On Tuesday, PBS airs the U.S. broadcast
premiere of the positively chilling documentary, "The Brooklyn
Connection," by Netherlands native Klaartje Quirijns.
The film’s subtitle is "How to Build a Guerrilla Army."
The film is about a charismatic husband and father living in Bay Ridge, Florin Krasniqi, who has successfully negotiated U.S. gun laws in order to create and supply a guerrilla army in Kosovo (a province of old Yugoslavia). According to the documentary, which is based in part on Stacy Sullivan’s book "Be Not Afraid, For You Have Sons in America," this roofer has raised and spent $30 million to arm and supply his "Kosovo Liberation Army."
In one scene, he and his family attend an event at Micali Terrace, on 86th Street. They look like any other glitzy, sequined Brooklyn clan heading off to a family affair - a Sweet 16 or engagement party perhaps?
No, it’s a fundraiser for the KLA.
Krasniqi cheerfully escorts the film crew on visits to his suppliers, such as Sunset Park’s Schwarzman army surplus warehouse, where he rolls a banal shopping cart - filled with more than 100 military uniforms - down the aisle; and a gun dealer in Pennsylvania who seems to swallow Krasniqi’s story that he needs a sniper rifle to go elephant hunting (pictured at left).
Although Quirijns is heard asking the tough questions, several times off-camera, about the fatal consequences of his buying and smuggling the guns, she also captures Krasniqi’s gut-wrenching side of the story through interviews with him and footage of him in his Brooklyn home, which seems to be the American dream come true.
Although he’s seen flipping meat on his barbecue and splashing around in his pool with his children, Krasniqi is still very tied to his ancestral home in Kosovo, which has been burned down several times in the last hundred years by Serbs.
After his cousin was killed attacking a Serb police station in 1997, he decided to help Kosovo’s Albanians achieve their freedom more quickly, by starting an army.
The film raises tough questions about America’s role in fueling overseas conflicts with our limited regulation of guns - and access to airplanes. In one disturbing segment, Krasniqi said he was able to rent a cargo plane to move 25 tons of guns. "Brooklyn Connection" is evidence of both an enormous armed conflict about to erupt again in Kosovo (unless politicians move faster to negotiate a peace), and of the ease with which deadly weapons can be purchased in this country and turned on Americans at home and abroad.
POV presents "The Brooklyn Connection" July 19 at 10 pm on channel 13/WNET.