Well, that's what good disguises are supposed to do. But strangely enough, the Serbian police have yet to brag about the years of dogged and skillful detective work that allowed them to find him anyway. As the Times also points out:
Despite what seemed to be the completeness of his disguise, it was not publicly known whether, as war crimes prosecutors have often alleged, the Serbian government had long been aware of Mr. Karadzic’s location and was only waiting for a convenient moment to apprehend him.
The arrest, nearly 13 years to the day after his indictment in connection with the massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian men and boys at Srebrenica, seemed aimed at strengthening Serbia’s ties to the European Union. A condition for membership remains the capture of Mr. Karadzic’s wartime ally, Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is also being sought for trial in The Hague on genocide charges.
Some analysts saw the arrest of Mr. Karadzic as an indication that General Mladic would soon be seized. Over the years, there were many reports that Mr. Mladic wandered around downtown Belgrade without hiding his identity.Perhaps the Serbian police are at this moment regaling reporters about how they found Karadzic, and we will soon be reading all the fascinating details. Or perhaps they don't want to compromise their hunt for Mladic and will wait until he is captured to tell all. But they will tell us how they found these war criminals soon--won't they? I am sure that Serbian officials would not want to leave us with the impression that they have known all along where they were and that no detective work was actually required.
Or perhaps they figure no one will really care once the criminals are in The Hague and Serbia is a respected member of the European Union.
PS--If you think that a companion piece in today's Times entitled "Serbian Officials Provide Details on Arrest of Karadzic" sheds any light on this question, dream on. The article is entirely about the political changes in Serbia that made the arrest possible. Could the reporters on these stories have the courtesy to let us know that they have at least asked the right questions? But the Times' editorial page strikes the right tone of irony about Serbia's "investigative breakthrough."
Photo: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images/New York Times
Afterthought: As a skeptical journalist, I don't give much credibility to rumors that Ratko Mladic is disguised as the head chef at a well-known gourmet restaurant in Belgrade.