Bosnian Spy Carmen Emini Konda Killed During Intelligence Gathering
Bosnian Spy Dies in War that Joined Her, Husband
2 September 1992.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The death notice in the newspaper was brief: “One last goodbye to Carmen Emini Konda.”
It had to be that way. “There was too much to say, so I couldn’t say anything,” her husband said.
Bosnian soldier, intelligence operative and karate aficionado, Carmen Konda died after a car accident late last month under heavy Serb gunfire.
She was a homemaker who missed her children, cooking and dancing — one of thousands of ordinary Yugoslavs forced by war to do extraordinary things.
Her death was one of hundreds recently among the Bosnian army, which has fought Serb rebels since Bosnia-Herzegovina’s majority Bosniaks and Croats voted for independence from Yugoslavia in February.
The 32-year-old woman cut a dashing figure among the fighters of her team in Stup II, a western Sarajevo suburb. She moved daily behind Serb lines, gathering intelligence about enemy positions.
“She was the most beautiful woman in the world,” said Atif Saronjic, her 39-year-old husband. “She she died, I lost everything.”
Saronjic, a thin man with a striking face and charcoal beard, met Carmen late last year in the Croatian port of Split as war in that former Yugoslav republic raged between Serb and Croat forces.
A former marine commando with the Yugoslav navy, Saronjic went to Sarajevo to help form the defense forces of this small country — sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia — as tensions mounted.
He had recently left his wife, so Carmen accompanied him. Three sons — two his and one hers from previous marriages — were left with Carmen’s mother in Split.
Love during wartime is said to be the most passionate and also the most tragic. Theirs was no exception.
In April, soon after Serb militias began grabbing chunks of Bosnia, Serb forces arrested the couple as they drove near Stup. He was carrying a walkie-talkie and she some bullets. Twenty-four days later they were released.
“When you are beaten with someone and tortured together, it brings you closer. It makes a terrible bond,” Saronjic said.
The worst, he said, was the psychological terror. Twice, they were told their executions were night. Twice, they were driven blindfolded to a burial ground. Twice, nothing happened.
Serbs exchanged the pair for some Serb prisoners.
A little more than a month later they were officially married.
“I used to watch movies like James Bond that showed that women could do everything,” Carmen said last month. “But when you’re in this, you wish you were back in a normal life. … From time to time, when no one’s looking, I cry a bit.”
Now her husband is crying.
“Last night I dreamed about her,” he said. “She came to me and said, ‘Never go to a dangerous place.’ She said,’I don’t want to lose you.'”