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The Kninjas Unit - “Knindze”

The Kninjas Unit - “Knindze”

After the conflict in Plitvice between the police forces of Krajina and Croatia, in which each side lost one person, Dragan Vasiljković, known as Captain Dragan, together with Franko Simatović, at that time an operative of the State Security Service (RDB), headed from Belgrade to Knin.


There, they met Milan Martić, leader of the Serbian police officers from Knin, who took them to the base of the Krajina police in the village of Golubić near Knin. From late April or early May until July 1991, Milan Martić, Franko Simatović, and Captain Dragan worked together on the establishment and operationalization of the Training Centre in Golubić.


During this period, Jovica Stanišić, head of the State Security Service (RDB), and Franko Simatović funded the training. Simatović was also providing the Centre with fuel, vehicles, supplies, and equipment. This actually laid the foundation for the Special Operations Unit (JSO) which would be operational for the next twelve years under different names. The training in Golubić was military in character and included weapons training and ambush training, as well as how to handle war prisoners and civilians in an armed conflict. The training would last for approximately twenty days. The recruits were trained in groups of 40 to 100 persons. A total of between 350 and 700 members of the Serbian Autonomous Region (SAO) of Krajina police and SAO Krajina Territorial Defence were trained in Golubić between April and August 1991. Those who had completed the training in Golubić would set up new units and train other people in SAO Krajina.9 Captain Dragan singled out 63 best men whom he later transferred to the Knin Fortress with the idea to continue working with them and make them into instructors who could subsequently train the entire armed forces of SAO Krajina.


Captain Dragan and his unit operated in the region of SAO Krajina until August 1991. Up to that moment, they had several conflicts with Croatian police around Glina and Knin. Because of the conflict with Milan Babić, the then President of Krajina, in August 1991, Captain Dragan left the Republic of Srpska Krajina and returned to Serbia.


The images used in this story belong © Richard Schneider.