XIII. Srebrenica: The quest for clarity
The Bosnian-Serbs have been accused of capturing and executing 8,000 Bosnian-Muslim civilians from Srebrenica. The public has been told through official statements and mainstream news outlets, that the primary victims of the Srebrenica massacre were civilians, when they weren’t.
Readers of the New York Times were informed by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Anthony Lewis that “The Bosnian Serb leaders were not on the scale of the Nazis, but the evil was the same. General Mladić presided over the slaughter of 8,000 civilian men and boys after his troops captured the U.N. safe haven’ of Srebrenica.”
Gareth Evans and James Lyon, the president and senior Balkan analyst for the International Crisis Group, wrote in the International Herald Tribune that “In mid-July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Mladić conducted the organized slaughter of nearly 8,000 civilians and non-combatants around the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.”
In 2005 the UN High Commission on Refugees issued a report stating that “Nearly 8,000 civilians were slaughtered in the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II. The International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague last year judged the action as genocide.”
Also in 2005, the White House issued a statement describing the Srebrenica massacre as, “The mass murder of nearly 8,000 men and boys. [It] was Europe’s worst massacre of civilians since World War II, and a grim reminder that there are evil people who will kill the innocent without conscience or mercy.”
The public has been led, by proponents of the Srebrenica genocide theory, to believe that the victims of the Srebrenica massacre were almost exclusively civilians and non-combatants, and that the Bosnian-Serbs’ were motivated by an irrational and senseless hatred of Muslims similar to Hitler’s drive to exterminate the Jews.
Civilians or Soldiers?
A massacre of helpless civilians is certainly shocking and deserving of condemnation. The wanton killing of civilians carries far more propaganda weight than the killing of soldiers in a war zone, which is probably why the proponents of the Srebrenica genocide theory are so keen to portray the victims of the massacre as civilians rather than soldiers.
According to an Internal Memorandum prepared by Demographers at the Hague Tribunal in 2008, 70.1% of the 7,661 persons alleged by the Prosecution to be victims of the Srebrenica massacre were known members of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina whose military records were found by the Tribunal’s researchers.
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has performed DNA analysis on thousands of corpses exhumed from gravesites in the Srebrenica area. According to statistics compiled by the ICTY in 2008, the ICMP has identified the mortal remains of 3,837 individuals from the ICTY prosecutor’s list of Srebrenica victims. According to their statistics, 93.9% of the individuals identified by the ICMP were men aged fifteen to sixty-five.
Although some civilians certainly perished, the overwhelming majority of those killed were soldiers. The age and sex of the victims strongly suggests that they were soldiers, and the fact that military records have been located for most of the identified victims should remove all doubt that the intended target of the Srebrenica massacre wasn’t the civilian population, it was the military.
The Bosnian-Serb Motive
As is discussed in detail elsewhere in this book, a substantial portion of the Muslim soldiers who died after the fall of Srebrenica died in combat. However, there is clear forensic evidence that many Bosnian-Muslims were also executed by Bosnian-Serb forces.
The suggestion that the Bosnian-Serb determination to execute the Muslim soldiers was motivated by an evil and irrational hatred of Muslims, similar to Hitler’s pathological hatred and demonization of the Jews, is an awful insult to Holocaust victims.
Unlike the Muslim soldiers in Srebrenica, European Jewry didn’t do anything to provoke the horrific slaughter they were subjected to by the Nazis. The constant comparisons of the Srebrenica massacre to the Holocaust ought to sicken any honest person.
In their debriefing, the DutchBat personnel who were based in Srebrenica when it fell, made an interesting observation about the individuals who manned the VRS units surrounding enclave. They noted that those units “were manned chiefly by Bosnian-Serb refugees who had formerly lived in the enclave.”
These Bosnian-Serb soldiers, together with their families, were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Srebrenica by exactly the same group of people they’ve been accused of massacring: the Bosnian-Muslim soldiers in Srebrenica.
Unlike the Nazis’ paranoid hatred of the Jews, it isn’t hard to understand why these Bosnian-Serb soldiers would want to kill the people who directly victimized them and their loved ones.
It isn’t hard to put oneself in their position. The Muslim soldiers in Srebrenica were the exact group of people who drove them and their families out of their homes in Srebrenica and turned them into refugees in the first place. These particular Bosnian-Serbs had been enduring years of hit-and-run attacks from the so-called “UN Safe Area,” again, perpetrated by exactly this same group of Muslim soldiers.
If you were a Bosnian-Serb soldier who, together with your loved ones, had been directly victimized and attacked by precisely this group of Muslim soldiers, and you got the opportunity to kill some of them, it isn’t hard to understand why you would do it.
While extra-judicial killings should never be condoned or excused, it is worth mentioning that these executions were the only “justice” the Bosnian-Serbs ever got for the crimes that were committed against them.
Naser Orić, the Muslim military commander in Srebrenica, was put on trial for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal, but he was acquitted. The entire purpose of his trial was to whitewash the crimes he and his men committed.
Naser Orić was a man who openly boasted about his crimes. He famously showed videotaped evidence of the Serbs he killed to not one, but two western journalists: John Pomfret of the Washington Post and Bill Schiller of the Toronto Star.
If Hague prosecutors were making a good faith effort to bring Orić to justice for his crimes, you’d think they’d call Pomfret and Schiller to the stand and have them testify, but they didn’t. You’d expect them to tender the articles Pomfret and Schiller wrote about their dealings with Orić into evidence during the trial, but they didn’t even do that. As far as the Prosecution was concerned, Orić’s boasts about his crimes never happened.
During his testimony at the Tribunal, the former commander of the UN Protection Force in Bosnia, Gen. Philippe Morillon described his dealings with Orić. He testified that Orić was “a warlord who reigned by terror in his area and over the population itself” and that Orić and his men, “engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants.”
One would think the Prosecution would have called Morillon to testify against Orić. Gen. Morillon personally dealt with Orić, he had knowledge of his crimes, and he was a senior UN official. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect witness for the prosecution. But Morillon was never called to testify in Orić’s trial. Ironically, his testimony about Orić was given during the Slobodan Milošević trial.
The whole point of the Orić trial was to absolve Orić and his men for their crimes in order to preserve the illusion that the Muslims were innocent, and the only villains in Srebrenica were the Serbs. It is difficult to imagine a more politicized and bigoted joke of a court than the Hague Tribunal.
The only justice the Bosnian-Serbs ever got for their victims was what they took with their own hands in July 1995. What they did was illegal and wrong, but it’s certainly mitigated by the fact that no other justice was ever made available to them. The only crimes the Hague Tribunal is interested in prosecuting are the ones committed by Serbs, not the ones committed against them.
It would be intellectually dishonest to suggest that the Bosnian-Serbs were the only ones in the region with a legitimate grievance. They certainly had one, and it was undoubtedly what motivated some of them to do what they did. But it is worth pointing out that 85% of the Muslims in Srebrenica were refugees. Like the Serbian soldiers surrounding the enclave, they too had been ethnically cleansed from their homes.
What was happening in Srebrenica was a vicious cycle of revenge and mutual hatred. One of the ugly truths about the Bosnian War is that everybody was guilty of ethnic cleansing.
Because people sometimes confuse genocide and ethnic cleansing it is worth explaining the difference. Genocide always entails killing, but ethnic cleansing does not usually entail killing. Genocide is the deliberate extermination of an ethnic group. Ethnic cleansing is the forcible removal, usually by deportation, of the members of an ethnic group from a particular geographic region.
During the Bosnian war, everybody was guilty of ethnic cleansing. In the part of Bosnia that makes-up today’s B-H Federation, Serbs comprised 31.46% of the population in 1991 (before the war) and 3.24% of the population in 1997 (after the war). Conversely, in what is now Republika Srpska, Muslims comprised 31.84% of the population in 1991 (before the war) and 1.31% in 1997 (after the war).
The situation in and around Srebrenica was a recipe for disaster. Many of the Muslim soldiers in the enclave were only there in the first place because they were victims of ethnic cleansing at the hands of Serbs, and the Serb soldiers surrounding the enclave were victims of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Muslim soldiers in the enclave. That’s why they hated each other, and that is what propelled the cycle of violence on the local level.
A simplistic narrative about good guys and bad guys, with innocent victims and evil villains bent on their extermination may be easy for the Western public to understand but it does not reflect what happened in Srebrenica.
The Official Srebrenica Story
While I have referred at length to the “Srebrenica Massacre”, it was not about the “official story” promoted by the charlatans at the Hague Tribunal and endlessly regurgitated by the news media.
Simply put, the “official Srebrenica story” just isn’t plausible. Even if they had wanted to do everything they’ve been accused of, it is difficult to believe that the Serbs could have pulled it off.
The ratio of forces in the Srebrenica Theater blows the “official story” out of the water. Muslim soldiers outnumbered Serb soldiers there by an almost 3-to-1 ratio. In order for the official version to hold-up you have to believe that about 2,000 Bosnian-Serb soldiers managed to capture, transport, execute, and burry 8,000 Muslims while fighting against a force of 6,000 armed soldiers. That hardly seems possible.
Strength of the ABiH
Although UN Military Observers were uncertain of the exact number of Muslim military personnel in Srebrenica, they believed “that at least half had side arms as well as heavy machine guns, light mortars, and anti-tank weapons including rocket propelled grenades and more modern ones.”
Dutch Battalion personnel described the armaments of the Muslim forces in the enclave saying, “Their weapons consisted almost exclusively of light arms, supplemented by, among others, a limited number of heavy machine guns, anti-tank weapons and mortars.”
Data compiled by the civilian authorities in Srebrenica shows that there were 36,051 people living in the enclave at the beginning of 1995. Of that number, 11,495 were military aged men 18 to 60 years old.
It is worth noting that from an overall population numbering 36,051 people in January 1995 that 35,632 surviving refugees from Srebrenica were registered by the UN in Tuzla on August 4, 1995. The mathematics doesn’t support the “official story” either.
Due to the ongoing war, a military draft was in effect. It is likely that virtually all of the 11,495 military aged men in the Srebrenica enclave were pressed into military service. If the UN Military Observers’ estimate that “at least half were armed” is correct that makes for an armed fighting force of approximately 6,000 men.
The figure of 6,000 armed solders is corroborated by the Command of the 2nd Corps of the ABiH in a report it prepared detailing the operation those men undertook to break out of Srebrenica and cross Bosnian-Serb territory into Tuzla.
According to that report: “Numbers were not established when the column was formed, but some estimates put the number in the column at 10,000 to 15,000 people, including approximately 6,000 armed soldiers, not counting soldiers from Zepa.”
Based on this information, one can be confident that there were approximately 6,000 armed Muslim soldiers in Srebrenica when it fell.
Strength of the Bosnian-Serb Army (VRS)
According to UN Military Observers, at the time of the attack the VRS “Drina Corps was known to be stretched in terms of resources” and the strength of the VRS units surrounding Srebrenica was “1,000 to 3,000 infantry with up to 20 tanks as well as artillery and multiple launch rocket systems.” When Srebrenica fell, the UNMOs estimated that the local Bosnian-Serb brigades “probably have around 1,500 infantry in total” and together with reinforcements from units stationed in adjacent areas, the strength of the Bosnian-Serb forces around Srebrenica was “probably no less than 2,000 infantry” when the enclave fell.
Dutch Battalion personnel who were on the spot in Srebrenica reported that “Up to and including June, between three and four battalions belonging to three brigades of the Drina Corps positioned around the enclave. The average strength of the battalions was 250 men. The units were well-equipped and had tanks, tracked armored vehicles, artillery and mortars.”
It is extremely difficult to believe that 2,000 Bosnian-Serb troops, even though they did have better weapons, could have captured, transported, executed, and buried 8,000 men while simultaneously fighting against a force of 6,000 armed Muslim soldiers.
Because the Bosnian-Serbs were entrenched in their positions and the Muslims were trying to move across the terrain, and because the Bosnian-Serbs had better weapons, it isn’t difficult to believe that they managed to inflict significant combat casualties on Muslim soldiers, who are now all being passed off by genocide propagandists as innocent civilians who were taken prisoner and executed.
Srebrenica Was Sacrificed on Purpose
This book has already dealt with Bill Clinton’s proposition to Alija Izetbegović that NATO would intervene in the Bosnian war if the Serbs massacred at least 5,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, so we won’t tread that ground again here. What we will do is examine the behavior of the UN and the Muslims in the light of that proposition.
While testifying about Srebrenica in the French parliament, Gen. Morillon said that “Mladić had entered an ambush in Srebrenica, a trap, in fact. He expected to find resistance, but there was none. He didn’t expect the massacre to occur but he completely underestimated the amount of hatred that accrued. I don’t believe that he ordered the massacres, but I don’t know. That is my personal opinion.”
Morillon went on to say, “I was convinced that the population of Srebrenica was the victim of a higher interest, of a state reason.” He said, “This higher interest was located in Sarajevo and New York, but certainly not in Paris. Had I been able to evacuate all those who had wanted me to do so at the time that I intervened in Srebrenica [in 1993], we could certainly have saved a number of human lives.”
Sarajevo was the seat of the Muslim regime in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, and the UN is headquartered in New York. Based on Morillon’s testimony and the recollections of the Dutch Battalion and the UN Military Observers who were on the ground in Srebrenica the suggestion is clear that Srebrenica was sacrificed on purpose by officials in Sarajevo and New York for political purposes.
As discussed elsewhere in this book, the Bosnian-Serbs launched an operation against Srebrenica in July of 1995 in response to Muslim attacks emanating from the enclave.
When the Bosnian-Serbs attacked the enclave, UN Military Observers were stunned that the Muslim army didn’t attempt to defend it. In their report they wrote, “The advantages militarily seem to have been with the [Muslim] defenders to at least hold out for longer and have inflicted greater losses on the Bosnian-Serb Army than believed. However, the ABiH leadership seems to have actually acted against their own interests to carryout a successful defense.” The UNMO’s concluded that “the ABiH had the force ratios to defend the enclave particularly considering its hilly, wooded nature.”
Sefer Halilović, the chief-of-staff of the Muslim armed forces during the war, admitted during his testimony at The Hague Tribunal that “the command of the 2nd Corps and the General Staff knew when the operation on Srebrenica started, but from a series of testimonies, the people who were in Srebrenica, both from military and political structures, we can clearly see that they asked for help, both of the command of the 2nd Corps and the command of the General Staff and President Izetbegović, but that they did not receive that assistance. To answer your question whether they had the power and materiel to help, to come to the help of Srebrenica, I think that they did.”
The Muslim army could have defended the enclave, but they chose not to. Dutch Battalion personnel in Srebrenica were surprised that the Muslim troops in the enclave did not avail themselves of the weapons they were offered. On the morning of July 6th DutchBat personnel “Informed the Bosnian government forces that, if the Bosnian-Serb Army crossed the enclave boundary, the arms in the weapon collection point in Srebrenica would be released. Later, when this situation did indeed occur, the Bosnian government forces did not avail themselves of this opportunity.”
The Muslims had the forces and the weapons needed to single-handedly defeat the Bosnian-Serbs in Srebrenica, but they didn’t stand and fight. The UN could also have prevented the fall of the enclave, but they didn’t do anything either. The Sarajevo regime and the UN both deliberately let the enclave fall.
The UN was authorized to call in NATO air strikes if a UN Safe Area, which Srebrenica technically was, came under attack.
Even though the UN was authorized to call in NATO air strikes to defend Srebrenica, and the Dutch Battalion indeed requested air strikes, no air strikes were ever authorized by UN officials in New York.
According to the debriefing of Dutch Battalion personnel, “The battalion was counting on massive air support … air support was requested around 10.30 hrs. [on July 11, 1995] Then, despite all of its promises, the UN still failed to release air power.”
From their debriefing it was clear that Dutch Battalion personnel felt betrayed by UN officials in New York. They wrote, “Both the battalion staff and the rest of Dutchbat are convinced that the fall of the enclave can be attributed to a distinct lack of support from the air; the limited close air support did not arrive until the battle was actually over.”
The UN and the Muslim regime in Sarajevo deliberately sacrificed the enclave, when they both had the means to defend it.
From a political perspective, the fall of Srebrenica and the subsequent allegations of massacres and genocide there are immensely valuable to the Muslim cause. The cult of Srebrenica has been a propaganda bonanza for the Muslims. It galvanized Western public opinion against the Bosnian-Serbs, and put pressure on Western leaders to pursue military intervention against the Serbs and lift the UN arms embargo on the Muslims.
The media frenzy surrounding the “Srebrenica massacre” served the dual purpose of whipping-up public support for Operation Deliberate Force, which began 6 weeks later and, as is written elsewhere in this book, distracting the public from what happened in Croatia during Operation Storm.
Sarajevo had more to gain from the fall of Srebrenica than it would have gained from a successful military defense of the enclave. If the Muslims had engaged the Bosnian-Serb Army in Srebrenica, and defeated them there, it would have exposed the fact that they hadn’t demilitarized their forces in the enclave as they were supposed to.
Can the Investigation be Trusted?
Because the UN and the Bosnian Government are directly culpable for what happened in Srebrenica, common sense holds that they would want to re-direct as much blame as possible onto the Serbs. The Bosnian Government launched military attacks from the enclave and the UN did absolutely nothing to stop them even though Srebrenica had been declared a UN Safe Area and was supposed to be demilitarized.
Broadly speaking the UN condoned the Muslim attacks, the UN and the Muslim regime goaded the VRS into attacking the enclave, and then did nothing to defend it, even though they had the matériel, the man power, and the obligation to do so. They abandoned the Muslim soldiers in Srebrenica who then tried to escape across Bosnian-Serb territory to Tuzla.
Now the UN Tribunal in The Hague and the Bosnian Government are precisely the people running the investigation. They are the ones who decide whether the Muslims who were killed in connection with the fall of Srebrenica died on the battlefield or whether they were captured and executed by the Bosnian Serbs, and whether or not those deaths were motivated by genocidal intent on the part of the Bosnian-Serbs.
The role played by the ICMP is limited to determining the identity of human remains through DNA analysis, and recording the location where the remains were found. The ICMP doesn’t do anything else. It does not make any determination about the cause of death, the circumstances of the death, the military status of the deceased, the deceased’s connection to Srebrenica or the motives of the people responsible. The UN tribunal and the Bosnian government are the ones who draw all of the important conclusions.
The UN Tribunal grossly abuses the ICMP’s work for manifestly political purposes. The judgment in the Popović trial states that:
“The Trial Chamber is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that at least 5,336 identified individuals were killed in the executions following the fall of Srebrenica. The Trial Chamber also notes that the evidence before it is not all encompassing. Graves continue to be discovered and exhumed to this day, and the number of identified individuals will rise. The Trial Chamber therefore considers that the number could well be as high as 7,826.”
The only word that describes that kind of reasoning is “bullshit”. It may be an offensive word, but it’s the only word that does the job. The judges who wrote that bullshit are morons who honestly don’t understand that you can’t tell how someone died from their DNA; otherwise, they are lying. There is no way they can know from someone’s DNA how they died, and they certainly cannot know, before an investigation is even conducted, how the nearly 2,500 people they allege are in as yet undiscovered graves were killed.
What kind of court writes an opinion that says every corpse that gets found in a war zone, along with any subsequent corpses that may be found later, belongs to an individual who was captured and executed? Their credibility is zero, and so is the credibility of anyone who would treat the Tribunal’s findings as credible.
The evidence underlying this particular finding is a report prepared by ICTY Prosecution investigator Dušan Janc, and as Janc clearly sets out on the first page of his report, the numbers are based on “an examination of records provided to the ICTY by the ICMP in early March 2009 and the BiH authorities.” He also explains that “‘Identified’ means an individual with a unique DNA profile (whether with or without a name).”
Janc never says in his report, which is the sole reference cited by the judges, that every single person identified by the ICMP and the BH authorities was executed. That part the judges made up on their own.
It is suggested that “Confidential Annex D” of Janc’s report contains a list of the victims who the ICMP has been able to identify by name, but that list is confidential and therefore inaccessible to the public.
The only list of ICMP identified victims that has been released to the public was compiled in 2005. That list was released as a public notice by the ICTY on March 13, 2009 during the Tolimir trial, and it identifies 2,591 individuals by name.
One thing that’s interesting about the individuals identified by the ICMP is the fact that 140 of them were found in graves purported to contain the remains of Srebrenica massacre victims, but their military service records showed that they had been killed in combat, months and in many cases years, before the fall of Srebrenica.
In their final trial brief, Prosecutors in the Popović trial attempted to overcome this by arguing that:
“The main Defence criticism concerning the quality of the Srebrenica Missing and Dead List was that it had been created from a limited number of sources and should have taken into account other ‘official’ sources. One such source is the ABiH Military List of Fallen or Missing Soldiers and other military personnel (“ABiH List”) which, according to the Defence, shows that a number of persons found on the Srebrenica Missing and Dead List actually went missing or died prior to 1995.
“The Prosecution demographers explained that they did not use documents from any of the parties to the conflict in order to ensure complete neutrality. More importantly, the Prosecution demographers analysed the ABiH List and concluded that it was not reliable. This became clear when the bodies of 140 individuals who had been listed as missing or dead prior to 1995 on the ABiH List, but were found on the Srebrenica Missing and Dead List, were identified from Srebrenica-related mass graves. This DNA evidence corroborates the validity of the Srebrenica Missing and Dead List and refutes the Defence criticisms.”
This is an astonishing argument. The presence in the graves, of the remains of 140 soldiers who were known and reported by their military to have been killed in the years before Srebrenica fell, strongly suggest that the evidence is being manipulated. There is no explanation, other than evidence tampering, to explain why the remains of people who died in 1992, 1993, and 1994 found their way into graves that we have been told contain Muslims executed by the Serbs in July 1995.
When the Bosnian authorities were confronted with the fact that the remains of these 140 soldiers were found in graves supposedly linked to Srebrenica, they “corrected” their records to say that these soldiers had actually been killed in July 1995. Incredibly, that does not seem suspect to anybody at the Tribunal.
The suggestion that Prosecution demographers “did not use documents from any of the parties to the conflict in order to ensure complete neutrality” is disingenuous at best. While it is certainly true that documents compiled by the warring factions are biased, the bias in them tends to be self-serving. The Muslims don’t have any conceivable reason to generate false documents saying that civilians from Srebrenica who were captured and executed in July 1995 were really soldiers who died in combat years earlier. Why would the Muslims say that in the first place if it were not true?
Prosecution demographers did try to discredit documents from the ABiH, which show that the vast majority of those listed as victims of the Srebrenica massacre by the Prosecution were in fact soldiers, and that hundreds of them, were dead long before Srebrenica fell.
Prosecution demographer Ewa Tabeau argued that “In the assessment of the Demographic Unit, reporting of cases in ABiH lists is not highly reliable. The lists were made for the post-mortem pension purposes, so attention was predominantly paid to the fact whether or not a given person died. Including cases in these lists was motivated financially and in some cases had nothing to do with the actual being of an army member.”
The suggestion seems to be that the families of the victims are lying about the military status of their loved ones in order to perpetrate welfare fraud by colleting military pensions for individuals who were never in the military. Ms. Tabeau doesn’t estimate what percentages of the victims’ families are lying, nor does she offer any explanation as to why anybody would want to lie about the date the individuals in question were killed. All she says is that “inconsistencies are seen in the reported date of death when cross-referenced with other sources etc.” without ever identifying what those other sources are. Other sources could well be the Prosecution’s list of victims – where the whole point is that the date of death is inconsistent with the ABiH records.
We probably will never know the truth about Srebrenica. It is clear that something awful happened there. A crime was committed, but the scale of that crime is completely unknown because the people doing the investigation cannot be trusted.
The UN Tribunal that was set-up to determine the facts is grossly biased against one side, the Serbs. That tribunal is an institution of manipulation and prejudice. The Tribunal is an institution where Naser Orić can murder Serbs, boast about it to reporters while showing them video proof of what he did, and the Hague Tribunal acquits him, presumably because he personifies the “good guys” in the conflict.
But Radislav Krstić, who never personally committed a crime and who never ordered anyone else to commit a crime, is convicted of aiding and abetting genocide and he is sent off to prison for what will likely be the rest of his life, presumably because he is the cartoon character representing the “bad guys.” That’s the kind of “justice” they’ve got at the Hague Tribunal. That’s the kind of “court” that decided the Serbs were guilty of “genocide” in Srebrenica.