" A number of countries are candidates for having supplied directly to Bosnia. Pakistan delivered equipment, as did the Sultan of Brunei, who paid for anti-tank missiles from Malaysia. In January 1993 already, a Pakistani vessel with ten containers of arms, which were destined for the ABiH, was intercepted in the Adriatic Sea. Pakistan definitely defied the United Nations ban on supply of arms to the Bosnian Muslims and sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles were air lifted by the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, to help Bosnians fight the Serbs, an ex-ISI Chief has officially admitted in a written petition submitted before a court in Lahore. The document was submitted by Lt. General (Retd) Javed Nasir, who was head of the ISI from March 1992 to May 1993, in a case he filed against the owner and editors of the largest newspaper and TV group of Pakistan, in an anti Terrorism Court. It remains unclear how the missiles were transported to Bosnia and who did it.... As early as 1992 Iran had opened a smuggling route to Bosnia with the assistance of Turkey; this was two years before the Clinton administration gave 'permission' for creating the [illegal arms] Croatian pipeline. Bosnian government officials acknowledged that in 1993 a Turkish pipeline also existed, through which the above-mentioned arms from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Brunei and Pakistan were smuggled..... NATO officers stated in a British daily newspaper that if the American intelligence services used a cover, 'Turkey would be the obvious choice'. The Turkish air force had C-130s that could reach Tuzla. This was otherwise also true of the Iranian and Pakistani air forces, which were also mentioned as possible third-party countries for supplies via Turkey to Tuzla. The UK Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) was also aware of the American secret arms supplies to the ABiH. According to a British intelligence official, the DIS never made an issue of them, so as not to further damage the sensitive relationship with the US services. An internal DIS analysis concluded that the arms were delivered via 'a different network', and that the entire operation was probably led by the NSC [the US President's National Security Council]. It was stressed that the CIA and DIA were not involved in the Black Flights to Tuzla. Incidentally, the DIS received a direct order from the British government not to investigate this affair. This was not permitted for the simple reason that the matter was too sensitive in the framework of American-British relations.... The Pentagon had likewise identified Cengic as the main link between the supplies from Islamic countries, such as Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.... The conclusion must be that the United States 'turned a blind eye' to the Croatian pipeline, but in the case of the Black Flights to Tuzla Air Base, they deliberately closed their 'eyes' (of the AWAC aircraft) for the direct Turkish flights. US aircraft did not themselves fly to Tuzla, because their discovery would have seriously embarrassed the US government and put transatlantic relations under even greater pressure. Supplies via a third party country were a simpler solution for the United States."
Srebrenica - A Safe Area?
Appendix II - Intelligence and the war in Bosnia 1992 – 1995: The role of the intelligence and security services
Chapter 4, Secret arms supplies and other covert actions

Report Published on Behalf of The Dutch Government, 10 April 2002

Visit Web Home Page of Dutch Government Report at
http://www.srebrenica.nl/en/a_index.htm


 

Appendix II

Intelligence and the war in Bosnia 1992 – 1995: The role of the intelligence and security services

Chapter 4
Secret arms supplies and other covert actions

... follows: 'Who else has the skill and expertise to carry out such a swift, delicate mission covertly? The Saudis? The Turks? The Iranians?' The specialized crews and the types of aircraft for these night-time operations indeed appeared to point in only one direction: that of the United States.[1]

Nonetheless, it is improbable that US aircraft were involved, but this does then raise the question of who had organized the operation. Woolsey was willing to have the CIA to carry out such a secret operation; his service had relevant experience. Woolsey stated, however, with great certainty: 'The CIA did not move weapons to Bosnia. We were perfectly willing to do that. We had enough experience in this field, but the policy level did not want the CIA to do that.' [2] Woolsey's offer was therefore rejected, also because Lake (again) feared leaks[3] and Christopher was afraid here too of angry reactions from London and Paris which could lead to UNPROFOR's departure. NATO Secretary-General Claes had warned Clinton of this.[4] Lake also considered this a covert operation; another reason for it not to be allowed to go ahead was that Congress would have to be informed.[5] The strategy via third party countries was then opted for. This indeed seems to be the course that was followed.

Turkey flies to Tuzla

There are other indications that the CIA was not involved in the Black Flights to Tuzla. Like the attitude of the CIA station chief in Zagreb, who gave a negative recommendation regarding Galbraith's plans for the Croatian pipeline and the later negative recommendations of the CIA on the clandestine supply of arms to the Croats and Muslims as Holbrooke had wanted.[6] Much points in the direction that this was an operation by a third party country, with the assent of parts of the US government. Another indication that US services were not directly involved, was Holbrooke's evidence to Senate: 'US intelligence agencies were not involved.' This is correct if it refers to an operation that was sanctioned 'remotely'. Leighton Smith's promise to Janvier and Akashi that he would resign if it were to appear that uniformed military personnel were involved in the Black Flights, is also consistent with this picture. A prominent White House adviser confirmed that the United States did not wish to violate the arms embargo. It would undermine the authority of Security Council resolutions, however much the Americans were uncomfortable with this embargo. If the Americans themselves were to violate the embargo, then the imposition of an embargo elsewhere would be made impossible.[7]

Washington definitely did play a role in the background, however. The attempts at a cover-up after the first observations of the flights to Tuzla point to this involvement. Why otherwise would the Norwegian key person be physically threatened, would several witnesses not be heard, the reported facts be distorted, journalists put under pressure, and attempts made to hold back De Lapresle's report? The fact that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNPROFOR ultimately agreed and let the matter rest, probably has more to do with the wish no longer to disturb the relations between Washington and the UN and NATO; after all, the 'lift and strike' debate had already caused a considerable deterioration in transatlantic relations.[8]

A number of countries are candidates for having supplied directly to Bosnia. Pakistan delivered equipment, as did the Sultan of Brunei, who paid for anti-tank missiles from Malaysia. In January 1993 already, a Pakistani vessel with ten containers of arms, which were destined for the ABiH, was intercepted in the Adriatic Sea.[9] Pakistan definitely defied the United Nations ban on supply of arms to the Bosnian Muslims and sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles were air lifted by the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, to help Bosnians fight the Serbs, an ex-ISI Chief has officially admitted in a written petition submitted before a court in Lahore. The document was submitted by Lt. General (Retd) Javed Nasir, who was head of the ISI from March 1992 to May 1993, in a case he filed against the owner and editors of the largest newspaper and TV group of Pakistan, in an anti Terrorism Court.[10] It remains unclear how the missiles were transported to Bosnia and who did it.

Furthermore, tons of diplomatic post regularly arrived by air in Sarajevo from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. Doubts were raised about the diplomatic immunity of the content of the load.[11] A foundation that was affiliated to the Saudi royal family also provided millions of dollars in arms assistance.[12] Moreover, Malaysia attempted to sidestep the embargo via merchant shipping and the Malaysian UNPROFOR soldiers that were stationed in Bosnia.[13] All of these were direct supplies to Bosnia, because the Bosnian government was dissatisfied with the Croatian authorities’ practice of skimming the arms supplies, or because the government did not want to become entirely dependent on Zagreb. This could be avoided by direct flights from certain countries.[14]

In addition to Iran (via Croatia), Turkey proved to be the most important supplier of arms to the ABiH. Turkey had been closely involved in the secret arms supplies to Bosnia for some time. As early as 1992 Iran had opened a smuggling route to Bosnia with the assistance of Turkey; this was two years before the Clinton administration gave 'permission' for creating the Croatian pipeline. Bosnian government officials acknowledged that in 1993 a Turkish pipeline also existed, through which the above-mentioned arms from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Brunei and Pakistan were smuggled. Other consignments came from Belgium, Hungary, Uganda and Argentina. In Argentina a scandal erupted because President Menem had issued a decree for the delivery of 8000 FN-Fals (automatic rifles), 155 mm guns, 2000 pistols, 211,000 hand grenades, 3000 rockets, 30,000 grenades, 3000 landmines and millions of rounds of ammunition to Bolivia. This country stated, however, that it had ordered nothing and the Argentine parliament discovered that the arms and ammunition were destined for Croatia and elsewhere.[15]

At the beginning of 1993, the name of Turkey was again dropped as direct supplier.[16] The Bosnian Vice-President Ganic had an interview in mid February with the Turkish President ÷zal, but denied that he had promised him an aircraft full of arms. Ganic did admit to receiving arms in a different manner.[17] During a visit to Sarajevo of the later Prime Minister of Turkey, Tansu Ciller, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, both ladies publicly called for a lifting of the arms embargo.[18] In the summer and autumn of 1994, the CIA reported that spy satellites had taken photos of Iranian aircraft on Turkish airfields. Two days later, satellite photos were taken of the same aircraft in Zagreb or at other airports in Croatia, where the arms were unloaded.

According to O'Shea, Turkey's involvement was clear. Specially modified C-130s from American bases in the United Kingdom and Germany would pick up their cargo on remote runways in the Turkish part of Cyprus. The cargo, which consisted of arms and ammunition, would have been delivered there by Iranian and Turkish aircraft. The aircraft would fly to Croatia via the Adriatic, and then on to Bosnia. If the Hercules, with its modest range, could not achieve its objective in one hop, it could always make a stopover on the Croatian island of Brac, close to the coast near Split. The population there indeed often observed C-130 aircraft that operated from this airfield. From this island the CIA also operated its UAVs flying over Bosnia.[19] The Croatian Minister of Defence, Susak, claimed that most of the aircraft that landed there came from Turkey and not Iran.[20] Also quite some military goods were delivered to the Pula airport on the Istrian peninsula.[21]

The Turkish government therefore provided full cooperation to the Croatian pipeline. There was more: the Turks also flew directly to Tuzla with C-130s. This allegedly happened after the Chief of Staff of the ABiH 2nd Corps was sent to Ankara as an additional military attachť.[22] UNPROFOR officers assumed that Turkish aircraft flew in from Cyprus, with American military authorities acting as intermediary.[23] French military officials likewise asserted that Turkey was responsible for the flights. NATO officers stated in a British daily newspaper that if the American intelligence services used a cover, 'Turkey would be the obvious choice'. The Turkish air force had C-130s that could reach Tuzla. This was otherwise also true of the Iranian and Pakistani air forces, which were also mentioned as possible third-party countries for supplies via Turkey to Tuzla.[24]

The UK Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) was also aware of the American secret arms supplies to the ABiH. According to a British intelligence official, the DIS never made an issue of them, so as not to further damage the sensitive relationship with the US services. An internal DIS analysis concluded that the arms were delivered via 'a different network', and that the entire operation was probably led by the NSC. It was stressed that the CIA and DIA were not involved in the Black Flights to Tuzla. Incidentally, the DIS received a direct order from the British government not to investigate this affair. This was not permitted for the simple reason that the matter was too sensitive in the framework of American-British relations. The DIS also obtained intelligence on the secret supplies to the ABiH from the German military intelligence service and the Bundesnachrichtendienst, because some of the flights departed from Frankfurt. However, no American-German alliance existed in the matter of clandestine support to the ABiH.[25]

Cengic had set up the entire operation. The Cengic family owned numerous companies in Turkey, and during the war Cengic worked in Ankara as a military attachť, and would reach an agreement there with the Turkish government on secret arms supplies. They were to take place in Tuzla with the involvement of the Special Branch of the Turkish General Staff. This unit had also been responsible for covert operations in the past.[26] The Pentagon had likewise identified Cengic as the main link between the supplies from Islamic countries, such as Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.[27] Even the Dutch national security service BVD observed that Turkish aircraft repeatedly dropped arms over areas that were under ABiH control. The service described the Turkish action as a 'solo performance'.[28] MIS/Navy reports also mention the involvement of Turkish aircraft; it was observed that Turkey was in a position to fly with C-130s to Tuzla directly or via third party countries.[29] The conclusion must be that the United States 'turned a blind eye' to the Croatian pipeline, but in the case of the Black Flights to Tuzla Air Base, they deliberately closed their 'eyes' (of the AWAC aircraft) for the direct Turkish flights. US aircraft did not themselves fly to Tuzla, because their discovery would have seriously embarrassed the US government and put transatlantic relations under even greater pressure. Supplies via a third party country were a simpler solution for the United States.

 



[1] Confidential interview (67).

[2] Interview with R.J. Woolsey, 08/06/00.

[3] James Risen & Doyle McManus, 'U.S. had options to let Bosnia get arms', Los Angeles Times, 14/0796 and Walter Pincus, 'Woolsey, in testimony, Criticizes White House', The Washington Post, 11/06/96.

[4] Ed Vulliamy, 'America's Secret Bosnia Agenda', The Observer, 20/11/94.

[5] James Risen & Doyle McManus, 'U.S. had options to let Bosnia get arms', Los Angeles Times, 14/07/96.

[6] Confidential interviews (12) and (13).

[7] Confidential interview (14).

[8] For this, see Chapter 10 of Part II of the Srebrenica report.

[9] 'Wapens moslims onderschept' ('Muslim arms intercepted'), Trouw, 21/01/93.

[10] 'Ex-ISI Chief Reveals Secret Missile Shipments to Bosnia defying UN Embargo', in: South Asia Tribune Publications, Issue No 22, Dec 23-29, 2002.

[11] Confidential interview (44) and James Risen, 'Iran gave Bosnia leader $ 500,000', Los Angeles Times, 31/12/96.

[12] 'The Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina', Janes's Intelligence Review, February 1993, pp. 63-65.

[13] For example: MIS/CO. Developments in the former Yugoslav federation, no. 26/95, 01/06/95.

[14] Ripley, Operation Deliberate Force, p. 90.

[15] John Pomfret, 'US Allies Fed Pipeline Of Covert Arms in Bosnia', The Washington Post, 12/05/96 and Johan Peleman, Wapenhandel naar BosniŽ-Herzegovina' ('Arms trade to Bosnia-Hercegovina'), Noord-Zuid Cahier, No. 22(3), September 1997, pp. 88-89.

[16] Robert Fox, 'Dangerous games of fact and fantasy', The Daily Telegraph, 10/02/93. See also the statements of former FC L. MacKenzie: 'Interventie zal in BosniŽ geen vrede brengen' ('Intervention will bring no peace in Bosnia'), De Volkskrant, 06/02/93.

[17] 'Bosnische vice-president: Kroaten hebben ons nodig' ('Bosnian president: Croats need us'), Trouw, 23/02/93.

[18] Rose, Fighting for Peace, p. 81.

[19] O'Shea, Crisis at Bihac, p. 159.

[20] John Pomfret, 'US Allies Fed Pipeline Of Covert Arms in Bosnia', The Washington Post, 12/05/096.

[21] Interview with Jan-Inge Svensson, 15/11/02.

[22] Confidential interview (68).

[23] William Drozdiak, 'US Accused of Covert Bosnia Aid', Chicago-Sun Times, 28/07/95.

[24] William Drozdiak, 'US Accused of Covert Bosnia Aid', Chicago-Sun Times, 28/07/95; Richard Dowden & John Carlin, 'US secretly supplying weapons to Bosnia', The Independent, 26/02/95 and Robert Fox, 'Iran's cases of cash helped buy Muslim victory in Bosnia', The Daily Telegraph, O1/01/97.

[25] Confidential interview (8).

[26] 'Turska pokusavala da naoruza bosanske Muslimane', Borba, 05/12/94 and confidential information (36).

[27] Robert Fox, 'Iran's cases of cash helped buy Muslim victory in Bosnia', The Daily Telegraph, 01/01/97.

[28] NMFA, 911.31. BVD to CVIN+ participants, 29/04/93, p. 25.

[29] MoD, MIS/CO, File 438,0315, AR Briefing, no. 7/1995, 20/02/95.


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