Bosnia Suddenly Hands Over to U.S. Suspected Terrorists

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Saturday, March 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On January 18, 2002, the Bosnian Government suddenly handed over six Arab suspects held in a Bosnian prison so that U.S. military officials could detain them. The case is the first known case of U.S. soldiers in counter-terrorism operations arresting suspects outside the Afghan war area. In October 2001, according to a media report information attributed to Lt. Gen. John B. Sylvester, commander of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia, Bosnian authorities arrested the six men, five of whom are naturalized Bosnian citizens as a result of U.S. intelligence reports indicating they intended to stage attacks. The Bosnian Government released the men at 5:30 a.m. into the arms of U.S. troops took the men to an undisclosed transportation to Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. military installation on Cuba, where the U.S. has brought and is detaining suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan. According to Mr. Sylvester, the U.S. believed the six suspects were part of an Islamic group with direct links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network and planned an ongoing operation against the U.S. Embassy. Mr. Sylvester explained the men had cased the embassy and one had married the daughter of the embassy’s Bosnian locksmith as part of a sophisticated plan to attack the facility. Apparently, the planning for the operation pre-dated the September 11, 2001 Strikes in the U.S.