- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The U.N. war crimes tribunal at The Hague for former Yugoslavia is casting a wider and wider net.
It has convicted dozens of suspects, mainly Serbs, for crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the past decade, and it has made global headlines by indicting former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and sentencing Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic to 46 years for genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.
But what is garnering more attention here in Sarajevo is the arrests of two Bosnian Muslim generals and a colonel. Now, the tribunal may indict former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.

Treating all sides equally
Though the timing may be coincidental, the fact that the arrests took place the same day as Gen. Krstic's sentencing has been interpreted here as a sign that the tribunal will treat equally all sides that participated in the Yugoslav wars.
[Mr. Izetbegovic expressed willingness this month to testify against Mr. Milosevic, according to a television news report in Belgrade, but voiced doubt that he would be called as a witness. "Should I be summoned I will answer the call," he was quoted by the Serbian station, Studio B, as saying a week ago.
[On Aug. 28, Mirko Sarovic, president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, was quoted by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA as saying he expected more arrests of Bosnians who committed crimes against ethnic Serbs during the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including Mr. Izetbegovic and other decision makers and commanders. This would counter the impression that the Hague tribunal was one-sided, Mr. Sarovic reportedly said.
[Both reports were picked up and disseminated by the British Broadcasting Corp.]
Last month's arrests of the two Bosnian generals sparked panic among the former Bosnian political and military leadership. For many years, Mr. Izetbegovic's stubbornness and profound indecision in the face of plans to ethnically divide Bosnia seemed symbolic of the tragic fate of his people.

Knowing of crimes is key
Now many Bosnian Muslims are wondering what message the international community is trying to send.
"There's an attempt in some international circles to say, yes, there was an aggression on Bosnia, on CNN we saw a little country being attacked on all sides," said Ejub Ganic, the former vice president of Bosnia and member of Mr. Izetbegovic's party. "But now that these American journalists are gone, why don't we create a theory of civil war so we can prosecute everybody."
Jean-Jacques Joris, The Hague prosecutor's diplomatic adviser, counters that an interpretation such as Mr. Ganic's stems from a misunderstanding.
"You can have a legitimate military operation for defense in the course of which crimes will be committed. The three Bosniak generals were indicted for crimes the officers did not prevent or when they became aware of them did not prosecute," said Mr. Joris.

One general raised issue
Mr. Izetbegovic's response to the arrests of his loyal party men was characteristically fatalistic and proud. "I am ready to share the fate of my generals," he said on the cover of Bosnia's main weekly magazine, Dani.
Juxtaposed on the same cover were the words: "The army of BiH was in the hands of one man," spoken by Stepan Kljuic, a Croatian member of the wartime Bosnian presidency. His point was that few, except Mr. Izetbegovic's most trusted inner circle, were informed of what was happening.
But Jovan Divijak, well known during the war as the only Serbian general who chose to fight with the Bosnian army in the hopes of preserving a multiethnic Bosnia, said Mr. Kljuic and others should have made it their business to know.
In May of 1993, Gen. Divijak wrote a letter to Mr. Izetbegovic explaining that certain rogue commanders — most famous among them were two criminals nicknamed Caco and Celo — were responsible for crimes committed against Serbs, Croats and certain Bosnians in Sarajevo. Mr. Izetbegovic asked his high command to investigate the charges.

'Why didn't he react?'
"In his book, Izetbegovic writes that the majority said [I] was right," said Gen. Divijak. "So why didn't he react? It would have been better to have tried them here, at that time, than at The Hague."
Many, including Gen. Divjiak, assert that Mr. Izetbegovic was informed about everything, including the crimes committed by the purely Muslim religious brigades (including foreign Mujahideen) whom he openly favored and honored. The three Bosnian Muslim officers are, in fact, being indicted for failing to stop or punish the killings of war prisoners and civilians in central Bosnia perpetrated largely by these brigades.
"Izetbegovic knew about the problems in central Bosnia, but he accepted that they were acts of revenge," added Gen. Divijak.

Probe 2 years along
Whether or not The Hague's investigation of Mr. Izetbegovic, which sources say has been under way for two years, is politically motivated or will lead to an arrest, it has heightened the stakes of an internal debate among Bosnian journalists, intellectuals and political leaders about just how democratic and multiethnic Mr. Izetbegovic's goals were once the war was under way.
Slobodna Bosna, another leading Bosnian magazine, wrote with a somewhat sensational flourish that The Hague had rushed to translate the text of Mr. Izetbegovic's Islamic Declaration. It went on to say that though Mr. Izetbegovic said his book was concerned only with modern Islam and Bosnia, during the war, more than 10,000 copies were published and distributed to military and police structures.
Vildana Selimbegovic was recently made the editor in chief of Dani, which was sued, bombed and virulently attacked after publishing articles not only about crimes committed by the Bosnian army but about the parallel structure in the Bosnian leadership, which consisted of Mr. Izetbegovic's old circle of "Young Muslim" dissidents imprisoned during President Tito's rule, from 1945 to 1980.

Mujahideen were favored
Many, like Mrs. Selimbegovic, claim that by 1993, Mr. Izetbegovic and his clique were interested only in carving out a little Muslim state, and that to do that they not only accepted but encouraged the presence of the foreign Mujahideen who filmed decapitations of Serbian soldiers. At the time, she wanted to see if they really existed, and could enter their base only disguised as a mute man.
These days, when Bosnians ask why she is writing such articles against the army, Mrs. Selimbegovic replies: "I know my husband and his friends died fighting to defend Sarajevo and other territories, and I want to take the mask off all those who committed crimes in the name of the army."
It's in that spirit, in fact, that the Bosnian government, in the opinion of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller, followed the rules of the tribunal, and arrested the three Bosnian Army officers, in contrast to the Serbian entity, which continues to shelter its accused war criminals.


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