William Jefferson

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William Jefferson
Born November 1951
Died 1995-11-17
Nationality USA
Occupation Librarian
Known for Murdered in Bosnia and Herzegovina

William Jefferson (November 1951 – November 17, 1995) was an American librarian and United Nations employee who was killed while serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1][2] Jefferson was found shot to death near Banovići, Bosnia and Herzegovina. His killing was originally described as a criminal act, connected with robbing him of his valuables. American counter-terrorism officials were later to imply it was an act of terrorism.

Jefferson was from Camden, New Jersey.[1]

Jefferson started working for the U.N. in its Dag Hammarskjöld Library in 1982.[1] In 1992 he volunteered to serve on overseas U.N. missions, first serving in Somalia. Joe Sills, a U.N. spokesmen stated:

"There was every reason to believe that the motives were criminal and not political. Mr. Jefferson's car was stolen and his personal belongings were missing."

A week later the New York Times reported: "United Nations officials strongly suspect that he was killed by the mujahedeen, who may have mistaken him for a British citizen."[3]

Jefferson was a Librarian at the U.N., who volunteered take leave to serve in Bosnia.

American counter-terrorism officials were later to class the killing as a terrorist attack.[4][5][6][7] Saudi Arabian Ahmed Zaid Salim Zuhair is alleged to have played a role in his killing. When he was captured Zuhair was said to have had Jefferson's watch in his possession.

Zuhair's attorneys have pointed out that Zuhair was never charged in connection with the killing, despite extensive investigations by the UN, FBI, and Bosnian authorities. Bosnian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Fa‘iz al-Shanbari in 1998 in relation to the shooting.[8] The UN's 200-page investigation made no mention of Zuhair. Zuhair was cleared for release by the Bush administration [9] and finally repatriated to Saudi Arabia on June 12, 2009.[10]

During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 17, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder publicly admitted that Zuhair had been cleared for transfer from Guantanamo by both administrations because "there was no sufficient proof" linking him to the Jefferson killing.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Helen Kennedy (2005-11-23). "SLAIN N.J. MAN VOLUNTEERED FOR DANGER". Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/1995/11/23/1995-11-23_slain_n_j__man_volunteered_f.html. Retrieved 2008-10-26. "Jefferson was found shot to death near the town of Banovići in northeast Bosnia, near where a headquarters is to be established for U.S. soldiers taking part in a NATO peace mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina."  mirror
  2. "DEAD AMERICAN NAMED U.N. EMPLOYEE'S KILLING IN BOSNIAN TOWN STILL MYSTERY TO OFFICIALS". Rocky Mountain News. 2005-11-23. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=RM&p_theme=rm&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB4E400229B3FFD&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. Retrieved 2008-10-26. "Jefferson, 43, was found shot to death near Banovići, in northeast Bosnia and Herzegvina, not far from where a headquarters is to be established for U.S. soldiers taking part in a NATO peace mission. Jefferson, a New Jersey native, would have turned 44 next week. He is survived by a son and a brother."  mirror
  3. Chris Hedges (1995-12-03). "Foreign Islamic Fighters in Bosnia Pose a Potential Threat for G.I.'s". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E04E1DE1E39F930A35751C1A963958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2008-10-26.  mirror
  4. Ben Fox (2008-10-25). "Guantanamo guards struggle with hunger striker". Associated Press. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iwzJXqzST3n1TAjrTYuqvs2-qT8AD9413VDO0. Retrieved 2008-10-26. "The U.S. also claims he was involved in the November 1995 shooting death of an American U.N. employee, William Jefferson of Camden, N.J., in Bosnia."  mirror
  5. OARDEC (2004-10-26). "Summary of Evidence for Combatant Status Review Tribunal -- Zuhayri, Ahmad Zayid Salim". United States Department of Defense. p. page 32. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/000500-000599.pdf#32. Retrieved 2008-08-12. "The detainee was involved in the murder of a United States official (William Jefferson) who was working for the United Nations in Tuzla, Bosnia. William Jefferson's watch was among the items found in the detainee's belongings." 
  6. OARDEC (25 October 2005). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Ahmed Zaid Salim Zuhair". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 87–89. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_1_Factors_000495-000594.pdf#87. Retrieved 2008-08-12. "The detainee is believed to be responsible for the firearm murder of a U.S. person, William Jefferson, on 21 November 1995 in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina." 
  7. OARDEC (30 October 2006). "Unclassified Summary of Evidence for Administrative Review Board in the case of Ahmed Zeid Salem Zohair". United States Department of Defense. pp. pages 12–14. http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/detainees/csrt_arb/ARB_Round_2_Factors_700-798.pdf#12. Retrieved 2008-08-12. "The detainee is responsible for the 1994 or 1995 murder, with a firearm, of United States person, William Jefferson, in Tuzla Canton, Bosnia Herzegovina." 
  8. "Traverse in Support of Ahmed Zuhair's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus". 2008-12-31. pp. 51–53. http://humanrights.ucdavis.edu/projects/the-guantanamo-testimonials-project/testimonies/testimomies-of-lawyers/zuhair_v_bush%2020081231.pdf. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  9. Andy Worthington (2009-03-20). "Guantánamo’s Long-Term Hunger Striker Should Be Sent Home". http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/03/20/guantanamos-long-term-hunger-striker-should-be-sent-home/. "However, the most extraordinary aspect of Ahmed Zuhair’s plight, which was not mentioned in press reports on Wednesday, is that he was actually cleared for release from Guantánamo, after the latest round of annual reviews — known as the Administrative Review Boards — on December 23, although he was not informed until February 10, and his lawyers were not told until February 16." 
  10. Carol Rosenberg (2009-06-12). "U.S. sends 3 more detainees to Saudi Arabia". Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/1094958.html. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  11. C-Span (2009-06-17). "Senate Judiciary Hearing with Eric Holder". pp. 40:45-42:30. http://cspan.org/Watch/Media/2009/06/17/HP/A/19861/Senate+Judiciary+Hearing+With+Eric+Holder.aspx. Retrieved 2009-06-18.