Behind Enemy Lines: Fact or Fiction?


Behind Enemy Lines:
Fact or Fiction?
by Stella L. Jatras

Behind Enemy Lines is being released on VHS and DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment after an unsuccessful box office showing and less than favorable reviews.  The war film was released two months earlier than scheduled in theaters throughout the country in order to capitalize on the wave of patriotism after the tragedy of 9/11.  Bruce Kirkland’s report of 22 April 2002 in the Toronto Sun describes Behind Enemy Lines as "American jingoism – and a bad film."  Unfortunately for its producers, it was up against movies showing true heroism such as depicted in Black Hawk Down.

A more worthy plot for the movie Behind Enemy Lines would have been the story of the rescue of over 500 American pilots who were shot down over Yugoslavia during World War II and rescued by the Serb national forces of General Draza Mihailovich, instead of the trumped up, distorted tale currently being fed to the American people.  " Operation Halyard, remains the largest one – time rescue of Americans from behind enemy lines  [my emphasis] in our nation’s history," wrote Major (USAF, Ret.) Richard L. Felman, former president of the National Committee of American Airmen Rescued by General Mihailovich.

Instead, in Behind Enemy Lines, the American audience is treated to "a story loosely based on the experience of American pilot Scott O’ Grady after he was shot down in Bosnia in 1995." (Los Angeles Times, 28 Nov. 2001). "Released two months earlier than planned, the thriller couldn’t be better suited to the times.  With patriotism running at an all – time high, cheering crowds are sure to drown out spoilsports who find fault with the tired scribbling of Zac Penn (Last Action Hero) and David Veloz (Natural Born Killers) or the formulaic characters they have created."  (Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2001). 

Many people will undoubtedly object to anything negative being said about America’s hero, Scott O’Grady but that is a choice this writer will take.  It is up to the readers to decide for themselves what is fact and what is fiction.  However, what I object to is the fact that the film continues to demonize the Serbs as stated in The Boston Globe of 30 Nov. 2001 "If the film is hopelessly devoid of real characterization, it at least isn’t afraid to take a stand on the war in Bosnia.  It presents the Serbs as the dirty – tricks guys, slaughtering Muslims."  When is enough, enough?   Most commendably, our administration is going out of its way to make sure that the Afghan people know that we are not their enemy; nor are they ours.  We will be sending billions of dollars in reconstruction due to the destruction and devastation caused by our bombs.  Compassionately, and rightly, the President asked each American child to send $1 to help the suffering and hungry Afghan children.  However, no such compassion was ever extended to the Serbian people whom we bombed for 78 unmerciful days.  Reconstruction aid for rebuilding Yugoslavia (a nation that no longer exists thanks to U.S. policy), depends on threats having to do with their collaboration in handing over their alleged war criminals to an illegal criminal court.  As for suffering Serbs, including hungry Serbian children?  "They got what they deserve," was, and continues to be, the overriding American mentality, so successful has been their demonization because of TV "specials" and movies such as Behind Enemy Lines.

As a career military officer’s wife, Stella Jatras has traveled widely and has lived in many foreign countries where she not only learned about other cultures but also became very knowledgeable regarding world affairs and world politics. Stella Jatras lived in Moscow for two years (where her husband, George, was the Senior Air Attaché), and while there, worked in the Political Section of the US Embassy. Stella has also lived in Germany, Greece and Saudi Arabia. Her travels took her to over twenty countries.

Previous article by Stella Jatras on

Crimes of the KLA: Who Will Pay?

The Case of the Invisible Trial, or, ‘Where’s the Beef?’

‘Voices of Moral Obtuseness’ or ‘Voices of Immoral Bigotry’?

The Media’s War Against the Serbs

If It’s Good Enough for Serbia’s Goose, Why Not for Croatia’s Gander?

Srebrenica” – Code Word to Silence Critics of US Policy in the Balkans

From Camp Swampy to Camp Bondsteell

Open Letter to General Michael Short

As Capt. O’ Grady tells it to the American people, he escaped and evaded the enemy for five days, subsisting mainly on grass and bugs with only the company of cows, until rescued by a Marine search and rescue team nearly sixty miles from where his parachute was seen coming down. Sixty miles in five days, traveling only at night in hostile, landmine infested territory? Only one of the many questionable aspects of the captain’s story.

I, for one, listened intensely to the captain’s very first interview in which he stated that prior to his mission he had been briefed to avoid capture by both Serbs and Muslims. However, in subsequent interviews, he never again mentioned the threat from the Muslims. In all probability, Capt O’Grady had received his marching orders:  Do not cast aspersions against the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Itzebegovic since it would confuse Americans with the facts. If Captain O’ Grady had been captured by Muslim forces, he wouldn’t be alive today. What better propaganda for the Bosnian Muslim government than a dead Capt. O’ Grady blamed on the Serbs? It wouldn’t have been the first nor the last time that Serbs would be punished for atrocities committed by Bosnian Muslim forces.

In his book, Offensive in the Balkans, Yossef Bodansky wrote, "The UN concluded that a special group of Bosnian Muslim forces, many of whom had served with Islamic terrorist organization, committed a series of atrocities, including some of the worst recent killings, against Bosnian Muslim civilians in Sarajevo as a propaganda ploy to win world sympathy and military intervention. These attacks escalated into premeditated attacks and atrocities committed against Bosnian Serb civilians trying to flee contested areas."   Today, we are seeing the results of U.S. complicity by turning a blind eye to Muslim atrocities and by promoting a Bosnian Muslim victory. The Balkans have been turned over to Osama bin Laden’s Kosovo Liberation Army and Bosnia has become the corridor into Europe for his Islamic warriors, the Mujahedin.


There appears to be more to the Scott O’ Grady story than the American people have been told. In a letter to President Clinton on 5 June 1995, lecturer and author of the book Kosovo, Bill Dorich, former President of the Serbian American Voters Alliance (SAVA), wrote, "Dear Mr. President. I have confidential information at my disposal about the downed American pilot and have been advised by Pale [capital of the Bosnian Serb Republic] of the circumstances under which they would release him." Mr. Dorich had been asked to join a delegation of representatives of our government on a trip to Bosnia to retrieve Capt. O’ Grady, who was in the hands of the Serbs, "eating steak and lamb" according to other sources. Perhaps that explains his excellent health when he was plucked to safety. However, the very next day, Dorich received another call telling him that the trip to collect Scott O’ Grady was off, and that he was not to talk about it. In subsequent articles and letters, Dorich refers to Capt. Scott O’ Grady as "The Cardboard Hero."

"President Bill Clinton hails the airman, Capt. Scott O’ Grady, as an American hero. The nation rejoices and celebrates another example of the U.S. military prowess. Clinton suggests a movie could be made based on this event." [my emphasis], according to Editor Bob Djurdjevic’s Truth in Media (TiM) of 10 June 1995, "An American Hero or Actor of the Year?"  TiM reported that there were indications that a deal had been made with the Serbian leadership that their forces would not fire upon U.S. rescue crews if the U.S. would agree not to bomb the Serbs for a second time and that the administration would not allow the arms embargo to be lifted. And of course, we see how our word was kept. We lifted the arms embargo and bombed the Hell out of Yugoslavia in 1999 for alleged Serbian atrocities. For further information on O’Grady, go to:

"If the American public ever learned how badly O’ Grady & his wingman screwed up they would demand they pay for the lost F – 16," wrote one retired Army major. Another friend, a retired U.S. Air Force Brig. General, who still has connections with active duty members in the Air Force, was told that "Scott O’ Grady was disliked by just about everyone associated with him and that he barely made it through pilot training because he was not a very good pilot."

The Toronto Star of 30 Nov 2001, movie critic Peter Howell writes, "Behind Enemy Lines isn’t a great movie, but it is fabulous propaganda."  Howell continues, "The recon camera snapped pictures of a mass grave, proof [my emphasis] that the renegades [i.e., Serbs] have been committing genocide and violating the NATO treaty. America needs its boys and the world needs truth and justice." By coincidence, are we then to assume that this is the same mass grave that CIA satellite photos showed of the soccer field that was supposed to contain the bodies of anywhere from as high as 10,000 to as low as 6,000 [depending on whose statistics make a better story] murdered Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica?  (See "Srebrenica:  Code Word To Silence Critics of U.S. Policy in the Balkans," 7/31/00) Only one problem; upon investigation by 22 journalists from around the world, no such mass grave exists.

Meanwhile, the heroic rescue of American airmen during WWII by Serb national forces under General Draza Mihailovich remains swept under the carpet. Major Felman is no longer with us and valiant attempts by him and his surviving fellow pilots have failed to erect a simple monument to honor their rescuers having met with resistance at every turn by our State Department. "Mustn’t offend our great communist and dictator ally, Tito!" But in his memoirs, Felman wrote, "The most incredible part of our rescue was that before each mission, our bomber crews were briefed by the highest levels of American intelligence that if shot down over Yugoslavia, we were to stay away from the Serbian people as they were collaborating with the Germans and cutting off the ears and genitals of American airmen before turning them over.  Only after we were shot down did we find out the amazing thoroughness with which the truth about the Serbs was being distorted." It appears that Captain Scott O’Grady received the same briefing as did our WWII pilots, with the purpose of instilling fear of the Serbian people lest it cost him his hearing and/or manhood. With great emotion, Major Felman wrote, "If there was one piece of bread in the house, or one egg, it went to the American airmen while the Serb went hungry. If there was one bed or blanket, it went to us while the Serb slept on the bare ground. No risk or sacrifice was too great to insure our safety and well being. One experience which is forever seared in my memory is the time a village with 200 women and children was burned to the ground by the Germans because the Serbs would not tell them where they were hiding us. To this day, I can smell the terrible stench of their burning flesh. One does not forget such things."   For more on Mihailovich, see "The Mihailovich Story" by David Martin.

The following incident happened to a friend after seeing Behind Enemy Lines.  It reveals the extent of hatred that our politicians and a willing media have successfully instilled into the hearts and minds of the American people, including some of our GIs. 


"Dear Stella.  You might already be aware of this movie but in case you aren’t I will inform you!  Tonight I had the unfortunate experience of watching a big box office hit at the movie theaters. The movie – "Behind Enemy Lines."  It was about the war in Bosnia, it made the Serbs look like evil barbaric monsters and the muslims like helpless victims!!  It was really horrible the way it made the Serbs look like. I have seen many W.W.2 movies about the German Nazis but this made the Serbs look more evil than the Nazis!  It’s one of the most popular movies in America right now and everybody is talking about how great a movie it is.

"It’s truly unbelievable, the demonization of the Serbian people still to this day continues non-stop!  Could you imagine Stella if you and I were Serbian? We would have to hide our identity because everyone thinks we’re ruthless baby killers!  This is too much and it upsets me very much. After the movie was over there were some military guys walking out of the theater discussing the film, they were saying "after we finish off Bin Laden and the Taliban we should go back to the balkans and finally finish off those Serb bastards"!  Can you believe that? Unreal.  I responded to the dumb idiots by saying "it’s ok for the U.S. to kill muslims because we are fighting the terrorists of Sept.11 but it’s not ok for the Serbs to defend themselves from the very same type of Islamic terrorism, and for 10 years and still going to this day, Sept.11 was only one day, the Serbs have been fighting these terrorists for 10 years and going!"  They responded to me by saying "F… the Serbs, a good Serb is a dead Serb."

"Stella, this is the power of the media propaganda. They have made the American people loathe the Serbs!

"I’m very upset at their comments and about this movie, sometimes I feel like giving up and stop talking about the Serbs and Yugoslavia, I get too emotional about it and it’s probably unhealthy for me!  I don’t know, I feel like I’m up against the whole world.

"Your Ally,  (name withheld)"

It should again be noted that the "big box office hit at movie theaters" stated by the writer never materialized. 

Another one of Hollywood’s anti-Serb war movie, "The Rock," portrays American Serbs as terrorists who mail booby-trapped toys to Bosnian Muslim children. However, The Houston Chronicle of 17, February 1996 titled, "NATO forces uncover [Iranian] terrorist training camp in Bosnia," wrote: "It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we found here is an abomination – clearly terrorist training activities," said U.S. Adm. Leighton Smith, commander of NATO forces in Bosnia, as he toured the area. "No one can escape the obvious, that there is a terrorist training activity going on in this building and it has direct association with people in the government.

"A makeup room showed charts instructing how to change eye color using contact lenses, peroxide bottles to alter hair color, and a dozen beards and mustaches to hide the appearance. In classrooms, instructions had laid out mock-ups of installation. Notebooks detailed the daily lives of possible targets, and manuals showed how to build bombs out of children’s toys."

"There is no military value to these types of devices; rigging toys is an act of terror," said Col. Brian Hoey, a NATO spokesman. His fellow spokesman, Col. John T. Kirkwood added, "I never saw John Wayne rip the head off a plastic dog and throw it."

My own opinion? Americans of Serbian descent should sue these film producers and directors for defamation of character.

Would that John Moore, who directed Behind Enemy Lines direct a film that tells the story of the daring rescue from behind enemy lines by Draza Mihailovich, who was executed in 1946 by Marshal Josif Broz Tito, the man for whom we betrayed the Serbian people and who was installed as communist dictator and lasted over 50 years, followed by further devastation and suffering on their nation imposed by a flawed Balkan policy, for which the free world will eventually pay.  Draza Mihailovich received the LEGION OF MERIT at the direction President Harry S. Truman, an award that was kept secret for nearly 20 years.  Major Felman wrote in 1992, "After 47 years of disappointments our noble effort has failed.  Our disillusioned group of aging veterans has given up trying to repay our nation’s debt of honor to those on foreign soil who saved American lives."

I, like the rest of America, was relieved when Scott O’ Grady returned home and to his family, safe and sound. And I wish him well since his sudden retirement from the Air Force. But the Scott O’ Grady story would not be the first time that the American people have been lied to.

Interestingly, The Philadelphia Inquirer of June 14, 1995, carried a BBC Commentary titled: "WORTH REPEATING . . . Why all the fuss about O’ Grady? Nothing could better illustrate the neurotic inwardness of America today than the extraordinary reaction of the American President, the American media, and perhaps the American people than the rescue of Capt. Scott O’ Grady. Against the backdrop of a terrible war in which a quarter of a million people have already died, [undocumented statistics supplied by the Bosnian Muslim government], the US celebrates the saving of one American life (an incident inflated into an act of supposedly American heroism), to send its warming rays into every American heart."

But former President William Jefferson Clinton needed a hero. After all, all wars have heroes, why not Clinton’s?