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Intelligence and the war in Bosnia 1992 - 1995

The role of the intelligence and security services

Dr. Cees Wiebes

Lit Verlag, Berlin/London

This is a background report serving as an appendix to the report Srebrenica, a ‘safe’

area, produced by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD).
See for an English version of this report: www.srebrenica.nl

Overview of report
Main report: Srebrenica, a 'safe’ area. Reconstruction, background, consequences
and analyses of the fall of a Safe Area (11 July 1995) (NIOD) ISBN 90 5342 716 8
Background report: Intelligence and the war in Bosnia, 1992-1995. The role of the
intelligence services (C. Wiebes) ISBN 90 5352 742 7
Background report: Western perceptions and Balkan realities (B. Naarden) ISBN 90
5352 743 5
Background report: History, memory and politics in Eastern Bosnia (G. Duijzings)
ISBN 90 5352 744 3
Background report: Dutchbat III and the population: medical issues / Resupply by air
(D.C.L. Schoonoord) ISBN 90 5352 790 7
Set of main report + 4 background reports including CD-ROM with extra background
reports ISBN 90 5352 745 1

English translation: Taalcentrum-VU, Amsterdam

© 2003 Dr Cees Wiebes

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored digitally or made
public in any way whatsoever, either digitally mechanically, via photocopies,
recordings or any other means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.



List of Acronyms and Terms



1. Introduction
2. A definition of intelligence
3. Intelligence and UN peacekeeping operations
4. Intelligence within the existing UN culture
5. Intelligence support for UN peacekeeping operations
6. The Military Information Office in Zagreb
7. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. The Western intelligence mindset
3. The problems regarding intelligence liaison between Western intelligence
4. The perception and information position of the Western intelligence services
5. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. The Foreign Intelligence Service
3. The National Security Service
4. The Military Intelligence Service (MIS)
5. Intelligence gathering in the enclave under Dutchbats I, II and III
6. The collaboration between MIS/CO and MIS/Army
7. The output of the MIS/Air Force
8. Support from UNPROFOR for the MIS
9. Intelligence and the senior levels of the Ministry of Defence
10. The MIS and Military Security
11. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. Arms supplies to the Bosnian Muslims
3. Secret arms supplies to the Bosnian Muslims
4. Military assistance to the Bosnian Serbs
5. The deployment of mercenaries, advisers and volunteers
6. Special Forces in Bosnia
7. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. The advantages and disadvantages of Signals Intelligence
3. The most important Western Signals Intelligence organizations
4. The international exchange of Signals Intelligence
5. The results of Signals Intelligence in Bosnia
6. Dutch Signals Intelligence in the Bosnian conflict
7. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. The Signals Intelligence War of the Serbs and the Bosnian Serbs
3. The Signals Intelligence operations of the Bosnian Muslims
4. Was the ABiH Signals Intelligence of the Bosnian Muslims real-time?
5. UNPROFOR and Dutchbat as a target for communications intelligence
6. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. What instruments could be used and were used for imagery intelligence?
3. Who was the imagery intelligence shared with?
4. How were Albright’s satellite photos discovered?
5. What photos were taken and on which dates?
6. Conclusions


1. Introduction
2. What is an intelligence failure?
3. Strategic prior knowledge
4. The attack on Srebrenica
5. The intelligence situation of UNPROFOR
6. Did The Hague have prior knowledge?
7. The foreign intelligence services
8. Conclusions

Consulted Archives
References: books & articles


My thanks go first of all to the entire Srebrenica team, the members of which were
prepared to read the text contributions critically and to provide them with commentary. I
would particularly like to thank my intelligence ‘buddy’ Dr Bob de Graaff for this. My
gratitude is primarily directed, however, to my colleague and fellow Tuzlak, Dr Dick
Schoonoord, with whom I have undertaken many journeys and whose definitive texts for
the Srebrenica report constitute such a rich and valuable source. His contributions to Part
III of the main Srebrenica report were absolutely indispensable to this study.
Due to the specialist nature of this research and the imposed confidentiality, there
was very little opportunity to exchange ideas with civil servants, other researchers and
authors. I thus valued even more highly the trust shown to me by Matthew Aid, Richard
Aldrich, Mats Berdal, Richard Connaughton, Timothy Crawford, Volker Foertsch, Nik
Gowing, Alf Jacobson, Jan Kleffel, John Morrison, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, Lord
David Owen, Jeffrey Richelson, Tim Ripley, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, Katherine
Schwering, Michael Smith, Milos Stankovic, Jan-Inge Svensson, Renaud Theunens,
Mark Urban, Pasi Välimäki and James Woolsey. In particular I would like to
acknowledge Ric Morgan. My thankfulness to him is enormous.
My thanks also go to Michael Herman, who organized a ‘Under Chatham House
Rules’ seminar at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford specially for this research project. I
must also thank Ted Kelly, the archivist at the Canadian Foreign Ministry in Ottawa and
the Department of Peacekeeping of the Ministry of Defence.
Finally, I extend many thanks to all the officers who work or worked for
domestic and foreign intelligence and security services and who were prepared to talk to
me on a confidential basis. These persons have supported the Srebrenica project in its
attempts to track down and clarify vague indications or unclear formulated questions.
This applies particularly to the many members of the Netherlands Military Intelligence
Service. Without the help of the Dutch and the international intelligence communities
this book would not have been written.

List of Acronyms and Terms

ABiH Armija Bosna i Hercegovina

APC Armoured Personnel Carrier
ATM Air Task Message
AWACS Airborne Warning and Control System
BfV Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz
BHC Bosnia-Hercegovina Command
BID Buitenlandse Inlichtingendienst
BND Bundesnachrichtendienst
BSA Bosnian Serb Army
BSS British Security Services Organization
BTF Balkan Task Force
BVD Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst
CAOC Combined Air Operations Centre
CDS Chief of the Defence Staff
CEE Central and Eastern Europe
CENTCOM Central Command (US)
CFIOG Canadian Forces Information Operations Group
CI Counter Intelligence
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
CIC Current Intelligence Centre
CINCSOUTH Commander in Chief Southern Europe (NATO)
CIR Comité Interministériel du Renseignement
COMINT Communications Intelligence
COS Chief of Staff
COS Chief of Station (CIA)
CSE Communications Security Establishment
CVIN Committee on the United Intelligence Services in the Netherlands
DARO Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office
DCBC Defence Crisis Management Centre
DDIS Danish Defence Intelligence Service
DFC Deputy Force Commander
DGSE Direction Generale de la Securité Exterieure
DIA Defense Intelligence Agency
DIS Defence Information Summary
DIS Defence Intelligence Staff
DMZ Demilitarized Zone
DND Department of National Defense
DPA Department of Political Affairs
DPKO Department of Peace Keeping Operations
DRM Direction de Renseignement Militaire
DSF Deployed Shed Facility
DSD Defence Signals Directorate
DST Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire
ECMM European Commission Monitoring Mission
ELINT Electronic Intelligence
ERRF European Rapid Reaction Force
ESDI European Security and Defence Identity

ESDP European Security and Defence Policy

EU European Union
EUCOM European Command (US)
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FC Force Commander
FISINT Foreign Instrumentation Intelligence
FRY Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)
GCHQ Government Communications Headquarters
GPS Global Positioning System
GMO Gratis Military Officers
HF High Frequency
HIC High Intensity Conflict
HUMINT Human Intelligence
HV Hrvatska Vojska
HVO Hrvatsko Vijece Odbrane
IAEA International Atomic Energy Authority
ICFY International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia
ICRC International Commission of the Red Cross
IDB Inlichtingendienst Buitenland
IFOR Implementation Force (NATO – Bosnia)
IMINT Imagery Intelligence
INTERFET International Force East Timor
IOB Intelligence Oversight Board
JAC Joint Analysis Center
JARIC Joint Aerial Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre
JCO Joint Commission Observer
JCS Joint Chiefs of Staff
JIC Joint Intelligence Committee
JNA Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija
KFOR Kosovo Force
KLA Kosovo Liberation Army
LIC Low Intensity Conflict
LOCE Linked Operational Intelligence Centre Europe
MIC Mid Intensity Conflict
MICIV Ministerial Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services
MID Militaire Inlichtingendienst
MIO Military Information Office
MIS Netherlands Military Intelligence Service
MPRI Military Professional Resources Incorporated
MSC Military Staff Committee of the United Nations
MSF Médecins sans Frontières
NAC North Atlantic Council
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NETHNIC Netherlands National Intelligence Cell
NFZ No Fly Zone
NGO Non-Governmental Organisation
NIE National Intelligence Estimate
NIMA National Imagery and Mapping Agency
NORAD North American Air Defense Agreement
NPIC National Photographic Interpretation Center

NSA National Security Agency

NRO National Reconnaissance Office
NSC National Security Council
OP Observation Post
OPSTINA District of local government in Bosnia Herzegovina
ORCI Office for Research and the Collection of Information
OSCE Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
OSINT Open Source Intelligence
OVIC Operational Sigint Centre in the Netherlands
PDD Presidential Decision Directive
PGP Pretty Good Privacy
PHOTINT Photo Intelligence
PJHQ Permanent Joint Headquarters
PRD Presidential Review Directive
RADINT Radar Intelligence
RM Royal Marines
RS Republika Serpska
SACEUR Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
SAM Surface to Air Missile
SAS Special Air Services
SAT Southern Air Transport
SATINT Satellite Intelligence
SBP Staff Bureau Foreign Political Developments
SBS Special Boat Services
SCS Special Collection Service
SEAD Suppression of Enemy Air Defence
SFOR Stabilisation Force (NATO – Bosnia)
SGR Service Generale de Reinseignement
SHAPE Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (NATO)
SHED Special Handling and Evaluation Detachment
SIE Special Intelligence Estimate
SIGINT Signals Intelligence
SIS Secret Intelligence Service
SISMI Servizio Informazioni e Sicurezza Militare
SNE Sector North East
SPOT Système Pour l’Observation de la Terre
SVIC Strategic Sigint Centre in the Netherlands
SWENIC Swedish National Intelligence Cell
TAB Tuzla Air Base
TACRECCE Tactical Air Reconnaissance
TACSAT Tactical Satellite Radio
TIVC Royal Netherlands Navy Technical Information Processing Centre
TWRA Third World Relief Agency
UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
UN United Nations
UNDOF United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNHCR United Nations High Commission for Refugees
UNMIK United Nations Mission in Kosovo
UNMO United Nation Military Observer

UNOSOM United Nations Operation in Somalia

UNPROFOR United Nations Protection Force
UNPF United Nations Protection Force
UNSCOM United Nations Special Commission in Iraq
USMC United States Marine Corps
VHF Very High Frequency
VJ Vojska Jugoslavija
VOPP Vance Owen Peace Plan
VRS Vojska Republika Srpska
WEU Western European Union


Sarajevo was a nest of spies at the time of the war in Bosnia.

Everyone spied on everyone: the warring parties as well as the
countries of the UN peacekeeping force.1

On 3 March 1994, 570 Dutch peacekeepers formally relieved the Canadian soldiers
who had been stationed in Srebrenica since 1993. Within the framework of the United
Nations peace mission in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the Dutch unit arrived there as part of
the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The Dutch battalion (Dutchbat)
was placed in a small town located in East Bosnia in a deep valley with steep
mountainsides, close to the river Drina. Except for a couple of days in April 1992, the
Bosnian Muslim Army, the Armija Bosne i Hercegovine (ABiH), had control of the
town – which was declared a Safe Area by the UN Security Council on 6 May 1993 –
for three years of the war. However, Srebrenica was never completely demilitarized
and small-scale confrontations around the enclave would continue to take place for
more than two years. A Bosnian-Serb attack on Srebrenica started on 6 July 1995. The
ABiH was not in a position to defend the enclave, and the Dutch soldiers had neither
the resources nor the mandate for the purpose.
When on 11 July the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica was captured by the
Bosnian Serb Army, the Vojska Republika Srpska (VRS), under the leadership of
General Ratko Mladic, an ethnic cleansing operation began in which a large
proportion of the Muslim men would be executed. Between 6 and 20 July, the Bosnian
Serbs gained control of ‘the safe areas’ Srebrenica and Zepa, and drove out tens of
thousands of Bosnian Muslims. Under the eyes of Dutchbat, the women, children and
elderly were deported to Bosnian territory. Out of view of the Dutch peacekeepers,
more than 10,000 men and boys, walking in a long line, tried to get from Srebrenica to
the area around Tuzla, which was under the control of the Bosnian government.
Several thousands became the victim of encounters with the Bosnian Serbs or fell into
the hands of the VRS during that journey. They were killed in a horrifying way.
This study is an appendix to the Srebrenica report by the Netherlands Institute
for War Documentation (NIOD). A central position in the study is occupied by the

'Sarajevo zat vol spionnen in oorlog' ('Sarajevo was full of spies during war'), Het Parool, 24/04/98.

role of national and international intelligence and security services in the war in
Bosnia in general and Srebrenica in particular.
From the outset, much remained unclear regarding the fall of the enclave,
something, which was also considered on 18 August 1995 in the Dutch Ministerial
Council. A minister was of the opinion that more information should be made
available about the events before and after the fall of Srebrenica. According to this
minister, this also applied to the role of the Western intelligence services prior to the
attack on Srebrenica.2
This investigation sets out to satisfy this wish. The study has three objectives.
Firstly, it is the intention to present in as much detail as possible the information
position of the most important Western intelligence and security services during the
war in Bosnia. The relevant question is what opportunities these services had for
following the developments in East Bosnia. Secondly, this study sets out to examine
whether these services were used in the armed conflict around Srebrenica. Finally, an
objective of this investigation is to establish the information position of the Dutch
intelligence and security services: were these services in a position to support the
Dutch peacekeepers in Bosnia satisfactorily?
These three objectives lead to the question: did the Western intelligence
services have prior knowledge of the Bosnian Serb attack on Srebrenica? If the answer
is no, the next question is why not? Was it an intelligence failure? However, if there
was prior knowledge, the question then is what was done with this information, and
whether that intelligence could not have prevented the attack on Srebrenica and the
subsequent executions.
It was no simple matter to try to obtain answers to the above questions and to
satisfy the above objectives. Foreign intelligence and security services were not
prepared to provide the NIOD investigators with direct access to the intelligence they
had gathered. Fortunately, some services were prepared to provide some degree of
insight into their information position through confidential briefings or background
discussions. For the Srebrenica report by the Netherlands Institute for War
Documentation (NIOD) more than 900 persons were interviewed. Ultimately, as
regards this study off-the-record discussions were held with one hundred people in the
Netherlands and other countries: many were officers who were involved in intelligence

Objectivized summary of the minutes of the Ministerial Council meeting of 18/08/95, prepared for the
purposes of the present NIOD study.

work in Bosnia. This involved not only many former or still active staff of intelligence
and security services, but also responsible ministers, politicians, diplomats and officials
that acted as recipients of intelligence products concerning Bosnia.
Inevitably, these one hundred off-the-record interviews did have consequences
for the references of this study. This is why in the acknowledgement of sources, this
study regularly has to resort to references such as 'Confidential interview'.3 Staff of
foreign intelligence and security services were prepared to speak to the NIOD on
condition that their identities were protected in view of privacy considerations,
because disclosure of their names and identities could considerably impede their work
as analysts or operators in the future, or make it completely impossible, or because the
prevailing legislation in their country did not permit it. Anonymity was promised by
the NIOD to a large number of current and former staff of services in the Netherlands
and other countries for reasons of their own. It was therefore necessary to opt for the
footnote form that has been used. The most important consideration in making this
choice was that the main issue was to reconstruct a general picture and not to establish
the specific influence of individual people on the course of events.
Moreover, there will be regular references to ‘Confidential information’. In
general, these are written sources that the archive controller still considers to be
confidential, or documents that have been passed to the NIOD privately, but which are
still classified as ‘secret’ in the country concerned. It goes without saying that every
effort has been made to verify the statements by means of supplementary interviews,
background briefings or archival research whenever this was permissible.
History is a discussion without end. This is all the more true for the history of
intelligence and security services, the archive material of which is subject to far longer
terms than other government archive material before disclosure is permitted. Researchers
are generally not given access to catalogues, but have to ask for relevant documents more
or less in the dark. Also because of confidentiality agreements imposed on staff does
information on intelligence and security services reach researchers, and consequently the
public, and then after a much longer period than in other cases. Whereas, with history of
other kinds, the picture of the subject generally changes in the course of time only as a
result of new points of view. In the case of the history of intelligence and security
services, new information can continue to lead to an adjustment of the picture for far
The number in brackets after the Confidential interview note refers to the interviewee concerned.

Fortunately this was not the case in the research for this study where Dutch
archives were concerned.4 Generous access was given to the archives by the
Netherlands intelligence and security services, especially the Military Intelligence
Service (MIS), where the author was able to make independent selections. In a number
of cases, more detailed agreements had to be made for specific sources. These cases
were concerned with the unity of the Crown, the private lives of those involved and
the Netherlands national security and security of the state. The latter point was
especially relevant to sources for the activities of Dutch and other intelligence and
security services. In particular, the identity of informants, the origin of information
that was gathered by these services and the relationship of trust with foreign
counterpart services had to be protected. An additional study of related archives was
also carried out in the Netherlands, for example at the Cabinet Office, Foreign Affairs,
Defence, and Justice. Comprehensive research in the archives of the United Nations in
Geneva and New York sometimes yielded additional background material.
It was also possible to speak freely with a large number of staff of the MIS and
the Netherlands National Security Service (BVD). In addition to the usual privacy
considerations, the fact that disclosure of their names and identities would impede or
make impossible their future work as analysts or operators with intelligence and
security services it was necessary to opt for referring to these more than thirty
interviews as ‘confidential interviews’.
Finally, we must not omit to mention that much information for this study was
obtained from open sources. Historical research is usually based on all available
literature on the events to be studied. At the start of this investigation, it was expected
that a large number of publications would not be relevant. However, it turned out that
articles in daily and weekly newspapers and some books actually contained more
information than originally thought. This concerned the history of the Balkans in
general and how this was represented, as well as the history of the conflict in
Yugoslavia. Some of those involved wrote memoirs. In addition, private and
government archive collections in Canada, the United States and several Western
European countries were studied. Against this background it is only possible to state that
the author has attempted in all good faith to verify the data issued to the institute. The
possibility of errors cannot be ruled out. But this should not discourage anyone from
writing about the role of intelligence and security services.
De Graaff & Wiebes, Villa Maarheeze, pp. 9 - 25.

Dr. Cees Wiebes Amsterdam, 1 February 2003