An ethnic Albanian native of Kosovo, Ceku was stationed in Croatia as part of the Yugoslav Army when war broke out there in 1991. Siding with the Croats, he fought Serb troops for the republic's independence from Yugoslavia( and was awarded several medals by the late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman).
Ceku married a Croatian woman but returned to Kosovo as a commander of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which in early 1998 launched a guerrilla war against Serb forces. A career soldier, Ceku took responsibility for overhauling the KLA command structure.
Serb forces pulled out in 1999 under NATO bombing and Ceku helped oversee the disbanding of the KLA. He took command of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), a civil emergency force created by the United Nations to absorb the former rebels.
Ceku has had to purge the Corps of rogue elements several times since 1999. But he retains the strong support of Kosovo's Western backers, most notably Britain, which took on the role of KPC sponsor and mentor. -- Serbia says Ceku is guilty of war crimes against Serb civilians during the Kosovo war.
He has twice been detained -- in Slovenia and Hungary -- on Serbian-issued arrest warrants, but was quickly released on both occasions ( Because Interpol does not consider Serb warrant for Kosovo citizens to be legitimate). Ceku was born near the western Kosovo town of Pec/Peje on Oct. 29, 1960.