US-based Russian illegals ‘groomed children to be spies’
July 31, 2012 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A group of Russian non-official-cover operatives, who were arrested in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2010, were grooming some of their children to become spies, according to insider accounts. Nearly a dozen covert members of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), one of the successor agencies of the Cold-War-era KGB, were detained on June 26, 2010, in a series of coordinated raids by the FBI, which marked the culmination of a lengthy counterintelligence operation against the deep-cover operatives. None of those arrested were associated with the diplomatic representation of the Russian Federation in the US; eight were married couples and all were using fake identities. But media coverage of the case, which centered overwhelmingly on the glamorous looks of one of the arrestees, Anna Chapman, paid little attention to the seven children belonging to the captured Russian operatives, whose ages ranged from 1 to 20 years at the time of their parents’ arrests. In an article published late last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that some of the SVR operatives were actively grooming their children to follow in their footsteps as unregistered agents of the Russian government in the US. The paper based its claims on discussions “with current and former US officials”, who allegedly had access to surveillance data from the FBI’s investigation against the Russians. According to the unnamed officials, the SVR operatives had secured the cooperation of at least one of the children, Tim Foley, whose parents operated in the US for over a decade under the assumed names of Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley. The couple (real names: Andrey Bezrukov, Elena or Yelena Vavilova) had allegedly revealed their secret mission to their son “well before their arrest” in 2010, and had indicated that “they wanted him to follow in their footsteps”. According to the FBI surveillance records, says The Journal, Tim had agreed and offered to travel to Russia “to begin formal espionage training”. He eventually traveled to the land of his birth at least once following the alleged arrangement with his parents. The paper says that some of the Russian illegals’ efforts to include their children in their undercover operations suggested long-term plans in the service of Moscow. It can be argued that, since most of the children were US-born, their ability to place themselves into critical positions in the US national security establishment would have been far superior to that of their parents’. Response from Russia to The Journal’s exposé has been muted. The paper says it failed to obtain a comment from the embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington, DC. But an editorial in the Russian government-owned Voice of Russia website called the American paper’s “attack on the children” of the Russian illegals despicable and said its motives were to be questioned. The article said that, even though “some of the un-sourced statements made in the article are perhaps plausible”, the accusations, which could “effectively black-list the kids for life”, were unethical. Tim Foley, who was 20 at the time of his parents’ arrest, is currently believed to be living in Russia.