Through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, a substantial number of refugees entered the US, and indeed, the State of Vermont from the war-torn Balkan region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. More than 2,000 immigrants ended up here. They included Croats, Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, and Albanians. Many were of military age, and indeed had fought in the long Balkan conflict which began in the late 1980s. Yesterday, one of those, Bosnian Muslim Edin Sakoć, was charged with obtaining entry and naturalization into the United States illegally, because he had participated in a war crime while fighting against the Bosnian Serbs twenty-one years ago.
I once worked with a very serious young man at the Dartmouth gym who wished to learn how to box. He had been a young boy in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the worst of the fighting. I had mentioned that there was a significant Bosnian immigrant population in Burlington, Vermont. He nodded solemnly. He then told me that many bad people had come to this country and to Burlington. People who had been a part of the killings. Not the fighting, he said, but the killings. I don’t know if what he said was rumor, or something he knew for a fact, but he didn’t seem the type for exaggeration. Perhaps he was right, and some of those who came to Vermont were involved in the killings.
When I saw the headline today, I can remember his voice telling me about the bad people.