Who tried to burn down the US embassy in Skopje in 1999?

Dragan Pavlovic-Latas

Pavlovic-Latas

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On March 25, 1999, approximately 200 people broke off from a much larger crowd of pro-Serbian demonstrators in downtown Skopje, Macedonia, and, in a military-style operation, tore down the security perimeter around the US embassy and occupied its courtyard for several hours. With the US ambassador, Christopher Hill, and most of the embassy staff inside the building, the occupiers set fire to embassy cars and tried to set the building alight. By the time they were dispersed by police, the rioters had managed to destroy all the cars parked in the embassy’s courtyard, as well as a large part of the embassy building’s exterior. The demonstrators were protesting US and NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia, which had begun on the previous day, sparked by brutal ethnic clashes in the Kosovo region. But the question remains: who, if anyone, organized the attempted burning down of the US embassy? Read more of this post

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Journalist reveals names of 300 Iranian spies in Bosnia

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Croatian journalist has revealed a secret document containing the names of 300 Iranian intelligence operatives who operated in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2004 until 2007. Domagoj Margetić, one of Croatia’s most uncompromising investigative reporters, has published on his website a .pdf document thath lists the names of several hundred Iranian agents who received official authorization from the embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Tehran to enter the Balkan country. According to Margetić, numerous Iranian academics, as well as random Iranian government employees, are included in the intelligence operatives’ list, which implies they carried out intelligence missions in Bosnia while traveling under academic or diplomatic cover. Insiders have noted that the long list is indicative of the intensification of Iran’s intelligence activities in the Balkans and southern Europe in recent years, which they attribute to the “reorganization of Iranian intelligence infrastructure in the Balkans”. The disclosed document of Iranian intelligence operatives is available in .pdf format here, with a mirrored link here.

Kosovo names first Director of new intelligence agency

Bashkim Smakaj

B. Smakaj

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Kosovo, a tiny Balkan nation that unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in February of 2007, has named the first Director of its newly launched intelligence agency. He is 32-year-old Bashkim Smakaj, an ethnic Albanian who until recently was a colonel in the Strategic Planning Unit of the country’s police force. The establishment of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (KIA), which Mr. Smakaj will be heading, was announced several months ago, but no Director had been named until last Wednesday. Read more of this post

Further details on German spy arrests in Kosovo

Further detailed information has seen the light of day in relation to the recent arrest of three German intelligence agents in Kosovo. The three spies, which were arrested while investigating the scene of an explosion at the EU offices in Pristina, were part of a constant presence in the Kosovar capital of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service. Their cover was being employed by a BND front company called LCAS (Logistics-Coordination & Assessment Service), which was registered in Munich in April of 2007, and has “offices” in Pristina. The operation was so secret that “the official BND attaché stationed at the German Embassy in Pristina knew nothing of it. The German ambassador was likewise in the dark”, according to a new report by Der Spiegel. This would also explain (though not necessarily justify) why it was these agents, and not the BND resident at the German Embassy, who were sent to investigate the explosion at the EU building on November 14. The Kosovar government is now expected to use the information it gained from the arrest of the three agents, as well as from raiding the LCAS office in Pristina, to uncover the “extensive network of informants among high-ranking functionaries of the KLA and the Kosovar administration […] which is more extensive in Kosovo than in most countries around the world” and which the BND has maintained since the early 1990s in this former region of Serbia. Specifically, the Spiegel article further states that “the Kosovo government may now arrest large numbers of informants who have provided the BND with valuable information”. [JF]

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Analysis: German intelligence in Kosovo

The epicenter of the latest round of intelligence positioning in the Balkans is the tiny Albanian-dominated region of Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. In the early hours of November 14, Kosovo Police arrested three individuals suspected of detonating an explosive device at the International Civilian Office, an urban landmark in capital Pristina that houses the office of the European Union’s (EU) special envoy to Kosovo. The three turned out to be German Federal Intelligence Service agents, employees of Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service. What is more, all of them appeared to be working in deep cover (“in private capacity”, as the Kosovo Police spokesperson put it), having no affiliation with the German Embassy in Pristina, no diplomatic passports and no diplomatic immunity. Would the BND really instruct its agents to place a bomb at the EU mission in Pristina? And what is the BND doing in Kosovo anyway? Joseph Fitsanakis explains. [JF]

 

REFERENCES CITED IN THIS REPORT:

Fitsanakis, J. (2008) “German Intelligence Active in Kosovo”, intelNews, November 29

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