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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

‘Embargo! What Arms Embargo?[1]

Tuzla is a diplomatic can of worms.’[2]

1. Introduction

There is an element that, strictly speaking, has no connection with all the activities surrounding the gathering of intelligence, but is intertwined with it: covert action (special or clandestine operations). Covert action involves secret activities oriented to influencing foreign governments, persons and organizations, or political, economic and military developments for the benefit of a country's own national security policy. A crucial point is that the country's own involvement remains strictly secret .

There are various forms of covert action, ranging from propaganda, paramilitary or political activities oriented to overthrowing or supporting a given regime; secret support to individuals or organizations (trade unions, newspapers and political parties); secret arms supplies; economic destabilization operations, and lethal attacks.[3] Covert action is therefore concerned with attempts to influence or to manipulate a country's political policy. Strictly speaking, it is not an activity that falls within the definition of intelligence, although it can contribute to intelligence gathering.[4] Covert operations took place throughout the world during the Cold War.[5]

In this chapter, we will investigate which secret activities were carried out during the war in Bosnia. Attention will be paid to the resources that foreign services threw into the fray to support or to weaken one of the warring factions. In this, little or no attention will be paid to forms of covert action such as propaganda, coup attempts and assassination attempts. The reason is simple: so far nothing has been discovered on these activities. However, there will be a comprehensive discussion of one of the traditional resources in secret operations, the clandestine arms supplies to one of the warring factions. Such an operation, involving foreign services, was the secret arms supplies to the Bosnian army from Iran through what was known as the 'Croatian pipeline', which we will return to in Section 2. We will consider the role that the United States played in this.

Section 3 will go into further detail on the so-called Black Flights to Tuzla. In addition to Iran, other countries were actively involved in secret operations to supply the Armija Bosna i Hercegovina (ABiH) with weapons and ammunition. Section 4 will describe what has become known about the logistical military support to the other warring factions, Bosnian Serbs and Croats, and the associated role of Serbia and other countries. We will also pay attention to the ICFY Monitoring Mission that was intended to monitor the border crossings on the Drina river. Section 5 will discuss the deployment of mercenaries. Much press attention has been devoted to the Mujahedin, who were said to have taken part in the conflict in substantial numbers on the side of the ABiH: numbers ranging from 1000 to 3000 Islamic fighters were mentioned.[6] Attention will also be paid to the deployment of mercenaries, including Dutch ones, by the other parties. Section 6 will deal with the deployment of Special Forces, such as the British SAS. The final section will present the conclusions.


[1] O'Shea, Crisis at Bihac, p. 155.

[2] Ian Bruce, 'Big stick may not work second time round', The Herald (Glasgow), 23/02/94.

[3] Cf. Roy Godson, 'Covert Action: neither exceptional tool nor magic bullet', in: Godson, May & Schmitt, U.S. Intelligence at the Crossroads, p. 155 and Godson, Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards, passim.

[4] William J. Brands, 'Intelligence and Foreign Policy: Dilemmas of A Democracy', Foreign Affairs, Vol. 47 (1969), 2, p. 288. The same is true of counterintelligence (CI), which can best be defined as the identification and neutralization of the threat coming from foreign services and making attempts to manipulate these services and to use them for a country's own benefit. CI is more a specific form of intelligence, and it also includes the gathering of information on foreign services, which may be either hostile or friendly services. CI also makes use of open and clandestine sources to gain information on the structure, working method and operations of these services. CI can also involve the penetration and destabilization of such services. See: Roy Godson, 'Counterintelligence: An Introduction', in: Godson, Intelligence, pp. 1-2. Further: Randall M. Fort, 'Economic Espionage', in: Godson, May & Schmitt, U.S. Intelligence at the Crossroads, p. 182. See also: Annual report of the National Security Service (BVD) 1995, pp. 29-30.

[5] For a historical overview of US operations: Richelson, The US Intelligence Community, pp. 342-364.

[6] Harald Doornbos, 'Het is tijd voor de jihad' ('It is time for the Jihad'), in Elsevier, 14/11/92 and 'Bewijs tegen moslim-generaals hele klus' ('Finding evidence against Muslim generals a tough job'), NRC Handelsblad, 09/08/01.


 [ "The Croatian pipeline" ]


 [ Srebrenica "massacre" ]

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  Book of facts

History of the Balkans

Big powers and civil wars in Yugoslavia
(How was Yugoslavia dismantled and why.)

Proxies at work
(Muslims, Croats and Albanians alike were only proxies of the big powers)

The Aftermath


The truth belongs to us all.
Last revised: October 16, 2004