Almost since the beginning of the Bosnian war in the spring of 1992, there have been persistent reports — readily found in the European media but little reported in the United States — that civilian deaths in Muslim-held Sarajevo attributed to the Bosnian Serb Army were in some cases actually inflicted by operatives of the Izetbegovic regime in an (ultimately successful) effort to secure American intervention on Sarajevo’s behalf. These allegations include instances of sniping at civilians as well as three major explosions, attributed to Serbian mortar fire, that claimed the lives of dozens of people and, in each case, resulted in the international community’s taking measures against the Muslims’ enemies – the Serbs.
caption: Mujahedeen near Travnik, Bosnia
- (1) the May 27, 1992, “breadline massacre,” which was reported to have killed 16 people and which resulted in economic sanctions on the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia;
- (2) the February 5, 1994, Markale “market massacre,” killing 68 and resulting in selective NATO air strikes and an ultimatum to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons from the area near Sarajevo; and
- (3) the August 28, 1995 “second market massacre,” killing 37 and resulting in large-scale NATO air strikes, eventually leading to the Dayton agreement and the deployment of IFOR.)
When she was asked about such allegations (with respect to the February 1994 explosion) then-U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright, in a stunning non sequitur, said: “It’s very hard to believe any country would do this to their own people, and therefore, although we do not exactly know what the facts are, it would seem to us that the Serbs are the ones that probably have a great deal of responsibility.” [“Senior official admits to secret U.N. report on Sarajevo massacre,”Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 6/6/96, emphasis added]
The fact that such a contention is difficult to believe does not mean it is not true. Not only did the incidents lead to the result desired by Sarajevo (Western action against the Bosnian Serbs), their staging by the Muslims would be entirely in keeping with the moral outlook of Islamic radicalism, which has long accepted the deaths of innocent (including Muslim) bystanders killed in terrorist actions. According to a noted analyst: “The dictum that the end justifies the means is adopted by all fundamentalist organizations in their strategies for achieving political power and imposing on society their own view of Islam. What is important in every action is its niy’yah, its motive. No means need be spared in the service of Islam as long as one takes action with a pure niy’yah.” [Amir Taheri, Holy Terror, Bethesda, MD, 1987] With the evidence that the Sarajevo leadership does in fact have a fundamentalist outlook, it is unwarranted to dismiss cavalierly the possibility of Muslim responsibility. Among some of the reports:
Sniping: “French peacekeeping troops in the United Nations unit trying to curtail Bosnian Serb sniping at civilians in Sarajevo have concluded that until mid-June some gunfire also came from Government soldiers deliberately shooting at their own civilians. After what it called a ‘definitive’ investigation, a French marine unit that patrols against snipers said it traced sniper fire to a building normally occupied by Bosnian [i.e., Muslim] soldiers and other security forces. A senior French officer said, ‘We find it almost impossible to believe, but we are sure that it is true.'” [“Investigation Concludes Bosnian Government Snipers Shot at Civilians,” New York Times, 8/1/95]
The 1992 “Breadline Massacre”: “United Nations officials and senior Western military officers believe some of the worst killings in Sarajevo, including the massacre of at least 16 people in a bread queue, were carried out by the city’s mainly Muslim defenders — not Serb besiegers — as a propaganda ploy to win world sympathy and military intervention. . . . Classified reports to the UN force commander, General Satish Nambiar, concluded . . . that Bosnian forces loyal to President Alija Izetbegovic may have detonated a bomb. ‘We believe it was a command-detonated explosion, probably in a can,’ a UN official said then. ‘The large impact which is there now is not necessarily similar or anywhere near as large as we came to expect with a mortar round landing on a paved surface.” [“Muslims ‘slaughter their own people’,” (London) The Independent, 8/22/92] “Our people tell us there were a number of things that didn’t fit. The street had been blocked off just before the incident. Once the crowd was let in and had lined up, the media appeared but kept their distance. The attack took place, and the media were immediately on the scene.” [Major General Lewis MacKenzie,Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo, Vancouver, BC, 1993, pages 193-4; Gen. MacKenzie, a Canadian, had been commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sarajevo.]
The 1994 Markale “Market Massacre”: “French television reported last night that the United Nations investigation into the market-place bombing in Sarajevo two weeks ago had established beyond doubt that the mortar shell that killed 68 people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim] lines.” [“UN tracks source of fatal shell,” (London) The Times, 2/19/94] “For the first time, a senior U.N. official has admitted the existence of a secret U.N. report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo market. . . . After studying the crater left by the mortar shell and the distribution of shrapnel, the report concluded that the shell was fired from behind Moslem lines.” The report, however, was kept secret; the context of the wire story implies that U.S. Ambasador Albright may have been involved in its suppression. [DPA, 6/6/96] For a fuller discussion of the conflicting claims, see “Anatomy of a massacre,” Foreign Policy, 12/22/94, by David Binder; Binder, a veteran New York Timesreporter in Yugoslavia, had access to the suppressed report. Bodansky categorically states that the bomb “was actually a special charge designed and built with help from HizbAllah [“Party of God,” a Beirut-based pro-Iranian terror group] experts and then most likely dropped from a nearby rooftop onto the crowd of shoppers. Video cameras at the ready recorded this expertly-staged spectacle of gore, while dozens of corpses of Bosnian Muslim troops killed in action (exchanged the day before in a ‘body swap’ with the Serbs) were paraded in front of cameras to raise the casualty counts.” [Offensive in the Balkans, page 62]
The 1995 “Second Market Massacre”: “British ammunition experts serving with the United Nations in Sarajevo have challenged key ‘evidence’ of the Serbian atrocity that triggered the devastating Nato bombing campaign which turned the tide of the Bosnian war.” The Britons’ analysis was confirmed by French analysts but their findings were “dismissed” by “a senior American officer” at U.N. headquarters in Sarajevo. [“Serbs ‘not guilty’ of massacre: Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian,” (London) The Times, 10/1/95] A “crucial U.N. report [stating Serb responsibility for] the market massacre is a classified secret, but four specialists — a Russian, a Canadian and two Americans — have raised serious doubts about its conclusion, suggesting instead that the mortar was fired not by the Serbs but by Bosnian government forces.” A Canadian officer “added that he and fellow Canadian officers in Bosnia were ‘convinced that the Muslim government dropped both the February 5, 1994, and the August 28, 1995, mortar shells on the Sarajevo markets.'” An unidentified U.S. official “contends that the available evidence suggests either ‘the shell was fired at a very low trajectory, which means a range of a few hundred yards — therefore under [Sarajevo] government control,’ or ‘a mortar shell converted into a bomb was dropped from a nearby roof into the crowd.'” [“Bosnia’s bombers,” The Nation, 10/2/95]. At least some high-ranking French and perhaps other Western officials believed the Muslims responsible; after having received that account from government ministers and two generals, French magazine editor Jean Daniel put the question directly to Prime Minister Edouard Balladur: “‘They [i.e., the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ I exclaimed in consternation. ‘Yes,’ confirmed the Prime Minister without hesitation, ‘but at least they have forced NATO to intervene.'” [“No more lies about Bosnia,” Le Nouvel Observateur, 8/31/95, translated in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, January 1997]
Suppression of Enemies
As might be expected, one manifestation of the radical Islamic orientation of the Izetbegovic government is increasing curtailment of the freedoms of the remaining non-Muslims (Croats and Serbs) in the Muslim-held zone. While there are similar pressures on minorities in the Serb- and Croat-held parts of Bosnia, in the Muslim zone they have a distinct Islamic flavor. For example, during the 1996-1997 Christmas and New Year holiday season, Muslim militants attempted to intimidate not only Muslims but Christians from engaging in what had become common holiday practices, such as gift-giving, putting up Christmas or New Year’s trees, and playing the local Santa Claus figure, Grandfather Frost (Deda Mraz). [“The Holiday, All Wrapped Up; Bosnian Muslims Take Sides Over Santa,”Washington Post, 12/26/96] In general:
“Even in Sarajevo itself, always portrayed as the most prominent multi-national community in Bosnia, pressure, both psychological and real, is impelling non-Bosniaks [i.e., non-Muslims] to leave. Some measures are indirect, such as attempts to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [Bosniak] street names. Other measures are deliberate efforts to apply pressure. Examples include various means to make non-Bosniaks leave the city. Similar pressures, often with more violent expression and occasionally with overt official participation, are being used throughout Bosnia.” [“Bosnia’s Security and U.S. Policy in the Next Phase: A Policy Paper, International Research and Exchanges Board, November 1996]
In addition, President Izetbegovic’s party, the SDA, has launched politically-motivated attacks on moderate Muslims both within the SDA and in rival parties. For example, in the summer of 1996 former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, (a Muslim, and son of the former imam at the main Sarajevo mosque) was set upon and beaten by SDA militants. Silajdzic claimed Izetbegovic himself was behind the attacks. [NYT, 9/2/96] Irfan Mustafic, a Muslim who co-founded the SDA, is a member of the Bosnian parliament and was president of the SDA’s executive council in Srebrenica when it fell to Bosnian Serb forces; he was taken prisoner but later released. Because of several policy disagreements with Izetbegovic and his close associates, Mustafic was shot and seriously wounded in Srebrenica by Izetbegovic loyalists. [(Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 7/14/96] Finally, one incident sums up both the ruthlessness of the Sarajevo establishment in dealing with their enemies as well as their international radical links:
“A special Bosnian army unit headed by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president’s son, murdered a Bosnian general found shot to death in Belgium last week, a Croatian newspaper reported . . . citing well-informed sources. The Vjesnik newspaper, controlled by the government, said the assassination of Yusuf Prazina was carried out by five members of a commando unit called ‘Delta’ and headed by Ismet Bajramovic also known as Celo. The paper said that three members of the Syrian-backed Palestinian movement Saika had Prazina under surveillance for three weeks before one of them, acting as an arms dealer, lured him into a trap in a car park along the main highway between Liege in eastern Belgium and the German border town of Aachen. Prazina, 30, nicknamed Yuka, went missing early last month. He was found Saturday with two bullet holes to the head. ‘The necessary logistical means to carry out the operation were provided by Bakir Izetbegovic, son of Alija Izetbegovic, who left Sarajevo more than six months ago,’ Vjesnik said. It added that Bakir Izetbegovic ‘often travels between Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, by using Iraqi and Pakistani passports,’ and was in Belgium at the time of the assassination. Hasan Cengic, head of logistics for the army in Bosnia-Hercegovina, was ‘personally involved in the assassination of Yuka Prazina,’ the paper said.” [Agence France Presse, 1/5/94]
The Clinton Administration’s blunder in giving the green light to the Iranian arms pipeline was based, among other errors, on a gross misreading of the true nature and goals of the Izetbegovic regime in Sarajevo. It calls to mind the similar mistake of the Carter Administration, which in 1979 began lavish aid to the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the hopes that (if the United States were friendly enough) the nine comandantes would turn out to be democrats, not communists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By the time the Reagan Administration finally cut off the dollar spigot in 1981, the comandantes — or the “nine little Castros,” as they were known locally — had fully entrenched themselves in power.
To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential. In particular, addressing the immediate threat to U.S. troops in Bosnia, exacerbated by the extention of the IFOR/SFOR mission, should be a major priority of the 105th Congress.
via: srpska -mreza.com