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SAJ - Specijalna Antiteroristicka Jedinica (Part 1)

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Uploaded on Jun 4, 2006

SPECIJALNA ANTITERORISTICKA JEDINICA (SAJ)
Special Antiterrorist Unit

The Specijalna Antiteroristicka Jedinica (SAJ), Serbia's prime counter-terrorist unit, was created in 1995 with Radovan Stojicic Badza as its first commander. The unit is under the control of the Ministry of Interior (MUP), specifically by Gen. Obrad Stejanovic, the head of all special units of the MUP. After Stojicic, the unit's commander was a Zoran Simovic Tutinac, and the latest commander is said to be Zivko Trajkovic.

Initially headquartered at the Belgrade airport, they were relocated to Batajnica, while maintaining a training center at Paklenink, complete with a model town to practice close quarters battle (CQB) and other skills. Originally, the SAJ numbered around 200 men, but during the recent year, that number is reported to have grown to around 500. The SAJ concerns itself with "extraordinary situations," such as combating terrorism, insurgency, organized crime, hostage situations and high risk warrant executions, as well as VIP protection. A secret unit is said to exist within the SAJ, which provides protection for the Serbian president, as well as important figures and businessmen.

Like counter-terrorist units around the world, the SAJ is better equipped and funded than ordinary police and military units. In contrast to other special units of the MUP or of the Yugoslav Army who use the M-70/80 line of assault rifles, the SAJ is equipped with MP5 variants, H&K G3 SSG sniper rifles, and various other Western weapons. Sophisticated communications are also at the SAJ's disposal. For transportation, the SAJ is said to employ US-built Jet Ranger and Long Ranger helicopters, and it is probable that if needed, they can draw on other police and army resources if needed. They are reported to favor the Austrian Pinzgauer 6x6 all-terrain vehicle, and for urban operations in Kosovo, the SAJ reportedly used white Audis and black BMW cars. There are reports of the unit having T-55 tanks, Praga mobile AAA guns and helicopter gunships, but it is more likely that these were army vehicles used in support of SAJ operations.

There is some confusion and conflicting reports about the uniforms the SAJ uses. It is almost certain that there is a variety of uniforms used for a variety of types of operations. It is also almost certain that uniforms that are used give a tactical advantage and camouflage, therefore, reports of black uniforms and the standard blue disruptive camouflage BDUs used by Serbian police special units, and reported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), can be trusted. Furthermore, pictures of SAJ operators show green woodland camouflage being worn. A report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) cites ridiculous accounts of the SAJ wearing yellow uniforms. Other versions have them in brown and cream uniforms, but these are more likely to be paramilitary units. Often, SAJ operators can be distinguished from the PJP special units since they wear balaclavas. Body armor and assault vests with the word "Policija" are also worn. As for insignia, one report says that a patch with the "SAJ" acronym was worn by the operators, but this cannot be confirmed.

The SAJ has been most active in the Serbian province of Kosovo during 1998 and 1999. However, SAJ operators were reported to have been present, in civilian garb, during the 1996/97 public demonstrations in Belgrade to assist in crowd control. SAJ was deployed to Kosovo in 1998, and allegedly participated in operations in Drenica, Obrinje and Pec, where they are accused of committing numerous war crimes. However, it has not been proven whether those involved were actually members of the SAJ. One of the biggest operations was breaking up the concentration of KLA forces in the village of Donji Prekaz. Together with other special MUP units, the SAJ shelled the village and attacked it until it flushed out the guerrillas. It is not known whether operators of the SAJ were present during the October 2000 demonstrations in Belgrade.

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