Bosnian Muslim war unit gained reputation for
Agence France Presse (English) - July 8, 2007 Sunday 1:43 AM GMT
SARAJEVO, July 8 2007 - The Bosnian Muslim combat unit known as El Mujahed, formed during the bloody 1992-1995 war, gained a reputation for extreme brutality, including decapitations they recorded with video cameras.
The unit was created in 1993 by Rasim Delic, the former commander of the main staff of the Muslim-dominated Bosnian army. Delic goes on trial Monday on charges of war crimes at the UN court for the former Yugoslavia.
Delic has denied the charges against him.
The group is alleged to have included 1,700 fighters, with at least 500 who arrived from Islamic countries. It operated in central Bosnia.
"Numerous reports on crimes committed by the unit exist, including decapitations of Serbian soldiers and kidnappings of Serbian and Croatian civilians," Esad Hecimovic, a Bosnian journalist who recently published a book on Islamist fighters in Bosnia, told AFP.
Their alleged killings include the execution of at least 24 Bosnian Croats near the village of Maline in June 1993. The unit is also accused of having run a detention camp where Serbian war prisoners were tortured.
After the conflict ended, several video recordings and photographs emerged showing decapitations of Serbian soldiers by El Mujahed members. The incidents had been recorded by members of the unit.
"A large number of decapitated bodies were found in central Bosnia, but prosecutors did not show much interest in opening investigations on that subject," said Hecimovic.
Bosnian authorities have sentenced only one of the Mujahedin. Abduladhim Maktouf, an Iraqi, received a five-year sentence in 2005 for the torture of five civilians, including one who was decapitated.
Under the terms of the 2005 Dayton peace accord, foreign Islamist fighters were to leave Bosnia, but some have remained, having obtained Bosnian citizenship because of their military service or by marrying a Bosnian citizen.
Under international pressure, Bosnia has stripped 367 people, including former Mujahedin, of their Bosnian nationality.
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