Radovan Karadžić, The Big Hair, as he was so named in a less-than-affectionate manner by many factions of the United Nations (UN) mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had risen to the top of the list of Persons Indicted for War Crimes (PIFWC [pronounced piff-wick]) in the Balkan States. This was a result, particularly, of his leading role in the massacre of some 8,000 Muslim civilians in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

Many of the UN countries had formulated their own plans and were bolstering efforts to track and capture The Big Hair. The U.S. was no exception: we had already sent our Special Mission Units out to capture two Serbian generals high on the PIFWC list. Karadžić remained elusive and all but invisible for a good number of years.

My role in Bosnia at the time, along with my counterpart Kay-Kay, was to support the hunt effort for PIFWCs — or toads as we referred to them — with every measure of technical and human surveillance operations. The means were soundly subject to our collective creativity. Anything went, and that was the nexus of our power in the hunt for the toads.

That day was a down-day by virtue of the lack of actionable intelligence to move on. I was tweaking the optical recording configuration in our sedan. Kay-Kay was literally out at the zelenica (open-air market) shopping like some… woman! I didn’t like that she was by herself, not that I was worried about her safety; rather, if I were not there with her she would only buy healthy fruits and vegetables — I hated that!

“Get some cheese, please, Kay-Kay. Get something beside Gouda for crap’s sake lest I hurl myself into a wood chipper.”

“I’ll look, but Gouda’s all they are going to have — it’s all Gouda, very very Gouda, aha.”

Very Gouda cheese

A hidden camera pointing to the rear of the vehicle was fixed, so once we positioned the car to record a target for five or more hours we wouldn’t know if we had correctly framed the view we wanted until we retrieved the car and watched the tapes. I was “bore sighting” the cameras to the view out of the rear window. Once I had a solid picture of what the camera was “seeing,” I marked a “gunsight” on the back window with a grease pencil to help me aim the car at my targets, a technique that I learned from Night Stalker attack helicopter pilots.

My handheld radio crackled: