Bosnia’s most wanted man, Radovan Karadzic, is increasingly isolated in his corner of Serb territory, threatened by a Serb power struggle and by international pressure for his arrest. But nabbing him still won’t be easy.
Townspeople - speaking on condition of anonymity - say the Bosnian Serbs’ indicted wartime leader is taking precautions: He sleeps in different houses to avoid nighttime raids. He surrounded his own house with minefields.
Karadzic also reportedly has bolstered his already tough and loyal security detail in Pale, the ski village east of Sarajevo he has made his stronghold.
Two brigades of special forces - roughly 500 men, all war veterans, well-equipped and trained - patrol the forest behind Karadzic’s one-story house, and the house itself.
Nearby, reserve police units and a corps of the Bosnian Serb army are on call. In addition, every Serb here is armed - and no one seems eager to give up Karadzic.
“Whatever he is like, no one will just let the Americans arrest him,” said Dusan Saric, a 46-year-old Pale resident. “It’s a matter of pride.”
The new attention President Clinton and other U.S. officials are paying Karadzic is giving people in Pale a case of the jitters. Nearly everyone here has an opinion on what the United States might do to capture Karadzic, when it might carry out those plans, and whether many people would be killed.
The renewed international attention comes as a NATO-led international force prepares to pull out of Bosnia’s in a year’s time, ending its mission to enforce the peace accord that ended Bosnia’s 3-1/2-year war.
Although formally out of power because of war crimes indictments alleging he orchestrated genocide, Karadzic pulls strings and stays in control of the 49 percent of Bosnia that is in Serb hands.
His aides refuse to allow refugees to return home or cooperate in knitting the Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation together as one country. There is widespread fear among foreign powers that unless Karadzic is sidelined, the entire international effort will unravel when the peace force leaves next year - leading to new fighting.
Clinton said Wednesday that the international force could arrest Karadzic and other war crimes suspects if it seems the effort would be worth the risk.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.