Chechen shot dead in broad daylight in Berlin, Russian spy services suspected

Zelimkhan KhangoshviliAuthorities in Germany suspect that Moscow may have been behind the assassination of a Chechen separatist who was shot in broad daylight in Berlin by a man wearing a wig and carrying a pistol fitted with a silencer. The victim of the attack was Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, 40, who was a leading figure in the so-called Second Chechen War. The conflict pitted the Russian military against groups of Muslim fighters in the North Caucasus between 1999 and 2009.

Khangoshvili, a Muslim who was born in Georgia, was a bodyguard of Aslan Maskhadov, the self-described leader of the Muslim separatists in the Northern Caucasus. Maskhadov was killed in 2005 in a raid by Russian Special Forces, and Khangoshvili fled to his native Georgia. In 2015, Khangoshvili sought political asylum in Germany after two men tried to kill him in Tbilisi. The German authorities initially placed him on a terrorism watch list, but removed him after he began to collaborate with German counterterrorism agencies and participate in programs designed to de-radicalize Muslim youth.

Khangoshvili was reportedly killed last Friday as he was walking to his local mosque. Witnesses said a man on a bicycle approached Khangoshvili from behind as he was walking in the middle of Kleiner Tiergarten, a small park in downtown Berlin. The cyclist shot Khangoshvili and then immediately fled the scene on his bicycle. Police later found a Glock 26 semi-automatic pistol fitted with a silencer, a wig and the assailants bicycle. All had been dumped in a nearby lake. Later that evening the police announced the arrest of a Russian citizen identified only as “Vadim S.”, who is alleged to have shot Khangoshvili.

German newsmagazine Der Spiegel quoted Martin Steltner, from the Berlin prosecutor’s office, who said that Vadim S. had arrived in Berlin from Moscow via Paris less than a week before Khangoshvili’s murder. Steltner added that there were “indications the deed was pre-planned and may have political motives behind it”. An anonymous source from German intelligence told Der Spiegel that “if it turns out that a state actor like Russia is behind this, we will have a second [Sergei] Skripal case on our hands, with all that this entails”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 28 August 2019 | Permalink

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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

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

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  • 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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