett Firearms Company and Schwarzman Surplus.
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 2 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010
- Excerpt from Be Not Afraid, booknoise.net; accessed April 13, 2014.
- Interview with Krasniqi, owner of Kosova Steel Group; accessed April 13, 2014.
- "Kosovo Corruption Corporation - KEK", preportr.compreportr.com; accessed April 13, 2014.
- Docurama about Krasniqi by Klaartje Quirijns
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states.|