More Evidence of Alleged Mujahedin Autonomy

Former Bosnian army officer claims El Mujahed detachment did not relay intelligence to military chiefs.

More Evidence of Alleged Mujahedin Autonomy

Former Bosnian army officer claims El Mujahed detachment did not relay intelligence to military chiefs.

Tuesday, 30 October, 2007
A witness testifying in the trial of former Bosnian army, ABiH, chief Rasim Delic said the El Mujahed unit, made up of foreign Muslim fighters, or mujahedin, never sent intelligence information to their military superiors

The testimony of Edin Husic, former assistant commander for intelligence with the 3rd Corps of the ABiH, supported that of former prosecution witness Ismet Alija.

Alija, ex chief of the operational planning department of the ABiH, said last week that the El Mujahed detachment was a “closed unit” whose members did whatever they wanted.

This week, Husic explained that in 1995 when he worked there, the intelligence department at the 3rd Corps received intelligence information from all subordinate units - except the El Mujahed detachment.

“They never sent us any reports,” said Husic.

According to Husic, it was standard practice for all other subordinate units to send intelligence information, which was forwarded on to the ABiH general staff.

However, he told judges that his department had no contact with the El Mujahed detachment at all.

The witness was questioned on the events of September 10, 1995, when forces of the 2nd and 3rd Corps of the ABiH recaptured the Ozren-Vozuća area in central Bosnia from the Bosnian Serb army, VRS.

During this offensive, which was dubbed Operation Farz, Husic was responsible for planning measures to support the intelligence services.

The prosecution showed information sent to the witness’s former department after the operation which mentioned differing numbers of VRS soldiers taken prisoner, ranging from 40 to 100.

The indictment against General Rasim Delic alleges that on September 11, 1995, approximately 60 people, primarily VRS soldiers and a few civilians - including three women - were captured.

It further states that the women were mistreated and sexually abused, and that approximately 52 captured soldiers were then murdered by mujahedin forces.

Prosecutors have been trying to prove that the El Mujahed detachment was under effective command and control of the ABiH and that knowledge of crimes committed by the mujahedin was passed on to the highest command.

Delic, as former commander of the main staff of the ABiH, is charged on the basis of his command responsibility for failing to take “necessary and reasonable measures” to prevent crimes committed by his subordinates during the Bosnian 1992-95 war.

Husic testified that while his intelligence department was tasked with interviewing prisoners of war to obtain intelligence information, he had never spoken to any of the captured VRS soldiers.

Furthermore, Husic stated he could not even give a “rough estimate” of the number of prisoners interviewed by his department in total during the war since it did not keep records and he could not remember.

The witness said he had never found out what happened to the prisoners.

When Judge Frederik Harhoff from Denmark asked him if members of the El Mujahed detachment were “known to be misbehaving against the population”, the witness said he couldn’t say.

Husic was questioned extensively by presiding Judge Bakone Justice Moloto from South Africa on whether he thought the El Mujahed detachment was treated “differently” from other army units.

The judge mentioned statements of previous witnesses - including former members of the mujahedin - who testified that foreign Muslim fighters did not wear uniforms.

During the trial, the witness also testified that mujahedin did not wear uniforms, but later on said he couldn’t say this for sure, as he had never actually seen any these forces.

“It seems to me that the El Mujahed detachment was treated differently right from the beginning,” said Moloto.

Delic’s defence accused the judge of asking “leading questions” that went “beyond the knowledge of the witness”.

But Moloto overruled the objections of the defence and insisted the witness answer his question.

Husic replied that he had no contact with the unit and that he could not give a precise answer as to whether the El Mujahed detachment was regarded as different from the regular army units or not.

Marije van der Werff is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
Support our journalists