September 14, 2007 / 2:44 PM / 11 years ago

Tape suggests Bosnian general lied about mujahideen

By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO, Sept 14 (Reuters) - An audio recording on the Internet suggests foreign Muslim fighters accused of atrocities in the 1992-95 Bosnia war were under the command of the chief of Bosnian government forces, contrary to his denial.

Bosnian Serb and Croat media broadcast or published the text of the recording on Friday, saying it contradicts testimony to the Hague war crimes tribunal that the Bosnian Muslim army did not exercise effective control over "mujahideen" units.

The tape, allegedly, is of an address by General Rasim Delic, the highest-ranking Bosnian Muslim army officer on trial at the U.N. tribunal. He denies responsibility for foreign fighters who tortured, raped and killed ethnic Croats and Serbs.

Delic denies any knowledge of atrocities. The authenticity of the recording, posted by an anonymous contributor, could not be independently verified.

Posted on this week, the voice in the recording thanks mujahideen for everything they did for Muslims in Bosnia as members of the Bosnian army.

"I have never concealed that this unit exists, that this is a unit of the Bosnian army, that it is incorporated in the Bosnian army control and command chain," says the voice attributed to Delic in a farewell address to El Mujaheed unit.

Many Islamic fighters or mujahideen came from North Africa and the Middle East to support fellow Muslims during the Bosnia conflict, in which the Muslims were heavily outgunned by the Serbs, who had access to Yugoslav Army weapons and backing.

They were media-shy but their existence was no secret. They were seen, filmed and interviewed by foreign reporters.

Esad Hecimovic, a Bosnian journalist who covered the mujahideen in central Bosnia during and after the war, told Reuters he knew of Delic’s alleged farewell address.

"I cannot confirm this is a recording of the Delic speech I knew about but what witnesses told me of it overlaps with what we can hear on the tape," said Hecimovic, who last year published a book on the activities of the mujahideen in Bosnia.

Hecimovic, who worked in the Bosnian army press service, said the speech was most probably the last address by Delic to mujahideen before their departure from Bosnia at the and of 1995 or the beginning of 1996, in the town of Zenica.

He said Bosnian Muslim army press officers were not allowed to tape the gatherings of mujahideen and speculated that only a former member of El Mujaheed unit could have recorded it.

Under pressure from Washington, most of the mujahideen left Bosnia after the war, but some stayed on and married.

The Bosnian government, however, recently revoked the citizenship granted during the war to some 500 mostly Muslim volunteers.

"I believe that with this recording they want to show what the Bosnian army leadership promised them during the war and what is happening now, when their Bosnian citizenships are being taken away," Hecimovic said.

The Delic trial visited Sarajevo last week to hear testimony of a former al Qaeda fighter, who alleged that mujahideen worked closely with the Bosnian Muslim army, whose officers knew of but did not prevent atrocities.

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