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Kninjas
Active 1991–1995
Allegiance Republic of Serbian Krajina
Nickname(s) Red Berets
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Dragan Vasiljković
Insignia
Emblem Serbian cross

The Kninjas (Serbian language: Книнџе/Knindže), also known as the Red Berets (Crvene beretke), was a Serb paramilitary unit, a volunteer militia supporting the Army of the Republic of Serb Krajina in the Croatian War (1991–95). It was based in Knin, the capital of breakaway SAO Krajina that became the Republic of Serb Krajina (RSK). It was led by Serbian-Australian Dragan Vasiljković (born 1954), known as "Captain Dragan". It was one of several notable Serb paramilitary units, alongside the White Eagles, Arkan's Tigers, the Falcons, and others. Vasiljković, who had served in the Australian army, had returned to Yugoslavia in 1990 during the Croatian independence movement, eventually being hired as an instructor for volunteers in the summer of 1991. At this time, Belgrade daily Politika published a comic book named The Demons Return that featured the Kninjas fighting the Croats with martial arts.[1] The unit, deemed elite, was the special unit of Knin police chief Milan Martić.[2] According to Martić himself, he was supplied of equipment and weapons mostly from the Serbian government.[2] It became the special forces of the RSK Interior Ministry.[3] The name, a pun on "Knin" and "Ninjas",[1] was informal;[4] the unit did not have an official name, but the term was used for the mostly Vasiljković-trained volunteers.[4] Veterans later joined the Special Operations Unit of FR Yugoslavia. Vasiljković currently serves a 15-year prison sentence for war crimes. The emblem was a customized Serbian cross, with blue background and inverted firesteels.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Thompson 1999.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thompson 1999, p. 73.
  3. Focus. Tanjug News Agency, Foreign Language Desk. January 1992. https://books.google.com/books?id=XcwtAQAAIAAJ. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 GLA.

Sources

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