Anyone Who Believes in the Hollywood Image of the CIA Should Come to Serbia—Where the Agency Has Long Aligned with One of the Country’s Most Notorious Criminal Gangs
ANGLO AMERICA, 20 Nov 2023
11 Nov 2023 – Most people tend to believe that the CIA is just an intelligence service, gathering information to enable better public policy.
However, CAM readers know that its real purpose is to engage in political skullduggery and subvert or destabilize other countries in order to help facilitate the goal of U.S. global domination.
Below is an interview by a local Serbian TV presenter and Nikola Vrzić, a reputable Serbian journalist and the author of the book The Third Bullet who was mentioned in my earlier articles for CovertAction Magazine.
These articles covered U.S. and CIA subversion of Serbian politics in the aftermath of the 1990s U.S.-NATO military intervention and their efforts to destroy the last vestiges of socialism and independence. Successive U.S. administration-supported pro-Western politicians who would effectively give up Serbia’s sovereignty.
There is suspicion of CIA involvement in the assassination of Zoran Djindjić after he refused to hand over materials to the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia which would challenge the narrative that the U.S. was trying to advance through these tribunals.
The interview below details the CIA’s alliance with the criminal Zemunski Clan, which has helped to advance U.S. political interests in Serbia and carried out the Djindjić assassination.
These are the kind of allies the CIA has a long record of cultivating—going back to the post-World War II era when the CIA allied with the founder of the Japanese Yakuza, Yoshio Kodama, to help stamp out Communism in Japan, and facilitated the drug traffic in Laos and Thailand during the Indochina Wars in alliance with criminal gangsters.
During the 1990s Kosovo War, the CIA armed and empowered the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a leading drug-trafficking organization run by the Albanian mafia, to fight the Serbs. So the pattern we see today, unfortunately, is nothing new.
TV host: In the second part of your book The Third Bullet, you are dealing with the issue of the political background of the assassination of our prime minister, Zoran Djindjić, in which you are telling that there is a lot of evidence, and it was proven so and confirmed by our national security services, that the presence of “foreign intelligence,” the CIA to be more precise, among the Zemunski Klan (the Zemunski Clan) among the assassins. And at the same time you are presenting arguments, on the grounds of which one can see that one side, the U.S. Embassy, was in close contact with the trial judge in that they insisted that certain witnesses, which is rather odd, try to influence a judge, with political or other reasons in mind, so that certain witnesses should be given a status of “protected witnesses.” So we have here foreign interference and you are proving that [in your book].
NV: That was the most delicate chapter in the whole book so as to avoid being stigmatized as a “conspiracy theorist” or whenever the CIA is mentioned, people start being jocular. “Hey, it is CIA, my dear. It is CIA,” which often is taken as an object of ridicule.
Therefore, I prepared that chapter in the most careful, meticulous, conservative way possible. Here is what that precisely means. You mentioned the CIA and the Zemunski Clan. Our BIA [i.e., Serbian Security and Intelligence Agency] made the cross-section of the intelligence information about the Zemunski Clan, which have identified a certain Čedomir Mihajlović.
TV host: How did you get ahold of that document?
NV: Oh, well, through my own sources. The document is authentic and that is what is relevant. I am unable to disclose each particular detail but the document is surely authentic and it represents a summary, i.e., the evolution of what is normally referred to as the Surčinsko—Zemunski Clan, which was originally a criminal gang and then it turned into the Zemunski Clan only [both Zemun and Surčin are parts of the city of Belgrade, Serbia, in its outskirts] and all the inter-connections of these people, etc., etc. So it has to do with the materials, i.e., the facts laid out there, and among other things it is mentioned that that person Čedomir Mihajlović, alias Igor Baruh [he had a few other fake names as well]…He was well-known [i.e., in police circles]. I am not using only one source of information. Even Miša Vasić wrote about him publicly at the time. It is common knowledge that he was co-opted by the CIA by the end of the 1980s or perhaps by the beginning of the 1990s.
TV host: There was one American bearing our name and surname among the Zemunski Clan, is it so?
NV: So, in any case, we have an identified body of a male with no clothes on, who is there with them. We know on the basis of many other testimonies that that person was indeed in close contact with them and there were horse races and car races mentioned. It is irrefutable that that person was there and we have a number of sources who confirmed that he was “co-opted” by the CIA earlier by the end of the 1980s or the beginning of the 1990s as I have already said. So there is this person who is a member of the Zemunski Clan. So it is possible that he may have influenced the activities of the Clan? So we leave that as a possibility. In any case, there is close contact between the U.S. intelligence service and the most powerful criminal gang in our country.
TV Host: Where else were there foreigners?
NV: We have a report by Mile Novaković, the colonel in the police ranks or he may have been a general. I cannot remember at this point. So he was one of those who would be carrying out an investigation after the assassination. He was talking about the fact that the members of British and American intelligence…I have his report prior to the assassination…He talked about the process of “hiding away” Ljubiša Buha Čume.
So they [the CIA] was in that position as well. And we also have “the Americans” appearing in…You mentioned the “relationship” between the U.S. Ambassador and the presiding judge at the time, Marko Kljajević. We also have the WikiLeaks and the official U.S. diplomatic cables, the authenticity of which was also confirmed. There is no doubt about that. The whole world “shook and trembled” about this in that it caused political aftershocks globally, the WikiLeaks documents that is. Well, among other things we have a diplomatic cable there, let me be perfectly clear, it is to do with the report which the U.S. Embassy sent to the U.S. State Department.
TV host: The diplomatic cables? You are talking about those?
NV: Yes, the conversation between the then U.S. Ambassador was retold in the cable…I think it was Michael Polt at the time with Judge Marko Kljajević on whether Dejan Milenković Bagzi was to be given the status of a “cooperative witness” or not, given that he was arrested under suspicious circumstances, in which the U.S. Ambassador was trying to convince the judge who was leading the legal proceedings to assign the status of a cooperating witness to Dejan Milenković Bagzi.
TV host: Which came true eventually…
NV: Judge Kljajević kept opposing that, it is stated in the WikiLeaks cable…in the end it came true. And he, go figure, confirms that official version, which we, based on a series of documents later on, proved to be flawed.
TV host: We also have the Prime Minister’s best man who was involved with the Zemunski Clan, who was an MI6 guest in London, UK, for a while. These are his own words. I mean…
NV: You mean Vladimir Popović?
TV host: No, but the PM’s best man from Surčin.
NV: Aha. You mean Dragoljub Marković? There is a long series of…he is connected with Chume….
TV host: There is a piece of information which you may not know about that, in front of witnesses after the interview in our TV report here, Mr. Željko Cvijanović told me that he asked the former Minister of Internal Affairs in his Cabinet about the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjić who that may have been and Zeljko Cvijanović said at that moment that the Minister turned around, he pulled heavy curtains over the windows of his Cabinet so as to avoid anybody “eavesdropping” and he said that he thought that the British were behind the assassination. Of course, if anybody tells a journalist that the British were behind it, it may well mean most probably that the Americans were behind it because I assume that the whole truth is not supposed to be told… [in that way].
NV: Yes. The fact is that the U.S./British traces—I would personally not make a distinction between the two sides)—the fact is that there are their “traces” [“signatures”] everywhere except “on the trigger of the gun.” But even before the assassination and during the investigation which resulted in a “fake” official version—I can say that without fear of contradiction—they [the British and the Americans involved in the whole affair] were there all the time and probably not without a good reason. All the more so because Prime Minister Zoran Djindjić was in a serious conflict with them prior to his assassination.
TV host: What can be a political motive for this assassination then?
NV: Kosovo. Kosovo and Metohija above all. But also a bigger picture in terms of…
TV host: Wasn’t Zoran Djindjić assigned to his political position by the U.S. in the first place?
NV: Yes, he was.
TV host: Why would the Americans kill him then?
NV: Because he became a part of the problem instead of a part of the solution. Look at…try to find the last interview by Zoran Djindjić and not only that TV interview he gave from Banja Luka (Republika Srpska), which was also vitally important, but the last interview he gave for Večernje Novosti published on March 7, 2003. He openly talks about the issue of Kosovo and the fact that the U.S. was against initiating the debate on the Kosovo issue. Of course, Zoran Djindjić’s bottom line all the time was for Kosovo to remain within our country of Serbia. At that point he got into a serious conflict with them. Then he started being “called names” by the “drugosrbijanci” [the local 5th column] and stigmatized as yet another Slobodan Milošević; Djindjić in that interview answers that question and he says “I couldn’t care less. Let them ‘call me names.’ So the man who cooperated with The Hague Tribunal in arresting Milosević two years later says: “Oh, well, let them call me ‘another Milosevic’ but I am working for the good of my own country. Those who do not want to help me when I act for the good of my own country are not my friends.”
TV host: Well, the assassination cannot be planned and prepared in a matter of five days.
NV: Well, look. That “Kosovo offensive” by Djindjić [i.e., a political, diplomatic offensive], let me call it that way began literally from the 1st of January, 2003, with his interview in Der Spiegel when he “prompted” that conversation for the first time. Later, it would result in the letter for the UN Security Council member states, in which he is demanding the return of our military and police to Kosovo and Metohija in accordance with UN Resolution 1244. We have published the facsimile of that letter in the book as well. Nobody after Zoran Djindjić ever dared repeat that demand. Not that this detail is not important perhaps. Before that, according to many testimonies and public traces left behind him, Zoran Djindjić during the summer and early autumn 2002 experienced some sort of his own internal metamorphosis [enlightenment]. He began thinking about the national identity of Serbia and the national issues. He initiated the charity dinners for the Temple of St. Sava, the return of the religious education in schools etc., etc. His relations with The Hague Tribunal, let us not forget….I refer to the archives in the book and what was happening. Well, The Hague Tribunal and Florence Hartmann, who was at the time the spokesperson of The Hague Tribunal Chief Prosecutor, accused Zoran Djindjić of being the biggest obstacle in the cooperation with The Hague Tribunal and not Vojislav Koštunica. Zoran Djindjić was targeted as the biggest obstacle. And the U.S. put a halt on some financial aid of about one hundred thousand dollars, then Zoran Djindjić said in public—all of these were his public statements with the existing evidence still…
TV host: We were “spoon-fed” a story that Djindjić fell prey to the anti-Hague lobby.
NV: Zoran Djindjić was urged to deliver the archives of our military and police to them [the U.S.]. His response was—and I am saying this again that everything I say is verifiable. I am writing on the basis of facts only—His response was: “You [the U.S.] should have thought about that when you bombed us.”
TV host: Tell me, please. You mean to say that Zoran Djindjić turned into the biggest problem in our country for the Americans during those six months.
NV: I suppose so. Look, if we remember what the political scene was in Serbia at the time, Zoran Djindjić was the only…all the others were at the “pro-national” line. All the way from Vojislav Koštunica to SPS [Socialist Party of Serbia], the then Radical Party [which were united among themselves in their own ranks at the time], all of them were taking a firm pro-national approach. They were even less “flexible” let me put it that way.
TV host: And then what happens after the assassination of Zoran Djindjić?
NV: Firstly, Zoran Živković and Boris Tadić as the Defense Minister deliver all those archives Zoran Djindjić claimed had been previously destroyed.
TV host: So, what Djindjić did not want to do, these two gave away.
NV: That is so. There was even “a celebratory delivery of the archives” instead of continuing with the pursuit for the return of our Serbian military and police forces to return to Kosovo. Zoran Živković if you remember, he offered our police forces to work in Afghanistan.
TV host: Zoran Djindjić demanded that our 1,000 soldiers return to Kosovo and…[but Zoran Živković who came afterwards asked for Serbian troops to join NATO and go and fight in Afghanistan]…
NV: Exactly. And not only by way of media but he sent an official letter to the UN Security Council member states.
TV host: And Zoran Živković offered our soldiers to the U.S.?
NV: Yes, you remember when he…Zoran Živković , when he became PM [immediately after the assassination of Zoran Djindjić] left for Washington, D.C., a few months later…During that time, while Zoran Djindić was alive, he demanded the process of resolving the issue of Kosovo and Metohija as soon as possible.
TV host: To accelerate the process of resolving the issue?
NV: Well, yes. He kept warning that they [the U.S., NATO, etc.] are building “a wild/ lawless political construct” behind our back and we were going to be placed at gunpoint to comply. He said he wanted to…
TV host: And what did Živković do?
NV: On his return to Serbia, the Americans were of the opinion… the reason why I mention this is…they said “no, we are not to rush into things with this issue…. Let us do things slowly,” etc. Zoran Živković then travels to Washington, D.C., and he comes back with a sentence “on his lips”: “No, we are not to rush into things with this issue….” He changed his mind completely. That was his political “180 degree” turnaround.
Another related interview for this article:
RAS TV interview with Nikola Vrzić and Milan Veruović:
TV host: What is interesting and what surely has to be taken into account in the analysis by our TV viewers watching this report is that the U.S. intelligence service establishes a contact with the Zemunski Clan shall we say a diplomatic U.S. network via one American national of Serbian origin by the name Čedomir Mihajlović, alias Igor Baruh.
NV: Yes, that is true.
TV host: Čedomir Mihajlović establishes a contact with those criminals from Zemunski Clan and after all that he vanishes into thin air without a trace. The very same thing was done by one man precisely from the CIA who comes to Belgrade, who happens to have good contacts, he then disappears, one of them in the Perišić affair gets killed in [neighboring] Hungary. Anyways, we come to the detail that we can estimate as being “foreign influence,” which at the end of the day Dušan Mihajlović, the Minister of Internal Affairs at the time, also talks about. He says that in our pursuit to find Zoran Djindjić’s assassin, we should place particular attention on the foreign intelligence services.
TV host: And to be more precise, with the British and U.S. intelligence services.
NV: True. I would just disagree that we mark anybody in particular “with a tick” too early whether it might be British, U.S. or perhaps German intelligence.
TV host: But without some of their agents this cannot have happened.
NV: Yes, that is most definitely true. In fact, Nikola and I, while searching through the documents with our security and intelligence services, we received the information that it was Čedomir Mihajlović, the person who introduced himself as a sales agent, some sort of businessman who arrived there in a luxury car and allegedly had “good contacts and combinations.” I think he appears around 2001 and he gets into the Zemunski Clan via his contacts “in the street” [by word of mouth through local street gangs]. It was easy for him to reach them with those huge sums of money and with his offer that he was the one to get them appropriate “business” contacts with the big bosses and the cartels in South America, which was their ultimate goal. He infiltrates among them and gets to organize them. He influences them “well.” Dušan Spasojevic places a high level of trust in him at the time. He is even mentioned in the “mutiny” later when “the Unit” came out in protest.
TV host: You mean JSO unit [the Special Operations Unit]?
NV: Yes. He then all of a sudden disappears. He manages to “iron out” the situation and he disappears.
Who was Čedomir Mihajlović?
This is what Serbian journalist Misa Vasic wrote in a famous article in 2007:
It has been 14 years since he died in a car crash. If that had been him anyways. Yet even though he did die, it may have been him under a different name.
But let us begin from the very beginning step by step.
According to what Milan Veruović is telling us, Mihajlović was a foreign agent who was noticed by our intelligence services by the end of the 1990s.
He was co-opted by the CIA and he came to Serbia a few times to gather “information.” He then later appeared under a number of different pseudonyms, but what is relevant here is that he was infiltrated into the Zemunski Clan under the name Čedomir Mihajlović—Veruović told us at the time. Apart from introducing himself as the investor from the USA with good contacts iin the criminal circles he also promised them to get them connected with the criminal gangs in South America. He even offered one million dollars to bail out Dušan Spasojević from prison. According to some insider knowledge, he also took part in the preparations of the Red Berets’ mutiny.
In 2002 he vanishes without a trace. He left his luxury car and a few racing horses with Spasojevic. Obviously, CIA decided “to withdraw him” after he had finished “the job.”
At the beginning of the year 2007, Serbian reporter Milos Vasić wrote an article in Vreme about the tragic death in a car accident on January 1st of a U.S. citizen under the name Igor Baruh. The police found personal documents on the spot, issued to a U.S. national under the name mentioned above. The body was cremated duly but it was later found out that the deceased also embezzled an amount of 8,500 U.S. dollars allegedly to organize a Serbian folk dancing company tour in the States for them. Somebody in the U.S. Consulate then remembered who Igor Baruh was.
According to Veruović, if the news was true then, Čedomir Mihajlović died in the car crash, better known as Emir Gujić, Esad Ramadanović and Igor Baruh, born between the years of 1946 and 1950. His other passports were also forged.
[Note: Taking into account the facts that his other aliases are not typical Serbian names nor surnames either, this may indicate he was either a member of infiltrated Albanian Shiptari gangs or possibly Ustasha from Croatia much earlier. He may have been assigned a Serbian-sounding name and surname by the CIA to infiltrate locally more easily. (Comment by the author)]
He was a high-class conman, what the police officers used to call “an international artist.” He had to use his brains and made a big effort to achieve something. Čedomir Mihajlović made it into history as a man who would approach any of his numerous operations with a lot of commitment, zeal and hard work. It was all the same to him if it was to do with one hundred dollars or one million dollars. That goes to prove his high level of professionalism, which is not common today—Vasić wrote in his article back then (with loads of sarcasm I presume)
Take this most recent example: Čedomir Mihajlović did not find it difficult at all to invent a law office in Palo Alto, California, with a relevant email address, PO Box and phone number as well, and to maintain a correspondence with a local Serbian folk-dancing group, promising them participation in a folk-dancing concert in the U.S..
Nothing very glamorous but just a decent folk concert. He was using the identity of his father-in-law though. He would take his personal details, fingerprints and passports from the folk-dancing group members, and then even he would insist on them paying him for their U.S. visas, insurance and accompanying expenses. He would then delete his email address related to the law office “Donovan, Donovan & Baruch LLP” and then he would disappear with 8,500 U.S. dollars in his pockets he would have collected from them earlier.
This is what could be read from the legal actions taken against him by the local Serbian folk-dancing company which was submitted to the MUP of Serbia (Ministry of Internal Affairs) on January 5 and to the Fourth Municipal Court Prosecutor’s Office on January 8. One might say 8,500 U.S. dollars might not be a big amount of money at all. Oh, well, it depends…For Čedomir it was big enough, a dollar each day “slowly, diligently and securely”—Vasić also wrote in his article back then with even more sarcasm I presume again.
Olga Peterson is a writer and translator living in Serbia.
Tags: Anglo America, Anti-hegemony, Anti-imperialism, CIA, Corruption, Mafia, Organized crime, Serbia, USA
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