In May 1911 a secret society called the "Black Hand" was formed. Early members included the chief for the intelligence department of Serbia Dragutin Dimitrijevic. And also the Serbian general staff , Major Voja Tankosic and Milan Ciganovic. The main objective of the Black Hand was the creation, by means of violence, of a Greater Serbia. Its stated aim was
: "To realize the national ideal, the unification of all Serbs. This organization prefers terrorist action to cultural activities; it will therefore remain secret."
Dragutin Dimitrijevic, who used the codename, Apis, established himself as the leader of the Black Hand. In 1911 he sent a member to assassinate Emperor Franz Josef. When this failed, Dimitrijevic turned his attention to General Oskar Potiorek, Governor of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dimitrijevic recruited Muhammed Mehamedbasic to kill Potiorek with a poisoned dagger. However, Mehmedbasic returned to Belgrade after failing to carry out the task.
When the leaders of the Black Hand got in their knowledge that archduke Franz Ferdinand were planning to visit Sarajevo they decided that he should be assassinated in the belief of a free Serbia. Dimitrijevic was concerned about the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Ferdinand's plans to grant concessions to the South Slavs. Dimitrijevic feared that if this happened, an independent Serbian state would be more difficult to achieve.
A tiny clipping from a newspaper mailed without comment from a secret band of terrorists in Zagreb to their comrades in Belgrade, was the torch which set the world afire with war in 1914. The little clipping was from the Srobibran, a Croation journal of limited circulation, and consisted of a short telegram from Vienna. The telegram declared that the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand would visit Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, 28 June, to direct army manoeuvres.