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Context of '1994: Intelligence Services in Bosnia Under Pressure to Produce Pro-Bosnian Reports'

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US intelligence begins receiving reports that Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran has increased. (Shultz 1993, pp. 238; Jentleson 1994, pp. 48; Cole 1997, pp. 87)

At the outset of the war in Bosnia, a small three- or four-man team from the CIA and National Security Agency determine from satellite images that the Serb’s artillery guns are in vulnerable positions and can be easily “eliminated in one single day of air strikes-right at the start of the siege.” When a diplomat who is working with the team sends word of this to Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Tom Niles, the intelligence is ignored by US officials who do not want to US to get militarily involved. Two months later, officials from the Pentagon and CIA will incorrectly tell the Senate foreign relations committee that striking Serbian artillery positions would be impossible because of the dense forests and mountainous terrain. The diplomat will later take his story to the Guardian, suggesting that claims the Bosnian War was unexpected by US intelligence were without merit and that the Senate Committee was deliberately misled. (Vulliamy 5/20/1995)

Richard Holbrooke.Richard Holbrooke. [Source: US State Department]Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal urges President Bill Clinton to take the lead in military assistance to Bosnia. Richard Holbrooke, US ambassador to Germany at the time, draws up plans for covert assistance. (Wiebes 2003, pp. 195)

Intelligence services operating in the Balkans, especially US intelligence, become increasingly politicized and are under pressure to produce reports with a pro-Bosnian, anti-Serb slant. (Wiebes 2003, pp. 86, 141) For instance, one CIA report in 1995 blaming the Bosnian Serbs for the vast majority of the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia will later be accused of distorting the facts to fit an anti-Serb slant (see March 9, 1995).

It is revealed in the New York Times that a CIA report completed earlier in the year has concluded that 90 percent of the “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia has been carried out by the Bosnian Serbs, and that leading politicians in Bosnian Serbia and possibly Serbia itself almost certainly played a role in these war crimes. One anonymous US official says: “To those who think the parties are equally guilty, this report is pretty devastating. The scale of what the Serbs did is so different.” (Cohen 3/9/1995) However, three months later, the Telegraph will report that “authoritative diplomatic sources in Europe” believe that pro-Bosnian Muslim factions in Washington, DC, including parts of the CIA, are “blatantly distorting” intelligence summaries to push for US intervention on the Bosnian Muslim side. (Jones and Lowry 6/2/1995) Peter Viggers, a senior Conservative British member of Parliament, will claim the report was leaked at a diplomatically important moment to influence policy. Viggers is a member of the British House of Commons Defence Committee and will say the report conflicted with the committee’s own experience in visits to Bosnia, where it was clear that ethnic cleansing had been carried out by all sides. (Jones 6/3/1995) The 1999 documentary Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War later shown on the History Channel will claim that the CIA report only looked at areas held by the Bosnian Serbs and that international agencies later determined that 40 percent of the war refugees were Serbian, suggesting that Serbians were the target of a similar percentage of “ethnic cleansing” war crimes. (George Bogdanich 4/14/2001)

Hendropriyono, the Indonesian chief of intelligence, will later claim that, “[we] had intelligence predicting the September 11 attacks three years before it happened but nobody believed us.” He says Indonesian intelligence agents identify bin Laden as the leader of the group plotting the attack and that the US disregards the warning, but otherwise offers no additional details. The Associated Press notes, “Indonesia’s intelligence services are not renowned for their accuracy.” (Associated Press 7/9/2003)

MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, reports, “Intelligence suggests that while [Osama bin Laden] is seeking to launch an attack inside the US, he is aware that the US will provide a tough operating environment for his organization.” (Gardham 10/5/2009) It is unclear who this report is sent to, or what information it is based on. MI6, not MI5, is usually tasked with foreign intelligence.

US intelligence learns that an al-Qaeda operative is considering mounting operations in the US. There is no information on the timing or specific targets. (US Congress 9/18/2002)


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