Western complicity in the Srebrenica Genocide


In July 1995 the Srebrenica massacre took place. More than 8300 Muslims were brutally murdered and more than 60,000 Muslim women (throughout the Bosnian War) were raped as UN “Peacekeepers” moved aside and allowed it to occur. The UN themselves described it as ‘the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War’.

Over the last 21 years, the International Criminal Court (ICC) (based at the Hague) has convicted some of the Serbs involved in the massacre, the most prominent being the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, although he was only given a 40 year prison sentence. His military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, still awaits a well overdue verdict. However, blame should not be restricted to the Serbs alone. Declassified cables, exclusive interviews and testimony to the tribunal show that the British, American and French governments along with the United Nations, knew six weeks before the massacre that the enclave in Srebrenica would fall, but they decided to leave the Muslims to the fate of the Serbs. Here is a summary of Western involvement in the Srebrenica genocide:

1. UN-declared “safe-area” abandoned

The town of Srebrenica was designated a “safe area” under the protection of UN troops. French general, Philippe Morillon, promised: “You are now under the protection of the UN. I will never abandon you.” The UN duly proclaimed Srebrenica as one of six “safe areas” to be defended by the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR).

This promise was later abandoned as Miloševic (the then President of Serbia) would not agree to peace unless he had a “modified” map that ceded the safe areas. The US National Security Adviser, Anthony Lake, favoured revising the map. Former Dutch defence minister Joris Voorhoeve recalls a meeting with Lake who “considered the enclaves to be very complicated situations which did not fit into a future map.” A counsellor to President Clinton, Alexander Vershbow, stated in 1998, “Srebrenica’s future seemed pretty gloomy. We were already then considering that some kind of swap for at least the smallest of the eastern enclaves for more territory would be wise”.

France and Britain also agreed. General Bertrand de La Presle, adviser to the president, Jacques Chirac, visited Mladic with the following message, “France clearly understands your concern, that you do not want the Contact Group map. Since last fall [1994] three amendments to the Contact Group proposal have been adopted on the initiative of France and Great Britain … The map can change through negotiations”. The French general, Bernard Janvier, overall commander of UN troops on the ground, told the security council member states that, “The enclaves are indefensible, and the status quo untenable.”

The West had accepted Miloševic’s deal and abandoned Srebrenica as a UN protected safe-area.

2. Directive 7 – Permanent removal of Muslims, was known to western governments

The Bosnian Serb military command issued ‘Directive 7’, this was initially a directive to ensure the “slow suffocation of the enclaves” but later became “combat operations to create an unbearable situation of total insecurity of life with no hope of survival or life for inhabitants of Srebrenica and Žepa” ordering the “permanent removal” of Bosnian Muslims from the safe areas.

Mladic told the Bosnian Serb assembly, “My concern is to have them vanish completely”, and Karadžic pledged “blood up to the knees” if his army took Srebrenica. Western governments and the UN were aware of both the directive and the speech of Mladic and Karadžic. On the same day, 8 March 1995, Mladic met the British general Rupert Smith, the head of UN peacekeeping in Bosnia, and according to Smith’s military adviser, Lt Colonel James Baxter, “Mladic took out the map and drew a scratch over each of the enclaves”.

On 2 June, Mladic ordered a “destruction of the Muslim forces in these enclaves”. The former Dutch defence minister Joris Voorhoeve insisted that western leaders were fully aware of this order, but that he and his dutch troops were kept in the dark. “The intelligence services of at least two of the five permanent members of the UN security council knew already at the beginning of June 1995, a month and a half before the attack, that the Serbs intended to capture, in the coming weeks, the three Eastern enclaves – meaning Srebrenica, Žepa and Goražde,”. The UK-based news agency, the Observer, has independently verified that the two countries were the US and the UK.

3. Secret halt of NATO airstrikes

Throughout the Bosnian war NATO airstrikes were used to stop the advancement of the Serbs. However, in retaliation to the airstrikes the Serbs had taken 400 UN troops as hostage. Clinton, Chirac and John Major, spoke by telephone to discuss a response, including the halting of air strikes. The next day, according to the declassified US national security archive, the Principals Committee formalised the decision “to suspend the use of NATO air strikes against the Serbs for the foreseeable future”. The West were fully aware of the expected consequences and did not publicly declare the decision to halt NATO airstrikes. Anthony Lake, in a memo to the president, outlined the need of secrecy: “Privately we will accept a pause on further air strikes but make no public statement to that effect.”

4. Serbian aim to capture Srebrenica and expel the Muslims known to UN but ignored

Joseph Kingori, the UN military monitor in Srebrenica, reported to the UN headquarters that the Bosnian Serb Colonel Vukovic “insisted on trying to find out what would be the reaction of the United Nations if the Bosnian Serb army would capture the enclave and expel the population – literally, all the people living inside that enclave”. Kingori’s reports were unheeded by the UN HQ and he reported to Vukovic that  “safe passage (to those living in the enclave) did not apply to those considered war criminals”. By ‘war criminals’ he meant any men of fighting age.

On 6 July, Mladic prepared and ordered his tanks to advance. Two days later, a UN military observer reported: “The Bosnian Serb army is now in a position to overrun the enclave. Since the UN response has been almost nonexistent, they will continue until they achieve their aims.”. The Bosnian leadership in Sarajevo warned the UN that “genocide against the civilian population of Srebrenica may occur” but an evacuation was not called for. The population chose to remain, on the false perception that the UN would comply with legally binding obligations to protect them.

5. UN soldiers watch the separation of men and boys (for killing) from the women and young children

The Dutch UN soldiers watched Mladic’s troops separate men and boys (for killing) from women and young children.The UN’s envoy, Akashi, sent a cable, “The Bosnian Serb army is likely to separate the military-age men from the rest of the population, an eventuality about which UNPROFOR will be able to do very little”. Akashi and the UN were fully aware that this meant the inevitable massacre of the men and boys, and the systematic rape of Muslim women but did not respond in any way.

6. UN provide 30,000 litres of petrol necessary for genocide

According the General Onno van der Wind of the Dutch defence ministry, the UN provided 30,000 litres of petrol to the Serbs following “UNPROFOR approval” which was used to fuel the transport of men and boys to the killing fields, and fuel bulldozers to plough the 8000 corpses into mass graves.

7. US CIA operatives watched the massacre occur live but did not react

Not only did the West ignore all the indications preceding the massacre but were fully aware of the massacre whilst it occurred. Declassified US cables highlight that on 13th July, two days after the genocide began, US CIA operatives watched almost live satellite images of the massacre from a base in Vienna. Spy planes hovering above Bosnia showed, according to one cable, “Standing men held by armed guard. Later pictures show them lying in the fields, dead,”. A senior state department official insisted that “all US partners were immediately informed.”, yet the slaughter of Muslim men and the raping of Muslim women was allowed to occur. There was no attempt made by the US to intercede and limit the scale of the atrocity.

8. ‘Ethnic cleansing was not a priority’

The US later conceded that the ethnic cleansing of the Muslims in Srebrenica was not their primary concern or priority. Toby Gati, the US assistant secretary of state for intelligence, told the US ambassador, Samantha Power, “Ethnic cleansing was not a priority of our policy. When you make an original decision you are not going to respond, then I’m sorry, these things are going to happen”.

The UN also hold no remorse for what occurred and any regret is mere rhetoric. The then UN secretary general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, told the BBC on 11 July 1995, when Mladic entered Srebrenica, “We have been humiliated and duped. We will have to live with it. But in several days, it will belong to the past”, as though the UN and western governments were not complicit in the genocide of over 8000 Muslims and the mass rape of thousands of Muslim women.

We will never forget Srebrenica

The West attempt to dispose the Srebrenica genocide to the ash heap of history but the Muslims should never forget what occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995. The above highlights the active Western involvement in the massacre which every Muslim should be aware of. The Muslims of Srebrenica (and Bosnia at large) were a very integrated community in that they were Muslims by name but on mass did not really practice Islam fully. However, even the very slight attachment to Islam was not accepted by the Serbs and the West, and they were still subject to slaughter, massacre and systematic rape.

Allah (swt) tells us,

“Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: Verily, the Guidance of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur’an), then you would have against Allah neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper.”

(Qur’an 2:120)

Srebrenica is one of many examples of the plight of the Ummah. The only solution to such massacres is the political unification of the Muslim lands under a single leadership (Imam) as commanded by our beloved Prophet (SAW),

Only the Imam is a shield, behind whom you fight and you protect yourself with, so if he orders by taqwa and is just then he has reward for that, and if he orders by other than that then it is against himself 

(Sahih Muslim)


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Jahir Kashem


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