By Florenc Bakillari
– The rare story of the villager from Kalivaçi i Tepelena who, after announcing himself as a Security officer, presented himself as Kadri Hazbiu’s special envoy, in the Internal Affairs Branches in Shkodër and Durrës-
Memorie.al / Xhaferr Kanani, the rare character, in his account of the extremely dangerous adventure he undertook in 1960, that of the self-proclaimed State Security officer and then the introduction to his “colleagues” in the Department of Internal Affairs of Shkodra and that of Durrës. Even after almost five decades from that time, he wondered about the lack of vigilance there, right in the den, where the plans for the arrests, tortures, persecutions, imprisonments and exiles of dozens of Shkodran citizens were hatched. Xhaferri would be delighted by the presentation and the warm reception given to him by the top leaders of the Internal Affairs Branch of Shkodra, starting with the chairman, Colonel Feçor Shehu, the Chief of Police, Colonel Skënder Vinçani, the Chief of Security, Lieutenant Colonel Hysen Hoxhati , etc. After becoming known in Shkodër, he decided to continue his dangerous game in the city of Durrës. Shkodra would give Xhaferr Kanan, the fake major, the pleasure of accompanying Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, who visited the northern city in the summer of 1960, while Durrës would accompany Enver Hoxha during his visit to the Labor Party of Albania, Enver Hoxha, accompanied by most of the members of the Political Bureau, had come to the coastal city to see off Maurice Torrez, the head of the Communist Party of France, after the several-day visit he made to our country. The history of his “inspection, as a special envoy of the minister Kadri Hazbiu” in Shkodër and Durrës, has been described in detail by the character of our article, Xhaferr Kanani, in his long interview, which will be published in several numbers.
Mr. Kanani, how did the events unfold afterwards, when you went to Shkodër and after introducing yourself as a Security officer, you asked some of your “colleagues” for their opinion on the engagement you were going to do with a girl from that city?
Captain Petro Gori, now my friend and benefactor, went to the Department of Internal Affairs and reported to his superiors what had happened to him, that is, the meeting with me. More or less, he had told them that; during his work, he also had to deal with a problem, so he would help me, the “captain of the Ministry of Internal Affairs”, for the engagement with a girl he knew. Colonel Skënder Vinçani immediately reported this story to the president, Feçor Shehu, who ordered his subordinates to inform me that I should urgently appear at the Department of Internal Affairs and discuss this matter together.
The captain met me at Kafja e Madhe and relayed to me the order of his superiors. I went with a little fear and shyness, but I was always impressed by the fact that for a word of mouth, the captain goes and reports. It seemed a bit surprising to me how this could happen when I had a different impression from the outside, about the State Security.
Did you go to the Internal Affairs Branch of Shkodra?
Yes. This is even more difficult. We went to the Branch and the captor escorted me to the entrance and sat outside while I went in and the officer on guard showed me to his superior. In the office where I went, I found five people: Colonel Feçor Shehu, Head of the Branch, Colonel Mit’hat Zaçen, Deputy Head of the Branch, Colonel Skënder Vincanin, Head of the Branch Police and two lieutenant colonels, Hysen Hoxhati and Mehmet Sinica, head of Security and the other Police Commander.
I greeted all five of these people as soon as I entered the office and I was waiting to hear why they had called me. After returning the greeting, I was told to sit in the chair. After that, I realized that what I was experiencing was not a game that would cost me handcuffs, but they had taken my lie for granted. The floor belonged to Feçor and he immediately asked me if I was an officer of the Ministry of the Interior. I readily agreed. Then Hysen Hoxhati took the floor with a question, who asked me if I worked with Muço Saliu.
Although I did not know the latter at all, again, as before I affirmed. Hyseni, like the Sigurimi that he was, continued with a provocative question, wanting to know how Muçoja had his wife. I told him that it continued to be like that, peace. This answer came naturally to me and I gathered my mind that if I was arrested, there would be no problem, since that would be all that would happen my game would be ruined and since it was in the first steps, the punishment would be easier. After passing the first test, the second series of questions began, relating to my youthful adventure.
Feçor Shehu continued with another question, as he wanted to know if I wanted to get engaged in Shkodër. I again gave an affirmative answer. He told me that in such cases, officers of the Ministry of Interior receive authorization from the minister. I told him that I knew that, but since I had not yet completed the problem, I had not gone to meet him in person. This convinced Feçor, who then ordered Lieutenant Colonel Hysen Hoxhat to deal with this problem.
The idea was that he should verify everything about the girl’s biography. Hysen Hoxhati, authorized two Security officers to deal with this verification. The two officers then reported that the biography was clean and the performance of this engagement was authorized. The ceremony was held with the participation of the staff of the Department of Internal Affairs. Several photographs were also taken here, which later proved to be strong evidence against me and others who were in them.
How long did you stay in Shkodër and where did you stay?
As for the first time, I stayed in that city for 15 days. Sometimes I slept in tourism, but many times I was taken into their homes by the officers of the Interior Branch. The people there are very welcoming; I didn’t know where to go before, as all new acquaintances were inviting me.
How many times have you entered the Department of Internal Affairs during this time?
Sometimes. They would take me and ask me already as their man about any problem and I would give my opinion. From my “colleagues” I learned many important and secret things, and when their superiors asked me, I told them what their subordinates had told me. This was an action that served me, to postpone my adventure a bit.
When you went to the Branch, did anyone ask you for identification, or other documents that showed who you really were?
No, this was also their mistake, which became a problem later. Even I myself did not understand how I had been able to create so much certainty for them that I was who I had declared and not the “nothing” person that I really was.
You never wore an officer’s uniform during this time?
To be honest, I didn’t even want to wear it, but the situation brought that I had to take an officer’s photo and I needed a jacket with the rank of first captain, because that’s how I declared myself. I asked Vasil Sema for this honor. He was the first captain in the Branch and I created the situation so that he could not refuse me. I took the jacket, even though it had a lot of decorations, and took a picture, which is still in my investigative file to this day. In June, when several promotions were made, I gave myself the rank of major. And from that time they called me major. So I had risen in rank, as had the others.
Do you have any special memories from your stay as a Security officer in Shkodër?
I have many memories, but I would single out the company of the Prime Minister of that time, Mehmet Shehu. It was June 1960. I was standing at the police station of Ura e Baçallek. I noticed that the “Gaz” of the Internal Affairs Branch of Shkodra came. I noticed Colonel Skënder Vinçani and lieutenant colonel Hysen Hoxhati, many policemen and security officers.
Suddenly, Vinçani asked me if I knew that Mehmet Shehu was coming on an official visit. I told them I knew and so I re-entered their trust game. Vinçani told me that, from the hills of Bushati to Baçallek, he was guarded by the forces led by Sulo Skëndaj, while from there on the personality of that time had to be protected by the forces of the Internal Affairs Branch of Shkodra.
The colonel also asked me for my opinion on the way to organize the services and I said what I thought. We also met the prime minister there. With a few others, I accompanied him to the Guest House. I, the prime minister’s driver and his companion, Mit’hat Gjondeda, went to Shiroka and had dinner. Afterwards, I went back to the hotel with their car.
“The incident in Durrës of the Security officer’s wife with Enver, when he was returning from escorting Moris Torez”
The “Major” of the Security tells the interesting event of July 1960, when the head of the Albanian state at that time accompanied the head of the KP of France on the run.
The rare story of Xhaferr Kanani, who was the self-proclaimed special envoy of Kadri Hazbiu in the Departments of Internal Affairs in Shkodër and Durrës, continues with interesting incidents and meetings. After Mehmet Shehu’s visit to Shkodër, he would assist in another event, that of the complaint that a woman made to Enver, while he had accompanied Maurice Torrez, the head of the Communist Party of France, to the port. Kanani would also be a protagonist in several situations of arrests for unfounded accusations, which he resolved in favor of the accused persons. In his confession, the 65-year-old reveals some flaws and weaknesses of the most glorious weapon of the system at that time, the State Security.
How many days did Mehmet Shehu stay in Shkodër?
Stay a day and a half. He met the leaders of that district, Sule Baholli, Bilal Parruca and other leaders there. Then he ran away and I also ran away with his escort group to Vorë and from there to Durrës.
You used to come to Shkodër often as a self-proclaimed major of the State Security. Do you remember any case when you were asked to intervene or give an opinion about the arrested persons?
It was not just one case, but many. I will try to recall some cases where my intervention was decisive, that is, it saved people from prison. I wanted to be good with that contingent, as I knew that tomorrow I would be like them, with the adventure I had started and that would not last long. I remember the work of a captain of the Zogaj Border Post. Two boys who regularly went to play football with the postal soldiers had escaped to Montenegro.
Now that the situation is like this, the investigation into their activities begins, so I mean where they stayed, who they stayed with and where they played. It had turned out that they had gone to play at the border post and it was discussed that their going there was on purpose to see the border security regime.
This is how it was dug to bring out the responsibilities and it is known that the “ball” remains in the last link of the captain, who had actually let the boys of the village enter the post office. When I went with my “colleagues” from the Internal Affairs Branch at the Border Post on the occasion of the Border holiday, I told them that the boys had not gone to the post for the first time and played with the soldiers, so I thought that they should not have arrested the captain. In fact, that’s how it happened.
Has there been another case?
Not only one, but also many others, but I will also mention the case of the release of two boys from Shkodra, who were swimming in the lake very deep and the Security thought that they intended to escape. When I saw them and learned what they were accused of, I told them that, as long as there were no facts to prove their desire to escape, it would be best if they were released. I remember another case related to the charge that was filed against an officer that he allegedly wanted to escape to Montenegro.
He had actually taken his people to Hot and was arrested there. In fact, as soon as I learned how it was, I waited for my opinion to be asked, and when asked, I told them that the officer should be released, as he was not captured in the clone part, not even close to it, but in Hot, and thus no one dealt with the charges against the officer.
Durrës was your “base”. What about the first day of staying there after returning from Shkodra as a self-proclaimed Security officer, do you remember?
I remember it well. From the beginning, my “residence” was the port, and I always stayed close to it. There I was acquainted with several officers of the Branch who had once served in Shkodër and then transferred. These officers knew that I was engaged in Shkodër because they knew some of the girl’s people. Through these, I was also introduced to several other officers of the Durrës Internal Affairs Branch.
In this city, I was given more room for action. In the Durrës Branch, there were also some officers from the South, such as Captain Shehu, or others. They thought I was Xhemal Shehu, an army colonel, whom I did not know, but later I realized that they had confused me with him. Even in the trial, these officers were justified by the fact that I looked like Xhemal. Come on find out about this business now.
Do you remember an incident where you had to stand up to someone or give an opinion on the case?
I remember one incident well, which then got too big, so it became a problem. That day in Durrës was the entire leadership of Albania, after a visit to Tirana, accompanying Maurice Torez, the head of the French Communist Party. The situation was difficult since relations with the former Soviet Union had cooled and as far as I remember, his visit was made there from July 1960. I was among the officers of the Department of Internal Affairs of Durrës when Enver Hoxha, Hysni Kapo and others, were accompanying Torez.
When he left, the highest leaders of Albania at that time were returning to their cars. At this time, a woman broke away from the crowd and came in front of Enver Hoxha and said something to him. This caused uproar and it soon became clear that the woman was the wife of an officer of the Durrës Branch, who served in the Border sector, had the rank of major and was from the villages of Gjirokastra. They took the woman and accompanied her. She had cried to Enver for shelter, as they lived in a shack and in very difficult conditions.
Then the woman was set free and I intervened to return her dignity to the country, to take her to where they had taken her. At this time, while I was with Captain V.S., the Chairman of the Durrës Branch, Kopi Niko, arrives, who arrogantly addresses the captain and demanded an account of why he had let his wife bother the leader. He calmly replied that he had been away and that others had been there, then he introduced him to me. We were drinking coffee at the “Detari” club and after the answer; the head of the Branch told the captain that he should appear at the Branch as they had a meeting.
Kopi started talking to me. He asked me about the duty in the beach area. He started talking to me, whom I took as a provocation, about a friend of the Political Bureau, who was at the beach residence and had a doctor’s recommendation to walk 2-3 kilometers every day. He asked me if he had any good friends with him. I told him there was not one but several and I later learned that, in that conversation, it was about Gogo Nushi. This is how the friendship with Kopi Niko, the Chairman of the Department of Internal Affairs of Durrës, began. Sitting with Colonel Kopi Niko, comes the First Secretary of the Durres District Party Committee.
Kopi introduced me to him very pompously. He told him that I was an important cadre and that for the summer months; I would operate on the beach. Sami Gjebrea also gave me some orders related to the problems of foreigners on the beach, especially for German and Polish tourists. Sami Gjebrea began to analyze the action of the woman who appeared before Enver Hoxha and said that our military friend was to blame for this. I, justifying the officer, told him that the husband did not know anything, that if he knew, he would not allow such a thing, that he was a good friend.
Colonel Kopit was pleased with the answer I gave to the First Secretary and took me in the car and we went to the branch where he told some officers that I was from the Ministry of the Interior and that in the area of the port and the beach, they could to meet many officers, but that none of them were like me. And this was true, because I was self-proclaimed, the others were all right, appointed. He was even told that, for everything, they should report to me, and they followed his order.
After a while, I asked the colonel for permission to go to the “Vollaga” hotel, and he ordered to talk to the director, to reserve the best room for me. As I was already familiar with the Durrës Beach Security Operatives, I began to learn many secrets of their duties and even gave my opinion on how to resolve situations, which I began to do willingly because I had started to take their hand. Memorie.al
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