The Ustashi became specialized in the assassination of prominent people. Yugoslavian diplomats and military attaches were killed. The Yugoslavian ambassador to Sweden was assassinated in the very Embassy itself, in plain daylight. One of the many acts of terrorism which, by then, had become a common hallmark of the activities of the Ustashis abroad.
Minor assassinations, although common, very often were not even mentioned by the world press. One of these was that in which Dr. Sekulich himself had been involved. Dr. Sekulich had been dealing with certain interested parties, who wished for a preliminary formulation of a policy of cooperation between the Serbs and the Croats after the demise of Marshal Tito. Since the dealings had been leaked, and thus had aroused the suspicion of the Ustashis, he and his associates had decided to hold their meeting in Israel.
They chose Israel as the best guarded and secure country where terrorists had minimum chances to carry out their activities. He was mistaken. Having gone on a secret rendezvous in Jerusalem, after only a couple of meetings he found the chief negotiator murdered next door to his own. A shock not only to Dr. Sekulich but also the the Security authorities.
The present author, although never experiencing such a dramatic sample of Ustashi activities, nevertheless had a taste of it; appropriately in Chicago, of all cities.
In 1978, he had flown from Los Angeles to Chicago to attend a convention organized by the Serbs of the USA. He had been invited there to deliver a speech and to promote a book which had just been published in the USA, entitled The Vatican Moscow Alliance. As soon as he arrived in Chicago he was ushered into a hall where there was a meeting taking place and a speaker was there delivering a speech. When some people in the crowd recognized the present author, he was asked to climb the rostrum and say a few words. This was done. Soon afterwards, however, not a few of those present came to give a warning. "Please do not accept such invitations unless planned beforehand," he was told.
The warning had been motivated by the fact that, a few months before, a writer who had delivered a speech from that same rostrum had been shot to death while speaking. A niece of his in the audience, who had gone up to the platform to help him, also had been shot. "Don't accept impromptu invitations unless checked by the committee," he was warned.
Two days later there took place a large meeting just on the outskirts of Chicago. The meeting was postponed for almost an hour because of the absence of the main organizer. The latter finally arrived in a taxi. He explained the cause of his delay; a bomb had been found under his Cadillac and had to be defused by the police.
From the very beginning a tough individual started to shadow the present writer, walking wherever he went, shoulder to shoulder. The individual became so noxious that finally he was asked to leave. He refused. When asked if he was a cameramen or a television technician, he refused to answer. Finally, when pressed by a functionary of the convention, he opened a bulky leather case hanging from his shoulder, and there appeared a large German revolver. He made the revolver rotate to show the bullets seemingly coated with brass. He then explained decisively that he was appointed the present writer's bodyguard for the remainder of the convention.
There was a luncheon during which other tough individuals hovered upon the guests like menacing angels of silent surveillance, after the luncheon speeches began. These were delivered from a large empty stage, upon which there was a single rostrum and a microphone. The stage was darkened and the speaker was lit by a single light beam, addressing the large audience in semi-darkness.
Various speakers participated. Amongst these, various Orthodox and Serbian Bishops. The speaker preceding the present writer was one Adams, who had just written a large book about the life of the Serbs' hero, General Mirkovich. Mr. Adams was a security official of the Senate House in Washington. To the present writer's opinion he said certain things which had been totally inaccurate; certain events which he mentioned had been distorted. The present writer had been implicated during the war, since he had been dealing with the partisans in occupied Europe, amongst these the partisans of Yugoslavia. Certain Catholic clergy had played a noxious role which had resulted in the arrest and execution of many individuals. That meant, of course, on the part of the Ustashis.
When the present author finally reached the rostrum, he thanked Mr. Adams for the information but said that he had been inaccurate, or at least he had minimized certain facts, including the cooperation of the Catholic clergy with the Ustashi and cognate events.
After having pointed out that and other events, however, the present author told the audience, which was composed of Serbs, most of whom had fled to the USA because they had been terrorized by the Ustashi, that while they should never forget the Croatian Holocaust, they should forgive. And indeed, they should look to the future as citizens of the USA, a country which had welcomed them and given them security and peace.
The audience rose and gave the present author a standing ovation. The performance had been even more impressive because amongst the audience were four members of the House of Representatives and a couple of Senators who had come expressly from Washington to attend the convention. No doubt, to nurse the Serbian vote of the USA. Afterwards, while surrounded by a large circle of people expressing their appreciation of the speech, many pointed out that the author's advocacy of the right of Catholic Croatia to exist as an ethnic, religious and cultural identity was a risky thing to say to the Serbs. (The author, in fact, had repeated that several times, saying that both Serbia and Croatia could exist notwithstanding their different religious credos and could cooperate in building a new Yugoslavia.) An individual who had been standing alone in the distance suddenly opened a passage through the crowd, came straight to the author and shook him by the hand with such strength that the present author had to bend his hand to avoid a painful stricture.
The man, a tough guy looking like a professional boxer, was brief, abrupt and to the point. "It is people like you that we need in this country," he said. "Great pity that you are not an American, great pity." With that, the man departed. The crowd seemed impressed. Then they disclosed the identity of the speaker. He was one of the leaders of the Senate. But if his comments had been gratifying, the next encounter, half an hour later, was not. After the crowd had dispersed and many had bought a copy of the book, signed by the author, the present writer was having a drink standing at the bar, when he noticed a man wearing a hat whose brim hid his eyes. He had been observing, pretending to drink. After a while, when the present author was alone, he approached him with an almost feline smoothness. After a few seconds he whispered a few words as he looked at the other side of the bar. "I came to the convention to kill you. Lucky that you said what you did." The individual had whispered these words with such a matter-of-fact and unemotional tone of voice that it had sounded unreal. He kept a hand, the right hand, under his jacket and had looked significantly at the bulk under it. Then, as people were coming towards us, he asked the present author for a copy of the book, complete with autograph, which he bought. Thereupon having given a courteous greeting, he departed.
The bodyguard, who had absented himself, when told of the incident, froze. "He is one of the most ruthless Usthasi killers," he commented. I kept him under surveillance all the time. The present author returned to Los Angeles having experienced a matter-of-fact encounter, a personal Ustashi reality.
1. See FBI file, Ethnical Political Activities, 1978; also ClA's Serbian Convention in Chicago, 1978; also Chicago Police, specialized surveillance of ethnical groups.
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