At first the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia tried to win over the Muslims, promising them equality, religious freedom and admission to the “Aryan” majority.
The Muslim political leadership of that time (the Yugoslav Muslim Organisation, headed by the brothers Osman and Džafer Kulenović) joined the Ustasha movement and held high positions in the government, administrative apparatus and the armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia.
In spite of this, a large number of Muslims perished in the Ustasha camps.
The first Muslims were imprisoned in Ustasha camps in 1941. They were mostly Communists or opponents of the Ustasha regime, who were to grow significantly in number.
The first group of Muslims was deported to Camp III (Brickworks) in mid-November 1941. The group consisted of 116 Jews and Communists from the Sarajevo area, amongst whom there were 16 Muslims.
Over the next few years, the numbers of imprisoned Muslims grew. They were Communists and members of the People’s Liberation Movement from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially from Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and parts of Bosnian Posavina and Central Bosnia.
Only a few managed to evade death.