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[infowar.de] IWPR 20.06.2002: Bosnische Serben hören NATO-Kommunikation ab um Kriegsverbrechern zu helfen
Bosnia: New Claims in NATO Surveillance Scandal
Bosnian Serb tapping of NATO communications could have helped alleged
criminals evade capture.
By Senad Slatina in Sarajevo
The Bosnian Serbs may have used information gleaned from NATO
to aid the Yugoslav army during alliance air-strikes and enable Bosnian
Serb war crimes suspects escape arrest.
Peacekeepers in Bosnia discovered that the Republika Srpska, RS, army
engaged in unauthorised surveillance of their communications, after a
series of raids on Bosnian Serb military facilities in May.
Major Scott Lundy, spokesman for the SFOR peacekeepers, told IWPR that
they launched the first raid on May 20 on a radar post in Lisina, near
Prijedor, north-west Bosnia, after receiving evidence of electronic
surveillance of NATO troops.
SFOR seized unregistered bugging equipment and documents in the
"This was unregistered equipment used for systematic and deliberate
surveillance of SFOR communications and air operations," another SFOR
spokesman, John Coppard, told IWPR.
Coppard declined to say how sophisticated these bugging devices were or
for how long the equipment had been used to monitor and survey SFOR
A source close to SFOR said some of the confiscated documents dated back
to 1998, which means the Bosnian Serb army may have possessed important
information on NATO preparations to bomb Yugoslavia and could have been
handed it to federal army command. NATO began bombing Yugoslav military
strategic positions in the spring of 1999. The air campaign lasted 78
After seizing and examining the equipment and documents at Lisina, SFOR
then searched the premises of the Bosnian Serb air force and
defense command in Zalucani, near Banja Luka, on May 29.
There, NATO confiscated three computers and five boxes full of
SFOR officials said the inspection of these documents could take several
Right after the bugging equipment was discovered and the scope of the
electronic surveillance of SFOR communication determined, the commander
the stabilization force, American general John Sylvester, ordered the
suspension from duty of General Milan Torbica, commander of the Bosnian
Serb air force.
Sylvester also forbade continued training and movement of all Bosnian
air force units until the investigation was completed.
The Bosnian Serb army was asked to surrender any information it
on reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare operations against
alliance air forces and infantry.
The SFOR commander announced that once its investigation into the affair
was over, he would demand the dismissal of all Bosnian Serb army
who had taken part in these operations.
The military authorities in Banja Luka have admitted having
and bugging equipment in Lisina, but insist it was solely used to train
their soldiers and not used against NATO.
The Bosnian Serb prime minister, Mladen Ivanic, said he was not informed
that his armed forces were bugging SFOR, while the defence minister,
Slobodan Bilic, issued a brief statement saying the general staff had
ordered to investigate the claims in detail and apportion
News of the bugging scandal triggered immediate speculation over whether
the equipment was used to warn Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects of
possible arrest actions by SFOR.
In February, NATO peacekeepers launched their first officially
action to seize the top Hague indictee, former Bosnian Serb leader,
In a helicopter-borne operation in Celebici, near Foca, in eastern
SFOR troops captured a quantity of weapons believed to belong to
Karadzic's security force but failed to catch the man himself.
SFOR officials said it was unlikely the Bosnian Serb bugging operation
responsible for this failure. "Having in mind the distance between the
two locations, it is unlikely that the Lisina location could have
our operation in Celebici," said Major Lundy.
But sources close to the defense ministry of the Federation told IWPR
radar on Lisina had been connected to a similar one on Mt Kumur, only a
few miles from Foca. Thus, the encoded intelligence information could
been sent from one to the other location in a matter of seconds.
Senad Slatina is a journalist with the Bosnia weekly Slobodna Bosna.
Copyright © 2002 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422 Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil 0172 3196 006
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