Officials have identified about 300 immigrants suspected of concealing their involvement in wartime atrocities when they went to the United States as refugees, and officials said the number could eventually top 600, The New York Times reports.
“The more we dig, the more documents we find,” said Michael MacQueen, an official in the immigration agency’s war crimes section.
The accused immigrants include a soccer coach in Virginia, a metal worker in Ohio, and four hotel casino workers in Las Vegas.
Evidence developed by immigration officials indicates that perhaps as many as half of the 300 Bosnian suspects in the United States may have played a part in the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces executed some 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men.
“The idea that the people who did all this damage in Bosnia should have a free pass and a new shot at life is just obscene to me,” MacQueen, who has also investigated Nazi suspects in the United States, told The New York Times.
More than 120,000 Bosnian refugees began applying for American visas in the mid-1990s. They were supposed to disclose service in the military or other bodies that might have suggested involvement in war crimes. “But the system relied largely on the honesty of the applicants, and there was little effort to verify their statements,” according to The Times.
Building enough evidence to deport someone suspected of war crimes is not easy.
According to the report, a North Carolina man said the FBI had questioned him about his duties at the time of the Srebrenica killings, when he served in a Bosnian Serb military unit.
The man, Milan Trisic, denied being linked to atrocities and said he told the FBI that he had driven a truck in the war and had not done military duty.
Munira Subasic, the head of Mothers of Srebrenica, a group that seeks justice for the perpetrators of the 1995 killings, said the group has given names of suspected war criminals to U.S. authorities. She said other suspects are living in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and other European countries, the Daily Mail reports, citing AFP.
by Timothy Spence