Rod Nordland

Stories by Rod Nordland

  • Death Of A Village

    ZINA HASANOVIC TAKES OUT her most treasured possession, a picture of her husband, Haris. She smiles down at her year-old daughter, Lejla. "See, it's Papa. Give him a kiss," she says. The toddler grabs the photograph, kisses it and proudly says, "Papa." Her grandmother weeps in the corner of their one-room home, which is shared by eight refugees from the Muslim village of Lehovici, outside Srebrenica. The women are teaching Lejla to say "Father" and "Uncle" and "Brother," despite the fact that most of her male relatives are almost certainly dead. ...
  • Getting The Job Done

    NATO HAS A LOT TO boast about in Bosnia in the two weeks since D-Day, or Deployment Day, as the troops refer to the Dee. 20 handover of power from the United Nations to NATO's IFOR (Implementation Force). By the weekend, NATO troops had either shut down or knocked down every military roadblock in two thirds of the country. For the first time, Muslim civilians could travel from Sarajevo to the Gorazde enclave across Serb territory. The drive from Zagreb to Sarajevo, which once took two days and many prayers, was reduced to four hours. NATO soldiers occupied a key dam to prevent Croat troops from sabotaging it. Serbs and Muslims helped IFOR map their minefields. The belligerents, renamed in NATO-speak as the FWFs (Former Warring Factions), sat down to hash out their withdrawals from the confrontation lines, due in two weeks. One British veteran of the Bosnian conflict came away from one such meeting amazed: "They always try to outnice each other." ...
  • The Crimes Of Bosnia

    A RECENT HUDDLE BEtween U.S. peace negotiator Richard Holbrooke and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic illustrated a key problem of holding Balkans war-crimes trials. At one point in the meeting, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic complained he couldn't attend the upcoming peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, because of his indictment by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as a war criminal. "Mr. Karadzic," one of the American negotiators deadpanned, "you're welcome to come to the United States. And if you do, we'll arrest you." ...
  • 'Virtual Peace' In Sarajevo

    When Richard Holbrooke emerged from his armored Chevrolet in front of Sarajevo's Presidency building last week, passersby applauded. A week had just gone by without so much as a sniping victim or a mortar explosion. Souvenir stalls in the Old Town's market opened up for the first time in the war, and night clubbers flouted the city's curfew. A "Pax Americana," Munevera Bratnik called it as she took her two toddlers out in a stroller. Cars long in storage emerged to create unprecedented traffic jams. One optimistic entrepreneur, inspired by the reopening of the airport to U.N. flights, even started a travel agency. But the siege of Bosnia was not yet over. ...
  • Learning About The Serbs-As A Captive

    I arrived in Bosnian serb territory at the invitation of Sonja Karadzic, a would-be pop singer who runs the press office for her dad, the president. NATO bombers had been working the Bosnian skies all day, and reconnaissance jets could be heard far overhead. "There's a small problem," a military policeman said, scowling at my American passport and un-shouldering his short-barreled machine gun. "Come this way." Once we were out of sight of possible witnesses, he tied a smelly handkerchief across my eyes and led me down the road. I peeked, keeping my eyes on that gun. I reminded myself that Bosnian Serbs like to take Western hostages when threatened, but so far they hadn't killed any. ...
  • A Death March In The Mountains

    At a crossroads in the mountains, Sabaheta Bacirovic saw 500 men on their knees. They were Muslim prisoners. Their arms were tied behind their heads, and their Serbian captors forced them to "march" by shuffling along on their knees. The Serbs taunted Mrs. Bacirovic and the women traveling with her, who had been driven out of Srebrenica when the Muslim enclave fell on July 11. "There are your husbands," she recalled them saying. "There is your army. We will kill them all."Mrs. Bacirovic anxiously scanned the prisoners for a glimpse of her husband, but she didn't see him. "I have little hope left," she said last week at a refugee camp in Tuzla. "Too much time has gone by." Other women who rode the trail of tears out of Srebrenica had seen heaps of dead men, their throats slit, piled up beside the roads.Survivors called it the Srebrenica Death March. As the Muslim enclave was falling, remnants of the defending Bosnian army organized all the men of draft age- somewhere between 12,000...
  • The Game Of Survival

    In Sarajevo, U.N. Warehouses are nearly empty, but people don't seem very hungry. There's no electricity, but residents unhook their car batteries at night to run their television sets. In between snatches of locally dubbed CNN and subtitled re-runs of Schwarzenegger and Van Damme movies, they might catch a commercial on TV Bill, such as the one for At-Mahir Pizza: "For the best pizza in town, delivered in 15 minutes, call 531-532." Call? No problem; the government has installed a satellite earth station, rumored to be hidden in a roofless building somewhere, so phone service is excellent within Sarajevo-and even to "free Bosnia" outside the Serb siege lines. At-Mahir's uses bullet-pocked, wind-shield-shattered cars to deliver pizzas that arrive piping hot, in Croatian-made cardboard pizza cartons, smuggled through the tunnel under the city's airport.After years of futilely waiting for the West to rescue them, Sarajevans have learned to depend on themselves. They have little choice:...
  • 'What Am I Doing Here?'

    Canadian Army Medics on a good-will mission had just picked up an X-ray machine from a hospital on the Serb side of the line to take back to their headquarters for repair. Minutes later, Serb artillery fired seven shells into the Canadian camp at the shattered Sarajevo suburb of Visoko. A hut was fiddled with shrapnel, and two Grizzly armored cars were damaged. Meanwhile, on the Serb side, Capt. Serge Harvey, commander of the Canadians' Company A, was sharing a congenial drink of slivovitz with the Serb commander. The telephone rang, and Harvey's host apologetically announced that the Serbs were taking 53 Canadians hostage. On the Bosnian government side of the line, things weren't much better. At a checkpoint, the crew of a Canadian light tank was asked to show ID cards. When the Canadians opened the hatches, the Bosnians put guns in their faces and stole their grenades--and their personal cameras.It was a bad week, but not an unusual one for the much-abused U.N. troops of Canada's...
  • Dealing With The Devil

    The last American Ambassador to parley with Slobodan Milosevic found him "almost totally dominated by his dark side." Even in closed-door meetings with diplomats, the Serbian president was a pathological liar, Warren Zimmermann writes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. He destroyed Yugoslavia to build a Greater Serbia-not because the onetime communist ideologue had turned nationalist, but because he craved power. Milosevic was never "moved by an individual case of human suffering," says Zimmermann, who was U.S. ambassador in Belgrade at the start of the Balkan war and was recalled by Washington in protest in 1992. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic comes off no better. Zimmermann compares him to "a monster from another generation, Heinrich Himmler." ...
  • 'Every Tree Is A Fortress'

    IN THE HIGH CAUCASUS, TEAMS OF AGILE Chechens scale the sheer cliff faces. They are practicing for a war that is just around the next peak. Already, they see Russian Sukhoi-24 jet bombers swooping up their valleys, bombing hamlets and bridges and rocketing cars on the roads. Preliminary skirmishes are underway: in the Caucasian foothills, bear hunters from the village of Goy-chu tracked down a company of elite Russian paratroopers, beat them into submission and turned the survivors over to the Chechen leaders in Grozny. And on the agricultural plain around Grozny, Chechen fighters are preparing for a long resistance. They have laid "dragon's teeth" -- crossed iron girders designed to trap Russian armor -- in the river fords. They have mined the highway bridges on the edges of the capital, with lookouts ready to blow them. They have set up self-defense plans in every village and established an intelligence network. Even as the Chechen capital seems about to fall to the Russians, the...
  • 'These People Can Never Be Pacified'

    Dozens of dead Russian soldiers lay heaped behind the pockmarked presidential palace. Occasionally a stray dog slippedup, worried at a body and made off with an entrail. Many of the dead had been wounded and left to die by a demoralized and confused army -- four Russian divisions that seemed incapable of subduing a republic the size of Connecticut. The job of removing the Russian dead fell to the Chechen fighters who had held the nerve center of their resistance despite a four-week Russian offensive. "In the days of the Soviet Union, Russia was a great power and all its nations were subjugated without any problem," said Askambek Chatuyev, a Chechen lieutenant. "Now it's nothing." ...
  • 'We'll Hunt You Down Like A Dog.'

    IT WAS A DOG'S LIFE FOR HAITI'S DICTAtors last week. American tanks turned their cannons on FRAPH, the paramilitary thugs who did most of the regime's dirty work, forcing them to surrender without a shot. Regional military garrisons continued to desert, and policemen who got in the way found themselves cuffed by the GIs. Crowds cheered every move. U.S. Lt. Gen. Henry Hugh Shekon made a pointed visit to FRAPH leader Emmanuel (Toto) Constant,. whose group had often .threatened to kill Aristide. Change your tune, the general told him, or "we'll hunt you down like a dog," Toto promptly gave a press conference disavowing violence and promising to support the return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Shelton wasn't fooling around. The Americans built a barbed-wire kennel at their airport headquarters, and penned up 75 of the worst attaches, including four prominent "Ninjas," masked security men for the high command. The despised police chief, Michel Francois, fled to the...
  • The Dead Can't Rest

    THE GRAVESTONES IN THE OLD JEWISH cemetery are shaped like sitting lions, perched on a steep hillside looking down on central Sarajevo. Inscribed in both Hebrew and Spanish, they are pocked with bullet and mortar blasts. Underground, bunkers have dislocated the bones of those who fell victim to the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi Holocaust. Now, the most ferociously contested four acres in Bosnia remains a no man's land, where sporadic fighting pierces an otherwise quiet city. Elsewhere in Sarajevo. French and Russian troops separate the two sides; here, where the fighting began nearly two years ago. they don't dare. ...
  • Logic's War With Passion

    TRY TELLING SMALL KLARIC ABOUT THE hours-old cease-fire in Mostar. "We can have peace again," says the dour leader of the local Muslim war council. "But only after the criminals have been punished." He means the Bosnian Croats, once allies, now the bitterest of enemies struggling for control of this battered town in southwestern Bosnia. In a fight where the front lines are often defined by house-to-house combat, it's easy to take things personally. Klaric still hasn't been able to reclaim the body of his mother-in-law. Badly beaten and forced from her home at gunpoint by Croatian troops in early February, the old woman tried to join her family on the eastern side of the Neretva River. On the way, Klaric claims, she collapsed and lay in a coma for days--until someone shot her. There she continues to lie, her corpse a magnet for stray dogs, the only creatures that dare to wander into no man's land. ...
  • Sarajevo: Looking For Escape Routes

    AFTER MONTHS OF HIDING out in friends' apartments to dodge conscription into the Bosnian army, "Milorad," 38, made his move two days before Christmas. He and four other Serbs paid a fixer $1,200 each for the privilege of using an escape route called the "rat's canal." It took them four hours of crawling through the fetid sewer to cross from central Sarajevo to Serb-held Grbavica, across the River Miljacka. At the end, a veza -- connection -- was waiting in a car. Now Milorad sits in Belgrade, waiting for a Canadian visa and hoping his wife can use her kidney disease as an excuse to get on a relief convoy out of Sarajevo. He counts himself lucky: last month, he says, a group of six doctors and nurses were caught escaping through the rat's canal, and now it's closed. "This is a wretched country," he says. "You should flee as far as possible." ...
  • Sarajevo's New Boom In Babies

    THERE'S A SNIPER WORKING THE corner near the Njemcevic family's apartment. Five-month-old Enisa and her parents sleep together in the living room, on the side of the building, away from Serbian guns that have left shell holes in the nursery walls. The infant was conceived 14 months ago in one of those lulls that hinted peace was almost at hand. During Nesveta's pregnancy a Red Cross message arrived from her mother-in-law, Enisa, who was dying in a refugee camp in Croatia and would never see her first grandchild. Enisa had a last wish. If it was a girl, would they name it after her? "We didn't think this war would last so long when we decided to have a baby," says her father, Fahrudin, a social worker. "But we haven't regretted it for a moment."Their upstairs neighbors have no complaints either. The Pijevics, a mixed Serbian and Muslim couple, had their own baby, a boy, a month earlier. They made up the name Mak, which means "poppy," because it has no ethnic associations. Senad, the...
  • Mostar: A Glimpse Of Hell Frozen Over

    THERE ARE TWO strategies for staying alive if you're a Muslim in Mostar. Hunker down in the basement all day and come out for food and water at night, when the Croatian shelling starts. Or stay in the basement all night and come out during the day, when the Croatian snipers go to work. In a community of 55,000 with an average daily toll of two dead and 10 wounded, that's not much of a choice. Besieging troops of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), together with Serb forces, have had the Muslims surrounded since early May. More shells are hitting Muslim-held Mostar these days than Sarajevo, which is six times as populous. Bloody water flows in the gutter of the main street as bodies are washed for burial. Hardly a moment goes by without the sound of gunfire or explosions, and international aid workers visit only in armored cars. As a result, relief aid gets in only sporadically. Some people starve because they simply can't survive the dash to the food-distribution points, a pet...
  • 'Let's Kill The Muslims!'

    THE VILLAGERS OF STUPNI DO knew something was wrong when Anna Likic, the only Croatian resident and the wife of a Muslim, suddenly disappeared with all her children. Word travels fast in this tiny mountain hamlet in central Bosnia, a farming and sheep-grazing community of 250 people, most of whom are related and share a common surname. When the first mortar shell hit, 36 men of military age grabbed their hunting rifles and their few AK-47s and manned the bunkers they had dug along the edges of the village. But no one expected the ferocious artillery pounding that followed. Quickly overwhelmed, Stupni Do's defenders retreated to a couple of houses. There they spent the day trying to hold off 600 Croatian nationalists--and protecting the 100 women and children who huddled together in the basements of the two homes. ...
  • Next, A Tougher Stand On Birth Control

    As a Polish Archbishop, he criticized the libertine communist state for legalizing divorce, abortion and birth control. As a member of a Vatican review panel, he signed the minority report that became the basis for "Humanae Vitae," the 1968 papal encyclical that banned the pill and other "artificial" methods of regulating birth as contrary to "nature." And as Pope John Paul II, he is more convinced than ever that his long-held views on human sexuality should be enshrined as an unambiguous doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. ...
  • Waiting For Spring In Sarajevo

    A tardy spring has finally come to Sarajevo-and with it, the illusion of renewal. The trees that once blanketed the city are gone, cut down for firewood. But here and there are flashes of green, as Sarajevans begin planting tiny gardens on their terraces, "Every morning I wake up at 5 a.m. and rush out to see if there's any result," says Senada Kreso, a government press director. Sidewalk cafes have opened up all over town, usually on the shady side of streets to confound snipers, who themselves have decided to give civilians a break--claiming only five to 10 victims a day in a recent week. People look good, slim and often stylish; some blocks are reminiscent of tranquil European avenues. ...
  • Throwing The Bums Out

    The San Vittore prison in Milan may not be the most beautiful of Italy's landmarks, but these days it is certainly the most notorious. Television crews keep a round-the-clock vigil on its high red walls. Crowds gather quickly in the street outside whenever the police radio flashes the code message "Mike Papa." That stands for Operazione Mani Pulite--Operation Clean Hands-and it means that yet another of Milan's high and mighty is on the way to jail, caught by the city's prosecuting magistrates in an ever-widening anti-corruption dragnet. When police cars arrive, sirens blaring, onlookers jostle to see which well-heeled politician or businessman sits handcuffed in the back seat this time. Sometimes the crowds cheer. Sometimes they throw coins and shout "Thieves!" It has become the lifestyle of Milan's rich and famous. "The people you used to see at La Scala on opening night you now see at San Vittore," says Roberto Mongini, a Christian Democrat who admits taking kickbacks and has...
  • The Mullahs Vs. Modernization

    The news anchor on official Iranian TV broke the recent story of seven dead in a train crash outside Teheran. There was a bright side, though: a fatal train accident the same day in Gary, Ind. "Even in America," said the anchor, "trains collide." Observed a local viewer, "It's like they're keeping score: 'It's Iran 1, America 1'." ...
  • Brother Vs. Brother

    Foreign troops are once again attacking Kurds in northern Iraq, but this time there's no likelihood of Western intervention-unless it's to help the attackers. The roads built by U.S. military engineers to carry supplies to starving refugees are now carrying Turkish tanks into the same mountain redoubts between Cucurka and Zakho. The planes taking off from bases Americans once used are carrying bombs, not food packets-and dropping their loads over Kurdish-held border villages. ...
  • Slavery

    Suleika mint Barka, 10, missed her mother. She was removed to Nouakchott, the capital, in her master's custody, leaving the rest of her family at a Bedouin camp deep in the Mauritanian desert. From there the master drove the girl to a remote oasis and sold her to another Bedan (white) named Muhammad for the price of four camels. There was nothing anyone could do about it. ...
  • The 'Velcro Don': Wiseguys Finish Last

    The vainglory of John Gotti was so great that when anonymous Juror No. 1 stood up and responded to a reading of the first count of murder with the word "proved, " the Teflon Don's head snapped back like he'd been shot in the face. While Juror No. 1 went on and intoned "proved " and "guilty " on each of the other 43 federal charges of racketeering, multiple murders, loan sharking, gambling and even jury tampering, Gotti regained his composure - and his wiseguy smirk. Still, in that initial instant in federal court in Brooklyn, it was clear he really believed he would overcome this fourth try to jail him for the rest of his life. ...
  • Deadly Lessons

    Kids With Guns Are Setting Off An Arms Race Of Their Own Across The Country--As A Double Murder In A New York High School Showed. Are Schools Doomed To Become Free-Fire Zones?
  • Were The Deals Worth It?

    America got the last of its 17 hostages back from Lebanon in time for Christmas. Here are only some of the direct and indirect costs: two American officials murdered in Lebanon; at least one terrorist freed in France; eight Western hostages murdered; 91 Arab prisoners released by Israel; $278 million released to Iran, and now implicit recognition given to the kidnappers by their own United Nations intermediary. Then there was the Iran-contra scandal: one national-security adviser and seven other U.S. officials indicted; the sale of untold tons of prohibited arms and a humiliating gift of a cake. Rarely if ever has the freedom of so few hostages cost so much. When Fidel Castro gave up 1,179 Bay of Pigs hostages, he got $53 million in U.S. humanitarian aid and an enduring blockade. Saddam Hussein turned over more than 10,000 Western hostages last Christmas, and still found himself on the business end of a war. But the terrorists in Lebanon, NEWSWEEK sources say, can now walk away,...
  • Saddam's Secret War

    A journey through Kurdistan is like turning over a succession of stones in the rubble of Saddam Hussein's secret war against the Kurds. From 1988 to 1990, not satisfied with having defeated the Kurdish guerrillas, the Peshmerga, Saddam went on a mostly undocumented rampage to wipe Kurdish villages from the map. The Kurds have said he used chemical weapons on hundreds of villages, and systematically blew up and bulldozed thousands more. Then he rendered their fields unworkable with land mines and their orchards unproductive with chemical defoliants. "I was in Sweden telling people this," says Karim Sanjari of the Kurdish Democratic Party, "and nobody would believe it. It's something incredible, like from ancient history." Now, with nearly a third of Kurdistan in allied hands, and the rest split between Peshmerga guerrilla and Iraqi government control, outsiders can see for themselves. ...
  • 'Bushistan': At The Edge Of A Quagmire?

    In northern Iraq, Saddam Hussein is a figure of ridicule. The allies are busy building what will by this week become a major air base-on the dictator's former private airstrip. In the same valley, Saddam had razed all the Kurdish villages and built three major palace complexes for himself and his cronies; his summer palace outside the town of Sirseng has a five-mile-long wall around it. Now the palace is in the middle of the allied security zone, and Americans have surrounded the Iraqi Republican Guards who remain there. The Iraqis cook over campfires and supplement meager rations with fruit picked from the trees. They wave at passing Americans. "How do you like my palace?" jokes one. "It's mine now." ...