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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Former SAS chief's retaliation warning
SAS at Iranian Embassy
General backs use of small, highly focused elite squads
The UK's most senior former special forces commander has warned that any American military response to the US terror attacks should be directed only against the perpetrators - avoiding civilian casualties.

Retired SAS chief General Michael Rose - who commanded the UN Protection Force in Bosnia - told BBC radio: "You need highly trained specialised forces capable of delivering fire-power where it's needed in a very precise way."

Such forces - the general said - must be "able to get in do the job and get out in quick order - because if you don't you are going to lose the support of the middle ground Arabs throughout the world".

The US was criticised after President Clinton ordered missile strikes against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan following bomb blasts at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in August 1998.

Elite squads

In response to the latest US terror attacks, the general said one possibility may be the use of commando "snatch squads" to kill or arrest those behind the atrocities - instead of missile strikes.

This was a tactic which the general used with great success in Bosnia.

Under his command, members of the elite SAS G-Group spread themselves thinly over the Bosnian countryside, located Serbian warlords and made arrests or called in air strikes on their bases.

The general's most spectacular success was the capture of Stanislav Galic, the so-called Butcher of Sarajevo.

"Enormous Difficulties"

Galic was tracked down and captured while being driven through the streets near his heavily defended Banja Luke headquarters.

Plain clothes SAS soldiers trapped him and his driver between two civilian cars while an unmarked van pulled alongside.

Before Galic could reach for his gun, masked SAS troopers leapt from the van.

They smashed the car's windows with rifle butts, wrenched open the door of Galic's car, placed a bag over his head, threw him in the van and sped off.

But the general said a similar operation to capture suspects in Afghanistan would present "enormous difficulties".

But he added: "Where there's a will, there's a way".

  • In 1998 General Rose signed a letter of protest demanding tighter curbs on the export of weapons to regimes accused of human rights violations and repression. He warned that only tighter controls could prevent a worldwide escalation of "death and destruction".

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