Bosnian commandos deployed to kill foes, Croats say Renegade Muslim leader named as target

5 held

April 25, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ZAGREB, Croatia -- The Muslim-led Bosnian government has dispatched small Iranian-trained commando units to kill or capture enemies it has branded as war criminals, senior Croatian officials and Western diplomats say.

The existence of these units came to light after five Bosnian Muslims, now in prison in Croatia, were arrested this month and accused of trying to assassinate a renegade Muslim leader, Fikret Abdic, who is in exile in Croatia.

The four men and one woman, some of whom are formally employed by the Bosnian police in the northwest Bosnian city of Bihac, were arrested near the Croatian city of Rijeka on April 8 by Croatian police. The team had grenades, automatic assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and plastic explosives in its possession, police said.

The five Bosnians, who are being interrogated, are members of the Muslim-led government's intelligence service, the Bosnian Agency for Investigation and Documentation, officials who have read the transcripts of the interrogations said.

Western diplomats and Croatian officials said the five Muslims' activities were disturbing because they seemed to indicate that the Bosnian government had given the green light for attacks against political opponents. They did not give the names of people, besides Mr. Abdic, who may be targets.

Agents from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which Western intelligence agencies say has carried out assassinations of Iranian dissidents in the Middle East and Europe, formed the commando teams in Bosnia, these officials said.

Iranian specialists recruited the small groups from among the 1,400 or so people employed in the Bosnian Agency for Investigation and Documentation, these officials said. They said the Iranians trained some members in Iran.

Mr. Abdic, who organized Muslim forces to fight against the Muslim-led government, is considered by Sarajevo to be a traitor and a war criminal because of attacks he directed against government troops and their backers. The enclave he controlled, Cazinska Krajina, was captured by government troops last year.

Mr. Abdic recently vowed to return to Bosnia and run in the presidential election scheduled for this fall. In the 1990 presidential election, Mr. Abdic received 1,010,618 votes to 847,386 for Alija Izetbegovic. But in a bewildering deal, Mr. Abdic traded the presidency for the appointment of one of his lieutenants as interior minister.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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