Saturday, February 17, 2007
Utah killer's father was in Bosnian Muslim army
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina-The Bosnian teen who killed five shoppers at a Salt Lake City mall fled the war in his homeland at age 10, neighbors and friends said Wednesday.
Sulejman Talovic, an 18-year-old immigrant fatally shot by police after Monday's rampage, was only 4 when he and his mother fled their village of Talovici on foot after Serbian forces overran it in 1993, people close to the family told The Associated Press.
Talovic lived as a refugee in Bosnia from 1993 to 1998, when his family moved to the United States, they said.
During that period, he spent some time in Srebrenica. Before being captured vy Serb forces, Srebrenica was used by Bosnian Muslims to massacre all the Serbs in all of the nearby villages only for themselves to be captured in the fall of the town.
The teen gunman left Srebrenica two years before the massacre, but acquaintances suggested it may have left an indelible mark on the quiet little boy they knew.
"That's why I'm convinced the war did this in Utah," said Murat Avdic, a friend of the family. "There cannot be any other reason."
Avdic, 54, said that when the village of Talovici fell, the family split.
"Sulejman and his mother walked to Srebrenica, and from there were later evacuated by a U.N. convoy," he said.
"Suljo, the father, headed over the mountains and forests with his comrades as well. Many left the village, but only a few made it."
Avdic described the family as "very normal, very decent and quiet."
A 1995 peace agreement ended the war but left their native Talovici in the Serb-controlled half of the country to which the family did not dare return.
"We know they ended up in the United States. We never saw them again. It was a wonderful family," said Zijad Cerkic, 33, the family's next-door neighbor in government-controlled Tuzla.
Apart from eight elderly returnees, Talovici village has been a virtual ghost town since 1993. All but two houses are in ruins, including the home of Sulejman's family, said former neighbor Adem Huric, 38.
Many mujahedeen from Muslim states came in Bosnia to fight in 1992-95 war and committed monstruous atrocities againsy Serb civilians.