Embarrassment in Germany as spy agency building plans go missing

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The German government says it is embarrassed by news that classified blueprints of its spy agency’s new Berlin headquarters have gone missing. Construction for the state-of-the-art structure, which began in 2006, is expected to be completed in 2014, at the cost of 31.4 billion euros, making it Germany’s most expensive building. It is designed to serve as headquarters for 4,000 employees of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, the country’s primary foreign intelligence agency. But German newsmagazine Focus published a brief article last Sunday, alleging that the top-secret architectural plans for the building had “mysteriously disappeared” and had probably been stolen a year ago, without anyone at the government noticing their absence. According to the magazine, the missing blueprints contain detailed specifications of critical construction features, such as the building’s wall thickness, security and emergency escape systems, telecommunications cable routes, as well as sewage and water networks. Initially, the BND declined commenting on the story, but on the following day a BND spokesman told German newspaper Die Welt that the agency suspects the documents were stolen by a building contractor. Read more of this post

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Germany launches probe into poisoning of ex-KGB colonel

KGB seal

KGB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An official government probe into the alleged poisoning of a Russian former KGB colonel and his wife has been launched in Berlin, German officials have announced. Regular intelNews visitors will recall the recent case of Viktor Kalashnikov, a former colonel and authority on military matters for the Soviet KGB, who was taken in critical condition to a Berlin hospital along with his wife, Marina. The two were found to have over ten times the highest permissible level of mercury in their blood, which, according to medical experts, points to a deliberate poisoning attempt. The case intrigued German officials, since the Kalashnikovs, who moved to Germany last September, are known in Russia as vocal critics of the Putin-Medvedev administration. The two have co-authored scathing critiques accusing Moscow of manipulating the separatist Chechen movement in order to create “a national security state” in Russia. Read more of this post

German police probe poisoning of ex-KGB colonel

KGB seal

KGB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Police in Berlin are investigating a possible attempt to assassinate a Russian former KGB operative and his wife, through mercury poisoning. According to German newsmagazine Focus, Viktor Kalashnikov, a former colonel and authority on military matters for the Soviet KGB, was taken in critical condition to a Berlin hospital along with his wife, Marina. The two were found to have over ten times the highest permissible level of mercury in their blood, which, according to medical experts, points to a deliberate poisoning attempt. Colonel Kalashnikov, who arrived in Germany three months ago, is known as one of the Russian government’s harshest critics. He became famous in the 1990s, when he joined other former KGB operatives —most notably the late Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated in 2007, and whose widow is also named Marina— in accusing the Russian administration of Vladimir Putin of manipulating the separatist Chechen movement in order to solidify his vision of “a national security state” in Russia. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #451 (history edition)

News you may have missed #354

  • Germany arrests Libyans on spy charges. Two Libyans have been arrested in Berlin on suspicion of working as secret agents, spying on members of the Libyan opposition in Germany. The two, identified only as 42-year-old ‘Adel Ab’ and 46-year-old ‘Adel Al’, are being held in custody in Berlin, pending possible spying charges.
  • Israeli handler discusses relationship with Hamas spy. Israeli broadsheet Ha’aretz has aired a fascinating interview with ‘Captain Loai’, a Shin Bet operative who handled Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a senior Hamas official, who was an informant for Israeli intelligence for at least a decade. Note the strong personal connection between handler and informant, which would be considered unprofessional in US intelligence culture.
  • Analysis: Iran’s murky link to al-Qaeda confounds CIA. It’s one of the enduring mysteries of the US ‘war on terrorism’: what will become of the al-Qaeda leaders and operatives who fled into Iran after 9/11 and have been detained there for years?

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News you may have missed #0079

  • Berlin football club cancels deal over Stasi controversy. FC Union Berlin has dumped its main sponsor, International Sport Promotion, over allegations that its CEO, Juergen Czilinsky, was a member of the Stasi, the East German secret police.
  • US officials targeted by fake emails. Malicious emails claiming to be from the US Department of Homeland Security, but which actually originate from Latvia and Russia, are being sent to Pentagon and state and local officials in the US. Similar news emerged from Australia last week.
  • Emirates expel Thai ex-premier. Ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra was expelled by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday, and has gone to Montenegro. Interestingly, Montenegrin authorities have supplied Thaksin with a Montenegrin passport.

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