CIA TRANSCRIPTS ON MLADIC
Author: Gordan Malic
The Zagreb weekly Globus has published what it claims are CIA transcripts from a dossier on war-crimes indictee Ratko Mladic, highly relevant for any future Hague trial
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica confirmed in a New Year statement for the Belgrade newspaper Blic that General Ratko Mladić would soon be arrested. For a while now the media in Belgrade have assumed that the Serbia-Montenegro government knows where Mladić is hiding in Serbia, and that beside local intelligence agents CIA agents too are involved in the preparations for his arrest. As we found out, the role of the US intelligence agency in processing one of the biggest war criminals is not over. Globus has obtained part of the CIA secret dossier on General Mladić, created during the Srebrenica genocide while American devices were intercepting his telephone conversations with UN representatives, VRS [Republika Srpska army] field commanders, high ranking VJ [FRY army] officers and foreign informers, who were periodically keeping him posted on NATO’s positions and plans. Materials assembled during this US intelligence operation will be used in the ICTY trials of General Mladić and other indictees in the Srebrenica case.
The majority of Mladić’s conversations were recorded thanks to interception equipment installed by the CIA at the beginning of 1995 in a secret base in Croatia close to Sveta Gera. Since the mid 1990’s, the American secret service had at its disposal two such bases in the Republic of Croatia (the other one was at Š epurine near Zadar), through which it intercepted all communications of security interest on the territory of former Yugoslavia, also cooperating with Croatian intelligence services during Operation Oluja [Storm].
Day after day during July 1995 the CIA intercepted General Mladić’s conversations, now exclusively published by Globus. From them it is clear that the Srebrenica genocide was carried out in a planned manner, without any scruples, in a strategic alliance with the VJ high command; and that throughout the operation Mladić had access to confidential information from diplomatic and NATO circles that encouraged him in committing the crime! Actually, this information spoke about the unwillingness of the international community to stop the Srebrenica massacre by military intervention, and about the political discussions that were frequently conducted on the Srebrenica situation in the US Congress and the Pentagon. As one of Mladić’s main diplomatic informants, the CIA mentioned Dr. Miloš Kostić, a controversial Serbian lobbyist in Washington, influential in congressional and republican circles, otherwise a retired colonel of the USA Army and former special operations expert at the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) military intelligence service. However, although he was caught diplomatically briefing General Mladić during the Srebrenica massacre, Kostić has to this day not suffered any consequences of his actions. He is still a respected Serb-American businessman, with offices in Vienna, Washington and Belgrade, and heads the Serbian lobbying organization ‘Srbija Net’.
During his frequent conversations with Dr. Kostić in June and July 1995, General Mladić mostly asked about the State Department and Pentagon positions regarding the Srebrenica events. He was also interested in Kostić’s assessment of German and other European governments’ moves and attitudes regarding a possible Croatian offensive.
In a conversation on 16 July 1995, five days after the fall of Srebrenica, Kostić called Mladić and greeted him with the traditional “Pomoz bog!” Mladić responded with “Good evening, brother Kostić!’ Kostić gave him information coming from NATO circles. ‘Boss, listen, they want everything but to send troops.’ Mladić responded that he had known that, and Kostić told him that the French position would be the same as in the Goražde case, that the international troops should not involve themselves in the defence of Srebrenica. Kostić told him: ‘The situation is as follows: the French are shouting, making a noise, but they do not want to engage their troops. The Americans would like to send 200 Apache helicopters, but Congress does not allow it because they fly low and there is a risk of considerable US casualties.’ Then Kostić warned Mladić that the Clinton administration was not their friend, and that Clinton was supporting a more aggressive intervention against the Serbs. According to Kostić, the only turnabout that could happen was that if the international forces withdrew they could leave to the Muslims over 3,000 armour-piercing rockets of all kinds, including anti-tank rockets.
‘This worries me, because after the withdrawal they could punish the Serbs; they could begin a massive attack on our positions. That is why we need to finish this as soon as possible, and not postpone… We do not expect that they will cause big problems around Žepa, and I hope this will be finished today’, Kostić went on, and Mladić informed him that regarding Žepa it was ‘finished’. ‘Finished! Excellent!’, shouted Kostić. Mladić’s assessment that it was ‘finished’ incidentally referred to over one thousand killed Bosniaks, citizens of Žepa, and over 800 burned houses. Mladić’s capture of Goražde would follow, of course, accompanied by massacres of civilians and burning.
Kostić also explained to Mladić the stances of European countries regarding possible international intervention at Gorazde: ‘The British are against any sort of intervention at Goražde, on which the French are insisting. This could also be the way that the French are transferring responsibility to others in case Goražde falls, wriggling out of everything…I think the Americans will also lift the embargo on weapons for the Muslims, and will arm them with Soviet weapons because they believe the Muslims are trained to use these, so do not need instructors. That is why it is important that you connect up all the front lines, and that you empty the enclaves without hesitation!’ recommended Kostić, and asked Mladić if he had received ‘those brochures’. Mladić thanked him and told him not to ‘spend all his money at once’.
At such moments (the fall of Žepa, Srebrenica and Goražde), the Butcher of Srebrenica desperately needed information on the moves of the international community, and according to the CIA transcripts he received them – apart from Kostić – also from Aleksandar Đorđević, a Serbian lobbyist in Brussels. So on 11 July, during the massacre in Srebrenica, Đorđević informed General Tolimir that the Dutch minister of defence had urgently requested from Willy Claes, NATO secretary general, as well as from Boutros Ghali, that NATO should immediately begin attacking Serbian positions, because the lives of Dutch soldiers were in danger at Srebrenica. These were comically unsuccessful attacks by NATO air forces, in which the majority of victims were Bosniaks.
‘Panic in NATO’
Kostić’s advice on how to lead a special war also referred to media reports on Srebrenica, something that was under care of members of intelligence-propaganda department in Mladić’s HQ, as well as of individual editors of Belgrade newspapers and agencies. So on the very day when Srebrenica fell, the CIA recorded a conversation on the infamous NATO bombing between one of Mladić’s intelligence officers and Dragan Janjic, editor at a certain agency. At the beginning of the conversation Janjic informed his collocutor that he had received by fax an (international) report on unsuccessful intervention of NATO airplanes in Srebrenica, while the response of the VRS officer was that they already had most of those information and that they did not wish to comment. ‘It looks like they missed us, and we learned that we hit them through sources in Italy. There is panic in the NATO base. They dropped two bombs that hit the Muslim convoy. ‘The Muslims will probably say that it was us and NATO will try to find a way to apologize quietly’, some details of NATO unsuccessful intervention related by the VRS officer.
Editor Janjic then asked him ‘Did they hit anything of ours?’, and Mladić’s intelligence officer claimed that NATO ‘only threw four bombs on the whole area without knowing who was where and what they were hitting’. ‘Their intelligence information was not good and they screw… up in their assessment!’ concluded Mladić’s officer. Janjic asked: ‘Who should I then quote regarding those four bombs?’ the VRS intelligence officer recommended ‘the source in Italy’ and ‘in no way us’, and the journalist agreed.
Mladić’s army also conducted a special media war abroad. In the CIA notes of 12 July 1995, traffic is described between Colonel Milutinović, head of the VRS high command’s information service and a certain Mudrovski from London, to whom the VRS officer offered an exclusive video recording of Mladić inspecting Srebrenica, on which there is no footage of any crimes. The CIA report claims that the 15-minute-long video recording contains ‘footage of General Mladić inspecting Srebrenica, footage of NATO strikes, and of Mladić’s conversations with representatives of Srebrenica Muslims and UNPROFOR’. The notes claim that Mudrovski was prepared to pay 25,000 German Marks for the ‘exclusive rights’ of that propaganda video. Milutinović promised him that he would not give the recording to anyone from Serbian TV until Sunday.
The fall of Srebrenica caused wild displays of boasting and brutality on the part of Mladić’s officers. So the CIA recorded a telephone conversation between two VRS colonels, Lakičević and Dedić. Dedić: ‘Did Srebrenica fall at the point where I told you it would?’ Lakičević: ‘Yes. That was the first position to fall, the rest haven’t yet.’ Dedić: ‘It all has to fall!’ Lakičević: ‘It will!’ Dedić: ‘After that we’ll go to Goražde to kick their asses there!’ Lakičević: ‘That’s right, Nidžo, we’ll stay in touch!’
The US agency’s listening devices discovered a celebratory conversation between two anonymous VRS officers on the day Srebrenica fell, in which they were toasting the raising of the Serbian flag in ‘Serbian Srebrenica!’, while drinking ‘homemade brandy from Trebava’.
The CIA recorded the fruitless attempts of General Bernard Janvier, commander of UN troops on the territory of former Yugoslavia, to stop the massacre of Srebrenica, mainly by issuing strong protests to General Mladić through his official interpreter. Some of the messages were almost ridiculously helpless, like one on 9 July 1995, two days before VRS units entered Srebrenica, which went as follows: ‘You have to order the retreat of your troops attacking Srebrenica, the attack needs to stop by 8 a.m. tomorrow!’ The CIA also recorded the cynical response of the VRS HQ to these messages, saying that General Mladić ‘is not currently at HQ’ or that he ‘has gone somewhere, they don’t know where’.
On the same day a desperate conversation was recorded between a certain Osman from B-H Army HQ in Srebrenica and Alija Izetbegović, president of the SDA and of the B-H Presidency. When Izetbegović asked: ‘How long can you go on without UNPROFOR help?’ Osman responded: ‘President, it’s better if I don’t say it, but these people here – it’s not likely we can do anything! People are starving, no equipment, no weapons or ammunition… The international observers’ building is here, they can see what’s going on, but still nobody is doing anything.’ Izetbegović answers: ‘ Very well, Osman, send it over a secure line to Delić’s HQ. He’ll advise you, and get those observers to inform the public.’ Osman: ‘I will. Salaam, Mr President.’ Izetbegović:’ Salaam to you too.’
The CIA recorded the attempts of Bosniaks to get their hands on weapons from UNPROFOR soldiers, some of them were killed, while some UNPROFOR soldiers were captured. When asked by the UN why the International Forces soldiers had been captured, members of Mladić’s HQ responded that they had merely taken them ‘under their protection’.
Appeals from The Hague
The chief prosecutor of ICTY has warned the UN and the Security Council more than once about the intolerable fact that Mladić is still at large. She has also accused the international forces in B-H of being inefficient, and the government of Serbia-Montenegro of not cooperating with The Hague. So far, despite all the promises made by the local authorities, her appeals regarding Karadžić and Mladić have been fruitless. However, American diplomats’ announcements that Mladić will soon be arrested, as well as the CIA presence in Serbia, announce a possible change of course. Mladić could soon find himself in The Hague confronted by his own orders and transcripts recorded by the ear of the Big Brother.
Dr. Miloš Kostić is the son of former artillery colonel Branko Kostić, a Serb radical and emigrant who has resided in Vienna since before the war. Miloš was a student of mechanical engineering in Belgrade, and a boxer for the Crvena Zvezda club. In 1956, he moved to America and was granted US citizenship. He attended military academy and studied finance at the University of Chicago. As an intelligence officer engaged in special operations, he participated in the Vietnam War. Having been promoted to the rank of major, he was appointed to the Pentagon’s Special War Department. In the 1970s, he was assigned to train regular units and special police deployed in the Southeast Asia war. In 1968 he returned to the United States and retired with the rank of colonel. In the meantime he married Chinese Ren Lin, converted her to Orthodox Christianity and changed her name to Svetlana Kostić. He earned his doctoral degree with a thesis on strategic international and economic relations, supervised by Nobel prizewinner Friedrich Van Hayek. Kostić has lectured in the United States, South Africa and Europe. He is a member of the Republican Party and in Ronald Reagan’s era he was an adviser to the Congress State Security Committee. In the 1980s, he worked as a Pentagon adviser and in 1986 he moved to Vienna and involved himself in the Serb lobbying organization ‘Srbija Net’.
In the course of the attack on Srebrenica, Mladić and Kostić were also analysing developments in Croatia. Mladić actually believed that ‘the Croats are not so crazy as to engage against the Serbs at this point in time!’ He was also convinced that they should let the Croats and the Muslims have a separate state of their own, leaving ‘what is Serb to the Serbs’ – which turned out to be an almost visionary prediction of the outcome of the Dayton Accords. Interestingly, at that time Kostić even had reports mentioning Croatian preparations for an offensive.
Kostić: That would be best, but reading here the reports about their preparations for an offensive I don’t know about the Croats. Granić said yesterday that the Croats and Muslims should respond unilaterally to the Serb offensive. If you translate this into the Croatian language, you will know that they are preparing a justification for their future ‘See what the Serbs are doing’ actions. I took a look at the map showing the concentration of Croatian forces around Drniš, Medak, Otočac, Karlovac and Sisak. There is a line going from Karlovac towards Vrginmost and another towards Sisak. And from Sisak, it goes to Dvor na Uni, from Otočac to Medak towards Knin, and from Drniš …
Mladić: Good …
Kostić: That’s it. That’s what the UN also predicted.
That was how Kostić predicted the action of the Croatian forces, the action which – in a slightly different form – took place later on and is know as Operation Storm.
Translated from Globus (Zagreb), 6 January 2006